The Holidays With Your Baby

For as long as I can remember I have never really been one who has been excited about the holidays. In this day and age, everything seems to come with a hefty price tag and December is already the month with a few birthdays for me so it kind of ruins the whole month for me.

I am basically the Grinch.

Having children really changes your outlook on things. Now, as a mom, I found a new sense of excitement surrounding the holidays. There is something so special about getting to watch your child experience things for the first time. I find myself getting giddy just thinking about watching her tear open wrapping paper, or see anything new. With that in mind, Christmas was different for me this year.

Last year, my daughter was here but she was so new that that feeling wasn’t quite there. We gave her any gifts we bought as we bought them last year because most of her gifts were things we hoped would make everything easier for us; swings, playmats, activity seats etc. Anything that would give us ten minutes where we could just sit, watching her from across the room was something we didn’t want to give her. We were exhausted new parents.

This year she was a toddler, walking around. She knew who Santa was in a sense from seeing him at the mall and watching little videos of him. Sure, she couldn’t fully comprehend the idea of Christmas, but she could participate in it this year which was a game changer.

The gifts were still things we hoped would keep her busy, but we actually waited until Christmas morning for her to open then. We got to see her walk around the corner and look at the Christmas tree with wrapped gifts under them. We got to hear her say her signature catch phrase (one we hear about a thousand times a day) “What’s that?” as she slowly walked towards her Bounce Barnyard Animal.

It was enough to put up with all the stress that goes along with Christmas.

As a mom, I do reach out to a lot of moms. I have a mom app that I regularly use to chat with other moms. Around the holidays, it really opens your eyes to the struggle a lot of parents are going through. There are so many parents who think the dollar amount is what makes up Christmas. They think they have to spend X amount for their children to enjoy the holidays, and let me tell you, they couldn’t be more wrong about this. Especially in younger children.

I have a friend who chooses her son’s favourite toys and wraps them for Christmas. Why? Because she knows he loves those toys, and she knows half of the excitement of these holidays is just opening things, regardless of what’s beneath that ornate paper. She buys him one larger gift, and then things he needs like PJs, socks, toiletries etc. Then she wraps two or three of his favourite toys. Every year (she has been doing this for three years and he is four now) he opens it and his eyes light up. He doesn’t care that he’s already seen those toys a thousand times before. He just knows they make him happy and he’s happy to see them again.

I do think this is a wonderful thing to do around Christmas because it makes your kids appreciate the things they already have without really breaking the bank.

Looking back on my own childhood, my mom was a single mom of 5 so splurging on gifts wasn’t really in the cards. That being said, I can’t remember a single year when I felt we didn’t get more than enough.

Utilize things like the dollar stores to fill stockings. What did doesn’t like holiday themed candies and chocolates, colouring books, and even picture books? All of these things can be found at the dollar store without breaking the bank.

My go-to gifts for most kids (including my own) is always books. My daughter can sit with a pile of books for half the day. So anytime a new book comes into our house she is in heaven. Places like thrift stores often sell books for as little as $1.49/book with the 5th book being free. These books are often in amazing condition and some are even donated by libraries and bookshops.

It’s really easy to make Christmas affordable if you try.

Something my mother still does is buy gifts throughout the year. I know our gift (a personalized Sherpa blanket) was purchased in April. Certain things will always be great gifts. Buy things throughout the year and put them away so the holidays don’t feel like such a big financial hit.

If I am being totally honest, the best gift I received this year was the photos I got to take of my daughter and husband opening gifts. I could have got nothing this year and that would have been enough.

Some of the best gifts come without tags.

Really try to implement family into your holidays. Make it more about time than gifts. I think that is the best gift you can give your child around the holiday… your presence.

I am hoping to make these posts more of a regular thing, until next time guys I’ll just be around… pretending I know what I am doing.

Our Weaning Journey

We returned from our vacation in the wee hours of the morning on November 26th. From the 18th-25th my boobs had been hard at work. Because of how overwhelming the trip was for her, the constant heat and being on the go, and the lack of interest in solids during the trip, some days I felt as though I was breastfeeding around the clock.

As soon as we were back home, I turned to my husband and told him I was done. I couldn’t do this anymore. 14 months of breastfeeding is a long time. I think when we initially sign up for breastfeeding, we don’t really realize how much of ourselves we are giving up. We give up sleep, we give up personal space, we give up comfort, we give up privacy, we give up the whole of our bodies. Read that last one again, for people that don’t fully understand how taxing breastfeeding can be: we give up our whole bodies.

Breastfeeding isn’t solely about your breasts and the milk they provide. It can affect your hormones, and in turn your mental health. It can affect your weight, your energy levels, it can affect your appetite. There are so many other things, and I think for those people on the outside looking in chanting “Breast Is Best!” at women, they don’t fully comprehend just how much of a journey it is. There were so many days where I breastfed so much that my whole body just ached (surprisingly enough, my nipples were the only thing that didn’t). There were a lot of days I would be completely fine and then I would just suddenly start crying and be unable to stop for hours.

Breastfeeding is a lot, and it really opens your eyes to the true strength of a woman.

Long story short, after a week of being a constant buffet to my very picky and emotional child, I told myself that this was it, this was the end of our Breastfeeding journey. For my sanity, it had to be.

When I reached out to other moms about my weaning journey, I was bombarded with an endless stream of questions, rightfully so. When I started weaning I had so many questions and so little answers. I thought this needs to be a blog post. This is information that can be so helpful to other moms out there who have attempted weaning time and time again and failed because they didn’t know where to find the right answers.

How I Weaned My Daughter Off Breastfeeding In 10 Days!

Okay, first things first, buckle up and prepare for the worst. My daughter has always been a little diva. She is sassy, she is stubborn, she is a force to be reckoned with, so of course, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. That being said, never in my wildest dream would I ever imagine it would be so hard!

The first thing you really need to do to be successful at weaning is Come Up With A Set Schedule And Stick To It Come Hell Or High Water!

My daughter was an emotional feeder. What that meant was she would breastfeed when she got scared, when she was overwhelmed, when she hurt herself, any minor inconvenience in her life and she would come over and practically rip off my shirt. This meant a lot of days she was comfort feeding almost every hour or so.

My schedule was pretty simple. In the beginning stages of weaning, I would breastfeed her once when we first woke up, once in the afternoons before her nap, and once before bedtime. Outside of these set times, the shop was closed!

One thing I will suggest before you decide to wean is pump and stock up. If your child is like mine and acts as though you are trying to murder her as you wean her from breastfeeding, in the beginning, she/he will only accept breastmilk out of the bottle. Don’t even try anything else, it will just be way too difficult.

I think it’s also important to note, for other parents who have been introducing whole milk or other beverages to your child before weaning, that I found her being familiar with milk already made absolutely no difference. I had been giving her whole milk in places I couldn’t breastfeed, like in the car, since she was about 7 months and she still refused to take milk (even though she had taken a full whole milk bottle before) while weaning. She was too emotional and it was just a no-go.

What I did was keep a bottle handy with a small amount of breastmilk in it. Typically speaking, breastmilk before refrigerated can last about 4 hours out of the fridge. This is why I would only leave about an ounce out in a bottle because in the beginning, it was such a battle and I didn’t want to be throwing out so much unused milk. If you’ve been breastfeeding steadily, you will need to relieve some of that pressure by pumping outside of those times anyway, so I typically kept freshly pumped milk out in a bottle for her.

On standby, I would have a full 5oz bottle of breastmilk in the fridge. (Keep in mind you can’t microwave breastmilk.)

My days would start with a small breastfeed before she would have her breakfast, and while she was eating or playing I would pump out the excess milk, divide it into the two bottles, put the full one in the fridge and the 1oz bottle I would keep on hand because I knew when she got bored or upset, she would come looking for a feed.

Typically getting her to take the bottle was a battle every single time for the first three days. If your weaning while your child is fully mobile and can reach for you or pull your shirt down, I would suggest wearing a high neck, a fitted t-shirt during the first three days and even go so far as also wearing a sports bra underneath to make sure they are completely inaccessible. If my daughter even caught glimpse of my nipple she would completely lose her mind.

Most of the first three days will, unfortunately, be letting your child emotionally tire themselves out before they take the bottle because they have no more fight left in them (at least that’s how my wonderful weaning journey began).

This is going to take a lot of your strength, I know it did for me. My daughter became a completely amped-up version of herself and got quite violent with her tantrums. Typically a tantrum for her is lying down somewhere on the floor in view of me. She would press her forehead to the ground and cry before rolling onto her back (fake crying, mind you) and she would randomly lift her legs and slowly bring them down. It honestly looks a little bit like hilarious, emotional yoga. When we started weaning, she became obviously frustrated with the whole thing and started lashing out.

She would try and pull at my shirt and when I kept pulling her hands away and offering the bottle her frustration would peak and she would transform into this adorable little monster. Don’t let her cuteness fool you, she would pinch, slap, try and bite me. Honestly, my living room was the octagon and there were no rules in this match.

I personally think (although a lot of moms I have spoken to about this have disagreed) that it’s best to provide comfort during this time to help them with the transition. Comfort was important to my daughter because that was why she breastfed so often. It was a comfort thing to her, much like a soother would be to another child. So to take away breastfeeding and also take away the comfort she needed in that time and let her cry-it-out by herself was something I knew just wouldn’t work emotionally for my daughter.

I needed to get her used to the routine but also let her know the comfort she needed from me was still there. So, I would pick her up with her back against my chest so she couldn’t hit, pinch, or bite me, and I would walk laps around our living room while counting softly, or singing. Usually after about five minutes or so she would calm down and it was time to repeat the process all over again.

Moms, let me tell you, this was a lot on me emotionally. I cried a lot, I lost my patience, I was frustrated and angry. Emotionally and physically, I was completely spent.

The most difficult part of the whole weaning process is feeling like you’re losing that bond with your child that you’ve build breastfeeding. It’s hard to go from being their favourite person to someone they may try and lash out because they don’t understand what is going on and why things are changing.

Emotionally I was a wreck, and my days were a tornado of tears, milk, and exhaustion.

The guilt was weighing really heavy on me during this whole thing and I found myself doubting my capabilities as a mom and whether or not I was fully up for the task.

After the third day, I eliminated the morning feed and kept her busy in the morning. If your child likes something else (mine loves water), I would fill their favourite cup with this and let them have that while they eat breakfast and play and you can pump. Typically I kept my daughter busy with Super Simple Learn videos because she loves to count along or watch the ABCs. (This company is super great and I absolutely love their videos. You can watch them for free on YouTube and they teach everything from animals, numbers, to days of the year, even sign language!) While she was busy, I would go into the kitchen where I could still see her but she couldn’t see me and I would pump.

The fourth day was still difficult, but substantially easier than the first three days. For any parent going through this, I would say once you get over the third-day hump, it’s pretty much downhill from there.

My biggest challenge was naptime and bedtime because my daughter was so used to nursing to sleep. Usually, when she started to get tired and her naptime was getting close I would put her in the stroller and take the bottle along knowing she wouldn’t give me any trouble taking the bottle in the stroller if she was busy looking around on the walk. Normally she would get just about through the bottle and would pass out.

On the fourth day, I also started to do 1/2 and 1/2 bottles. 

It’s important to start switching to whole milk, or whatever milk you decide is best for your baby gradually. The walks made that transition a lot easier, so will car rides and any other place your child will take a bottle from you without much fuss.

My daughter is also very curious, so I found if I took her into the kitchen with me to make a bottle and she could watch, she would take it from me right away just to see what was what.

When I started adding whole milk to her bottle she did give me a tiny bit of resistance. At that point, I also started adding a scoop of Ovaltine to her bottle which was something I would do when she started to get sick before we started the weaning process. It is chocolate flavour so of course, that made the world of difference to her.

By the sixth day, I eliminated any daytime feedings and we were strictly down to bedtime feedings. Having the few test days where I would give her a bottle for walks really helped with the transition and honestly, it was the easiest feed to completely cut out if I kept her busy.

Things to note, my daughter’s appetite completely changed while weaning but I expected that because when she is overly emotional she refused to eat any solid meals and will only snack. I had to get a little creative with snacks to make sure she was getting enough to eat. Anything your kids can pick up and eat themselves is always great because while they’re mad at you, getting them to sit and eat will be really difficult.

My daughter also got diarrhea while we were transitioning her from breastmilk. Now, a few people told me this wasn’t normal and that she may be lactose intolerant, however, she had been on milk since 7 months and had never had an incident. That being said, it is also possible to develop an intolerance. So when she started getting diarrhea, I switched to infant formula to see if that was what it was. The switch was awful, she hated the formula, it made her gassy and even made her spit up a bit, and she still had diarrhea.

I think you just have to know your child. My daughter is, as I’ve stated before, very dramatic. When she tends to be overemotional or resisting a big change in her life she often gets diarrhea. I decided to wait it out and see if it went away when she got used to this new routine.

Day eight was when I switched to 1/2 breastmilk and 3/4 whole milk. 

This was a fairly easy switch but I was also adding a scoop of Ovaltine to her first bottle and her bottle before her nap. Outside of those two 5oz bottles, she usually had a third around the time she woke up which was plain.

By the tenth day, we were exclusively bottle feeding. 

If you have a child who likes to feed to sleep as mine does, I find it helpful if you offer them the bottle before they actually get to bed. By the time we had gotten to the point where she was drinking from a bottle at bedtime, she was on 100% milk. I found it was better if I offered her the bottle while we were still reading stories because she didn’t associate that with bedtime and feeding to sleep. She would typically finish about 3/4 of her 10oz bottle before we were done reading. Most nights she would not want to finish it and she would roll around the bed a little bit until she felt settled enough to pass out.

So that’s it. That is how I weaned my daughter from breastfeeding in 10 days.

Now again, this is just my journey. My child is not your child. Maybe your child will be an angel while your transition and you will look back at this post wondering what in the hell was going on in my home during all of this, but maybe your child won’t be and maybe the things that worked for me may not help with your child. But honestly, sometimes just reading about someone else’s journey and realizing you’re not alone in your struggle is enough.

I am not an expert on anything, especially not parenting. All I can do is tell you what it was like for me and hope that somewhere in this blog entry there is something that will make your day even the tiniest bit easier.

As always, it’s been a pleasure pretending to know what I’m talking about!

Until next time.

Travelling With A Baby Or Toddler

The stress, anxiety, and just basic wear-me-down of parenting gets to you in the first year, which was why we thought going on a family vacation with my mom and siblings was something we both wanted to do. We worked the cost into our budget and decided it was worth the money to escape the daily routine of parenting.

Sometimes for your mental health and overall wellbeing, it’s important to step out of the rat-race of your life and have someone else cook your meals, lay on a beach, and not have to think about every little thing and moment of your day.

This was not our first trip with our daughter, we had taken ReeRo on a plane when she was barely two months old so we could go and visit my husband’s family in Nova Scotia. This vacation was very different. When we went to the East Coast to see his family, there was little stress around the packing process, because we knew that if we forgot anything, we could always run to the store and pick it up.

This destination was different. We were going to Santa Maria, Cuba and I would be able to run to the store and grab diapers, wipes, and other baby necessities if I had been so careless as to forget.

Packing, to say the very least, was quite stressful. She basically has a small carryon case and half of a larger suitcase all to herself. It was packed with diapers, wipes, baby wash, teething medication, bug sprays, lotions, toiletries, snacks, toys, I had to anticipate her every need for the upcoming week and make sure we were prepared for it. A destination like Cuba meant I knew she couldn’t eat a lot of their food options that had come in contact with their water, and she also couldn’t have any of their dairy. Goldfish crackers, Gerber Puffs and Cheesies, and breastmilk were her main diet for the week, despite me trying to get her to eat things there, she just wasn’t having it.

One thing I will say is I did anticipate her diet when travelling. Cuba is a bright and colourful place and I knew she would be overwhelmed with it all. She left our Canadian winter and was suddenly in the sun, free to explore the entirety of our resort on foot. Usually, when something changes in our routine, she gives me a hard time when it comes to eating, so I did arrive there knowing full well she would want to breastfeed more than anything else. I wasn’t prepared for her to not want any other food.

The only thing she would ever eat was their pancakes and bread.

What also made this trip very different is my baby girl was no longer the baby she was. She was this little person who got bored and had her own routine she liked to stick to. She was stubborn, and she more often than not, let you know if something wasn’t exactly how she wanted it.

She started to walk around the beginning of November, thank goodness. Her finally walking meant that there was no need to pack a stroller, and it also meant that a sense of independence would result in less tantrum and more exploration.

The fact that she was walking made the airport a breeze. She wanted to walk the length of the big windows, watching all the planes and other vehicles on the tarmac. With her new explorative side, I was worried she wouldn’t want to sit still on the actual flight.

Our last flight she was so small, she breastfed the whole short flight and I don’t think she knew we weren’t just as home sitting on the couch. This was very different, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well she did.

I packed her little princess backpack (that she could carry herself had she wanted to, of course, she didn’t want to) with two of her favourite books Brown Bear, Brown Bear, and Baby Bear, Baby Bear, some snacks, and of course the iPad with some interactive games and a few videos that we knew she liked and would keep her busy. We brought her noise-cancelling headphones because they have been said to help with the air pressure on take-off and landing. She did her own thing for most of the flight and did take a small nap on both the way there and the way back.

There seemed to be a lot of kids on our flight and she seemed to be amongst the best behaved, so I definitely felt good leaving the plane knowing how well she did.

I think whenever you travel with one of your littles, it’s important to just prepare. Over prepare! If you even think maybe you need something, pack it. It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

I think a lot of parents, especially new parents worry that travelling with your children may take away from the feeling of it being a vacation. Sure, it’s not as relaxing and you are never really off-duty, but there is this different feeling of bliss watching your child(ren) experience things for the first time. That sense of wonder is really so special.

I loved watching her see lizards scurry across the grass or the walls. Watching different, more colourful birds fly around and watching her try and walk up to a frog. We went on an excursion and swam with the dolphins after seeing a dolphin show, which I wasn’t sure if she would be okay with. She only had a small freak out when it swam by and her fingers grazed the underbelly (even though she had touched it’s back several times and was completely okay and even excited about it).

All in all, it was a wonderful trip. I prepared. I made sure she had more than enough for the weather, and to keep her busy and I am so happy we decided to take the trip.

If you’re a parent and you just aren’t sure, it’s a good time to test out travelling. Why? Because usually children under a certain age stay free and all you have to pay for is their tourist visa which costs under $30CAD in Cuba. And you DESERVE it!

Day 4 Of Weaning

The decision to start on the weaning process was not a difficult one to make for me. My daughter has gotten into the habit of feeding for every little thing and having my shirt constantly pulled down, whether at home or in public, was getting old really fast. I knew it would be difficult, my daughter has a big personality topped off with a whopping dose of drama, but I really didn’t think it would be this hard.

I did my research and came up with a game plan. I knew I wouldn’t go cold turkey because that seemed to have bad side effects for both mom and tot. The clogged breasts were enough for me to say I wasn’t going to try it, but knowing my daughter using feeding as a source of comfort, I didn’t want to completely rob her of that and leave her feeling as though she did something wrong.

My plan was to cut all feeding down to three times a day, which is substantially less than the dozen or so we were at before we started this process. There would be days where she would be in a mood and literally, all she would do is feed. Cutting it down to three was something I wasn’t sure if we could do the first day, but we made it through with a lot of screaming and tears (on both sides).

One feeding in the morning, one feeding before her midday nap, and then one at bedtime. Any other drinking outside of those three were going to be with cups and bottles and of course the solids.

At day 4, I have eliminated the morning feed. It’s easiest to keep her busy in the mornings and distract her from her need to feed with her solids and toys. Without them afternoon feed at this point, she won’t nap. I know a lot of moms reading this who have read somewhere that you shouldn’t nurse to sleep are probably thinking this is why. Sure, she needs to nurse to sleep at some points, but I also feel like as mother’s it’s our job to provide that level of comfort if our little ones need it, despite what some literature may tell us. I’m definitely not sorry I’ve been nursing her to sleep thus far, but it is a difficult habit to step back from.

However, with cutting back, it only takes a few short minutes of feeding for her to completely knock out, which is wonderful compared to the 30 or so minutes it took before that.

Her hate of bottles has really set us back a bit. Ever since she was a baby she just hated the nipples of a bottle and refused to take them. It’s definitely made my job a lot harder. Looking back, I probably should have pumped more and given my husband more of a role in the feeding process and it definitely would have made this weaning process that much easier. With co-sleeping and my lack of sleep, I was just doing was easiest and best for both of us at the time, and I regret not taking more of a bumpy road.

Live and learn, no going back now.

Of all the bottles we’ve bought, and we have bought quite a bit, I find she likes the Avent bottle the best.

I’ve heard great things about the Nuk ones as well, but we have a few of these and she just prefers the Avent ones. You can buy them from Amazon, Walmart, BabiesRus for our Canadian mamas. They’re sold pretty much everywhere as they are a popular brand, and this nipple is closest to my own, which is why she prefers it.

What I’ve learned when buying bottles is just stick with one. Buy a bottle, and just keep at it. Eventually, they will be okay with it. Switching out bottles constantly for preference (unless your baby has colic) only makes things more difficult and your baby fussier.

If you have a tot with as strong of a personality of mine, you are going to have to tough out some majorly bad behaviour. At this age, it’s hard to correct behaviour as their understanding is not really at a point where you can nip things in the bud. All you can do is stop them from doing what you don’t like and try and get them to do something else. My daughter is really bad for biting, although it seems to be something she just does with my husband and me when she loses her temper. I cover her mouth with my hand when she is going to bite me, gently push her face away while saying “No” and try and get her to do something else, like look at her book or play with her toys. It usually takes more than one attempt but takes fewer attempts than it did in the beginning.

When I first introduce the bottle, she likes to drop dramatically to the floor and “fake cry” (did I mention she was dramatic) eventually this fake cry will grow into a full-blown wail that eventually turns into an actual cry. In short, she works herself up. (YAY ME!)

In the beginning, I would pick her up and calm her and try again. I would do this over and over. It left me feeling like I had gone about ten rounds in the ring when I was done. Now, I let her finished her dramatics first and when she’s all but calmed herself, I step in to provide a little comfort. It’s extremely hard! I’ve never been the kind of parent that lets her cry it out for any reason, but stepping in too soon showed her tantrums got her what she wanted and lengthened the process.

It’s been rough both physically, mentally, and emotionally. All I can really do is pretend it’s a little easier than it is and tell myself the break of the storm is coming sooner rather than later.

Winter Wear and Carseats

If you are living somewhere with four seasons, one of them a lengthy winter, you know that when winter really hits and you are facing temperatures as low as -40 Celsius, you know there is nothing more important than bundling your little one. However, if you’ve taken a moment to read through your car seat manual, you know you’re not supposed to put your child in the car seat in their winter jackets or snow gear as most manuals say it impairs the effectiveness of the belts.

So what to do?

Last winter we were mostly in the infant seat and my daughter was small enough to wear a coverall Sherpa suit which was lightweight. The infant seat is a blessing in so many ways because you can use the winter covers, your baby never leaves the seat outside and the click-in base means you can completely cover them and not have to worry about a thing. Once you switch to a convertible seat, things become a little more tricky.

Here in Canada, our winters can get intense. This means that our little ones need to be wearing something to get them from the house to the car that is warm and can fend off those frigid winds. My first choice, of course, was another Sherpa coverall, but it seems like they only make them to the 9-month sizes then they switch to jacket styles. Winters here typically mean thick winter jackets, hats, scarves, mittens, snow pants, and heavy-duty boots for our kids, add in a car seat and even if you decide to disregard the manual, it can be hard to get all that bulk in those belts.

Insert dramatic eye roll and sigh here.

Did I mention how easy last winter was?

After searching for the coverall Sherpa suits with no luck, I was out shopping and came across the character onesies.

As most parents know, these things are warm. Really warm. Too warm to even sleep in despite the fact they are sold as PJs. Most of our kids will wear these around the house, happy to be a shark, unicorn, cat, monkey, even dinosaur, but when they are tucked into bed they complain they are too hot and it gets stripped right off.

That got me thinking.

Are these onesies really that much thicker than the Sherpa suits?

Not by much.

I had finally found a warm, and cute solution. So long as my plans for the day mostly involve my toddler being in the car and stroller (it’s definitely not warm enough to play outside in) that was warm and cute. We bought her a handful of these PJs and would put them over her clothes for outdoor wear.

Sometimes being a parent means you have to use a little creativity to find solutions. She still, of course, has her heavy-duty snowsuit for days she wants to play in the snow, but for the most part, my one-year-old will be snug as a bug in a car seat in her PJ onesies.

The Wonders Of Breastfeeding, The Terrors Of Weaning

From the moment I got pregnant, I found myself hoping that I had a good milk supply. I knew more than anything that I wanted to breastfeed and I wanted to do it as long as I possibly could. My sister was a veteran, she had been brave and determined enough to breastfeed for two years and for some reason, I couldn’t remember it being something she struggled with. Knowing that my goal was to breastfeed just as long.

The benefits of breastfeeding just seemed right to me, not to mention the savings. I wouldn’t have to spend as much on bottles, I wouldn’t have to keep up with the whole sterilization process, I wouldn’t need to get up and make formula bottles in the dead of the night when she woke up fussy… there was no question. Not to mention the bond breastfeeding created, it was just everything I wanted.

Something I’ve mentioned a lot in my blog thus far is the lack of candid blogs when it comes to the whole pregnancy and parenting process. For whatever reason, a lot of motherhood is wrapped up in a pretty bow, sprinkled in glitter and presented to us women as this glorious thing. In many ways, it absolutely is, however, I wish I had been better informed of the struggles that went along with breastfeeding.

I’m not saying, had I known, I would have made a different decision. There is just something about walking into a battle informed that makes things easier. You knew the hardships that would be ahead, and that makes it all the more easy to shrug off the constant feeling of being exhausted and drained, the way your body gives up when you have been breastfeeding for hours and hours when your child is going through a growth spurt, sickness, developmental leaps (the changes in your baby are constant and not as broken up as they lead us to believe), the aches and pains, the sore nipples and irritability. A lot of things go hand in hand with breastfeeding.

Hair loss.

Yes… hair loss.

After 14 months of breastfeeding, I am just about ready to throw in the towel. I miss having my body to myself. It’s been 14 months of breastfeeding, 9 months of being an apartment to my baby as she grew and flourished. That’s almost 2 whole years of sharing my body 24/7 with someone else.

This means it’s been almost two years of no (minimal) caffeine, no alcohol, the inability to take medications for certain things that pop up, a careful eye on my diet, prenatal vitamins… the list is endless.

Breastfeeding is taxing, and I really have to throw my hands up to any woman who has done it time and time again, pregnancy after pregnancy. Good on you, you’re a Queen because I keep telling my husband he couldn’t pay me to do it again.

At this point, it seems to be more for comfort than anything else, but that also means that every slip and fall, every bump, every bruise, every fussy moment means she is climbing up and pulling my shirt down, getting a single moment to myself without a baby attached to me by the nipple is a rarity.

I can’t tell you the amount of jealousy I feel when I see videos of pictures of a baby just chilling with a bottle. Lying in their crib, casually sipping on a bottle while mom snaps a photo. With social media, the stream of content is constant, and it is so easy for a photo or video to have you questioning every parenting decision you’ve made.

I’ve found myself thinking that bottle-fed babies seem less fussy, they seem to have less separation anxiety, better capable to self soothe… the list of things were endless in my mind and at times, when I am extremely tired and at my breaking point, in those moments it makes me question whether I made the right decision for my baby as mother and wondering what I’ve possibly done to her with the decisions I’ve made.

I’ll have an order of parenting with a huge side of guilt please… yes, just keep the guilt coming.

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a hundred more times, being a parent is hard. It’s especially hard for mothers. Add breastfeeding to the mix, and most days just functioning is such a task for me.

As the weening process begins, I had found my already somewhat difficult girl to become an actual terror. There is hitting, there is screaming, there is scratching and pulling. There is a lot of time with her spent on the floor, crying hysterically as she lays sprawled out as I try to offer her a bottle.

If I thought breastfeeding was hard, weening is a battle I don’t think I will either win or survive.

A 10-15 minute tantrum is honestly enough to make me want to crawl into bed, pull the covers up over my head, and just hope tomorrow comes and is a better day than today. It is rough.

When she cries the way she does, it honestly strips me bare. It exposes every single nerve and emotion in me and leaves me completely vulnerable. At the core of it, I feel like a terrible mother. Cradling her against me, singing to her, trying to both soothe her and let her know that I mean business breaks me down. Every moment I am smiling through it, but inside I am fighting back tears because if I am being completely honest, I never imagined it would be this hard. I never imagined that she would swipe at me, that she would act so primal and desperate.

It’s honestly heartbreaking and something that wasn’t mentioned in any parenting blog, forum, social media post. That lack of information is so damaging to moms. We already do emotionally and mentally fragile after giving birth, some of us never really get back that armour we wore before. To look for answers and reassurances from other mothers and to find none just leaves us feeling like failures.

Not every moment in parenting is picture-perfect. There is a lot more screaming, crying, yelling, and lashing out than any Instagram mom will ever dare to tell you. There are a lot of days spent in track pants and a sports bra/nursing bra, with your hair greasy and unkempt, streaks of tears down your face as you wonder about yourself, about your baby, about parenting, and everything else.

Parenting is hard.

Babies are little people who can’t fully communicate and often lash out because they don’t know what else to do. Their behaviour is especially bad with mom because you are their safe space and they trust you so completely that they know they can be their absolute worst with you (lucky us).

I honestly wish I could use this post to give you some helpful tips that are sure to get you through the weening process, but at this point, I am just taking it day by day. Instead, I will use this post to tell you to hang in there, remind you that you are an amazing mom and you will get through this!

We are all stronger than we know, and we will survive the weening process.

Until then, we will have a little cry and pretend we know what the heck we are doing.

Cold Weather and Your Child

For any moms that live somewhere that has four seasons (or at least rumours having four distinct seasons) you’ve likely said your goodbyes to summer come September and should be enjoying the wonders of Autumn/Fall. Here in Toronto, Fall has felt short-lived. Sure, our leaves are still changing colours, the pumpkins and other gourds were out and we are surrounded by Pumpkin Spice everything, but the cold has crept in quickly. I know a lot of people who have been wearing their winter coats for the past two months and will likely, keep them on until May.

As parents, we find this in-between season a struggle when it comes to dressing our little ones. Although a lot of days at hitting between 1-12 degrees Celsius, there are those random days that will surprise us with a little more sun and a little more heat. Is it time for our little ones to don their hats and scarves, to keep their little fingers covered?

My opinion on this will always be: YES.

Nothing makes me more annoyed than when I pass by someone pushing a stroller who is wearing a hat, scarf, mitts and a warm jacket and you look at the baby/toddler they are pushing and they have their hands out, bright pink from the cold.

If you, as an adult, need mitts or gloves, then those tiny little fingers definitely do. If you have your ears covered than your baby/toddler needs their little ears covered. If you have your winter coat on, please don’t have your baby/toddler wearing just a sweater. What makes you think their tiny little body is more capable of keeping warm than yours?

I’ve heard a lot of excuses for this. “My baby/toddler gets hot.” “My baby/toddler doesn’t like wearing a hat or gloves.”

Its always better to have your baby bundled, even if they get hot. It’s better to have them a little too warm than cold, especially since there is no visual way of knowing if they are too cold. How the body works when it is cold, is to protect its core first, which means if your child is not wearing gloves, the body will not work extremely hard to push blood into their fingers or hands, and will instead protect/work to warm the torso. Extremities such as fingertips are highly susceptible to frostbite when there isn’t blood being pushed into them.

How likely is it that your child will get frostbite? You’re just out for a stroll.

Frostbite or frostnip can occur in children under 0 degrees Celsius, which is a common winter temperature for us here in Canada. It is also more common when there are winds because winds cool the skin faster. One of the most common causes of frostbite in small children is not dressing warm enough for the weather. With that being said, it’s definitely better to be safe rather than sorry.

As parents, we are going to come across a lot of things our children don’t like to do. When we were kids ourselves, the idea that we didn’t like something didn’t really cross our minds. Once our parents told us something, that was kind of it. In this age of parenting, we are more likely to take our children’s feelings into consideration in a lot of our planning, but being safe and prepared for the weather really shouldn’t be one of them.

As winter approaches, please take all the necessary precautions for your children when it comes to combatting the winter weather!

The Impossible Job of the Stay At Home Parent

Before I got pregnant there was always this discussion about the difficulties of the stay-at-home parent. Often it was discussed by people who didn’t have kids, ones who stood on the outside looking in while they went on to their 9-5s somewhat envious of the stay-at-home parent for the possibility of sleeping in, staying in your PJs or workout clothes all day, and getting to spend most of your time at parks or other seemingly enjoyable locations.

“What is there to complain about?” “How can a job you do in your PJs possibly be difficult?” “God forbid, I had to spend my days at home binging hours of Netflix?” “What are they complaining about? I would love spending all that time with my kids if I had them?”

These are some of the most common comments you have probably heard.

Well, this is for all the people who don’t have kids and think that parenting 24/7 is such an easy task.

There are days when even parents who don’t intend to co-sleep have spent a whole sleepless night with this child in their bed, little legs and feet in their back, hands thrown over their faces, wishing for just three inches of childless mattress so they can close their eyes enough to make it through the next day. Then, exhausted and sore, they have to get up and go a whole day at the beck and call to their little minions.

There are no sick days, there are no holidays or days where you can phone it in and just go through the motions. Even the routine of being a stay-at-home parent isn’t as much of a routine as you’d like because children are unpredictable. They are living, breathing things that are in charge of every waking moment of your day, no matter how much you schedule or plan.

One of the most tedious jobs I’ve had was working at a Bridal Consultant. I worked at four different wedding gown stores and the job seemed simple enough; help brides-to-be find the gown of their dreams during a one-hour consultation. Usually, you are one-on-one with the bride (and usually an entourage of her choosing) in a room trying to decipher all her contradicting wants and needs. There were honestly days of this job (which I stayed in for over seven years) where I wanted to pull my hair out and burn the boutique to the ground. But, at the end of the day, I got to go home. I got to unload, I got to leave those brides behind for evenings, little weekends, vacations, and completely forget about them.

Imagine having to do your job constantly. From the moment your eyes open until they close and night (and most nights, even after your eyes are closed). There is no clocking out, there are no care-free evenings, there are no vacations.

Don’t mistake me that for meaning that being a parent is awful. It’s not. Most days you smile more than you cry, you forget about the underlying exhaustion while you make playdates, and meet-and-greets, and appointments. You go through 22 hour days without even realizing you’ve taken five mini-naps while your child is eating, or playing, or watching their favourite program. Parenting is a rollercoaster, and for most of it, you are smiling (even when you’re screaming). Saying it’s easy though, is like saying you can wake up today after no preparation and enter a strong man competition… every minute of it will be a struggle.

I think what a lot of people don’t realize is what exactly makes being a stay-at-home parent so isolating. Your social life completely disappears if you don’t have other stay-at-home friends. It’s isolating and lonely, and sometimes all you want is to sit down with any other adult person and have an actual conversation.

There isn’t a lot of support for stay-at-home parents. When the bulk of people out there think that it’s easy, there isn’t a lot of support. Some people say you can lean on your families and friends for the support you need, but sometimes you just crave support from people who don’t necessarily know you. Ones that won’t respond with “Yes, but you’re so strong, you can get through it.” or “I know you, and this is just a bad day.” 

Making new friendships is extremely difficult. You spend a lot of time at kids programs and the park hoping to connect with other parents but a lot of them are just out there trying to catch their breath, their eyes glued on their kids and hoping to get a few moments alone before they have to go back in and do a load of laundry, or start dinner, or get their kids in the bath. When you factor in that becoming a parent has most likely isolated you from your social circle if they are still without kids, not being able to make any new friends can be depressing.

Alongside all of that, there is the constant guilt. You feel guilty because your child may not be making their milestones. You feel guilty because you spent those extra ten minutes in the bathroom, or on your phone, or computer ‘ignoring’ your child(ren). You feel guilty about reaching out and asking your partner for help because they’ve been at work all day and you’ve been home. The list of things that trigger guilt in parents is miles long, and new things get added to that list every day.

And all of this is barely scratching the surface. Imagine having a child who requires extra attention. A child with health issues, or developmental issues. Just imagine the constant struggle of being home with them all day, never getting the chance to come up for air.

Parenting isn’t easy.

If it was, there would be a lot more high-functioning, perfect adults running around. The truth is, we never know if what we are doing is right, we just do our best and hope everything turns out.

In a world where the cost of living keeps rising along with the cost of childcare, a lot of parents are opting to stay home until their children reach school age to help with the expenses of childcare, which means there are that many more parents out there staying home and reluctantly signing up for the difficult job of being a stay-at-home parent. So many more single parents that have to get on assistance just to make ends meet.

All of this definitely weighs on the stay-at-home parent. The mental and emotional strain on parents, in general, is immeasurable.

As someone who has always worked with children in one way or another, my eyes have always been somewhat open to the issues and the hardship of being a parent, but becoming one myself has definitely put things in a whole new light.

Parenting IS a job.

For anyone out there that doesn’t think so, they clearly have no idea what they may one day be getting into.

Trading Sleep For Memories

I can still remember the days when I would be up all night, close my eyes for a wink and be ready to conquer the world the next day. Whether it was binge-ing DVD box sets, staying up late chatting with my girlfriends during a high school sleepover, or diving into a book I just could not put down until it was finished, the night sky would brighten, morning would come, and with a smile, I would greet the day so unaffected by the lack of sleep.

When we are young and weightless, unbound by responsibility, it is so easy to think we can go on forever like that. In some ways, our youth is like a dream. We live life like montages in a movie. All smiles until it’s heartbreaks, nights that will never end, anthills we turn into mountains that shake our whole world up, convinced it will completely destroy us.

Fast-forward to now. Closer to 30 than 20, and sleep and coffee is all that keeps me going. If I stay up past midnight and don’t sleep in until 10am the next day, I feel like I am closer to death. Some mornings I just lay there, knowing I have slept less than a few hours that night, my baby girl crawling all over me while I stare up at the ceiling thinking back on the days when I didn’t need sleep.

How funny life is. They let us function in our youth with such a minimal amount of everything, no sleep, no food, no problem. Now, when that skill will come in handy, everything is thrown in reverse.

When I talk to people about my lack of sleep, they always blame it on my parenting choices. “You’d be getting way more sleep if you would just put her in her crib.”, “If you had chosen not to co-sleep it would be easier now.”, “You cuddle her too much, so she’s too dependant on you.”, “If you had breastfed less and introduced the bottle earlier, it would be easier to get her to sleep on her own.”, “Co-sleeping was a mistake, and you are paying for it now.” I could go on.

To those people that think they have all the parenting answers and can so easily outline all my mistakes and correct them with perfect parenting, I have this to say; less parenting is not better parenting.

Yes, my daughter is very attached to me but children, especially babies, are supposed to be attached to their mothers. Parenting is not supposed to be easy, and despite all the articles that suggest things like the cry it out method and independence in your baby so you can parent, work, and have hobbies is best, you are supposed to parent around the clock.

This new age idea that we should love our children a little less, ask them permission, make sure all our plates are in the air at the same time, and step back from parenting in my opinion is a crock of sh*t. You can’t spoil a baby with too much love and attention if that is exactly what they need. You can’t over-do love, and the thought that you can is complete nonsense.

Yes, I still co-sleep with my one year old which means I get a lot less sleep than babies that are sleeping soundly in their crib. But I also get to wake up to her beautiful face next to mine, I laugh through silly situations when a tiny foot slaps me awake in the dead of the night, I have little conversations with her as she babbles at me in the wee hours of the morning instead of going back to sleep.

I have swapped out the luxury of sleep and easiness for memories, and I am okay with that. I have forgone the simplicity of her napping alone for endless cuddles and this unbreakable bond of trust between the two of us. I am given up a lot of my personal space, for dependency.

Yes, babies are supposed to depend on their parents! I know, crazy, right?

I am tired, I am worn, but I am more tired of trying to explain to people how this type of parenting is not crippling my child, as they suggest. How giving her all the love and attention she needs when she is feeling sad or grumpy, or fussy, is not bad for her. How not letting her cry her lungs out until she is to tired to be awake anymore is not neglect, quite the opposite.

There is no doctor or professional that can tell me that centuries of parenting is wrong and this new age parenting that is less than a few decades old is best.

If my plan works out, and life goes the way I want it to, she will be my only baby. I would hate to look back and regret not loving her more. Not breastfeeding her for longer, not holding her a little tighter when I had the chance. That feeling of being so thoroughly nurtured, so safe, will open a door in her life later that will make her feel like I am her safe place, I am home to her.

So yes, I am giving up my sleep for my daughter, because as parent’s we should be willing to sacrifice a lot more than that. And for all those people out there telling women otherwise, you should be ashamed. Let people love their children as fiercely and selflessly as they want, it’s really not your place to tell them otherwise.

A Whole Year Spent

It’s crazy to think that a little over a year ago I was an independent person. I was in charge of when I ate my meals, when I slept, what I did with all my time. I showered and slept alone, slept in, and spent my time however I wanted to. I arrived for appointments and functions ON TIME.

A year ago, I was a completely different person. I was not yet a mother.

And then she arrived.

Her birth couldn’t come fast enough, but once she arrived, it seemed as though time jumped into hyperspeed. If you asked me when she was born, how it all went, I could retell the story as though it were just yesterday. Every detail of that day is still so vivid in my mind. Yet, when I look back over this past year I can’t believe where all the time went.

How did I get here?

I’d love to use this post to look back and tell you all the things I’ve learned along the way. I could say that after a year, I have parenthood all figured out, but that’s not true. Every day is another battle, and I am standing in the line of fire with no armour armed with nothing but a banana and some Gerber Puffs.

One thing I have learned is there is no such thing as a perfect parent. What is perfect for one child will be chaos for another. You can feed them organic everything, never feed them artificial sugars or processed food and still feel like you’re losing the battle. You can cook a quick, easy meal that requires mostly heating up and feel like you’re killing it.

When you strip all the Instagram photos away, wipe off the make-up and the forced smile you wore through eight repeat playings of Old MacDonald, the only thing that really matters is your baby’s happiness.

Whether that means scheduled naps, healthy snacks, playdates and book time, or endless cuddles, eating from your bowl, and watching movies, their happiness outranks everything else all those articles are telling you to do.

Take lots of pictures, live in the moment as often as you can. Skip cleaning, or doing the dishes, they will always be there but your baby won’t always be so small. You’ll blink and they’ll be gone and you’ll be missing it all, wishing you had stolen more moments with you babies while you had them.

Love them as much as you can while they let you! That’s the best way to be the best parent you can.