The End of Our Daily Time Together

 

This Monday signifies a big day for me, the day that I return to work downtown after a 16 month maternity leave. It’s a difficult transition and one that is causing anxiety and some tears (mostly from me). This time feels different than when I returned to work after having Cubby.

The past 16 months have been so challenging and overwhelming for me; trying to get Squeakers to eat, trying to get her to crawl and stand, endless medical appointments, and attempting to wean her off of breastfeeding. There have been numerous times over the past 16 months that I have not been proud of. Times where my anxiety was out of control not knowing what was wrong with her or if anything was even wrong with her. Times where I have been a wreck and have been paralyzed not knowing what to feed her and when to feed her. Times when I have been utterly exhausted and drained when she was constantly waking up at night and not napping regularly during the day. But then there were times of constant snuggling and cuddling, times of big smiles and squealing laughter, times of hearing her say mama for the first time and pointing to me. Also times of giggling when I tickled her tummy, times of pure delight in the bathtub when playing with new toys, or times of rocking and kissing her little nose when I tried to put her down for a nap. My eyes are tearing up as I write this knowing that in one day my time to spend with Squeakers will diminish to only 1.5 hours each weekday.

Many thoughts are running through my mind; will she remember me, will she still reach out her arms towards me when I come in a room, will she miss me, will she take her first steps while I am at work? For some reason, this time around it is gut wrenching thinking of being away from her. We have been enmeshed and inseparable for 16 months. The longest that I have been away from her has been 4 to 5 hours, with the exception of this week where I tried to stay out of the house for 8 hours a day in preparation for my return back to work. I know that many people have commented that I baby her too much or that she is too attached to me. Secretly, I think that it is the other way around, I am so attached to her. After the loss of Baby Strawberry, and trying so hard to get pregnant this time around, I held onto her a little tighter, a little longer, a little stronger. I know this. I also know that space and distance will be good for us. She will do better and eat better when I am not around, and I will be able to feel like I have some space to breathe. It’s for the better, I know. But it still doesn’t take away the ache that I feel in my heart.

I will never forget Cubby’s reaction after I returned to work when she stopped reaching out for me and stopped coming to me for cuddles and support. It was like I was a completely different person to her as I was gone for most of the day. It really hurt at first, and then became the norm for me. But then it felt good to be away for the day and have some time to myself and come home and be more attentive and appreciative of her, instead of being an exhausted worn out mom.

I know that it is for the better. After all, I love my job and my manager. My job is everything that I have ever wanted, but knowing that I will not get home until about 5:45 pm and Squeakers gets tired by 6 pm and is in bed by 7 pm, does not leave much time for interaction with her. It is causing me a lot of mommy guilt and wondering if I am making the right decision to return back. I know that it is the right decision at this time. In the meantime, preparations for my return have been endless. I have been meal planning, grocery shopping, organizing the girls’ clothing and orienting our live out nanny. Although she is so great, it has been difficult to relinquish control and hand over the reigns to someone else. I am getting better at this.

The lessons that I have learned on this maternity leave with Squeakers have been numerous.

  1. You cannot control everything. The harder you try, the more push back you will get. In the end, only you will suffer.
  2. Children are here to teach you something. It is good to take a step back and look at the lessons.
  3. Enjoy the first year with your child as it goes by so quickly and the snuggles and cuddles are priceless.
  4. Every child is different. Just because your first child ate all of their food and walked at 11 months, it doesn’t mean that your second child will follow this same path.
  5. Start sleep training early. Trust me, it is really difficult to sleep train a little one who is older and is able to sit up.
  6. Enjoy every day. Each day is a new day full of wonder. Your little one will learn something new or do something new each day.

So Monday morning bright and early I am off to the GO station to head downtown Toronto to my office. I am wondering how Squeakers will react. Usually I breast feed her at 6 am and then we go back to sleep and cuddle until about 7:30 am or 8 am. I wonder what she will do when I get out of bed abruptly and start getting ready for work at 6 am. I think that she will cry. I think that I will cry. I will probably spend the first day looking at the clock and counting down the hours until I head home. It will take me a while to get used to this new schedule and new routine. Children are very resilient so I know that she will be fine. I hope that she still remembers me and reaches out to me when I come home. I know that I will be rushing home with open arms.

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Posted in Advice for New Moms, Returning to Work after Mat Leave, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Yes, I have a low tone baby and no, she does not eat!

I haven’t blogged for a while.. or perhaps it has been months. Squeakers is now almost 15 months old and I am not going to lie, it has been a struggle. So many ups and downs and anxiety filled days and nights. Things were going well after I had started the Domperidone for milk supply and little Squeakers was gaining weight. Then I had started solids at around 7 months. She initially liked the homemade purees and then I noticed around 9 or 10 months that she wasn’t really interested in eating solids. She didn’t want me to feed her with a spoon. It seemed as if she was pushing the purees out with her tongue and fighting me so I researched and talked to some other moms and changed to baby-led weaning. I ordered a baby-led weaning cookbook and bookmarked websites on my computer and thought that I had found the answer! She was eating whole foods and chunks of food by herself; blueberries, mandarin slices, broccoli, cucumber, pieces of chicken, blackberries, yogurt.. we were on a roll.

Then, it hit. Around 11 months, everything stopped. She started refusing everything that I offered her. She took food and threw it off her tray onto the floor. I bought suction cup bowls and utensils that promoted self feeding; no luck. I bought a silicone mat with divided sections and a new booster seat for eating; no luck. I tried different types of food, different textures, different sizes, different flavours.. and no luck. She stopped eating altogether.

It was and has been quite a stressful time, having a low weight baby and one who does not eat any type of food and only breastfeeds. She has always refused to take a bottle so I have not been able to supplement her. She will take sips of goat milk from a sippy cup or small glass, but not enough to keep her going. In the past 14 months, I have been able to be away from her for about 4, maybe 5 hours. I am slowly breaking down.

After struggling with her weight gain and in turn, increasing my weight gain out of stress, I was finally overjoyed when she weighed 16 pounds. What an accomplishment! Then in the past 2 months, she has not been eating and has dropped to 15 pounds leaving me feeling defeated and wiped out.

I have continued to try different types of food, textures, colours, presentation, different bowls, cups, spoons, forks, seats, locations, all of which have not improved her eating. All along, I have kept wondering what is wrong with her; why does she not eat anything? I had to convince my family doctor to refer her to a paediatrician. Oh and did I mention that she wasn’t meeting any of her motor milestones? So to add to the stress, she has not started kneeling, pulling to sit, standing, crawling or walking. From my background and training in occupational therapy, I had a feeling this was not good news.

Over the past few months, Squeakers has been seen by a paediatrician, 3 dietitians, 2 occupational therapists, 2 physiotherapists, an osteopath, a craniosacral therapist, a naturopath and a neurologist. Everyone with the same conclusion, she has low muscle tone or hypotonia. This, I knew to begin with, based on my own assessment of her and my own knowledge and training in occupational therapy. However, it was reassuring to hear from the neurologist that because she is low tone and because she scoots around on her bum so efficiently, she will likely not walk until about 2 years old. It was also interesting to discover during the OT feeding assessment that she likely has decreased sensory input to her mouth because of the low muscle tone. Thus, she needs more sensory input than the average baby to feel like there is food in her mouth and to illicit a chewing response. So, food that is crunchy, chewy, textured, salty, spicy are all more likely to be tolerable to her.

All along, people have asked about her and I have had comments such as “is she crippled?”, “will she ever walk?”, “how old is she, she is so little?”, “you baby her, that is why she is not walking”; I could go on and on. While these comments are not only ignorant, they are quite hurtful. Clearly I am aware as her mom and having a background in health care, that she is not meeting her milestones. Obviously if there is anyone who is worried about her, it is me.

So, to explain, low muscle tone does not necessarily equal low strength. Her hands and legs are actually quite strong as seen when she picks up a heavy water bottle or kicks with such force into my stomach. Low muscle tone simply means that her joints are loose and lax. Picture as if her joints are made of spaghetti, so she is extremely flexible. This laxness or flexibility makes it hard to sit up and sit straight. It makes it difficult to sit upright to eat. Picture trying to exert the effort to crawl or stand when your joints feel like spaghetti. It’s not easy! (You can Google “low muscle tone” or “hypotonia” or read about it at: http://www.skillsforaction.com/low-muscle-tone).

I have worked as an OT in paediatrics and I have treated children with hypotonia and low muscle tone in the past. However, since it is my own child, I have found it hard to be objective without my anxiety taking over. And my anxiety has reared it’s ugly head again making me feel weak, less of a mom, useless, and not in control. It also does not help that I have had to deal with a constant barrage of negative comments, as if I chose this to happen to my child. It has been a challenging few months filled with contradicting messages: keep breastfeeding, stop breastfeeding, only offer solids, let her go to sleep hungry and she will be hungrier in the daytime, decrease the Domperidone, stay on the Domperidone, feed her every 2 hours, feed her every 3 to 4 hours. What is a mom to do?

The only thing that has kept some of my sanity has been to follow my gut. When in times of despair and confusion, follow my gut. (Also, some guidance from my Angel cards, my life coach, and performing self reiki has been invaluable!). My gut told me that her iron was likely low and that she needed a blood test. I begged and pleaded and got a blood test done. Sure enough her ferritin level was 10 when normal ranges were 100-300. She has started iron drops and I am hoping that her levels will improve. When babies have low iron, it can make them lethargic and lose their appetite. I am waiting to see if her appetite improves.

I have tried to focus on the breastfeeding and getting others to feed her the solids. With all of my stress, my milk supply began plummeting again despite being on a high dose of Domperidone. I have been unable to wean her off of the night feeds because she is not eating enough during the day. I have yet to have even 6 hours of sleep. I have put my health needs on hold despite knowing that I am in adrenal exhaustion with high cortisol and SIBO and that my body needs to rest. I am hoping that I will soon be able to rest and heal my physical body. I am working with a health coach to address my anxiety, emotions, and the mind-body connection behind all of this. Most of all I am trying to stay strong and positive. And yes, there are days where I seem more stressed out and more negative or defeated, but I am human after all and entitled to those days. I have never been one to fake that I am okay or to not discuss my struggles openly.

The only thing I can do at this moment in time is to stay calm and keep on keeping on. Like those annoying British sayings that I see on t-shirts and mugs. After all, most of this is beyond my control. There is nothing that I can do to make Squeakers eat. At one point, I did try to squeeze her cheeks and shovel food in; however, that ended in her spitting everything out and screaming.

I cannot change the fact that she has low muscle tone or decreased sensory input to her mouth.

I cannot change the fact that she is low weight and is not meeting her motor milestones.

All I can control is my attitude and my emotions and try my hardest not to be the stressball that I have been over the past few months. I have tried to look for the lesson or message in all of this. The only thing that I can come up with is that I cannot control everything around me. Although the Type A in me wants everything to be neat and orderly and follow the same schedule and routine every day, Squeakers beats to her own drum. She does not follow any sense of routine or predictability. I have to accept this. I have to accept that she is her own person and that there is NOTHING WRONG with her, despite what the milestone charts say. This is who she is in all of her stubborn and strong willed glory. I cannot change this. I cannot control this. All I can do is offer her my unconditional love and support knowing that:

In this moment, she is whole and complete and loved.

In this moment, I am whole and complete and loved.

And so it is.

 

Posted in Breastfeeding, Feeding Baby, Your Baby's Development | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Favourite Natural Products for Baby and Mom

Since having Cubby almost 6 years ago, I have learned a lot about the products that we use every day and what is actually in them. Although I used more natural products on Cubby when she was born, I have found even better ones that I really like and with cleaner ingredients. Although they may not be perfect according to the EWG (Environmental Working Group) http://www.ewg.org, I have been really pleased with them and am still using them with Squeakers. Something to keep in mind is that our skin is our largest organ of absorption and baby’s skin is more susceptible to chemicals and fragrances. “Newborn skin is delicate — and so is the baby’s immune system. Chemicals, fragrances, and dyes in clothing, detergents, and baby products can cause newborn skin irritation, dryness, chafing, and rashes” (www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/baby-skin-10/skin-care-tips).

Here is a list of some of my favourite products for babies:

  1. Dimpleskins Bum Bum Balm: all natural ingredients; does not contain petroleum or mineral oils; very gentle with a nice smell. Squeakers has never had a diaper rash or any redness and we have used this since she was born.

Dimpleskins Naturals Bum Bum Balm Diapering Salve

2. Aleva Naturals Bamboo Baby Wipes: very gentle and light smell; chlorine and eco-friendly; light and easy to use. My only drawback is that they stick together when trying to get them out of the wipes pack.

Aleva Naturals Bamboo Baby Wipes Ultra Sensitive Value Pack

3. Pure Organic Coconut Oil: I have used this on Squeakers’ skin since she was born. No need for any lotion with it. Her skin has been soft and clear; no rashes or bumps. When travelling, I have used Aleva Naturals Daily Soothing Moisturizer and have been happy with the outcome.

Aleva Naturals Daily Soothing Moisturizer

4. Earth Mama Angel Baby Body Wash and Shampoo: I have used this since Squeakers was born and it is very lightly scented and extremely gentle. I like that it is a castile based soap. I still use it to this day.

Earth Mama Angel Baby Body Wash and Shampoo Natural Orange Vanilla Scent

5. Seventh Generation Free & Clear Diapers: I love love love these diapers. There is no chemical smell when you take one out of the package. They are soft and gentle and extremely absorbent. I love the design and fit of these diapers. Squeakers has never had any kind of skin reaction to them. I saved a bit of money on them by setting up an Amazon.ca autoship diaper service.

Seventh Generation Baby Free & Clear Diapers

6. Traditional Medicinals Organic Mother’s Milk Tea: I have tried numerous nursing teas during my time with Cubby and now with Squeakers and this has been my go-to for helping me with milk supply.

Traditional Medicinals Organic Mother\'s Milk Tea

Natural Products for Moms

I have been experimenting with natural products for my skin care and health and have found that the following ones are my go-to’s:

  1. Antipodes Vanilla Pod Hydrating Day Cream: very moisturizing for a natural face cream; reasonably priced and great ingredients. I also use a face serum and exfoliator by the same company.

Antipodes Vanilla Pod Hydrating Day Cream

2. Andalou Naturals Moisture Rich Shampoo and Conditioner Argan & Sweet Orange: I have had a really hard time finding a natural shampoo and conditioner that work on my hair and do not leave it flat or limp. This one has worked well and smells like a creamsicle popsicle!

ANDALOU naturals Moisture Rich Shampoo Argan & Sweet Orange

3. Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant Cream Bergamot & Lime: I have tried many many natural deodorants and deodorant cream and am super pleased with this brand and scent. I do find that I have to reapply during the day in the hot summer months or if I have done more activity than usual.

Schmidt's Natural Deodorant, Bregamot + Lime, 2 oz (56.7 g)

4. Pure Anada Natural Mascara: I have extremely sensitive eyes that are always tearing. Since having Squeakers I have had a difficult time wearing my usual make up due to new sensitivities with my skin. This mascara is the only one that doesn’t make my eyes burn or tear after a full day of wearing it.

Pure Anada Natural Mascara

5. Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer: I usually don’t wear anything on my lips from day to day except for some organic lip balm or chapstick; however, these Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmers are great for adding a pop of colour without wearing lipstick.

Burt\'s Bees Lip Shimmer

6. Desert Essence Coconut Hand and Body Lotion: I love the moisture of this lotion and the smell is delicious! Cubby always tells me that I smell like marshmallows! I like that it is made of coconut oil, shea butter and jojoba oil.

Desert Essence Coconut Hand and Body Lotion

7. Now Solutions Jojoba Oil: I have loved using this oil on my hair and scalp to add moisture and soothe my scalp. I usually keep it in for a few hours and then wash my hair as usual.

NOW Solutions Jojoba Oil

8. Now Foods Castor Oil: I lost a lot of hair after having Squeakers and unfortunately the hair from my eyebrows and my eyelashes has also been falling out. I have been using castor oil on both areas and have noticed some new hair growth. I also rub castor oil over my abdomen and liver area before I go to sleep at night or do a castor oil pack with a flannel and some heat.

Now Foods, Solutions, Castor Oil, 4 fl oz (118 ml)

I hope that helps you new mamas to get more green and natural with your products and definitely with the products that you use on your baby!

Posted in Advice for New Moms, Bathing Baby, Great Baby Products, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fed is Best

There has been a longstanding debate about breastfeeding versus formula feeding. While we cannot dispute the benefits of breastfeeding for the baby, not everyone can or wants to breastfeed. Breast milk is the perfect mix of carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and vitamins. Not to mention that it also contains antibodies, enzymes, amino acids and white cells that help the baby fight off sickness. It has been called “liquid gold” and there is no denying why that is so. The human body is an amazing piece of work and a new mom’s body knows exactly what to produce to feed her baby. I have found this out numerous times; once with Squeakers when she was only a week old.

Cubby had come home from kindergarten and not washed her hands. She touched Squeakers’ eye and the next day her eye was red, swollen and there was yellow pus coming out of the corner. I put breast milk into Squeakers’ eye for 2 days and the eye infection cleared up just like that. I was in awe! I have put breast milk on baby rashes, dry skin areas, and eye irritations for both Cubby and Squeakers and seen amazing results. If you really want to know what is in breast milk and how it is digested by babies, this is a great article: http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/feeding-eating/breastfeeding/why-breast-is-best/nutrient-nutrient-why-breast-best. There is also an informative chart that shows the difference between the ingredients in breast milk and formula: https://themilkmeg.com/ingredients-in-breastmilk-versus-artificial-breastmilk-formula.

With that being said, a lot of women cannot breast feed. This can be due to problems with the baby latching, low milk supply, structural concerns with their breasts, inverted nipples, the time investment, lack of privacy to feed, or simply because they have to return to work and it is not realistic to breast feed. I feel like there is a lot of pressure in our society these days to breast feed. Let me just tell you straight from my personal experience of breastfeeding two babies (and still breastfeeding Squeakers), it is definitely no walk in the park. For something that is supposed to be so natural and form a bond between the mother and her baby, it is actually quite difficult.

It took Cubby 3 months to latch properly. I had to pump constantly and feed her with a preemie bottle. After those 3 months, the lactation consultant told me to exclusively breastfeed and not give the bottle, and Cubby never took the bottle again from that point on. It was exhausting. I couldn’t be out of the house for too long as no one else could feed her. I had anxiety at that time and it made me really anxious knowing that I was her sole source of food. While I burned through calories and fat quickly because of the breastfeeding, I was starving all of the time; more than when I had been pregnant! I was constantly sweaty and leaky and at times, felt really gross. And then there was low milk supply issues after 3 months and it took me a while to understand what was happening. However, because she would not take a bottle, I could not supplement her. On the other hand, it was a great bonding experience with Cubby and it was easy not having to sterilize and clean bottles or carry formula with me. Cubby was not easy to wean and the breastfeeding experience lasted 15 months.

I swore that if I ever had to do it again, I would pump and introduce a bottle early so that I could get a break or leave the house for longer than 3 hours. But no such luck as history repeated itself. Squeakers latched right away and was an efficient feeder. It was easy to travel with her from 3 months on as she fed well, although I did notice a sharp drop in supply after 3 months. This time I caught on right away and began being followed by doctors and lactation consultants at a breastfeeding clinic. I was placed on Domperidone to increase my milk supply and was also recommended herbs such as fenugreek and blessed thistle. This has improved my milk supply and Squeakers has been satiated, although she is a snacker, and for a while was taking smaller feeds and feeding every 2 hours. This has been quite tiring and challenging to try to leave the house and run an errand or get groceries. And once again, just like Cubby, she will not take a bottle. The longest that I have been able to leave my house in the past 11 months has been 3 hours. She has been slow to take solids and has been relying on breast milk for nutrition.

Although you are meant to be relaxed and peaceful while feeding your baby, I have been stressed out numerous times counting the number of wet diapers in a day and wondering if Squeakers is getting enough milk. It is hard to tell with breastfeeding as there is no visual as to the amount that the baby is getting. And Squeakers has been slow to gain weight. Actually she has not gained weight in about 4 months and this has been EXTREMELY stressful and worrisome. I have seen countless health professionals and specialists and am open to supplementing with expressed breast milk or formula; however, I cannot get it into her. Squeakers will not accept any liquid except water from a shot glass, dropper or sippy cup. I have experimented with about 8 different types of bottles and she will not take any of them. It hasn’t been easy and if I could go back in time, I would have pumped and given her the bottle early on.

So here is my point about “fed is best”. Babies need to be fed to grow and develop. Whether it is breast milk or formula, if you are not able to produce enough milk (as seen by the number of wet diapers in a day and if your baby is satiated), you should try to supplement. It may be in your baby’s best interest to introduce a bottle early on so that you can supplement if you need to. Or so that you can leave your house and take a break. I am exhausted after breastfeeding every 3 hours in the day and at least twice each night. Some days I have felt like throwing in the towel and quitting, but I cannot as Squeakers’ weight is so low and it is her primary source of nutrition right now. Until she takes in more solids and gains weight, I cannot cut out her night feeds. (And keep in mind that I have not slept longer than 4 hours at a time in the past 2 years as I did not sleep at all during the pregnancy due to sciatica and being on bed rest).

While I am a big breastfeeding advocate as I have personally seen the benefits of breast milk, I am also an advocate of feeding the baby whatever it needs to grow and develop; whether it is breast milk or formula. A brand new mom may find it difficult to notice if her supply decreases. It is important to be followed by a lactation consultant and/or doctor. Be observant of how your baby is acting and how long he or she is able to go between feeds. Be aware of growth spurts and that a baby may breastfeed more during growth spurts or when he or she is not feeling well. This is normal and does not mean that there is a milk supply issue. Babies may feed more at night for comfort or more when they are teething.

I can honestly say that I am glad that I have had the chance to breastfeed both of my children. My only wish is that I introduced a bottle to them early on so that I could have a bit of a break. No one else has been able to do night feeds with them or take over when they were teething or sick and wanted to breast feed for comfort. Oh and I didn’t mention if you get sick. Try breastfeeding on demand when you are sick with the cold or have the flu or a sinus infection, trust me, it is not fun. I have breast fed with a tissue rolled up and stuck in both nostrils so that my nose did not drip onto the baby while feeding. It really is a selfless labour of love, but you do not have to be a martyr. Please, take it from me, feed the baby however you think will be best for you and your lifestyle. I have seen formula fed babies who are really healthy and do not get sick and breast fed babies who are sick all of the time. Remember, fed is best! Make a choice that is best for you in the long run and one that you can stick to during good and bad times.

Posted in Advice for New Moms, Breastfeeding, Feeding Baby, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Found the Right Diaper Bag and it was Free!

One of the biggest decisions when having a baby or having more babies is choosing a diaper bag. My husband didn’t understand this decision. He was like: “just pick a bag already, it’s just a bag”. To me, it wasn’t just a bag. It’s been an ongoing hunt full of disappointment and returns. I actually bought the same bag 2 times and returned it and in the end I got it again.. for the third time and for free.. that story will be told after.

Diaper bags are important because they are going to go on every outing with you and your baby for the next few years. They should be lightweight, practical, durable, have multiple pockets, space to keep your mommy stuff and baby’s feeding items, and of course look good. There are so many different types, styles, and brands of diaper bags out there. It’s important to go to a store and look at them in person, instead of ordering online. It will save you the hassle of returning them. Also you should try to fill them up with baby stuff to see how heavy they will feel and how everything will fit. I learned this the hard way. A packed diaper bag is not the same as a new one with nothing in it!

Another thing I recently learned is that it’s ok to have multiple diaper bags. I was fixated on having one bag that I could take everywhere, regardless of how practical it was. I soon realized that this was silly. It really depended on how long of an outing I was going to be on, and if I was with Cubby and Squeakers or only with Squeakers. Also, being an over packer, I needed to have a larger diaper bag.

So, here is my diaper bag story and how I got a free one (not intentionally!). I was on the hunt for a bag big enough to house both Cubby and Squeakers’ items and a bag I could take with me for all day outings. I happened to come across the Skip Hop Studio Select Day to Night Diaper Satchel in pewter at Winners for a third of the price of the regular one (www.amazon.ca/Skip-Hop-Studio-Select-Satchel/dp/B00O1P9PEC/).

skip hop studio select

It was a great bag and lightweight, and kind of reminded me of a Lululemon bag. I absolutely love Skip Hop bags and products and was super excited that I got such a great deal. I took the bag home and used it for about 2 months. Then, I started to notice that I couldn’t fit everything that I needed, and was taking another bag with me on outings. Also, this bag tended to flop over when I put it down and wouldn’t stay upright. Very frustrating! The zipper was slightly sharp and difficult to close. I became disappointed with the bag as it didn’t seem like Skip Hop’s usual quality. So I did what any new mom with time on their hands would do, I wrote to Skip Hop’s customer service and explained my frustrations with this bag.

To my surprise, Skip Hop’s customer service team responded quite quickly to my email and asked me to take pictures and send them. So I did. The customer service representative asked me to list my top 3 Skip Hop diaper bags. At that point, I thought that perhaps they would send coupons, so I listed my top 3 with the Grand Central being my top pick. To my amazement, they responded within a few days that they were shipping me the Grand Central diaper bag for free and that it would arrive in 2-3 weeks. I was in awe. This was so amazing. This was the diaper bag that I had originally bought two times already and had returned it thinking that it was too big.

My Skip Hop Grand Central Take-it-All Diaper Bag (www.amazon.ca/Skip-Hop-Central-Diaper-Stripe/dp/B00RYU9FZA) arrived in 2 weeks and was delivered to my door. I opened it and was so happy. My hunt was finally over and I love the bag!

skip hop grand central

I cannot tell you enough great things about this diaper bag. It is large, lightweight, stylish, good quality, has so many packets, it has a mommy pocket where you can put all of your items, a padded change pad, and it helps me to be organized. It is such a great bag for more than one kid so you can use it for twins or if you have multiple children. I am in love! Especially if you are an over packer like me and planning to be out all day, or if you are travelling then this bag is for you.

Lastly, one trick I have learned from watching all of the diaper bag reviews on YouTube is about how to organize your diaper bag. I ended up getting the following to help me with organization and being able to find items quickly in my bag:

  1. The Be Quick Wristlet from Ju-Ju-Be for my diaper kit on the go (www.amazon.ca/Ju-Ju-Be-Quick-Wristlet-Purse-Dutchess/dp/B00IAJ639A). It fits about 4 diapers, my wipes, diaper cream, and a disposable change pad. It’s made of durable material that is wipeable and can be put in the wash.

jujube wristlet

2. The Fuel Cell Insulated Bottle and Lunch Bag from Ju-Ju-Be for Squeaker’s feeding items (www.amazon.ca/Ju-Ju-Be-Legacy-Collection-Insulated-Duchess/dp/B00I0P7R94/). It fits lots of feeding items, baby food pouches, her sippy cup, bibs, and has a clear pocket for baby spoons.

jujube fuel cell

3. Three piece Travel Set Mesh Bags from Kensie (www.amazon.com/Kensie-Piece-Travel-Zipper-Closure/dp/B01LORONKU). These pouches are amazing for diaper bag organization. There are 3 zippered mesh pouches of different sizes. I put 1-2 changes of clothes in the large pouch, Squeaker’s toys in the middle size pouch, and bibs and washcloths in the smallest pouch. They are a durable material and the mesh lets you see what is inside.

Kensie

So it’s done and over. I am absolutely content with my new diaper bag and the best part is that it was FREE! I am content with the pieces that I use to organize it. I can find anything that I need in 10 seconds. No more reaching into the abyss of the diaper bag and feeling around for what I need.

I would be interested in hearing what your favourite diaper bag is and/or your tips for organizing your diaper bag.

 

 

Posted in Advice for New Moms, Travelling With Baby | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

IKEA Hacks For Moms

Are you pregnant or near the end of your pregnancy? Do you have a newborn baby at home? Do you feel overwhelmed by the amount of baby items out there? Why is it that a baby who weighs less than 10 lbs needs a house full of expensive items?

It definitely has something to do with the effective marketing making you feel like you are a horrible parent if you don’t have gadgets, toys, cribs, swings, strollers, monitors, diaper bags, and playpens with all of the bells and whistles. I always say that if you put the word “baby” or “wedding” in front of any item, you can charge 500% more for it! I know that our parents’ generation raised us fine with minimal items and laugh at all of the things that we buy. So, with that being said, I was recently wandering through IKEA and perusing the kids section and found some great items that are cheap and effective for babies and kids.

Here are some of my top picks from IKEA for babies and children:(http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/categories/departments/childrens_ikea/)

  1. Antilop Highchair with tray $24.99 CAD: How great is this highchair? It’s simple, lightweight, portable, easy to clean and just plain awesome. I bought this for my parents’ house when Cubby was born and cannot say enough good things about it. It also comes without a tray for $19.99.

  1. Borja Training Cup $1.69 CAD: Ok, I cannot say enough about this training cup. I have been using it with Squeakers as she will not take a bottle and is still exclusively breastfeeding (*Side note: the longest I have been away from Squeakers in the past 9 months is 3 hours.. get your baby on a bottle if you plan to be away for longer periods of time. It will save your sanity!). This training cup is the best for the price. It is BPA free, lightweight, easy for baby to hold and easy to clean. You can even see the liquid and how much baby is drinking. It’s a great transition from bottle to sippy cup. 
  2. Kladding Bib $5.99 CAD: Squeakers absolutely refuses purees from a spoon and wants to hold food herself and eat independently. I have had to follow a baby led weaning process, which is MESSY. For a control freak like me, this has been difficult. She has stained all of her clothes and by the end of a meal it looks like her clothes ate more than she did. These bibs have been a lifesaver and are adjustable so they will grow with her. They are easy to wash under running water and hang dry quickly. The only thing I noticed is that the sleeves are a little tight at the wrist so it could be a little uncomfortable depending on how big your child is. 
  3. Krama Washcloths $5.99 CAD for a 10 pack: Great washcloths for feeding or bathing and they have a little colour coded loop that can hang on a hook or handle. You can colour code and know which ones are for feeding and which ones are for bathing.

4. Tossig Toilet Seat $7.99 CAD: Lightweight and super easy to take on and off the toilet for potty training.

5. Lockig Children’s Potty $7.99 CAD: Comfortable and easy to clean and empty.

6. Forsiktig Children’s Stool $4.99 CAD: Good height and grip. Great for putting at the bathroom sink or in their room to reach books on the bookshelf.

7. Tutig Babycare Mat $6.99 CAD: A huge changing mat that is easy to fold up and take with you. You can use it to put on top of a nice changing pad that came with your diaper bag or put in under your nice changing pad when changing your baby’s diaper in a public place.

8. Kalas 18-Piece Flatware Set $1.79 CAD: This set is great for kids learning to eat independently or for birthday parties. The knife actually cuts well and the set is BPA free and easy to hold and manipulate.

9. Kalas Tumbler $1.79 CAD for a 6 pack: These little cups are perfect size and weight for little hands learning to drink. Cubby still uses these cups. Also great for kids birthday parties or picnics.

10. Kalas Plates and Bowls $1.79 CAD for a 6 pack: Again great value and sizes for kids to use at home, birthday parties or picnics.

11.  Antonius Basket Insert $2.99 CAD: I use these inserts in my cupboards to store all of the above feeding supplies such as cutlery, cups, sippy cups, etc. You can also use it in drawers in the nursery to store baby socks, washcloths, bibs, etc.

ANTONIUS Basket insert Width: 9 1/2 " Depth: 14 5/8 " Height: 2 3/4 " Width: 24 cm Depth: 37 cm Height: 7 cm

12. Samla Boxes $1.49 – $9.99 CAD: These boxes are amazing for toy storage, lego storage or storage of feeding supplies. Various sizes depending on what you need them for.

SAMLA Box Width: 15 ¼ " Depth: 11 " Height: 11 " Width: 39 cm Depth: 28 cm Height: 28 cm

13. Samla Insert $4.99 CAD: Although this is an insert for the boxes, I used it on its own for a diaper and wipes caddy in Squeaker’s nursery. I filled it with diapers, wipes, diaper cream, etc.

14. Fyllen Laundry Basket $8.99 CAD: I used this basket for storage of Cubby’s stuffed animals and toys.

FYLLEN Laundry basket Diameter: 17 ¾ " Height: 19 ¾ " Volume: 21 gallon Diameter: 45 cm Height: 50 cm Volume: 79 l

Cheap and Effective Baby Toys:

Mula Stacking Rings $7.99 CAD

Mula Stack and Nest Cups $2.99 CAD

Mula Toy Hammering Block $7.99 CAD

Mula Bead Roller Coaster $14.99 CAD

 

 

As you can see, you don’t always have to spend a lot of money on baby items. These IKEA hacks are useful and can help you to be organized as a new mom.

If you have some spare time, check out the children’s section at IKEA. Stay for a meal. They have delicious food too!

Happy shopping!

Posted in Advice for New Moms, Bathing Baby, Feeding Baby, Great Baby Products, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Have you hugged a new mom today?

Happy belated new year! I have been having trouble with my blog so I was not able to post since last year. I had written this post back in December and tried many times to post it; however, it did not work. I am posting it now as I think the issue is still important and relevant. So here it is..

I absolutely cannot believe that Squeakers is 7 months old (she is actually almost 9 months now!). Over half of my maternity leave has gone by in a flash. She is a joy to have and is one of the happiest babies that I know. I look forward to seeing her huge smile each morning when she wakes up and hearing her squeals of delight. Squeakers has been an amazing traveler; in her 7 months she has already been to England, Portugal and Cuba. She was great on all of the flights and spent her time smiling and laughing at the other passengers. She is rolling, cooing, screaming, holding onto objects with both hands, and looking at everything around her with her huge eyes. She has good fine motor skills and is constantly touching her fingers together or rolling her wrists and watching how her hands move. (*Update: she is sitting unsupported and playing, rolling around, feeding herself, babbling, pulling hair and screaming!). Her biggest fan is her older sister, Cubby.

While Cubby has had a difficult adjustment due to the shift in attention, she is now doing much better. It wasn’t an easy adjustment for her or me, but we have made it through the hardest part. For a few months, Cubby could not eat or toilet by herself, she did not want to sleep in her bed, she was having tantrums and outbursts and hiding under the table, and she was hitting me. I knew that this was all to be expected; however, it was difficult with my lack of sleep, low mood, stomach issues, and low frustration tolerance to give her the attention that she needed and to meet the needs of the baby. At the same time, my husband’s work also got very busy, which was great for him and our family, but that meant that I was constantly alone for prolonged periods of time. I was thankful when September came and school started again. Cubby transitioned well to a new school and kindergarten class and now thoroughly enjoys going to school. She comes home with stories of her day and new songs and games to play.

With all of these changes going on and my hormones being all over the map, I had extremes in my moods and did not feel like myself. I was upset one minute, angry the next, sad and low one minute and laughing another. I was very short tempered, especially when dealing with Cubby. I began to feel very incompetent at home and as a mother and wondered what was wrong with me. I didn’t like being alone and I hated being in my house. I felt better when I left my house and was visiting someone or on the road. I also felt better travelling and not being home as then I had people around me.

One night I was on the computer and happened to come across a local health organization’s website discussing post-partum mood disorders. For fun I read the site and the descriptions and took an online quiz and was shocked to discover that I was suffering from post-partum depression (PPD) and anxiety. I took the quiz again just to make sure. How could I have PPD? I am a high functioning organized individual, how could I be suffering from this? I let it sink in for one night and then decided to take action the next day. I called Peel Public Health and spoke to a nurse who did another assessment on the phone. She confirmed my suspicions and discussed the treatment options with me. I opted to have a visit from a community nurse and a referral to a hospital based treatment program.

While I was embarrassed at the time, I knew that I wanted to feel better and get out of the slump so I took all of the help that I was offered. I was nervous about telling my family and extended family as I was ashamed and didn’t want those around me to feel as if I couldn’t handle having two children. To top it all off, people around me noticed that I was struggling and short tempered and moody. However, I often heard comments such as: “There’s something wrong with you”, “I was able to do all of this when I had 2 kids”, “Get organized”, “Stop leaving your house and running errands, just stay home”, and “Cook all of the meals when the baby is napping”. These comments made me feel worse and even more incompetent. I felt like crying out for help. How had everyone else managed this? Why was I the only one having problems?

Another factor making everything else feel so much worse was the fact that I was breastfeeding and starving. I was eating healthy meals and nothing was agreeing with me. My stomach was hurting; I was bloated, gassy and uncomfortable. I would eat an apple, and my stomach would get bloated and painful. I would eat a spinach salad and the same thing would happen. I saw my family doctor and told him that I was not feeling well and that I was having an increase in stomach issues. He told me that it was likely related to my depression and anxiety and declined to run tests or look into it further. I took matters into my own hands and started seeing a functional medicine doctor. After completing various tests, I learned that my hormone levels were quite low (hence contributing to my low mood and low frustration tolerance) and that I had higher levels of bad bacteria in my intestines. The diagnosis was small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and a parasite. Wow! Now it all started to make sense. It wasn’t all in my head.

Since last October, there has been an overhaul of my daily routines and practices. I have had to follow a special low FODMAP diet specific to SIBO, keep my stress levels low, eat slowly and intentionally, and green my home and personal products. I ordered an organic fruit and vegetable delivery service, Fresh City Farms (www.freshcityfarms.com), and found an organic meat delivery service. I have begun a gratitude journal and am reading positive affirmations daily. I sought help from a local hospital that specialized in post partum mood disorders and have been seeing a counsellor and a psychologist regularly. Furthermore, to safeguard my sanity, I have had to set boundaries with certain people in my life. Overall I would say that I am a work in progress. Although my mood is much better, there are certain days that I feel low. Those are days that I do more positive affirmations and journaling and also reach out to others for help.

I have found that the practice of gratitude has a profound impact on mood and your outlook. For the first week, I found it difficult to express what I was grateful for; however by the end of the month, I felt more happy and positive. If you are a new mom in your home and are feeling the same way, I encourage you to talk to someone and/or get help. Start a gratitude practice. At the end of each day, write down one thing that you are grateful for, even if you think that it is something small. I found the following two journals amazing for my practice: Start Where You Are by Meera Lee Patel (www.amazon.ca/Start-Where-You-Are-Self-Exploration/dp/0399174826) and The Five Minute Journal (www.amazon.ca/Five-Minute-Journal-Happier-Minutes/dp/0991846206).

If you know a new mom in your life, reach out to them and support them. Ask prompting questions and encourage them to talk about how they are feeling. Instead of negative comments, say things like: “You are doing a great job”, “You are awesome”, or “You were meant to do this”. If you notice drastic changes in a new mom’s behaviour or mood, have a private discussion with them and see how you can help or support them. Like me, perhaps they don’t even know that they may be suffering from post-partum depression.

Remember that although birth is a beautiful experience, it is also a marathon for the physical body. Imagine how silly it would be for someone to run a long marathon and then not sleep consistently for days or months, have a person constantly crying in their ear so that they cannot rest, and expect them to be functioning as they previously were. We wouldn’t expect that and we should not expect that of a new mother. New mothers need love, support, and kindness without criticism or judgment. What I would have given for a genuine hug and a shoulder to lean on!

So take the time and hug and praise the new moms in your life for doing such a great job. After all, they are raising the next generation of thinkers and dreamers. And any new moms out there who are experiencing the same, hang in there and know that you are not alone. Ask for help or support from friends, family or community resources. And single moms out there, kudos to you! I don’t know how you do it. Being a mom is one of the best jobs in the world, but it can also be one of the hardest jobs.

Stay strong new mamas and know that it gets better!

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