Posted in motherhood, Parenting, Travel

8 Baby Travel Essentials

So the family doctor said it was okay to travel with an infant! I mean, she did explain that traveling came with its risks; being confined in a plane for hours with hundreds of strangers who could (and will) sneeze, cough, touch, spit and God knows what else, technically exposes your infant to all kinds of viruses. But hey, this baby has already been to 8 countries in-utero; it was easier to take him along back then but one must find a way to make this work. So, to start, one little tiny short trip to Montreal can’t possibly be so hard on him! Right!?

At the end of the day, it’s really up to you, Mommy! If you are adventurous at heart and you have the courage to go through the logistics of travelling with your baby, here is a list of 8 indispensable items you absolutely MUST take with you!

#1 A Maman kangourou baby carrier. I love it, love it, love it! A true lifesaver. It is great for carrying newborns. I know, some babies don’t like these, but for all the other babies, this is a miracle item! Instead of pushing a crying baby in a stroller, then getting baby out at security checkpoints and holding her in an uncomfortable position while you try to send your items through the scan, this wrap-around baby carrier makes your baby super comfortable against your chest. She may not even realize you’re traveling.

#2 A clear case with all essential baby meds and vitamins. I usually carry Tylenol, Motrin, Enfamil D-Vi-Sol Vitamin, Ovo and at least 2 syringes as I may not be able to wash the syringe right away on a plane. Why do I specify clear? Well, because you will easily see if anything is missing from it before you leave home. Pick a spot to keep this pouch in the diaper bag and stick to it. Your neighbourhood Shoppers Drug Mart or Walmart will carry clear travel size toiletry bags.

#3 Proper travel documentation. I cannot stress how important it is to check the regulations in your country of destination to ensure you have everything. As a starting point, however, this is your basic checklist of documents to carry with you on every international trip: your baby’s passport, long-form birth certificate, if you are not travelling with baby’s father, a parental travel consent letter signed (ideally notarized). Place all these documents along with your own passport in one document holder. I found the federal government travel website helpful in formulating the parental consent letter.

#4 Enfamil A+ formula Single serve packetsTake at least 4 packs for a 2 hour flight. Why so many if baby feeds only every 2-3 hours? Well, remember you will be at the airport 2 hours prior to departure. Then it can take 1-2 hours to get your luggage at arrivals, get out of the airport and reach your hotel! In total, this can turn into a longer day than planned.

#5 Medela manual breast pump. By far the best if you ask me! I found it worked even better than the some electric ones. How did I get to try more than one brand? You may ask. Well, the airline lost my luggage on my way back home from my very first trip with baby – thanks Air Canada! So I had to buy another pump. To my surprise, the Medela manual pump does a much better job than the electric Philips Avent one. Plus, it’s super compact and lightweight. A great partner on my trips!

#6 Huggies’s Clutch N’ Clean carrying case. This item is absolutely amazing. So practical, easy to carry and even pretty! Adds a little fun to the daunting task of changing your baby on the go. It fits anywhere and the little cord fits around your wrist for easy carrying when your hands are full. This item is not only good for travelling, it’s also great for a day out in the city!

#7 A travel size dishwashing liquid detergent. I used the Palmolive one but you could pour any brand into a small travel size plastic bottle. I know, this item might sound strange but i’m so glad I had it in my bag during my North Carolina trip. Baby was 2 months old, and our flight back to Toronto was diverted to Washington Dulles due to bad weather conditions. We ended up having to spend the night in Baltimore. So how lucky was I to have dishwashing liquid and a brush to clean the 4 bottles that I carried in the diaper bag. Hotels often don’t use liquid detergent and I wouldn’t trust strangers to wash my baby’s bottles anyway.

#8 IKEA organizing boxesThey can be folded and packed flat in your luggage. 3 is the magic number for me as I would use #1 for feeding items, #2 for diapering and #3 for bathing & skin care. Makes staying organized in any environment really easy! Again, these boxes are very light and easy to move around with. They will also help ensure you have everything when it’s time to go home… You will easily see if anything is missing from each box.

Voilà! I hope this list helps mommy-baby travellers out there!

Posted in Parenting

CHILDBIRTH – I didn’t know a thing (PART 1)

makai-22To all the expectant first-time moms who are curious to know what happens in a labor room, here is my personal story. They say every woman has a unique experience and I couldn’t agree more. I want to share mine because although it wasn’t all sunshine lollipops and rainbows, I wouldn’t have it any other way (just not for my second J). Plus, when baby Makai is old enough, he will know how he arrived into this world. To those of you who have already experienced childbirth similar or different than my own, feel free to comment or share your story.

9 months of coexistance with my beloved Kiwi. And I still knew nothing about him… or motherhood, for that matter. All I knew was, I had gone through the motions and I was DONE with them… from my bloated days of looking 6 months pregnant on week 6, to the vicious nausea strikes in the streets of London, to the inconsolable tears on my way to work in Bujumbura, oh and that heartburn, something in the atmosphere in Addis just made it unbarable! Anyone who saw me during my pregnancy knows, just how painful this heartburn was, I made sure of it. And as you can see, even today, 5 months post-partum, I am still complaining about this incorrigible offender… But ladies (yes I’m assuming only a woman can possibly read past the first few words here), allow me to digress a bit…Is it just my experience, or pregnancy is really not as glamorous as it’s made to look? Why was I 33 years old, and not aware that it was just a series of discomforts that escalade to peek in the last hours… minutes… and seconds… before delivery ? A humbling experience I tell you ! I have nothing but respect for all the ladies who have gone through the experience time and time again. (Mom, I never got a chance to tell you that I’m sorry for ever thinking that you knew nothing in my adolescent years. If youth knew, if age could.)

Anyway, so as I had started to tick off the days on my calendar 15 days pre-due date, like a prisoner impatiently waiting for her release, and my OBGYN had become growingly annoying as she repeatedly said « that’s a big baby you’re growing in there » at my weekly follow-ups, the day arrived when I suddenly felt an unusual cramp in my tummy… Could it be time ?

With a sort of naive excitement I took out my phone and started timing these « mild cramps ». And in between, I asked my best friend Google (yes, my best friend… because Google knows everything about me before anyone else in my life). Digression again, sorry. So 6 hours later, I knew for sure these were the contractions I’d spent the last 38 weeks waiting for. FINALLY !

Now they are 5 minutes apart, 1 minute long and it’s been more than 1 hour, yay… They’ve become strong enough that I can’t sit, think, or talk through them. Let’s run to the Hospital…My bag’s been ready for weeks now (thanks ladies !). We arrive at St-Michaels and I’m praying that I’m dilated enough to be admitted and get that wonderful shot I’ve been fantasizing about. 3cm, they say… surely, after 12 hours of growing pains, they will feel sorry for me and give me something to ease this horror ! Right ? We hop in the elevator just before the next contraction. As the doors are closing, they open back up and I suddenly feel like I’m going to burst into laughter. Why this sudden, so very inappropriate need to laugh ? This is such a non humourous situation ! Just seconds ago, I was feeling sorry for myself and secretly looking for compassion in others… but now, two people just entered the elevator, their pain is so great that it is written all over their faces and it makes me look like I am taking a walk in the park. They looked totally unimpressed with mine. For a moment I felt like a joke !

Just a few minutes later I am in the triage room, I waited for the doctor to check if I could be admitted. Medical students, don’t hate me for this, but this kiddish looking guy came in at some point to check on me and I thought, he can’t possibly be in charge of me right now ! He looks like a teenager ! I felt half reassured when his boss came in and checked dilation and effacement. Bad news ! 90% effaced, but only 1cm dilated… not even close ! I am sent home. « Could be days before real labor starts » she said. I wanted to slap her !

Anyway, let’s head back home, we have no choice. But as we are passing the first set of doors to get out, a miracle ! I think my water just broke ! Regardless of dilation and effacement, they have to keep me around now J. Small victory.

They now tell me that I need to walk around to accelerate labor. They even suggested I go to a small diner close by to have breakfast while I wait to reach that 3cm mark. Yes, they went there ! I mean, sometimes I wonder if Hospital staff hear themselves. Did I look like someone who is willing or able to eat anything ?

A few hours later, I finally get admitted and get that wonderful shot. It’s magic ! I feel nothing. Labor is bliss ! I’m enjoying my popsicle, chit-chats with my labor room advocates ; guys, I can do this anytime anywhere !

But wait, I’m starting to feel pressure…wait it definitely hurts now. Ouch ! This is surreal, I wanna cry. Why am I feeling all the contractions now ? It’s only been a few hours since the shot ! 4 hours of pure agony and no progress, I’m stuck at 8cm ! Where is the anesthesiologist ? I’ve been begging for a top up ? NURSE !!! Get me the Anesthesiologist NOW !

2nd epidural in. I feel a slight relief but that lasts just about 10 minutes. Now the OBGYN is starting to talk about doing a c-section if things don’t progress in the next hour. I mean, talk about pressure ! People, you can’t make me go through all this to end up with a c-section !

Luckily, 1 hour later, I see a light at the end of the tunnel. 9 cm, but I feel like going in there myself and pulling out this baby. Why is he so comfortable in there anyway ?

Shortly after, I realize that I’ve now been in this hospital nearly 24 hours. I’m past the ice craving, 2 ineffective epidurals and the overwhelming nausea.

The nurse finally says the words I’ve been longing to hear : « 10cm, we’re going to start pushing ! » Halleluyah. Never in a million years had I imagined that I would be excited to start pushing since it was the single element of childbirth that scared me the most. What did I know ? Pathetic.

3 contractions, 3 cheerleaders and badaboom ! Before I knew it, in a moment of exhaustion and exhaltation, this squirming little being was swiftly placed on my bare chest.

I didn’t know him, he didn’t know me. He cried and so did I, for different reasons, obviously. But what I knew was that he was Mine and I was His. Wow ! What a relief.