Last Friday I planned to take my family to a town about 90 minutes north of here. Our pool was closed for maintenance and their pool is very nice. With a lazy river and waves and warm water and everything!

Unfortunately, a blizzard ruined what little visibility was previously available on the narrow, twisty, undivided, slippery highway so we went grocery shopping instead. Then I brought my little guy to a special storytime at the library.

It was at one of those places, the grocery store or the library, that I’m positive I was ambushed by A Virus.

By Sunday afternoon, my throat hurt, by Sunday sleeepless night, I knew it wasn’t a false alarm, and by Monday, I cancelled all my plans for the week. Goodbye storytime, early childhood nutrition information session, indoor playground, infant development meeting and baby rhyme time.

It’s jarring because I was raised that, no matter how sick you are, you suck it up and power through it. MAYBE you had a pass if you were throwing up (no wants to clean up after you) or legit couldn’t get out of bed, but the Adults in your life made it clear that they were Very Disappointed in your lack of willpower. They reminded you of all the times they begged to go to school as children even though they were so sick they had to go to the hospital. (Like that happened… one of the first signs that you’ve grown up is realizing how much your parents lied to you.) To be fair, though, if Canadian children missed school whenever they were contagious, schools would be empty for like 2/3 of the year.

I’m not even all that sick. My sinuses only hurt enough to make hot water with honey and lemon actually enjoyable.

I’m just being…responsible.

Almost everything I do these days involves really small children or parents of really small children or people who work with really small children. And when it comes to really small children, even the more trivial of sniffles will RUIN YOUR LIFE AS YOU KNOW IT. As I typed this, I took a moment to thank the Parenting Gods that my own little one is neither fussing with a sore throat or fighting to breathe through a runny nose. All praise to the Parenting Gods! Please do not let my baby be sick.

On the bright side, little one’s getting lots of napping in, my living room has never been this clean and I’m making excellent progress in Greedfall! And I can’t say I really want to be outside in the late Autumn weather anyway.

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The Breastfeeding Pain Advice I Wish I’d Had

Disclaimer 1: This post is written by me as a patient and ordinary mom, not as a pharmacist. All tips and tricks here are practical, not medical. If you need personalized medical advice regarding breastfeeding, please consult your doctor, public health nurse, lactation consultant or other trusted member of your healthcare team.

Disclaimer 2: The Amazon link is affiliate. I figured that if I’m linking a product I may as well create an opportunity to reinvest in the blog. None of the other links have any sort of affiliation.

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To the greatest delight of my delivery team, my baby latched on right away.

To my greatest frustration, it felt like a mouthful of razors mutilating a very sensitive body part.

I’ve always wanted to breastfeed. I grew up watching my mom, champion breastfeeder, nurse my younger brothers. She looked so relaxed, cuddling them in the rocking chair as they ate. When asked about it, she glowed as she shared how happy it made her. I was eager to one day follow in her footsteps.

Pharmacy school had taught me some basics (the highlights: “it’s called breastfeeding, not nipple feeding” and “if you use gentian violet to treat thrush, you should take a picture of your baby’s first goth look”) and my prenatal class provided other pointers. I felt totally ready to feed my newborn! I even envisioned becoming so enthused with breastfeeding that I would go on to train as a lactation consultant to help other women get the most out of nursing.

Imagine my shock and disappointment when baby did not agree to the sweet, zen-like feeds I signed up for!

My knowledge may be limited but I knew breastfeeding should not hurt. Pain almost always means poor latch. Except that everyone (the nurses, the aids, the doctors, even veteran nursing moms who offered their help – it’s a really small town!) told me his latch was perfect. Tongue ties were ruled out (very important! – this is probably the most common cause of a bad latch that looks fine from the outside). Eventually, they would give up with a “pain is normal at first, you need to power through it”. (Did you know that about a generation ago, doctors actually recommended that pregnant women rub steel wool on their nipples to desensitize them? I’m not sure how widespread this was, but in my quest for solutions, I encountered many older moms who had breastfed kids 20+ years ago and spoke very highly of this practice. Personally, would not recommend.)

Our small, remote hospital had no lactation professionals on staff and it would be a few days before I would have access to the knowledgeable public health nurses (they visit after your first night home and we had an extended hospital stay due to birth complications). A lot of people did their best and I am so so so grateful for the patience and compassion that were shown to me. That said, advice came in two formats. One was like those bad drawing tutorials: “here’s how you draw the eyes and the nose…then draw the rest of the owl” (“here’s how you get the baby interested in the boob and to open his mouth…then you breastfeed him”). The other was like puzzle pieces that I couldn’t quite fit together. Something about breast compressions, something about skin-to-skin, something about un-latching and relatching…but why?

The good news was that it eventually got better! I did get some help from public health, though by then my nipples were like ground beef and I needed to heal. I did a lot of googling (not very helpful, actually – which is why I decided to write this post) and a lot of experimenting. By 6 weeks I was completely pain-free.

So I’m sharing what worked for me (or what would have worked had I discovered it sooner). Hopefully someone who needs it will come across it and reach pain free status in less time! Continue reading

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The Places You’ll Go (with Baby)

Disclaimer: The Amazon links are affiliate. I figured that if I’m linking products I may as well create an opportunity to reinvest in the blog. I’m not sponsored by anyone and none of the other links have any sort of affiliation.

I don’t know if it’s unusual or not, but my little guy loves going out.

Ed and I are homebody couch potatoes (when I’m not dragging him around the world) so we joked that our kids would rebel by being athletic and social. Guess what guys? It’s already started!

This post was originally part of my 6 month check-in/public notes, but my old habit of turning everything into a guide resurfaced, giving life to a “this is how we go out” walkthrough.

Leaving the House: Babywearing or Strollering?

While I was pregnant (and well before), I was convinced I would primarily babywear.

During the Epic Journey, we made a 10 day stop in Tokyo where I watched local moms comfortably navigate the city with their babies and toddlers nestled tightly against them. I also watched tourist moms fight battle after battle against unruly strollers. The message was clear: babywearing for the win!

When my turn came to lug my child around, my attitude became more nuanced.
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The 6 month check-in

Me (before maternity leave): While I’m on leave, I’m going to write every day, even if it’s just for 15 minutes! Gotta get those skillz back!
Me (while on leave): Ooooh 15 minutes to myself! I wonder how many World of Warcraft dailies I can fit in?

I eventually let my subscription run out and so now here we are.

These days, though, writing is more like this:

Baby actually fell asleep for a nap!
*makes tea*
*tidies up kitchen*
*hangs laundry* (cloth diapering, yo!)
*sit at computer*
Time’s up! Baby’s awake!

But by keeping it up, bit by bit, after a few weeks I have enough written for a post!

Maternity Leave

More than in 6 months in, I’m now solidly past the halfway point.

I was embarrassingly excited about my first Mother’s Day! We celebrated by taking a nice walk around Lake Annette in Jasper. It also ended up being the warmest day of the summer, with lots of families sunning themselves on the beaches.

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Motherhood is so Glamourous

The glamour of motherhood dawned on me in the wee hours of the morning during my first or second week as a mom. I woke up with my front soaking wet. Night sweats again? Maybe? Doesn’t feel quite right… Then I figured it out. Milk. Leaking. Everywhere. MILK!

That was topped a few days ago. I was all dressed to go out. I pick up baby from his nap and he proceeds to vomit all over me. Fine, I didn’t really want to wear that outfit anyway. I put him down for a last minute diaper change and he poops on his change mat. I clean it up, only for him to produce a baseball size ball of poop before my very eyes. I swear that if that change mat hadn’t been a handmade gift from my mother, it would have ended up in the Diaper Genie along with the 15 wipes it took to clean it up. Oh and did I mention that I was out of disposable wipes? Luckily this happened the day after I had cut up old clothes to make cleaning rags.

The Two Month Check-In

The first two weeks are pretty rough. The advice I wish I had received sooner was “the two first weeks should be bedrest“. Me, I was desperate to morph into a domestic goddess now that I didn’t have a giant belly in the way or spend all my waking hours at my job. Exhausted from blood loss and being up all night, monopolized by a tiny, voracious beast who wants to eat 24/7 and in pain from my poor, poor boobs, I was probably as far as you could get from any kind of goddess. And newborns are angry, ungrateful things. I swear my little guy had two modes: unhappy and less unhappy.

After that, it got better. Little one figured out sleeping and eating (glorious!). Then he started making eye contact. Then smiling. Then making cute noises. Then laughing. And now, while I’m still totally not a domestic goddess, I’m having the time of my life.

My reflections and the bits of wisdom I picked up along the way:

1- Bonding can be a gradual thing: A lot of moms, myself included, are shocked when they aren’t overwhelmed with love when their newborn appears on their chest. I had written it off as my baby wasn’t fully alive for his first few hours, but it seems that even moms with healthy babies go through this. I may even dare say that I suspect the majority of new moms aren’t feeling it right away, despite their bragging. I think my feelings the first few days were more along the lines of shell-shocked. It’s so weird. One minute you don’t have a baby, then someone hands you one and you’re responsible for it forever. Mind-boggling. Anyway, I started using terms of endearment and saying gentle things right off the bat. Over time, I meant them more and more. And once baby started smiling and laughing in return, it was a done deal.

2- Breastfeeding: When women describe it as a journey, they aren’t kidding. I swear that the first few weeks, whenever someone asked me how I was doing, all I could answer was “my boobs hurt“. Labour was painful, but at least it was only a few hours. Breastfeeding pain lasts weeks. It takes over your mind and body and makes it hard to do anything. It became obvious to me why a lot of moms find breastfeeding takes a toll on their mental health. Then one day, around 5 and a half weeks in, the pain just stopped. Breastfeeding’s been great ever since.

3- Cloth diapers: My mom used cloth diapers on all her kids. How she managed to figure it out before the internet, I have no idea. But anyway, I wanted to carry on the tradition, hopefully saving money and landfill space. Several weeks in, I don’t think I’m saving a whole lot of money (today’s fancy pocket diapers are way more of a luxury item than my mom’s re-purposed flannel sheets), but I do admit that I really enjoy the micromanagement that comes with cloth diapers. Insert strategies, washing schedules, cover rotations… Makes me feel alive! Ed refuses to use cloth and I do try to avoid having reusables on when I feel that little guy is going to be messy so I probably do cloth like 75% of the time. It would tough to maintain if I had to go back to work, though. It’s not hugely time consuming but it is a commitment.

4-There’s way too much overthinking: How do I get baby to sleep in his bed? How do I drop the swaddle? How do I manage naps while going out? How do I get into a routine? At less than 2 months old! I understand not everyone has the luxury of parental leave and need results right away. I also may have an exceptionally chill baby, but I got him to sleep in his bed by putting him in his bed. I dropped the swaddle by not swaddling him. (He seemed to hate it after the first 2-3 weeks anyway – when we ditched it was when he started sleeping better.) Going out is how I get him to nap (I suspect he’ll be a roller coaster aficionado when he grows up – he lives his best life when the rest of us are motion sick). We don’t have a routine down yet, but one is emerging organically. I feel like all the (conflicting) how-to guides out there are treated more like recipes than the troubleshooting suggestions they are supposed to be.

5- Cats: Everyone IRL wants to know about our three firstborn. Our older two don’t care. One isn’t a fan of the crying. He has a similar relationship with baby as he does with the vacuum cleaner and coffee grinder. The other is a sweetie who actually tried to groom our little one. (Baby wasn’t impressed, cat tongues are a tad exfoliating. Probably kinda unhygienic too.) Our young cat, though, is jealous AF. Whenever I’m feeding, he tries to walk on me, jumps on forbidden counters, knocks stuff on the floor, claws the furniture… Oh and I gave up on keeping the cats out of empty baby beds. Look up “futility” in the dictionary and you’ll see a picture of someone chasing cats away from baby stuff. Soft blankets make reasonable baby sleep space protectors. Obviously the cats (and the blankets) are removed when the beds are in use by their rightful owner.

François, trying so hard to be a caring big brother.

6- I don’t know how anyone can do this by themselves: I’ve never had more respect and admiration for single parents than the first time I sleepily handed baby over to my husband and said “please take your child”. The key our sanity (and our hygiene…) has definitely been taking shifts with the little one. It’s hard enough to make food and scrub pink stuff off the bathtub while keeping the little human from shrieking when you have two sets of hands. It blows my mind how some people do it with one. (And some people are single parents to twins! Like how does that even work?!?)

The Final Word

It’s like a rite of passage: Have a baby and suddenly share milk, vomiting and poop tales. The moment where I fully realized the glamour of motherhood, though, was when I put baby down on the bed to grab something in the room. A half hour later, it occured to me that I was still standing over him. The world around me had faded away and I’d been making squeaks, fart noises and silly faces to my giggling spectator the entire time.

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Starting April 1, Baby Box Co. Boxes Won’t Be Distributed in Canada Anymore

I’m quite heartbroken about this. I was planning to write a Baby Box post to let everyone know how how awesome the box is, but instead I’m writing a “get it while you can!” post.

I ironically don’t have a picture that doesn’t violate almost every safe sleep rule outlined in the course you take to get the box… Rest assured the blanket and bear are photo props only!

The concept is this: you watch videos on safe sleep on the Baby Box Co. website and when you pass the test at the end, you can order or pick up a box (if you live near a pick up spot) that works as a lightweight, portable bassinet. It also comes with some nice freebies and samples that vary based on supply and region. (An unboxing video I watched even had a box that came with a membership to the local public library, which I thought was brilliant.)

I suppose switching from the box to a sleep sack makes sense since I don’t think many people actually use the box for its intended purpose. Shipping a large piece of cardboard can’t be very economical either. I absolutely used my box, though, and loved it. My little guy was getting kinda cramped in it for overnight use by 4 weeks (the company says babies should fit until 5-6 months old in developed countries, which I find hard to believe – at 6 weeks he only has an inch leeway), but I still keep it in the living room as a nap space next to my computer desk.

It looks like US parents can still get the box (plus other rewards for the completing the various courses on the site) – so US parents who share articles about the Finish box and lament their lack of boxes can go to the Baby Box Co website and rejoice, but Canadians only have two days left to get theirs.

For readers who enjoy unboxings, here’s a look at what was in my box:

Everything together. The box is easy to assemble upon reception. (For some reason, I was expecting them to ship it pre-assembled, but it makes sense this way as it would be easily damaged in transport).

The box came with a onesie. It’s plain and white, but the quality is great and the fit is perfect.

I hadn’t opened this sample from Lansinoh, so it wasn’t until I was going through my pictures that I noticed that it contains breastmilk bags. I was considering buying some now that my pumped supply has outgrown the demand, so this was a fortunate discovery.

This hat and diaper cover are super cute! I don’t know when I would use them, but they are adorable!

Can never have too many muslin blankets!

Every sample bag comes with some kind of baby shampoo and soap. Not complaining, though, I love the travel sizes.

The bag everything came in. Not sure what I’ll use it for yet, but it is a nice bag.

And the final product put together! It also comes with a properly fitted mattress, mattress protective cover and mattress sheet (not shown). The only complaint I might have is that there’s no way to obtain more than one sheet, so you have to go sheetless during laundry time.

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A Baby’s Story, Or, How Almost Nothing Ever Goes to Plan

Content Warning: Close call for baby but everything turns out ok in the end. Also possibly too much information (TMI) and slightly graphic… the easily grossed out may not enjoy.

It felt like it would never happen, but finally, on Feb 10, baby boy Garrett joined our family. He was a big one at 8lbs15oz and 52 cm long (exactly the same length I was as a baby, interestingly, and a few ounces lighter).

We are all doing well and adjusting to having our new, always hungry, family member.

“Oh, I’ll never share pictures of my child on the internet.”
– Me, prior to becoming a proud mom.

In my last weeks of pregnancy, I really enjoyed reading birth stories and looked forward to sharing my own. It ended up being unexpectedly eventful, especially since my pregnancy was so uneventful, but fortunately everything worked out and we have a healthy mom and baby.
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