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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The Juggling Act

It has been 3 months since baby Squeakers arrived. While I couldn’t be happier or feel more blessed, it has been quite a juggling act. I am lucky that Cubby is 5 years old and is more independent; however she has greatly regressed since Squeakers made her appearance. She can no longer do things that she could previously do such as eating, toileting, falling asleep independently and brushing her teeth. She frequently exclaims, “I need help! Mommy do or Daddy do..” I know that this is to be expected, but it is wearing on me. When I had Cubby 5 years ago, the house was quiet and calm for the most part when she was napping. I had time to eat, shower, and do a quick load of laundry.Now, I am multi-tasking, always on my feet and the only time I sit is when I am breastfeeding Squeakers. Trying to balance my time between an active 5 year old and a 3 month old has been challenging. Not to mention that my once modern and stylish house has become cluttered and looks as if a family of hoarders lives here.

It has been hard to let go of many things; hard to let go of having some sense of control over my life; hard to let go of my previous schedule and daily routine; hard to let go of thinking that I can have some daily quiet time alone with Cubby; hard to let go of the fact that I don’t have time to cook my usual healthy meals; and hard to let go of the quiet time in the evening catching up with my husband or watching our favourite shows uninterrupted. The main feeling is the sense of loss of control over my previous scheduled and structured life. But don’t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful for little Squeakers and the joy that her smile and cooing brings to me every day. I couldn’t picture my life without her – it’s like she has always been here.

This time around, I initially felt less stressed and overwhelmed because I knew what to expect. However, as the third month has approached, I am starting to get that slightly anxious feeling again. I know that this is partly due to the fact that life has been in fast forward since Squeakers arrived. First it was planning and carrying out Cubby’s 5th birthday party. Then it was planning and carrying out my husband’s surprise 40th birthday party. Then there was a family wedding and out of town family visiting. Now, we will be travelling to England for another family wedding. Busy busy!

Last week I attempted to venture out to H&M to pick up some clothes for the trip to England as none of my post pregnancy clothes from last time fit me. What a mistake! Squeakers was fast asleep in the stroller and I had to wait in a long line of people to get the large change room. Kids were running around and yelling and I was crossing my fingers and hoping that Squeakers wouldn’t wake up. I got in the large change room and began trying on clothes and of course, within 5 minutes, Squeakers was awake. I took her out of her stroller and fed her in the change room as that was the only private place that was available. I could hear the long line of people waiting for the change room.

Just as I finished feeding her and burping her and was about to put her back in her stroller, she vomited the whole feed all over herself, myself and the floor. I was mortified. I used her muslin blanket to clean her up and held her on my shoulder. I walked out of the change room and approached the H&M staff member to inform her that my baby had vomited in the change room. All eyes were on me and my drenched vomit stained clothes. I felt like a leper, like suddenly I did not belong in this store any more. The young staff member rolled her eyes and looked grossed out. I asked for napkins and proceeded to bend to wipe the floor while holding my baby. I was embarrassed and exhausted. Who was I to think that I could venture out in public? I quickly exited the store and went directly to Carters. I felt comfortable and at home here. No one gawked at my vomit stained clothes. There was a bathroom with a change pad so I could clean up little Squeakers and a glider chair and ottoman so I could feed her again. I told the sales associate at Carters about the day that I was having and she sympathized with me. I felt better and drove home.

That was my last adventure out of the house alone with Squeakers. Other than that, we have tried to keep Cubby busy over the last few weeks so that I could spend time with the baby. She has been in parks and recreation day camps and my husband had taken a week off to take her to local attractions such as the CN Tower, Ontario Science Centre, Casa Loma and Ripley’s Aquarium. She is enjoying her time being busy and active and away from me. We have been like oil and water for the most part; partly because my attention is with Squeakers and I am breastfeeding every 2 hours and partly because I am constantly nagging her and telling her “don’t touch the baby”, “don’t smother the baby”, “let the baby sleep”,  “shh.. quiet voice, the baby just fell asleep”, “Cubby stop yelling, use your inside voice”… the list can go on and on. I have attempted to give her a bath or read her a book every now and then, but I have to admit that my frustration tolerance has been quite low with my lack of sleep. I am looking forward to the day when Squeakers can sleep through the night and I can be a rested mom again. Until that day I am taking every day as it comes and learning to be a good juggler, which definitely takes a lot of practice!

 

 

 

 

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I Made it to Full Term!

I am happy to report that I made it to full term this time (38 weeks) and delivered a happy and healthy baby girl. I am not going to lie; this pregnancy was a nerve racking experience! Back in January, I had started to feel some pressure in my pelvis so I went to the hospital for a check up and was admitted. They monitored me and decided to do a cervical cerclage (stitch) to keep the cervix closed. I was taken down to the ER for the procedure and given spinal anaesthetic. I was very nervous as I had never been in the ER before and there was a slight chance that the procedure could trigger early labour. Luckily it was a fast procedure and the only bad part was having to be upside down for the duration of it.

My doctor was amazing. He put me in the high risk clinic, although he told me that I am “low-high risk”. I had to go for appointments every 2 weeks and have an external and internal ultrasound. My walking was limited to household distances, which was the hardest part. I was sitting on a couch or chair all day and walking minimally for 4 months. Gosh was it ever hard to sit still! I missed going grocery shopping, meeting people for social outings, friend’s birthdays, trips and more.. but it was for a good reason, I was growing a baby. I had wished for this baby for such a long time that I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize this pregnancy. So, I was a good girl and followed strict doctor’s orders.

The downside from my modified bed rest, or “house arrest” as I called it, was that I got so many ailments from not being able to walk or exercise. I had sciatica, sacral issues, swelling in my legs, pulled muscles and knots in my upper back, and I gained almost 40 lbs. Another downside was the constant fear that with every stomach pain, gas pain or ligament stretch, the same thing would happen as last time and I would lose the baby. Although I remained positive throughout this pregnancy and gave myself lots of reiki, there was always that fear in the back of my mind that I would go into early labour. Luckily that didn’t happen and I gave birth to a healthy full term baby girl, who we have affectionately named Squeakers because of the cute squeaky noises that she makes.

The birth of Squeakers was like something out of a sitcom. I spent the night before she was born attempting to sleep in my reclining patio chair in my bedroom. However, despite changing positions, walking around the house, and feeling exhausted, I was unable to sleep all night. I felt a lot of cramping in my stomach; but chalked it up to my usual digestive disturbances. Cubby came to sleep in my bed around 5:30 a.m, so I thought that perhaps I could get some sleep in her bed. At around 5:45 a.m I felt a “pop” and a gush of fluid down both legs and realized that my water had broke. I ran upstairs to wake up my husband, and told him to call our doula and the hospital downtown Toronto where I was supposed to deliver.

While he ran around the house frantically calling his brother to come and watch Cubby, I felt intense cramping and my contractions started. I timed them and they were 5 minutes apart. I was yelling to my husband to call an ambulance as I didn’t think that we could make it downtown as morning rush hour was starting. My husband called 911 and the dispatcher was speaking to me as I was attempting to pack my toiletries and last minute items in my hospital bag. She was timing my contractions and soon they were 3 minutes apart. She asked my husband to get towels and put them on my bathroom floor. She asked me to lay down on my bathroom floor, to which I replied “I am not having this baby on my bathroom floor!” As I continued packing, the voice on the phone kept saying: “I need you to lie down on the floor. I can hear you moving around”. I refused to lie down on my bathroom floor and thankfully, the paramedics arrived.

My contractions continued to get closer together as we were leaving the house and I was gathering last minute items like coconut water, energy bars, fruits, filtered water, and healthy snacks for the hospital. The paramedics emphasized that the baby was coming soon and I needed to get to the hospital. I was loaded into the ambulance with onlookers in my neighbourhood peeking out of their windows at me. The siren started and the race was on to the hospital. During the ride I called my parents and my manager in between intense contractions to let them know that I had gone into labour. Luckily I was taken to the nearest hospital and within 15 minutes, I was on the labour and delivery floor and in an examination room. My doula found her way to the hospital and met me there. The nurse checked how far I was dilated and I was already 8 cm. She informed me that there was no time to get an epidural as the baby would arrive in 15 to 20 minutes. Squeakers arrived at 7:31 a.m.

Although Squeaker’s birth was fast and my labour was short, I quickly learned why they call it the “ring of fire”. At one point I remember screaming “I am going to die!” However, when they placed little Squeakers into my arms and I looked at her little face, I was instantly in love. I had forgotten about the “ring of fire” and the most intense pain I have ever felt in my life. On a side note, my doula was absolutely wonderful and was a great coach and source of support throughout my delivery. I would highly recommend a doula!

Squeakers has been doing great. I can’t believe that she is already 7 weeks old and weighs almost 10 lbs. She is feeding constantly and growing. We couldn’t be happier. Our little family has now grown to four people. It has been an adjustment for Cubby, which is to be expected, but she is enjoying her little sister and exclaiming “she is so cute!” about 100 times a day. I look forward to the adventures of Cubby and Squeakers!

 

 

 

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