Saturday, 24 December 2011

I know it's not Thanksgiving but...

"I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet."

This was one of my father's favorite proverbs when I was a kid and I heard it many, many times. As a child, hearing this saying used to give me a little pang of guilt for being an ungrateful brat before I brushed it off and pushed it to the back of my memory. It must have stuck somewhere back there because lately I think of it all the time.

It started when my son got sick with a fever which sent his sleeping patterns into a downward spiral. It was at that moment that I realized I shouldn't have complained about his 30 minute power naps because no napping at all was much worse!

That was a small example but then I started seeing and hearing of other situations that made me start thanking my lucky stars every day.

One day I saw a sick child (might have been blind but I couldn't tell) out being taken care of an elderly woman who might have been a nun (but looked like a saint to me). My heart sank and swelled as I looked at my healthy son in his stroller and said a silent prayer of thanks.

Then I heard of an acquaintance of an acquaintance whose baby passed away tragically. And suddenly I was hearing these heart-wrenching stories everywhere. They made me want to take my baby in my arms and never let him go.

It made me realize how truly blessed I am to have everything I have ever wanted - a happy marriage, a healthy child, a home of my own and a job that I love.

So even though it's Christmas, not Thanksgiving, I want to take this opportunity to give thanks for all my wonderful blessings. All I want for Christmas is everything I already have.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas surrounded by your loved ones and a New Year filled with health and happiness.

...and to those with children who still wake at night, I wish you a silent night!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Last Christmas

Source: via Felicia on Pinterest

Last week, baby boy turned 10 months old. And all of sudden, I found myself saying "where did my baby go?!" This is not a baby anymore! He's a curious, crawling, alert little boy. I didn't expect him to be like this so quickly. I thought he would be a 5-month old baby for so much longer. I hate to sound like a cliche, but it's all going so fast!

It got me thinking about our lives at this time last year. A year ago, I was getting to the "big as a house" stage of my pregnancy. I couldn't think past my due date in February, let alone imagine Christmas with a 10 month old. An almost-toddler with eight teeth and an insatiable curiosity.

A year ago, my Christmas gifts were baby pajamas and toys. As I opened each gift, I tried to imagine the baby who would be using them. I remember rushing around trying to finish preparing the baby's room, trying to pack my suitcase for the hospital and cooking up a storm to fill our freezer for the return from the hospital.

This year, I'm mentally preparing for my return to work in just over a month. Thinking about baby's first birthday. Preparing my mom for her job as our first daycare provider. How quickly things change!

My husband and I find ourselves marveling at baby boy's every move, hugging and kissing him and clinging desperately to this magical age because before we know it, he'll be a teenager.

I have to admit that I wasn't the biggest fan of months 7 through 9, as my baby became newly mobile and was going through a major separation anxiety phase. At that point, I began to look forward to going back to work. I also dreaded it because I couldn't imagine how this mama's boy would handle it.

But these days he's so much more independent and cheerful. He's spending more alone time with his daddy and his grandparents without missing me. His motor skills are improving and his daily discoveries are bringing him (and us) all kinds of joy. Life is good in our little family.

Now suddenly I'm not so thrilled to be leaving my little man behind while I go back to work in a few short weeks. I know he'll be totally fine, but I will be sad to miss out on his daily changes and progress. Ah well, that's life. It's time for mama to start bringing home some bacon!

In the meantime I intend to enjoy every second of the next few weeks, especially baby boy's first Christmas!

Happy holidays everyone!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

The Food Chain

He may only be 10 months old but when it comes to how my son plays with other children, size matters.

Lately we've had a number of what we'll call "playdates." I use the quotation marks because, let's call a spade a spade, the kids don't really play together. It's more of a chance for us mommies to get together.

The children my son has met have ranged in age from 3 years to 2 months. Some have been the same age and others just a few months difference.

What has resulted is an interesting study in human behavior. And the possibility that my son could potentially grow up to be a bully. I have seen the future and it involves a lot of discipline.

When it came to playing with babies his own age, my son pretty much ignores the other kids. Well, they all ignore each other as they crawl around exploring, going through other people's purses, attempting to stick their fingers in electrical sockets and so on.

Exposure to much younger babies in the two to four month range was a bit of a scarier experience. He was fascinated by these tiny creatures who were actually smaller than him. He wanted to touch them, grab their feet, their hair (such as it is) and trample them. Then when he determined that he is, in fact, bigger and stronger, in a final act of showing off, he let out a bloodcurdling scream in the babies' faces. Fortunately at that young age, the smaller babies aren't bothered by those loud noises. So their reactions are the best - they simply stare my son down as if to say "What do you want, you big bully?"

The older kids, on the other hand, were a whole different ballgame. Independent, strong, able to play with more complicated toys and not super interested in younger babies, these kids are definitely good role models for my little guy. He knew better than to mess with them too. He checked them out from a distance, decided he was no match for the mighty 3-year-old and then quietly played alone or with me. Ahhhh what a relief.... No policing required!

Then there was that one disaster date in which my son terrorized an 8-month-old boy. Deep sigh. I really thought that since they were only two months apart it would go much smoother. I seriously underestimated the difference that two months makes in a baby's life. This child was just a bit smaller than my son, so naturally my son asserted himself by pawing at him and screaming in the other kid's face. At 8 months of age, this baby (who was also clearly more docile than my little monster) was also in the throes of separation anxiety. So naturally he cried every time my son the bully came near him. In my son's defense, he was excited and interested in this new, somewhat smaller, person. However, the way in which he demonstrated his excitement was a little scary and overbearing. Unfortunately there's not much you can do to control the behavior of a 10-month-old, besides prying him away from the other kid and telling him "Be gentle, sweetie. We don't scream at our friends." Meanwhile, we all know those words were more for my friend's benefit so she doesn't think I'm a terrible, unfit mother. I just hope the experience didn't leave her son with any permanent damage.

If there's anything to be learned from my recent experiences, it's this. Always play with older kids!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Baby's First Christmas!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in our house - or at least, in our living room, the one un-babyproofed off-limits place in the house. The tree is decorated and lit up, the stockings have been hung and I'm playing Christmas music in the house every day.

Since it's baby boy's first Christmas and he's not completely oblivious to the world around him anymore, we wanted to institute some new family traditions. I had visions of having a big family gathering in our house, but life has gotten in the way and it's not gonna happen. So it looks like we'll be doing the usual Four Christmases routine again this year, our annual holiday roadshow visiting all the different homes in our family. Only this year, we'll have a pack & play and a pair of baby pjs in our bag.

That being said, I asked around for some ideas of new family holiday traditions we could implement. I got lots of great ideas, some we could start with now and others to try when baby boy's a bit older. Here are a few ideas I was given:

1. Start an ornament collection. Get a new ornament for every Christmas as a memory of your child's year. When the child is older, they can help you choose the ornament.

2. Take a day and make gingerbread houses or Christmas cookies together. Play holiday music and decorate the cookies or houses in fun ways.

3. Spend a day volunteering with your child to help the less fortunate during the holidays. Maybe it's shopping for a Christmas toy or food drive, making gift baskets for families in need or volunteering your time with a local charity.

4. It's no secret that kids get lots of toys and clothes at Christmas. A lot of people suggested that before the holidays, ask your children to go through their toys and clothes and choose a few things to donate to charity. This has a double benefit of making space for the new toys that will come in, and helping others at the same time.

I like many of these ideas, especially the ones that involve giving back. We are blessed to have so many good things in our lives and this year I feel especially thankful to have my own healthy, beautiful baby.

Tomorrow, baby and I will go shopping for some toys for kids and make a donation to a local charity making gift baskets for families in need. I'm looking forward to making this an annual tradition.

Then maybe we'll give visiting Santa another try. The first two attempts were a somewhat hilarious but tearful event. Maybe the third time will be a charm!

What are some of your family
holiday traditions?

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Time to stop and smell the roses

I will be the first to admit that I often use this space to complain about my son's suboptimal sleeping habits and my exhaustion. This past week was a bad one for me as I agonized over how to get him to nap longer and have a more regular 9-month-old schedule.

So when I took him to his doctor for his regularly scheduled checkup yesterday, one of my first questions was "what can I do about his bizarre nap schedule?"

She told me something that made me feel better than I had in a long time: "There's absolutely nothing you can do about it." Some babies, she said, simply have short sleep cycles and there is nothing to be done for it. As long as he's sleeping well at night, if he naps for only 20 minutes at a time, so be it.

At first I was disappointed at not being offered a solution but then I realized the sooner I accept it, the sooner I can enjoy life with my son rather than be frustrated by it.

When my husband came home last night, we talked it over. He pointed out that it seemed like since the baby was born, we were always worried about something - breastfeeding, sleep, teething, colds, etc... All things that are admittedly part of raising a healthy baby and which can be worrying to first-time parents.

But how often do we just take the time to enjoy our happy, fun, lovable little bundle of energy? Not often enough.

We will never get this time back. He will only be a baby once. He will only have one first time doing everything. Before we know it, he'll be a sullen teenager locked in his room.

As the end of my maternity leave looms large, I vow to enjoy the little things, to try not to sweat the small stuff and to stop complaining about the things
I can't change! If he only wants to sleep for 20 minutes, getting frustrated won't solve anything.

So dear readers and friends, I hope you don't have to hear me complain too much more in this blog. And if I do, I will do my best to ensure that it's in the name of a good laugh.

Because if there's one thing there's no shortage of in this house, it's laughter. The good kind - big baby giggles that usually end in squeals of delight. I'll take that any day over meaningless worry and frustration!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Throw me a bone!

One of the universal truths of parenting a baby: it's always something. There's always some kind of phase in progress. If it's not one thing, it's another.

Sometimes they're fun phases, like when baby starts babbling, saying "mamamamama" constantly. Or making a funny face or adorable gesture.

Sometimes they're phases that make you want to tear out your hair, like difficulties nursing, teething, or separation anxiety.

Sometimes there a few things going on at once. Like right now in my house.

After a summer of non-stop teething, the fall was relatively quiet as new teeth arrived unceremoniously, bringing baby's total number of teeth up to a whopping six. He has four teeth on top and two adorable teeth on the bottom (why are those bottom teeth so much cuter, I wonder?)

Suddenly this week, he's biting me at every opportunity (especially when
I'm nursing - ouch! Time to start weaning...). He's bursting into tears for no reason and gnawing on everything within reach. Okay, no problem. It's a rough patch but we've been through this before. Nothing a few teethers and a little Tempra can't help.

Except that he's also fully entrenched in another phase - one which is fun for him but not so fun for me. He's in the "throwing everything on the floor" stage. Ostensibly he's doing this so he watch me pick the objects off the floor and he can throw them back down again. Fine, I can see how this would be fun for a nine-month-old.

Now put the two together and what do you get? Screaming, crying and throwing things on the floor non-stop. The things he's throwing are the ones he's supposed to be using to soothe his sore gums. Oh yeah, and while he's crying he's wailing "Mamamamaaaaaa..." Sigh.

All I can say is thank goodness this doesn't happen all day long. But if you call my house and it sounds like feeding time in the monkey cage at the zoo - well, now you know why.

Monday, 21 November 2011

The wisest words

For the past two weeks, there has been an Occupy movement in my home. As in, the virus that has "occupied" my son's body. Like the protesters, it has refused to leave and persistently championed its cause. Well, the virus has finally grown weary and is on its way out. After 7 days, baby's fever has finally broken and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It seemed like this thing would never end! I took baby's temperature a zillion times, cleaned his runny nose repeatedly, kept a cool compress on his forehead, held him while he slept in my arms for hours, and inevitably ended up letting him sleep in our bed almost every night when I was desperate for some sleep. All the amazing progress we made in sleep training went right out the window.

It was an extremely frustrating situation and it was just dragging on and on and on...

As I've blogged, tweeted and Facebooked my way through this illness, I've gotten a lot of concerned queries and advice from friends and family. One of the best things I heard, though, was a few simple words: "This too shall pass."

In the early days of baby's life, when I was dealing with colic, nasty diaper rashes, and spending hours nursing him, I would repeat those words until they became a mantra of sorts. It gave me comfort to remind myself that nothing lasts forever and that the rough moments would be a distant memory before long. And the words proved to be true. We overcame all of these challenges with time and patience.

I haven't had to give myself that kind of pep talk in a long time. So hearing those words reminded me of the comfort that comes with simply accepting that time changes everything.

The moment when you realize that this, too, has indeed passed, is one of the best feelings. That moment is the proverbial sigh of relief. And it's the moment when, for just a second, I appreciate how nice it is for things to be normal... Until the next storm hits. But for now, I'm just going to enjoy the peace and quiet for as long as it lasts.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The things I did for love

Being a parent makes you do things you probably never expected. As a first-timer I've learned that when it comes to your child, it's not as gross as it may seem from the outside looking in.

Here's my round-up of the things that I used to wrinkle my nose just thinking about...but now they're just part of the job description.

You know it's love when...

1. You sniff your baby's bum and you're happy when it smells like poop (well, not too often....)

2. You carefully scrutinize and analyze said poop for changes in color, texture and odor (Liquid? Solid? Green? Brown? Yellow?)

3. You lube up a thermometer with Vaseline and stick it in baby's butt several times a day when they're sick (and I'd you're lucky, you won't get pooped on in the process like I did last week).

4. You willingly suck the snot out of baby's nose using a torturous-looking contraption known as a nasal aspirator. (Why did no one ever tell me that children aren't capable of blowing their own nose until they're 2 or 3 years old?)

5. Having an audience when you go to the bathroom no longer seems like a big deal (hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go!)

This is a short list but I know there's so much more to be said... Parents, what did you never imagine you'd be doing when you had children? Let's keep this list going!

Monday, 14 November 2011

A few of my favorite things...

It's been a lousy week. Baby boy got sick, got better and is now sick again. He has maintained a cheerful attitude throughout it all but I have not been so happy. I know it's selfish but I'm so tired of being stuck at home and sleep-wise, it's been a nightmare.

So in an attempt to cheer myself up, please allow me to be indulgent. When I'm ready to sell my son to the gypsies I find it helps to focus on the things I love about him. So here's my round-up:

1. I love how every week brings a new skill or move or sound. This week, he started to point and pick up items with his thumb and forefinger. Seemingly tiny and insignificant gestures but they are huge developmental milestones for a 9 month old.

2. The look of intense concentration on his face when he's focused on something. He furrows his brow and purses his lips as he tries to figure out whatever he's playing with. It's as if he's trying to understand the theory of relativity.

3. His giggle, especially when brought on randomly by simple unexpected things, like flicking a light switch.

4. The dimple in his left cheek. Need I say more?

5. Big wet kisses that he only gives to me (sorry Dad!)

6. The way he bops up and down and waves his arm when he hears a song he likes.

7. His favorite "word," which is not really a word at all. He repeats the sound "cot, cot, cot," over and over again, especially when he's happy.

Okay I could go on and on but I'm sure I've bored you already and possibly lost the few readers I had. But I definitely feel better already - I'll try to remember this list the next time he's driving me up the wall!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Fever Pitch

Baby boy is sick. His first fever hit this week like a ton of bricks and it's no fun for anyone. I'd like to say that my mother's intuition kicked in the second I felt his hot little forehead burning up, but I'm not gonna lie. When it comes to my sick baby, I have no idea what I'm doing!

When to see a doctor? Give him Tempra? Cold compresses? Strip him down or cover him up? Use a humidifier in his room? How to get him to sleep when he seems too uncomfortable? How to get him to eat when he's refusing food? And oh my God, he just pooped when I stuck a thermometer up his bum!

The poor thing doesn't seem to know what he wants either - other than to be in my arms. So we're a confused pair this week, just cuddling our way through this illness.

Thank goodness for mommies. And I don't mean myself, but my own mommy, who came to my rescue today to help me out. She took turns holding Mr. I Just Want Hugs, gave me advice, made us lunch and dinner and kept me company. She also diagnosed him with a stomach flu, after he refused to eat, drink and produced a few nasty diapers.

I've said it before but it bears repeating: I have a newfound appreciation for my mother since becoming one myself. Not only is this the hardest job in the world (and yes, the most rewarding) but when I'm taking care of my baby, she's still there to take care of hers - me.

It may not be Mother's Day but today I'm showing mine all my appreciation. And I know that one day I will follow in her footsteps and be there for my babies, no matter how old they are.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Adventures in sleep training

It's been a big week for baby boy! For the first time ever, he finally slept through the night this week. Hurray! He only did it once but that was a good enough for me, for now. It seems in line with his usual pattern. Any time he does something new, it happens once but then isn't repeated until a few days or even weeks later. But then it's constant.

For example, he's been very tentatively working on pulling himself up against furniture. It happened once successfully about two weeks ago and then nothing until this week. The other day I walked into his room to pick him up from a nap and almost had a heart attack when I found him proudly standing up in his crib! Now it's his favorite thing to do.

I know full nights of sleep will soon become the norm. Sleep training has been going really well. He no longer cries when I put him down to sleep and there are few instances where we have to let him cry it out during the night. He sleeps 3 - 4 hour stretches and only wakes to eat once during the night. So I'm a pretty happy Mom these days. My nights are no longer a nightmare.

Daytime sleep, however, is still a challenge. It is my albatross, my Moby Dick, so to speak. Those naps are still short and sweet and they seem to be getting shorter. It is completely frustrating! Thirty minutes is an unacceptable nap time for an 8 month old baby, at least in my opinion.

I know what needs to be done. Sleep training has done wonders for the night. It's time for nap training. In other words, letting him cry it out during the day too. But it seems so much harder than at night when my husband is there to support me and encourage me not to run to him when he cries.

I approach nap training like some people approach a diet. I keep saying "I'll start tomorrow. Or Monday." I keep putting it off because there always seems to be a good reason not to start yet. But I promised myself that once nights were under control, I would tackle days. That time has come.

Plus I am officially returning to work in 3 months, which is really soon (gulp). I need to get him on a normal schedule because I won't be around to coddle him to sleep during the day anymore.

I can do this, right?! If I tamed the wild beast at night, surely I can manage days too. It's time to change! Again.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

You can't always get what you want

Baby boy is in full-on exploration mode these days. He's mastering the art of crawling - he still crawls a bit like a worm, tummy on the ground, using his elbows to push himself along.

As he crawls he's discovering all kinds of interesting stuff on the floor. Naturally, he's only interested in the things he really shouldn't touch. Like electrical outlets, wires, and my husband's personal favorite, the Playstation 3, which we also use as a Blu-Ray player. In other words, the Holy Grail of "don't touch!"

I have yet to do a full baby-proofing job on my house. There just never seems to be enough time! So while I've covered up some outlets and cleared rooms of certain easy-to-reach dangerous items, I have to spend a lot of time chasing baby and keeping him out of non-baby-proofed areas of the house.

Naturally, human nature prevails and he takes a much greater interest in examining the things that are taken away from him. How many times have I had to pull him away from the TV? Countless... I can only imagine what's in store when he (very soon) becomes a toddler and starts walking! Meanwhile I guess I have to get a head start on teaching him the word "no!"

This need to explore isn't strictly limited to crawling time, either! Make no mistake, those oh-so adorable diaper ads on TV of the babies crawling, rolling, scooting and running away from diaper changes are not simply entertaining. They are a true reflection of my life.

Diaper changes are impossible these days. He rolls over, crawls away and wants to touch everything around him. He does not want to be held down! You can just imagine how much fun it is to change a poopy diaper these days.

Little buddy, one of life's cruelest lessons is unfortunately beyond your comprehension right now but you should know one thing: you can't always get what you want!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

So you think you know genetics?

When I was pregnant, one of the things I used to daydream about was what my baby boy would look like. I wondered whose eyes he would have, what his little nose would look like and if he would inherit his daddy's long eyelashes.

I was absolutely certain of one thing though. With both a mother and father who have curly dark brown hair, hazel brown eyes and olive skin, he would have the same coloring. I used to tell everyone that I had no doubt about that.

When he was born, he was little miniature version of his father. But as the days and weeks went on, he started to morph into a fair-haired, blue eyed little boy. His eyes are now big, round and a beautiful deep blue that get commented on everywhere we go. I might be biased but I think he's a pretty handsome little boy.

But he looks nothing like what I envisioned and he certainly doesn't look like my son! I look more like his nanny than his mommy. He still looks like his father but the coloring throws off the resemblance quite a bit.

Fortunately I do know where he gets these traits. He did take something from my genes, which is my mother's French-Canadian/Norwegian fair complexion and crystal blue eyes. But as it turns out, blue eyes need to be on both sides of the family in order to be passed down to your children. There are people with blue eyes in my husband's family but we're talking great-grandparents.

I was never very good at high school science but I remember being fascinated the day we talked about genes and how certain traits are passed down. Clearly I retained nothing from that day's lesson or I might not be so surprised today whenever I look at my son and think "Where did this kid come from anyway?!"

In spite of my astonishment, I think he's pretty lucky to have been blessed with the big blue eyes that I always wanted. Watch out girls of the future!

Friday, 21 October 2011


My 8-month-old son loves books. He eats them for breakfast. He devours them. I mean that quite literally.

I can't read him stories anymore because he wants to chew on every single book I try to read him. He has no preference for author, illustrator or size of book. He doesn't care if they're colorful or if they rhyme. He just wants them in his mouth.

I've always believed in the importance of reading to babies, no matter how young. But it's kinda hard when your kid would rather snack on Green Eggs and Ham than read about them.

So I've had to memorize a few just so he can get a bit of a literary education. I can recite several in my sleep, including Goodnight Moon, Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed and Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? These are of course some of the simpler children's books on the market but it won't be longer before I've mastered Guess How Much I Love You.

I guess it will be a little longer before we can sit and enjoy a good book together...the way they were meant to be enjoyed, that is.

On the bright side, he also really enjoys gnawing on his baby toothbrush, so I'm feeling pretty good about his oral health. Then again, he's got a lot of book residue stuck to those gums so the toothbrush fixation makes sense...

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Will you still love me tomorrow?

It's no secret that my baby boy is a terrible sleeper. It's gotten to the point where my friends say they think of me in the middle of the night when their little ones are keeping them up. Just call me the poster child for sleepless nights!

I didn't think our nights could possibly get any worse but over the past week they escalated to such heights of sleeplessness that I found myself bringing baby to sleep in our bed, something I swore I'd never do. But it was better than waking up with baby every half-hour. Anything to get some rest!

This week we decided that enough is enough. Baby, you are not the boss of me! I am the boss of you. Time to start sleep training... Again.

Sleep training, for the uninitiated, can mean many different things. Essentially it's implementing a process to try and get your baby to sleep through the night. For many (and for us) this means letting your baby "cry it out". I tried a lot of different things and finally decided this is the only approach that will work for us.

For a long time, I didn't want to go this route. I thought letting your baby cry seemed cruel and unnecessary. But a few months ago, we decided to give it a try. It didn't work. I had read that for most kids, within a week of letting baby cry it out, they'd be sleeping through the night. I know now that the reason it didn't work was that we were being inconsistent. Some nights we'd let him cry, other nights we wouldn't. I struggled with hearing him scream alone in his room. Maybe it just wasn't the right time. It went on (and off) for weeks. So we stopped and I went back to waking up with the baby every time he woke. I felt like he needed reassurance and nurturing during a time that he was going through so many developmental milestones.

I wasn't doing him any favors. The nights only got worse, especially when you throw the arrival of five teeth into the mix. He's been cranky and restless and clingy and just not the baby I knew.

So this time I vow to stick with it. I will be consistent and I won't bend. He may be stubborn, but I'm more stubborn.

Two nights in, I'm already seeing major improvements. He seems to be sleeping more soundly and is sleeping for longer stretches at a time.

In the mornings we are both better rested and much happier. And the best part, he still loves me even though I let him cry alone in his crib. I have a feeling things are changing for the better!

Friday, 14 October 2011

The breast spots in town

Hey breastfeeding mommies! As you know, one of the nice things about breastfeeding is that (if you're comfortable) you can feed your baby anytime, anywhere. During the warm summer months it was nice and easy to feed baby just about anywhere, from park benches to the backseat of the car!

As the colder fall and winter months are now upon us, that may be a little harder and much less comfortable for both mommy and baby. So here's my round-up of some of the best places for breastfeeding in Montreal...

1) Fairview Pointe-Claire: one of the nicest breastfeeding rooms in the Montreal area is in the food court of this shopping mall. There are two rooms, one larger one for mothers only and a smaller family room where daddies are welcome to join mom while she feeds baby. Both rooms are equipped with comfy couches, change tables, sinks and microwaves. The environment is also quiet and nicely decorated, which makes these rooms a comfortable oasis in an otherwise busy mall.

2) Rockland Shopping Centre (in TMR): This swanky mall has an equally swanky family washroom which is nicely equipped with a play area for kids, a corner with comfy chairs for moms and dads to feed babies, large bathroom stalls and a large counter for changing diapers. My only criticism is that the changing counter is made of a hard stone surface which can be uncomfortable for baby and with no straps to secure the baby, the risk of them falling is higher. But the room, situated in the food court, is otherwise great.

3) Carrefour Laval: this ginormous mall in Laval is so big, they have 2 spots for breastfeeding. One area is much nicer than the other so choose carefully. The nicer of the two breastfeeding rooms is located at the washrooms between Mexx and B2. In this area, there are two small, dimly lit rooms with rocking chairs and a soothing environment for feeding baby. Just outside the rooms is a changing area and a family washroom.

The other breastfeeding room is located in the bathroom area near Starbucks and the Bay. It's a much sparser area with uncomfortable chairs for breastfeeding and that's about it. If you want to change baby's diaper you have to go into the neighboring washrooms but it's a bit awkward to maneuver your way from one room to the other. So when in Carrefour, I recommend the other breastfeeding room every time.

4) Complexe Les Ailes (downtown Montreal on Ste-Catherine St.): This urban mall features a lovely little family breastfeeding room complete with a rocking chair, change table, a kitchenette and even a little play area for older kids. It's a nice space but be warned, there's only enough room for one family at a time in this spot. It's located on the first floor near the information desk where you have to ask for access to the room.

There you have it - my top spots for breastfeeding when you're out and about. I'm sure there are others but these are some of the best I've seen.

Where do you breastfeed baby when you're out? Any suggestions I haven't discovered?

PS - We're lucky in Montreal to have so many great places that are accommodating of families and especially breastfeeding moms. On a few recent trips to the U.S. I found there was much less available for families. Maybe that was just my experience - if you're aware of family-friendly spots south of the border, let me know!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Working on the night moves...

It seems that when it comes to my son, there's always some reason for sleepless nights. Growth spurts, teething, feedings, teething, teething... Did I mention teething?

These days he's completely restless because he's learning to crawl and is constantly in exploration mode, even in his sleep! He'll be sound asleep, then all of a sudden he'll flip over onto his tummy and start crawling around his crib, waking himself up in the process. And me, of course!

It's non-stop, every hour. Then putting him back to sleep becomes an impossible task.

According to popular parenting expert and pediatrician Dr. William Sears, "Major developmental milestones, such as sitting, crawling, and walking, drive babies to "practice" their new developmental skills in their sleep." (For more interesting facts about infant sleep, read 8 Infant Sleep Facts Every Parent Should Know:

So it's been a non-stop after-hours party in my house this past week...anyone else ever experience similar issues?

Thursday, 6 October 2011


There are days when being a mother to a baby is a joy... When naps and feedings are a breeze and they're just a sweet bundle of cuteness. When you can pop your baby into their stroller and go for a nice long walk in the crisp fall sunshine while you count your blessings.

And then there are the other days.

The days after a night of hell spent trying in vain to get your baby to sleep. The days when napping just isn't on your baby's agenda. The days when whining and crying is the only way they want to communicate. The days when your hair is pulled and your skin pinched so much you think the neighbors will think you're abused! When putting on a diaper is like pulling teeth (actually that's every day). When motherhood seems like more of a curse than a blessing.

I like to refer fondly to those days as motherhell. On days like that, I spend an inordinate amount of time threatening to drop my baby off at the closest orphanage. I drink too much coffee and think about a nice stiff drink.

Today is one of those days. Raise your hand if you know what I'm talking about!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Go outside and play, Mom!

New motherhood can be an isolating experience. Yes, it’s true that you’re now joined at the hip with another human being, but until they can talk, the early days of maternity leave can be lonely and boring. Don’t get me wrong, in the beginning there were days when I hardly had time to brush my teeth between feedings, diaper changes, doctors’ appointments, having my washing machine repaired (yet again) and trying to catch a nap after a long, sleepless night. In fact, the first few months of my baby’s life, I calculated that I spent an average of six to eight hours a day breastfeeding, especially during growth spurts. But there came a day when feedings became shorter, diaper changes fewer and further between and I realized there was simply no way that my baby would nap for stretches longer than 30 minutes at a time. Suddenly I had more free time on my hands and I wanted to get out of the house!

I’m fortunate that I had a few other new mother friends and family members that I could call on for company (and those numbers are growing – yay!) but I’m a social butterfly and I needed more. So here are some of the things that I found in my neighbourhood that helped me cope and still do, to this day…

Hit the gym
Before baby, I used to be pretty religious about working out and going to the gym at least four times a week. I even did prenatal aquafit and yoga when I was pregnant (not that it stopped me from gaining 55 pounds, but I digress). So one of the first things I did when I could was sign up for stroller aerobics twice a week at the YMCA. It was a great way to help shed the baby weight, not to mention getting out and meeting other mommies.

Now that baby is bigger, we’re also doing something (also at the Y) called Aqua Parent and Baby. It's basically an aquafit class where your baby joins you in the pool, floating around in a little “boat” made of heavy Styrofoam… okay, that might sound dangerous, but it’s completely safe and there are least three lifeguards on duty, I promise. Plus, the instructor, Loretta, has seven children of her own (and grandchildren)... need I say more?

Take some classes
One of my favourite spots in Pointe-Claire is a centre called Belles Mamans. It’s a pregnancy and parenting centre that offers classes, workshops, informational support, playgroups and yes, coffee. They offer everything from fitness classes (mom and baby yoga or salsa, anyone?) to workshops on subjects like introducing solids, baby massage, infant CPR, etc… Just last week, baby and I attended a fun afternoon there making handprints and footprints…something I might have attempted to do at home, but in this case, someone else provided the art supplies and did the cleanup! We also take a music class there once a week, which both my son and I love attending. I think this a pretty unique place and I love it. It would be great if more resources like this existed for moms everywhere. If you live in Montreal, I highly recommend visiting Belles Mamans.

Catch a flick
Once a week, Cineplex theatres show movies for mommies with their Stars and Strollers offering. Parents and babies can hit up their local Cineplex theatre to catch a movie in a baby friendly environment, including stroller parking and a change table. It can get a little noisy in there when the baby orchestra gets going (why is it that when one baby cries, all the others want to join them?) but as parents, I’m pretty sure we’re capable of drowning out a little noise as we escape with the latest Brad Pitt movie!

Those are some of my favourite playtime activities… what are yours, moms?

PS – I wasn’t compensated by any of the abovementioned companies for endorsement. I just like 'em!

Friday, 30 September 2011

My first lesson in parenting

As mentioned in my intro post, I had warm and fuzzy visions of myself blogging from the beginning of my baby's life, talking about all the ups and downs of new motherhood while he napped happily in his crib for 3 hours at a time. I would be sipping a cappuccino in my spotless kitchen and tapping away on my laptop with beautifully manicured nails... Ahem, sorry, daydreaming again. Needless to say, that hasn't happened yet!

However, in my last long and boring weeks of pregnancy, I did start writing, so I may as well share the one and only blog post I wrote during that time. Here it is... enjoy and feel free to laugh at me. I know I'm laughing at myself today! Shoulda known that would have been my last full night of sleep - be careful what you wish for!

February 11, 2011 - My First Lesson in Parenting

As I write this, I’m 41 weeks pregnant… a full week past my baby’s due date, and just one of a majority of women who learn the hard way that 75% of babies make their way into the world late.

As a general rule, I’m a very organized and always punctual person. I almost hate myself for always obnoxiously arriving everywhere early – even when I try to be fashionably late, I can only manage to get there five minutes late. I don’t do it on purpose; I was just wired that way. Possibly, it has something to do with my own birth, which was scheduled early on September 28th, very reasonably so that I would be accepted into school right before the deadline of October 1st.

I’m not just perpetually early; I’m also compulsively efficient and like to get things done quickly. There is a reason for that – I hate the feeling of letting a task or responsibility go unfinished for too long, because it will inevitably fall to the bottom of the priority list and either never get done or will be done in a half-arsed way. All that means is that I would disappoint the person who is waiting for me to deliver whatever it is that needs to be done. Do I have issues? Yes. Am I type A? Absolutely.

Despite my need for speed, control and punctuality, I’m still a pretty reasonable person and I get that things just don’t always happen as planned. So when I got pregnant, I spent a significant amount of time preparing myself mentally for the fact that many, many things would be out of control. Will I be a slave to a tiny infant? Yup. Will my house be a mess and my laundry basket ever-overflowing? Definitely. Can I handle it? With a few deep breaths and a supportive husband, yes, I assured myself that I could handle it.
I even knew that most babies go past their due date. In fact, I kind of hoped that I would have a nice, drama-free, scheduled induction, so I could arrive at the hospital, stress-free and ready to give birth at a pre-determined date and time. What I didn’t know is that my hospital insists on waiting 11 days past the due date to induce babies.

I stopped working two weeks before my due date for a number of reasons. I wanted a clean break from work, time to rest, to mentally check out from the office and get any last-minute stuff done before baby’s arrival. I also wanted to give myself a buffer, in case the baby should somehow decide to arrive early.

Week one was a breeze – I kept busy, wrote thank you notes for all the lovely baby presents I’d received, visited my parents, and just tried to enjoy my last little bit of freedom. The second week was a bit longer… my house had never been cleaner, every scrap of laundry done, the freezer full of home-cooked meals for post-baby arrival. So I napped and started baking. I reasoned that surely we would have many visitors the following week (when baby was here) and wouldn’t it be nice to serve home-made biscotti with coffee? I would dazzle friends and family with my domestic prowess and my well-rested, cool, calm and collected approach to new motherhood! Bonus!

When week two passed and my due date came and went, my doctor informed me that we would schedule an induction no earlier than February 16th. What!? Why so late? Why not anytime after the due date? She responded it was hospital policy, limiting what they call “social inductions,” wanting the baby to come on its own, blah, blah, blah…

“Believe me,” she said, obviously having heard it all before. “If I could schedule all my patients to deliver at a convenient time, my life would be a lot less crazy.”

Heavy with disappointment, I delivered the news to my husband and began doing everything possible to try to induce labour. Raspberry leaf tea, scrubbing floors, Chinese food, etc… nothing worked. Every morning for the past week, I’ve glared at my packed suitcase which has stared back mockingly from its spot by the door. I started regretting leaving work so early. When I complained to my parents, my father laughed at me.

You’ve just learned the first and most important lesson in parenting,” he told me. “You’re not in charge anymore – your child is.”

I realized that he was right and added my own two cents: patience is a virtue. Because, really, in the grand scheme of things, what will a few extra days change in my life? So what if I have to answer a zillion well-meaning e-mails, phone calls and Facebook wall postings saying “Nope, no baby yet!”

When my little guy finally makes his appearance, I will probably appreciate this time and laugh at myself for being so impatient. After all, there are so many more important things to worry about. And I should be thanking my lucky stars that he’s not premature and will be a big, beautiful, healthy baby. Who knows, maybe he’ll teach me not to be such a stickler for punctuality either.

As a final note, it turned out this extra time was a really good thing, because on my due date, I came down with the worst cold I’ve ever had! I’m talking the kind of cold that keeps you in bed, coughing, sneezing and generally wanting to die. Since pregnant women can’t self-medicate with those delightfully effective cold medications, I just had to suck it up and rest it off. It was a small comfort to me to know that baby was in no rush to leave my womb while I was feeling so miserable. The last thing I’d want is to sneeze all over my newborn!

But now the cold is gone, a week has passed and I simply have to tell myself that, at the most, I only have to wait four or five more days for my baby. And then I will embark on the adventure of a lifetime – motherhood. Hold on tight, it’s gonna be a wild ride!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Another blog is born…

Hello blogosphere! They say a new blog is born every half second. I’m willing to bet a significant chunk of those blogs are the ever-popular mommy blogs. Why? Because, as I’ve learned in the almost eight months since my son was born, moms seem to be resourceful, community-minded women who rally together to learn from one another, share their experiences and relate to each other. Or at least the ones I’ve seen online are.

In the long, sleepless days and nights of my baby’s newborn life, I certainly found comfort in reading mommy blogs. It was soothing to read about other women having similar experiences with everything from breastfeeding to colic to diaper rashes to first smiles, first laughs and first steps. I wasn’t alone in the world at 3 am as I struggled to get my baby to nurse, watching bad late-night television and surfing the web on my iPad. The internet became my lifeline.

So now it’s my turn to start blogging. I’m a writer by training and trade, a professional communicator, so why not? Plus, I’ve been told on Facebook that people found my baby anecdotes amusing. I figured this would be a great place to capture my experience as a first-time mom, while maybe providing the same support to others that I found in the mommy blog world. And if no one reads this, I will at least feel like I found a place to get all the unwritten thoughts out of my head!

Truth be told, if I could have I would have started doing this much earlier. When I was pregnant, I naively thought I’d have a lovely, quiet baby who would take long naps and I could fill all my new spare time with writing. Ha! My son quickly proved himself to be against that idea.

He is not, and has never been, a good sleeper. His naps are never more than 30 minutes each. Thirty minutes! That hardly gives me enough time to go pee and brush my teeth, let alone write a blog! And the nights… well, let’s not go there just yet but suffice it to say that I haven’t slept a full night in a long time. So it’s taken me awhile to get to this point, but you’ll hear all about that in future posts. I’ll be talking about all kinds of new mommy issues, funny stories and sharing my experiences as I navigate the waters of motherhood.

In the meantime, I’m thrilled to be the newest mommy blogger in town and can’t wait to see if anyone actually reads this. I certainly hope so!