Blog

Posted in Holidays, motherhood

7 Holiday Gift Ideas for New Moms

Have you noticed how once you have a baby, everyone’s attention (including yours) magically shifts to your little bundle of joy? And sometimes, as much as you appreciate the love that your friends and family pour into your baby’s life, you strangely feel left out. Well, if you are a new mom, or if you if you have a friend, a sister, a daughter who’s recently had a baby, the holiday season is a great opportunity to treat her (or yourself) to a little something practical, relaxing, or both!

holiday-gifts

Here is a list of thoughtful Holiday presents that will be sure to please a new mom:

#1 Make her feel like a TEN with a mani-pedi gift card!

Heck, new moms barely feel like a TWO on a good day! Seep deprived, hormonal, and trapped in the house is how we feel. Yeah, and then we secretly start weighing the pros and cons of reducing our shower frequency from daily to every-other-day (but hush, hush, don’t tell anyone, that’s our secret). 

So here’s a great gift idea for new moms – I’ve been hearing about this trending Beauty Bar Chain called The TEN Spot and I love their concept. Positioned like the Starbucks of Beauty Bars, it is based on a key feminine insight that every woman wants to feel like a TEN. I like to get a mani-pedi monthly myself but the one thing that annoys me is how in our market, you have to choose between poor service nail bars and overpriced pompous spas to get something as basic as a mani-pedi. So the added benefit of feeling like a TEN on top of getting pretty nails and getting away from baby for a couple of hours is definitely a good reason for new moms to try The Ten Spot over the Holidays. Plus it’s so easy to get a gift certificate via their website

#2 An Otterbox case – the ultimate smartphone/tablet screen protection.

I used to choose my phone and tablet cases solely based on design… but that was until Makai happened! Now, I proudly carry my smartphone in its ugly Otterbox case! Why? Because while it will surely kill the sexy look of an iPhone 6, unless one can afford to get a new one every other week (because that’s how often our munchkins will crack the screen), I highly recommend an Otterbox case cover. Otterbox offers – hands down – the best protection for your smart phone and other portable electronic devices against the occasional drops, drools and spills… A practical gift idea especially if her tot is still small and hasn’t started breaking things. It means she probably has not crossed that bridge yet. 

#3 A small cross-body bag to carry essentials

Let’s face it… New moms typically have a million and one things to remember, a million and one things to carry whenever they muster the courage to actually leave the house with the baby. I am sure lots of moms would agree with me that some of the pocketbooks we used to rock pre-baby just aren’t practical anymore. This is when a mini cross-body bag can actually come in super handy. This type of bag is a smart way for moms with small children to keep IDs, credit cards and car keys in one single location making it easy to find things on the go. Available in a variety of colours, materials and brands, you will definitely find one that suits her personal style at any of the major department stores like The Bay

#4 Ease the aches and pains with a cute Hot Water Bottle

I have to admit that when I saw this product at Winners, I had no idea what it was and the only reason I was attracted to it is because it looked so pretty. The colours, the cozy texture and the cute statements all seemed really cool and since I was looking for gift ideas for a couple of friends who had babies this year, I picked one up. And what a nice surprise! This is not just a pretty gift for a new mom. It’s a useful one! 

Fill it with hot (or cold) water depending on what you need, and place it where it hurts. It will help soothe anything from the back pain we experience post-pregnancy, to the strained muscles we pull by moving around with a little human hanging on our arm all day. Not to mention the tummy cramps some of us experience post-partum…know what I mean!? Definitely a favourite! 

#5 Baby’s Hand or Footprint Holiday Ornament

Yeah, all moms are suckers for their baby’s firsts. There are so many and yet we don’t seem to get enough of them, at least in the early years – don’t ask me what happens in the teenage years, I don’t want to think about those firsts just yet. So this is a cool little gift that you are sure will have a great sentimental value for a really long time. I’ll probably be nostalgic when I look at mine in ten years and I’ve totally forgotten what it’s like to have a baby and I realize that I’ve become that random mom with bigger kids who tells new moms that they should cherish the baby phase while it lasts. Indigo Chapters, Winners, or Babies R Us usually carry one of some sort. Make sure you go for the no-mess version!

#6 A super Slim Silicone Water Resistant Watch – The SWATCH Skin

With a baby, we can easily feel like time is our enemy! Managing our time well is crucial and that usually means tracking feedings, naps & bath times, etc. But new moms likely don’t have the appropriate watch to wear around a baby. I certainly could not keep wearing the typical bling bling I would have rocked a year ago! And using my phone got old because half the time I didn’t know where it was.

So I recently visited Yorkdale Shopping Centre and noticed SWATCH, an old brand that I had completely lost touch with since childhood. The SWATCH Skin is the perfect slim watch you can barely feel on your wrist, 100% sleek, 100% water resistant, 100% silent and the BONUS is, you won’t scratch your little one with this. So when you put it on you don’t need to remove it – ever. Well, except to clean it of course. Hello again, SWATCH, I think I missed you!

#7 A Spill Proof Contigo Coffee Mug

Okay, I started using the Contigo Mug years ago and I’ve been hooked! But this mug is even more useful now. For the coffee lovers out there who can’t stand the idea of a lukewarm coffee, and for the clumsy mommies who want to make sure they don’t spill their hot beverage on their infant, this is the mug for you. When you close the lid, you can literally throw your mug (full of coffee) upside down in your diaper bag and you won’t get the slightest leak. Need I say more?

DISCLAIMER – If you are a husband, fiancé/boyfriend, you should probably do a little better than this list :-). I guess you could get her a spa package or a really nice version of the crossbody bag (watch out, it can get pretty expensive if she’s the Chloé type, ha!) but my point is, this is a list of casual gift ideas for friends and family. Good luck with your shopping!

Posted in motherhood, Parenting

3 Survival Books For New Moms

Before I had my baby, I thought I would read every book about parenting on Amazon to make sure I was giving the best of the best of everything to my most wonderful little tot. Then, well, motherhood actually happened, and I realized that I ain’t got time to read. I am too busy breastfeeding, washing, changing, cleaning, rocking, crying and watching, as my friend put it so well, the occasional mind-numbing tv show episode when I have a 30-minute break out of my 24-hour chaos. Plus, I am also trying to re-think, re-frame, re-direct my career in a direction that fits my new life – why is this taking me so long! God, give me back my brain cells!! Please!? 

With that said, there are 3 books I am willing and able to read simply because they are necessary for my survival. The first one is very practical because you don’t have to focus for hours to read it – you can do it piecemeal style. You can literally just open the table of contents and find the content you need to read in that moment. The second is sure to lighten up the mood, especially on a rough day. Start in the middle if you want, no one cares, you will laugh the whole way and you will learn a thing or two in the process. And the third, I get exited about because it addresses the one thing we ALL miss so much as new moms – SLEEP! 

#1 From Tiny Tot to Toddler. This is a free “practical guide for parents from pregnancy to age two” offered by the Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec. 

tiny-tot-to-toddlerTreat this book (or its equivalent if you can find it in your province/country) like your bible. It is divided into colour-coded sections that cover everything from pregnancy to 2 years-old. I love it because I can read about the upcoming stage that I will be facing soon, but more often than not, I’m rather in reactive mode than in proactive mode, which means I go to this book when I’m experiencing something new that I don’t know how to deal with. For example, by month 5, my little guy was starting to put everything in his mouth. At some point, I started to feel like I was living the 50 First Dates movie experience. I’d give him a toy, he’d put it in his mouth, drop it to the floor, I would pick it up, wash it, and give it back. Then we’d do this all over again as many times as it took for me to get FED UP! 

So I started to wonder… Why am I still sterilizing his bottles if he’s going to put everything in his mouth anyway? Aha! this is a good moment to read about sterilizing in the Tiny Tot to Toddler bible. I opened the book and in seconds, there it was! I could have stopped sterilizing at 4 months! Really, I’d been creating extra work for myself for a full month. Out went the sterilizer!

#2 Sh*tty Mum: the parenting Guide for the Rest of Us by Laurie Kilmartin, Karen Moline

As my motherhood godmother puts it, the first weeks with a newborn are very hard on us mommies, but it does get better! Two of the things that got me by during those early days, and even till this day, are a little humour and hearing about other moms’ experiences.  So when I recently came across this book that talks about the embarrassing moments of motherhood that no one is tells you about, the advantages of “half-assing” it and not feeling bad about it, I felt it was the perfect combo of realizing that you’re not alone in this struggle and being able to laugh about it. Hey, I guess it’s no surprise that a mama who wrote the Confessions of a shi**y Mom, would enjoy this book.

#3 Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems: New, Revised and Expanded Edition by Richard Ferber. 

Some people have babies that sleep through the night from day one. Well, that certainly isn’t my case. We still wake up at least once every night, depending on his mood! I sometimes blame myself for perhaps being too socially active or travelling with him maybe a bit more than I should, hence not giving him a chance to get used to a rigorous bedtime routine, but such has been my life, part due to my choices, and part due to my circumstances. I just have to accept what has been and move on.

So, I made my first 2017 resolution early – I’m giving myself until the end of the holidays to do things improv style and then we will start the scary process of sleep training as of January 3rd. So I have just ordered this book that many are raving about. There will be tears and anxiety, for sure, judging by the reviews and the experiences of my friends. Maybe even a couple of iterations, but I desperately want my baby to learn to fall asleep on his own and stay asleep through the night. While I can’t speak to how the method suggested by Richard Ferber will work for us, I will definitely be able to share that come January 2017. 

So why do I trust this is a good book? The answer is in the numbers – I usually go for reviews before choosing any book and this one has a spectacular 1000+ reviews on Amazon.com with 4.5 stars on average. So, even if this is not a match for us, it is definitely worth a $12 try! Plus, this is great timing for me as I will use the extra free time from being around family over the Holidays to read this book and get prepared for the concept.

How about you, have any book recommendations for the time deprived newbie mama? Please, share!

Posted in motherhood

Confessions of a SHI**Y Mom

Just because I blog about motherhood, it doesn’t make me a Supermom. In fact, I am a pretty shitty mom! 

Now that we have established that, no one has to hide their judgment. This post is entirely dedicated to pointing out the numerous occasions on which I’ve come to question my mommyhood style & abilities. So it is definitely full of opportunities to scrutinize and judge me – as a matter of fact, it is an invitation to do so. But if you are a mommy, a good one at that, surely you’ve had a moment or two of your own, and if so, this is a dare to share so that new mommies can learn from our mistakes. 

These are 5 of my very own inglorious SHI**Y MOM moves that I have spectacularly accumulated in just 6 (very short) months:

#5 Assuming that the Bumbo floor seat is a safe place to “park” my 5 month-old.

So my little guy couldn’t wait to sit up. His neck and back were strong but he was still figuring out the whole balance thing and he fell over quite frequently. So I borrowed my friend’s Bumbo floor seat to see if the support might help. The next day, I sat him in and parked him right outside the bathroom next to a bunch of toys while I took a quick shower. But when I switched off the water, something seemed strange. The silence… When I opened the shower curtain, I found him arched to the side, one leg & hip out of the seat, with his head almost touching the floor. He was trying to grab a toy that had fallen out of reach. Maybe I should have watched this video: 

BABY Bumbo Floor Seat Safety Warning

#4 Changing my baby between two sinks in the bathroom of a rooftop restaurant /lounge bar.

How did I end up there with a 1 month-old? It was a friend’s birthday; before accepting the invitation, I asked if it was a family friendly place and my girlfriend actually called them to check. They said of course! Well, I guess we must have asked the wrong question, then! Because when I got there, the 3 looooong flights of stairs (no elevators), the loud music, the happy hour crowd and the lack of a changing table in the bathroom (to name a few), were all very loud signs that this was ABSOLUTELY not an appropriate venue for a baby. While I made it a quick one, sometimes a diaper change simply can’t wait, so I had to place him between two sinks and manage to take care of the shi**iest diaper change ever! 

#3 Realizing that my friends too, think I’m a SHI**Y Mom.

I was hanging out with two girlfriends and needed to get something in the kitchen, so I placed my little human on the colourful mat and headed to the (open concept) kitchen. But I was only gone 1 minute when he started to complain. So I came back and I saw that the lower half of his body was stuck in the space between the floor and the sofa. As he was learning to crawl, I understood that he had crawled backwards and gotten stuck. So I quickly approached to pull him out. That’s when both of my friends confessed that they had seen him but thought that I had put him there intentionally to restrict his movements. WOW! I’ve definitely successfully branded myself “The SHI**Y Mom”.

#2 Forgetting to buckle up my baby in the infant car seat (attached to the stroller) as i climbed up a flight of stairs.

After baby was born, everyday was a bad hair day. After one month, I decided to put an end to that. I made an appointment and headed to the cozy little salon that accommodates new moms and their babies (how cool!?). Anyway, at that stage, the baby slept most of the time. So when we got out of the house, he was asleep, but by the time we hopped on the train, he woke up cranky and HUNGRY! The only way I managed to calm him down was by getting him out of his car seat/stroller and putting him in the baby carrier to feed him. In less than 5, we were friends again, so I put him back in the stroller. 

When we reached our station I discovered that there were no elevators and a kind young man, who probably noticed the frustration on my face,  offered to help me carry the stroller up the stairs. So he lifted the front, I got the back and we started climbing. Half way through, I suddenly broke out in a cold sweat. “Shit, I didn’t buckle the harness straps! STOP! STOP! STOP!” I screamed at the poor guy; I didn’t know how else to express the urgency. We put the stroller down and I opened the canopies to find my 5 week-old quietly lying face down at the bottom of his car seat. While I’d just had the fright of my life, he seemed unbothered. How’s that for a shi**y moment. I am now as obsessive compulsive as Jack Nicholson in as Good As It Gets. 

#1 Being stuck in a broken Jeep at sunset between the lions and the rhinos with my 3-month old. 

img-20161206-wa0091-copy        1481138234474

Before – (Don’t we look happy!)                                                    After – (So unimpressed)

It all began with a much needed sisters (+kids) vacation in Nairobi. My sister had a great idea; we would spend an afternoon at the Nairobi National Park which is just minutes from the city centre. Our trusted Nairobi driver hired us a guide and one of those oversized Jeeps that are designed to enhance the wildlife experience. The roof top goes up and you can stand up inside to have a better look at the animals and take photos. Surprised by this feature, I asked “So, Matthew, since the rooftop is open, can’t animals get in from the top?” His matter-of-fact-ish answer was: “No, no animals can climb up…except for cheetahs.” An awkward silence in the car was followed by an explosion of laughter. Well, if that was the case, we had nothing to worry about right?

A while later, after passing by the rhinos and zebras, we saw lions from afar! The driver decided to take what I would call the “back road” to get a closer look. But before he managed to get close enough, BOOM! We hit a big rock. The driver and the guide got out to check the extent of the damage. After 30 minutes of fruitless efforts they decided to call a rescue vehicle. By the time it arrived, the sun was setting. But that wasn’t the worst part; the rescue car offered the ultimate unobstructed view/access to our surroundings – no roof, no windows, no seatbelts. Need I say more?

I have had many more moments, but I think this is enough sharing for one day, isn’t it? Until next time!

So, what were YOUR inglorious moments? Dare to share and let’s save a new mom from making a bad move.

Posted in motherhood

5 SMART ITEMS Every Savvy Mom Should Own

Not that I’m the savviest of moms out there; actually, I’m pretty new at this. But I am definitely extra motivated to make choices that get things done faster and better (the first time around). Why? Because like every new mom, I am sleep deprived and on top of that I’ve made the decision to give up on sleeping when baby does. Instead, I take advantage of his naps to squeeze in some career planning, professional training, reading and so much more. So I am constantly trying to maximize the use of my time.

This, and the fact that I’m a true Marketer a.k.a. a sucker for a good value proposition, is why I’m always excited to find products that make my life easier, allow me to get stuff done faster and to avoid redundancy. Plus, with globalization, who knows where life will take me next… I dont want to accumulate lots of stuff; I want to buy the SMART stuff, and usually, that translates into something like this: “Less is more”.  So I thought I’d share a short list of the 5 most useful products I have bought since my little prince has made his grand entrance last summer.

#1 THE ONESIE EXTENDER

onesie-extenders-colorful

Do you also feel like your baby outgrows her onesies within seconds? Mine has just turned 6 months old and I already have a suitcase full of  brand new, yet outgrown clothes.  I’ll admit that I am guilty of buying one too many onesies here and there (because they are just too cute sometimes), but I frankly did not overdo it. Had I known about this little wonder earlier on, I definitely would have extended the life of most onesies by at least a month or two. But I checked at Babies R us, Walmart, The Gap, Gymboree, Amazon…And I only found 1 overpriced set of 3. Surprised? I’m not! Baby clothing manufacturers probably calculated the sales dip this single item would cause and they decided to bury it in the “not-so-good ideas” drawer. But this is why we have retailers like Amazon US! Just because this item may not be the manufacturers’ best friend, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be every mommy’s!

#2 THE STRETCHY WRAP BABY CARRIER

20161211_170233

I’ve mentioned it in my travel essentials post and I cannot stress it enough; this is by far my best spent 70 bucks. The wrap-around baby carrier has the advantage of swaddling because it restricts your baby’s movements and it also offers the advantage of mommy-baby bonding as your baby is snuggled up against your chest and will quickly fall asleep to the sound of your heartbeat. It is great for travelling, but it has also often saved my life during witching hour. Baby won’t stop crying at bedtime, put on your stretchy wrap, slip him in and walk around for a few minutes. Did the trick everytime! 

#3 NIPPLE BRUSHES 

When I got my bottle set as a gift at my baby shower, I assumed that all the required cleaning tools were included in the set. What I came to realize though, is that there are hard to reach areas inside the bottle nipples and this is the best hiding place for mean mean bacteria! So, if you want to make sure that your bottles are 100% clean, get yourself some nipple brushes. Smaller than the large bottle brushes, they will effectively clean nipples by any brand. The Babies R Us house brand offers a set of 2 for just $3.99.

#4 TOMMEE TIPPEE PADDED NECK BIBS 

Babies spit up all the time. And most of the bibs you will find on the market have a wide neck or will fit a little loose around the neck. So if baby spits up, there are good chances you’ll have to change their onesie too as it will inevitably get wet. But it doesn’t have to be that way! When I received a set of two Tommee Tippee padded neck bibs as a gift, I didn’t know just how amazing they were. But then I put them on, I realized how much more effective they are in keeping baby clean and I had to go back to the store and get a few more! They are now my main go-to bibs. Definitely more expensive than the usual since they come in packs of 2 only, but it is soooo worth it! 

#5 MITTEN CLIPS

mitten-clips

Baby GAP and several other retailers sell adorable gloves and mittens. What is unfortunate however, is that while they are very warm (and cute too), they may not keep your baby’s little hands warm for very long. Before you know it, your baby will have found creative ways of removing the mittens and throwing them around. For the crafty mom, you can sow on a string that connects the 2 mittens; but for the rest of us, there are very cute mitten clips that you will only find online. Just like suspenders, you attach one clip to the glove/mitten and the other to the sweater/jacket, and tadah! No more lost mittens for the little kittens!

Any products you’d like to share? I’d love to try them too!

Posted in motherhood

4 TIPS to stay sane during Mat Leave

Let’s face it, the first months with a newborn are extremely challenging. Between changing diapers, breastfeeding around the clock, recovering from childbirth and trying to keep your little tot alive, no matter how strong you are, it’s hard! Exhaustion and hormones can get the best of you.  

While I won’t pretend to have found a miracle solution to turn this difficult time into a walk in the park, these 4 simple yet effective tips will definitely help you stay sane. They worked for me!

TIP #1 – GET OUT DAILY! 

Yes, in the beginning, the thought of getting out with the baby made me cringe. The constant cries, the fear that he would choke while I showered, the alternating pees and poos that called for yet another change of diaper before heading out; it all seemed so stressful! Oh and there was also the diaper bag. What if I was gone longer than planned, would I need that extra bottle, or that extra bodysuit in case we had a little “accident” on the way?  At first, it took us 3 hours to get ready and by the time we stepped out, I was so frustrated that I was packed with negative energy. 

Yet, I yearned to get out – it was a matter of survival. Luckily, practice makes perfect – by the time he was a couple of months old, I was a pro. Not that I had figured out how to put him on my schedule. But I just knew him better then, and I could deal with his little “surprises” pretty swiftly. The strolls in the park, the brunch dates with friends, and the trips to Shoppers Drug Mart, to Eaton Centre, or Starbucks were all so therapeutic! 

snip20161130_1

TIP #2 HAVE A GIRLS ONLY SUPPORT GROUP! 

I still don’t know if I was lucky or unlucky that several of my girlfriends were pregnant at the same time as me. On the one hand, I couldn’t expect much help from them, but on the other, it meant we were going through the same things and we could share our experiences, doubts and mistakes in a judgment-free zone. So many times, I got reassurance from a friend whose baby had a similar rash, or any of the weird little conditions that don’t last but can definitely freak out a new mom. My whatsapp mommy and girlfriends group was life saver for sure!

Funny enough, it’s even better to have friends on different time zones because that means you have 24-hour girlfriend support! When you’re on that feeding every 2-3 hours schedule, days and nights tend to look the same to you, so who knows when you’re going to have a melt-down! This is why having a friend you can call on at 3am without disturbing their sleep is big a plus!

TIP #3 TAKE A COURSE

Do you need to upgrade your skills for your career? Or maybe you like drawing, or cooking! Whatever you fancy, I’ll tell you that I’ve never, in my entire life, enjoyed going to class as much as I did during mat leave. It is extremely liberating, stimulating and rewarding! I remember the first times, it felt so strange to be walking in the streets of Toronto without a stroller, a baby bag, a baby carrier in case he cried, etc… you get the picture?

Here I was, walking freely with a tiny cross-body bag, taking the stairs to and from the subway, enjoying a cup of starbucks coffee, and most importantly, I was going to meet 20+ other adults and have adult interactions about a common interest and all this, away from my baby! How liberating! And  for 3 hours, every week, I was going to listen to someone teach me something I don’t know. And my brain that felt like it was failing me on a daily basis, would, for the first time in a long time, get the kind of stimulation that I missed so much.

TIP #4 SCHEDULE SOME YOU TIME 

Manis and pedis  took on a whole new meaning for me this year. How delightful ! At some point, I needed some me time so much that I substituted some much needed sleep with a spa day! And some nights, after all the bottles were cleaned, laundry folded and next day meals prepared, at times, I couldn’t go without an episode of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah or The Ellen Degeneres Show before going to bed. Yeah, I may be a little over the top here, but these little breaks from my baby routine kept me sane in the midst of a constant chaos. 

Have more tips? I’d love to hear from you! What helps you keep your sanity during your mat leave?

Posted in motherhood, Parenting

When choosing a daycare, trust your gut!

“Everyone, including members of the public and professionals who work closely with children, is required by law to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect. If you have reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is or may be in need of protection, you must report it to a children’s aid society (CAS).” This is what the Ministry of Children and Youth Services website says.
I guess that’s good. What puzzles me, however, is that we, the parents are to be scrutinized and reported by any and everybody out there who might suspect that we are neglecting or abusing our children. But on the other hand, our government leaves ample room for people who couldn’t care less about children, to open licensed home child care centres.
Today, I want to share the story of my first attempt at putting my 6-month old in a home childcare establishment. I have certainly heard of different issues with daycare centres; some I hear are too strict, others too permissive, or too expensive, and the list goes on. What I didn’t expect to come across, however, is a licensed childcare centre that is flat out negligent and reckless.
AYAN
When I first met her, I thought ‘what a pretty name!’! She told me it meant “the lucky one” in Somali. It definitely deserved to be on the list of contenders if I had a daughter one day. As we chatted on, she didn’t strike me like the typical daycare educator… but hey, this is my first time searching for daycare so, t’s not like I’m an expert in the matter! Plus, in Toronto, finding a daycare for a 6 month-old is nearly as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack, so not too many choices out there.
recite-1mkn7umI also found that she seemed sort of set in her ways; but that was to be expected – she’s already a grandmother, and she’d been doing this for 12 years. Plus, all I really wanted was someone who would care for him, play and laugh a little with him while I got some work done. So I decided I was going to choose my battles. I’d be very specific on some important elements and if she could respect those, I’d let her do the rest as she saw fit. This was just temporary.
I felt relieved. Finally a solution that would help me focus on my work, my course and my upcoming meetings for the next month or so. This also meant that I wouldn’t have to try yet another immature babysitter who only hears half of my instructions because she’s checking out her friends on Instagram. Or one who will accidentally drop peanuts in the baby’s sheets… I can only go up from here, right? So after careful consideration, I made the decision to entrust Ayan with my life’s MVP, my reason for being, my EVERYTHING.
DAY 1
Drop off: 11:00AM –  We went over all the details of his routine; feeding, napping, etc. I said I would bring a cheque for the payment that evening and she insisted that it was okay, I could bring it anytime. How understanding!
Pick-up: 5:15PM. Little Bethany (3 years old) was playing with him on the floor. They seemed to be having fun. She stood up to go grab a toy and Makai didn’t like it. Suddenly Ayan jumped in and said to Bethany “Don’t leave him alone! You see!? He’s going to cry now!”
Iish! What was that?? Village style daycare? The 3-year-old has to play her part in entertaining the 6-month old. Slightly annoyed, I decided to take note and keep watching for the next few days, maybe just a cultural difference there. Okay, time to go! I asked her where his hat and sweater were. To my surprise, she said I hadn’t left them with her. Because I don’t trust my memory much lately, I had a moment of doubt. But frankly, why would I drop off my lil’ guy somewhere and leave with his hat and sweater!? Sounds like nonsense. And nonsense doesn’t sound like me. Forgetfulness, maybe. Thankfully, I always have extras so that was that and off we went.
DAY 2
While her sweater & hat story seemed fishy, I still checked everywhere and they were not at home!
Drop off: 11:00 AM – The mystery was finally solved. She had carefully folded and placed his hat and sweater in his bin. Hm… No humility to admit that she had found them though. But I chose to overlook and focus on the brighter side. At least, things didn’t disappear mysteriously. Now I could go on with my business without a worry. But before I left, she asked me, “did you bring the cheque?” Is my mind playing me tricks, or she told me just yesterday that there was no rush? But I remembered what my mother used to tell me “Good accounts make good friends”, so since I still couldn’t find my cheques, I said I would give her a money order by end of day. I also informed her that Makai had had his last bottle at 9:30AM and he’d probably be hungry soon.
 Pick-up: 5:30PM – Little Bethany opened the door this time. And within seconds, I felt like a husband coming home to a resentful stay-at-home mom who never really wanted children. The barely disguised whining began. “Today Makai cry cry cry. I don’t know. Maybe he miss his mom. He cry too much! And he don’t sleep. Babies his age they need sleep you know! To grow! He slept only 15 minutes, 20 minutes, like that! I found a pacifier in his bag, I gave it to him, you have to teach him to use the pacifier, it will help you too. Now I just change him, he just had a poo. Does it smell like poo here?”
WOW! I don’t think I need to comment, here; you get the picture. I glanced at Makai and saw the big smile on his face. He didn’t care about all this, he was just happy to see mommy. But before we headed out I wanted to go through the usual questions. Did he feed okay? did he spit up a lot? She said he fed okay, and not spitting up. So why was she giving me only one dirty half full bottle? Did she mean to tell me that from 11:00am to 5:30pm, he only drank 75ml? “I keep trying and he refused but he ate cereal very well.” she said. I know my little guy can refuse to feed sometimes especially when we’re travelling – maybe this is his protest because mommy is leaving him alone with strangers! We’ll see how it goes tomorrow. I made the payment and we left.
Mama bear unleashed. We got out of there and never came back. I should have trusted my gut feeling.
DAY 3
Drop off:  8:30AM – This time I reinforced that she had to keep trying if he refused to feed. He should have at least 150ml every 4 hours. She said no problem. I left, but as I hopped on the subway, I realized that I was feeling sort of uneasy. Was this arrangement really going to work out for the next few weeks? We’ll see, but meanwhile, I had to buy a new phone as my phone had crashed. If anything were to happen, I needed to be reachable.
Pick-up: 4:30pm – I surprised myself. My usually fashionably late self arrived early this time. Someone buzzed me in. As I got closer to the door, I heard an intense, painful cry but I was still too far to recognize my baby. Suddenly, my heart was pounding and I found myself speed walking through the long hallway leading to her door. I reached for the door but it was locked. I thought, ‘if she doesn’t open the door right now, I AM GOING TO BREAK IT DOWN!’ Finally someone opened the door. I quickly scanned the room to see where he was. No questions asked, shoes on, I didn’t care that it was raining outside. I rushed in and picked him up. He was shaking and he continued to scream as he held onto me. “What happened?”, I asked. “I don’t know, I just changed him, he keep crying crying crying! I don’t know why when he start to cry he don’t stop. I just changed him because he pooped…” If she said one more thing, I feared the neighbours would have to physically remove my claws from her flesh.
WHY? HOW?
Really, Ayan? Why would you open a daycare if you can’t stand a crying baby or if you are disgusted by the thought of changing diapers, or if you can’t follow basic feeding instructions? And can you explain the soreness and redness in his diaper area? Did you wipe so hard that you made him bleed? Did you keep him in the same diaper until the doorbell rang? Either way, this is called NEGLECT! Come to think of it, who were the 3 school aged children who were sitting in the play area when I arrived? Why are they different from the ones I saw the day before? How many children do you ACTUALLY watch in this daycare? Last time I checked you were only allowed 5 and you had Bethany, her two brothers in the after school program and Makai. How easy is it to open a home childcare business?
Anyway, no work is worth letting this happen. I should have trusted my gut feeling. I am done with this daycare. As a matter of fact, soon enough, you will be too.
Posted in motherhood

Childbirth, (PART 2) -5 truths about the epidural

I always wanted to have children of my own some day. However, there was one thing that scared me to death – childbirth. I mean, how was I going to survive this? I cry and complain about paper cuts for God’s sake! There is no way I am cut out to endure this kind of pain! During my pregnancy, I’ll admit that I even envied my friends who (for health reasons) were scheduled for a c-section; at least, that way I’d have an excuse for not being brave enough to go through labor.

At my week 37 appointment, the doctor handed me a “birth plan” to fill out. She said “labor could be anytime now, but if nothing happened by week 42, we’ll induce you”. Did she just say week 42? I felt like I was hearing a life in prison sentence. I was supposed to deliver early (at least that’s what I had singlehandedly decided to believe)! Because the longer the pregnancy, the bigger this baby was going to get and based on the latest ultrasound, he is already BIG! As in, he is in the 90th percentile, Big… So this news pretty much meant that A. I won’t need a C-section and B. going past my due date is actually POSSIBLE!?! As soon as I got home, I started to fill out the birth plan, but really, I didn’t care about this damn birth plan, all I was looking for is the section where they ask me if I want drugs? And oh boy, was I eager for some drugs! 

This post is dedicated to the first-time expectant mamas who are determined, as I was, to get the one and only Holy Grail of labor pain relief drugs – the epidural. I want to share a few facts that aren’t necessarily explained to you by health professionals – unless you ASK! This is in no way an attempt at giving you an exhaustive list of the health watch outs but it covers the most frequent ones along with what actually went wrong in my very own experience. (If you want full health facts about the epidural, visit www.fitpregnancy.com. This pregnancy health website is very thorough!)

Meanwhile, here are some pointers from mama to mama:

hospital-840135_1920#1 – The epidural is not a one-time shot. Prior to labor, I thought the epidural was just a one-time shot in the spine, that would miraculously suppress the pain. Well, not exactly! A catheter is connected to your back and if you feel any pain, you just press a button to get an additional dose. This means you can gage how much of the drug you need (don’t worry, you can’t overdose, they will set a limit to how much you can add). In my case, however, the contractions grew stronger and stronger for hours and yet, it seemed that all the button pushing didn’t bring me any relief! This takes me to my second point…  

#2 – The epidural doesn’t always work! As you can imagine, this was quite the disappointing news to me! Apparently, 3% of women will only get a brief or no break from labor pain even with the epidural. Never in a million years would I have thought that this could happen to me! Everyone I know said the epidural was a lifesaver. My two cents? If you get the epidural and it doesn’t work, don’t be like me and ask for a second one. It’ll probably do you more harm than good!   

#3 – The epidural slows down the natural process of labor. In my case, what seemed to be a super fast labor in the beginning, turned into a never-ending process by the time I got my second epidural. So even though it didn’t work, it still slowed down the process! 

#4 It’s a package deal! You may not know that when they administer the epidural, you will also likely get pitocin along with it. Pitocin will help speed up labor. And since the epidural tends to lower your blood pressure, which is dangerous for you and the baby, you will also get IV fluids to help keep your blood pressure at acceptable levels.  So if like me, you get enough doses of the drug to sedate a horse, it’s a double loss – not only do you still feel the pain, but on top of it, you’ll stay in labor for longer, and get more of the other drugs, and fluids, and so on and so forth…

#5 – You can get Post labor edema!  Well, it’s not exactly the epidural that causes this, but the IV fluids they inject you due to the epidural. A few hours postpartum, I looked down at my legs, and realized the horror… Oh my God! What happened to my legs? Is there an elephant lying here in this bed? Panicked, I tried to move my toes. Yep they’re mine! Nurse!? And what did the nurse have the audacity to tell me? That it was normal and that I would just pee it out. Like that just made perfect sense. I had to research this one! My friend Google got me the answer. So, because they inject you with IV fluids (contain sodium) for long hours, the liquid gets trapped in different parts of your body. Drinking water will help eliminate the excess fluids because water helps flush out the sodium/fluids from your system. 

Anyway, I hope this helps and good luck on your D-Day, and remember, when in doubt, ask questions!

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.