June 2, 2018. After months of planning, the big day arrived so fast! I spent so much time and love setting up the house for our cat-themed birthday party for Charlotte. I had originally wanted to hire a party planner, caterer, send out 150 invitations and have pony rides for her birthday, but my husband talked me down off the ledge. Instead I opted for a smaller at-home gathering with close friends and family.
My maxi dress is one of my all-time favorite & most flattering silhouettes from Pink Blush. I wore a very similar dress for my baby shower and felt like a goddess. The 3/4 sleeve and wrap neckline was so easy to wear; I didn’t have to worry about tugging or pulling anything up. It’s vibrant print and flowy fabric kept me looking cool even though I was sweating from all the stress of throwing baby’s first birthday. It’s one of my new wardrobe staples and will look fantastic with a baby bump as a maternity dress, or post-baby as a nursing dress, or simply looking like a babe as an everyday maxi dress.
Like I said, it was a cat-theme for our Charlotte Adele Trottier (get it? C.A.T?) so I used ever pun I could think of…”let’s pawty,” “I’m not kitten, I’m one,” “Happy purrr-thday.” I also decorated with little cartoon cat faces, cat ears and pink and gold everywhere. I created a sweet table with a candy bar, cupcakes and a kitty cat cake and served pink lemonade.
They say it takes a village to raise and child and each person at the party had a big role to play in our lives during the last year. We’re so thankful for all the love and support. Charlotte is such a lucky girl to have so many wonderful people that love her so much!
All photos by Sandra Milioto. She is my fave Montreal family photog!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!)
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
‘Tis the season to be thankful and my heart couldn’t be more full of gratitude. 2017 has given us the beautiful gift of Charlotte, the luxury of enjoying our time with her, a new house and has changed our marriage in so many profound ways.
There are probably a million reasons why Patrick and I are so thankful to have Charlotte in our life, but here are the top 5 that my grateful, love-riddled mind came up with.
(Scroll down for bonus reason #6 to be thankful! Hint: it’s a coupon code to shop Charlotte’s outfit, courtesy of Petit Atelier Enfant!)
She brings us so much laughter. I don’t think Pat and I have ever laughed as much as we have with Charlotte. Sometimes her expressions or sound effects are so hilarious, it literally makes us laugh-cry. You can’t help but smile when she throws you a gummy grin! And when she starts to giggle uncontrollably, her infectious laughter makes us double over.
She has taught me the power of my own strength. I never considered myself an exceptionally brave or strong person (I’m stubborn, there’s a difference). But going surviving childbirth, sleep deprivation and chomped up nipples has made me feel powerful and strong, like I can do anything.
She makes me feel like I’m the most important person in the room. All you parents will agree…there is nothing like your little baby grabbing your face and staring into your eyes. Charlotte will stroke my cheek and gaze into my eyes and the world melts away. I love the way that her eyes search for me when she’s being held by others, or how she tracks my movement when she’s sitting in in her activity chair.
She has changed our days so profoundly. Honestly, we don’t even remember what we did without her. Seriously, what did we do with all that spare time? How did we have any fun before we worked book-reading and tummy time and baths into our routine?
She reminds us what life is really about. It’s not about work or money, or any of the millions of little dramas that happen on a daily basic. Life is about family and love and all that good stuff. The rest is just details.
BONUS reason to be thankful! Petit Atelier Enfant is giving you 10% off their online store to shop beautiful, designer children’s clothes. I love their unique pieces! They’re comfy, super cool and one-of-a-kind.
Use coupon code: JEN10.
(Coupon is valid for 1 time use, until October 27)
Before Charlotte, I never subscribed to the phrase “less is more.” For me, more has always been more! Why buy one pair of shoes, when you can have two? I don’t just want a new top, but a whole new outfit and bag to go with. Of course baby girl would have mountains of clothes, new outfits everyday and accessories to match. But as Charlotte quickly outgrew her substantial newborn wardrobe, I realized that most outfits had only been worn once or twice. What a waste!
With that in mind, I decided to do better. I set out to find clothes that fulfilled a few requirements. Firstly, with sleep training Charlotte (more on that in a later post), I needed outfits that weren’t super fussy and would transition easily from sleep to play. Secondly, I like clothes that don’t look like baby clothes – no cheesy slogans or silly cartoon characters. Thirdly, with Charlotte outgrowing outfits within 2 weeks, I was struck with the question of what to do with everything? I decided that I wanted to have more quality items for Charlotte, and that I wanted them to be local.
That’s when I came across Miles Baby. I have a personal connection to the brand as one of my favourite former co-workers, Marie-Helene, is the artistic director. She is super talented and I love her modern aesthetic. Miles Baby is cool, very cool. It’s playful and comfy and inspired by the neighborhoods that we all live in. What I love about the brand is that they seek to encourage local commerce and celebrate our communities.
Scroll down for a FREE SHIPPING COUPON!
Charlotte is wearing pieces from the “From the Block Collection.” I love that they have a bit of an edge and don’t look like your typical childrenswear. Inspired by play blocks and buildings in our neighborhoods, the collection is playful and loungy, unisex and super cool.
BTW, Miles Baby has given me a sweet coupon for FREE SHIPPING!
Use coupon code: jenxmiles
Limit 1 per customer, Valid in Canada & USA only. No expiry!
I love supporting small, local businesses and hope you will too!
How is it that Charlotte is going into her 4th month of life? Time needs to stop. Seriously. It seems like she’s always been as big as she is right now, but as I look back on pictures, I find it hard to believe that she was once so small, and so squished. Everyone said it, but treasure the time you have with your wee ones. Although you may be dying of exhaustion, crazy with their screams and completely bewildered about how you will survive, absorb every moment with your little darling.
One of the things that never ceases to amaze me about Charlotte is how she’ll go to sleep one way and wake-up to be a whole new baby! What I mean is, she literally learns how to do things in her sleep. Overnight, she goes from random movements, to determined motion. Seemingly, out of nowhere, she’ll grasp at colorful objects she used to stare at and promptly put them in her mouth. Or, she goes to sleep and the next day, she knows how to flip over! What is going on in that crazy brain of hers?!
At 3.5 months, I started introducing more toys to Charlotte that encouraged her new sensory skills. Of course, it was by putting my crazy Google-hat on that I came across KidzDistrict. What I love about their company is that they search for the most innovative, high quality products and they’re based in Canada. Whoo hoo! They introduced me to DOLCE, the cutest plush toys that combine playing and learning.
D.O.L.C.E stands for Develop, Observe, Learn, Create, Educate. One of Charlotte’s favorite toys right now is the Dolce Play & Learn Whale. It’s perfect for teaching hand-eye co-ordination and fine and gross motor skills. Crinkle fins, teether, embroidery and squeakers all add to the fun and learning.
I reached out to my friends at KidzDistrict because I knew that all of you lovely followers might want one of these super-toys too! So, together we’re giving away the very adorable Dolce Play and Learn Monkey. It’s my very first contest, yay!
In honor of our impending move, I wanted to share the cuteness that is Charlotte’s nursery. Granted, she hasn’t slept there one night yet (she’s currently in a cradle in our bedroom)…but it’s a fun spot for playing, reading and changing the baby.
A few things were important when I started putting everything together.
Cost! I knew that we’d likely be moving this Fall, so I didn’t go all out with decor and spending. I used many things we already had (like our indestructible house plant, Ikea lamps and Bear painting) to add personality to the room. My greatest splurge was the Pottery Barn Kids curtains that I had my friend import from the USA and they were under $100. They were rose gold stars, what more count I want?!
Color scheme. I’m a girly girl and even though I swore up and down that I was going “gender neutral” in my decor, I caved when I saw the pretty pink, cream and gold bedding. It added just a hint of sparkle without screaming GIRL! I kept the rest neutral; cream carpet, taupe and cream chevron chair, muted wall color.
Small space. We converted our tiny upstairs office into the nursery, so there wasn’t a lot of space to work with. Thankfully, we had bookshelves already up which allowed us to free up a lot of ground space. I kept furniture to a minimum; crib, chair, change table and dresser. Having a small room forces me to keep it neat and tidy (especially when we do 4 outfit changes in a day).
So without further ado, here are my favorite parts of Charlotte’s Nursery!
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?”
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!