Breastfeeding Ain’t No Walk In The Park

I shall hold my child lovingly against my bare chest and she will feed from my natural milk filled breast as we gaze into each other's eyes.

 She had trouble latching from the day she was born. I was so worried and stressed about whether she was eating enough as the numerous nurse tugged and pulled on my nipples like they were Play-Doh. Like I said, all shame had left the building. It took four days for my milk to come in (Hello Pamela Anderson!), Olivia had jaundice which I had never heard of in my life and we got kicked out of our hospital room even though Olivia had to stay at the hospital. Renato and I slept in the car one night parked at the hospital because I had to feed Olivia on demand at least every two hours. They would call us, Olivia needs to feed and I would grab my nursing pillow, leave the car and walk to the hospital. Getting her to latch always took a good 15-20 minutes and it was extremely painful. I thought about giving up on breastfeeding and switching to formula all the time. 

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Yet, once we arrived home, breastfeeding became easier and my body adjusted. I thought "Okay NOW it will be butterflies and lullabies for sure!". That's until we discovered that she had acid reflux at about 3 weeks old. She had been crying so very often, spitting up, hiccups about ten times a day. As new parents, we were lost and concerned so we kept going back to the pediatrician's office. What is going on I thought? Where is my Pampers commercial baby who giggles when I smile and sleeps through the night? 

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My Top 5 Favorite Baby Products

When I meticulously planned my purchases for my first child’s arrival, I over-analyzed the product descriptions and very attentively read countless reviews. I wanted to make sure that 1) the product was safe 2) the product was affordable and last but not least 3) the product was recommended by fellow moms.

To be honest, some were good purchases, some … not so much. Today, I will start with what was a savior and what I highly recommend. Ladies and Gents, without further ado…

1. Fisher-Price My Little Lamb Platinum Edition Cradle ‘n Swing

Picture this, you’re a parent, you are exhausted, you are sleep deprived, you’re thirsty, you’re hungry and your house is upside down but your baby will not allow you put them down. They want that comfort yet you NEED a dent break to recharge or do some chores. While on maternity leave, there is not always someone available to assist unfortunately but luckily for us parents…some genius invented this Fisher-price swing.

This purchase saved mine and my spouse’s sanity. It’s easy to set up, plugs into the wall, plays a variety of music, has a starry night light, doesn’t take up too much space in your home … I could go on and on. Our baby loved it and it provided us all with naps that we so desperately needed as well as a bit of freedom. Ironically, this was not a purchase that I made before baby was born. I was talking to a best friend one day about our daughter’s acid reflux and how much she hated being put down to lie on her back. She quickly stated “you have THE swing right? “. I replied “no, what swing?’’. The rest is history y’all.

I hesitated at a cost of about 200$ CAD after so many baby purchases had been made but we needed sleep like a cat needs her naps. All this to say, I highly recommend this product! You can find this product at Babies R Us, Walmart and other retailers depending on availability.

2. Munchkin Latch BPA-Free Bottle

As a breastfeeding mother who wanted to ease her way into having someone else feed the baby even if it was my own pumped milk, I was skeptical on how to approach this feeding alternative. I wanted to ensure that my baby would take a bottle if needed but would also not reject breastfeeding. Any breastfeeding mother knows this common worry. The challenge proved to be bigger than anticipated. We tried countless bottle brands, she refused all without hesitation. We were discouraged and I desperately wanted that freedom of leaving the house for more than two hours at a time.

As I pulled out our last purchased bottle from the kitchen cabinet, The Munchkin Latch and hoped for the best…the best is what we got! I am not sure if it is the soft nipple or the air vent at the bottom of the bottle but our daughter loved this bottle and still maintained regular breastfeeding. What a relief and success! By four months, she was determined to feed herself with this bottle which she did with ease as the bottle is lightweight and easy to grip. These bottles are affordable at a cost of about 25$ per set of 3, they are easy to clean and are available from many retailers such as Babies R us and Amazon based on availability. I highly recommend this product to all parents who wish to bottle feed their little ones.

3. Tommee Tippee Travel Bottle and Food Warmer

I think any parent can vouch to the fact that packing up a baby to head out of the house can be quite the ordeal. You need to pack a village just to make a trip to the mall; these tiny humans require a lot of preparation! Feedings are a priority and although I didn’t mind breastfeeding in public sometimes I simply did not find it to be convenient.  I would bring a bottle of my expressed milk but then stress over where I would be able to warm it up while out until I discovered the Tommee Tippee bottle warmer.

This product simplified my outdoor trips so much! I would boil water, fill the warmer and simply head out! I love this product and recommended it to so many fellow parents because of how convenient it truly is. This product is also affordable at a cost of about 20$ CAD, it is easy to clean and simple to use. I made this purchase from Amazon.ca and with my Amazon prime it was shipped within two days.

4. Baby Buddy Secure-A-Toy

Babies are often naturally curious and spontaneous little beautiful creatures. They like to throw their toys on the ground and pick them right back up before placing them in their mouths. It’s part of the developmental journey and perfectly normal however this mama got tired of continuously picking up toys and carrying around wipes. I searched online for gadgets to manoeuver my way around this inconvenience.

One day, I found the baby buddy secure-A-Toy straps on Amazon.ca. Game changer! I must have bought about six packs of these for in the house and the stroller. They are remarkably affordable, very simple to use and easy to clean. They saved me endless amounts of bending over to pick up toys and many wipes. At a cost of less than 5$ CAD, you can’t really go wrong! I highly recommend these little helpers!

  5. Boba Baby Wrap

Sometimes a Mama and Papa has stuff to do but their baby requires that constant physical closeness of their loved one. However, as parents we know that meanwhile the laundry is piling up, dishes are in the sink, and meals need to be cooked! I searched for a piece of baby gear that both my spouse and I could wear with ease. I wanted a carrier that would be lightweight, comfortable to wear, a breeze to clean and affordable. The Boba Baby Wrap met all of these criteria standards and then some. I was able to carry my baby up close to my chest and provide her with the closeness that she needed while completing the tasks that needed tending. It was a win-win!

I purchased my Boba wrap at a local breastfeeding boutique and even later bought one as a gift for a friend for her baby shower. At a mere cost of about 50$ CAD, I have been pleased with this purchase and plan to use it again for my next baby in about three four months. I recommend this product to all those mommies on the go! This items can be found on Amazon.ca based on availability.

As a mother of a young toddler and in my sixth month of pregnancy, these are my top five products that I truly enjoy and would suggest to any loved one, friend or fellow parent!

1st Pregnancy Vs. 2nd Pregnancy

First pregnancy, first trimester was …. one long stretch of queasiness/excitement. Meat made me queasy, cologne made me queasy, eating made me queasy, not eating made me queasy… you get the picture. I also had lots of acne on my face and some pretty bad headaches. All of this was pretty much overshadowed by my sheer excitement. I loveddddddd telling close loved ones “I’m pregnant!” And watching their reactions, it was a fun new experience. Picture the meme of Oprah giving away gifts to her crowd members.

Even though it was early in the pregnancy, I still shopped for the baby (in my head it was a girl and I was right). As week 12 approached, I got even more excited to announce it to the world! I thought to myself, this is so fun! I bought baby books and planned the nursery. I did a maternity photo shoot, bought lots of maternity clothes and did some prenatal classes. I was all in baby.

First pregnancy, second trimester, I felt like a million bucks. I physically felt better and I loved my round belly. I loved all the baby talk and planning. My partner and I daydreamed about our little one as we cuddled. Gender reveal party… all planned out to a T. Cloud nine everybody, cloud friggin nine.

First pregnancy, third trimester. I’m huge. I feel huge. I look huge. I’m just huge. I had gained seventy pounds from all that happy eating and I had massive Shrek feet. The excitement started to fizzle away as I got some serious anxiety about baby coming. I packed our hospitals and felt like it was the dooming waiting game. I took naps as much as I could and continued to eat cause heck, what the hell else can you do? I did however get crazy spoiled at our baby shower and that was really nice.

Five days late….Tada! Olivia was born. What an experience! My first baby! I did it everybody!

Second pregnancy/current pregnancy… Ah! Why is my belly moving? … Oh ya, I’m pregnant, I forgot. That’s pretty much how this pregnancy has been going. I love this baby just as much but the novelty of the newness isn’t there to be honest. This pregnancy is flying by so fast!

Second pregnancy, first trimester… “Holy Shit! I’m pregnant!”. That reaction for about three months straight. I couldn’t wrap my head around it, still struggle somedays. Speaking of head… the headaches/migraines…terrible in this pregnancy. I’m actually on medication now to help ease them cause I was having unilateral headaches at least every second day. Nausea… here and there but not as bad. Excitement? Yes, some but more shock and fear to be brutally honest. Come on second trimester, gimme that glow and boost baby!

Second trimester, no glow and no boost of energy even thus far at almost 24 weeks. Still headaches though! Where the heck is my damn glow What to Expect when You’re Expecting? Liars! Or maybe it’s cause I have a toddler. A very active, strong willed and energetic beautiful/tiring at times toddler. Yup, I think it’s that.

Nursery planning? They will sleep in the same room. Maternity shoot? Does a bathroom mirror selfie count? Gender reveal party? Too tired to plan one. Baby book updates? Can barely keep up. Maternity clothes? How much of my belly actually needs to be covered? Buying baby clothes and new gear? You get your sisters hand me downs. Yes, It may sound depressing but it’s just reality!!!

What will third trimester have in store for me? Hopefully, less weight gain and normal sized feet. I’m still hoping for lots of naps but realistically it won’t happen. No baby shower this time around because I’m sure loved ones can still vividly remember the last one since it was only about two years ago.

So is this pregnancy journey different? Very much so. Do I or will I love this child any less? Absolutely not. I love them

both the same just two entirely different journeys. I felt a lot of guilty not being that mom who is prancing around in Babies R Us like the Sound of Music or gushing over each new symptom. I decided to cut myself some slack, I’m growing a human! My body is working hard at giving Olivia a little sister so she can have a best friend for life and for now folks, that will just have to suffice… even if it means bathroom mirror maternity photo shoots.

I am Superwoman, Yes I am

As I quickly approach my third trimester in my second pregnancy I begin to have flash backs of my first pregnancy in 2016 and mixed emotions wave over me.

When I was pregnant with my first child, Olivia, I was FULL of jitters. I mean up at night, overeating, mood swings galore kinda jitters. I was a little all over the place!

I researched, I read, I watched YouTube tutorials, I listened to audio books, I spoke to moms non stop …. you name it, I did it. Being an academic at heart, I felt the best way to prepare for motherhood was to fully equip myself knowledge wise. Pack that brain full of information to leave no more room for worries! As you may have guessed, it was still not enough. Something was missing and I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Excitedly, I also registered to a Birth Essentials prenatal class given by MotherWit Doula Care situated right here in my area of Notre-Dame-de-Grace (5726 Sherbrooke Ouest, http://motherwit.ca/) My partner of 8 years, who is also the father of my children joined me without hesitation in this weekend long class. We were both nervous, anxious but overall excited!

Wow! Were we amazed by how much we learntin such a short span of two days. Sure the birth videos left us a bit uneasy as first time parents to be yet we knew it was merely to prepare us for the reality of childbirth. I think our faces said it all as we gawked at the videos in sheer fear. Myself especially.

The room where the prenatal class took place was small and intimate. We all sat in a circle format on comfortable sofas, there were about ten people. The instructors, Lesley Everest (Founder and Director of Motherwit) and Megan Tolbert (Birth Doula) were so full of information, a true abundance of relevant Information which we all absorbed like sponges. The instructors, taught us not only about the medical and physical aspects of pregnancy and childbirth but also the spiritual and mental components.

For myself, this is what stuck the most inside my scattered mom brain and I have carried this into my current pregnancy as I inch my way to my next upcoming child birth. The topic of female empowerment came up a few times and how important it is to not forget that while giving birth even in a hospital, that us mothers, we have a say. We have a voice, we can speak up, we can respectfully challenge medical advice if we are concerned and we can request that our birth plan be respected as much as possible.

This class provided me with the confidence to live my early labour in the comfort of my own home. I knew on September 10th 2016 from the moment I woke up, something was happening and that baby was coming. It started with mild cramps in the early morning and as it increased in frequency and intensity by 7pm I was having real contractions. I reminded myself of what I was taught in the class, the signs of early labour, what to look out for and how to embrace my early labour. I laid in my bed, dimmed the lights, cranked up some Pearl Jam as I laid with my cat for about three/four hours. By around 11pm the contractions were painful and it was time to go to hospital. I felt confident in my journey and although I had a birth plan in mind, I was aware that the unexpected may happen and immediate decisions may have to be made on the spot.

Baby olivia was born September 11th 2016 at 10:45am. I had a fairly smooth delivery, about 12 hours of labour (epidural included) and although I felt overwhelmed at times … I remembered that this was my body, mine and my babies journey all thanks to MotherWit Doula’s speech on mother empowerment. Now, at 23 weeks pregnant, I will soon be faced with the reality of childbirth once again and all the jitters it brings along with it. I will resist the urge to crowd my brain with the A to Zs of textbook motherhood and instead be more present in the moment.

I do not think there is a wrong or right way to enter motherhood. There’s no blueprint for all women to follow, each experience is unique and beautiful. In the words of MotherWit Doula Care Centre “Our judgement-free prenatal classes will give you the knowledge, tools and confidence to birth and parent like a rock star”.

I for one, felt like a rock star thanks to their team and I wish the same for you!

Old Me vs. Current Me

Okay Katrina, tomorrow morning you will wake up bright and early, before Olivia… blow dry your hair, pick out a nice outfit and do your makeup like in the YouTube tutorials! You will make self care and physical appearance your priority! You go girl, you got this!be

Seven hours later I’m snoozing three times and thinking of how I can sleep walk my way through the day. Maybe eyeliner some open eyes on my eyelids? Worth a try…. Yet, here I stand in my kitchen, jam all over my pyjama shirt, not showered, while my toddler yells “maman, mammmmman, mamamamamannnnnnnnnn, ma ma ma ma mannnnnnnnnnn” and I only have 30 minutes to get ready to get to work. Then and there I quickly realize well TODAY isn’t gonna be my “You go girl!” day. Today turns into tomorrow, this week, this month, this season…. Oh look the leaves on the trees are changing.

I have so many makeup and beauty products including a subscription to TopBox and FabFitFun which has all these awesome beauty goodies. Yet, I have not much of a reason to really doll myself up anymore. My beauty routine for work is very minimal and I usually show up with my hair wet from the shower. But hey, I’m clean right?

I’ve had to tailor my physical beauty standards more and more as time passes. I say tailor but what I truly mean is lower. Imagine, I have another baby coming in less than three months so I’m a little nervous of what my reflection in the mirror will have in store for me. Sorry Renato. Consider it our new contraceptive method.

So my question to all those ladies who manage to look put together daily and juggle work/kids/house chores…HOW? I’m going around looking like a hot mess for past two years while reminiscing on the days where I was able to look in the mirror and think “You look cute girl!”. Concealer is my new best friend. Conceal that exhaustion, conceal that impatience, conceal that mom guilt… no pressure L’Oreal. No pressure at all.

Monday, March 5th 2018

IMG_4668.jpgI decided to take a random pregnancy test March 5th at 5:45pm in our bathroom. Why? A coworker announced her pregnancy (yay!) and it got me thinking. I have irregular cycles, so you just never know. So there I am, on the toilet, pants down, doing my business. Since I have a family now, the definition of bathroom privacy is a tad altered and sometimes you just do what you gotta do. Facing the other way, Renato is kneeling down, and giving Olivia a bath.

We just finished work, she just finished daycare. Renato says jokingly “wouldn’t it be ironic if you find out that it’s positive, like this!”. I laughed and replied ya, would be a perfect blog post! I get up, lay the test down as I wash my hands. I kneel down to see Olivia, play a bit and casually glance over at the test. I see a faint second line. I look up at Renato who is now standing. Blank stare.

He says “Get out”. I start shaking immediately and butterflies in my stomach. I am in absolutely shock.

There is definitely a second line. As a woman who has peed on lots of pregnancy tests, I know what a second line means whether faint or not. He is denying it saying he doesn’t see it. I see it and I already know what this means.

Line comes up darker and darker as the minutes pass. He insists I do another test, I pee out like literally 5 drops. Sure enough, another line. We are in disbelief. Staring into nothing. He asks me do you have another test? I don’t. I don’t think another is needed at this point but he insists.

Lots of OMG, lots of blank stares, lots of looking into space, lots of hysterical laughing in disbelief. We finish bathing Olivia and I ask Renato to head to pharmacy to get a clear blue test to really make sure. I hold in my pee. I take the test, cover it with the instruction page. We wait few minutes and get Olivia to pull off the page… she yanks it off, pregnant, 1-2w weeks. Omg!!!!! Olivia looks at us in amusement as we shouted in surprise. She picks up the stick and goes to run off with it #toddlerlife

We spend the next week in pure shock. The next few weeks after that in more shock and finally now at almost 21 weeks of pregnancy, the reality and excitement has hit us.

Had we hoped for a second child? Yes. Had we hoped or planned for it to happen right now, while Olivia is a year and a half old? No, we did not. We are grateful for this healthy baby and feel fortunate to be giving Olivia a sibling yet we are still wrapping our heads around two almost under two! We can do this! I think we can… I hope we can! Help!

To nap or not to nap!

 

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Almost five months since I have last blogged for a variety of reasons … Life got extra busy with work, family time, relationship struggles, house chores, home business and the list goes on. I can give 101 reasons as to why I haven’t blogged but reality is, I just didn’t have the energy to do it! It didn’t make it on my ever so extensive priority list but now, I have changed up on the game a bit lately in terms of where I place my energy.

I am making self-care a priority, my well being a priority, my mental health a priority. Whether that means a well deserved nap, an hour in my crafts room, reading a novel, a walk, a solo ice cream date, a trip to Michaels, a blog post … whatever it is I feel I need to recharge. It’s better for me, better for my partner and for our family life that I recharge. I am no good on an empty tank so I take breaks, not always when I want but when I need them before I turn into Godzilla. I am sure some mother’s don’t feel the need for these alone time breaks, but I do. It’s better that I accept that part of myself instead of trying to act like I can do it all with a 50’s housewife smile on my face but feeling like a pressure cooker inside. Tried it, didn’t work, ain’t going back there again!

There is a reason I got pushed into this new phase of my life (which I will get into in my next blog) and I think that’s the beauty of life. What sometimes feels like roadblocks in the moment because it was unexpected, unplanned and out of our control…changes you for the better! Last five months have been a rollercoaster for me, I was forced to find my own grounding instead of waiting for circumstances to give me that footing. I don’t wait for permission to give myself a break, I don’t analyze whether I deserve a break, I don’t wait until I am already past exhaustion to take a break either.

No worries, I am still a responsible adult! I am responsible as always, I am a mother first and foremost and an employee. I take care of what needs to be taken care as usual, only difference is I make myself a priority as well. I don’t want my daughter to see me all wound up all the time, running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to do it all. I rather say fuck it, I can’t do it all, there’s no shame in admitting it. Some days I am on the ball and others, I let the ball drop if I feel the need to rest.

I think the key is balance, self love and leading by example. Oh yes and a good  nap!

Daddy and Daughter

I didn’t start even thinking about having children until I was about 28 years old. By about 25 years old, I had established a clear career path, been in a long term relationship for about 4 years, was overall pretty stable. On paper, my checklist met “let’s start a family” criteria yet I just was not ready.

To be honest, I didn’t want to give up my freedom. I was used to going to school, working and having a social life. I was not ready to jeopardize my alone time. Can it be considered selfish! Perhaps… but it was a reality for me and it is for some the people. So people, do not be such a judge Judy!

Sure I got asked A LOT of questions and heard a lot of remarks like….Soooooo when are you going to have a baby? You can’t wait too long, your clock is ticking! You have to stop going to school and start a family! Don’t you want children??? Don’t you love Renato, is he not THE ONE?

Funny you ask, I do love him, why else would I be dating him? Relationships are hard ass work, takes some serious dedication and patience, ain’t for the faint of heart. He drives me absolutely nuts and we argue like cats and dogs sometimes. We been together nine years and it hasn’t all been good to be quite blunt. We aren’t the same people we were nine years ago and we have had to work hard at staying connected. Especially after having a baby, one of the ultimate relationship testers in my opinion. I did have some personal fears about starting a family.

With that said, one thing I have been certain of since day one. Okay maybe not day one because we met in a bar on our first date but maybe day two…is that this man would make a great father.

Anyone who knows Renato knows that he is a softy. He is going to kill me for writing this publicly but I’ll take the risk! Just ask him how he reacted to the movie, Marley & Me. Ok, he really is gonna kill me.

A daddy and daughter bond is special. I think it’s sets a girl’s blueprint her future relationships with men in her future. He said he wanted a son but I felt like a girl would compliment his softer side nicely and I was right. I see it daily in the way he talks to her, plays with her and holds her in his arms. As her mother, it’s a great feeling and I feel like I made a rather good choice I must say. Thank you kindly, good sir (tip of the hat). Brush my shoulder off.

So if I knew he would be a great father why did I wait? I gave birth to Olivia about two weeks before my 30th birthday. Renato and I spent our 20s enjoying our freedom! A work hard and play hard mentality. I don’t regret waiting and I know he doesn’t either.

More memories to come 💕