Nap Time Diaries: Going Back to Work Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Going to Be a Mother Anymore

I don’t know why this is so hard for me to wrap my head around. My work world and being a mother have never mixed and it means all new routines and ways of doing things. Yesterday was my first day back to work after my maternity leave and even though I was excited to get back it surprised me how difficult it was in the moment to leave Baby T behind, then at the end of the day, I had to remind myself that I’m picking her up and the second part of my day was about to start.

For the last few weeks before going back every time I would think about it, it was hard to imagine going back to work and still coming home to Baby T and being a mom, not in the way that I wasn’t looking forward to coming home to her but more that it was hard to imagine these two worlds together. I had to keep reminding myself that when I come home from work she will always be there, I’ll still get to see her and spend time with her every day, I’m still the first person she sees in the morning and the last person she sees at night.

So how did the first day go? Well, I work at a small branch of a credit union as a Junior Advisor, so there was a lot of catching up to do on new programs, getting passwords and my profile all set up again and saying hi to the familiar faces and a couple of new ones. I hadn’t used a computer or my brain that much in a long time. I had all these plans to maybe write a blog during my lunch or read a book but none of that happened, it was a lot to adjust to and take in on the first day so all I did was go and buy a bottle of wine for the evening.

I don’t regret going back, it wasn’t a bad first day, but anyone who’s done this knows the first day back after a little over a year is more overwhelming than anything. The good thing is this past year has made me stronger and more confident and assertive in who I am so I know that just like I had to take it one day at a time as a new mom, I have to take it one day at a time with this new routine. I get to have the best of both worlds working part-time; a few days outside of the house seeing workmates and customers (safely since there is still a pandemic going on) and a few days home with my favourite one year old. We also have a new aspect to the blog as a working mom so there’s a lot to look forward to!

Travel Series: NYC

In October of 2018 I went to New York City with my mom for a long weekend and to this day it’s one of my favourite trips (sorry to my husband but it’s really not his kind of trip). Let me start with what made me want to go to New York so badly. Three words: Frozen.. On.. Broadway. The ultimate dream of any Frozen fan was to see it on Broadway in New York with Caissie Levy and Patti Murin as Elsa and Anna. If you’ve been to good Broadway shows you know they can take something good on screen and make it next level, like with The Lion King.

So I was dying to go to New York to see it but like I said it’s not really a trip my husband was interested in taking especially considering how expensive it can be for two people. That was when my mom stepped in and said she would go with me, thereby splitting the cost in half. My mom and I are big planners so we had everything planned out for each day way ahead of time and this was our first girls weekend together since I got married so we were pretty excited.

We flew in from Toronto and got an Uber to our hotel, the Hilton in Times Square which was the perfect location for everything we planned. The first night we had made reservations at this little Italian Place within walking distance so we walked right through bustling Times Square on our way there. It was already nighttime but the lights from the screens made it seem like it was daytime. It was packed with people and we were trying to quickly get to the restaurant while also taking it all in for the first time.

The restaurant we had chosen was one of the top-rated (affordable) Italian restaurants online called Patsy’s Italian Restaraunt and it has been owned and operated by the Scognamillo Family since 1944 (information thanks to a quick google search). We were so pleasantly surprised to be in this little cozy spot for our first night in New York. I ordered the Chicken Parmigiana and oh my goodness I think I still dream about that meal, I have never had authentic Italian chicken parmigiana and it changed my life. It sounds dramatic but I dare you to try it and have a different reaction. After our dinner, we took our dessert to go and took a more leisurely walk through Times Square on our way back to the hotel.

For our second day, we had booked a tour at the Metropolitan Museum. It was booked for later in the morning so we made plans to walk to the Museum through Central Park and picked a few spots along the way that we wanted to stop and see like the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain and basically all of the other places you’ve seen on Gossip Girl. Once we got to the MET we started our tour which was three hours long but also seriously fascinating. I don’t know about you but when I’m walking around a museum looking at artifacts I would read the plaque about it and think “oh cool” then move on, but with the tour, the guide went into so much detail and pointed out how different things in different sections went together to create a story from history.

That evening was our biggest plan of the weekend; seeing Frozen on Broadway. I was way too excited to eat a big meal so we ate light and went to the theatre to get settled into our seats in plenty of time before the show started. I had seen a couple of YouTube videos from American Breakfast TV shows showing ‘Let It Go’ and ‘For The First Time in Forever’ but seeing it all together live was incredible. The actors were so talented and by the time it was over I could have sat down again and watched it all the way through a second time.

The rest of the weekend we spent exploring as much of the city as we could; we walked down to see the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, the Financial District, SoHo, Brooklyn Bridge and Rockefeller Centre. We walked 15km every day for three days and even though I had bought new memory foam shoes special for this trip, my feet still felt like they were going to fall off. For two mornings in a row we went to the same New York Bagel place (Liberty Bagels) and split a bagel breakfast sandwich that was right up there with the Chicken Parmigiana which is the reason we went the second time. By the last night, we were too tired to go out for dinner so we ordered room service and a bottle of wine to share while we watched a movie on TV (The Greatest Showman if I recall correctly). It was sad when it was over, we always talked about when we were going to go back maybe the following year which obviously didn’t happen since I was 8 months pregnant in October 2019, but that was okay because it was the perfect trip and to this day one of my favourite weekends spent with my mom.

Bethesda Terrace
Times Square
Liberty Bagels
Frozen On Broadway

Nap Time Diaries: Wellness Menu

I know these are maybe the last words you’d like to hear but I’m going to say them; winter is on its way. For a lot of us, this winter is looking a little bit different because of the situation that shall not be named but we all know what I’m talking about. If you live in Canada, like me, there will be no warm, tropical or beach getaways this year which is normally something that helps boost our winter blues. So as a mom, who will be spending a lot of time indoors focusing on keeping a one year old occupied, it’s important to make sure that we’re taking time to recharge our batteries to avoid burning out for our little ones.

I got this idea from an Instagrammer that I follow who is also a mom of a one-year-old (@_brittanylupton, at least I think it was her if not she’ll just get a free plug from me). She suggested making for yourself a Wellness Menu so that when you feel like you need to take some time to rest and recharge yourself you can look at your Menu and pick something for you to do to take that time. It can include things like giving yourself a manicure, taking a candlelit bath, going for a run or watching a movie, but not things that are kind of like doing chores like organizing your linen closet.

So let’s give it a try, I’ll write my own Wellness Menu here and feel free to do the same for yourself!

My Wellness Menu

1. Make a cup of tea and read a book

2. Have a glass of wine in a candlelit bubble bath

3. Lift some weights

4. Take Baby T for a walk

5. Watch a movie with the fireplace on

6. Go to bed early

7. Visit a friend

8. Get a babysitter for the day and RELAX

We’re really not sure how this winter is going to go. It’s already a difficult season for some to get through and it could either be the same as it usually is, or maybe a little worse, but either way, make yourself a little list so when it starts getting you down and you need a little pick me up thinking of something nice to do is already done. Make an appointment to do something for you so you have the energy again to pour yourself into someone else.

Nap Time Diaries: When Your First Labour Leaves You Unsure of a Second

I sat on the examination table in the OBGYN’s office, naked from the waist down with my legs covered by a white sheet. I’d been here before, not this particular office, but being a woman and a mother I’ve been in this situation before. Having to strip down to have a doctor look at you is never something you get used to and even though I had given birth almost a year ago and had, I don’t even know how many people, looking down there I still fiddled my fingers nervously.

Nothing has really been the same since having my baby, physically or emotionally, but regardless I know the time for having baby number two is going to be approaching soon and since I’d had some complications after my labour I wanted to make sure everything is okay for when we decided to start trying again. The OBGYN came in and sat down, first she asked me questions about why I was there and about my pregnancy and labour. I explained to her what had happened after giving birth and that it had made me hesitant about doing it again. When she asked why I held back tears and just said it was all a bit traumatizing.

After taking a look she said everything was great and I had nothing to worry about, ‘on a scale of someone who shouldn’t have another baby to someone who could have ten more babies, I could have ten more babies’ were her exact words, but I think she knew it wasn’t the physical trauma that was the issue. What she said next was something I’ve needed to hear for a long time. She said, “I know it’s scary. You have this bad memory of what it was like, what the recovery was like, but it won’t be like that again. The chances of it happening the first time were so small, the chances of it happening a second time are even smaller. It doesn’t have to be traumatic again, it will go great and you will have a whole new way of remembering it.”

At this point, I had started crying (behind my face mask which actually made me less embarrassed about crying because at least she couldn’t see my whole face). She passed me a box of tissues and continued, “Some people like to drive the bus and be in complete control of everything, some people like to have someone else drive the bus for them. You seem like an accomplished woman who can take care of herself, but when the time comes you need to have people you can trust to take care of you and walk you through it. Pick a medical provider who you trust to hold your hand and reassure you through the whole thing because that’s what you need. You will be okay.”

Even after having my baby a year ago, the thought of having another and going through it all again has terrified me. Having people tell you it will be fine and that I didn’t need to worry didn’t really take that fear away. Sometimes it takes someone from the outside looking in to understand what you’ve been through and the emotional toll its taken on you to reassure you that even though you might be scared it’s not something you’ll ever go through alone and as long as you have people that you trust helping you through it, it will all be okay.

I’m not saying I’m ready right this minute to have a second baby after speaking with her, but just like with the first there may not ever be a perfect time to go for it. It’s nice to have your feelings and fears acknowledged and confirmed as legitimate by someone who is going to give it to you straight, and I don’t think she realizes that her words will stick with me now and through my next pregnancy, just not through another ten after that because that’s just not happening.

Nap Time Diaries: The End of a Long Weekend

It’s been a very busy few weekends for our little family and we finished it all off with a long weekend camping with our new trailer. Since it was a long weekend in October, in Canada, it was pretty chilly outside but this is always my favourite time of year. Plus, having a furnace in the trailer made it nice and easy to warm up.

We spent the weekend with friends and family having campfires and some drinks. Baby T did so good sleeping in the trailer and loved being outside all day. My husband and I both found it difficult coming home and realizing that the week was about to start yet again. For him, that meant another long week of working and for me, it meant another week of just Baby T and me most days. Sometimes that can feel a bit overwhelming especially since most of these days consist of the same routine over and over again, but in reality, Baby T is so happy and fun to watch right now that she always ends up making me smile most of the day anyway.

This was also my last long weekend and weekend away before I go back to work in November. The year has gone so fast and I thought I wouldn’t be ready to go back but I actually am. I’m not cut out to be a stay at home mom, I need some time for myself and I guess work will be that time. Maybe I’ll feel different once I’m back but right now I’m looking forward to it. I’m pretty sure Baby T’s Nanas are also looking forward to it.

So even though the end of this long weekend feels like the end of a number of things for us as a family, it is the start of a new season and new routines for us that I think will be exciting and fulfilling. October is my favourite month of the year and this year it’s no different.

Nap Time Diaries: 10 Reasons Babies and Puppies Are Basically the Same Thing

I had this thought the other day while sitting and watching Baby T eat her dinner. We got a lab puppy, Marley, within the first year of our marriage. We trained her ourselves and I’ve found there are some similarities between training a puppy and raising a baby. Here are ten of them. 

  1. Teething – Both puppies and babies have their teething troubles. We always had to have chew toys on hand for Marley so she wouldn’t end up chewing on something she wasn’t supposed to. With Baby T, we’ve done the same. Something we’ve found that works well is wetting the corner of a cloth and putting it in the freezer for an hour. It gives her something cool and soothing for her gums.
  2. If You Don’t Want Them to Have Something, Don’t Put It On The Floor – This goes for things you don’t want to be chewed up or eaten. I can’t tell you how many shoes Marley had to ruin before we finally learned to just put them away. Unfortunately, this included a pair of my friend’s Birkenstocks. With Baby T, things like remotes, cell phones, electrical cords all have to be put away otherwise she goes right for them. Even something silly like a little piece of fluff goes right in her mouth if it’s not picked up.
  3. They Keep You Up At Night – I have many “fond” memories of Marley getting sick in the middle of the night, needing to get out of bed to get the cleaning supplies, cleaning up the mess and get all of us settled back into bed, only to have it happen two or three more times if she really wasn’t well. Obviously, sleepless nights are no surprise with Baby T, thankfully none of them have involved big cleanups in the middle of the night… yet.
  4. They Can’t Tell You What’s Wrong – Marley can’t talk (obviously) so sometimes she will just sit there and whine at us. Her water bowl is full, she’ll have just eaten and been outside to do her business so we can’t quite figure out what it is she needs. Then there are the worse times when she’s just not herself, we can tell there’s something wrong with her and wish she could just talk human and tell us what’s wrong. It’s the same with Baby T. She can get fussy, irritated, sometimes downright miserable and we have tried everything to make her feel better, but we just can’t figure out what’s wrong. Sadly, because she’s less than a year old she can’t tell us what’s wrong.
  5. Fresh Air and Walks Are Good For Them – Marley loves walks and being outside like any dog does, and her being out is so good for her. Baby T also needs her Vitamin D. We try to go for a walk every day, Canadian weather permitting, and taking some time to get outside for fresh air and exercise is the perfect way to break up the day.
  6. You Have to Clean Up After Them – Yes, I’m talking about the poop. Neither Marley or Baby T are willing, or able, to take care of this dirty business themselves. Honestly, neither is their daddy (although he is able).
  7. They Need to Be Taught to Sleep in Their Own Bed – Everyone in the family needs their own sleeping space, other than mom and dad. When Marley was a puppy we started crate training as soon as we brought her home. It only took a night or two for her to settle in and make it her own. Baby T did sleep in a bassinet in our room for the first few months, but eventually, she ended up in her crib in her very own room. Like anything with babies (and puppies), there was an adjustment period, mostly my husband and I coming to terms with not having her right next to us, but everyone slept much better in the end. That includes Marley who does still sleep in our room.
  8. They’re Expensive – Marley has had two knee surgeries, two sets of shots and vet visits per year, bags and bags of good quality dog food and more stuffed animals than she can even count (if dogs could count). Baby T hasn’t had any knee surgeries and her healthcare is thankfully free but she does have a room full of nice nursery furniture, buckets and buckets of toys, drawers full of clothing, delicious food, diapers… the list goes on. Let’s not even get started on future costs like a car, schooling and a wedding providing her Daddy ever lets a boy in the house.
  9. You Can Teach Them Tricks – When Marley was a puppy she learned tons of tricks. She is a lab so she was very food motivated and it never took very long for her to learn something new. I remember teaching her a new trick during my lunch break from work. Baby T has also started to show off her own skills that we’ve been working on including waving goodbye, sign language for “all done” when she’s done her food and she even started trying to say “thank you” after we hand her something. Yes, we’re working on having a very well mannered child.
  10. You Can Use Positive Reinforcement – When training Marley we used a lot of positive reinforcement. Whenever she did something good she got a treat and a belly rub, especially with potty training. Baby T also responds really well to it. I mean, we don’t use treats and belly rubs with her, but clapping and cheering her on sure seems to do the trick! Hopefully this works with her potty training as well.

There you have it! Ten reasons I think babies and puppies are basically the same thing. If you have more ideas feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Travel Series: Portugal 1&2

Another month, another travel destination. This month we’re revisiting Portugal, twice!

Wine, beaches and sardines. We’ve been to Portugal twice now since we’ve been married. My Father-in-Law (hereby named FIL) is from a small town near Porto. The first time we went was in 2014 as part of our mini Europe tour. We went to Furadouro where my FIL’s brothers live. We spent a few days there visiting them and his father, who was in his late 90’s at the time. One day we took him for a drive into the mountains nearby and even though it seemed like our giant van wasn’t going to make it up the small winding roads (cliffs at some points), we could tell he loved it. You don’t need to speak the same language to tell someone is having a good time when they’re laughing and cheering all the way up. From the top, we saw some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen.

We also visited the Castelo de Santa Maria da Feira which my FIL had visited as a kid for school trips. It was so cool to have him show us where he grew up, his childhood memories and even the house he grew up in. His brothers and their families were nothing but kind and hospitable to us, again regardless of the language barrier.

The second half of the trip we spent in Albufeira which is in the Algarve. The Algarve is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Our hotel was in the middle of a steep hill; at the bottom was the beach and beachside restaurants and at the top was restaurants and bars that did everything they could to get you inside. One night this included literally lifting one of the guys and carrying him inside. It is also home to a Portuguese specialty that we craved long after leaving; chicken piri piri.

The next time we visited in 2019, I was four months pregnant with Baby T. We stayed in Ovar in the north which is a small fishing village still close to my FIL’s family. Sadly, his father passed away a couple of months before our trip, but again his brothers showed us the best hospitality. We went to a Porto soccer game and if you ever get the chance to go to a soccer game in Europe, it’s like a hockey game on steroids. We were also introduced to “Fire Water” by Uncle Titu which is not recommended for lightweight drinkers or pregnant women. We visited the city of Porto and even though it felt like you were walking uphill through the whole city, it did live up to European city expectations with the beautiful architecture you can’t find in North America.

Portugal also treats pregnant women like royalty. You get your own short lineups to skip the long ones and priority security and boarding at airports. Again, I was only four months pregnant at the time so I might have had to stick my belly out a little for them to realize why I was taking advantage of these things. One night we went to a very fancy seafood restaurant. I obviously couldn’t eat the seafood but tried to ask the waiter if any of the Portuguese words on the menu meant ‘chicken’. Once he realized why I was asking he said (rubbing his belly), “We will find you chicken, because of your condition”. Let me just say, that was some of the best chicken I’ve ever had at a restaurant.

We spent the second half of our visit in our same spot in Albufeira. Even though the bars didn’t have the same appeal when you’re not able to drink, there was still plenty of good food to have. The beach was still beautiful and hot but after having little to no shade the first day, my husband took me to the market to buy a cheap beach chair and umbrella to make me more comfortable. I wasn’t lying when I said he was a smart man.

Even though we don’t know when our next trip to Portugal will be, it will always be a repeat spot for us. We’re looking forward to taking Baby T and whatever other children we have by then along with us. As long as by then I can enjoy the €8 bottle of wine we get at every dinner I’ll be happy.

Castelo de Santa Maria da Feira
Golden Beach – Albufeira
Golden Beach – Albufeira
Golden Beach – Albufeira
Praia de Benagil
FC Porto Soccer Game
City of Porto

Nap Time Diaries: My Top Three Movies

In the COVID-19 age, there’s been a lot of movies watched even multiple times. These are my go-to movies when I’m not sure of what to watch. To preface, I’m not one for scary movies or depressing movies. I prefer ones that will make me feel better on a bad day and leave me smiling or crying happy tears. Also, ones that leave an impression on me or that I would happily restart as soon as they’re over if there wasn’t a household to keep together. These are those movies for me.

Frozen and Frozen 2

I know what you’re thinking. Evie, I thought you were a 27-year-old mom, what are you doing putting two Disney movies as your top favourites? Hear me out.

In Frozen 1, Elsa is expected to hide her powers from the world and keep them under control thereby hiding her true self even from her own sister, Anna. When all this goes to crap and Elsa is out on her own she not only learns the true beauty of her powers but also to accept them and herself. Now, I’m not going to go on some huge thing about being bullied in high school but I have always been a little bit different from everyone else. Even now my big interests are very different from my friends, for example, these movies, the music I like, reading books and not being a huge outdoors person. I’ll just say it, I’m a little weird. Obviously, as I’ve gotten older I’ve gained confidence in myself and who I am as a person but watching Frozen really hit home for me. When I was younger I used to suppress who I really was and my interests because I didn’t want people to call me weird (which they still did). Once I got out of my hometown and found friends who, even though they have different interests, accepted my weirdness and have a weirdness of their own. That’s when I really stepped into the person I am today. I’m not afraid of being myself, going off to read a book or talk about watching these movies for the 100th time.

Frozen 2 carried through with that theme as well, but it also had a deeper level to it. When Frozen 2 came into theatres I had just had my baby and I did manage to see it in theatres thanks to the theatres “Stars and Strollers” program. It wasn’t until it was released for streaming, right at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown and right at the beginning of my Postpartum OCD symptoms that I really started to appreciate it. I won’t say any spoilers but one of the songs, sung by Anna at a very low point in her life, is called “The Next Right Thing”. It talks about feeling like you’re at the bottom, in the darkest place of your life, and the only thing you can do is the next right thing. On days when we were in lockdown and I started to feel the weight of everything coming down on me, I would think to myself, “just do the next right thing”. Whether that was going for a walk, having a nap while Baby T napped, FaceTime-ing a friend or even just taking Baby T to play in a different room of the house to change it up, it always helped me shift my focus and keep moving through the day.

The added bonus is the songs are catchy, Olaf and Sven are hilarious and there’s always a happy ending.

Hamilton

This is a new one for me, especially considering it was just released on Disney+ a couple of months ago. I’m not American so it’s not for patriotism although it was very educational. It’s a favourite for me for a couple of reasons.

First, the sheer talent in it is incredible. I underestimated Lin Manuel Miranda, to be honest. I had only heard of him because of Mary Poppins but when I watched Hamilton knowing that he wrote it made me realize he’s a bit of a musical genius. How do you take a history book and turn it into a hip hop musical with such intricate lines? Pure genius, that’s how. Not only is he incredibly talented for that but the rest of the cast still amazes me even though I’ve seen it multiple times and listened to the soundtrack on repeat. Each of the bigger characters has something amazing to offer like Renée Elise Goldsberry singing Satisfied and Leslie Odom Jr. singing, well, everything he sings. Possibly my favourite part though, because of the dry British humour, is Jonathan Groff as King George. Every time he steps out I start laughing, but not only is it funny, the fact that he can make it look so effortless hitting those big notes while also keeping his face so still and serious really shows his skill as a performer. Plus, he plays Kristoff in Frozen and Frozen 2 so it all comes full circle.

The second reason is one quote; “I wrote my way out”. Ever since I started writing this blog it’s been so good for my mental health with being a mom, dealing with Postpartum OCD and going through a pandemic. I feel like I can relate to that quote and others about using reading and writing to express yourself, better yourself and also as an escape when things get difficult. Obviously, if you know the story of Alexander Hamilton you’ll know that his life had a lot more difficulties than mine, but I still relate to these being helpful and important things in my life.

There we have it. If you’ve stuck around for this long thank you for reading, even if these movies aren’t for you I hope it was still enlightening and enjoyable to hear why I love them.

I Don’t Know What I’m Doing… and Other Things a Mother Thinks

I know I’ve only been a mother for ten months and I’ve got a long way to go and plenty more lessons to learn, but it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done (yes, including labour). Of course, it’s incredibly rewarding and Baby T makes me smile more than anything, but I think it’s important to put all the feels out there for everyone. What could be more interesting than my thoughts and feelings? 

A few times, specifically when Baby T is refusing to nap, go to bed, or up in the middle of the night, my husband has turned to me and said “what should we do?” First off, pat on the back to him for saying “we” in that sentence. He’s a smart man. Second, my answer is always “I have no idea”. The truth is, when you’re a new mom you think you have an idea of what to expect. You’ve seen your nieces/nephews and other family babies through good times and bad and read enough books and watched enough tv shows to have an idea of the lack of sleep and stress coming your way. NEWS FLASH! Even if you have a pretty chill easy baby like I did, you still have no idea. You’ve forgotten your body is raging with hormones, you decided to skip the section in the book about breastfeeding figuring you’ll have time to learn about it later, and you also missed the lesson at the hospital learning how to change a diaper that Dad got because you were too busy sleeping. There’s a lot of times I thought to myself “I don’t even know what I’m doing” but Baby T is still alive and thriving so I must not be doing that bad. Being a mom is kind of a guessing game. Baby T has changed so much and her needs and wants change all the time so I’ve learned to just roll with it and accept the fact that I may never know what I’m doing. 

Here’s a list of a few other thoughts I’ve had that hopefully, some people can relate to: 

“Oh good, she finally pooped!”

“Did I brush my teeth today?” 

“I need a drink.” 

“I hope her Nana is free tomorrow.” 

“Maybe I should start drinking coffee.” 

“She only slept for that long?” 

“She’s still sleeping??” 

“I wish she liked watching movies.” 

“When will Dad be home?” 

“I need a drink.” 

“Is that enough food for her?” 

“Will she be warm/cool enough?” 

“I love her so much.” 

“I need a drink.” 

If you can’t relate to even one of those I think you’re following the wrong blog and should just move along.

I’ve Been Converted.

No, I didn’t change religions or join a cult, but I have been converted to something I never thought I would. Let me give you some background here.

I’m from a fairly big city, I’ve never been a huge outdoors person, the most outdoorsy thing about me is that I listen to country music… outside. I’ve never really been camping, I remember only going to a trailer once in my life. We mostly stayed in cottages and hotels. My husband on the other hand went camping multiple times a year whether in a tent or a trailer. It’s his favourite kind of vacation.

Ever since we’ve been married we’ve gone camping once or twice a year but only trailer camping for me, and it’s still was not my favourite. Fast forward to now with a baby. We went camping the other weekend with my husband’s family and his parents had just gotten a nice big new trailer. Baby T slept in her playpen next to my bed and the days were so simple and chilled. We spent so much time outside in the fresh air. With everything going on right now it was exactly what I needed. Who knows how long it will be before we can travel again, camping could be the only kind of vacation we get to take for the next few years.

So two days after coming home from that trip we bought a trailer of our own. I spent the next couple of days cleaning it and stocking it with supplies and a few decorative items to make it feel homey. We felt bad that Baby T’s early wake-up time affected everyone on our campsite so we figured having our own space would be for the best. Our maiden trip is next weekend and for the first time in my life, I am excited to go camping. Yes Dan (my husband), you read that right. Your wife is excited to go camping. You better take advantage of it while it lasts.

Travel Series: Ireland


Has it been a month already? Here’s my second Travel Series Feature; Ireland.

Ireland has a special place in my heart. Ten years before taking this trip I fell in love with Ireland. I loved how green everything looked and it seemed like a place that felt like home to me, it still does. So finally I had made it to Ireland and was ready to fulfill as many dreams as I could in a four-day window. The first stop was the Ashford Castle. Flashback again about ten years I got my hands on a travel book for Ireland that sold tours, one of which was a tour where you took a bus across parts of Ireland and spent one night in a castle. One of these was the Ashford Castle and I fell in love with it. Well, I finally made it there for a day visit and guess what, you can’t go look inside unless you’re staying in the hotel (which I believe would cost €800 per night which was just a tiny bit over our very small budget). We had driven an hour to go see it and I was trying not to be heartbroken about it. The good news was, you were free to explore the grounds which ended up being endless little secret gardens that we spent hours exploring and to this day is still one of my favourite memories.

From there we drove to Galway which was exactly what you would imagine an Irish city to be like. Music on the streets and lined with pubs and happy drinkers. We took a day trip while we were there to go see the Aran Islands. We had to drive early in the morning to catch the first ferry to Innismore (the largest of the three islands) and then we rented bikes to ride from one end to the other and back. We visited Dun Aengus and stood on the cliffs watching the ocean below and then we went to my all-time favourite place in the world. The Worm Hole. If you haven’t heard of it, look it up. It’s incredible. We had the area all to ourselves since it was fairly tricky to get to and sat on the rocks right next to the ocean to take it all in.

Driving back to Galway from the ferry we got lost and it’s the best wrong turn we ever made. We ended up on a winding little road in between mountains with a perfect little creek running down the middle and herds of sheep walking all over the place. It was picture perfect.

Following Galway we went back to Dublin where we had flown into and spent the last few days exploring the city and going to as many pubs as possible on Friday and Saturday night in Temple Bar. Because it was springtime all the pubs had their windows open so you could walk the streets and go into whichever one had the best music.

Ireland still has a special place in my heart and I don’t know when but one day I will take Baby T there and show her all these places that are now so special to me.

View From Dun Aengus
Gardens at the Ashford Castle
The Ashford Castle
The Aran Islands
Guinness Brewery
Temple Bar, Dublin

Nap Time Diaries: What I Actually Used at the Hospital

There’s lots of advice and lists out there of what to bring with you to the hospital and a lot of it depends on how your labour goes and what kind of person you are. I followed some of the advice and some of it was useful some of it was not.

Slippers vs flip flops. I purchased a pair of bigger open toe slippers I was planning on wearing in the hospital since my feet were huge. I packed them in my go bag but even in the cold November all I could wear en route to the hospital was my flip flops. The flip flops ended up being way more useful because I could wear them in the shower the next morning and whatever “stuff” got on them washed right off. I would also recommend socks because hospitals are cold and your feet might get chilly (but not nice socks because they will most likely get ruined; I learned that one the hard way, but at least my feet were warm for most of it).

Bring a towel and shower supplies. My midwife said I would be going home a few hours after giving birth because home is the most comfortable place to recover. Thankfully I still packed overnight things just in case because I ended up having some complications after labour that required me to stay the night and most of the next day at the hospital. I was able to get cleaned up in the shower the next morning and spend the day in my comfy nightgown which was better than, well, a hospital gown. I also brought larger clothes for the ride home because my good friend (the one who had done all this herself 1.5 weeks before me) recommended it. Your belly doesn’t just go back down to normal size. It’s squishy and I was still swollen and fairly large so big comfy leggings and a big sweatshirt were perfect. I think I actually lived in them for three weeks.

Snacks and Gatorade. Labour is exhausting. When you’re in it and in the zone you don’t think about it too much. I do think sipping on Gatorade helped give me the energy I needed to keep going and covered for the fact that I hadn’t eaten in almost 12 hours and was now running a marathon of sorts. Afterwards just having a couple of bites of granola bar was again all I needed or had until the next morning when I felt up to eating again.

Special Music Playlist. I’m huge into having certain music linked to big moments in my life so that when I hear them I go back to that place and remember every detail. For example, when we were on the Aran Islands in Ireland and were sitting right next to the ocean watching it crash on the rocks around us I played If I Ever Leave This World Alice by Flogging Molly on my phone next to me. To this day listening to that song takes me back to that place. Music also helps me focus and get into the zone. So I thought I’d make a playlist of songs I would maybe like to listen to at home during early labour and maybe at the hospital. Let’s just say early labour at home there was probably not a single music genre or song on earth that I felt like listening to. I didn’t get any more musically inclined at the hospital. I did have a separate playlist with cute little baby songs that I played when she had finally arrived and we were just cuddling, so that was nice. But yeah, there was no amount of pump up music that could have helped that day.

Onesie Pyjamas for the Baby. Another tip I got from my mom friend (she’s good with the tips) was to bring simple button/zip up onesie pyjamas for bringing the baby home. Before she said this I had picked out an adorable little shirt with pants and a matching hat which I did bring to the hospital along with the recommended pyjamas. Turns out, when it was time to leave the hospital we found ourselves trying to dress our baby for the first time, by ourselves. We were tired and overwhelmed and sure enough the pyjamas were the outfit of choice. We learned that we had no idea how to dress a baby much less pull a shirt over her giant head.

There you have it folks. Those were my top things I actually used or didn’t use for my hospital bags among the other obvious things like granny panties, pads and hair ties.

Nap Time Diaries: The “New Normal”

Well, it’s been a hot minute since COVID 19 showed up and ruined 2020 but the good thing is there’s a “new normal” that everyone seems to be adjusting to nicely. Weekends have become enjoyable and something to look forward to again as we start to venture out with friends and family. Last weekend we went for a picnic on a lake and despite not being on an exact schedule (*gasp*) Baby T did just fine having her nap in her stroller outside. It’s even gotten to the point that I start to dread Mondays again even though my Mondays don’t involve going back to work like most people.

Baby T and I have developed a regular weekday routine that has been really good for both of us. In the mornings she watches me make breakfast; she has baby pancakes with peanut butter and I have eggs and toast. We sit at the table together and eat our breakfast and I get to enjoy a hot cup of tea. After a little playtime Baby T is ready for her first nap of the day and I take full advantage of the free time to shower and get myself ready for the day. When she wakes up we have our lunch together and then do something different like go grocery shopping (she finds my mask funny so I guess that’s good), go visit someone or go for a walk. This usually tires her (and me) out nicely for her second nap. After that it’s more playing before dinner time, an hour or so with her Daddy and then off to bed.

Sometimes it’s boring doing the same thing over and over during the week, but finally being able to mix it up by going to visit Nana or going shopping just the two of us has been great. Something is working well for my Postpartum OCD because it only rears it’s head when I get overwhelmed, and thanks to the online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy I’ve been taking I have a better idea of how to handle it.

I finally came to the point where I’ve realized I have less than three months of maternity leave left with Baby T, and even though I feel like I’ll be ready to go back I still want to make the most of the time we have. She’s already almost ten months and the developments and skills she’s learning right now are a lot of fun. Don’t get me wrong, she wants to try and walk on her walker or climb on something ALL. THE. TIME. Including the side of her crib which led to a couple of sleepless nights until I taught her how to sit herself back down, then it wasn’t as much fun for her. I always have to be there to help her or catch her if she falls when she’s playing and it’s exhausting, but seeing that little two tooth grin when she accomplishes something new is just the best thing ever.

So that’s my “new normal” life in a nutshell right now. Only a few more summer adventures before fall starts to show up but contrary to popular opinion, I always look forward to it. The next post in the works is what I actually used out of my hospital bag when I had Baby T. I know you’ll all be waiting with bated breath.

Nap Time Diaries: Mom to Mom Q&A

For something a little different with this post I did a Q&A with my mom to compare answers from being a first-time mom now versus when she had her second favourite child thirty years ago (my older brother). Keep reading to see what I found out.

How did you find out you were pregnant?

Mom: We were trying to get pregnant so basically I skipped my period and knew. And then when I was far enough along I went to the Doctor and got a pregnancy test. They had store-bought pregnancy tests at that time but they weren’t that accurate so I didn’t want to waste the money when I could just wait a month and go to the doctor. I did have a feeling before I skipped my period because my gag reflex was heightened and I would throw up just from brushing my teeth in the morning.

Me: We were also trying to get pregnant so as soon as I started feeling anything different about myself I had a good feeling. My boobs got bigger right away and I started getting nauseated by certain foods too. Then we took the early response test as soon as we could and we found out!

Did you find out the gender? How?

Mom: No. We could have found out but we wanted to be surprised. It was definitely becoming more popular then to find out what you were having but it was probably 50/50 and there was no such thing as a gender reveal party.

Me: Yes we found out. Gender reveal parties are huge right now and there are so many different ways to do them. We popped a black balloon with pink confetti over our heads and it was so much fun. I found a lot of people my mom’s age were surprised I found out or recommended against it but I’m a big planner so I always wanted to know what I was having.

Did you use an OBGYN or Midwife?

Mom: OBGYN. Family doctors were delivering babies just before then but when they stopped because of insurance purposes you had to go to an OBGYN. Midwives were not very popular and I don’t believe they were delivering in hospitals at that time so it could be riskier for some people.

Me: Midwife for me. Nowadays midwives are more popular and can deliver at hospitals as well. They have a good rapport with nurses and doctors at the hospital so if there’s ever an issue they can transfer care right away to the on-call OBGYN. I just found the extra care they gave was amazing, our appointments together were longer and more in-depth and they provided better postpartum care including home visits for the first two weeks. I also had a million questions and they answered all of them patiently.

Did you take a birthing class?

Mom: Yes we did however they were very popular, basically everyone went to a class if they were having a baby. They did basic how-to stuff about babies, breathing exercises for delivery and what to expect. I found it very helpful. But you had to pay for them and they weren’t cheap. Your dad was a little bit clueless still sometimes.

Me: Yes. There were some free ones available but we ended up paying for one that our midwives recommended. It was through a physical therapy office that specialized in postpartum care. They gave us lots of information about coping with pain naturally since pretty much everyone’s goal was to not have an epidural and we used a lot of tips they gave. My husband learned how to do things like hip compressions and how to help me through labour (and he ended up doing great so I guess they worked). I would say birthing classes are maybe not as popular as they were 30 years ago but that is probably because there’s this thing called the internet.

What was the best new product when you had a baby?

Mom: Probably a baby monitor but with sound only. But they would go on a frequency so sometimes you could hear your neighbours which was fun.

Me: I would say the AngelCare Mattress Monitors and Owlet Sock Monitors that check you’re baby’s heart rate and breathing while they sleeping. I didn’t end up using one because we had Baby T in a bassinet next to our bed for the first four or five months so I could check her breathing myself through the night and I had heard it did a lot of false alarms. They seemed to be very popular though and highly advertised.

What is the one thing (product) you would recommend every mom to have?

Mom: I loved having a bassinet because when they were little you could have them right in your room beside your bed.

Me: I agree the bassinet is one thing I would recommend but specifically one that vibrates. I would turn it on and Baby T would go right to sleep all by herself. It shut itself off after about forty minutes but if Baby T woke through the night I would turn it back on and unless she was hungry she would go back to sleep no problem.

What was the best thing you did for yourself postpartum?

Mom: I went and stayed at my mom’s for a few days because I was a mess and I needed the help.

Me: Lots of baths. It was my quiet time to relax and felt so good. I used Shepherds Purse baths that my midwife recommended and also lavender epsom salt.

How did you get your baby sleep trained?

Mom: We didn’t really do sleep training by then but I tend to be a scheduled person so my baby’s naps were always scheduled and they always slept in either their bassinet or their crib. If it was bedtime the baby went to bed we didn’t wait to see what time the baby wanted to go to bed.

Me: Baby T was always a pretty decent sleeper but when it actually came time to try and have her sleep through most of the night (around five months) I just slowly weaned the nighttime feedings and let her cry it out. I also learned the difference between her cries, sometimes she’d have a really desperate hungry cry if she was going through a growth spurt so those nights I would feed her and she would go right back to sleep.

Formula or breastfed?

Mom: Breastfed. There was a lot of pushing for formula but I always found breastfeeding so convenient cause all you had to do what lift your top.

Me: Breastfed. We didn’t have any issues with getting started so I never was pressured to use formula. But nowadays it seems like people are doing 50/50, new moms are encouraged to just do whatever works best for them and their baby.

Did you put your baby down on their stomach, side or back for bedtime?

Mom: Side. You used to swaddle them, roll up a sheet and put it behind them. That was what everybody said to do, what was safest at the time.

Me: Back! Healthcare providers are pretty adamant about that. They admit that in the past it went from stomach to side and now to back. Once she learned how to roll over though she puts herself on her side or her stomach and who am I to go in and wake her up?

When did you start your baby on solid foods and what did you give them?

Mom: Around five or six months and I always started them on powder cereal or Farleys Rusks and bit by bit I would blend and freeze veggies to give them. I very rarely bought baby food. I would only buy big jars of unsweetened apple sauce.

Me: We started around the same time, five or six months. Basically when she started showing an interest in what we were eating and trying to grab it. We started with baby cereal and puréed veggies.

How did your husband do as a first-time dad?

Mom: Um good. He was always a very hands-on dad but he also had to work long days every day. Men were starting to be more hands-on back then, your dad was never afraid to change a diaper. He was always there to give hugs and kisses even though that wasn’t how he grew up, I always give him credit for that.

Me: He did awesome. He’s also a very hands-on dad and wants to spend lots of time with her. He loves it when she snuggles into his shoulder, you can tell he’s already wrapped around her little finger. He does help with diaper changes but will only do the poopy diapers if I wasn’t around or was 100% checked out.

Stay at Home or Working Mom? Which would you have preferred?

Mom: I worked part-time after being off for a year. We worked our schedules so that your dad would also take care of you a lot of the time so the amount we had to use a sitter was minimal. We had my mom too and she would babysit one or two days a week. Working part-time was perfect for me, I don’t think I could’ve managed full time. I enjoyed the little bit of time I had outside of the house. I didn’t need to have a career but I always enjoyed my job.

Me: I’m still off on a year-long maternity leave but I will be returning to work part-time in a few months. If financially I had a choice I do think I would still choose to do something part-time, maybe something with less pressure or something I could do at home. Regardless I feel like I’m ready to have a little break a few days a week. We’ll see if I still feel the same way when I actually go back to work.

What was your biggest fear as a new mom?

Mom: My biggest fear was the baby getting sick with something really serious.

Me: I agree with my mom but also feeling like you’re constantly doing something wrong and you’re messing up being a mom.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to any new mom?

Mom: Take the time for you and your baby that you need and let other people help with the other stuff.

Me: Trust your gut. You know your baby and you know yourself better than anyone else.

As you can see, there are a lot of similarities between being a new mom thirty years ago and being a new mom now. We do have the internet that we can google any question we may have, but it seems like these older moms (now grandmas) also seem to know a thing or two. Might as well learn a little bit from them too, we survived after all didn’t we?

Nap Time Diaries: The Best Clothes to Have on Hand Postpartum

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning and I’m here to talk about the best clothes to have on hand for the first few weeks after you have your baby, and beyond. I ended up having to go out and buy, or order online, several items within the first couple of weeks and going out isn’t something that was my forte at that point. So here’s a quick list of basic things and also where to buy them. I consider myself a pretty frugal person so a lot of these items are very fairly priced especially if there’s a sale.

First, you’re going to need a good, comfy large pair of pyjamas. If you’re breastfeeding you’ll want something that has what I like to call “boobie access” for feeding your little one through the night. You’ll also want it to be very lightweight because if you had swelling like I did you might sweat profusely for the first three weeks in your sleep to get rid of all the water you were retaining (I’m talking A LOT like you might have to sleep on a towel). Mine consisted of a large thin sweater which usually ended up coming off through the night (like I said, sweaty mess) but was perfect for wearing in bed during the day or around the house, also a pair of large blue shorts that was one of the few items that still fit me at the end of my pregnancy. My husband got me both from Winners for $24 on a day when I was feeling down and needed a pick-me-up. He also included my favourite chocolate bar. Who knew that buying clothing for your wife that’s two sizes too big for her pre-pregnant body would brighten her day. I also had a soft button up nightgown that I brought to wear at the hospital that was so perfect, from Walmart for $20 give or take.

Next on the list is leggings. I wore my maternity leggings for the first few weeks because everything else pressed on my belly too much and didn’t feel so nice. I got mine from H&M for only $15 and they were fantastic. They were also one of the last things left that fit me at the end of pregnancy. After a couple of weeks, I graduated to some of my other leggings but only if they were nice and stretchy.

Moving on we have nursing bras. If you’re planning or hoping to breastfeed you’re going to need nursing bras, and quite a few of them. If you breastfeed for a year you have to wear those suckers 24/7 for months and months. I purchased one from Walmart a couple of weeks before my due date that fit me at that time but also had some room to grow. It was only about $20. After I had my baby I bought nighttime nursing bras that were nice and comfy bras with, you guessed it, easy “boobie access”. I still wear these every night 9 months later. They were also from H&M and were 2 for $35. Once I got more settled into nursing and had to leave the house more I bought another 2 pack of daytime nursing bras for $35 from H&M as well. A couple of things when buying nursing bras; if you’re buying them before you have your baby only get one or two since you’re not sure what size you’ll need until after your milk comes in and you start to regulate your supply and also make sure you buy bras with removable padding. I had clogged ducts throughout breastfeeding and would commonly get them after wearing a bra with padding which is one of the things you should avoid if you’re prone to clogged ducts. I wish I knew that before, but now at least I can pass on the wisdom. Fortunately, all of the bras I bought did have removable padding so I didn’t have to buy new ones upon this discovery.

Alright, the last thing on the list is nursing tops and sweaters. Again, if you’re planning or hoping to breastfeed you’re going to need a good supply of these. When you’re nursing outside the comfort of your own home, chances are you’re not going to be as comfortable lifting whatever shirt you’re wearing and having your belly all exposed. I purchased a 2 pack (gotta love the 2 packs) of nursing tank tops also from H&M for $30 and they’re so easy for wearing under shirts that you already have, so if you lift your shirt your belly won’t be out if you don’t want it to be. You also don’t have to wear a nursing bra underneath these because they have a support strap built-in. I also got a few nursing shirts that popped up on sale from H&M and also Thyme Maternity including a nursing sweatshirt which is perfect for putting on over the tank tops and doesn’t even look like a nursing sweatshirt. It is light and has two big slits down the side so you can just lift it and feed your baby. It can also be worn when your pregnant and will fit your baby belly. In case you didn’t notice I am very excited about this sweatshirt it was probably the best purchase I made for breastfeeding attire even though it was the most expensive. Unfortunately, it’s not available on the H&M website anymore but if you can find a nursing sweatshirt it’s a great purchase (GAP Canada currently has something similar), especially if you live in Canada and are breastfeeding through winter.

There you have it! My top affordable clothes to have postpartum. I wore all of these items every day for at least the first few weeks after having Baby T and I continue to wear the majority of them 9 months later. It’s best to get some good staple items that can go with a variety of outfits especially when you’re in it for the long haul and potentially more babies.

Travel Series: England

This will be the first of a mini travel series highlighting some of the places I’ve been and any little things I recommend doing if you get the chance to go (once travel is a part of normal life again). These will be posted once a month for the foreseeable future. First stop, England!

Good old England. We travelled here in 2014 with my husband’s family for a 20 day Europe trip which included England, Ireland and Portugal. This was our first stop on a very exciting trip. We stayed about an hour train ride outside of London and rode in every day to tackle as much as we could in three days. Some of my top memories are riding the tube and learning all of the routes, walking around the streets just taking in all of the beautiful architecture, the Tower Bridge (people actually say to walk on another bridge to get a good view of the tower bridge but I would say if you have the time, do BOTH) and Victoria Sponge Cake. There was a little Cafe we stopped at along the river, the Embankment Cafe if I remember correctly and I at down and had the best Victoria Sponge Cake ever, and I tried as many as I could while we were there.

Funny story if you’re a fan of the Beatles, we took off on the tube headed towards Abbey Road stop hoping to see the iconic crosswalk from the Abbey Road Album. This was one of the last stops on the track and it took us almost an hour to get to it. We stepped off the tube and were greeted by a big sign saying something along the lines of ‘if you’re looking for the Abbey Road crosswalk on the front of the album this isn’t it’. Turns out Abbey Road in this case wasn’t actually Abbey Road. The real Abbey Road was all the way back in London in St Johns Wood. So that was fun.

We also took a bus tour to see Stone Henge, the Roman Baths and Windsor Castle. Our tour guide was a graduate of Oxford (as we were told the entire day) and he told us all of his theories on Stone Henge according to what he learned at ‘Oxford School of Logic’. His words, not mine. Regardless he gave us a good laugh for the day and did actually have some very good facts to share with us.

We visited where my mother in law grew up and went to a pub that she went to when she was a teenager, The Ballot Box. Turns out it has the best roast dinner you can find in all of England. It was so good, we went there twice.

Where I live we don’t have a history like they do in England so being there and having all that history around us was incredible. I would definitely go back and do it again.

The Guards at Windsor Castle
The Tower Bridge
Piccadilly Circus (not actually a circus)
The Gates at Buckingham Palace

Nap Time Diaries: Nine Months In, Nine Months Out

We’re days away from Baby T being nine months and I can barely believe it! It’s been such a whirlwind and when I think of nine months in and nine months out it seems like a whole lifetime. I’ve talked about my pregnancy so you already know about the nine months in, here’s a few things I’ve learned and appreciated about nine months out.

Live in the moment. Baby T is constantly growing and learning new things. When she was a tiny little bean and couldn’t even roll or hold her head up I was always looking forward to the next thing she would learn to do, getting one step closer to independence. Once she got to the next big thing I would miss the last phase. As hard as it is I’ve learned to just appreciate whatever she does each day, even if it’s just a funny little noise she’s making. I know one day it will be the last day she makes that noise. Every few days there’s something new and exciting to watch her do.

Mom-ing is hard but rewarding. The days all seem the same when you’re a mom, baby wakes up, you change and feed baby, then you play for a bit, then they go for a nap and it starts all over again. Sometimes Baby T has a rough day whether it’s teething or not enough sleep and she can be a stage ten clinger; she’ll refuse to nap on her own or be put down. This is where I find that extra patience and empathy I didn’t know I had. I know that Baby T is usually a happy smiling baby, so if she’s acting like this there’s obviously something upsetting her physically or mentally. It’s my job as a mom to help her through it. These days are hard and tiring but when she snuggles in for a cuddle or a hug and I know I’m doing my job of comforting her, it’s the best feeling in the world.

You can’t care for a baby if you’re not caring for yourself first. There have been so many times in the past nine months that I’ve forgotten to eat, forgotten to drink any water, had barely any sleep while Baby T sleeps peacefully next to me or felt completely burned out. Getting to this point physically, emotionally and mentally doesn’t do anyone any good. I have a hard time focusing on Baby T and get physically tired very quickly from carrying her around to the point that I get dizzy and need to sit down. These are usually the days I end up calling one of the Grandmas to come and help so I can rest up. If I plan to take the time to rest or get other things done ahead of time, or preplan my meals for the day, have some easy snacks on hand and make sure I carry my full water bottle around with me then things go a lot smoother.

Don’t forget about your marriage. I’m not sure if you knew this already but making a baby takes two people. Raising a baby as a couple takes teamwork and if there’s tension in the relationship between a husband and wife who are also parents then things can get complicated. For the first few months, Baby T didn’t go to bed until midnight and my husband and I would be so exhausted that we would go straight to bed. We spent our entire day and night focused on our new little bundle which isn’t in itself a bad thing. Once Baby T started going to bed earlier it was amazing having some time in the evening to ourselves. Especially during COVID-19 lockdown, we would spend that time together watching movies or a tv show which we normally wouldn’t have done very often even before Baby T (I’m an early bedtime kind of girl). We grew a lot closer and our communication and teamwork have only gotten better since then. Shawn Johnson (former USA gold medal Olympian) put it so perfectly, speaking of her husband Andrew: “He is MY favourite person and our baby is OUR favourite person.” We are still allowed to put each other first while at the same time putting our baby first.

You might not lose all your baby weight from breastfeeding. I had this myth in my head when I planned to breastfeed, I thought, it’ll be great I’ll feed my baby and lose weight at the same time. I’d seen it done with other moms and thought it was just guaranteed to happen. It’s not. There are so many different factors with it and sometimes it just doesn’t happen. So here I am nine months out and I still weigh the same I did at two months postpartum. It’s a tough pill to swallow when before I got pregnant I was in the best shape of my life after working hard at the gym for three years and loving it. I was told that it takes nine months for your body to make the baby, it takes nine months to one year for your body to recover. So I’ve learned to just be patient with myself. I exercised back then because I loved it, not because I was punishing myself and I think it’s important to get back to that mindset because like I said, you can’t care for your baby if you’re not properly caring for yourself.

So there you have it, my last nine months in a nutshell. It seems like such a small part in Baby T and I’s lives but it seems like what we’ve both learned will continue to stick with us for the next eighteen to twenty-five years we have together under one roof.

Diary of a Postpartum OCD Mom

The biggest struggle I have had since having Postpartum OCD is feeling misunderstood and, at times, alone. It feels like your thoughts and feelings are yours alone and make you a bad mother. By writing about my experience I hope I can help other moms struggling with intrusive thoughts and Postpartum OCD to realize they’re not alone.

When I first started to notice my symptoms we were away on vacation in Florida, our baby was four months old and COVID-19 was starting to make its way around the world. Travelling is already something that makes me anxious and adding a baby and a looming pandemic to the mix was not the best situation. I started feeling obsessed with my baby; I felt like no one else could take care of her properly and became very possessive. I kept us on a strict breastfeeding and napping schedule that meant I barely gave myself time to relax and enjoy the vacation. I started having intrusive thoughts about my baby. We would be walking to a shop down the street and my husband would start running with the stroller trying to take the baby for a fun ride and I could visualize with vivid detail the stroller falling over and my baby falling out. Then I started thinking “what if I lose control of myself and drop my baby off the balcony” and I started to feel like there was something wrong with me.

When we returned home from Florida, I continued having intrusive thoughts and it made me struggle to feel close to my baby. I was scared of watching her by myself, scared that I would fall down the stairs while holding her or have a mental break and harm her. I felt unfit to be a mother and ashamed of the thoughts I was having. I even started to feel like my family would be better off if I just left.

I would become so obsessed with everything being so perfect to make up for my intrusive thoughts. The house had to always be spotless, our day always had to have the same routine for napping, feeding and bedtime. Everything had to be done a certain way and even my laundry was perfectly folded and put away in order every time.

I started googling the thoughts I was having and realized I wasn’t alone, some people even wrote about having the same thoughts as me. After some research I realized my symptoms lined up with Postpartum OCD. I decided it was time to tell someone about what was going on, so I told my husband. It was difficult for him to understand since he wasn’t very familiar with Postpartum Disorders, but after we talked about it and researched some more he supported me and helped me build up the courage to speak to my doctor about it.

Having intrusive thoughts is one thing, but having to talk about them is another. I was scared of being judged and having my baby taken away, but my family doctor was amazing. She referred me to a Postpartum Doctor who screened and diagnosed me with Postpartum OCD.

Following my diagnosis, COVID-19 became a full-blown pandemic and social distancing and quarantine set in. I had to face my fear of being home alone with my baby every day for 6 weeks straight. We couldn’t go anywhere; shopping was of course off limits and we were still on the tail end of winter so it was too cold to spend too much time outside. Thankfully, since I had opened up about everything I had an amazing support group even over FaceTime.

There were delays in getting the professional help I needed due to COVID but since things started opening up again I’ve started to get help from a few different resources.

Even though saying these things out loud (or writing them) is still difficult, accepting them instead of shoving them down and hiding them has made things so much better. I’ve come to realize that the thoughts and feelings I sometimes have aren’t from me and don’t reflect on me as a person or as a mother, they’re symptoms of Postpartum OCD and eventually, it will get better. So if you’re like me and can relate to any of this, don’t push it down. Talk about it with loved ones and talk about it with your Doctor, there are resources available to you for help. You can start with reading the book “Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts” (available on Amazon), then go from there.

Nap Time Diaries: Baby’s First Fever

No matter what you do and how much you try to protect your baby from getting sick or feeling unwell, you really cannot protect them from everything. The first time their temperature goes up so does your anxiety and anything else going on around you becomes a blur and you just focus on your toasty little one hoping they just get better miraculously.

Baby T had her first fever over the weekend. It was narrowed down to a teething fever from her two top front teeth. Now, trust me, I looked online and I know they say there’s no such thing as teething fevers and that there has to be some other underlying cause. But, she had no other symptoms (other than being a clingy hot mess) and I did my due diligence and took her to the Dr after two days of consistent fever. He found no other underlying causes and agreed it must be a teething fever. I’m not a Dr so if you’re reading this and your baby has a fever you should also do your own due diligence before narrowing it down to a teething fever.

What I’m trying to get at with this is when your baby gets sick or has a fever for the first time it is downright terrifying. We checked her temperature constantly and did everything we could to make her feel better. The whole time you’re trying to be calm and soothe her but on the inside it feels like you’re going to break into pieces. Before having a baby, I of course knew that at some point being a parent your kid is going to get sick and I thought “it’s okay, I can handle it”. But in reality it actually destroys you and you wonder how you ever decided to do this to yourself in the first place. That being said, obviously I love Baby T and would never change a thing, it’s just when they’re sick you feel so helpless and sick to your stomach which seems like a funny mix of emotions to willingly sign up for. But you also sign up for the rewarding feeling of your baby clinging to you for a hug when she needs you, the way her smile and laugh lights up your world and watching her learn new things everyday which I would say does outweigh the difficult times.

The last two days Baby T has probably cried more than she has her entire life and refused to be put down, like ever. But as a mom you have this little piece inside you that just pushes through and gives her all the cuddles and attention she needs. Then there are little glimpses of hope that she’s getting better like she smiles or she finally crawls around the floor by herself to play. Babies are tough little things, and I don’t know about you, but when I’m sick rest and snuggles in bed all day are the best medicine. Also children’s Tylenol.

So if this is also you, and you feel like you’re going to start crying as loud as your baby soon because you wish you could just make them better and take away their discomfort and pain, hang in there. Take a breath, take a break and take a nap (while your baby is properly supervised by someone else or also napping).

Nap Time Diaries: My Top Books for New Moms

I’m a big reader of fiction and non fiction books and when I was pregnant I wanted to read books that were informative about giving birth and being a mom but that didn’t scare the crap out of you. Here’s a little list of some of my favourite mom books:

1. Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: the Complete Guide by Penny Simkin, Janet Whalley, Ann Keppler, Janelle Durham and April Bolding (available on Amazon)

This book is extremely informative and helpful without being so daunting and listing everything that can go wrong with your pregnancy and scare the crap out of you. After a lot of looking online and reading reviews I chose this book and I’m so glad I did. It was great for if you were hoping to have a natural birth and gave suggestions for techniques on coping with pain. It also had really good information on medications for relief like laughing gas or an epidural. I found for me, the more research I did the less nervous I was about going into labour and the more prepared I felt to deal with whatever came up. I know everyone is different and some people would rather just not think about it in which case you probably don’t want to read this book.

2. Mom Truths by Cat and Nat

I bought this book as a gift for every pregnant girl I knew. It was not only hilarious but gave the absolute realistic picture of life as a mom. It was extremely relatable and gave practical advice on the new adventure of parenthood. They tell candid stories of their own experiences that I still laugh about. It made me feel like you were being warmly welcomed into this New Mom club and I will continue to buy it for every pregnant girl I know.

3. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Okay so this book really hit me. It was one of those things that I think if I wasn’t a mom I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much, that’s not to say that anyone who isn’t a mom wouldn’t enjoy it. I felt like I related to it so deeply, reading about Elena Richardson and her need for everything being orderly and scheduled was like reading about myself. But it also had a way of seeming to relate to every mother or woman wanting to be a mother. There was one paragraph that is probably the most heart touching thing I’ve ever read, talking about your child not being a person but a place that you always want to return to and you can see their past, present and future self in their little faces. It made me think of after I put Baby T to bed I often find myself watching videos of her or looking at pictures on my phone because I don’t want to let go of seeing her face. Anyway, the storyline itself was very good and kept me up late trying to find out the ending! I did watch the tv show on Amazon Prime after reading the book and unfortunately they did change a good chunk of the storyline so I found it didn’t really do the book justice.

There you have it, my top 3 books to read as a new mom. I hope if you get a chance to read any of these books you enjoy them and find them as helpful as I have.

Nap Time Diaries: Postpartum Surprises

I’m currently sitting outside on a beautiful summer Friday afternoon while Baby T is snoozing, wondering if 2:30 is too early to have a glass of wine by yourself. Well, for this topic I’m sure it’s never too early. Everyone’s postpartum journey is different. Here’s mine and my advice based off of it:

I went through my pregnancy assuming labour was the biggest scariest part. In my case I would actually say the labour was pretty normal and quick, whereas the part afterwards was harder to deal with.

You’re told to buy woman’s incontinence underwear and pads for afterwards. I’m here to tell you, buy more. I could not believe how many of those suckers I went through. If you’re not good with blood (or you’re like me and passed out at a nail salon from them cutting your cuticle), brace yourself my friend. Also getting in a nice herbal bath is your new best friend. I was recommended something called a Shepherds Purse bath, which my husband so lovingly prepared for me, and not only does it have so many physical healing benefits, sitting in a bath by yourself for even 20 minutes does wonders mentally for a new mom. Take that time for yourself and ‘soak it up’. See what I did there.

Another thing, you’re going to get offered lots of help and meals and time to relax and rest. TAKE IT. The first couple of days after having my baby I felt like I had been hit by a truck. Which when you think about it isn’t that surprising because you use your entire body when you’re in labor for hours on end. You basically just did an entire weeks worth of full body workouts in one day. Thankfully I had so much help from so many people and I managed to spend the majority of time resting in bed feeding and cuddling my girl. Even if I started feeling better and tried to do more I ended up overdoing it (going up the stairs too many times counts as overdoing it) and needing to rest again the next day. Also, do your kegels, if you’re not sure what they are google them and then do them. Now I did also have some extenuating circumstances that made my recovery a bit more difficult and complicated, but I’d say for the general public this is all still true. Unless you’re like Wonder Woman or something.

There’s a saying my midwife told me, “when the milk flows, the tears flow with it”. It was her way of warning me that if you’re breastfeeding, the day your milk comes in is the most emotional day after having your baby you could possibly have. Not because it’s actually emotional but because your body is shifting all the hormones you just had for the past nine months and makes you about as fragile as the human ego, which according to my quick google search is the most fragile thing in the world. That day I was crying more than not crying. We were having people bring us dinner that night and to meet Baby T and I wasn’t even sure how I was going to be able to say hi to them. Sure enough though late afternoon my milk came in, Baby T was happily milk drunk and I finally stopped crying. My only suggestion for that day is skin to skin. Both Baby T and I seemed on a downhill spiral that day and I finally put us skin to skin and we cuddled for hours and I’m pretty convinced that’s what helped my milk come in. That and a Guinness.

My very good friend had given birth to her Baby Boy a week and five days before I had Baby T. Her pregnancy was very different from mine. She was due three weeks prior to me and while I was waddling around like a penguin she was strutting and glowing like a pregnant model. It was kind of funny to watch us walking side by side. She came to meet Baby T when she was 3 weeks postpartum and I was about 1 week and she could walk, and sit normal, and carry her car seat and breastfeed in front of people without spraying herself in the face. I remember looking at her with tears in my eyes leaning against the wall to hold myself up and saying “will that be me in two weeks too?” She looked at me like she truly understood what I was going through (and she did) and she said “I promise in two weeks you will feel so much better”. Just being able to see her like that and know that there was light at the end of the tunnel was such a boost for me. Sure enough in a couple of weeks I managed to venture out of our house and went to her house where they had a bunch of friends over and it was the first little bit of normalcy I had felt in weeks. It still took time to feel more healed but I would promise anyone else postpartum that it does get better.

Now I’m almost 9 months postpartum and I definitely don’t feel like I did before getting pregnant but I don’t think you ever do. You did this amazing thing and sacrificed your body to make this precious new life and it’s hard to accept the changes your body has made. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get my old body back, the one that did pretty awesome things weightlifting at the gym for the past five years, and while I do want to try and do some of those things again I do know that this new body is stronger inside and out. Having a baby changes you physically and emotionally, it’s up to you to decide whether it’s for the better or for the worse. It’s okay if there’s things you don’t like and okay if you want to change them. But there’s no rush. Your baby is going to love you no matter what, they just want that body, no matter what it looks like, to cuddle them and care for them. And it’s also okay if you want to have a glass of wine at 2:30 on a sunny Friday afternoon. So that’s what I’m gonna do.

Nap Time Diaries: When the Shoe Doesn’t Fit

At the start of pregnancy, you like to think you’re glowing; like if someone looked at you they could just tell from the look on your face that you have a tiny little something growing inside you. You think your belly is sticking out a little but it’s still hiding the secret. Your boobs might grow, a lot. Then you start getting the tinge of nausea and it grows and grows. The tinge becomes nausea so strong you think you can smell colours. Foods that were usually your favourite are rejected immediately (bye salmon) and all you want to do is sleep. As Dwight Schrute says, “If she eats something the fetus doesn’t like, she is screwed. It’s amazing: a three ounce fetus is calling the shots. It’s so bad ass.” Bad ass isn’t exactly the words I would use…

When I was 4 months pregnant we went to Portugal and thanks to some prescription morning sickness medication I managed to make it there and back in one piece despite the abundance of fish that is served there. I will say though, Porto is beautiful, but it also seems to be an uphill walk no matter where you go and what direction your going. Around this time you’re starting to feel heavier, your knees and feet are adjusting to your increasing weight and walking uphill both ways is EXHAUSTING. Also, you have to pay for public washrooms. When you’re pregnant you can spend a lot of money trying to go pee. Thankfully the second half of our trip was in the south where there was a beautiful beach… down a hill. All in all, still a great family trip that I will talk about more in my travel series.

A few weeks after we got home we had a gender reveal shower. With our close friends and family we popped a black balloon of pink confetti over our heads. Shortly after that my legs and feet started swelling, sciatic pain was a new thing and Baby T dropped lower and lower making walking normal a thing of the past. As we got closer to her due date in November I ran out of shoes that fit so I settled on a pair of black flats in a size higher than my normal shoes size. May those shoes now RIP. Maternity leave started and I got to spend a lot of time relaxing in bed and getting things ready for her arrival. The last few weeks were very uncomfortable, swollen and walking around the house in the middle of the night became my new hobby.

Then, November 8th, two days early, Baby T made her way into the world (in good time for a first baby might I add). The “birth plan” or should I say “birth goals” (because births rarely go according to plan) actually were all met. Laughing gas is a beautiful thing. As soon as that girl was in my arms snuggling into my chest, the last nine months, the swelling, the one pair of shoes I could still wear, the sciatic pain, the lack of sleep (before and after she arrived) became distant thoughts. That new baby suddenly consumes all your thoughts and continues to do that everyday after. I once read something that having a child is like having your heart walking around outside of your body and that’s probably the truest thing about being a parent. Taking care of yourself becomes the last thing you think about but the cuddles and smiles and endless kisses makes every single thing so worth it.

Nap Time Diaries: Two Pink Lines

I want to write about my pregnancy with Baby T before I forget the details, but let’s be honest, is it something you can ever forget? Baby T was very much planned for even 6 months in advance of even starting to try to have a baby. We were hoping if everything went well she would be born in the winter time because it was usually a quieter time at work for my husband and also because I’m not a fan of heat and humidity when I’m not pregnant so the idea of having a baby anywhere near summer was a big no from me.

So here we were in February waiting to find out if I was pregnant, the two week wait, and I remember driving myself actually crazy because I had a pretty strong feeling I was pregnant but obviously had no way of confirming until closer to my period. When I think about how I felt for these two weeks my heart honestly goes out to couples struggling with infertility who go through that two week wait month after month, sometimes for years. It’s something I had never thought about before or had anywhere close of any understanding too, and I know I still don’t because as you can tell by the fact that Baby T is in our lives, it’s not something we personally went through. Like I said, my heart goes out to people who don’t have pregnancy come as easily to them and I hope these people can eventually have their own children through other avenues.

Another interesting thing about this two week period is I honestly believe that dogs know if you’re pregnant or not. I’ll give you two examples. One is my parents 7 pound Pomeranian chihuahua, Tia. I stayed at their house at one point during this period and for a dog who normally doesn’t seem to give a crap that I’m there, she was all of the sudden very interested in my whereabouts and kept plopping herself neatly in my lap. The second is my own dog Marley the yellow lab (yes, Marley and Me is our life). That very same weekend when I returned home she also made my whereabouts her top priority and while she couldn’t curl up neatly in my lap due to the fact that she’s about 10x the size of Tia, she certainly stayed as close to me as humanly possible following me from room to room through our house. Coincidence? I think not.

Soon enough, scrambled eggs started making me nauseous, my boobs took on a new larger life and after a couple of tests taken too early still showed negative I was sure I was anything but negative. It was a Friday and we were about to head over to our good friends’ house, I had to make the choice if I was going to drink that night or not. I had already stopped drinking the last two weeks just in case I was actually pregnant. We decided to try just one more test so I could drink with a clear conscience. It was an early response test and it was the day before my expected period. I did the deed on the stick and sat waiting while my husband got ready to go for a quick gym session assuming it was also going to come back negative. Three minutes went by and slowly but surely the faded second pink line started to show ever so slightly. I thought my eyes were just seeing things so I picked it up and squinted at it. Then I called my husband over for a second opinion to which he said “no way” (a happy no way obviously). Of course there was happy tears and hugging and a skipped gym session, two more test including the digital one that actually spells out the word PREGNANT, and a night of dodging questions about my not drinking as we wanted to tell both of our parents first.

In the moment, I wanted to take a mental picture of the time we found out I was pregnant. It was one of the most exciting but also most terrifying moments of my life. I started thinking about what kind of parents we would be, how our child would grow up and I was sure I could feel it growing inside of me. It was a really magical time in our lives and I’m sure I’ll remember that mental picture forever. Now, about the pregnancy… we’ll get to that later.

Nap Time Diaries: Keeping It Positively Real

If I’m 100% honest I started today writing a blog post about Postpartum OCD; about the symptoms and how it affects me personally. But honestly, that’s not me. I know I’m allowed to write about my anxieties with it and how it gets me down but it doesn’t really help me to do that. What does help me is filling my head instead with positive thinking and focusing on what’s good in my life. Here’s a couple ways I do that.

I bought myself a gratitude journal. I know I could technically just think about three things in my head everyday that I’m grateful for but writing them down really makes me think hard about them. It’s fun to try to think of three new things everyday because in reality there is an endless list of things to be thankful for in life. Focusing on these is a great start to any morning.

Force yourself to be positive. I started having these conversations in my head where if I start thinking something negative I force myself to think more positively. For example, I asked my husband to empty the garbage before he went to work and he forgot which is normally something I’d get all pissy about and stew about all day just to be annoyed at him when he gets home. Now I try to think, he’s busy at work he probably genuinely forgot to empty it before he left. It takes less than 30 seconds to do it myself and I’m sure he’d appreciate it when he gets home and say sorry for forgetting. That’s one less bickering conversation in our lives and a happier evening for the two of us. I do it when I start getting down on myself too, repeating things like you are a good mom, you’re doing a good job, you don’t need to be so hard on yourself about the body that made and carried your amazing girl for 9 months. I like to think that if I keep up these little corrections it’ll make me have more positive happy thoughts naturally and I won’t have to do it as often.

Taking a walk. It’s surprising how just taking a 20 minute walk or doing just a little bit of exercise gets the good endorphins going and can put you in a completely different state of mind. The key I’ve found to this is doing it because it makes me feel good not because I’m punishing myself for eating something bad or feeling fat that day.

Find you some good friends. Having a good group of friends or good family that you can rely on in the good and bad is so important. Being able to sit down for a nice dinner with people and laugh your asses off at nothing at all is the best medicine.

A bracing cup of tea. It’s probably the English in me but dang a good cup of tea at the right time really hits the spot.

In conclusion, I don’t need to focus on my Postpartum OCD all the time and thinks it’s this negative thing that controls me all the time. Focusing on the positive even if I really have to force myself to do it makes a huge difference.

Nap Time Diaries: Corona… The Virus Not The Beer

I feel like this is where I need to start with my blog. It’s not my favourite topic but it’s something that has definitely affected my life and my maternity leave which is the reason I have extra time on my hands to write this. If you don’t know what coronavirus is I really applaud you, that’s really impressive. I’m not going to give my opinion on Covid 19 here or the politics of it. I will say this though, it sucks!

We’ll start with the negative here.. yes coronavirus sucks. No this is not how I thought my first maternity leave would go. Yes sometimes I forget it’s happening and when I realize it’s actually still a reality it makes me angry and upset. Now we’ve got that out there have been some positives if you can believe it.

1. People have learned to wash their hands.

2. People have been doing amazing and nice things for strangers which is so beautiful to see.

3. People are getting crafty; learning how to bake breads and making tie-dye t shirts.

4. People are spending time as a family.

For me personally, Baby T was just over 6 months old when quarantine started. We had just gotten back from a trip to Florida with friends and family, I was just starting to have some of my Postpartum OCD symptoms (great timing), and I think I could count on my two hands how many days I had spent alone with my daughter. To be fair, I had a difficult recovery after having her and needed all the help I could get. My mother and mother in-law were amazing through everything, they were there whenever I needed them. My mother in-law even held the baby from 11pm to 3am when she was teeny tiny so I could get some sleep without worrying she was going to die in her sleep (maybe the OCD actually started earlier). Even as the months went on and my body recovered they each helped multiple days a week. My husband was also having a slow time at work so he was home a lot as well to help (#yayforhandsondad). Then quarantine started and my husband’s work picked back up and I was very quickly left alone with my baby every single day for 6 weeks. I quickly realized I had relied a lot on other people to help me and I needed to learn to stand on my own to feet as a mother. It was very difficult I’m not going to lie. Anyone who has had Postpartum OCD knows that being left alone with your baby is the last thing you sometimes want to do. But honestly, looking back, I’m so thankful for it. It was awkward and stressful and there were a lot of tears but I proved to myself that I could 100% do it and that I was a better mom than I thought I was. Now that things have opened up a bit again and we’ve been able to see the Grandma’s again, I realize that having the help isn’t an absolute need. It’s more of a luxury and Baby T and I can survive on our own. The Grandma’s still see her multiple times a week but we call them visits now instead of “Oh my god please come help me”… although some days that is still the case and that’s totally okay. It’s called balance.