19.9.17

what i've learned: year one of motherhood

I continue to marvel at the fact that every single member of our species has been born and brought to independence by so arduous a route. 
-Rachel Cusk, A Life’s Work (I love this book)

A friend who is due to have her first baby in October recently asked her friends about personal experiences with labour and those first few months after having a baby. At first I hesitated, thinking, I am no expert. I only have one, and I have only been at this for slightly over a year. As I thought about it, though, I realized that I have learned so much. Mostly I learned that you will never quite understand the things people tell you will happen until you’re in the thick of it yourself. All those things you never quite believed would or could happen to you: they will happen. We took a class and I read all the books, and I was prepared for sleep deprivation, cluster feeding, and how to heal, but so much was trial by fire, I suppose. I spent a whole year asking “How do people manage more than one?” Here are a few key things that I have learned; this is all old news to experienced parents, but everything here took me by surprise. Also, that thing about it being the deepest love you will ever know? That is true.


They do sleep! Also, we love our Maxi Cosi Jool convertible seat! It’s a comfortable ride for him and I love how I can throw the cover in the washing machine. (This is the Sparkling Grey model to match the infant seat we had—oh boy, tiny Luca).

1. Fear is powerful.
Luca was about ten days overdue when we went in for an induction. I didn’t have any expectations for labour and delivery. I thought I would go along with whatever happened, although I was aiming for the so-called “natural” birth everyone holds up as the ultimate experience. I read the books by Ina May Gaskin, I did visualizations, I wrote in journals, I practiced the yogic breathing, and I didn’t get this experience. I was induced using four different methods and after all of it, I was no further ahead than I had been the week before. A few other complications along the way, and I ended up having a c-section. I was 100% okay with it. That said, looking back, I think that my fear of losing the baby was a powerful force in leading me to have this birth. I didn’t regret it in any way, and the c-section was fine and I recovered quickly, but afterwards I did want to burn the Gaskin books, and felt crushed every time I encountered the term “natural birth.” The weeks that followed were an even more fearful time for me. I didn’t feel confident in my new role because I hadn’t known that much about babies, and wasn’t I supposed to be wearing a swimsuit on a beach at 6 weeks postpartum, holding a baby above my head and laughing like everyone (everyone!) on Instagram? Why was the Explore page always showing me tanned blonde beautiful women in Australia nursing three week old babies while wearing bikinis? The postpartum period was deeply dark and terrifying for me, but luckily I had access to some helpful resources (not everyone does, and this is a terrible fact). The fear eventually subsided when I became more confident. But I wish autocorrect didn’t change “basket” (as in Moses basket) to “casket” and “grace” to “grave” (a pretty good way to make a new mother weep).

2. Oh, so that’s why people are obsessed with napping schedules and baby sleep.
Before I had a baby, I honestly thought babies slept all day. Well, some of them might. Mine did not. Nap time is the only time during the day that a caregiver has to unwind, to clean, check email, to pick things off a to-do list, maybe eat some lunch while sitting down, to take a breath. But when you have a cat-napper as I did/do, you can do your best to try to cram everything into a 30 minute slot (or even 5 minutes sometimes?), but there isn’t much that can be done in that short a time. I tried not to get too wound up, tried to convince myself those things could wait, and just went with the flow, but there were many days where I spent all of his naps sobbing because I was overwhelmed and tired, and I had work to do. When baby is awake, you spend every moment meeting that baby’s essential demands: feeding, changing, reading books, playing, keeping the baby safe, etc. Maybe that sounds like fun? But it’s exhausting, especially when they get mobile and you literally have to follow them everywhere. Some babies are happy to chill out in a swing while you do dishes or make dinner, or to sleep on you while you get your hair cut at a salon. I did not have one of those babies! We ended up going out for a lot of walks, which was actually really nice, and sometimes on those walks he would sleep for longer periods of time. Sometimes once he was asleep all I had the energy to do was stare off into space, which made me feel so guilty for not being productive. It all wreaks havoc on you.

3. Babies will fundamentally alter your relationship with your partner.
Whenever people I know have babies and immediately gush on social media about their partners, I despair a little bit. In a few months, in the fog of exhaustion, with your nerves completely frayed at the sound of a baby crying inconsolably, you will snap at each other. You will bicker more than you ever have. You can have the most supportive and helpful partner in the world (and I do!), but when you can’t take your frustrations out on a tiny, helpless baby, and you’re so sad that you can’t seem to help, you will look to the closest human and unleash. Maybe this doesn’t happen for everyone but it certainly has been the case for nearly every new parent I have confided in. People don’t talk about this openly because maybe it’s embarrassing, or because it portrays a less than perfect image. I had always been so proud of the fact that we had great communication and didn’t fight, so maybe this made it harder to accept. But I can’t think of something more human than a full range of emotion shared across a partnership. Also, much of this is because...

4. Your self-esteem will most likely take the most enormous nose dive it ever has.
I’ve spoken to a lot of people who felt amazing during pregnancy, but it seems that often, around the time that the baby is six months old, women start to feel awful about themselves (this article states that self-esteem is lowered for THREE YEARS). This has definitely been the case for me. I still have a hard time looking in the mirror. I gained a lot of weight during pregnancy (I did run a 5K in the early days, but couldn’t keep up with exercise), my chest has never been so enormous (not a look I like for myself), and I just don’t have time to worry about my appearance. Breast-feeding was not the magical weight loss tool I was told it could be, mostly because on hard days I could devour a box of donuts. I tried going to a yoga class, but I had a four month old baby who wailed the whole time because the class was during naptime, and my wrists were way too sore for many of the poses (that’s another thing that happens! Your wrists get really messed up). I’ve never felt like a great beauty, but it really isn’t pleasant to feel that you would prefer to be invisible. I see women on social media who look amazing post-baby but I wouldn’t be surprised if even the most perfect-looking women still feel a little badly about themselves. When I started back at work I felt extra vulnerable because I didn’t have a stroller to hide behind. Never mind catching glimpses of my tired face in the reflection of the windows on the subway. Oh and then you feel guilty for being vain. We can’t win.

5. Those post-partum hormones are no joke.
When I brought the baby home, I found myself being very careful never to complain about any of the difficult parts. After all, it was something I had wanted so badly, had dreamed of and wished for, and I used to feel upset when new parents would complain about lack of sleep, etc. I thought, you don’t know how lucky you are. Once I had the baby, I felt guilty because I had a baby when so many people I knew were struggling (let me just pause that for a second: I felt guilty for having a baby, even though it had not been easy for me at all). I tried to be so careful because I knew other people were hurting. I didn’t want to seem ungrateful, and I didn’t want anything to be less than perfect (the idea of perfection is an obsession, it would seem). I didn’t let myself release any of the difficult feelings I was grappling with, and ended up needing treatment.

6. Everyone is different. Everyone is different. Everyone is different. 
What’s that joke about how I was the perfect parent before I had kids? Yeah. Once you have a kid you realize how little other people’s choices matter because they don’t affect you at all, and most of the things people judge others over have nothing to do with imminent danger (it’s almost always something trifling). Also (and this is something I have to keep reminding myself about still), some people can make it look super easy, and some people are just graceful and elegant no matter what. They have babies that sleep all day, they are able to get out of the house every single day for some alone time, they get together with their friends and bring their chill babies who just sit there and look around, they have a few kids and they always look impeccable. But again, this doesn’t mean anything. Maybe that is merely the image they’re sending out into the world. Maybe they have a lot of help. Maybe they don’t have post-partum depression. Or maybe they do! None of us has any idea what happens behind the seemingly-perfect scene. I did my best at all times, and if that meant that I was too nervous to nurse my baby in public, fine. If that meant that I didn’t take him on a plane, fine. But again, I do have to keep reminding myself of these things because seeing what other people are capable of with newborns or even older babies STILL makes me feel awful. I should have done better, etc.! But survival mode is very real, and I truly did my best.

7. Your baby may end up being your little barnacle.
To this day I still don’t know how to find a babysitter. I didn’t realize just how hard it would be to be apart from the baby as a nursing mother (pumping never worked for me). When Luca was just five days old, I had to go to the emergency room. It really struck me then that I couldn’t go anywhere without him, since he was nursing every few hours and I had no idea how long I would be there. I was so scared to take him to the hospital with me, with all its germs. Luckily the nurses found a small room with a bed for me, and he was so tiny he curled up on my chest and slept there the whole time. I was lucky in that I could take advantage of the one year of maternity leave Canada provides, so I didn’t have to pump at work, but I did have to take him everywhere I went for a long time. I was okay with this, but it meant that I didn’t get any alone time for quite a while. I could occasionally leave him with Geoff for an hour or so, but I didn’t do this very often because I actually didn’t love being away from him, and if I got a text that the baby was fussing I would head back. It was a learning process for all of us, and this part certainly got easier with time.

8. In the absence of a village, having a core group of friends you can text or email for advice is invaluable.
If you find a friend who can text you through baby’s first fever, hold that friend tight (thanks, Lauren).

9. You may lose yourself, even momentarily.
This was another one that I truly didn’t understand until I was there. I didn’t even really know what it meant. People give parents such a hard time for posting photos of their babies; I lost literally thousands of followers on Instagram once I had a baby, which really hurt (I know I shouldn’t take it personally, but how could I not? I also found myself having conflicting feelings about posting his photo at all, but that is a whole other discussion). The truth of it is that we don’t have TIME for anything else. It was a year of the me & Luca show. Some women are able to balance a lot of things at once and they can continue indulging in their hobbies and whatever they’re interested in. Doing this when children are young requires a lot of help, often hired. Not everyone has this option. Some people do make it a priority to have time to themselves, even while being the baby’s main caregiver, and they are really good at this. I never really was. I’m slowly making my way back now that he’s a little older and slightly more independent, and picking up little enjoyable projects (knitting, sewing, reading, etc) goes a long way.

10. A year goes by in the blink of an eye.
All of this said, I cannot believe how quickly it went by. I remember having moments where I thought “please let me never forget this, this moment right now,” but sadly I don’t remember what it was that I was trying so hard to remember. If I didn’t have an archive of baby photos on my phone I would forget what it was like to have a baby with the tiniest hands and feet I had ever held. These moments are so fleeting but they are the greatest things in the world.

Oh and also: 11. If you take the batteries out of noisy toys, they might never know they’re supposed to make noise.

4.8.17

mayana geneviere

For National Breastfeeding Week, I wanted to tell you about my favourite nursing bras (and currently my favourite all-around bras!). They’re by a local company, Mayana Genevière, and what makes them special is the patented ALUXTRA™ Clasp-Free Technology that allows for the cups to be pulled down without getting stretched out. No clips, no bulky cups, no wires, and they even fit me (at my last professional measuring I was a size H, cripes). You can slide the decorative indicator to the left or right as a reminder of where you left off. They are made of the softest, finest lace, and you don’t have to be nursing to appreciate them. I haven’t felt glamorous in a long time but these bras certainly go a long way towards making me feel a little fancier under my clothes.

I visited Mayana Genevière’s owner and founder, Nadine Woods, at her studio in the Junction a few months back and it was such a wonderful visit. Luca was a little cranky that day and she was so lovely with him. The seamstresses even took turns carrying him so we could chat!

Mayana Genevière lingerie is available online and at select specialist stockists.

 








4.6.17

a sparkling cherry beach morning

Last weekend my little fam had a photoshoot with one of our favourite local photographers, Arden Wray (you may remember the Boots & Pine project she started five years ago!). I’ve been feeling a bit tender about having my photo taken lately, and I was nervous, but I knew that if the only photos I had with Luca were selfies, I would regret it. Luckily Arden is the sort of photographer that I trust implicitly: she knows how to take a flattering photo, and she won’t even show me photos that she knows I won’t like and that will make my self-esteem take a hit. She’s magical (she even turned these photos around in one day).

We also had the privilege of borrowing the Long Weekend’s VW bus for the shoot, the sweetest little restored pale blue bus in town. We went down to Cherry Beach and it turned out to be the most beautiful morning. I am thrilled with these photos!




I didn’t bother doing much with my messy hair or my makeup to keep it as natural as possible, but I wore my new Mildred Handmade dress for the occasion. I love this dress. Speaking of women that I trust implicitly: I went to Laine’s studio and tried on a few of her samples, and we settled on a few different elements from different pieces which she then made into something just for me. I also ended up with this sand-coloured linen, which was unexpected but which felt right. It’s not visible in these photos because of my hair or because of the baby, but she made it nursing-friendly with a line of buttons at the neck. I haven’t treated myself to any new clothes in a long time, so this felt really good. If I only had linen tunics and dresses in my closet, I would be pretty happy. They are great uniform pieces.





9.5.17

my updated baby essentials (and not-so-essentials)

This post is sponsored by PlaytexBaby, as I explained in my post announcing the #PlaytexMoms partnership!

Back in November, I wrote about my baby essentials, and I am happy to say that most of it still holds true! We still adore our stroller, our carriers, and I have the white noise machine whirring away at this very moment. Now that Luca is nearly 10 months old, though (how!?), we’ve outgrown a few things. We no longer use the Solly Baby wrap or gripe water, for example, and Luca is more interested in board books than cloth books, but we’ve also added a few things. I thought I’d update the list. I’ve also decided to write about a few things that I personally found totally useless, because I am the queen of going overboard and I learned my lesson(s).

Skip Hop DUO Convertible High Chair: We love this high chair! It’s stylish and modern and actually matches our dining room chairs pretty nicely. It’s not too large, and it’s also not too complicated to use. Best of all, it converts into a toddler chair for later use! I love baby items that have a long life span because those are quite rare. I thought high chairs were just for mealtimes but it’s a great place to put the baby while you make your morning coffee, or make dinner. Luca likes to sit in his and play with toys or eat some snacks. This chair is so easy to keep clean.

Baggu Nylon Bags: These are perfect to use as wet bags! A good way to bring home wet or damp things without messing up everything else in your bag. Plus, so cute.

Playtex® Diaper Genie® Elite: A classic for a reason! We had an (expensive, I should say) enamel can when Luca was first born and even though those early exclusively breastfed poops (sorry, can’t talk about diaper disposal without bringing up poop) were almost sweet-smelling, sometimes his nursery had a not-so-sweet smell that lingered. Since we got the Diaper Genie®, we haven’t had to worry about odours. These days Luca is crawling and tries to get into everything, but there is no way for him to get into the Diaper Genie® (believe me, he has tried). I love the gentle pastel colours it comes in! It’s also so easy to use and change. Easily available, it can be purchased at Amazon or Walmart.

Bamboobino baby washcloths: A friend gave these to us as a baby shower gift, and they are the best! So soft. I tell friends who are putting their registry together to basically buy 100 soft tiny washcloths. They come in so handy for a variety of messes.

Loulou Lollipop pacifier clips: I bought a few of these and ended up making some as well, but they are so useful! Luca used a pacifier for only a hot minute but these are good for attaching all manner of small toys to your stroller or car seat.

Ikea Kladdig sleeved bib: Whoa, are mealtimes ever a disaster. A smock-like bib is the best kind of bib. These are inexpensive and easy to clean.

Skip Hop Explore & More Activity Center: Okay, I know people refer to these as the “Circle of Neglect,” but it was great when I needed a minute to prep dinner or use the washroom. This one has a lot of wonderful things going for it: it isn’t too huge, it isn’t ugly, and best of all, it turns into a table (once again, I love baby gear that you can use for a few years)! Luca was pretty self-regulating when it came to this piece of equipment and he didn’t want to be in it for more than a few minutes at a time, so I didn’t have to worry that I was neglecting him. The first time I put him in it he went right for the little trees and was so happy. Now he mostly cruises around the sides.

Special mention: books, books, books! I’ve been posting some of my favourite books on Instagram with the hashtag #fieldguidedreads. I don’t know how interested other people are but it’s fun for me!

As to the things I found we didn’t need:

-Fancy swings. We bought one that cost a small fortune and looks like it’s from the future, and it most definitely did not work miracles for us. He rarely fell asleep in it and once he hit about 4 months, he started trying to sit up in it, which was kind of scary! We got the best results from bouncing him in our arms while sitting on a yoga ball. We also probably could have gotten away with one of the inexpensive swings, if we really wanted one. Every baby is different, of course, but I regretted that purchase, especially since I had to buy the infant insert to go with it (silly since it’s only used for infants!).

-SOOOOOOOO MANY SWADDLES. I don’t know, we just didn’t swaddle him that much? We swaddled him when he was overtired in the first few months, and some babies really need to be swaddled, but I had been lead to believe that we needed so many swaddling blankets and we could have gotten away with owning maybe two swaddling blankets.

-Teething toys! Luca just isn’t much of a chewer. I have purchased so many cute things that he can chew on (a marbled heart, a wooden moon, frozen teethers, teething pads for the carriers, etc.), and he really only chews on his fingers, if anything at all. This one really surprised me, I thought it was mandatory to own a Sophie la Giraffe! Maybe it will change but he’s cutting his top teeth now and still no chewing. So maybe hold off on buying every cute teething toy until you know how much your baby likes to chew.

-Adorable and tiny baby sunglasses! He pretty much laughs at me when I try to put them on him and he pulls them off in an instant. Serves me right!

27.1.17

goodbye, oreo

Since our cat Oreo was such a big part of my blog when I was updating it more regularly, I felt as though I should write something in honour of her. If you follow me on social media you will know that she passed away on Monday. She was really quite ill, although her illness came on quickly. We had a mobile vet come over and it was all very peaceful and respectful, with the (amazing) vet saying a little prayer as she injected the euthanizing agent. Oreo hadn’t been herself in a while, and she was about 14 or 15, so I thought it would be easier to say goodbye. It’s been wretched. She was a part of my life and Geoff’s life for 12 years, and there through so many of the most significant events of my life: moving in with one of my best friends, Annie, into the cutest and shabbiest apartment in the Annex; moving in with Geoff for the first time; getting married; having Luca. In the end she had lost a lot of weight, had a tumor in her mouth, and she was blind. Continued treatment might have bought her some time, but her quality of life would have suffered. Forever the food lover, she still managed to have a good-sized meal before she went.


Annie adopted Oreo from the Toronto Humane Society in 2004. Oreo had been there for almost two months, looked over. I found the document Annie was given that was filled out by her original owners; she was born in 2001 and was surrendered because they were moving. Oreo moved to new  apartments once with Annie and twice with us. We were originally going to look after Oreo as Annie got settled in New York City, but she became our cat.

Before I met Oreo, I thought of myself as a dog person. She was my little shadow, following me from room to room. She was quiet in her affections, but always a comfort to have around in difficult times. When I was hospitalized in 2014, I wanted someone to sneak her in for a visit and morale-boost. I didn’t know how much I would miss her presence. I keep seeing her out of the corner of my eye, I still sleep with my knees bent to accommodate her at the foot of the bed, and I still reach out my foot to see if she’s there. I keep expecting to hear one of her sneezes or funny little sounds that we called trumpets. I still say (like a dork) “We’re going home to kittens!” until I remember that there is only one now. When Luca came home for the first time she kept her distance, but occasionally came over to lie next to him. I worried about this, but it was always fine. I wanted him to know her as he got older. I got her paw prints in the mail yesterday, sent by the vet, and while it was the most thoughtful gesture, I definitely sobbed when I saw them. She and Pony were never friends, but Pony has stepped up the leg-rub game.

I am a little rusty in the meditation department but I have tried a golden cord meditation to try to tell her how sorry I am. Goodbye, original dream cat. I love you.

25.1.17

this is my happy: the happy baby carrier

I recently said that while Geoff has his thing that he spends money on (plants), I have mine, and that thing is baby carriers. I never thought I would get... addicted (?) to them, but I kind of am! I have already written about how I find them absolutely essential in the city (or otherwise!), but I also love having different styles on hand to suit my mood, or the situation.

Shortly around the holidays, Happy Baby released their linen soft structured carriers, and it was love at first sight for me. I was able to take advantage of an amazing Black Friday deal to try out the carrier in Charcoal, although I later couldn’t resist the carrier in Flax as well (a classic natural neutral). Linen is one of my absolute favourite fabrics ever, so this was very exciting.


What I love about this carrier is that it is so minimal in appearance but also in design; you can carry an infant in it without an insert, and there is a small hood that is tucked away in a pocket at the front. It’s incredibly lightweight, and because it’s made of linen, it will soften up with time. It is really unlike any other carrier I have tried! It can be used from newborn to 45 pounds. Luca is about 17 pounds at the moment and I carried him around the Royal Botanical Gardens for about an hour with no pain (and I am prone to back pain).

I feel like it is definitely one of the more stylish carriers around (when so many of them can look a little... granola), and it comes in so many amazing colours. I don’t need another but I have been admiring that marigold for ages! They’re also handmade in the USA, which is nice, and they have AMAZING customer service.


The images below are from Happy Baby. Ooh I just love that Charcoal!





16.1.17

keeping cozy with maxi-cosi

*This is a sponsored post in partnership with Maxi-Cosi Canada. All opinions are my own.


One of the first items we chose for Luca was his infant car seat. We knew how important it was for him to be not only safe, but also comfortable, and we also knew the hospital wouldn’t let us take him home without one! Luckily we made a great choice in the Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30. I’ll be giving one away on Instagram soon, so look out for that!




This seat is wonderful: it’s much lighter than many other seats (just over 8 pounds without the base, which stays in the car anyhow!), and after purchasing the proper adapters, it clips right into our Bugaboo Cameleon or many other popular strollers, which is convenient since Luca tends to fall asleep in the car. It also happens to be a seriously adorable seat! When I saw the fabric on this Sparkling Grey model (a Snugglebugz exclusive), which is grey with tiny white polka dots, I was thrilled to see how cute it is. The fabric is also easy to remove and is machine washable. The seat is beautifully designed with a comfortable and ergonomic handle, gets high safety ratings, is easy to install with one-click UAS, and, importantly, fits in our car, which is a not-overly-large Honda Civic LX sedan. It also is one of the snuggliest seats out there: there is extra padding around the head, as well as an insert, which is very comforting to newborns. With some seats you have to add receiving blankets around the head for an appropriate fit, but not with Maxi-Cosi seats.


Bringing Luca home was such an emotional experience, of course. I remember when Geoff left our hospital room to get the car seat: I was so nervous but I couldn’t wait to get Luca home and give him a little tour of our apartment. We had the car seat installed professionally and had a lesson on how to use it a few weeks before, but the idea that we were leaving the security of the hospital with this tiny baby was overwhelming. I’ll never forget how it felt to see Geoff carrying the seat in the elevator, and I still have a photo on my phone of a teeny tiny baby sleeping in it (I felt so lucky that he fell asleep on the drive!). I had had a c-section so I wasn’t able to lift anything heavier than my tiny baby, but to be honest those first six weeks are such a blur. I look back at photos and think, how could I have had such a small baby? I also remember the panic I felt any time we went out with him: will he have a meltdown that will cause us to turn back around? It’s amazing to think of how much more confident I am now, and how he has grown into such a good sport as I drag him all around town in his car seat. I really love this seat! We may not have a luxury car but Luca sure has a luxury ride.



28.11.16

des enfantillages

Yesterday Geoff and I went to the One of a Kind Show and the very first booth we encountered was for Montreal’s Des Enfantillages. I was already familiar with their work because I had ordered their amazing balancing game from Garmentory a while ago, so it was fun to see all their products at once. Des Enfantillages makes cheeky products for kids out of wood, with sleek designs and punchy colours. Everything is handmade by the owners, Geneviève Lugaz and Christian Laforge.

We couldn’t resist picking up a puzzle for Luca even though he won’t be able to use it for a while. It’s nice enough to display in an adult’s room, I think!









22.11.16

repository pt. 14: my new baby essentials

So I have only been at this motherhood thing for slightly over four months, but I’m finally starting to feel a little more confident. A little! There’s a new challenge every day, of course, but so far it’s been as magical and wondrous as I had hoped. It’s so amazing to watch this little person grow and to see his personality start to shine.

I thought I would round up a few of the products that I have found to be helpful: some are just plain pretty, but some have been revelations! Incidentally, nearly all of my money goes to baby things these days. Also, the fact that I spend hours trapped under a baby, unable to do much other than use my phone, means there have been a few too many late night online shopping sessions. And maybe a fair amount of emotional shopping (is that what you would call it?).

Incidentally this post took me just about forever.

Baby carriers: Carrying Luca has been one of the greatest joys of the past few months. I love having him snuggled up against me, and now that it’s gotten colder, we help keep each other warm! When he was a newborn he resisted being carried (at least until we got him outside into the fresh air, which seemed to calm him), but now that he can hold his head up and look around, he seems pretty content in there. We love different styles, from the Ergobaby (a soft structured carrier that has a lot of back support—Geoff loves this one too), to the Solly Baby Wrap (a stretchy wrap made of jersey), to the Wildbird linen or chambray ring sling (I find this one a little challenging to use because I have a so-called seat-popper of a baby!). Now that he is over 15 pounds we’ll probably use the Ergobaby carrier the most (we have the 360 because we have a baby who wants to look at the world rather than snuggle against my chest all the time), or try out a double linen ring sling, although I’m still trying to use the Solly as much as possible! In my experience having a carrier is essential in a city, because sometimes you can’t take a stroller on public transportation (no elevators in the subway, you don’t want to get dirty looks on a crowded bus even though that’s not your problem, or you live in a city like Toronto that weirdly uses streetcars that have stairs and are therefore impossible for strollers, the elderly, anyone with a disability...).

Marpac Dohm white noise machine: Luca kept falling asleep outside the doctor’s office, where one of these would be whirring. He is quite sleep-resistant but this seems to help. It has an actual fan inside; it’s not canned sound (sometimes the repetition of sounds can annoy some people!).

Nursing wear by Loyal Hana: I thought buying maternity clothes was bad enough, but nursing is even more challenging! So many of my button-downs no longer actually button down at the chest, and while at home I’m fine with just pulling up whatever I happen to be wearing, I’m not so easy breezy in public. These tops and dresses have zippers at each side which makes them so convenient and also discreet.

Booker Vest by B & Me: When carrying baby, I’ve been using this fleece vest under my coat and over the carrier or wrap, and it’s kept us nice and toasty. I was worried that I would have to stop wearing him in the cold but so far this has worked so well. It’s also one of the cuter options out there!


Bashful Bunny Grabber by Jellycat: Luca received this super soft rattle as a gift and I like it because it was one of the first toys he was able to grasp and hold and wave around. I didn’t even realize babies couldn’t grasp toys right from birth, ha!

Pom Pom Bin by Petit Pehr: I have a couple of these and they look so pretty in the nursery. I also have one that I keep a few board books and toys in so I can carry them easily from room to room. A little baby entertainment kit.

WaterWipes: I have been having a hard time finding wipes I like. At home we use washcloths with warm water, but when we go out, that isn’t so convenient. These wipes, which only contain water and a drop of grapeseed extract, aren’t perfect (the package is heavy, I’ve seen complaints about mould since they don’t contain preservatives, they’re relatively expensive), and they’re not biodegradable, but so far I haven’t had any issues and they have worked well! (I also like Aleva Bamboo Baby wipes, which are biodegradable.)

Nest by Native Wilds: This is a multi-purpose item that can be used as a car seat cover (especially handy on really sunny days), nursing cover, and shopping cart cover. It’s made of the softest fabric (from sustainably grown eucalyptus trees) and comes in a variety of prints. I keep one in my diaper bag always!

Clothing from Mini Mioche: I love everything from this local designer. No plastic tags that irritate baby’s sensitive skin, unisex, comfortable, and oh so cute!


Art Cards for Baby by Wee Gallery: We have a couple of sets of these high-contrast animal flash cards and Luca LOVES them. We keep him on his changing table and they make really good distractions. In fact he has tried to fish them out of their boxes on his own! I once strapped him in and ran to the kitchen to get something, and when I got back he was holding a full box of the cards. He just really loves looking at them and talking to them (although lately he’s more about shoving them in his mouth).  

Bugaboo Cameleon3: I know it’s a fairly expensive one, but I adore this stroller. It handles so well, it’s beautifully designed, and now that we’ve taken the bassinet off and put on the regular seat, it’s become a nap machine (I didn’t think stroller naps were a thing for us, but it turns out that Luca just didn’t want to lie on his back). I honestly can’t say enough good things about it! When we have him in there with his wool seat liner or high performance footmuff on, I get kind of jealous and wish I could be wheeled around in it. So cozy.

Bandana bibs from Aden & Anais: These are great for soaking up all that baby drool. Yum.

Cloth books: Cloth books, especially ones that crinkle, can amuse Luca for quite a long time, which is so handy when I’m trying to make dinner. It is really the cutest thing. He has a few that he received as gifts from wise parents of older children, including I am a Bunny.

Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water: A really miraculous tip we received was to dip a pacifier in gripe water. I was skeptical, but this move has saved us from meltdowns many times. I don’t know what’s in it (I’ve heard it referred to as baby gingerale) but it calms him down immediately. I have to order this organic brand from the US but it’s our favourite. I carry a bottle of it with me whenever I leave the house, although I don’t seem to need it as much as I did when he was teeny tiny.

Skip Hop Grab & Go Stroller Organizer: I used to see these on strollers all the time and never saw the need, but then once I was out using a stroller regularly I saw how useful it is! It keeps all the tiny essential things handy, like my phone and some small toys.

11.11.16

you care too much


Earlier this year, my friend Erin Klassen (you may remember her from her book Portraits) asked if I would be willing to write a piece for a new book project she had started about self-care. I was quite flattered to be asked, and since I haven't done any “real” writing in years and years and years, it sounded like a good challenge. I know that the term “self care” has become a bit of a buzzword lately, but the way Erin presented her feelings on the subject was compelling in that she wanted us to examine what happens after trauma:

As women, I think we often learn about how to care for ourselves when we've been through trauma of some kind — whether emotional or physical, trauma can be big or small. Sometimes things need to get dramatic, or we need to feel our lowest before we truly understand our needs. Women give so much to others naturally. We are communicators, feelers, connectors, networkers, problem-solvers and caregivers. We are champions and counsellors for our friends, family, lovers. Read this amazing article for more about women + emotional labor. We want to have everything, often at the risk of ignoring our capacity to take more on... and then what happens? Burnout. Frustration. Disappointment. Depression. In those moments, if we're self-aware, we do the things we need to in order to recharge so we can get back to fulfilling our role as emotional laborer. That's called self care. From my perspective the interesting part of this topic is in the “trauma” that leads women to discover their needs and personal definition of self-care. That doesn't look like a list of stuff you do to feel better, like take a bath or drink more water, it looks much more complex and varied. It looks messy. This topic should address the vulnerability that leads us to finding inner strength.

She had read the post I had written here years ago about my first miscarriage, and knew a little more about my situation from our conversations, and asked if I would be willing to write about it. It had been something I had been meaning to address in writing, whether for myself or for a wider audience, so this seemed like a good chance. And so I have a piece in here about my year of recurrent miscarriages, what to do when your own therapist tells you you like to feel sorry for yourself, and how I managed to find a sense of safety and peace in the 12+ months of my life that felt frantic and lonely. It was incredibly painful to write; I recall an email to Erin in which I wrote WRITING IS HARD. I also finished writing it in the month or so after Luca was born, when my emotions could not have been more raw and when I burst into sobs at the slightest provocation.

The book, You Care Too Much, is here, and I am so proud to have been a part of it. Erin is a phenomenal editor and she has assembled quite an amazing team of writers and artists: Tallulah Fontaine, Winnie Truong, Brooke Manning, Angela Lewis, Jessika Hepburn, Leah Horlick, Vicky Lam, Jen Spinner, Christina Yan, Adina Tarralik Duffy, Kathryn Bondy, Erin Klassen herself, Sofia Mostaghimi, Nada Alic, Naomi Moyer, and Mo Handahu.

The book, which will be released on November 16, is available for pre-order here, and if you live in Toronto, there will be a launch party at The Steady on November 23. Information here.