My First Time Mom “Truths” Part 2 (6 Months – 1 year).

Hey there,

Can someone please tell me how it’s been more than a year and a half since my last blog post? While I had fully intended to follow my “First time mom truths” with more insights just a few short months later, apparently life took over and blogging got pushed to the wayside. My little Munchkin is almost a year, just over 20 months old, almost two years old, so while this post is actually about my reflections on motherhood in that first glorrrrrrious year (which ended over 12 months ago), there will likely be a smattering of opinion herein based on more recent experiences (it’s hard not to re-read and revise, I tell you; hindsight is 20/20, and that’s an ongoing life lesson isn’t it?). Really, I figure since I’m knee deep in this epically awesome, disastrous adventure they call “toddlerhood” now, I may as well include a bit about that too while I’m at it (though that is going to be a post in and of itself, I am sure; likely to be published when she’s starting high school). So here goes the post that I started last year and never finished (like the million other things). I digress:

1. Brain farts don’t decrease in frequency, at least not to the extent that you might hope, think, wish, anticipate … EVEN when your sleep quality and duration improves. What I am saying is that things stay pretty bad from a cognitive perspective, for a good while. (To give you a better idea, at almost 2 years post-partum, I am still not “back” to normal – whatever that is … *Sigh*) Sorry. I really hate being the bearer of bad news but at the end of the day, when it comes to mental capacity and functioning, I can’t be the one you rely on to give you hope. Why, you ask? Because I’ve lost mine. (…. and that got pretty dark, pretty quickly, ha!). But seriously – mom brain is a real thing. Only now at almost 2 years post-partum do I kind of feel generally back to my previous intellectual capacity, and even then  – as you can likely tell by my “tone” – this is a fluctuating and inconsistent “truth” (at best). I’ll give you a few examples of events from those last few months of maternity leave:

  • A few minutes after we cleaned out and unplugged our old fridge (we were waiting for a new one to arrive the following day) I decided to hop in the car and head to the grocery store for some veggies, milk, and meat. I got all the way there, parked, walked in … and then realized that we did not in fact have a fridge to store these sought-after items in. We literally JUST discussed what we would be eating for the next 24 hours (and it wasn’t fresh food). Essentially, not the greatest time to shop for meat and dairy (unless you’re into rancid flesh and curdled milk. I myself, am not. But each to their own …). To this day I’m not sure if my husband chose not to dissuade me from going because he was relieved to get me and all my crazy out of the house so he could have a few minutes of peace, or if he had just become really good at pretending he was listening when I was talking (I’m going to say likely the latter. Because, #marriedlifesurvival … Amiright?). Or, to be fair, as a third option – maybe he did listen AND hear my plan, but just didn’t think about the nonsensical nature of the whole idea (in which case, parent brain might be a thing!). 
  • The liquor store we’d been going to for over a year has a walk-way separating the two sides, both of which carry wine (the entrance is on the left of the store, and wine is located across both the left and right sides of the store. Pretty much the whole store. The back of the store shelves beer and the far right wrap-around wall houses hard liquor, champagne, spirits, etc. Yah, I could draw a map in my sleep. Don’t judge.). Anyway, for the last few months of my maternity leave, I frequented the LCBO about once a week, and during those visits I completely ignored the entire RIGHT HALF of the store because for some reason unbeknownst to me, I was working under the half-witted assumption that this side shelved only hard liquor stuff, so was essentially a waste of my precious time. (The reality was that I had been buying Spanish, Italian and Portuguese wine from the right side for months and months and months before!) Anyways, to make a long alcoholic-sounding story short, one day I said to my husband: “It’s weird that our LCBO doesn’t carry anything other than American, Canadian and Australian wi…” I trailed off. OH GOD. It suddenly hit me. He laughed nervously with that somewhat concerned look on his face – slightly raised brow and half-smile, worry lines deepening …. then SILENCE. The ensuing dialogue goes something like this: Ryan: “Haha!!!! *looks at me and pauses* Wait, are you serious? *longer pause* Oh, you are. Yikes…” *gives me a gentle, loving, almost pitiful stare while I creep backwards out of the room and run up the stairs in tears of embarrassment*. So where had this previously DEEPLY engrained knowledge been hiding those few months and why did it suddenly crop up?? Was this information hanging out in some alternate universe with Tupperware lids and bobby pins; with missing socks and soothers? I’ll never know. What an interesting and yet altogether terrifying place that would be to visit. 
  • One morning I was semi-joking with the daycare staff (or at least they thought I was joking) about how my brain wasn’t functioning as well as before I had “the baby.” They laughed empathetically and looked at me as I tried to come up with an example. They waited politely. And I stared blankly. I literally couldn’t think. OF. A. SINGLE ONE. These mental blunders happened, like, every 2nd day! No irony whatsoever in the fact that I couldn’t actually formulate or articulate anything at all in that very moment.  
  •  At Halloween, a few teenaged boys came by to trick or treat. I was so excited that we finally had visitors (we literally had about 8 people the whole night) and so I decided to give them lots of candies. While I was dropping a bunch of treats into their bags, I loudly exclaimed: “You guys sure are getting lucky tonight!!!” ….. Yeah. I said that. After an awkward silence and some forced smiles, they politely said “thank-you” and practically fell backwards down our stairs to get away from the mommy-molester. Of course I immediately knew what I had done – but in case it had gone over my head (as I mentioned previously – not that unlikely of a possibility), my husband made sure to point it out and laugh hysterically the moment the door was shut. I have so, so many more instances of similar mental lapses, but for the sake of time and space I will leave it at that. (Also, I would like to maintain some semblance of pride. Though who am I kidding? It’s a little late for that).

In summary, brain functioning may improve a little over time, but that’s as good as it’s going to get for now. I still – on some days – wonder if I birthed my brain rather than my placenta, in the moments after Heidi popped eagerly out. Seriously. 

2. Diaper wipes are a great substitute for a finger bowls. True story. Who has time for a finger bowl? No one! And who loves ribs and wings and all things saucy? Umm.. Most people! And who wants even more dishes?? No one!! So … wipes for the win! They’re almost as fancy as those steaming hot towels you get at dim-sum or fancy Chinese dinners. Well, not really. At all. But you can pretend your classy while you pluck those wet wipes out of your turquoise Pampers container at the dinner table and dig that sauce out of your nail beds. Whatever you need to tell yourself to get through the day. No one’s judging you …. Well, they probably are. But I sure as hell am not. 

3. Your baby will be eating duck confit while you eat leftover stale bread and mealy fruit. Okay, maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but there’s definitely truth herein. Probably the worst part of this is that you won’t even realize until months have passed, that while you’ve been eating Subway, Pizza Pizza and defrosted meals with microwaveable rice pouches, your little nugget has been getting homemade delicacies: only the best in-season fruits and veggies, organic everything, and super nutritious baked goods. Of course, she will usually want whatever crap you are eating, and the rule of thumb is the more time you spend on something the less she’ll like it. Also, the more of something you make (that she previously liked) the less likely she will ever eat it again. A few other general rules are that the floor is always “hungry” – especially when it’s just been washed, so she will take it upon herself to feed it regularly. And if something is not edible, it is more likely to be eaten than any food item. Especially if it looks dangerous or toxic.

4. You will suffer various injuries due to inexplicable mishaps and ridiculous klutziness. For example, when Heidi was between 9-11 months, I managed to near concuss myself by smashing my head on the wall in front of me. Let me be clear here: I am talking about a FLAT VERTICAL SURFACE, not a corner, not a door frame. (I know … I know … I am so awkward.). And speaking of door frames, I also hit my face on the doorframe (i.e. I walked into the door frame) on a separate occasion. No, I wasn’t drinking. No, I wasn’t running (because I guess that would be a better excuse to have zero coordination???)… and no, I was not having a “who can hit the wall harder with their head” competition (unless it was with myself – and I didn’t know about it – in which case, I guess it was a win-win situation?). Nope. I was simply going about my normal day to day life, wherein I did things like walking, picking items up from the floor and subsequently rising from a bent position to stand up. Altogether super risky stuff. In the course of my daily life in that first year, I also managed to sprain my finger and fall down the stairs (unfortunately separate – albeit equally impressive – incidents). (I should note that I was not holding Heidi, thank goodness). As you can imagine, I constantly had bruises. Why the ridiculous lack of coordination? Part of it, I think, was the brain fog and fatigue, which impacted my balance, perception, attention to things like door frames, and generally decreased my ability to carry out a functional life. I think the other part of it though, was me trying to rush around and get things done when Heidi was finally asleep OR move in ways I never had before in order to entertain her (i.e. hopping like a fool, hitting myself in the head with kitchen objects, etc.). Clearly, I’m all sorts of cool. Not sure that will ever change. A girl can dream though.

5. Your baby could very well end up having very different – dare I say, opposing – behaviors and preferences when you compare him/her to other babies (so don’t!!!!) For example, maybe she doesn’t particularly like to cuddle (unless she is facing away from you, and let’s be honest – that’s not really a cuddle. That’s you being used as a piece of furniture and/or an assistant to help her see the world. But again, you tell yourself whatever you need to, to get you through the day). Hey, maybe she also prefers the crib to your arms. Maybe she’ll be in the crib in her room at 6 weeks while other babies are near mama’s side for a year. Maybe she’ll start out loving the bottle as a wee infant and then begin to hate it just around the time most babies wean from the breast to the bottle. Maybe she’ll take to a straw right away rather than a sippy cup. Maybe she won’t like to be worn in a carrier and she won’t sleep in car seats or strollers unless there is some sort of magical spell cast on her. Basically, I’ve learned that parenting is all about accepting that you have absolutely no clue what is going on, at any given moment, and coming to terms with the fact that you are totally unable to effect or change certain things. No matter what you know, wish, expect or believe, your bubs is (in my opinion) a little more nature than nurture, so the blueprint for behavior, preferences and tendencies, is going to be there regardless (to some degree) of what you do or do not do. This can be freeing (in theory) but also simultaneously anxiety-provoking and/or frustrating. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get things “right” or to be “competent” as a parent, but at the end of the day just because your little one doesn’t fall asleep snuggled into you and prefers to be on her own doesn’t mean you don’t have a bond. And vice versa – you’ve got a snuggly, attached kiddo. This doesn’t mean he or she lacks independence or is not going to thrive in life. It is WHAT IT IS. And it’ll likely change! Let it go. (Haha, I know, I’m an ass … how annoying is it when people say that?) Seriously… Heidi is now more affectionate as a toddler and looking back I wish I hadn’t wasted so much of my rather minimal mental or emotional energy on the worrying or feeling like a bad parent (which doesn’t make any sense, but as you will learn, you will think and feel things that “don’t make sense” because you are suddenly at the whim of this amazing new creature and you can’t always be perfectly rational and controlled. Or at all rational and controlled.)

6. The emission of vile bodily fluids from various orifices will take place at the most inopportune times (usually in public places or when you are pressed for time). For example, our first episode of projectile vomiting took place on the plane, all over Heidi’s sleep sack and my jacket. With several hours left in flight. Then there was the time where poor bubs had an explosive BM that blew out of her double-diaper (yes, I was trying to be proactive. Clearly that didn’t go so well). Thankfully this happened right before I checked in for our flight (not to mention my in-laws being there to help).  In addition to air travel (which we clearly have good luck with), there’s also the delightful poop soft-serve-machine style, which will take place during the 0.42 seconds your baby is diaperless in the bedroom. If you’re lucky, it’ll be on the only patch of your house that has white carpet (the rest being easy-to-clean hardwood). From all of my experiences thus far I have learned three things: (1) Extra clothes for you and baby are a must during travels, (2) Don’t nuzzle too closely into airplane seats. Because. Imagine how many other things have soaked into that material. *shudder* (3) Get rid of all of your carpeted areas. Unless you are one of those people that enjoys shampooing carpets. (I bow down to you. Want to swing by? We’ve got some work for you …)

7. You will vacillate on baby-related topics with reckless abandon. So, I’ve always been a fence-sitter and tend to take my time coming to conclusions after doing some research and/or over-thinking every aspect of a decision … but I’m going to say it get’s even worse after baby. I think the added post-partum hormones and sleep deprivation aggravate the condition (which I like to call “decision making disorder”). For example, over the last few months I’ve heard fellow moms say things like, “My uterus is trembling just looking at that baby … aww, I am so ready for a new born again!” There were occasions when I would think – for a fraction of a second – yah, me too! And the next minute, I snapped out of the craziness and was all like, *waving my hand around obnoxiously* “Nope! Nope .. nope nopeity nope! I’m barely surviving over here.” There were a few rare days when my husband and I were chatting and you could very well have heard me say things like,”I totally get how people have 10 kids and live on a farm! We could get a few more dogs too!” … meanwhile no more than 45 minutes later  I’m choking back tears as I plan out my trip to Mars. Because that makes about as much sense as the other crap that’s floating around my cranial space on most days.

THE END.

What? Too abrupt? Fine. A few more wise words….

Because I am ultimately a lazier short-cutting version of myself these days – and this blog post is already a year late – I’m gonna go ahead and skim over the other “truths” that are more general in nature and most likely discussed by other bloggers in wonderful detail. One of these generalities is that “homemade” now carries an entirely different meaning. For example, Patak’s butter chicken sauce in the crockpot with chicken breasts is “homemade Indian”, Uncle Ben’s 90 second rice/quinoa pouches with a quick chicken and broccoli stir-fry is “homemade” Chinese, stuffed tortellini that cooks in 6 minutes covered with store bought pesto sauce is “homemade” Italian. You get my drift. All of these are more homemade than pizza or shawarma, and because they are essentially “heated up” in your home, they are “homemade.” I remember being so enormously proud of the aforementioned concoctions after a long day at home with bubs. Like, beaming with pride. Whereas before baby I wouldn’t be proud, per se … maybe satisfied? That brings me to the moral of the story: In that first year, you should be prepared to accept yourself as a dirtier (and not in a good way, hahahahaha), less fit, less social, more fatigued (ridiculously sleep-deprived), less cognitively capable version of your pre-baby self. Your standards for everything in life will have to be lowered. This is essential in order for you to:

(A) Continue to like yourself as a person and feel like you are a relatively useful and productive part of society;

(B) Cope with what the day has in store without feeling like you want to run away, and;

(C) Enjoy the micro-moments of pure bliss without thinking about the over-arching, underlying fear that you have absolutely no idea what you are doing. Because for most people, that’s pretty terrifying.

But guess what? As much as all of the above sounds like a nightmare – maybe even enough of a terrifying journey to make you wonder why anyone would CHOOSE to impose this sort of disarray on themselves physically, psychologically, cognitively … professionally, socially, relationally – I will and can confidently tell you that IT IS ALL WORTH IT. I survived that year, and so can you. Hey, I’m sitting here thinking about an eventual second child … and clearly I haven’t “forgotten all the bad” (as evidenced by this entire post ….).

With all that said, it took me well over a year to stomach the idea of venturing down the “parenting a newborn” road again. Things get better my friends, I am living proof.

And sure, I guess you could say I’m cheating a little because as I edit/post this, I have had almost a year to gain some perspective. I’m no longer in the throws of absolutely insane sleep deprivation or in the midst of an emotional meltdown. I’m also no longer in the deep seedy underbelly that is that terrible “first 6 months of daycare” phase, where there were literally more germs, more viruses, more sick days than I could ever have imagined. It was a shit show. Returning to work and trying to manage work-baby-life balance was a whole new challenge. But. It. Is. STILL. WORTH. IT. You get through it. You surround yourself with support. You cry. You cope. You employ strategies you’ve learned and you remind yourself of why you went down this road. You look into the eyes of your blessing and you watch her little feet twirl while she eats, and everything makes sense again. You make goals about your self-care, some of which you meet and many of which you don’t. You drink wine. And when all is said and done, you remind yourself that this time (apparently) flies by and before you know it, one day you’ll be banging your head against the wall wondering why your 15 year old is ignoring you, or sleeping “so much” that you have to wake HER UP (can’t wait, hehehe).

In that first year, I learned so much about myself  – about my strengths and short-comings – as well as about other people, the world, nature, my husband, my extended family. Having a baby brings you closer to so many things and forces you to look within, to stretch your patience, to grow your capacity to accept (mistakes, the unknown, a lack of control, others’ opinions, the list goes on). Fear not: this journey was not in vain. Because at the end of this crazy 12 month rainbow is a pot of pure gold (toddler humor really is pure gold). I’m talking about your tiny human with a big ‘tude and an even bigger curiosity about everything in life. She will bring light and joy and laughter and tears. She will open up a space that was previously hidden; flat, empty, dark and hollow. A compartment of the heart that you did not know existed, now grows exponentially with each passing day.

Signing off for the night, I promise I’ll post soon enough about life as a toddler’s parent. And about my recently successful and delicious Thai coconut prawn ramen noodle recipe (can you tell I’ve cooked, like, 4 dishes I’m proud of in the past 2 years?). I’ve also got a draft of the top 10 “make your life easier” items/services that I recommend for working moms … So, yeah. We’ll see how all this blogging goes. Shoot for the stars, right? Just kidding. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s not to overcommit or make promises. Those days are GONE! So … maybe you’ll hear from me in a year. Or five. It’s the thought that counts.

xo

 

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My 30 First Time Mom Truths (The First 6 Months).

Here are my thirty “truths” (read: non-factual opinions); the culmination of my experiences as a first time mom for the past six months. In no particular order …

  1. You will feel exceedingly insecure and experience bouts of overwhelming anxiety for several weeks (months). Ok, well maybe that’s an overstatement; maybe not everyone goes through this but I can certainly say that as a first time mom, it doesn’t matter how much you’ve read or what you’ve been reassured of, you just don’t know what you are facing until you are in the throes of it. Every moment, every day, every week is different and presents it’s own challenges (and triumphs). Your little one is different than the next babe and he/she sometimes doesn’t even know what’s wrong or what he/she wants … so are you supposed to?! It’s a constant work in progress, this motherhood (parenthood) thing, and – don’t get me wrong – it’s absolutely amazing. But be prepared to feel completely incompetent, unsure, and utterly helpless. I mean, really, when you think about it – a tiny human is now boss but is unable to speak, is totally new to this place called “the world” and doesn’t even understand 1% of what is going on at any given moment – and you expect him/her to direct YOU? Good luck trying to take orders from someone who hasn’t a clue what’s going on. It’s a team effort. And some days you are both running the wrong way. It is what it is!
  2. There is conflicting information on pretty well all of the baby-related topics out there, which ends up being incredibly confusing. My advice on this is: (1) Take everything with a grain of salt because the literature and “recommendations” seem to change every few years anyways. (2) Try different things out. (3) Do what works. (4) Trust your instinct (but don’t shoot me for saying that because you probably won’t have an “instinct” related to child-rearing for many months … I hated when people said in those first few months “trust your gut, mom knows best” … Ummm … Are you serious? I have no clue! I am as overwhelmed and helpless as my screaming baby! The only thing I feel in my gut is a sense of dread and a constant pang of hunger. It does get better. You start to feel a bit more confident and competent, especially after the first 3 months … or maybe just less afraid, throwing caution to the wind because you just need to get out of the house and you can see your fragile tiny human isn’t perhaps as fragile as you thought; he/she has survived so far, which means you can’t be doing that bad a job … right?
  3. Breastfeeding – while a seemingly “natural” thing – is not necessarily easy or enjoyable at the beginning (or ever, for some people). Just prepare yourself for this. I thought I was prepared, but honestly the first 4 months were so challenging. It’s not like it looks in the movies: a happy, quiet, content baby suckling from the boob, with mom smiling and rocking to a lullaby in her chair. Nope. No no no. There are blisters, there’s screaming (and I’m not just talking about mommy), there’s milk spraying, there are tears (again, baby may not be the only one exercising his/her lungs … Just sayin’). With that said, this has just been my experience. You may be one of those mom + baby combos that get’s the hang of things quickly. My little munchkin on the other hand, was a fussy babe at the boob and poor thing also had to deal with a forceful letdown and oversupply which rendered me the human equivalent of the Trevi fountain. So, essentially, she got assaulted by my milk-ejecting machine guns on many occasions. It’s kind of a miracle that she still wants to suck on my boobs at all! Anyways, I have to say breastfeeding was a more difficult and touchy topic than sleep was in those first 4 months (and as a new parent you will surely understand the magnitude of such a statement). Everyone is different and each baby is different, but you will most likely feel pressure from your friends and health professionals to breast feed … and yet experience the opposite pressure (whether it’s explicitly stated or not) to formula/bottle feed from other genuinely concerned individuals (especially when they see and experience first hand, your mental breakdown, or have plans interrupted because you are running to catch baby when she is “just waking” from a nap so you can unknowingly slip your nipple in her mouth before she fully wakes up because that’s the only time she feeds.). Just know that all the advice is well-intended and you have to decide what’s best for you in the end. I almost gave up so many times and really, looking back, would probably have been less stressed if I had bottle fed. However, I know I would have felt guilty doing so given I was blessed with a really good milk supply. I figured that it was possible my guilt may have outweighed the benefits of reduced stress, which is why I stuck with it. I’m not really sure, but I do know if the difficulties lasted beyond 4 months I would have quit breastfeeding all together. In any case, try not to be pressured or to be too hard on yourself and just do what works. This is definitely easier said than done, I know! But looking back, I completely appreciate both camps, and value everyone’s input on the subject (especially given that the people in my life had my best interest at heart). The reality is, I was formula fed and so were many people I know, and we turned out (mostly) fine. All the research about formula feeding and fat, allergy-ridden babies may have some truth … but then again, there are exceptions, there are cost-benefit analyses to look at, and there are case examples (myself included) that counter the “research.” DO WHAT WORKS.
  4. You will, at some point, seethe with rage at the sight and sound of your significant other (and pet, if you have one) sleeping soundly while you are up for the thirtieth time OR aren’t sleeping because you are worrying about some mundane but seemingly important baby-related thing. I don’t care how strong your relationship is, unless you are sharing the overnight shift (which in those first weeks is by far the most difficult time of the day) you will feel some resentment. I’m not saying this vexation is justifiable by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it may be totally unfair; you may have come to a complete and whole-hearted agreement that whomever is working should get a full night sleep. Or maybe you feel it’s pointless to let your partner get up given you will just be awake the whole time anyways. Regardless of any of the rationale or the context of your specific “arrangement”, there is nothing more infuriating at 3am when you are sleep deprived to the max and trying to sooth a poopy, hungry, whiney newborn than looking at your partner and dog peacefully sleeping, an orchestra of melodic snoring, taking place a few feet away. You’ll get past it. But it’s intense.
  5. Just because you have successfully delivered a tiny human into the world and you came away from pregnancy scot free of stretch marks, doesn’t mean you are good to go. They can appear after labour. I know, who knew????? I certainly didn’t. The only thing I’d heard about “late” stretch marks was that some women got them the final week before baby arrived. When you think about it, though, it makes sense: After delivery when your milk “comes in” (that phrase is so ridiculous; it sounds like your local grocery store had it’s shelves restocked), your breasts will grow 46 times their previous size (maybe not but they will at least get slightly bigger). If your skin didn’t stretch when this happened, the result would undoubtedly be an explosion of gigantic proportions (seriously – milk. everywhere). In order to avoid the aforementioned mess, I’m pretty sure we were designed to have stretchy-ish skin. So, before you bring out the Moet and throw a party to cheers with your closest friends in celebration of your streak-free body and new tiny human, wait a week or so. Or … you can screw it, raise your glasses, drink up and refrain from looking in the mirror for a few months. Looking back, that might have been the best course of action. But hindsight is 20/20 …
  6. The amount of time, effort, energy that you put into raising your baby does not necessarily correlate with desired results. This is a tough pill to swallow, especially when you’re a type A personality or even just someone who likes to see the effects of his/her labour. Sorry to break it to you, but it doesn’t really matter how hard you work on something (i.e. napping schedule, getting your baby to crawl, etc.) the new boss in town isn’t having it. You can certainly do things to improve the likelihood of a desired outcome (e.g. setup a good sleep environment, try to learn your baby’s cues, give him/her lots of interaction and stimulation) but at the end of the day … You have very little control! This can make for some extremely frustrating and deflating days. It can also, however, provide you with an opportunity to “let go” of some of this need for control and help you to learn how to “go with it” in the sense that you try and enjoy the moments/the ride/the journey rather than constantly looking towards the outcome/destination. It has been a huge learning experience for me and continues to be.
  7. My personal opinion is that you should introduce the bottle within the first month, so that regardless of if you’re breast-feeding or not, you have the opportunity to LEAVE THE HOUSE! Without the baby! For more than 30 minutes! Seriously, this is a very personal opinion, and some people don’t have the desire to do so (which is totally fine) but I know for myself, it was hugely important to go out just for an hour and get away without having to worry that the little one would have a hangry meltdown and desire more than my husband’s empty breasticle. Aside from helping me keep my sanity, I also think these little outings helped my husband build his confidence with respect to taking care of an infant (and he was a natural anyway). It also helped me to start to trust other people with her (or – let’s be serious – to let go of my fear that she would scream the entire time I was away and make the other person’s life a living hell). This “getting away” also allowed me some space to feel “with myself” (an odd statement, I know, but you will get it once you are a mom). You will need a break, especially when the little one is cranky/fussy and you have been up 5+ times and gotten less than 4 hours of total sleep.
  8. You will become obsessed with bodily fluids, and that’s ok (or maybe it’s not, but no one’s judging). This is your new “job” and one of your tasks is to incessantly analyze everything and anything that is escaping from you and your baby. Ok, maybe not. But I can assure you, you will never spend as much time again in your life analyzing poops, pees, breast-milk (if breastfeeding), spit-up, the inside of your baby’s mouth, their bum … and on that note, you will become an expert at stain removal. Get ready … Laundry, laundry, laundry. LAUNDRY!
  9. Sleep is elusive and you will never again experience so many different levels of fatigue (which I now appreciate is something that is completely relative). In those early days, you will honestly feel like death. There’s no avoiding it … almost ill and in a near psychotic state (not to make light of post-partum psychosis, of course, which is a completely different and very real struggle for some women). But when you are getting less than an hour of sleep at a time and less than 5 hours total in a 24 hour period, it’s just insanity. Your hormones are already out of whack and you may find yourself bursting into tears because they don’t have cheddar cheese slices at Walmart …  The sleep deprivation is almost a form of torture (and your partner may agree, because you’ll likely never have been this emotionally unstable before, even when pregnant). With all this said, it does get better. I am 6 months post-partum and am getting 5.5-6.5 hours a night, broken into 2-3 hour chunks (a few times, she’s given me 5-6 hours in a row). I actually feel good and well-rested on an average day now whereas when I was working pre-baby, I would have felt like absolute hell if I’d been up 2-3 times during the night and only had 2-3 hours in a row. I think your body adjusts. Also, I am using significantly less brain energy during the day (as evidenced by my baby talk and inability to write a simple birthday card without repeating the word “excited”) than I did while I was working. I am guessing I’ll feel worse once I return to work with a 1-year old who most likely isn’t sleeping through the night. But, moving on (who needs things to be anxious about in the future, really?)
  10. Onesies are made with flexible shoulders for a reason (and it’s not just so they are easier to pull over your baby’s giant lollipop of a head). When your little one has a massive, runny, poopsplosion – which goes up the back nearing the armpits, you probably won’t want to pull that mess over his/her face. And you don’t have to! The beauty of the flexible shoulders is that the onesie can be pulled down over the poop-covered torso rather than over the head. Tada! Your day (and baby’s face) just got a little less shitty. Literally.
  11. You will suddenly understand the purpose of bibs for babies that aren’t yet eating. I never understood why a little infant who isn’t eating solid foods yet would have a bib. Enter teething … Then you will understand. Holy drool-fest. Shirts can be soaked within mere seconds. It’s like an incredible super-power. That holds absolutely no merit (which is likely why Marvel hasn’t capitalized on the concept).
  12. The zippered pajama is where it’s at. Buttons/snaps are such an annoyance when you are dealing with 4-6 diaper changes a night and about 2 billion during the day (early weeks – it gets better). Your eyes are half open and you are trying not to completely wake up your baby who is in a milk coma after her 2am feed; the last thing you want to do is fuss with a bunch of snaps. It’s so much easier to have a zipper. That said, those onesies with the snaps in the crotch are good too, but we had our baby in the winter so long-legged outfits were a must. Also, I have heard that premature babies do better with snaps because the multiple tubes/wires need to be able to get through the clothing.
  13. You will sustain yourself on coffee and wine (or whatever happens to be your libation of choice). Now this may be an overstatement, and I risk sounding like a wired alcoholic, but I’ve had so many mommy friends agree that they’ve never drank more coffee or gone through as much wine as they did in those first 6 months. It’s not to say we are all finishing off pots in the morning and bottles in the evening… But when you’re sleep deprived and your day consists of poopy diapers and baby talk, you’ll look EXTRA forward to wine o’clock! Even on a “good” stay-at-home day, it’s nice to sit down and bond with your partner when he/she comes home and just unwind. With that said, you’ll likely be too tired and overwhelmed in those first few weeks to really enjoy a drink and if breastfeeding you’ll also have to figure out the amount of caffeine you can handle because it can make little one more fussy. As well, if you are able to nap … it can be a double-edged sword to start your day with 0.5L of coffee only to realize your golden opportunity to nap while baby naps has been shot to hell because you are bouncing off the walls. On the topic of alcohol and breastfeeding, the new recommendation is that you should only drink as much as you could handle before driving (i.e. if you are OK to drive, you are OK to breastfeed). Having said that, the first 4-6 weeks are a little more delicate in my opinion, as your milk supply is stabilizing and you are feeding like 20 times a day. I didn’t abstain from alcohol but I certainly wasn’t having a drink every day then either.
  14. I can almost guarantee you that you will wake up in a panic at some point, looking at that crumpled beige pillow, with an overwhelming sense of fear that you fell asleep feeding your child and have now steam-rolled her. Ok, maybe this is an over-dramatization … maybe you won’t have these specific moments of crises, but trust me you will wakeup with some sense of panic at some point because you will either (a) Have had a nightmare that you’ve lost your child or something is wrong with him/her, for example, she has turned into a lobster or is being fed into a meat-grinder (true story), (b) Wakeup because you hear crying/screaming when in fact the house is quiet, (c) Freak out because baby isn’t in her basinet (when really you moved her to the crib this week and she is sound asleep). All I’m saying is long gone are the days of waking up, rolling over, and realizing you need to pee. Your first thought will be about baby. The content of your thought may not be anxious in nature, but I can almost 100% guarantee you of the following: your night-time (and day-time) thoughts will be drastically different than your pre-baby musings.
  15. When you finally get out for your first date post-baby, you will talk about him/her for a good majority of the time. And you will also obsess over how he/she is doing with whoever is babysitting. Maybe I’m neurotic, but I can say with quite a bit of confidence that it is nearly impossible to just “let go” and forget about this little tiny thing that has forever changed your lives. It will get easier with each outing, and as you become more comfortable leaving him/her … But my advice would be to start working on this early on. Within the first 2 months post-partum my husband and I had gone out for a few hours and left our little one with his parents; after about 45 minutes of excited chatter, which was completely baby-related, we forced ourselves to change the subject. You will have to work hard to remember that you were a person with a life outside of baby just months ago … Seriously. You were!
  16. You have a new appreciation for drive-thru’s and suddenly you more fully understand their utility. Seriously, I didn’t really get drive-thru’s for non-food-related things, like the bank. I mean, why not just park and pop in? Ummmm … when you have a baby who is finally asleep in the back seat you aren’t going to want to do anything other than keep. driving. keep. moving. don’t. stop. (unless you are at risk of running a red light, hitting another car or a pedestrian or an animal. then you stop). I remember my first outing away from the house with my little one; it was a huge deal to drive 7 minutes to the nearby Tim Horton’s and get a fancy coffee and sandwich. She screamed bloody murder every time we slowed down and that drive through line-up felt like an eternity but I didn’t care because WE WERE IN THE PRIVACY OF MY CAR rather than in public. The comfort and ease of a drive-through is just … Perfect. Now they just need to make drive-thru liquor and baby stores and my life would be complete.
  17. You will lose a ridiculous amount of hair around 12 weeks post-partum. Honestly, it was like clock-work for me. Gross amounts of hair – serious, full-on clumps – starting coming out. I felt like Marsha from the Brady Bunch in that shower scene where she is practically balding by the second. I had to start cleaning my brush every 2nd day and was actually legitimately concerned that I would go bald! Be prepared. I’ve never had such trouble keeping the house hair-free. Heidi would have strands wrapped around her fingers everyday, and the vacuum canister was full after one use. Disgusting. So, so gross.
  18. Going to Subway, Walmart, or the dentist on your own is “a fun outing”. Hell, driving is relaxing. I’m not kidding.In the early days, I remember so clearly going to Walmart at 8pm, turning some tunes on for my 4 minute drive, and thinking – Wahooooooo, freedom!! I went to Subway INSIDE the Lowe’s for a 7 minute scarf-down-this-6inch and felt like I had won the lottery. I went to the dentist (she was around 4 months then) and FELL ASLEEP while I got my teeth cleaned at 7pm on a Monday night. Honestly, it’s just insane. Life has changed, significantly.
  19. Catnaps will be the death of you. There will be days where baby will nap for 2-3 hours in a row and days where she will nap 20-30 minutes at a time. All. Day. Long. Catnapping days are the worst, because you can’t get anything done let alone catch a breath or take a few minute rest. But it will pass, like everything else … (another “truth”). (Also, google “Witching Hour” for more information on the deadly time between 4-11pm, which may or may not be something you experience for a few days or even weeks. Fun times!)
  20. Not every baby loves being in the car seat (despite what you may have heard about it’s magical unicorn sleepy-dust powers). Having said that – babies change their preferences overnight. Heidi hated the car seat for the first 12 weeks or so; I remember having to put her soother in repeatedly while reaching like a bendy toy over the driver’s seat, and blaring white noise (blow-dryer sounds to be exact) while I drove across the city to drop off a baby gift. And then suddenly, she loved it and would sleep in the car! Then she hated it again for a week or so. Nothing makes “sense” and you really won’t know what works until you try it (sometimes for a second time). Just like some of my friends’ babes would only sleep while being worn/carried, held or rocked, Heidi preferred to sleep in the stroller or in her swing (and later on, in her crib). They have preferences, just like adults do.
  21. Baby’s first real smile (not just their sleeping/farting smile) and first real giggle/laugh make for absolutely the best moments ever. There’s seriously nothing better. Honestly, once you have a baby and he/she is able to interact with you and recognizes you, I can promise you – you will never have smiled as much in a 24-hour period in your life (unless you are at some Louis CK comedy marathon or intubated with laughing gas). I’m serious. The average adult supposedly smiles 7 times a day (which I think is actually quite generous, given that on days that I’m working from home, I really only smile when I see my husband/dog or am watching something funny on TV). This # goes up exponentially when you are in the company of a tiny human who thinks it’s hilarious when you hide behind your hand, make a weird noise, or move in a spastic way. Baby can also masterfully derive a smile from your tired, grumpy adult self when, first thing in the morning, she sees you enter the room and gives you the most authentic and incredible toothless grin (it’s honestly the best thing ever). The emotional experience of “happiness” is just beyond anything you can imagine (though, let’s be honest, you will also probably cry more than you ever have in your life in those early weeks … but the tears are likely those of physical and emotional exhaustion, not of unhappiness per se) *Note: Post-Partum Depression/Psychosis is an entirely different and very serious topic and I am not referring here to that 10-15% percent.
  22. You will do the most ridiculous things to make baby laugh, and sleep.  Things you can’t even conceive of without having experienced first hand the absolute bliss of a laughing or sleeping baby (I didn’t use “and/or” because usually the two are mutually exclusive; I’ve yet to see a laughing, sleeping baby. In fact, I think it would be kind of creepy, don’t you?). Some prime examples of me trying to get baby to sleep are: using a blow-dryer for white noise while rocking her in a dark bathroom, propping her up with rolled towels under the crib sheet to ‘mimic’ a warm body, lying on her bedroom floor and slithering out of the room, almost unhinging the door to make sure it doesn’t creak, etc. Then there’s the “get baby to laugh” thing. Let me tell you, you will throw pride and self-consciousness to the wind! Nothing matters. Your sole purpose is to make her laugh. It doesn’t matter if you are in the privacy of your own home or the very public mall on a Saturday afternoon. I remember jumping around my kitchen like a frog and playing hide and seek as well as making ridiculously frightening sounds and expressions just so Heidi would laugh in her highchair (and not whine) while I was trying to bake. Then, I saw my husband doing his “make Heidi laugh” thang with reckless abandon at the Rideau Center Mall when we were there together, and I knew that he completely understood. I assure you, you will squeal and leap and make tooting noises, regardless of who else is around. Because it’s worth it; that gum-less giggle is what your life is about.
  23. They have way too many gadgets out there. Borrow and then use kijiji. You can get amazing deals on things that would normally cost upwards of $125 for as little as $20 (Exersaucer, Jolly Jumper, etc.) so don’t buy new if you can avoid it – try things first. Also, you won’t really know what your little one likes, so try to limit buying anything before he/she arrives. With that said, there are certain things that (in my opinion) are pretty much essential for the first 6 months. These include: a padded floor mat that is at least 4×4 feet (if you have hardwood/linoleum), a swing or bouncy chair of some sort, a play mat with toys/mirror dangling overhead, a carrier of some sort (see my post about baby-wearing for more info) and an Exersaucer (aka circle of neglect). Bear in mind that you can always resell things, so there’s no harm in buying second hand and reselling quickly if you realize it doesn’t work for you. On that note, make sure you look for a Facebook group in your area that is baby-specific. Ottawa has a baby-wearing group where you can borrow and trade different carriers (not to mention get advice and insight). There are also groups that specifically target For Sale or Trade baby items; there’s a plethora of people out there who have just had babies or are wanting to buy/sell/trade things that their little one lost interest in after 3.5 seconds. Take advantage.
  24. (If you are breastfeeding) you will forget about socially appropriate behaviors – not because you don’t care, but because you are no longer self-aware. I’ve had both my dad and my husband look at me funny when I am randomly grabbing my breasts (to check which is more full / which I should offer at the next feeding). I’ve also answered the door to firemen (who happen to be coming around to remind people to check their smoke alarms) with my top pulled up (luckily I had a tanktop underneath, so there was no free “show”). In those early days, you are feeding every 1-2 hours, so you’re practically a topless milk station … imprisoned in the four walls that you have come to know as your “home”. As the feedings space out, you will continue to have moments where you forget that breasts are a private part … because they are apparently no longer your property. It’s just not at the forefront of your mind to cover up or to refrain from touching yourself in public. It should be, but it’s not.
  25. Your stupidity – the absolutely dull-witted things you will do/say – will make you question the functionality of your brain.  Seriously, I knew about “baby brain” but never fully fathomed the extent to which my brain would stop working. It’s seriously frightening. While it is understandable in the early days, when you are getting a few hours of sleep broken into 30-45 minute periods, it’s scary that even when your sleep gets better (e.g. 6 hours broken into two) I really can’t promise that your cognitive functioning will follow suit. Some examples of my brain farts include the following: Upon picking my dog up from the groomer, handing the dog treat to Petsmart employee rather than to my dog, putting dirty dishes in the oven rather than the dishwasher, putting a bag of dry oatmeal in the fridge rather than the cupboard, preparing my breakfast as I talk to my husband about what time we are supposed to be at his parents’ house for breakfast (that same day). I am also frequently asking questions and not listening to the answers. For example, I asked my husband 3 times in an hour what movie we were watching that night (he had already told me it was Guardians of the Galaxy). He told me later he assumed I was asking him multiple times because I was hoping for a different answer. While this would be a tactic I’d surely have used pre-baby, my repeated questioning now was simply … A consequence of the vapid space that apparently inhabits the region between my ears.
  26. You should (and will need to) repeat the following mantra ALL THE TIME: “Nothing is permanent, this too shall pass.” A girlfriend and fellow mom mentioned this to me in the early weeks and it stuck with me. Honestly. You will have amazing days when baby naps and is delightful and sleeps for 5-6 hours in a row at night. Then you will get all excited that this is his/her “new pattern” (you’ll brag about it and talk to yourself about it) … only to become utterly devastated when it changes. The same goes with a bad day or a bad few days. You will undoubtedly fear that this catnapping monster – who is whiney and fussy and waking up every 1-2 hours – will be this way “forever”. He/she will not. So, don’t get too excited either way. Just know that things change fast and they change all the time. As Melissa Etheridge once said … “The only thing that stays the same is change.” (On a somewhat related note, motherhood makes you superstitious. I was never really superstitious but suddenly I didn’t want to relish in any small victory, publicly (i.e. Facebook or via text) because I was sure the moment I said anything, shit would hit the fan and the seemingly awesome new “thing” would disappear forever).
  27. The whole “sleep when baby sleeps” is extremely annoying given most moms I know have trouble falling asleep (unlike their significant others). HOWEVER, my honest advice would be to rest when baby rests if you have had a particularly rough night. I wasn’t very good at this, and would usually load up on coffee in the morning because I felt like death, so when baby napped I was too wired. Once I picked up on this concept though, I tried to lie down during her first nap and just close my eyes .. and then load up on coffee after that! Some moms forgo coffee all together and just try to nap or rest at every daytime nap, which is probably a smart thing to do, but as previously mentioned, I’m not that smart anymore.
  28. Sometimes, the two absolute best times of the day are when baby wakes up and when she goes to bed! This sounds weird, because of course the in-between play and activity time is awesome, but there’s something to be said about that bright-eyed smile and babble first thing in the morning when you haven’t seen your little one in a few hours (depending on your last night-time wake-up). It’s just so wonderful and he/she is usually in a great mood first thing in the morning. There’s also something to be said about finally putting him/her down after a long day and having that time to yourself, to enjoy a glass of wine, a conversation with your partner, or a bath! Don’t get me wrong, I love my Munchita-Bear to pieces and miss her when she’s been napping for more than 1.5 hours. But I also LOVE it when she is sleeping. LOVE IT.
  29. The most random, not-really-that-bothersome noises are suddenly SO BLOODY loud it makes you crazy!  The sound of the creaking front door opening, your husband’s heavy-healed foot steps, the lawn mower next door, the dresser drawers shutting, the dishwasher beeping, the dog shaking and her collar clanking, someone at the next table sneezing …. These are ALL THINGS that can disrupt the two most important things: (a) a nap and/or (b) a feed (if your little one is like mine, she will only nurse in a quiet, dark room because everything is apparently distracting). I can count on two hands the number of times per day that I hunch my shoulders, clench all of my upper back muscles, and whisper to myself “SHHHH! GEEZ.” You will soon learn that a napping child is … A NAPPING CHILD! Things like, “STFU” “You wake her, you take her” “SERIOUSLY, CAN YOU PUT YOUR CUTLERY DOWN ANY LOUDER?” will run through your mind (and sometimes out of your mouth) on many occasions.
  30. My final words of advice are as follows: the days are long but the weeks are short. Time really does fly and you can’t get a single moment back. Make sure all the while that you surround yourself with people who can get you through the tough times, but also with whom you can share the mundane details of your day … because that’s what your life is all about now. And you know what? These mundane details are the threads that will eventually unite to create the tapestry that is your child’s first year. It is an absolute blessing to be a part of it.

Becoming a first time mom has proven to be more rewarding, exhausting, invigorating, and empowering than I ever could have imagined. It has completed me in ways I never dreamed of; it has filled an emptiness I did not know existed. Yes, it can be boring and it can be draining and sometimes I feel like I’ve not accomplished a single thing compared to the days where I would pump out a medico-legal report and achieve “breakthroughs” with patients in very difficult situations, while also managing my personal to-do’s. But then I’m reminded (often by my husband) that contributing to the growth of a tiny human is pretty important stuff. I get SO much back in this exchange that we call “motherhood”; the thrill of watching our little girl learn, grow, discover herself, discover us, and the world around her … It’s just beyond anything that I can put into words. Motherhood is a different kind of “work” – especially when you have been academic or career-focused your entire adult life. And I have to say, not a day goes by that I’m not feeling immensely grateful to have gotten the job. I honestly wouldn’t trade it for anything. Ever. I am so, so fortunate.

————

Stay tuned for my blog post on air travel with a 2.5 month and a 7 month old infant, as well as my reviews on various carriers and feeding-related devices. I may even throw in a sewing pattern tutorial or a few baby recipes. Again, how life has changed …. Maybe I’ll eventually get back to reviewing restaurants and tourist attractions. In a few years 😉

xo

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The First Three Months Post-Partum (aka “The Fourth Trimester”)

Instead of writing in complete and coherent sentences, which would take way too much brain energy, I am going to summarize my experiences from the first three months post-partum using point-form style. This is essentially my own personal journal, and is not intended to be particularly interesting for the reader, so feel free to gloss over this post and move on to another! I won’t be offended (and not like I would know anyways). I just want to try and remember all the little things so years from now, I can go back and look at what those first few months were really like with Heidi-bear (though I do know there is a reason women selectively forget how incredibly trying some of those long days and nights can be – if they didn’t, I’m positive there’d be a lot more 1-child families around!). Again, I must warn you, if you do read further just know there will be no real order to the chaos. Kind of like my life right now, this post will be random and disjointed, and lack any overall semblance of a pattern/routine/order! Feel free to ask for clarification on anything. For example “cabbage leaves” may appear confusing to anyone who hasn’t had a baby or struggled with an over-supply problem during the early days of breast-feeding. That being said, you could always google the term or phrase and I am most certain you will find more information than you ever knew existed (roughly 22% of which will be somewhat accurate).

MONTH 1: Euphoria, heart exploding, disbelief, insomnia, late hemorrhage, frozen diaper pads, cabbage leaves, engorgement, semi-automatic milk ejection, hand expressing, agile baby toes in poo, Pampers for the win over Huggies (opposite rule applies for the wipes), unable to smell the difference between a wet versus soiled diaper (thanks to breastmilk?), upright or laid back nursing, constant stain removal (who knew breastmilk was so fatty?). Three week and six week growth spurt = feeding monster. Mommy losing 9 lbs despite eating like a horse, voracious hunger at night. Unimaginably in love with this tiny human; ball in throat at the thought of her …

MONTH 2: House fire in basement due to air filter malfunctioning with Heidi 5 weeks old (stressful beyond belief; suddenly safety is paramount and mommy becomes paranoid about all old appliances in the house). Attended yoga that same weekend and felt for the first time like I was reclaiming my body; it was “mine” for the first time in over a year … hard to explain, very surreal. Attended a wedding with her as our first family outing and she slept the entire time (6-10pm-ish) – talk about the benefit of white noise (it was a casual and loud affair). Up until about week 7, Heidi’s sleep had been typically from 7-1030pm, then another stretch 2.5 – 3 hours at 1030pm, then 2 more hours then 1.5 hours (up at 6/7am). Moved her into own room in bassinet (doors open) and mommy/baby started sleeping stretches of 4 hours then 3 then 2! Sometimes when very tired, she wouldn’t latch on to the breast (we had started bottle and pacifier early, about 1 week post-partum, without difficulty). Started using Ergo carrier without insert, only with a receiving towel (too bulky and hot otherwise). Bought Medella breast pads (washable) which were a nice change from the disposables. Longest sleep started day of 2 month vaccinations (7 hours, likely to do with the Tylenol and exhausting herself from crying for hours). The length decreased to 5/6 hours straight over the next few weeks (counted from last dream feed to wake-up, e.g. 10pm-3 or 4am).

MONTH 3: Longer sleeps continued. No more weight loss for mommy (since 4 weeks post-partum, sadly). Problems with latch and refusal of breast (screaming and red-faced) started shortly after 2  month vaccinations (not that I believe there is a correlation; I just remember the timing. Trust me, I am not an anti-vaccer). Saw a lactation consultant who advised that Heidi was not latching properly (likely because I had such an oversupply of milk in the first several weeks that she could simply sit there with her mouth open and the milk would spray in. I am serious. It was crazy). She hadn’t needed to latch or suck well, so now that supply was steadying, she had to work a little bit for her “food” and was frustrated by this (or so the LC thought). During our trip to Vancouver (week 9.5-11.5) Heidi refused once every 2-3 days and I just gave her the bottle. She started sleeping 6-7 hour stretches and went several hours without feeds during the day. The swing remained the best way to settle her when fussy and for daytime naps, as she only slept 20-45 minutes in the bassinet if put down swaddled with pacifier and white noise. Boba wrap also worked wonders on flight to/from Vancouver. Tried Benadryl a few days prior to flying back to Ottawa and seemed to have little effect (one day she was drowsy after for an hour or so, another day she had a meltdown after. Who knows).  Around week 10 there was an explosion of cooing and different sounds/pitches vocalized. She giggled for the first time when I blew on her stomach. Cutest thing ever! Heidi didn’t love the car seat … But enjoyed the stroller and slept for hours at a time so that Opa, Nana and mommy could do the seawall and enjoy the dike in Richmond.

Things I couldn’t have done without:

1. Nursing pillow (thank you to my friend Katie for lending it to me)

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2. Water bottle with straw, to stay hydrated while nursing (especially at night)FullSizeRender

3. Velcro “Summer Infant” Swaddles (because swaddling a squirmy, Houdini-esque child in a blanket is nearly impossible … and she just slept so much better with arms swaddled)

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4. Swing (this is 100% the most important life-saver from those first few months – when Heidi was having a meltdown or wouldn’t sleep, the swing worked like magic. Thank you Shannon & Derek) *Note: If yours is battery-run only, have extras on hand! Ours is plug in.

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5.  Baby Einstein playmat (thank you Nana & Opa, this was a godsend and the “third parent” during morning breakfast prep and dishes as well as at various times throughout the day)

http://www.toysrus.ca/product/index.jsp?productId=24982526

6. Sheepskin fuzzy rug, which we lay on top of playmat to make it softer and also used for various weekly photoshoots (thank you Dustin & Nicole)

Heidi rug

A few other items I didn’t bother to get photos of are, of course, the breast pump (Medella Swing), antimicrobial changing pad (soaks up the pee and easy to wash), white noise and nursing timer apps (I used white noise during Heidi’s naps and night-time sleep and still do!), heating pad for bassinet and rolled up towels (to make her feel cozy in there), carriers (Ergo, Becco and Boba), pacifiers, Mommies Facebook Groups (Ottawa and Canada-wide).

That’s that!! Heidi is just over 4 months old as I finalize this post on May 25th (though I did start it many weeks ago) so my next post will be all about the fourth month post-partum (which I am just coming out of) and will include some random – and most likely, inappropriate – mommy musings from the past several weeks.

Until soon!

xo Daniela

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Flying with a baby (newborn & infant)

The following post intends to provide advice on travelling with a newborn, and travelling with an infant; it is based solely on my own experiences and should not be taken as anything more than that. It is not gospel, research-based, nor is it necessarily applicable to any other situation. So I guess what I am saying is … it’s useless! Just kidding. I hope you are able to take something from this info if you are a new parent planning air travel with your little squish. It should be noted that I am referencing two age groups, not discussing travel with two babies at once. If my post were about travelling with two babies – a newborn and an infant – my advice would be simple: Don’t do it. Joking. Actually, I’m half-joking. Irrespective of my opinion, when it comes to travelling as a solo parent, I don’t think you would be allowed to do this as the ratio is usually 1 parent per child under 2 years of age. (I can’t believe they’d have to make a rule about this; who in their right mind would attempt such a thing?? Supermom or Super-crazy-mom I guess.). I digress.

AIR TRAVEL SOLO WITH A “NEWBORN” (0-3 months of age)

In my case, Heidi was 9.5 weeks when I flew with her solo from Ottawa to Vancouver and 11.5 weeks when I flew back.  It is a 5 hour flight. I was of course a ball of nerves in the weeks preceeding the dreaded too-many-hours-in-a-metal-contraption-with-no-escape-and-people-all-around experience. I made sure to get advice from fellow moms who had flown with their little ones, as well as reading various blogs on the topic. I am hoping that this post will contribute to the wealth of information out there and at the end of the day, that you take what you think might be useful/relevant to you and your squish’s special circumstances as you plan your trip!

If you are going solo as I did, I would suggest limiting your carry-on to essential items in ONE bag or a small purse and a diaper bag (not a big purse AND a diaper bag). While on Air Canada at least, you are allowed one carry-on for baby and then your usual allowances (carry-on and purse for yourself), if you are planning to walk through the airport with baby in a carrier/wrap, that’s a lot of stuff to handle; you’ll look like a walking coat-hanger and it just get’s too complicated. That said, if you are planning to gate check your stroller and car seat and have some room underneath, you could bring an extra bag but keep in mind you’ll have to carry all of that with you on the plane and find a place to stow it, as well as be able to access it while you are holding a tiny human. Good luck with that! In terms of content, I personally wouldn’t waste space taking too many magazines, candies, your iPad, etc. because you will need that precious space to ensure you have the necessities (and items for emergency purposes) in your bag. Some people however – who have non-fussy-always-sleepy babies may be fine to take a bunch of personal items because their angelic baby will not require any attention at all. All I can do is speak for myself, and the below list is what I would recommend:

Diaper Bag Contents: Please note this list is additional to your usual suspects which include driver’s license/passport, wallet, phone, phone charger, chapstick, gum, Gravol, Immodium, some spill-proof drink container for you, a snack (particularly if you are flying Air Canada where you don’t even get pretzels anymore … I don’t even like pretzels but good god, ANYTHING would be better than nothing!).

  • Documentation: You should bring baby’s birth certificate and a letter from your partner indicating they are OK with you taking the baby with you. While no one has ever asked me for either of these documents it’s important to have them just in case as the staff are entitled to request them. Babies under 2 years of age do not need a passport to travel within Canada but you should have their Birth Certificate to prove their age (though IMO it’s pretty obvious if you have a 9 week old, unless you birthed a giant). If you are traveling outside of Canada you will need a passport for your little one.
  • 5-6 extra diapers & a change pad: It’s always better to have a few extra on hand in case of delays, diaper blowout, random bout of diarrhea, etc. Also, a change pad and/or receiving blanket make for a softer surface as the change-tables on the plane and in the airport are hard plastic. (Note: my LO decided to have the biggest and most explosive poo she has ever had, moments before check-in. Luckily my in-laws were there to help me as it was … a messy challenge. Glad it didn’t happen when I was on the plane, as my Boba carrier would have been soaked through and that would have been a nightmare in and of itself).
  • Wipes and a few plastic grocery bags/a large ziploc bag: Bring extra wipes and a few plastic bags to put dirty diapers, wet clothing, garbage, etc. into (or you can get those fancy “wet” bags). I would also suggest a large ziploc with one diaper, some wipes, and a change of clothes for the little monkey. This way you have it accessible if there’s an urgent need for a change on the plane, rather than rifling through your big carry-on diaper bag.
  • Change of clothing for you: While I didn’t pack a change for myself during either flight (I literally had no room), and decided instead to wear all black so I could wipe down any nasty stain with water, I think it’s a good idea! Heidi vomited all over during her second flight (when she was 7ish months old) and only a bit of it got on me but I would have been soaked had I been holding her.
  • Milk/formula and frozen veggies plus extra: I was breastfeeding Heidi when we took our first flight, but she was super fussy at the boob and took the bottle without difficulty (versus latching issues and milk spraying everywhere as was the case with breastfeeding). As such, I packed a few bottles with pumped milk as well as a bag of frozen breastmilk (which I figured would defrost over the several hours in my bag). I also packed some frozen peas in the bag because the airlines can be fussy about gel freezer packs (it counts as a liquid).
  • A few face-cloths and receiving blanket: In case of milk spillage, spit-up, diaper blow-out, etc.
  • Infant Tylenol: This is a personal opinion and I got the OK from a physician with respect to dosage, to prevent any potential ear-pain during take-off and landing. I fed her from the syringe about 30 minutes before take-off and she was good for both ascent and descent.
  • Soothers x 2: If your babe takes the soother, I suggest attaching one to your carrier and having one in the diaper bag. My little Heidi was a fusspot with breastfeeding and was better with the bottle, but as you can never be sure that they will be hungry right as you are ascending (which is when the ears would pop) it is good to have an alternate option. Worst case scenario you can put your finger in babes mouth to encourage them to suck. One thing to keep in mind is if baby is sleeping DO NOT WAKE THEM by trying to force something into his/her mouth! A sleeping baby will most likely do fine with the change in air pressure.
  • Swaddle or blanket that they like to be wrapped in (optional): Again, this is totally optional but my baby was not sleeping near or on me at this age and was in her crib. She liked to be swaddled still but given she slept in the Boba en route to Vancouver, and I didn’t have an extra seat beside me that I could lay her down on, I didn’t use the blanket. On the flight back, I had an entire row to myself – I know, SO LUCKY RIGHT?? – so I was able to lay Heidi on her back and wrap her with a muslin blanket lightly.
  • Cervical pillow (very optional; only if you would use it too): For the flight back, as I said, I lucked out with some space. I was able to put Heidi down and MacGyver a fort so that she wasn’t distracted by the people walking by). I used the cervical airplane pillow around her head so that she had something to snuggle into. She seemed to like it. With that said, she probably would have been fine with my jacket or something else (otherwise babe’s face may snuggle into the metal/plastic of the seat or seatbelt and you don’t want to risk this as they may wake up. Again, a sleeping baby is … a sleeping baby! Need I say more?)
  • White noise app (very optional): Heidi sleeps with white noise on my iPad in her room and I have the same app on my phone. I turned it on really loud and put it into her fort. She slept for almost an hour as far as I remember. That said, the plane has it’s own white noise and this is often sufficient to soothe the little monsters (as it did en route there).

What clothing to wear (you and baby):

  • Boba or some other stretchy wrap: This was a life-saver. While my LO didn’t always settle or sleep that well in the Boba, I figured it was worth a try and better than carrying or bouncing her around. I wore a tank-top underneath and the Boba as a “t-shirt” since it’s that material anyway. They didn’t make me take it off at security as she was sleeping and it’s not got any buckles or metal hanging off. During take-off and landing, you are supposed to take babies out of carriers but the beauty of the Boba is that you can pull down the side panels and it looks like babe is not in a carrier (I just put my jacket over the bottom on my lap and no one bothered me to take her out and wake her up). This wrap was the reason she slept; I bounced her in the back of the plane where the flight attendants congregate when she was crying and difficult to settle; the white noise is louder there. She fell asleep within 30 minutes and then stayed asleep for several hours. I was also able to go to the bathroom with her on me, whereas without a wrap this would be difficult to do unless a flight attendant was willing to hold her (which is likely, given they are often helpful, however if the babe is sleeping you don’t really want to risk waking her and would probably rather pee your pants than deal with a screaming baby. At least I would).
  • YOU – Layers of black/patterned clothing: Because when you wear black, you won’t be able to see the orange or milky yellow stains (poo and/or milk) once you wash them out with water. That, or wear something heavily patterned. Whatever you do, don’t even think about wearing white or anything light-coloured! You will sincerely regret it!
  • BABY – Multiple layers: Obviously this depends on the time of year, but keep in mind that regardless of the outside weather, the plane is notoriously too hot or too cold. You also don’t want an outfit that’s uncomfortable for baby (i.e. that gorgeous dress your family member or friend gave you or has too many “parts” (i.e. shoes, headbands, all other useless things for a baby that doesn’t even have head control!). You ultimately wnat to prepare for both temperature extremes so I suggest a cotton zippered pajama and a sweater in case it’s cold (we flew at the beginning of Spring and it was still pretty cold out). I also packed a little hat and mitts just in case.

Other info:

  • Aisle seat (always) and back row (if possible): On the Air Canada flight between Ottawa and Vancouver, there is no option to request a bassinet in the bulk-head row as is often available in international flights from my understanding. On the flight there, I was stuck in the middle of the plane in an aisle seat, which worked out OK because Heidi slept most of the way (only after I bounced her to sleep in the very back of the plane) for over an hour. I should note that I always choose the aisle because I get too cramped otherwise, and with a baby you want to be able to get up and move around (especially if they are sick or screaming). On the flight back I chose the very back of the plane, as these seats don’t recline and they are also located right by the bathrooms. So super desirable, right? Ha. The benefit of the back row is that often – if there is room on the plane and it is not oversold – people will have the flight attendants move them elsewhere and you may get the row to yourself or at least an extra seat (which makes a huge difference when you have a baby). You are also located super close to the flight attendants and the bathrooms (i.e. water, napkins, change tables, toilet, you get it.). This also means you have the option of extra hands and quick help (without having to press that help button), additional white noise (the back of the plane is louder) and more space to walk and bounce your baby (in the area where the food and drinks are prepared and where the flight attendants sit on those fold-down seats). So yes, while you may have to forgo your dream of reclining in your seat, relaxing with wine and a movie … let’s be honest, you aren’t going to be doing any of that anyway! At least if you have a baby like mine. If your squish sleeps on you without a problem then maybe you are fine anywhere on the plane. But personally, I would rather be safe than sorry, and by safe I mean sit in upright discomfort, catching the whiff of bathroom air, than risk being trapped in the middle of the plane with a screaming baby or covered in vomit (both have happened to me). Plus, the flight attendants give you someone to talk to AND the passengers waiting for the bathrooms are great entertainment for your little one once he/she is older (i.e. 7-8 months of age).
  • Stroller and car-seat check: Make sure you ask question and don’t just go by the website. Air Canada indicates that you cannot gate check a stroller unless it’s a folding umbrella stroller (i.e. super small). If I had known that they don’t actually abide by this guideline and will let you check any stroller that folds  (a big jogging stroller in our case) I would have brought my stroller to the gate rather than wear my squish the entire time. Alas, we knew for our second flight when she was older and this made a big difference as she was not nearly as wearable for long periods (read: squirmy and extremely curious). I also checked my car seat at the counter the first time I flew and since have realized that probably wasn’t smart (again, no one at the counter told me of the free option to gate check both the stroller and car seat). The reason people are skeptical of checking the car seat at the counter is that anything can happen to it when it’s thrown on that luggage belt and then is subsequently thrown into the belly of the plane … Mine came out looking fine and functioning well, but you just never know if there’s been some minor damage that could impact it’s safety if – heaven forbid – you were in an accident. The second time we flew, we gate checked the stroller and car seat along with several other families and I had no concerns about the way (I assume) it was handled.

Additional considerations when flying with a 7-7.5 month old:

The same basic principles apply, but there are a few obvious differences. Firstly, baby doesn’t need to eat 24/7 anymore so you can breath a sigh of relief if you’re bottle feeding as you don’t need to bring as much with you. I would still suggest all of my previous recommendations however you’ll probably need a better carrier – something more structured. I used the ergo (zipper pocket is huge) and found that to be sufficient. I also brought along two or three relatively quiet toys (made crinkle noises and had shiny parts; no annoying musical toys please: you don’t need any MORE enemies than you’ll already have … ). I’d also bring extra wipes if you’re at all worried about your munchkin putting everything into his/her mouth or bring his/her mouth to everything (the seat, seatbelt, menus, barf bag, etc.). If your baby likes a sleep sack, I would bring that and/or any tiny stuffed toy that may provide him/her the encouragement to nap!

Everything aside, I have to say it’s certainly not relaxing flying with a newborn or infant, so don’t go into it with high expectations! In this specific case I would say it’s all about the destination rather than the journey … 😉 And even if your squish is an absolute angel, you will likely still be on high alert and not in “vacation mode” until you land. It’s a little different than the pre-baby days, when vacation mode would start the second you were done work for the day (and the plane ride was part of that fun!) All in all though, it’s worth it and you’ll feel accomplished for bringing your new little human with you on an adventure. For us, visiting Nana and Opa on the other side of the country was just non-negotiable so when people say “wow, you’re brave” or “good for you flying with such a young babe” I felt like saying … “It’s not like I woke up and decided to push my boundaries and get as far out of my comfort zone as possible … We HAVE to see family. That’s that!” This is actually something I was prepared to say had I encountered any cantankerous curmudgeonly passenger that complained about my baby (which I didn’t) … Thankfully 😉

Hope this was somewhat helpful and please feel free to comment below if you have any of your own travel tips, stories, etc.

xo

Daniela

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Third Trimester & Labour

Well this is WAY late, given our daughter Heidi is now almost 4 weeks old … but I do feel the need to complete my third trimester blog post given I made the effort of taking notes throughout, and it just wouldn’t seem right to jump from the second trimester to “The first month post-partum” (i.e. “The Fourth Trimester”). So here goes my summary of the third and final trimester, as well as my labour experience! Please note that this post is long, wordy, and probably overly detailed, as it is really intended to serve as an account of my experiences so that my daughter, husband and I can look back one day and remember all of it. Feel free to skip this post if you are more interested in pithy and to-the-point posts that don’t provide TMI about a rather personal and life-changing event!

Week 27-29: During this period, I was disappointed to be called in to complete part II of the Gestational Diabetes test because I failed the first one. While I was pretty distraught about that, I had heard and read that failing the first screen was quite common (depending on what you had eaten the night before or a few hours before). This second test involved fasting the night before and spending two hours rather than one at the lab (3 blood tests in total), after drinking the overly sweet, bright orange beverage. After all was said and done, I ended up passing .. which was a huge relief! And I’m not going to lie, I fairly promptly returned to indulging in my sugar cravings with minimal guilt. In addition to the GD test, I noticed having a lot more indigestion, and significantly more movement during this period. The baby’s kicks, punches and hiccups were now distinguishable and I could see my belly moving fairly often. Food-wise, I continued to crave sweets and just generally ate a lot. One day I tried to track my intake and I think it was around 2700 calories (a lot more than the recommended few hundred extra per day, especially fgiven I wasn’t very active)! Also, fatigue returned, similar to that of the first trimester  … and I needed to pee about every 15 minutes (particularly if standing/walking) so getting out of the house for any reason became a bit of a challenge.

At week 28, I started having appointments every 2 weeks (one week ultrasound, the next week OB/Nurse). My husband and I also went away to Quebec City for a few days and I noticed how short of breath I was. We would be walking up a slight incline and within a minute or two, I was huffing and puffing like I had just run a marathon. It was comical at best … In fact, I was almost embarrassed!

Week 30: Unfortunately, this week marked the return of the dreaded pubic symphisis dysfunction. I moved my suitcase across the bedroom floor the night we returned from QC, and felt a twinge … and thereafter, I could hardly lift my left leg without experiencing shooting pain. This week my husband and I also started our prenatal classes through the City of Ottawa (three free 2-hour classes) with friends of ours who were also pregnant. I would say that the prenatal classes were useful in general, although we all agreed that there was a little bit too much emphasis on breastfeeding and avoidance of c-sections, epidurals and surgical interventions. The reality is – in my opinion – a lot of moms want to breastfeed, want to have a vaginal birth, and don’t want to endure more interventions than necessary. But the fact of the matter is, some of these circumstances can’t be avoided. Not everyone is able to breastfeed, babies are not always in ideal positions or in perfect health, and so interventions (and C-sections) are a reality. I found it off-putting to be asked if baby was breached during the prenatal class, and when I responded “no” (keep in mind there was still lots of time for baby to reposition herself) the nurse said “Oh that’s good, you don’t want a c-section.” How would I have felt 3-4 weeks later when told baby had moved into a breached position? Not great. In any case … It was informative and we learned a ton about available resources as well as basics of breastfeeding, bringing baby home and labour itself. I would recommend some sort of prenatal class to all couples at the end of the day – just take everything with a grain of salt, as the advice out there can differ significantly over a few months, between health professionals, relatives, medical/parenting books, etc. For example, right now the rule is to put baby on his/her back to sleep, whereas years ago it was baby on stomach. Other hot topics include swaddling, co-sleeping, introducing the bottle/pacifier, crying out, etc.

Nov 10

Week 31: This week I noticed an increase in my anxiety and general moodiness. For example, I found myself parked at prenatal yogaband minutes before it started, I decided not to go (it’s a 20 minute drive from my house) because I was suddenly overwhelmed by a need to buy baby stuff and figure out my winter jacket situation! After going to Baby En Route and Fabricland (in the hopes of installing a panel to make my jacket bigger so I could fit in it pregnant, as well as wear baby after birth) I found myself in the dollar store parking lot to buy plastic organizers, baby hangers, and chocolate. *NB: I didn’t even need the expansion until after baby arrived because my belly didn’t get so big that I couldn’t zip-up my jacket. Don’t spend too much on maternity clothing! Fortunately, the panel is working wonders for me now that baby is here and I can comfortably wear her under my jacket, so there was no wasted $. Anyways, back to my mental breakdown. In the parking lot of the Dollarama at 11am, I found myself chowing down on a massive chocolate bar while crying into my sweater. It was quite the scene. Off topic, but I totally recommend the 2 for $1 chocolate bars (Titan and Meteor – pretty much Snickers and Mars) from the dollar store. They are delicious. Something else I noticed this week was a worsening of low back pain; I actually felt like I looked pregnant (i.e. holding low back with one hand and waddling a bit). I was washing and cleaning green beans and had to sit down in a chair by the sink. I definitely felt “disabled” between that and the PSD. That being said, the excitement was mounting as I only had a few weeks until we were considered “full term” … A mix of excitement and anxiety as well as disbelief (i.e. I still couldn’t believe I was pregnant and that we were having a baby; you’d think it would have sunk in by 31 weeks, but apparently not!)

Week 32: A very exciting change took place this week! I was able to go 6-7 hours at night without getting up to pee! This was huge; it meant that I didn’t actually have to get out of bed overnight (despite being awoken several times a night by achy joints). Small victories! I also had another ultrasound that week, which showed all of baby’s measurements, her umbilical cord, etc. I was told her heart rate (135 BPM) and her weight (3lb14 oz) as well as that her head was very low in the pelvis (engaged). Her little body was wrapping around the right side with her feet near my left ribs. During the ultrasound I almost passed out and felt very nauseous, so had to lie on my side (and this has happened since then on several occasions). It’s apparently quite common to experience these symptoms as the vena cava is being compressed by the weight of baby when lying on your back. This week we also finished the nursery and that provided me a huge sense of relief and probably prevented additional dollar store parking lot mental breakdowns (though I most certainly returned to buy more chocolate over the next few weeks).

Week 33: Around this time, I started to get right upper back pain (in the posterior upper ribs), similar to the sensation associated with a pinched nerve. This was relieved somewhat by curling forward but of course, it was pretty hard to get into any type of true fetal position given my preggo belly in the way! I noticed the pain worsened with sustained sitting (such as in the car or at the computer – where I spent most of my time with work, unfortunately).

ov 27

Week 34: This week marked a significant increase in pelvic pain and pressure (i.e. it felt like a bowling ball was going to shoot out of my cervix when I bent forward – nice description, I know). I also had weird finger and toe spasms – like, my finger just bent forward and curled in on it’s own and I had to get Ryan to pull it straight (when I asked him to “pull my finger” he understandably looked up at me with a smirk, until he saw the very crippled and deranged looking digit with a mind of it’s own. Then he was just weirded out, but compliant nonetheless.)

Week 35: Around this week I noticed hip and knee aching (as in, elderly, arthritic, deep bone aching) that I had never really experienced before. This happened only at night and I think it was probably because I stayed in one position while sleeping (i.e. on left side, pillow between knees) for several hours at a time. The aching joints actually woke me up more than the need to pee! Then of course, as I would get into a cat-cow position on the bed or stretch in some other strange contorted manner, the restless leg and/or toe spasms would start, hahaha … You can’t win! Also, I started to have really dry eyes!

Dec 12ec 12

Week 36-37: Getting close to the end, and considered “full term” … I was absolutely certain baby would arrive within the next week or two. Apparently this “belief” is pretty common for first-time moms ;). Surprisingly, my pelvic pain dissipated somewhat, I started gaining weight again more rapidly (about 2 lbs per week over a 2 week period) and my bump was really growing. The baby also dropped and I was told at my 36 week appointment that her head was “fully engaged” which means it had descended completely into my pelvis (which, I later learned, doesn’t really mean anything in terms of when you will go into labour, although it sounds promising! Oh, the false hopes …)

Dec 23

Week 38-39: Lightening crotch!!! Seriously, apparently this is a thing!? And I certainly experienced it. It’s like shooting sharp pains starting in your cervical area and shooting into your groin muscles. It feels like an evil little minion is violently pulling at your groin ligaments as if they were a bow and arrow. It’s sudden and sharp and enough to make you shriek a little bit! This was also the time that I began to have less cravings for unhealthy and sugary food, and finally began to feel like eating my beloved veggies again. I also noticed more fatigue and a few episodes of watery discharge (I wasn’t sure if it was the amniotic fluid/waters breaking … possibly a slow leak, which apparently happens, as my OB/nurse would advise at the next visit). This is also a good time to mention that just because you start to lose your mucous plug does not mean you are going to go into labour. In fact, some people never lose it until they go into labour while others lose it in one fell swoop, and then others just lose bits at a time. So again, NO INDICATION THAT LABOUR IS IMMINENT despite what some of the books say.  Around 39 weeks, I had a membrane sweep and the nurse said she could feel baby’s head, which was a very odd thing to think about. Apparently I was 1cm effaced and 1cm dilated. Again, I got excited, only to realize THIS MEANS NOTHING! So far, all these so-called signs: head being fully engaged, starting to efface/dilate, and slowly losing my mucous plug … well, they weren’t signs at all. That’s the mental mind-game of pregnancy … you are always looking for signs (whether it’s a sign that you are pregnant or a sign that you will labour soon). It starts to get a bit whacky and my recommendation after having gone through it is to just to stop looking for “signs” and wait for contractions to start. With that said, I’m sure with our second child I will do the exact same psychotic thing during the waiting period (or maybe baby will be early and surprise me?)

Jan 5Dec 30

Week 40: The day before my due date, I shovelled the drive-way against my husbands wishes (in hopes this activity would induce labour). I also went on a long walk/mini-jog at the dog park because I lost my keys in the snow and had to go back and look for them. I got out to do groceries, which was rather uncomfortable given I had to pee every 15 minutes. I also noticed my stomach was a bit off (supposedly another sign … again, while it can mean your body is preparing for labour, it does not mean it is going to happen in the next day or two). At 40w1day I had another membrane sweep and was told I was 1cm dilated and 90% effaced at 0.5 cm thick, but that the cervix was not very “ripe” – which by the way, I think is kind of a disgusting word to describe said body part. I felt really nauseous on the morning of my appointment, and headachy in the afternoon. After the sweep, there was tons of baby movement and I was also unusually tired for several days. Didn’t mean a thing, though …. Oh, and I continued to walk 30-45 minutes a day in the snow with my dog, as well as drink red raspberry leaf tea and eat horrifyingly large quantities of pineapples and hot sauce (not together, though that combination wouldn’t be half bad …). Still, nothing.

Jan 14

Week 41 & LABOUR! This week I noticed my TMJ jaw pain return, which had been completely gone during the entire pregnancy after about the 16 week mark. My jaw was clicking again and the range of motion was really limited. I figured this may have been a sign that things were changing (i.e. hormones) because the Relaxin hormone during pregnancy is what makes your ligaments more lax so perhaps as things were coming to an end, my preggo hormones were decreasing (just my theory). I took this as a sign that labour was looming, of course! I was also less tolerant to the cold (whereas the week before I was OK in -32 Celcius, this week I felt that my Raynaud’s was back to some degree as I was cold in -20). Another hormonal shift? Too bad pregnancy was only a temporary solution to some of these annoying ailments! I also started to feel strange stinging sensations in my abdomen high on the left side (like baby was taking a small knife or needle and scratching me from the inside). Looking back, it seriously could have been her nails! She was born with these great, healthy looking, long-ish nails.

Anyway, at exactly 41 weeks, my parents (who were visiting from Vancouver) took me on an outing to the Museum of Nature, in an effort to get me out of the house and doing something other than being pregnant and eating and obsessing about signs of labour 😉  It was nice to have some distraction as well as do something a little touristy, given I hadn’t been able to go to Montreal or do the canal with them in light of my current … circumstances. While touring the exhibits, I started to get pretty intense cramps similar to PMS pain (achy, low and also in the back). It was nothing that was unbearable by any means, just different. These went on for several hours and while I tried to time them, it was hard to tell when one ended and another began. I figured I’d know if I were going into active labour so just left it. We went for lunch after the museum, and the cramps started to subside (to my disappointment). By that evening, things hadn’t progressed and the next day I had my OB appointment anyways. I woke up the following morning and noted some clear watery discharge, but nothing major (i.e. no huge puddle or anything dramatic!). Thankfully, my dad wanted to come with me to the appointment and so we had the ultrasound first followed by a visit with the nurse. Everything looked good on the ultrasound but there was slightly less amniotic fluid than there should be (which is normal, in a sense, given I was overdue). The nurse nonetheless indicated I would need to go to the hospital for a non-stress test so that they could make sure baby was OK (she felt I would be sent home as baby looked good, active and moving lots, during the ultrasound). I was told that I would need to be induced in the next 24-48 hours regardless, which made me happy because it meant my dad would meet his first grandchild before heading back home on Saturday, but also made me a little bit apprehensive as I really didn’t want to be induced. Upon completing another membrane sweep, the nurse advised me that I was 100% effaced and 1.5 cm dilated, which I chose to ignore as any kind of sign (see, I am capable of learning!). By the time we got home from the appointment and ate/showered to get ready to go back to the hospital, I started having more of those PMS type cramps although slightly stronger. This was around 130pm. Upon arriving, they set me up with the non stress test shortly after arriving, and as per the monitor, it was clear these were in fact contractions – and they were becoming more regular and intense! It was so nice to have my parents with me because I would have gone on my own were they not visiting, given I didn’t really think “this was it”. Within the hour, I asked my husband to come from work as I felt things were progressing and the doctor also indicated I had broken one of my bags of water (there are two apparently?) By about 430pm, 1.5 hours after my husband arrived, the contractions were severe enough that I couldn’t really engage in a conversation and had to contort myself into all sorts of positions (mostly bent forward). On that note, counter pressure (applied by my husband) helped reduce the pain intensity somewhat. I was told after being admitted to the delivery room that I was only 4cm dilated, but I still wanted to hold off on the epidural as it had been my wish not to have one. By about 530pm I wasn’t really dilated any more and the contractions were os intense and frequent (i.e. 2 minutes long every minute or so) that with my husband’s encouragement, I decided to accept the epidural as I figured I’d be exhausted by the time I had to push. Unfortunately, the anesthesiologist came down at 630pm and the first epidural did not take! By 830pm the nurse asked him to come down again (I was now 8cm dilated) and despite trying various other techniques, they had to remove and reinsert the epidural. This time, it worked. And my god, now I understand why people have them! It made me stop sweating profusely and muttering dark things under my breath … it allowed me to breath and to feel a pressure but very little to no pain. If I had been told I would have another hour or two of contractions I could have held out, but my slow dilation pointed at a lengthy labour, so I think I made the right decision. By 1am, I was 9.5 cm dilated, and had been in active labour for almost 12 hours. They decided to start Oxytocin and I believe my parents returned to the hospital sometime before then (it’s a bit of a blur). I attempted to rest around 4am and my husband and parents too, but around 445am the nurse came in (and I was wide awake, as I could hear the fetal HR monitor slowing down) and indicated I needed to start pushing as baby wasn’t doing all that well. Because of the epidural, I had limited to no leg control and my husband and dad helped hold each leg, and my mom was at the head of the bed too for support. Fifty minutes later, little miss Heidi was born in one fairly quick go – she had crowned a few times and then after her head popped out, so did the rest of her body! It literally looked like she shot out of a cannon, and the placenta followed abruptly after (I had placenta abrupta, but no complications). It was the most incredible, emotionally intense experience I have ever had. And to have such a support team around me; I burst into tears immediately upon having Heidi placed on my chest. When she let out her first cry, I was ecstatic … She was so perfect, and I just couldn’t comprehend the enormity of what had just happened. My husband too says it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen and he would watch the delivery in a heartbeat again if he had the chance.

My husband and I stayed in the delivery room for a few hours until after breakfast, and then they moved us and Heidi into the recovery ward. We lucked out and were given a private room with a view as well as a chair that pulled out into a cot (for my husband). We spent 2 nights at the hospital and I have to say the nurses were fantastic. They guided us through the how-to’s of bathing, swaddling, and most importantly – breastfeeding. They also helped with tending to my wound and catheter management (I had been given an in/out catheter during labour due to the epidural, which they finally took out about 36 hours after the delivery). Overall, I can’t say enough positive things about the support provided by the nurses. Their presence and patience was especially helpful during the overnight period – one nurse even took Heidi to change her and feed her so we could sleep as she was well aware I hadn’t really slept in 48 hours. We gave Heidi a bit of formula on night two (which, looking back, was unnecessary) as we were worried she was hungry given she cried quite a bit for an extended period and we thought maybe there was not enough colostrum (which my husband became an expert at hand expressing into a spoon! Who knew he would find such hidden talents). In reality, Heidi would have been fine with what I was producing given how small her stomach was, but as new parents, I think we immediately worried about her being hungry, especially because she was born on the smaller side (6lb14oz). If you are wondering why we were hand expressing colostrum into a spoon, the first day of breast-feeding attempts led to very sore/blistered nipples due to improper latch (this promptly improved within a day or two). I have to say that it is incredible how quickly one can become comfortable in her own skin; I was walking around with a pad, catheter, IV fluids, boobs out … There were meal delivery people coming in and a male nurse, and I didn’t even really flinch. You just get into this different head-space and everything is about baby, and about the both of your recovery from a traumatic event. My husband had to work on Friday (she was born on Thursday morning) and then we were discharged on Saturday after Heidi passed all of her tests with flying colours. Despite some question about jaundice, this wasn’t an issue. We drove home and my parents greeted us. My dad had to fly back to Vancouver about an hour and a half after we arrived, but he had the chance to see the three of us outside of the hospital, which was all that really mattered. The fact that my parents and husband were by my side throughout the labour, that Heidi arrived in good health and I was fortunate enough to avoid any serious complications, was really all that mattered …. (though of course, living closer to my family would be the icing on the cake).

SUMMARY OF PREGNANCY: What an amazing experience. I believe I lucked out and didn’t have any major complications, with the exception of the posterior sacro-iliac and then pubic symphisis dysfunction. I gained about 30 lbs from start to finish, though had gained some weight prior to getting pregnant, in part due I think to Clomid. One thing I would say that surprised me, is that throughout the pregnancy I frequently found myself having to take a moment and absorb the fact that we were in fact “pregnant.” Despite having a belly, attending appointments, and seeing baby on the ultrasound … it was so surreal. I felt so blessed, especially because at one point I questioned whether I would be able to get pregnant. Something else I will always remember is the extent to which fatigue and baby brain impact one’s function. By the end of the pregnancy, I was also incredibly klutzy! I spilled hot tea in my lap and in my car; I bumped belly’s with two of my pregnant friends on different occasions by accident (i.e. turning to say something, with no real awareness of the space my body was taking up); I slipped in the snow a few times, etc. The difficulty with word-finding and lack of quick-thinking ability is not something I’ll miss, but at this point (4 weeks post-partum as I write this) I am sure it still exists – I am just not cognitively stimulated to the same degree so don’t have the opportunity to err quite as much as when I was still working!

Anyways, thanks for reading and please check out my next post on the first three months post-partum (i.e. “The Fourth Trimester”) for some insights/reflections on the most exhausting yet fulfilling month of my life … I hope to work on that in the next 4 weeks, if time allows! So far, it’s been difficult to find the time to do anything productive between nursing, trying to rest, and do basic self-care and home upkeep. But it’s important (as friends and family remind me) to do things “for yourself” – one of these being social engagement, the other being physical activity, and the final one – productive/cognitive pursuits (i.e. blog, read, etc.). So there you have it – my goal for maternity leave is to eventually try and find balance between being a mom to the most incredible little sugar plum / sweet pea / dumpling, being a wife, and being …. well, “me” (and find time to do whatever else it is that makes me who I am). I have no doubt this will be a challenge, but I’m ready to face it and have come to realize that I need to lower my expectations right now in order to maintain a sense of sanity. I am focusing on every moment of every day, and relishing in small victories for now. Like getting 4.5 hours sleep, completing a reorganization of the laundry room, getting out for a walk, starting the income taxes … And just generally not losing my mind or comparing my situation to that of every other mom (particularly when it comes to baby’s sleep). The learning curve is steep … But I’m excited to continue the climb!

xoxo

Daniela

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Quebec City: A meat-loving foodie’s paradise

Hello World! Or rather, if I were to be appropriately modest – Hello Papa, Mom, and the smattering of other lovely people that may end up reading this post 😉

I have been in hiding – or rather – I’ve been keeping busy hibernating and gestating, and thus have not been actively blogging over the past few months. Our baby girl is due TODAY (January 13th – when I wrote this post) and I am trying my best to keep busy and distracted from thinking about this very momentous and life-changing event every second of every passing day. As such, I felt it to be a fitting and appropriate time to return to my blog (not to mention probably one of the only periods in my life where I do not have work tasks or diaper changing/burping/feeding to tend to). That, and I’ve been perpetually haunted since our return from Quebec City in November 2014, by an entry on my iPhone’s “personal to do list” – an extensive bullet point involving detailed notes of our QC culinary impressions. You see, this bullet point was nestled among other to-do’s, such as “buy Christmas gift for ___”, “Order baby shower gift for ___”, “Apply for EI maternity/parental leave”, “Send files to the office”, “Follow-up on Ryan’s Life Insurance”, etcetera … which were only slightly more pressing than writing about food. That being said, as I have managed to tick off each to-do one by one since the start of my maternity leave (December 26, 2014) … here we are, 2.5 months later – ready to write!

My husband, Ryan, and I decided to go for a “babymoon” getaway to Quebec City when I was around 29/30 weeks pregnant. We felt it wasn’t too far to venture should anything happen, AND we also found a great deal (which, if you know us at all, is kind of our MO!) So after a painless drive (around 5 hours) and a few pit stops, we made it. I have to say Quebec City is beautiful; like a larger version of Old Montreal. Certainly different from anything (architecture-wise) that you might happen across in five hours by car on the West Coast. We checked in to the Delta Québec on Boulevard René Lévesque E, which is much nicer inside than outside. Our room was lovely with a view and there was also an outdoor pool (which, I’ll admit, I couldn’t quite grow the balls to use given the weather had dipped into the negative temperatures).

We spent three nights in Quebec City, and I can honestly say our time was evenly split between eating and sleeping … with walking coming in as a close second! Seriously. We slept a lot, and even took a siesta or two in the afternoons. When you are pregnant (and even it you aren’t) and you eat lots of heavy, delicious food and walk for a few hours in brisk weather, nothing quite beats a good nap. Also, hotel beds/pillows/black-out blinds are god’s gift to the world. Additionally, in preparation of our pending entry into parenthood, the message we kept hearing (in so many words)  was to “enjoy your time together” and “enjoy your sleep.” Since Ryan and I enjoy sleeping, eating, and walking … This was the perfect trip. And it didn’t break the bank! So, onto the brief reviews of our various culinary endeavours.

Hobbit Bistro: Our first night we stumbled down the hill from our hotel onto Rue Saint-Jean (a cute and bustling street that is parallel Boulevard René Lévesque E). The ambience was nice – modern, and yet warm. The service was prompt and courteous. I ordered the red deer (venison) which came with roasted vegetables, and Ryan ordered the steak shoulder with frites and salad. Both of our meals were delicious. I would say the deer was even better than the steak (only because there were a few stringy steak bites, likely because it was very rare, which we both like – albeit a minute or two longer would have probably been just right). The frites and side salad were wonderful and fresh. The deer stew was superb; it was braised to perfection and the sauce/gravy had an incredible depth and was seasoned just right. The same can be said for the roasted side veggies. We would certainly go back, although given the plethora of places to eat in Quebec City, it wouldn’t be at the top of our list! Sorry, no photos (probably because we dove right into our meticulously presented dishes and made a mess of them before we had the chance to snap a shot … Just a guess, not that it happens often, of course …

Le Chic Shack: Our first full day in Quebec City, we wandered along the waterfront and weaved in and out of the walls surrounding the Old city. Having worked up an appetite, we decided to stop in to Le Chic Shack (which is on Rue du Fort, across from the famous and impressively regal Fairmont Frontenac). Ryan had read about the burgers here and I for one can’t pass up a good, juicy burger (and let’s not forget my obsession with frites). This place is very casual; you order your food/drink and then they bring it to your table as per the number you’ve been assigned. The prices were also reasonable, and you get a view of the hustle/bustle around the Frontenac. I ordered Le Robuste Bison burger (made with bison, roquefort cheese, madeira mushrooms, arugula, gentleman’s steak sauce, horseradish aioli. *NB: I subbed out the roquefort for a milder white cheese because I didn’t want it to overpower the delicate bison flavour). In my opinion, bison is a risky choice as it can be really dry if not prepared correctly (probably because it’s lean) – but I figured I’d take the risk, live on the edge, etc. Also, since Ryan was ordering a beef burger I know I could count on at least ONE bite of juicy meat (on that note, I could never marry someone who doesn’t enjoy sharing food as much as I do). He decided on Le Chic burger (comprised of beef,​ local cheddar, house pickles, bibb lettuce, tomato, chic sauce) and we shared a hefty portion of frites (do you like how I am trying to be French? I’ve never in my life called fries “frites” but figure, when blogging about Quebec City, it is kind of appropriate / necessary … Or maybe I’m just being a fool). Our burgers were AMAZING. AH-MAZING. SO BLOODY DELICIOUS (maybe not the best term to use when describing a tantalizing red-meat entree, but you get my point). I have never had such tender bison and Ryan’s beef was out of this world juicy too. Aside from the obvious star of the show (i.e. the meat), I have to say the sauces and buns were absolutely spot-on. I hate when you get those dry, tasteless, doughy, white buns and the ratio of gross-bun to semi-decent-burger is largely in favour of the bread. The ratio has to be even OR better yet, meat > bread. The buns from Le Chic Shack tasted home-made; a little bit sweet, toasted to perfection … and take a look at the ratio (below) – you can’t get any better than that! I don’t know what they put into the bibb, chic or gentleman’s steak sauce but whomever their sauce-mixer-extraordinaire is, certainly knows what he/she is doing. Neither burger was too saucy nor was it dry. You could taste the meat and the flavours complimented each other. The frites were also really good (though I like mine a little thicker) – Ryan loved them. We would 100% go back!

Burger

Le Lapin Sauté:  We stumbled upon this place, which Ryan had heard of through the course of his “research” (best kind of research ever, in my opinion), as we meandered our way through the quaint corridors and cobblestone streets one evening. It is located in the Quartier Petit-Champlain, which is about the most charming little nook in the city. It is a pedestrian street and is lined with little shops and restaurants, no one like the other. Each storefront and restaurant is as picturesque as the next, and while you’d almost think you were on a movie set, it isn’t cheesy or staged looking (just ridiculously cute).  There is live music on the street and everyone is strolling at a leisurely pace. Inside the Lapin Sauté you will find yourself at home, and I immediately got the sense that we were in a family-run, cozy, cottage-turned-restaurant (even though neither of these characteristics are likely to be accurate). Of course, given the name of the establishment you can imagine their main feature is rabbit. While I have tried everything from crocodile to frog legs to antelope to tripe, I had not ever eaten rabbit. We ordered the rabbit rillettes as an appetizer and then chose entrees of rabbit confit and duck sausage. Mine came with sauteed white beans (which I believe were cooked almost confit in rabbit fat – nom nom nom) and I can’t recall what Ryan’s came with, but the sides (or rather in this case, the foundation – whatever was situated under the meat) were really tasty. The portions were also massive, which is not something we expected. The appetizer would have been enough to eat for lunch (and I don’t eat small, dainty portions) and the mains were chock-full of meat. Ryan couldn’t finish his, nor could I. I would say that having now tried rabbit, it could be compared to a very moist piece of turkey (a blend of white and dark meat). Especially the way it was cooked here, it was incredibly moist and juicy – almost “rich” for a seemingly white-ish meat. I’d probably have rabbit again, although it wouldn’t be my top pick of non-red meat (i.e. I’d prefer duck) when eating out. The only down side of the whole experience was the speed of service; we were out of there too quickly in my opinion. I believe it was 50 minutes from start to finish (sitting down to getting the cheque). I always feel like if you are going to pay for a service and make it an experience (e.g. our “event” for the night) it’s nice to slow down the pace a bit. But in any case, I suppose that’s better than waiting for 1 hour for an appetizer and being so hungry you could gnaw off your arm …. Unfortunately, no photos. Sorry, I’ve failed you!

Le Billig Creperie-Bistro:  On our last day, we just knew we had to find this creperie as the reviews were all but positive and, well, crepes are not something we make at home (the batter is so finicky and getting the right sauce is also an art in and of itself). Anyways, this quant and unassuming place is located on Rue Saint-Jean (again, one street over from our hotel – score!) and has an extensive crepe menu (sweet and savory). We went on a weekday morning (Monday) and there were only 2 servers in the place and a few tables; it felt cozy but was nice and bright with lots of windows and natural light. Now, I have to say, while I haven’t been to France, I have had crepes at top notch restaurants in Vancouver as well as Mont Tremblant. These pale in comparison so the deliciousness of Le Billig’s creation …. Honestly, the best crepe dough, filling, and side salad I could have ever asked for! Ryan chose the chorizo, egg and shallot combo (pictured on the left, below) and I chose the prawn, scallop, and mushroom in wine sauce (on the right). The portion was generous, and the amount of seafood in my crepe totally surprised me. There were at least 8-9 small scallops and a whole whack of prawns. The seafood was impeccably cooked – tender yet crunchy, and the sauce was to-die-for. Oh, and don’t get me started with the batter. It was honestly the perfect balance of crispy and soft; sweet, savory and spiced … I can’t even compare it to another crepe because it was almost as if a crepe and a dosa (South Indian crepe-like batter) merged and created the world’s best dough. I would go back just for the batter (and would also go back just for the filling, so … if that doesn’t tell you enough, I’m not sure what else to say!) Ryan really liked his as well and the egg was superb as was the chorizo. Our side salads had a beautiful home-made vinaigrette and fresh greens, cucumbers and tomatoes (the portion was plentiful too, which was nice to offset the richness of the crepe).  Without a doubt, I would drive 5 hours to Quebec City just for this crepe. A MUST TRY!

Crepe 2 Crepe

Restaurant Légende: Ryan made reservations at this top notch restaurant for an early 30th birthday treat to me. It is located on Rue Saint-Paul and walkable from most parts of the “core” (about 15 minutes from our hotel). WOW, what an incredible experience this was. Legende is beautifully modern inside yet warm and inviting. The lighting and decor is simplistic, earthy, yet still somehow trendy. It’s got a bit of a lounge feel but also a rustic ambience. The service was incredible and the food; amazing. What I loved most is the option to get entrees in “appetizer” portions, which means you get a protein, side veggies and sauce as you would with an entree, just a smaller (half-sized) portion. This is ideal because you get to try a lot more food and still get the “wow” effect of an entree presentation rather than the simplicity of an appetizer.We ended up ordering 5 half plates, which included duck (bottom right), venison, lamb fries (bottom left), snow crab (top left), and pork belly (top right). *NB: Lamb fries (also known as Rocky Mountain Oysters) are not at all what they sound like – they are lamb testicles. And yes, we still tried them after being forewarned by the server after we placed our order. While I was craving lamb and fries … not necessarily testicles  … we braved the unknown culinary terrain and chowed down on those lamb gonads like any good patron and adventurous foodie would. And they weren’t bad! That said, I wouldn’t order them again … something about knowing that I was eating lamb balls just didn’t do it for me. The dish itself was really good, nonetheless. On another note, the bread and butter were incredible – so simple, yet so good – and my rhubarb soda was delicious! I don’t even really like rhubarb but it was so authentic and a delightful change from water or pop. If you google this restaurant, you will see it is associated with La Tanière,  and has also been nominated as one of Canada’s best new restaurants of 2014. See here: http://enroute.aircanada.com/canadas-best-new-restaurants-2014/legende/ Légende is basically the downtown offspring of La Tanière, which offers a 20-course, five-hour tasting menu, whereas Légende goes à la carte, with nearly every dish available in two sizes. Ryan and I loved all of the dishes but his favorite was the snow crab and my favorite was probably the pork belly. The proteins were impeccably prepared and the vegetables and sauces, as well as the presentation, were truly 5-star. Some photos below though lighting is not great. We highly recommend this restaurant for a true taste of Quebec; the place prides itself in scouring the local boreal forrest for ingredients and I would imagine you can’t get a meal more authentically Quebecois than you can here.

Snow crab Pork belly Lamb fries Duck

 

SUMMARY: Quebec city is a definite must for anyone who loves rich, sumptuous fare that is creatively thought out and brings together elements of flora and fauna from the local region. It’s also a beautiful, quaint city to wander through and offers lots of unique shopping and walking trails.

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Second Trimester (AKA “I finally have a bump and don’t feel like death!”)

Well, after over a month of procrastination, I am finally writing my second trimester post. Given I am entering my 32nd week tomorrow (and the majority of resources say the second trimester starts around week 13 and ends around week 27), it seems I am a tad late! And while we are on the topic of counting weeks, I’d like to make a slightly tangential side note: You won’t truly appreciate how confusing this whole “pregnant for 9 months but really it is 40 weeks” thing really is, with respect to figuring out where exactly you are in the pregnancy (i.e. trimester system), until you are actually pregnant. But that is neither here nor there, I suppose.

I have to say that, overall, the second trimester treated me well. I’ve tried to once again recap my symptoms and general experience(s) by weeks, and let’s face it, with my seemingly steady decline in brain function, things that happened only a few weeks ago now seem like distant memories. Hence, I am happy I decided to jot down notes in my iPhone every so often over the past few months.

Throughout the second trimester, I have continued to try and keep my family in Vancouver “posted” so to speak, by sending them biweekly or biweekly updates with a picture of the bump (yes, I finally have one! It only took 22 weeks, more than half of the pregnancy, to “pop” … but alas!) Having said that, I thought I could/would/should post a few of the belly photos below. Please don’t mind the naked tummy. I figure not only might this be helpful to preggos out there who are wanting to compare their bump (like I obsessively did in the first 20 weeks) but also, thought this little exercise might be good practice for the act of being “on display,” as rumour has it there may be a little bit of show and tell during and after labour. That said, I certainly have my doubts that posting belly photos on a blog will prepare me for whipping out a breast in the middle of lunch at a busy restaurant. But again, I digress.

Weeks 13-14: No significant changes from the first trimester in terms of cravings – still obsessed with anything in sandwich form (especially Tim Horton’s), pasta, and bread bread breaaaad! One noticeable improvement was the decrease in fatigue and virtually no bouts of nausea. At this point, I was definitely wearing maternity pants (not that I looked pregnant, just “thick” and wider and bloated. In other words, the epitome of sexy). My stomach remained distinctly different from the cute baby belly I’d envisioned. In other words: two soft, separate rolls of flesh/fat, which were not hardened, round or cute in any way. In spite of this, I did experience a very exciting moment of much desired external validation during this two week period – I had a client’s wife call me out on being pregnant, which completely surprised me. I guess my stomach distended more than usual and I was wearing a tight-ish shirt and standing sideways. Also, she knew we had just bought a house. As I left the visit, she smirked and asked me “So, a house, eh? Is a baby next? *diverting gaze to my belly*” I congratulated her on being so ballsy (not in those words) and I think she gained satisfaction from being the first person to guess.

One other thing I noticed at the beginning of the second trimester was that suddenly, I didn’t have to get up to pee quite as often at night… and I had fewer if any migraines or nosebleeds. Things seemed to be on the up and up overall! The picture below is of me at 13 weeks.

week 13

Week 15 – 17:  At 16w1day I had my IPS (Integrated Prenatal Screening) and it came back with results that indicated we had a 1/70,000 chance of having a child with chromosomal abnormalities (for my age, it should apparently be closer to 1/1000 so I was pleased with this). I was also able to hear the baby’s heart beat and the sound of her moving around at my 20 week OB appointment, which was comforting and yet strange (i.e. there’s a little creature in there, hanging out and squirming about and I can’t even feel anything!). That week I noticed a few physical changes, some of which I will not explain in great detail (related to the passage of food through the intestines, or rather – the slowing of this process ;). I also noticed becoming more easily out of breath just from walking (I’m talking on the flat, let alone up a hill). I needed a nap here or there but was not nearly as fatigued as the first trimester. I also received the best care package ever, from my thoughtful sister, full of hilarious sticky notes and heart-warming cards, along with very practical and sweet gifts (e.g. baby oil, wash cloths, infant utensils, etc.). Early on in my 16th week, I had another client make an (again very risky) assumption and ask me point blank if there was a baby in “there”. I wish I could have said “no, I just have a food baby from binging on chicken wings” however I just didn’t have it in me. Instead, I blushed profusely and told her she was a daring and astute woman (especially because she’d said this in front of a vendor with whom I was not overly familiar).

With respect to exercising in the first 4 weeks of the second trimester, I would venture to say I did a total of 6x at home (10-15 min) fitness videos (links on youtube), 9 yoga classes, and 30 minute walks a few days a week. I remained largely unable to adhere to any sort of a routine and it still felt like I was “dragging” around; any extra energy I had did not seem to be going towards structured exercise, let’s put it that way! Between week 15-16 I was on a roll with my yoga classes (maybe it was the unlimited 30 class pass I bought), and then things kind of fell off again after that time.

I noticed indigestion intensified at this point in time, and no matter what I was eating (heavy/spicy or bland and comforting) I was getting heart-burn, especially noticeable when I bent forward (e.g. to put on my shoes at a client’s home) or lay flat. Pictured below is me at week 15 and again at week 17.

week 15

17 weeks

Week 18-21: This period was a busy one! We were relocating from an apartment downtown to our first house in the suburbs! Super exciting, but also understandably tiring. I would have to say though, of any time in a pregnancy to move, this may be the best because I feel like I had relatively more energy than in the first trimester, and was not quite as limited with my movements or easily out of breath as in the third trimester (i.e. pelvic pain, belly getting in the way, etc.). I think I really started showing around week 20 – even though I could still very easily pass as not pregnant depending on my attire. If I wore something fitted, I did have a bit more of a pronounced and rounded pot-belly happening …. FINALLY!

I also remember around week 19 starting to eat even more than I already was (which is hard to believe). One day I tracked my food just for interest and I was averaging around 2600 calories a day (in my reading, that is a lot more than I needed, and I have to admit I wasn’t always hungry; I just seemed to enjoy eating more that ever!).

At week 20, Ryan and I got to find out the gender of our little bun, which was SUCH an exciting moment. The ultrasound at that time is technically meant to assess the baby’s health and physical development (i.e. brain, spinal cord, internal organs, size). Apparently it is a perk if you are able to tell whether you are having a boy or a girl (because unless baby has his/her legs open it can be hard to tell!) We found out we were having a girl … and I have to say, I had a strong feeling from about week 16 even though prior to that I had thought we were having a boy. We were both elated and it made the whole thing feel more “real” to see this very human-like creature on the ultrasound, including photos of the feet, head, face, etc. A difficult moment to beat … And now we could decide on a name and call HER “her” instead of “it” or “baby” 🙂

Around week 21 I got a bit of a rash (bumps, itching) which eventually subsided and also my right leg started to get restless (at night). I’d never experienced restless legs before and I have to say, it is something else! So pronounced and uncomfortable! I think I also got some mild numbness/tingling in my left wrist (carpal tunnel-like) that week (odd because I am right-handed) which I noticed mostly while typing. I also recall the night-time peeing to have increased again … Unfortunately. The first photo is me at 19 weeks, the second is me at 20 weeks and the third, at 21 weeks.

19 weeks

20 weeks

21 weeks

Week 22-23: This was the period in my pregnancy wherein I was fortunate enough to go “home” and visit with my family! It was overwhelmingly exciting to visit with my parents and sister, as well as my brother en route in Calgary. The last time we had all seen each other was in April in L.A for our cousin’s wedding and as it turns out, this trip took place just a few weeks before baby was conceived … so I definitely enjoyed a few drinks!

Right before Vancouver, I started to feel what I could definitely tell were baby movements (as opposed to the “fluttering” in the weeks prior that was really hard to discern from gas bubbles or stomach rumbling). I also recall having a few dreams about parenthood (or, rather, night-mares. I never seem to have good dreams – I’ve always had an overactive and highly disturbed night-mind … just like my Papa. Thanks, Papa, for passing that gem of a quality on to me ;). I thoroughly enjoyed the quality time spent with some of the most important people in my lives. In terms of cravings, all I wanted was ice-cream and grapes and pie. Oh, and every other morsel of food under the sun. But those specifically.

Baby bump 23

Week 24-25: During these few weeks I noticed a lot more indigestion, as well as hot flashes at night (when sitting up or lying in bed) as well as difficulty breathing when reclined in bed as well. I suppose baby girl was situated higher up or squishing into the diaphragm? I wasn’t noticeably warmer during the day (too bad, given I have notoriously terrible circulation – Raynaud’s – so had hoped pregnancy would help alleviate this!) There was definitely more kicking – nothing painful, just very noticeable. She seemed to enjoy sitting on my bladder during the day, and so the frequency of daytime urination was through the roof (and remains so to this day). I’m talking every hour or sometimes every 15-20 minutes, depending. Around week 25 was also when I had to do my first glucose fasting test (pre-screening for gestational diabetes, which everyone has to do). You drink an overly sugary drink and then wait an hour and have your blood sugar level tested. I failed, unfortunately, which can be related to what you have eaten earlier that day (as it’s not a fasting test). But since I am writing this a month or so late, I can say that I ended up passing the second test (which is 2-hours long and done after at least 10 hours of fasting) so I do not have GD! I have to say I was pretty worried for a few weeks, and most especially about the risk of growing a very large baby (which is a common concern with GD) but all is well! While I watched my sugar intake for a few days prior to the test and after, once I found out I was in the clear I let go of the reins and let my cravings take control again 😉

24 weeks

Week 26-27: In these weeks, I remember being really excited to actually see my belly move! No one can quite prepare you for that, and it was also a nice bonus to get validation from my husband because I swear to god every time I’d taken his hand to place it on the belly movement prior (this was when you could only feel, but not see anything) she would swiftly stop moving OR she would and he wouldn’t feel it (maybe those burly man hands are not as sensitive to movement? Or perhaps it was the distraction of football that was usually on TV when I plopped down beside him and grabbed his hand without permission, stuffing it under my shirt or into my over-sized and high-waisted pants).

26 week start Oct 7 2014

CRAVINGS, MUCH?

I don’t think I quite understood “cravings” per se – fully – until becoming pregnant. I always heard women talk about how they couldn’t get enough of “____ food item” (usually chocolate, if we are going with the cliches) right before their time of the month. I never really remembering experiencing that. Maybe because the birth control pill tends to taper everything and reduce the extent of hormonal fluctuations … maybe it’s because if I did crave something it was usually more of a cerebral (i.e. can’t get it off my mind because I keep smelling or seeing something that reminds me of that food) or emotional (i.e. I am tired/happy/sad/anxious, therefor I want “_____”) craving. Usually wings or french fries or sushi; in other words, savory food. The pregnancy craving experience is totally different, in my opinion. It’s like you may not even be thinking about food (because sometimes you aren’t thinking at all because it takes too much energy) yet you find yourself standing in the kitchen at 816am for the third day in a row eating Breyer’s Vanilla ice-cream because it just needs to be done. Or making a dessert for a get together specifically because you need to serve it with ice-cream and therefor you need to buy ice-cream. Or you find yourself making fudge on a Sunday night (when you don’t really like fudge, and have never bought – let alone made – it). It’s just this insane hankering. I am someone who doesn’t normally reach for the creamy yogurt, ice-cream or chocolate bars. And yet, pregnancy has turned me into a sugar-loving feind! Carbs in general. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t think I’ve had as much bread or as many sandwiches in a year-long period as I’ve had in the last several months. Everyone’s experience is different I’m sure, but for me … Pregnancy has definitely steered me away from my usual vegetable-loving ways. I am not turned off per se, but definitely don’t crave a black and blue salad with pecans or an asian stirfry with vegetables the same way I used to. We will see what the third trimester holds!


My idea of the perfect “cake” if you’d asked me pre-pregnancy …

pizza cake


My idea of the perfect “cake” now (add in some whipped cream and ice-cream while you’re at it) …

cake


YOUR BODY IS NO LONGER YOURS

What else can I say? It’s like you are slowly being taken over by some foreign creature and you just never quite know what to expect when you wake-up in the morning and look at yourself in the mirror. One day, you feel something moving inside your belly. The next day, you can no longer see your feet (well, maybe it’s a little more gradual than that). One day, you are able to walk around and talk on the phone like it ain’t no thang and the next you feel like you’re going to have a heart attack after walking up a slightly inclined hill at a snail’s pace. One day, you wake up worrying that the pregnancy is just a dream, and the next, you find yourself basking in the indulgence of two baby showers where you – of all people – are the guest of honour. One day, you can push through any deadline with a bit of coffee and the next you are fully prepared to poke yourself in the eye just to get through the 15 minute drive home without passing out. Ultimately … You really have to let go of needing control and get rid of the expectation that you can anticipate how things will go, because it is virtually impossible! It’s kind of refreshing to just “let go” and see what happens. It’s liberating, albeit frightening at times. And on that note, I think it can be quite the experience for your partner. My husband has been extremely supportive and complimentary throughout the pregnancy (i.e. You don’t look tired at all! I think you look more beautiful than ever! Yes, I see the bump! No, it doesn’t look like fat rolls!). In other words, textbook A-plus husband behavior 😉 However, nearing the third trimester, he – though still complimentary and sweet – started to voice his own curiosity and disbelief in just how much the body could change. He was the one who, one morning as I was pulling up my maternity pants (almost to bra-level, of course) said – “your body isn’t yours anymore!” I wasn’t offended, I appreciated his honesty. It’s just weird. The whole thing is weird. Weird and wonderful!

So here I am … onwards and upwards into the last trimester!!! I am SO excited to be working on the nursery, focusing some of my extra energy on nesting (a whole topic in and of itself) and wrapping up work, slowly but surely. We are now in the home stretch … And there is certainly no shortage of emotions and to-do’s! I will update once I get to 40 weeks, assuming I am not in active labour. On that note, I have a feeling little miss will be arriving early, even though I am not looking remotely “ready to pop”. I just have a sense … All I can hope for is that she doesn’t make her entrance too early (or too late) and that she is healthy … but again, nothing I really have control over. Must. Let. Go.

xo

Daniela

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