Taking Baby Home

In the hospital, our daughter was quiet. She whined a little bit and cried when we would lie her down to change her, but other than that she mostly liked to be cuddled up to my husband and I, skin to skin, catching some major Zs.

Once we got her home, we noticed a change in her personality.

She was fussy. She didn’t like the bassinet we had in the room, because, as we would discover later, she didn’t like lying flat on her back. She didn’t like a lot of the little gadgets and gear we had gotten in hopes of her getting a good night’s sleep (and a nice sleep for my husband and I as well.)

Instead of the typical bassinet that she would grow out of in just a few months, we went with a playpen with the bassinet and change table attachment on top. Not only did she not like the bassinet, but she also didn’t like the changing table. We ended up having to bring her into the nursery to use the larger changing table.

Of the things she did like, she liked this Fisher Price rocking chair thingy. I couldn’t tell you exactly what it is called because my brother handed it down to us. It has a base that is supposed to move the seat back and forth, but when we got it, the base didn’t work. However, the legs on the seat itself when you take it off the base are like little rocking chair legs, and she liked the way her body sunk into the seat and how her own movements could make the seat move.

Our thought for bedtime was to remove the bassinet and changing table attachments from the playpen and just sit that little chair in there. That way she was up where I could see her from the bed (and my dog wouldn’t fuss with her being on the floor), and she was secure in the frame of the playpen.

Genius! Or at least I thought.

Nope. As it so happens, the chair was all fine and good during the day, but absolutely unacceptable for bedtime.

She would lie in there for a few minutes before she would wake up and cry. Okay…

Now, all the articles and doctors will tell you that co-sleeping with your baby is dangerous. It increases the risk of SIDS and really should just be avoided all around. Trust me, I have read all the articles, I understand the risk and trauma of rolling over onto your new baby or having your baby tangled up in the sheets. When I was pregnant, I read through those articles and thought to myself ‘What in the world are these people thinking? Just have your baby in a bassinet beside your bed.’

When you actually become a parent, you realize just how ridiculous it is to think things are that simple.

When you are running on empty, and all you want is a mere thirty minutes of uninterrupted sleep, you will put your baby on your chest the way you know they like and doze off completely, forgetting all about those articles.

I am an extremely light sleeper, always have been. I used to wake up when my dog would wake up and move around the room before I was pregnant. Every little coo or deep breath my daughter takes I am aware of, even if I am sleeping. I am also the kind of person who has always slept on my back and doesn’t toss and turn. So the idea of letting her sleep on my chest for an hour while I caught a little bit of shut eye was not even something I thought of as dangerous.

It just made sense.

Over the past eleven days of having my daughter at home, I have noticed things that make her sleep routine easier.

My daughter does not like to wear anything but a diaper when she sleeps. It’s important to test the waters with a new baby, especially when it comes to their sleeping attire. So long as you keep your room a comfortable temperature for baby, there is no reason why they have to wear clothes to bed. If my daughter has so much as socks on her feet when she goes to bed, she will fuss until she gets them off.

My daughter can’t sleep in silence. I think we forget just how noisy it is for babies inside the womb. We assume they will want quiet when they sleep, but in our tummies they hear the constant beating of our hearts, every breath we take, not to mention some of the noises from out in the world are amplified for them in there. They have spent nine months with this constant soundtrack of sound, if you strip away all the noise for them on that first night home, it will be hard for them to settle.

My daughter can’t sleep in complete darkness. I am the kind of person that liked the room pitch black, black out blinds and silence (unless I was listening to my rainstorm sleep sounds). The first night we brought our daughter home, I crawled into bed in the dark and revelled in the silence after spending the past few days in the hospital with no sleep. My daughter however, was not as comfortable as me. She was up constantly, whining and searching for us. The womb is not completely dark either, so most babies do like a small amount of light while they sleep. We decided to go for some dim string lights behind the frame of our bed so it wasn’t so bright for mom and dad but was enough to make our daughter feel comfortable.

My daughter craves skin to skin. Skin to skin is so important to build a bond between you and baby in the first few months they are here. My daughter would curl into my husband and I at the hospital like a cat in the sun and go right to sleep. When she is being overly fussy at night, I take my shirt off and lay her on my chest and she is asleep in mere moments. I noticed she couldn’t initially fall asleep at bedtime without some cuddling. For now, this is okay, but it is something I am going to have to ween her off of as she gets older.

There is no spot in our whole house my daughter loves more than our bed. It has been 11 days since we took her home from the hospital and we have had just as many nights to try and find what works best for her and for us. At the end of the day, there is no spot that puts her to sleep more soundly, than a spot on our bed.

Look, I am not a doctor. I am not telling any new moms out there to co-sleep with their babies. I know the risks, trust me, I do! I am merely being honest with you guys and telling you what works for us.

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Regardless of what you decide is best for you, it is going to take some trial and error. If you do decide to co-sleep, make sure to give you baby enough space away from you to be sure you don’t accidentally roll onto your bundle of joy. Also, remove all the blankets from around baby (this above photo was taken before I did all of that). If you have the space on your bed, co-sleeping could work. If you are still too nervous, than maybe you will be successful where I wasn’t.

Good luck either way!

Feel free to get in touch with me and let me know how you are doing with your new baby!

 

A Sea of Wonder… and Worry

In the beginning of your journey towards becoming a parent, you compartmentalized. At that point, all you can think about is getting pregnant, or getting your baby however you decide to do it.

Everything in your life becomes a routine of temping, logging, scheduling. Maybe it becomes treatments, shots, dietary changes. For some it becomes an endless sea of paperwork and hoping. Maybe getting in touch with your religious side and doing a little praying.

Our journey to become parents is not always the same, but in the beginning our minds become consumed. All we can think about is the possibility of that baby, and hope that possibility will turn into reality sooner rather than later.

And then… it happens.

You are pregnant, or maybe you got accepted to be foster parents, or adoptive parents.

The part of your brain that had been running full steam all around the clock suddenly starts to shut down, and another part of your brain starts working.

You know, that part of your brain that over-thinks everything, the same part of your brain where worry and strife go to breed. Yeah, that part of your brain.

In the beginning of my pregnancy, I cut out everything that I thought was even remotely toxic. If not enough research had been done, it had to go. Why? Because I had finally gotten what I wanted and I would be damned if I screwed it all up because of something so silly as coffee, or deli meats.

The first trimester of pregnancy is stressful for some, it definitely was for me. Why? Because the risks of a miscarriage are high in the first trimester. It’s hard to know what little thing will be the thing that triggers our bodies into deciding now is not the time. Not to mention the first trimester tends to be the most difficult for most women.

Nausea, heartburn, bloating, gas, constipation, dizziness… the list is endless for some and to top it all off, you can add stressing and over thinking.

When you finally cross over the line from your first trimester into your second. You sigh a little sigh of relief. Just a little one. Because although you feel like you can see your way out of the woods, you aren’t quite out yet.

Now you move into making sure your baby is healthy. There are genetic tests, anatomy scans, all these things that have your anxiety kicking into overdrive.

When you first get pregnant, they do a full blood and urine workup. This determines first and foremost that you are pregnant. It also determines you are STD free and tests the levels in your blood for certain things like anemia, your blood type, all this stuff that will help them decide whether you will require further testing.

For the most part, my tests came back good in my first trimester. I was anemic, but that was something I had known for over a decade, so that was nothing new. Aside from that, all was good and I could store my anxiety and worry away until my second trimester.

It seems like the most testing they do is for chromosomal defects. I am sure they test for a lot of other things, but it seemed like whenever I asked, the test or measurements that were being taken were to determine whether my baby would have chromosomal defects. The measurements taken of our babies neck to see if there is increased fluid in that area or if the area is thicker than anticipated, is one way they can determine if your baby will be born with Down Syndrome. The measurements of the nose can also tell them if your baby is high risk to be born with Down Syndrome.

A lot of these tests are to see if your child will be born with Trisomy 18, as opposed to the Trisomy 21 which is the extra chromosome that is found in people with Down Syndrome. Trisomy 18 is scary to think about when you are pregnant because it means that the extra 18 chromosome can disrupt the normal patterns of your baby’s development which can be life threatening.

I think what bothered me most about these tests, is that they don’t come out with a clear negative or positive. They give you a percentage, and your doctor uses that percentage to determine whether you are high or low risk. Regardless of whether you are high or low, you can still give birth to a baby with chromosomal abnormalities.

My pregnancy was exciting, I felt like I was standing in a heavy rainstorm of joy and anticipation but suddenly, with all this new information, I could see rain clouds closing in.

I have read all the mom forums, I have read all the comments and questions and fears about pregnant moms who were afraid their children would be born with Trisomy 18 or 21. Surprisingly, a lot of these comments were met with negativity. People said things like “So what?” “There are worse things in the world than having a child with Trisomy 18 or 21.” “Be thankful you are pregnant!

Even though I can understand where these comments are coming from, I don’t think people are really thinking about how stressful it is to be pregnant. You are holding scales up before you and you are trying to balance your worry and your happiness every single day. It doesn’t make you a bad person to worry about these things, just like it doesn’t make you a bad person to want your child to be healthy.

Only 50% of babies with Trisomy 18 will be born alive, and of those 50% only 10% can make it past their first birthdays. I have read that a small amount of that 10% makes it to adulthood… mostly girls. That is a lot of information to take in and to see some moms of healthy babies shame women who are pregnant for fretting and losing sleep over the chances their baby will have Trisomy 18 seems heartless and misplaced.

Trisomy 21 in this day and age shows a great survival rate. I know and have worked with a great deal of Down Syndrome children and teens to know there are different levels of functionality, some of which can live almost independently. However, 1 in every 2 children born with Trisomy 21 will be born with a hole in their heart that will differ in severity. Some will close on their own, but other’s will require surgery to close it. If it heals and is closed correctly, that is wonderful, if not they may have heart problems their whole life.

Now you may be wondering, why is she so stuck on the Trisomy tests? It seems to be something not too many people worry about during pregnancy, what is her hang up?

Well, my sister just gave birth to a beautiful baby boy with Trisomy 21. She had taken all the same tests I did and the doctors had told her she was relatively low risk. Later, they noted an abnormality in his heart, but told her it was something she shouldn’t worry too much about. Fast forward to Mother’s Day, a month before you due date and she had an emergency C-Section.

A C-section alone is a lot to make a lot of moms to be nervous. Especially if they had spent a lot of time on a birth plan that stated natural birth, a month later than the day you are told you will have one. Then they tell her her baby looks as though he may have Trisomy 21 and they will have to run additional tests. Then they tell her he has a hole in his heart that is too large to close on it’s own.

It is a lot to take in during the moments after giving birth.

Up until this moment, I had taken my doctor’s word. She had told me the tests gave me a good percentage which meant I was in the lowest of the low when it came to my baby’s risks for chromosomal abnormalities. Suddenly, my anxiety was in hyper-drive.

Fear ate up a great deal of my mind.

The sea of wonder I had been sailing on became rough. It darkened and became tough to navigate.

Just another part of pregnancy that I don’t think a lot of people talk about enough. On top of all the embarassing symptoms, the constant changes to your body, the mood swings, the emotional rollercoaster that just keeps going around and around, there is also all the risks.

Before my pregancy I was not the type of person that worried about these types of things. I was the kind of person who would wait for ailments to clear on their own, I would shrug off misfortunes, I would just keep powering through life when I stumbled or fell.

In pregnancy, I have never felt more helpless.

Why don’t we talk about the helplessnes?

We live in an age where mental health is becoming less of a stigma. I think it’s also important to talk about the changes in your mental wellbeing while you are pregnant. Sometimes I hear my own thoughts and feel like they are the thoughts of a stranger.

Normally I chalk it all up to the hormones and move on. However there are days where I feel blue and it is overwhelming and all consuming. Untriggered, but ever-growing.

I can’t even pretend to know what is going on with me mentally. What I can say for sure, is the amount of anxiety I feel sometimes in pregnancy is the same kind of anxiety I felt after I got hit by a car three years ago. The way my heart would pound at the very thought of crossing the street was crippling.

Does everyone feel this way during pregnancy? I have looked through the twitter feeds, I have read the forums, I have tried to find a group to see for myself if this is common or not.

We are all on this sea, just trying to navigate towards our happy endings. Trying to sail towards the rainbow that will be our children.

For now, I will just keep sailing and hope to make my way through.

2nd Trimester Ultrasound

My ultrasound was scheduled for 10:30am and unlike my first ultrasound, it was at a hospital instead of at a private ultrasound facility. Now, in all honesty, I did prefer the first place. Everyone was there for a specific reason, you got called in right around your appointment time. Sure, the tech was a little cold and quiet, and they wouldn’t provide me with any information, but everything moved pretty quickly and my doctor got the results in just a few days for us to discuss.

For this ultrasound, I had to arrive with a full bladder. The paperwork I was given told me to drink four full glasses of water an hour before my appointment. I could only manage to drink two before my stomach was bloated and I was doing kegels to keep from peeing my pants.

We walk into the hospital where we check in and then are brought to a second area where we needed to take a number so we could register. This was painfully slow. People were being seen based on the number they had taken, which meant that people who had come in through the urgent care centre had taken numbers before me and would take priority to my appointment time.

Logically, I understand this. However, with a full bladder and needing to get to work for noon, logic wasn’t really playing a part in my patience.

An HOUR later, my number got called and I finally got a chance to get up and register. Once registered, I was told to follow the red arrows down the hall to the ultrasound area. We put my folder in a little slot in the wall and waiting for them to call my name.

Another thirty minutes passed.

*Insert exasperated face here*

By the time they said my name, I was ready to pass out from relief. My stomach was throbbing, my bladder was screaming and the first thing I said to the tech when I laid down on the table was “Fair warning, I am going to pee my pants at any moment.”

Looking at the appointment time on my paperwork, she shook her head and told me she would take all the measurements she needed to take as quickly as possible and then she would let me go to the bathroom before she finished.

Thank goodness!!

When my bladder was finally empty and I could breathe again, I was feeling a lot more excited about the ultrasound. My tech was great, she explained what she was doing and what she would be looking for, and I told her I wanted to know the gender of the baby.

At 18 weeks, she told me she was looking to be sure the baby was growing normally, making sure she could see all ten fingers and toes, measuring the spine, the neck, the skull, the heart and all the other important parts while being sure there are no abnormalities.

Her talking to me through the ultrasound put me at ease. During my first ultrasound the silence was deafening and it made butterflies flutter nervously in my belly.

She did tell me a few things, like my baby had a nice, strong heart. I doubt she would have told me if there was anything wrong. However, what she did tell me was reassuring.

The whole process took between 45 minutes to an hour for her to get all the measurements she needed, with an additional 20 minutes spent with her trying to see the gender of the baby.

From my first ultrasound, I was told my baby was very active. It made it difficult for the tech to get her measurements, and it made it difficult for her to take the pictures she needed, but it made it especially difficult to see the gender.

Legs crossed, wiggling its little butt away whenever we got close, my baby was sure to play coy and not give me the satisfaction of finding out its gender.

Did I need to know? I had written a blog post not too long ago stating the gender of your baby didn’t matter. Our babies could be who they wanted to be, love who they wanted to love. So long as they grew up to be good people, did it matter what they had between their legs? My thoughts were no, but realistically, I did want to know.

The main reason was because I felt like calling my baby “it” for the whole duration of my pregnancy gave me flashbacks of Pennywise the clown and was taking a little bit of the joy away from it all.

I did leave my ultrasound without knowing anything for sure, but my husband and I both got into the car and pretended we were okay with it.

2nd Trimester

Most of the time, people break down your pregnancy in weeks or in trimesters. I noticed, people rarely mention pregnancy in months? Why is this? It’s like people who tell you the age of the baby/toddler in weeks when they are like two years old.

“How old is your baby?”

“Twenty-six months.”

*Does some quick mental math* “So, like… two?”

This has always been something that has driven me completely bonkers mostly because I can’t find any reason for it. Why can’t you just tell me your baby is two years old? Why can’t you just tell someone you are five months pregnant? All this math! *Insert groaning face*

The first trimester is between 0-13 weeks pregnant or the first three months of your pregnancy. The second trimester is 14-27 weeks pregnant or from the second half of your third month moving through to the beginning of your sixth month of pregnancy. The third trimester is between 28-42 weeks or from the second half of your sixth month through your ninth month.

Trimester   | Months Pregnant   | Weeks Pregnant

1st                 |  0 Months                   |  0- 4 Weeks

|  1 Month                     |  5- 8 Weeks

|  2 Months                   |  9- 12 Weeks

|  3 Months                   |  13 Weeks

2nd               |  3 Months                   |  14- 17 Weeks

|  4 Months                    |  18- 21 Weeks

|  5 Months                    |  22- 25 Weeks

| 6 Months                     |  26- 27 Weeks

3rd               |  6 Months                    |  28- 30 Weeks

|  7 Months                    |  31- 34 Weeks

|  8 Months                    |  35- 38 Weeks

|  9 Months                    |  39- 42 Weeks

You know me, leading with honesty. The first trimester of my pregnancy was complete agony. I slept more than I was awake, when I was awake, I was throwing up, frowning over my new crop of pimples that had popped up overnight, or in a whirlwind of emotions that seemed as though it would never cease.

I woke up every day literally counting how many hours it would be before I was right back where I was, in my bed with the blinds closed and the curtains drawn erasing all signs of light from the room.

My diet in the beginning consisted mainly of soda crackers, dry toast, Gatorade, Powerade, and apple juice. There would be days when I would wake up and have a hankering for something specific, like sausage pasta or grilled cheese. I would rejoice in inhaling without gagging and eat it slowly, savouring the first meal I had in weeks. Sure enough, an hour would pass and I would be hunched over the toilet once again.

I turned to the blogs and forums, hoping some women further along in their pregnancy would shed some light on what was to come for me. I wanted the tiniest glimmer of hope, and by god, I searched for it. Most women said the nausea and the extreme fatigue would fade away by the 12th or 13th week.

Opening the same app I had used once to countdown to my vacations and my wedding day, I put in the date I would be 13 weeks pregnant knowing better than to bet on the shorter amount of time. As the days slowly dragged on, I rode it out.

I parted my hair far on the side to pull it over my crater forehead, I sucked on mint leaves and drank ginger teas. I smiled through the lurching in my belly, farting my way through the day hoping I could go poo because it had been over a week and my stomach was in agony. In the back of my mind I thought to myself; ‘Your time is coming!’ 

My brother’s girlfriend who has a son who is going to be two years old in September reminded me that everyone is different and her agony lasted not only the first trimester, but her WHOLE PREGNANCY!

I remember the sassy moment, when I shook my head, snapped my fingers and went “Hell Naw!” I had weathered the storm, I was almost through it… I would not stand in the eye and realize I still had more storm to weather through. I was done!

Luckily, I came out of my first trimester and felt like a completely different woman. Suffer no delusions. I didn’t wake up on the first day of my second trimester with a clear face, an easy stomach and an abundance of energy. My acne was still there, there just weren’t;any new ones that morning, I still threw up in the morning but my stomach settled after that and although I was still tired, I didn’t feel like every blink I took was one where I could easily slip into a coma.

Over time my acne faded slightly, not completely. I threw up only once in a blue moon instead of every day or every morning. The second trimester was looking a lot brighter than the first.

Thank whatever deity you want.

My baby bump still hadn’t made an appearance and that had me feeling a little blue. My clothes seemed to be getting tighter anyhow. My thighs and my butt were practically bursting the seat of my pants, yet at 15, even 16 weeks (depending on my bowel movements) my stomach was pretty much flat!

My second ultrasound was scheduled for my second trimester at the 18th week. I was excited to know I may get to find out the gender of my baby at this appointment! I was biting my lip in anticipation!

Bring it on! What’s mama having?

Boy or girl didn’t really matter too much, but my husband and I had a running bet on what it was and by the hair on the Grinch’s fingers, I wanted to win!

So I guess for now, I am going to pretend to be an adult and keep my cool until I get to this ultrasound and find out what we are having. Gladiator or Gladiator. Knight or Knight. Doctor or Doctor… come on guys, my kid can be whatever the hell it wants no matter what the gender.

So, I’m Pregnant- How To Tell Your Boss

When I first began trying to get pregnant, I wondered how the conversation with my bosses would go. I do not work in an office, I do not work for a big company where I could shrug my shoulders at the idea of taking time off, calling in sick, or revealing that I would be going on maternity leave for a year.

I work for this great couple with five year old twins as their nanny. I have worked for them for over two years and although there have been some long hours, some hair pulling breaking of habits and I have gone through every test against my patience that you ever could imagine, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

It is a Monday to Friday job, but there are some days when I am with the kids for over ten hours depending on whether or not they go to school (there were a lot of sick days early on).

At previous jobs, telling them I was pregnant would have been easy. I would have requested to have a word with them in private, gone into a superior’s office where I would have told them about my pregnancy and my intention to leave towards the end.

What do you do when there are no offices? When you get about fifteen minutes a day with your employers to talk to them before running out the door while dinner is being put on the table? I racked my brain trying to find the right time, trying to find the right words.

Firstly, I do strongly believe in waiting until you are out of your first trimester before telling your employer you are pregnant, unless your job may put you at risk during your pregnancy. I believe in this so strongly that I didn’t even tell my sister about my pregnancy until I was 15 weeks pregnant. I tell my sister absolutely everything.

We told our parents when I was 16 weeks pregnant and then we told my job after that.

In a normal job, I would have told my supervisor I needed to speak with them. Sent an email before hand to let them know I needed them to clear ten to fifteen minutes for a discussion. Then I would professionally tell them about my pregnancy and my plans moving forward. I do think at this time, it would be a good time to discuss doctor’s appointments if you work a typical 9-5 job. It would also be a good time to discuss modified duties if you typically lift a lot of do strenuous work.

My job is not particularly normal. I approached my boss in the kitchen about five minutes before I had to leave when he had just come in from work. I noted the kids were both out of ear shot and told him I needed to have a word with him and his wife. Now, we have a very open, honest relationship. So of course when I said this, right away his interest was piqued and he wanted to know everything, just them. It wasn’t how I had planned it. I had planned returning after the kids had gone to bed and speaking with both of them, but I told him right there, because it would have been awkward to do anything else.

In the days leading up to this, my nerves were shot. I played through the conversation over and over again in my head. I wondered if they would be disappointed. I know how much they depend on my and in a small way I felt as though I were letting them down. I wondered if they would be frustrated. Sure, I had given them ample time to find a replacement, but replacing a nanny is no easy task. When it boiled right now to it, the heaviest weight on my shoulders was the kids finding out I was leaving.

My social circle has gotten smaller and smaller over the years, and majority of my time is spent with these two kids who tell me everything, who look to me for lessons and guidance, who tell me their silly jokes, lean on me when they are tired or sad. In a way, I felt like they were mine. The realization that a day was coming where they suddenly wouldn’t be, was heartbreaking.

It would be someone else wiping away their tears, someone else giving them a stern look when they are being difficult, someone else rubbing boo-boos, and telling stories. How long would it be before they forgot all about me, just as they had their previous nanny?

Telling the people I worked for was a lot, but they took it well and have been nothing but supportive after. We didn’t tell the twins then. I felt it wasn’t my place to tell them, and their parents wanted to wait until later in the school year, when the excitement of summer clouded everything else they were being told.

Keeping such a big secret from two really important people in my life was such a task. It left me tired, had me biting my lip to keep from letting it slip, and it just made me feel heavy.

Every day I pretended everything was normal, wishing and hoping that this would be the weekend they found out.

Being an adult is hard. You have to pretend to know what you’re doing and when big things happen to you, you have to pretend they didn’t until the timing is right. There is this whole conduct of doing things, everyone seems to fall in line, like sheep but no one really knows who the shepherd is. We do it, because that’s what is done. Plain and simple.

Regardless of how you do it, how it all works out for you, I hope you keep sight of the horizon. Remember what is coming, what you are moving towards and keep at it. You are going to be a mom soon, and there really isn’t anything more important. In our own small way, we shape the world.

So could you at least pretend to know what you’re doing?

Baby Shows- What To Expect

IMG_0741At seventeen weeks pregnant, and during an awful spring ice storm, I ventured out with my mother and eight year old nephew to a baby show at The Enercare Centre, at the Exhibition Ground in Toronto.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I was a first time mom mostly excited about the possibility of freebies and coupons, and wasn’t sure what else the show would have to offer.

The admission to get in was $15, and children under 12 got in for free.

When you first walk in, it is a little bit overwhelming. Everywhere you look there are women in different stages of pregnancy wandering around. There are rows and rows of booths and it’s hard to know where to look or which way to walk. Do you walk towards the strollers, the cute photography booths, or maybe those adorable outfits that are causing your uterus to contract despite your baby only being the size of a poppy-seed?

I just did the rounds, making sure to see everything so I was thoroughly informed, keeping a careful eye on the coupons given to me at the door to see just how much I would be saving.

Overall, unless you go there with the thought that you will be spending thousands of dollars, there isn’t too much you will really jump at in regards to furniture and baby gear. There were all these intense strollers and car seats. All upwards of $1000. To be honest, if I had brought my husband with me, I probably would have spent a lot more money than I did. Although, I am not sure I would have gotten any of the strollers.

I have done more than my fair share of research and had decided at that point that I wanted a travel system. Although they did have some there, they were these high-tech ones that I couldn’t quite figure out and the sleek designs had me feeling a little nervous about putting my fragile newborn in them.

One thing that definitely caught my eye was this really cool up and coming company called Sprout.

Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 8.45.54 PMScreen Shot 2018-05-23 at 8.46.21 PM

As my stomach went from flat to “Dear God, I swear these fit me yesterday!” I wondered if buying maternity clothes was really something I was going to be doing. I am a thrifty person by nature, and the idea of buying maternity clothes just felt like a waste to me. Not to mention, there aren’t a lot of really affordable options.

Enter the brilliant Sprout Collection. Where you can browse their collection online, choose pieces and have them mailed right to your door. Once you are done, you send them back, they handle the dry-cleaning, shipping, hell, the only thing they don’t do for you is carry the baby. As I listened to the stylish, chic and adorable owner explain everything to me at the baby show, my eyes lit up.

Check them out here, worth a look.

At the show, they hadn’t launched yet so you had to sign up for an email list and hope for an invite. I am happy to say they are up and running now.

Of the few things I purchased, there were two things that I really, really loved and was happy to come by.

After binge-watching Jane the Virgin on Netflix, the episodes where poor Mateo got a flat head and had to wear a helmet had me thoroughly looking for a solution to that. I kept thinking, “Oh my god, babies lie down so much! How in the hell am I going to keep my baby from getting a flat head?” Insert Ellie Ears.

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I bought two of these! Why? Because they are adorable, exactly what I had been looking for and to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t decide between two of the patterns not knowing the sex of my baby as of yet and hoping for something gender neutral.

They aren’t overly pricey and at the baby show, they were together with another booth which earned me a discount on both items if I bought them together… and of course I did.

Adorable Ellie Ears

The booth that was sharing with the Adorable Ellie Ears was a towel place. At first glance, I didn’t pay too much attention to them, I was struggling to decide between the patterns I liked for the Ellie Ears and wasn’t looking at anything else.

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Fortunately, the woman working the booth was charismatic and pulled me in. Plus, the towel she was wearing at the time seemed to match the Ellie Ears I had in my hand perfectly.

She had the towel clipped around her neck like an apron and quickly explained how difficult it could be to juggle a wet newborn, shivering baby as you tried to get the towel around them. Just the idea of my poor wee babe shivering as I took a second too long to wrap them up made my heart immediately ache and… I bought one.

This is definitely a product I felt I would use and use often and would make my life so much easier. As a first time mom, I was hoping for things to help me through a time I knew would be stressful.

One Berrie proved it would do just that for me.

Believe it or not, I didn’t buy too much else besides that. There was a lot of big-ticket items I wasn’t ready to commit to just yet, and for the other things, I felt like I wanted to know the gender of my baby before I bought cute outfits and stuff like that.

These seemed to be the most useful items when I looked around.

I am sure a lot of other mommies with less self-control than me went bananas at the show. I saw some poor husbands, partners, mothers, and sisters carrying bags upon bags of items.

As a first go-er, I would definitely say I got a lot of information. Even if you didn’t plan to go and spend any money. Going just to get pamphlets from things like RRSPs, Service Ontario, and talking to a financial advisor about how much you need to save to pay for your child’s education was enough to make me want to go to another.

First time mommies, don’t panic. Just nod your head, act like you know what is going on and pretend you know exactly what you’re doing there.

Boy Or Girl?

I found out I was pregnant on January 16th, 2018. At the time, I was so excited and completely wrapped up in the new idea that I was finally pregnant, that I didn’t think too much beyond that.

I had this new, exciting secret.

I was pregnant.

However, as more time passed and my OCD started to kick into full gear I began to think about everything. Every outcome, good and bad. I researched and planned it all, every path my mind could have thought up.

When the dust settles, and you battle your way through all the fits of worry and endless planning, you stop and think about one simple thing; boy or girl?

You have this life growing inside you and you want to bond with it. You want a link and you want to start calling your little kiwi by the name you have chosen but will most likely keep to yourself for a few more months. This is a little difficult when you are constantly calling the baby it.

Typically, they say the gender is best revealed during your second trimester ultrasound, somewhere between 20-25 weeks. It was long before my 20th week when I started painting these mental images of my life and the small differences the sex of my unborn baby would make.

If you are a whimsical person, there are a few different things you can do to “determine” the sex of the baby before that ultrasound. You can pee in a cup of baking soda and water, whether or not it bubbles determines boy or girl. You can use the Chinese Gender Calendar method, which seems to be successful just as often as it is wrong.

I didn’t do any of these things. I hate having blurred answers. I hate the idea of maybes. I opted to wait for my second trimester ultrasound to determine the sex of our baby, however that didn’t stop my mind from wondering.

Turning to the forums that both kept me sane and shook my sanity, depending on the day, I decided to take a poll. Not to find out what everyone was having, but to find out what they hoped they were having.

When I was younger, I always liked the idea of having a baby girl. My reasoning was because I thought my life would be like the Gilmore Girls. I would be best friends with my daughter, we would be completely wrapped up in one another’s worlds and although we would disagree at times, we travelled through life together and our paths always worked their way back to one another.

My own mother described the differences between having daughters and sons to me. She always told me that raising girls was hard, it was an uphill battle from the time they could talk back to the time they were teenagers and eventually moved out. Similar, we were often at odds with my mother (my sister a lot more than I was). Raising boys, she said was a lot simpler. They were easier to entertain, they were like whirlwinds that seemed to leave everything slightly askew but they were easier. However, when they got older, they grew apart. They fell in love, and they created their own families, often forgetting about their mother, or leaving her a smaller role in their lives as their partner was usually close to their own parents. (Again, this is not always the case, just her opinion.)

Daughters, if you raised them right, grew up to eventually become companions. They were people that could sit with you, have a glass of wine and discuss life. They were phone calls you would spend hours on, just discussing your life and the ups and downs of it all.

Either way, raising children is an adventure.

According to the polls that I set out, it seems a lot of women these days would disagree with my mother. A lot of women want sons. This made a lot of sense to me.

I have worked with children all my life. I have been baby-sitting since I was twelve years old, long before parents asked for references and experience. I was a camp councillor, a daycare teacher, and even a nanny. My life, at one point or another, always seemed to be evolving around children.

In my own personal experience, I too felt like boys were easier. I helped my mother raise two of my brothers. Whenever a female cousin would be left in my care I would always groan at the idea of having to watch them. They always seemed like more work, like I needed to keep them entertained, always interacting with them. Boys kept themselves busy, almost a little too well and often they needed to be told to take a break from it all.

The poll had me wondering; “Why have a preference at all?” Are mother’s falling into the whole Mama’s Boy/ Daddy’s Girl lines? Children are blank slates when we get them, rough pieces of clay yet to be molded into anything, aren’t they?

Their very personalities are formed by influence. By the things we allow into their lives to shape them. Sure, sometimes children fight the molding we are doing, they become what they are to spite us rather than because of us, but even that is something we’ve done in a way.

So what does the gender of our babies matter?

When I was younger, when I had everyone else children and before I was pregnant with a child of my own, I thought I knew. It all seemed so simple to me. Boys seemed to be more fun.

Yet, meeting the right little girls has shown me first hand that there are girls that aren’t divas in training. There are adventurous, rambunctious, imaginative, wild and free little girls that make me smile and think; “Hell yeah, I want that!”

As far as I am concerned at this point of my pregnancy, the sex of my baby doesn’t matter. Healthy and happy, that is really all I want.

I’ll let you know what I think later (I will be honest, I am happier with the baby girl name we have chosen than the baby boy name, and my husband’s suggestions make me realize he will get absolutely no say in anything :P) when I actually do find out the sex of my baby.

Until then, I will pretend I know what I am talking about, and tell you that the gender of your baby is irrelevant.

That Elusive Pregnancy Glow

Let’s take a moment and go back. We’ll go back to before we grew up, back when we believed that acne went away once you grew out of puberty, back when we thought there were only two or three positions for sex, before we knew about cover-ups, and tampons, and all the other harsh realities that seemed to attack us women all at once.

Are you going back? Okay, let me know when you reach that part of your brain where you thought all pregnant women had this glow. Their hair was thick and vibrant and seemed like they were starring in shampoo commercials, their skin was flawless and dewy, all their weight went to their bellies and they were smiling and dancing and glamorous.

Stop there.

The wonderful, mystical pregnancy glow that transforms all of us women into unicorns. I’ve seen the movies, read the articles in the magazines, I have seen the commercials. What I haven’t seen, is this glow in my own pregnancy.

Considering the first symptoms of my pregnancy were constant and obnoxious gas and an abundance of acne. The bloating made me feel like I was showing until the constipation passed and then I realized my baby was a backed up food baby and not my actual baby showing. All of these things made me feel like this glow that they kept mentioning was like trying to spot Big Foot. I had heard the rumours, but had never seen the proof and at this point, it was beginning to feel more like a myth than anything else.

So, I get it ladies. You are reading through this, pregnant, feeling a little swollen and blue and wondering Girl what the hell and I reading this for? Well, I have a secret.

As elusive as that glow is, it is attainable!

Scrap what you thought it was. Throw away all those articles that tell you the hormones will do it all for you and all you have to do is sit back and marvel at your new beauty. Give up on hopes of just rolling out of bed and suddenly looking and feeling like a super model.

That pregnancy glow is all a state of mind. It’s what happens when you stop frowning at that ginormous pimple that has sprouted right between your eyes. It’s what happens when you take off the track pants and put on a bodycon dress that shapes your body and shows off that beautiful little (or big, depending on where you are) bump. It’s what happens when you fart on your husband/partner and then laugh about it. It’s what happens when your partner pushes out his belly and you take matching pictures. The glow happens… when you feel it!

One day you will push through that uncomfortable feeling, all those imperfections you were so focused on suddenly blur, and you will see yourself as this superwoman. You will push and strive for strength because suddenly you will realize that you want to be the kind of woman your baby will look up to. You want to be the kind of woman your child believes can shake and move the world.

That glow is what happens when you realize what you are made of, and each one of us is made up of more than we can ever imagine! There is no strength on this earth as powerful as a confident and determined woman!

The problem is, so many of us are blind to our strength, our eyes only glued on our weaknesses. We wait for validation, we wait for permission, we wait for the glow to come to us.

I feel like a lot of us are so overwhelmed in pregnancy. There is all this information we have to take in, all these tests we have to take, all this little worries and fears that creep into our minds about our unborn babies, we forget about ourselves. We forget that our happiness is as important to the growth and development of our babies as so much else. We forget our strength and fall to our weaknesses.

I’ve pretended to have strength, just as often as I’ve pretended to know what I am doing. I pretend I am okay on days when I feel like I am going to break down. I pretend I have all the answers when I am not even sure I fully understand the questions.

Don’t we all?

Fall into your strengths, maybe it will make all the pretending we do a little bit easier, make that glow a little more attainable.

Men and Women

They say men are from Mars and women are from Venus. That’s a very round about way of saying we couldn’t be more different. I like to chalk it all up to the differences in how we are raised. Girls are told to talk about their feelings, we are constantly asked what we are feeling and what could be wrong with us. Boys are taught to do things, their feelings are often not allowed to flourish quite the same way so they tend not to understand a lot of those feelings, or know how to properly express them.

These may seem like ways of the past, but I can see the differences daily. Boys are superheroes meant to fix things, save people. Girls are princesses. We put our sexes in these boxes and then we complain about what they grow to be.

In 2018, those boxes have grown, become more all-encompassing circles, however it’s not the case for everyone.

I think the differences between men and women seem most obvious to you when you are pregnant. Your hormones are on steroids and you are feeling so much all the time.

The first trimester of pregnancy can be extremely rough. I spent at least an hour in the morning hugging the toilet bowl, for the rest of the day I had that icky feeling you get when you are sure you are going to throw up any moment. Exhaustion shackled me, even something as routine as getting out of bed and getting dressed so I could start my day felt like torture. I was struggling to go through the motions and hoping the next day would somehow be easier.

In the back of my mind I had this fantasy that my husband would be this compassionate man who would rub my feet at every opportunity, pick up the slack around the house when exhaustion got the best of me, and understand what a struggle it all was. In reality, we were both exhausted. My husband has a very physically trying job and I was finally feeling as worn out as he usually did.

Emotions were high and I was feeling a little detached from him. In the back of my mind I kept wondering why he didn’t understand, why he couldn’t see I was growing a little person inside of me. It was a job outside of the job I was already doing every day.

In times like this I think it is important to note that although your husband/partner loves you, the pregnancy isn’t as real to them. They don’t feel those early symptoms, and until they can see the swollen belly, it’s hard for them to really understand that things are changing inside the body that still looks so familiar to them.

The first trimester can feel very isolating. To everyone else, you still look like the same person. For most moms in their first trimester, the pregnancy is something that you are keeping between you are your partner. You are struggling to cope with all the changes without hinting at anything.

My husband isn’t the villain in my story. I don’t want to paint him out to be. He is my partner and most days, he is my best friend. Try to get pregnant wore us both out a little bit, and on top of everything, we were both working busy hours. This meant that by the time we both got home from work, we were slumped unconscious on the couch. After being together for nine years, we are in this zone of comfort where we are so used to one another’s presence and moods, that a lot goes unsaid. It also means that a lot of the niceties and romances seem to be forgotten.

If I had been a lesbian, I would love to think my partner would be more aware of what I am feeling. I would love to think I would be getting my feet rubbed, desserts brought to me and lotions being rubbed on my growing baby bump day and night. The truth of the matter is all relationships require work. No matter who your partner is, it will require work. Pregnancy, unfortunately, is a time where you are so overwhelmed and tired, you forget you still need to put in the work.

Men, forget to put in the work just like we do. They have the same emotions, jump over similar hurdles. Yet, we still act as though we are on opposing sides.

Patience is key.

As is communication.

Men may be from Mars, and women may be from Venus, but we managed to get together somehow, didn’t we?

Who’s to know what I am saying. I am just an over-emotional pregnant woman wading through uncharted waters hoping I am going the right way. Pretending I know which way is the way to shore.

1st Doctor’s Appointment

So, you’ve taken the pregnancy test and gotten your YES, what now?

The first thing I did after taking my at home pregnancy test, even before I decided to tell my husband the good news about finally getting pregnant after months of trying, was make a doctor’s appointment. I had experienced the disappointment of not being pregnant for several months now, but it didn’t seem as real for my husband. I didn’t want to tell him I was pregnant in all my excitement and then have to go back and tell him it was a false alarm.

No use in us both being miserable if that turned out to be the case.

At the doctor’s appointment, it is pretty much like doing the test at home. You pee in a cup, the doctor comes in, he tests your urine and tells you pretty much right away. No waiting for results, no biting your fingernails. Easy as pie (which isn’t as easy as it once was).

Now, the doctor will give you a smile and a once over (as I look like I am more seventeen than twenty-six) and he will tell you that you are in fact pregnant. There will be a pause as he looks over your paperwork and then he will ask you about your cycle, if you know when your first day of your last period was, and such things to determine how far along you are.

Something that I didn’t know before trying to get pregnant is that they count the pregnancy from your first day of your last pregnancy. I was thinking I was two weeks pregnant based on my ovulation, but they would count that as six weeks pregnant. It is all a little bit confusing, but this is how they have done it for countless years, so who am I to question the scientific reasons behind it?

After you find out how far along you are, you will be sent for blood work to ensure everything is good and so they can assess your needs through your pregnancy. Then he will ask you the question that always has my mind going completely blank: “Do you have any questions?”

I of course stared at him for a few minutes before smiling and shaking my head. I drew a complete blank of course. However when I got home, I sat there kicking myself as a list started to write itself in the back of my mind.

“Can I still drink coffee?”

I am an avid coffee drinker. As a writer who typically has several short stories and novels in the works, I tend to be up late, brainstorming, writing down thoughts. This means that before I got pregnant, I was drinking three, maybe even four cups of coffee a day. The thought of giving it up entirely made my knees weak and had me chomping on my lower lip.

Yes, if you are a coffee drinker you can still have 200mg of caffeine a day. This is the equivalent of a small order of coffee a day. If you have a coffee at home, a mug is fine. If you are like me and love the frozen coffees in the summer a large Ice Cap from Tim Horton’s only has 150mg of caffeine in it. Their ice coffee is 160mg in a large.

I decided in the long run to cut out coffee while I was pregnant all together. Life as a mother is all about sacrifices and I could surely sacrifice my cup of Joe for the baby I have been working hard to get. Now before you turn your nose up at me, I have my reasons. One, you can get a cup of decaf that taste surprisingly just like coffee. Unfortunately I can’t get any cold coffee beverages out as they don’t come in decaf, but I made the choice because I realized just how many other every day things I consume have caffeine in them.

Iced tea, teas, chocolates and anything else with chocolate in it. That was probably the thing that made me go “Uh-oh. I have to cut out caffeine somewhere then.” No chocolate chip cookies, brownies, muffins. All the little things start to add up, and fast.

Is there anything I can’t eat?

Almost anything is fine in moderation. The one red flag that seems to go up is pre-packaged sandwich meats and hot dogs. Now the main reason these are shied away from is because of Listeria, which is really rare but you are more likely to get it when you are pregnant. I don’t think this would be as much of a problem if there hadn’t been that recall a few years back. These things are fine to eat if you heat them up to a temperature that kills the bacteria causing listeria. For me, I just skipped the sandwich meats and made sure to cook my hot dogs until they were practically bursting.

Is there anything physically I can’t do that I was doing before?

In the first trimester, your little poppy seed is so protected in there that you can carry on with your life as though you’re not even pregnant at all. You can lift, jump, run, whatever your heart desires. I even fell down the stairs at my moms townhouse, rode down about fifteen steps all the way on my bottom and the baby was none the wiser.

How much weight am I supposed to gain?

In the first trimester you aren’t supposed to gain any weight. You are supposed to keep your calorie intake the same as it was pre-pregnancy. This was something I didn’t know and I had to look into. My first trimester was pretty rough and I ate very little because I spent most of my time doubled over my toilet. Every day I was worried the baby wasn’t getting enough. Had I known this, I would have avoided a lot of stress.

How much throwing up is normal?

Unfortunately the term Morning Sickness is called that for some unknown reason because if you are like I was, it will happen around the clock, all the time. Basically, as long as you stay hydrated you are fine. I was trying to force myself to eat something, but no matter what I put in it came back up.

I started drinking lots of Gatorade and Powerade. It kept my electrolytes up and kept me hydrated.

A new question pops up every single day, and I have come to the conclusion that we can’t know all the answers. Our parents had babies with a lot less information, and their parents before that. Even though I feel like I know nothing, I know a lot more than my mother did, just like my doctors know more than hers. Every day we learn something new.

Even if you don’t have all the answers, chances are, you will be fine and hopefully nine months from now, you will have a healthy, happy baby.

But if you’re like me, and a bit of an over-worrier make a list. Write down all your thoughts and bring it to you to your doctors appointment.