A Day in the Life

So many of you asked what a typical “day in the life” looks like now that I’m back at work and balancing a career, mom duties, being a wife and generally living my life. Here it is, as honest as I can be. Hope that you’ll find some comfort in the fact I’m a completely normal person, just trying to get through a day.

6am Alarm on phone rings. I hit snooze for 10 minutes. My husband has been up since 5:30AM getting ready for work, and of course, because I have super human mom hearing, I knew he was awake even before he did! I try to sneak in some extra Zzz’s because I am NOT a morning person.

6:10am Snooze goes off. I check the baby monitor to make sure Charlotte is still dozing. She usually wakes by 7am, so that means I have 50 minutes to get ready in the morning. My hair is washed from the night before, so that saves shower time.

6:15am Wash my face and moisturize. While waiting for my serum to soak in, I check social media and the weather. I refuse to do more than 3 steps of skincare in the morning, so 5 minutes later I’m onto makeup and hair, which take 30 mins total (I will totally share these routines when I am not strapped for time!) Hubby leaves around this time, so I kiss him goodbye for the day.

6:50am My clothes are chosen the night before so I never have to try to think of outfit inspo…because again, I am not a morning person! I inevitably always change once before settling on an outfit. Today I’ve chosen a dress that I’m absolutely in love with. It’s from one of my favorite online stores, Pink Blush. They carry everything from maternity, plus size, regular size and even plus size maternity. It’s fashion for modern motherhood. I’ve talked about their incredible dresses before HERE and HERE. I love a wrap dress because it’s the ultimate feminine silhouette. I love how the wrap shows off my waist, and for once, the neckline actually stays closed! I did NOT have to re-adjust ONCE! Miracle of miracles. You can get this exact dress HERE. It’s a stunner.

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Navy Stripe Ruffle Plus Wrap Dress available at Pink Blush.

6:55am I head downstairs to make Charlotte’s breakfast (fruit, yogurt and multigrain toast with PB) and prep my coffee. I try to let Charlotte sleep for as long as possible so I eat breakfast quickly solo and get my shoes/coat/bag ready. Lunch is made the night before, so I don’t have to worry about that in the morning.

7:10am-ish I start to get antsy if Charlotte hasn’t woken up by now. So I’ll head upstairs and pace outside her door before going in to wake her. I absolutely HATE waking her because, like me, she’s not a morning person. But the morning cuddles are the best! Quick diaper change and change out of PJs into daycare clothes (which I lay out the night before).

7:15am Charlotte is a super fast eater, so everything gets devoured pretty quickly. If she wants to take her time with her yogurt pouch, I bring it to daycare so that she can finish it there. We do 10 quick minutes of playing/cuddling/talking/singing/dancing/reading before packing up and walking to the car.

7:30 am Charlotte and I are in the car on our way to daycare. It takes approx 9 minutes to get from home to the daycare and Charlotte is dropped off by 7:50 latest. I like to take my time and chat with the daycare educators…they are looking after my child, after all! I want them to know everything she’s been up to since yesterday and also let them know that I value them and respect how hard they work.

7:50 am Headed towards the highway, probably listening to Adele “25” because I’m a mega-fan like that…feeling like my life is under control…until I hit TRAFFIC! Living in the suburbs can be the worst! Work is only 20 kms away and it can take upwards of an hour to get there.

8:30 am Ideal day, I’m at my desk by this time, checking emails, gossiping about the latest fashion news or what we bought online the night before.

Yadda yadda yadda (wait, did you just yadda yadda work? Yup! Because my days are always different and my routine constantly changes, which I love…but this blog post is long enough already LOL)

4:30 pm Time to hit the road. TRAFFIC sucks the life out of me. I usually call my mom and chat with her on the drive home. If she’s not available, I’ll listen to a podcast to pass the time. But mostly, I’m counting down the minutes until I can see my little nugget.

5:15 pm FINALLY HOME! I burst in the door as Charlotte is eating dinner. My husband finishes work early so he always picks up the baby and gets dinner ready. I try my best to have something made the night before for her. I also made a ton of frozen meals before I went back to work, so that that there’s something ready to go for hubby and me.

5:30 pm  Family time. Usually it’s a dance party starring “Baby Shark”, but sometimes it can be a walk together. This is my favorite part of the day.

6:00 pm Bathtime. Another favorite. Charlotte is happiest in the tub. I have her bedtime routine down to a science and it takes exactly 25 minutes to bath her, slather her with cream, in her pjs, in the sleepsack, 3 songs and then sleep.

6:30 pm Charlotte asleep and it’s time for Mommy and Daddy to eat.

7:00 pm Post-dinner cleanup and wind down. I like to watch any “Real Housewives” series, and Pat prefers working on his truck or watching something sci-fi. Or, I’ll blog while he cleans up from dinner, or, he’ll snooze while I fold laundry. Ah married life, it’s so sexy. We usually chat about our days, or organize the weekend’s activities. Maybe even watch a movie if we’re feeling wild LOL

9:00 pm I shower the night before work to save time in the morning. It also allows me to luxuriate and take my time with my skincare routine and hair prep.

9:30 pm In bed. I always read before bed…it relaxes my mind. I really try to avoid any screen time 30 mins before I go to sleep because I find it riles me up too much!

10:00 pm Asleep! Pray for me that Charlotte doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night. And hopefully I’m in a deep enough sleep I can’t hear my husband’s snores.

And there you have it! An exciting day in the life. I didn’t even realize I was so scheduled until I sat down to write…but you know what? It’s what keeps me sane!

Real talk: What’s your day-to-day like? Any life-saving tips for surviving through the morning/evening rush?

 

 

The Story of Us

I met my husband, Patrick, when I was 18 years old. We were set up by a mutual friend who thought that his two single friends would like each other. It was the days of MSN Messenger, and my blind date and I chatted for quite a bit and hit it off. We’d talk for hours about everything and nothing. But when we finally came face-to-face, it was NOT a love connection. He remembers that I wore red pleather pants, drove my parents Pathfinder and had platinum bangs. He also claims that I acted like a stuck-up-snob. I remember that his hair was slicked back with gel, had his shirt unbuttoned WAY too low, and he had on a thick gold chain. I thought he was a Tony Soprano-wannabe.

After that disastrous first meeting, our mutual friend kept us in the loop of what each other was up to, but I didn’t actually see Patrick again for about 7 years. Fast forward to 25 years old; Pat and I had just both gotten out of long-term relationships that sucked our souls, and the same mutual friend was tired of hearing us bitch to him about our exes and complain about being single. So, he suggested that we get together for dinner.

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One of our first pictures together – December 2010. We’re 25 here!

I remember Patrick being so nervous at dinner his hands were shaking. In his defense, I was a lot to handle back then…I was still recovering from a deeply traumatizing breakup and didn’t want to “commit”. Poor Pat! He was a sweetie from the start, but I was too caught up in myself to notice. I was mean to him, really, really mean. It still makes me cringe to this day! He had told me after a few months of dating that he was falling for me, but that fell on deaf ears. I’d boss him around, expect him to take me out and pay for everything, and then go out with friends after he’d drop me off. Finally, one night he had enough of my shitty behavior and broke things off. He didn’t just dump me, he dumped me HARD! He wouldn’t answer texts, phone calls, emails, messenger, Facebook…he iced me out. I deserved it, I was horrible!

I knew almost immediately that I had messed up and lost something really precious. Nobody had ever made me feel the way that Patrick did. I instantly regretted my actions and tried to make amends. But my stubborn guy wanted NOTHING to do with me. So, we both went our separate ways and ended up dating other people. His relationship got very serious and I was afraid that he had potentially met “the one” and I lost out. But, thankfully, girlfriend screwed up and Pat and I were found ourselves single again 6 months later. I BEGGED our friend to help me get in contact with Pat. I was relentless! Calling, texting, email, Facebook…finally, I got a text back from Pat that said “What do you want?” and I was elated. I begged him to meet with me, it would only be minutes of his time. He agreed and we went for coffee.

In my heart I knew that if he forgave me, then this would be the one for me. I knew that he was my person, I’d just been too stubborn to notice. It was because of the way he looked at me like I was the only one in the room. It was because of the way I always tried to make him laugh, and the payoff of his sparkling smile. It was because of the warmth of his hand on my back when he’d hold the door open. It was because of how completely and totally he understood me, the good and the bad, and didn’t bat an eye. It was because how everyone he meets instantly becomes his friend. And above all, it was because of his huge heart, a heart that I had hurt and needed to mend.

In that coffee shop, I apologized like I had never apologized before! I was groveling! Pat was stoic and didn’t give away an ounce of emotion. But I told him that if he gave me a chance, that I would spend the rest of my life making it up to him. He said, “We’ll see…”

That was September 2010. By June, we were living together. By December we were engaged. We married May 18, 2013, 5 YEARS AGO TODAY!

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The last 5 years of marriage haven’t been a breeze. In our first year, Pat’s Dad passed away suddenly and it devastated our family. All the stress of the first year of marriage, a new house that needed major renovations, plus dealing with such a huge loss and depression…it nearly broke us. Thankfully, we came out the other side. We learnt a lot that first year; like how to fight fair and when to give each other space.

We waited 4 years to have a baby and I’m so glad we did. It allowed us to be in a much better, more stable place – emotionally & financially. It allowed us to travel the world together – Paris, London, Scotland, Iceland, Costa Rica, Mexico and Caribbean. And waiting before becoming parents gave our relationship the time to mature. As we became parents, we started to learn how to not sweat the small stuff and how to maintain our own relationship outside of being Charlotte’s Mommy and Daddy. That is a work in progress. There are very good days and very bad days. The important part is that we are each other’s best friend, team-mate and life line.

So to my husband on our 5th wedding anniversary, I love you. You are my person and I’m so thankful that we’re in this together. Here’s to another 5 years…and at that time, I would like to have vow renewal in Jamaica please and thank you.

REAL TALK: SO MANY QUESTIONS FOR YOU ALL! How did you meet your spouse? What obstacles have you faced? How have you overcome them? What does marriage mean to you? I want to know everything…share in the comments below!

Interview with my Mother

It’s not until you become a mother that you fully appreciate your own mom. That’s certainly been the case for me. Franny, aka Franny Lams, aka Lambo, aka Mom/Mommy/Ma/Mother is a prominent figure in my life. She’s the big cheese, the boss, a larger-than-life tour de force. She’s always been my biggest cheerleader, my strongest advocate, the president of my fan club and my ride-or-die. I would not have survived my first year of motherhood without her guidance, support and love. So, as any annoying daughter would do, I asked her to talk about me and gave her less than 24 hours to come up with something meaningful. Here’s how it went down…

Tuesday, 9:01 PM

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Tuesday, 9:04 PM

Phone call to my mom

Me: Mom, I sent you an email did you see it? Why haven’t you answered yet?

Mom/Fran: You sent me an email? I’m doing my crossword, I have priorities. Let me look and I’ll call you back.

Tuesday, 9:07 PM

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Tuesday, 9:10 PM

Phone call to my mom

Me: Mom, I’m going to email you the questions now.

Mom: Wait, so you’re going to pawn off your blog post this week to me?

Me: Yup!

 

Wednesday, 9:00 AM

Calls mom x 2. No answer.

Wednesday, 9:01 AM

Calls mom’s cellphone x 3. No answer.

Wednesday, 9:02 AM

Facetimes mom x 2. No answer.

Wednesday, 9:03 AM

Mom sees my missed calls and panics. Calls me three times in a row. I ignore her until 12pm. Aren’t daughters wonderful?

 

Here are the questions I sent my mom about me. Get to know me through my mother’s eyes. Her answers may be a little bias 🙂

Q: When I was little, what did you think I was going to be when I grew up?

I thought you would be an actress! You were a natural performer and you loved attention from an admiring audience. Some things never change!

Q: Do you think I have more of your good qualities or bad qualities?

I think you have many of my good qualities – perfectionism, creativity, intellect, sense of adventure, empathy (shall I continue?) – and only one of my bad qualities – nail biting!

Q: What is the funniest thing I ever said or did as a kid?

Picture a 2-year old Jen, her hands on her hips and feet planted firmly apart, with a steely defiance as she locks eyes with me and proclaims:” I am the boss of me.” Didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Q: What was the most annoying thing I did as a baby?

You hummed when you ate: a low and not-so-melodic hum to indicate your approval of food. Annoying, but also a good indicator.

Q: What were my very first words?

I wished it had been Mamma or Dada, but it was “Ju”, which was short for “juice”, and you demanded this loudly, usually in public places.   

Q: What’s your all-time favorite picture of me?

Actually, it is a picture of you and your brother (yes, HE is in it), mugging for the camera during a photo session at Sears when you were 3 and he was about a year and a half. Both of you are laughing and, for a moment, seem to like each other (Mom award for diplomacy here, svp).

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I was likely trying to push him off the table…

Q: What is your very first memory of me?

Easy peasy: you were screaming only seconds after you were born, so the nurse lay you down beside me and you instantly quietened when I said, “Hello, there sweetie, did you have a good trip?” You opened your eyes and fixed your bright blue (bloodshot) eyes on me as you saw me for the first time. We just stared at each other; it was love at first sight (for me, at least!)

Q: What made me cry the most when I was little?

You thought it was most unfair when we went to ToyRUs to buy a birthday prezzie for one of your friends and you did not also get a gift.

Q: What made me laugh the most when I was little?

Fraggle Rock, a muppets-type TV show in the 1980s, made you laugh a lot. It also scared the beejeezus out of you!

Q: What was the nicest thing I ever said to you?

Since you became a mom yourself, you said you now understand various things I experienced as a new mom, including how intensely and instantly you could love your child and would do anything to protect her from the world. Told you so…

Q: What was the meanest thing I ever said to you?

If I was in the U.S., I would plead the 5th amendment. Mum’s the word here…

Q: What age (of mine) did you hate experiencing the most?

While all the years have had their “challenges”, the late teens and early 20s were a roller-coaster. Hang on for the ride or be killed. Sometimes I wished for the latter…

Q: What age (of mine) do you feel like we were closest?

Again, easy peasy: now!

Q: What is the worst part about being my mother?

Trying to keep up with your quick intellect, navigating your sensitive nature, and meeting your high expectations of me, yourself and others.

Q: What is the best part about being my mother?

Keeping up with your quick intellect, successfully navigating your sensitive nature, and meeting those expectations! Yay me!

Q: What’s the one thing you would have done differently as a mom?

Not lose your remaining piece of “binky” (Binky was my baby blanket) at a hotel in Las Vegas. Sorry…

Q: Do you think it’s easier or harder to be a mother now than when you were raising our family?

It is definitely not harder, but infinitely more complicated because of the volume of information available through the Internet. People share their experiences and their knowledge online, so when you can search questions or have doubts you can find a hundred answers or suggestions. We had Dr. Spock and a couple of books as resources. Child-rearing techniques and ideas have changed in the past 30 years, but you can still phone your old Mom for advice. Then you can go ahead and do whatever you think is right or what Dr. Google suggests.

Thanks Mom! I love you!

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REAL TALK: Has your relationship with your mom changed after getting pregnant/having a baby? Share in the comments below!

 

You Know You’re a Mom When…

I was laughing with some friends the other day as we compared baby notes. We were in hysterics over how we run towards vomit instead of away from it like we used to. It got me to thinking about all the ways you know you’re a mom. So here, presented in good humor, are 25 clear signs you’re a mother…

  1. You’ve been washing the same load of laundry for three days because you forgot to dry it.
  2. It’s not only normal that you pick up another human to smell their butt, it’s a necessity.
  3. You only shower when you know you’ll be leaving your house, or when you’re expecting company.
  4. All of your fantasies involve sleeping uninterrupted.
  5. Going to the grocery store by yourself feels like a vacation.
  6. You have the ability to hear a sneeze through a closed door, down the hall, in the middle of the night, while your hubby snores next to you.
  7. You wish there was drive through EVERYTHING.
  8. When you don’t even flinch after realizing that you’ve gone the whole day with a mystery stain on your shirt that suspiciously looks like poop or puke, or both!
  9. You get excited about picking someone else’s nose and/or sucking their snot.
  10. Whenever you take a shower, you can swear you can hear your child crying, but when you turn off the water, there’s only silence.
  11. Your kids are dressed beautifully and ready to go, and you’re still in pyjamas.
  12. You make the baby an organic meal, and you’re surviving on coffee and cookies.
  13. You realize you’re swaying, without holding your baby!
  14. You will literally strangle whoever rang the doorbell while your child was napping.
  15. You find yourself talking about poop in public, again…
  16. Your idea of working out is lugging the baby carrier, diaper bag and portable activity center in and out of the car.
  17. You cry at every diaper commercial.
  18. You have entire Pinterest boards devoted to crafts and DIYs and you never actually get around to doing them.
  19. You take it personally when a stranger doesn’t wave back to your baby.
  20. Coffee is now one of your love languages.
  21. You find yourself humming “Old McDonald Had A Farm”, or “Twinkle, Twinkle”.
  22. You know all the words from your kids’ talking toys (“Have you met my friend the red fish?” or, “thanks for calling!”)
  23. You deleted apps on your phone so that you can take more pictures of your kid.
  24. Being in the car alone is exciting.
  25. When CEO’s can learn a thing or two about how much you can multi-task.

REAL TALK: Add your own! What are some of the ways that you know you’re a mom? Share below!

Green Eyed Monster

I have never been a jealous person. Most of my life, I’ve marched to the beat of my own drum. I’ve never lacked for anything and anything I’ve wanted, I’ve gone out and gotten it for myself. I’ve made my own path and never felt the need to compare myself to others. I’m a leader, not a follower. But all that changed once I had a baby…

Throughout my pregnancy, I was obsessed with being “normal.” I had heard such awful stories about getting pregnant, staying pregnant and delivering. Nobody talks about the mundane facts of pregnancy, they only discuss the worst case scenario. I was terrified something was going to be wrong with me. I worried that I would get diabetes, or hypertension, or have to have a C-section and feel everything, or I would miscarry. All I wanted at every appointment was for the doctor to tell me everything was normal. I wanted the baby to develop normally. I wanted the pregnancy to be normal and I wanted the delivery to be normal.

But once baby was here, normal was not a word I wanted to hear. To me, Charlotte is the most exquisite creature in the entire universe. She is one-of-a-kind. The most special, perfect, beautiful baby that there ever was and will ever will be. And everything she does is magical and meaningful. Clearly, I am drunk on mom love here…Anyways, in my eyes she is perfect, and I want everyone to know that. When the doctor checked her over at our first pediatrician appointment, I beamed from ear-to-ear when he said that Charlotte was special – so alert, so sweet, so patient. When she got her first tooth at 3 months, other moms were amazed (I’ve heard early teething is a sign of genius, am I right?) And when I tell other moms how she sleeps through the night, every night, I see their envy.

As a mom, it’s impossible not to compare yourself to others when every book, blog, magazine and podcast is telling you which milestones matter and how to get your child there faster. Competition is fierce and leaves us feeling jealous. I’ve never been more insecure in my life. Am I feeding her properly? Is the car seat installed right? Am I a bad parent if my child doesn’t walk at 8 months? Did I fail as a mother if she can’t yet clap or blow kisses? The constant questioning swirls around in my head most of my waking hours.

Like any millenial mom, I turn to social media to test the waters. But I find myself becoming even more anxious! Some of my friend’s babies are already pulling up and standing and others have mastered crawling (Charlotte prefers army crawl and rolling to get where she wants to go). Instantly my mind goes to two places: 1) Is it normal that my kid isn’t doing those things? And, 2) What did I do wrong as a mother that my kid isn’t doing those things too! Our child is clearly the most special to us, but if they don’t do it first, or best, are they really that special? And if we, as mothers, can’t get them to that point, did we fail?

I recently texted a friend to tell her that I was jealous her baby was pulling up and standing. “Chill,” she said, “There is no ‘normal’…babies do what they want, when they want. I’m sure people are jealous of Charlotte’s eating, or how many teeth she has! I remember thinking I wasn’t feeding baby enough when I saw one of your Insta stories.” I honestly hadn’t looked at it that way, so thanks buddy!

So where does this sense of jealousy and competition come from? What exactly are we competing for? To rush our babies into the next step without enjoying what’s in front of us? The days are long but the years are short, and before we know it, our kids are all grown up and refusing extra kisses and hugs. If Charlotte isn’t yet mobile, that means more opportunity for snuggles and squeezes. I need to remind myself each day that this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon and to enjoy every moment.

 

Real talk: Do you often find yourself jealous of other moms? How do you deal with the competition between other parents?

 

 

On Burnouts, Comebacks & Imperfection

Hi. It’s me. Remember me? Your friendly neighborhood supermom. The one with the curated Instagram, the sponsored posts and all the right hashtags. Well friends, I have news for you…that chick is gone! She burnt out back in November and now she’s been replaced with someone a little less “perfect.”

Back in November, my life was upside down. We had sold our house in 72 hours and had 90 days to find a place to live and no hope in sight. We kept getting outbid on places we loved and the housing inventory in the area we wanted to live was non-existent. My dad is a real estate broker with a million years experience and he had never seen anything like this. Panic set in.

Not only we were homeless, but I was still getting used to my role as a mom. Charlotte was 5 months old, and even though we had started our fledging routine, that shit is TOUGH! The anxiety that I had experienced in my 20s flared up like a giant beast. The smallest task (like packing, or texting someone back) seemed insurmountable. My heart would literally race when I got a text message/email/DM that required an answer. The thought of blogging exhausted me. It felt like an impossible mountain to climb. And every day that I procrastinated, the mountain seemed a little taller and steeper, until it grew into an impossible Everest.

And then I’d get mad at myself and start to pick myself part. “I do this for a living, why is this so hard?” Or, “You aren’t pretty/funny/cool enough.” But, the thought that was the most self-destructive was: “No matter what you do, nobody will follow you. You aren’t that interesting.” Super mean, right? We are our own worst critics!

Here’s the thing that no one tells you about blogging…creating content and coming up with new ideas is hard! Starting up your own site and creating a “pretty” Insta with beautifully curated pics is cute, but actually producing content is a full-time job! The pressure of having “perfect” pictures, constantly coming up with new initiatives and new sponsorships was more than I could bear. At work, I have a giant team and huge budget to create content. Little ol’me with my Iphone and a laptop just isn’t the same thing. If I couldn’t even answer a text back, you can imagine how daunting the thought of dressing up, putting on makeup and organizing a baby-and-me photoshoot was!

So what changed you ask? Well, we found a house which we love, I went on a digital hiatus and we took a month-long vacation in Florida. It was revitalizing. To get out of your negative headspace, sometimes a change of environment is the best. Plus, built-in babysitters (thanks Mom & Dad) allowed me some headspace and free-time to have much needed conversations with myself. With a lot of the life stress out of the way, I found myself fantasizing about the blog again. I wrote down blog ideas and started to want to create and connect. It wasn’t overnight (hell, it’s friggin March as I write this and I got back from vacation Jan 31!) but that desire to reach out to others and share my journey is back.

There will be one noticeable difference from pre-burnout to now. Here’s what I promise:

I promise to not be perfect. I promise to be messy, unfiltered and random. I won’t hold back on posting a pic because it doesn’t fit an Instagram aesthetic. I won’t gloss over the yucky stuff. I will be vulnerable. I will be long-winded if I feel like it. I will be gentle with myself and let my flaws shine through. I will focus on telling my story, not accumulating followers. I will be real, grounded and 100% authentically me. I’ll focus on what I’m doing & not look over my shoulder at others. 

And to everyone who has stuck around, thank you. The internet can be an asshole, but you’ve been supportive as hell and I appreciate it so much. Thank you for being my cheerleaders!

Real talk: What’s holding you back? Share below & let’s start a convo!

(P.S. Thank you Jamie for the pep talk. It sparked a conversation with myself that needed to be had)

A Tale of Two Teeth

How did I not know that teething was a major milestone?! It’s not that I didn’t know that baby get teeth, I just didn’t realize what a disruption it would be to our fledging routine.

Seemingly, out of nowhere, at 3 months, Charlotte started drooling as if someone had left a tap running and shoving anything possible into her mouth. I was in total denial! She was much too young to start teething – don’t babies get teeth at 6 months? WRONG! By 4.5 months, Charlotte has her 2 bottom teeth and is working on the top two. Talk about an early over-achiever!

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Obsessed with this picture because you can see her little tooth poking out the bottom!

How did I survive? Good question…I’m still learning how to! But there are a couple of strategies that have helped us feel more in control and ease Charlotte’s discomfort. Because teething is PAINFUL for babies (and parents!) Any adult who has ever had dental work can sympathize. Now imagine not being able to express your discomfort. Fun times! Teething babies are whiney, fussing messes and their sleep becomes disrupted and irregular. Some babies are just more sensitive than others. Charlotte happens to be extremely teething sensitive.

  1. ADVIL. Invest in industrial amounts of pediatric Advil drops. Teething pain is due to the inflammation of the gums. Tylenol will not help ease the pain – stick to Advil instead as it’s an anti-inflammatory. And make sure you are dosing correctly.
  2. Teethers. There are a million and one teethers out there. After much trial and error, Charlotte was devoted to one – Sophie la Girafe. There’s something about the big black eyes and the smooth, rubbery skin that kids go crazy for! Also, since she grabs EVERYTHING and put it in her mouth (including my hair, fingers, shirt, etc), I tried out teething jewelry and Charlotte loved it. I got a cute necklace and bracelet set from my friends at Tic Tac Bow Kids. They are 100% silicone, non-toxic, BPA free and can go in the dishwasher. Plus, they actually look cool. Winning!

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    Wearing a Teething Necklace & Bracelet from Tic Tac Bow
  3.  Camilia teething drops. Some people swear by this homeopathic liquid, others find it doesn’t work. I’m somewhere in the middle. On it’s own, I found no effect, but paired with Advil, it helped with the liquid poop aspect of teething (oh yes, this happens!)
  4. Drool bandanas. SO. MUCH. DROOL! The front of any outfit was immediately soaked through. I find traditional bibs unattractive, but a bandana bib – that’s perfect for my little fashionista! Plus, she likes to chew and suck on it. Tic Tac Bow hooked me up with their adorable drool banada set – it’s soft, with nubby-fleece lining on against baby’s skin and cute pattern on the outside. And of course, matching bow and teether comes with!

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    Always moving too fast for a pic! Bow, bandana and teether trio HERE

With 2 down and 18 more to go, we are bidding our time and bracing ourselves for the next teething phase. Most of parenting is about learning on the fly. I guess we feel moderately well-equipped to deal with what’s coming, but you never know…the next 2 teeth could be a small blip on the radar, or a giant cranky explosion. Only time will tell!

To celebrate Charlotte’s 2 teeth and her 5 month birthday, I teamed up with my friends at Tic Tac Bow for a contest! Click HERE for all the details!

 

Learning to Sleep

“To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub.”

Any mother with an infant knows what Shakespeare was talking about. After carrying a tiny being inside of you for 9 months and going through labor and childbirth, all a mom wants to do is sleep. She deserves a nap, at least! But between round the clock feedings, 100s of diaper changes and learning how to care of a demanding little human, there’s no rest for new mommies.

As I mentioned in a previous post, sleeping is all I think about – for both baby and myself. All the books said that at 3 months, my baby would start to get into a nighttime routine and sleep longer lengths, but for us, it seemed to be getting worse. Charlotte was waking every 3 hours demanding to be fed. She slept with a pacifier, which put her to sleep immediately, but as soon as it fell out, she would yell until I plugged her back in. We had her in a cradle in our room, and she would wake at the slightest creak of floor, or sniffle of nose. I felt like a prisoner. I was a walking zombie, impatient, cranky, and frazzled.

Enter Ayleen Gelbart, RN. We met through my mom group, Perfit Moms, when she came to talk to the group about sleep learning. At the time, I half listened – Charlotte was 10 weeks old and still in her sleepy newborn stage (silly me, I thought that would continue forever haha). When I began to consider sleep training, I reached out to her and I’m so glad that I did! Ayleen has serious credentials – she’s been a Sleep Learning Specialist since 2006 and licensed Registered Pediatric Nurse since 2000. She’s also taken courses in Child Development, Infant feeding, and Pharmacology (to name a few) and she applies that knowledge when working with families. Through her company, ABCSleepyTime Inc., she’s helped countless families with nighttime sleep learning and daytime nap learning. SIGN ME UP!

First, a few points to make about sleep learning…

  • Charlotte was 3.5 months when we began sleep learning. Contrary to popular belief, this is not too young! You can start teaching good sleep habits to newborns and at 10 pounds, you can start teaching baby to sleep longer stretches of time. At this weight, they have enough reserves to sustain them through big stretches and ultimately, the night.
  • I do not believe in “cry it out.” And fortunately, neither does Ayleen. I wanted to teach Charlotte how to sleep at night without having her go into meltdown mode. I can’t handle the tears, it breaks my heart! Ayleen’s method is incredibly gentle, with minimal crying. Some tears are inevitable though as you are changing the baby’s routine.
  • GET RID OF THE PACIFIER FOR SLEEP! This was the toughest habit to break. We ended up going cold turkey and braced for a few days of bad sleep. But once she got used to the “new normal,” her sleep was so much less disrupted!
  • You have to be prepared to temporarily give up some freedom. The first few weeks were a major adjustment – bedtime was at 6pm and I tracked everything from awake time, sleep time, poops and feedings. The time between awake and asleep can be quite short depending on the age of the baby and requires dedication and routine. This really limited what I could do during the day (temporarily), which I found frustrating at first. But once I saw the results – it was worth it!

The first thing Ayleen did was to do a thorough analysis of Charlotte’s environment and overall behaviour. From there, she gave me a personalized plan to follow as well as daily support during our 3 weeks working together.

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Outfit & hair band from TicTacBow

Charlotte’s main issue was that she wasn’t getting enough daytime sleep, which was accounting for her frequent wakings at night. So my goal in the first week was to get her to nap as much as possible during the day. At the time, this meant limiting the amount of time she was awake. I honestly felt like I was always putting her to bed! We did 4 naps a day until we got the 4-5 hours of day sleep that babies her age need.

The second issue was the multiple feedings at night. Ayleen asked me why I was nursing her each time she woke up and I said it was because I assumed she was hungry. Wrong! Charlotte was waking out of habit, for comfort and because she had not yet learned HOW to sleep on her own or put herself back to sleep on her own. Babies wake multiple times through the night, but they put themselves back to sleep (much the same way adults do). So the goal here was to teach Charlotte how to sleep and fall back asleep without me intervening.

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Creeping on my kid while she sleeps. If you’re going to sleep train, invest in a video camera for peace of mind!

This wasn’t easy, but Charlotte took to the structure and routine that Ayleen offered right away! Rather than rush in as soon as the baby squawked, I waited the amount of time that Ayleen advised. If Charlotte fell back asleep then she wasn’t really hungry. If she started to whine and it built into a certain kind of cry, I could check in but not pick her up. FYI – this is an extremely simplified version of the “routine” – I promised Ayleen I wouldn’t give away all of her secrets 😉

Sure enough, within 2 weeks of sleep learning, Charlotte started doing 10-13 hours nights without waking. Every morning, I was greeted with a big smile and giggles. She’s also learned how to nap very well on her own and typically sleeps for 1-2 hours per nap. Though they can be a bit wonky (damn you teething!), overall, my happy baby is well rested and so am I! My anxiety and exhaustion has decreased and I feel so much more patient and relaxed. Developmentally, at 4 months, Charlotte has cut her first tooth, can roll over, “talks” to us, laughs, smiles, grabs at objects she wants and is learning how to crawl. I attribute all of that to a well-rested child.

Charlotte didn’t come with a user manual, but with Ayleen’s help, I managed to figure out how to hack the sleep game.

 

Need sleep help? Ayleen of ABCSleepytime Inc.  works remotely, so she’s able to help tired families all over the world!

Click HERE to visit her website for more information and LIKE her Facebook page!

 

Are you a tired mom? Want to commiserate? Or, do you have a burning sleep question? Let’s talk in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

Charlotte at 3 Months

Time is moving at warp speed! Seems like just yesterday our little bundle of joy was coming home from the hospital. She was so tiny and fragile and we were equal parts terrified, determined and in awe of her. Fast forward 3 months and Charlotte is entertaining us with adorable performances of smiles, gurgles, squeals and coos. She kicks and grabs and our breastfeeding relationship is better than ever.

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Always talking! Just like her Mother…

It’s amazing how fast they develop and how quickly they pick up new skills. Last week, Charlotte’s hands would flail about at random, but now she holds them together like she’s praying, shoves them in her mouth and grabs things out of our hands! Seemingly out of nowhere, she started to drool and blow spit bubbles (oh great, teething in starting). And she’s started swaying from side to side on her back and pulling her feet up. Any moment she’s going to roll.

As a mother, I’m feeling more confident in my abilities and have cobbled together a schedule that seems to work for us. It required giving up some freedom and sticking to scheduled naps and bedtime, but it’s made the days more predictable for Charlotte and has lessened her mood swings (damn Gemini baby!) In terms of mommytime, I’ve been out a few times without the baby, I’ve joined a few mom groups that have been welcoming and supportive and have even started writing pro-bono for a friend’s publication.

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Having breakfast with my 2 loves

The months past haven’t all been sunshine and roses. The sleep deprivation is unrelenting. Charlotte hasn’t mastered the art of napping yet, refusing to go down more than 40 minutes at a time. This makes for one cranky baby by days end! She’s also developed an addiction to the pacifier and is unable to sleep without it. This means on top of feeding her twice a night, I’m up 10 times popping the thing back in her mouth after she spits it out. Very annoying! I’ve tried to stop giving it to her cold turkey, but she still hasn’t learned to self-sooth, so she’ll cry her eyes out for what feels like hours. And that, of course, makes me cry too. Any tips?

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Oh hey there! Just hanging out doing some tummy time

What has saved me the last 3 months has been the support of family. We are so lucky to have my parents and my mother-in-law close-by and not a day goes by where I’m not checking in. From asking them advice like “Does this poop look weird” or being able to vent “She won’t nap and it’s driving me crazy,” they have shared their wisdom and humor and made this crazy parenting adventure a little less scary. Oh, and they also make sure we are fed and that our house isn’t a pigsty. Thanks for that!

Going forward, we’ll need their help more than ever since we’ve officially SOLD OUR HOUSE! Details to come in a subsequent blogpost.

Any advice for a new mom? Care to share your 3 month sleep tips? Comment below!

Motherhood is Hard

It’s been a minute…sorry, I’ve been busy tending to my little nugget. Every day is a new challenge, a new lesson to learn and a new reason to fall deeper in love. I spent so much time leading up to Charlotte’s birth worrying about the actual birth process, that I think I neglected to realize the life changing reality of actually having a baby. Read on to see what I’ve learned during the first month of motherhood.

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Trying to stage a photo – Charlotte had other plans…
  1. Being a mom is physically demanding! Between the 24/7 breastfeeding and the hours of rocking my little Charlotte in my arms, being a new mom is hard on the body. My back aches, my boobs are swollen to the size of watermelons, my nipples look like old chewing gum and I wonder if I will ever sit comfortably again. My biggest mistake was not taking care of myself from the start. I thought I was doing the right thing to neglect my body in order to take care of my baby. Big mistake, HUGE! At week 5 I’ve finally clued in…back rubs from the hubby, therapeutic baths and face masks…here I come!
  2. No routine is the new routine. As someone who thrives on routine and organization, being flexible in my expectations and schedule is a huge adjustment. I’m so used to having places to go, and people to see, that to go with the flow is like taking a full-loaded freight train to a complete stop. Some days Charlotte wants to sleep all morning and others, she’s wide awake and crying. Learning to just let go and accept the day as it unfolds has been a mind-altering experience.

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    Tired AF, nursing non-stop, blotchy skin…but loving ever minute!
  3. Pinterest perfection is bullshit. Any mom-to-be will tell you that she has a baby board on Pinterest where she keeps all her inspiration – nursery, newborn photoshoot, baby “hacks.” I meticulously curated my gallery, clinging to picture-perfect ideals of what motherhood should be like. And it’s a lie, a big, giant lie! Motherhood is messy, chaotic, scary and confusing. Hundreds of so-called “experts” will advise you on how to get the perfect baby photos, what your baby sleep-schedule should be and how to get a rocking post-baby body. And it’s all garbage! Listen to you instinct, embrace the mess and let go of expectations – that’s when the little moments you treasure will happen.
  4. You will hate everyone but desperately need them at the same time. Surviving on 3 hours of sleep a night (if that) and listening to the ear-piercing screeches of a newborn has made me highly irritable. My tolerance for people is at an all time low. I want nothing more than to totally disconnect from the world…but at the same time, I can’t bear the thought of being alone. Motherhood is isolating and having people around (whether you can stand them or not) makes the day more enjoyable and less scary. Sometimes you just need to bounce your crazy thoughts off someone: “Is Charlotte’s breathing normal? Should I be worried she never burps? Are belly buttons supposed to look like that?”
  5. And most importantly, what I’ve learnt as a new mom is: motherhood is a secret club, where love and selflessness grants you access. My mom always warned me that when I had children, I would understand her devotion to us. Our joys were her joys and our sadness, her pain. She said that I would spend sleepless nights worrying about everything under the sun. And she promised that things that were once so important, would all seemed trivial compared to the bond between mother and child.  I didn’t know love like this until Charlotte’s little finger wrapped arond mine. I didn’t know I could survive without sleep, a hot shower, food and water until I rocked and rocked a sleepy (and very stubborn) baby to sleep for hours. Mom, you were right!

I know there’s more wisdom to learn as I embark on this adventure in parenthood – so please feel free to share your best bits of advice in the comments below!