Monday, 29 November 2010

Ignorant Claudia - weekly question

This is our cat wearing our first baby gift: an organic sweater from Petit Bateau. What? We needed some practice!!! But this is another story!

Our cat is our first baby. We got this huge orange kitty 10 years ago. Even if he is a pain in the butt, he is a part of our little family and we love him very much.

So, can cats and babies live in harmony? Is the cat killing sleeping babies a myth or a reality? What can we do to have a safe baby and a stress free cat (you can also include a stress free dog in the family portrait)?

Mommy talks with Ali

Domesticali is probably one of the first creativity blog that I ever read. Ali always has the right way of saying things...good or bad, funny or sad! This is why I really wanted her point of view about babies, motherhood and projectile poo!

When Claudia asked me to contribute a little something to her mother project it got me thinking. What would I like to have known eleven years ago when this parenthood business first began? Honestly, what wouldn’t I have liked to know! I was so ignorant about the realities of babies. Before I had my own, I had only held a newborn about five times and I had changed precisely one nappy before confronted with those produced by my own firstborn.

But I figured I was an intelligent human – no eight pound scrap was going to expose my ignorance. So I embarked on a course of study. Really, I read every childbirth and babyhood manual I could get my hands on. I bought the magazines, I went to the Aqua Natal Exercise and Pregnancy Yoga classes. I took two childbirth classes and tours of the hospital and midwife led birthing unit in my area. I was going to be prepared. I’d tell you about the Excel spreadsheet I had for the baby equipment I thought I would need, but then you really might think I was insane.

And, in hindsight, perhaps I was (slightly). I had been made redundant when I was 5 months pregnant, which I was actually pretty pleased about, because I knew I wanted to stay at home once the baby was born. But it did leave me with an awful lot of planning time. And the problem is, it is truly difficult to plan for an unknowable situation. And a first baby is exactly that.

I think my preparations for the childbirth part of becoming a mother did serve me well. I made it through a hideous 36 hours of labour with a posterior baby and only gas and air. Mostly because I wasn’t frightened of what was happening to me. I think if I had been less well informed, the outcome might have been very different. Afterwards I felt really proud of myself – but there was no accolade, no medal ceremony. What, in my head had been the goal, was really the beginning.

I think I realized this the very next morning when all the grandparents turned up to see the baby. He began to wail and they passed him …. to me! They, with about 100 years of parenting experience between them and I was the one responsible??

And make no mistake, that learning curve is a steep one. Operating all the new equipment was enough of a challenge. The car seat, the pram, even my own breasts. Everything was new and I felt like an alien in my own body. Now add to that the exhaustion of having a newborn and the inevitable hormonal stew and you are left with a lethal cocktail. It’s a miracle anyone makes it through. Especially if, like me, you are a planner and think you have covered all the bases.

So, what advice do I have for new mothers? Lower your expectations, then lower them some more and still be prepared to feel like a failure. It’s part of the territory, and it’s not just you. Any day that ends with both you and the baby still alive and with a shred of sanity should be treated as a triumph. Learn to go with the flow. And when that’s hard, repeat to yourself ‘This too shall pass’.

Because no amount of preparation can teach you the art of dodging a projectile poo when you are changing a nappy. Some knowledge can only be acquired on the job. And it’s a pretty great one, it just takes a little getting used to, so be kind to yourself.

Thank you so much Ali.
Note to myself: don't say anything about the Excel

Sunday, 28 November 2010

The control freak

As soon as I entered the "honeymoon" part of my pregnancy, I needed a new thing to focus on (you know, other than having my head in the toilet all day long)! And I must admit that it is quite a superficial focus.

I became a nursery control freak. Each and every single object has to get the stamp of approval. From the patterns of baby clothes to how sustainable a specific pacifier is or the country of origin of a product (if it is from Scandinavia it must be good right?).

Since I became a control freak I have the feeling that I turned into a toddler during its "no phase". For example, my mom wants to get stuff for the baby. Approximately 95% of her suggestions are rejected or in need of further analysis. Last night, I told my her how crucial it is to buy toys with only two characteristics (!

So yes, I'm a pregnant lady who makes the life of generous friends and family members impossible! But a control freak can make the life of other people easier. Like my dad who loves to get very specific Christmas present suggestions. So today, he got us the BabyBjorn (hello Scandinavia) babysitter balance :)

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Mommy talks with Dawn

When you are pregnant, people (aka strangers at the store, in the bus, even in public bathrooms when you have morning sickness) give you advices. Weird!!! It's not that I don't want advices. On the contrary, I crave maternity/parenting tips! It's just that I like to decide who the "expert mom" will be! This is why I asked a few blog friends to share their experiences with me.

It is with great pleasure that I introduce my first "expert mom"!

Dawn is an English woman living in California. She has a 7 year old son and a 5 year old daughter. Her blog,, is all about the lovely things that she creates in order to stay sane ;)

Things that I learnt about childbirth

Water breaking feels like you are peeing, except that the flow does not stop - until the birth. I was in the bathroom for 5 minutes before it finally dawned on me that my water had broken.

You can take your husband to childbirth classes, but that doesn’t mean that he’s listening...

Pitocin makes contractions hurt more. Avoid it, if possible.

It hurts, but it’s a pain that you know has an end. That makes it more bearable.

My husband kept asking me to walk about more to speed things up. I even gave him the bed, as I was sick of him complaining that he was tired. I learnt that I should not have let him in the room!

Things that I learnt about breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is not easy for about the first two weeks, even if you have breastfed before. Both you and the baby are learning. My kids both had me in tears but it really is worth persevering.

The thought of not wanting to deal with bottles and pay for formula helps.

No two babies are alike. My second’s piranha-like approach was a surprise.

At first, I would use pillows to support the baby during feeds. I would never have imagined then that, in later months, I would be casually walking around during feeds (usually while stopping my toddler from climbing the bookcase...)

Breast milk is best but plenty of people have grown up just fine on formula. Maintain a sense of perspective about these sorts of issues.

Things that I learnt about being a mum

There is a 3 month window after the birth during which you can do things like catch a movie with the reasonable expectation that your baby will sleep / eat through it. After that, all bets are off!

Some hand-me-down clothes weren’t to my taste. They still got used for everyday playing around at home while the cutest clothes were saved for the days when we would be socialising.

Babies seem to know when they are wearing the cutest outfit and will pick that day to have the explosive bowel movement that will go all the way up their back (really). Pack a spare outfit.

I should have slept as many hours as possible before having kids. Seven years later and my kids still don’t let me have a lie-in.

The best friends a mum can have are the sensible non-judgemental friends that you can vent to. Try to be one yourself.

...and most importantly, enjoy it! Time really starts to fly when you are measuring it by your child’s precious moments.

Thank you so much Dawn.
I will make sure that my husband is listening during childbirth classes!


Right this second I want to get... eco-friendly t-shirt for prenatal yoga class from Kss Maternity.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Ignorant Claudia - weekly question (week 21)

I was looking at a list of "you have to get those things unless you want your baby to be miserable" and, according to the author, I should buy two baby bottles since I'm planning to breastfeed. Ok, baby bottles are pretty much the first thing that came to my mind when I used to think about baby that I'm pregnant, I find myself focussing (read freaking out) on the idea of a double breast pump bra but this is another story!

Naive was I to think that this would be an easy task! After reading many online reports on the subject, I concluded that baby bottles look as complex to buy as a front-loading washing machine and dryer set!

So, which is best: glass or plastic bottles (the links and images are, so far, my favourite in each category)?

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Week 20

Dear blog friends,

Thank you so much for your lovely comments. It is a blessing to receive such compassion after a moment of feeling completely powerless. Reading your words of encouragement made me stronger and for that I'm excessively thankful.

And since there is not only drama in my life, I wanted to show you some silly pictures that we took last weekend during a little trip to the bowling alley. And, believe me, we will be back soon because we had such a good time.

Thank you again!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

diy vintage doily votives

Dear baby,

Last night, on our way to the hospital, I realized how much I love you. That even if we never met, I deeply care about your safety and that I would do anything for you. The thought of losing you after five months was intolerable. We walked nervously to the delivery room (luckily for us, they are "scared" of pregnant women at the emergency room).

They were waiting for us with a shy smile and handed me an hospital gown. They installed us in a private room. I was scared but I knew that we were in good hands. With two monitors, we were waiting for your little heart beat and to see if there were contractions. The contractions never came, we finally heard you and suddenly, for the first time, you started kicking inside me. Daddy said that you were upset because the very tight monitors were destroying the home staging that you had done in my belly for the past 20 weeks!

The nice people at the hospital took very good care of us. They did a blood test, a urine test, a gynecological exam and they use a ph paper to see if I was losing amniotic fluid. We got all the results in less than an hour (very impressive for a public hospital).

We were more than happy to learn that you were not in danger. It tuned out that the sharp pain and the spotting that I had were probably caused by an ovarian cyst. Tomorrow I will do more tests at the clinic but before we left the hospital they told us that there was nothing to fear and that they will see us, all together, April 1st!

Friday, 12 November 2010

One baby step!

We finally got something for the nursery: a rocking chair. It is not your typical nursery rocking chair but it is pretty cute, second hand (important for me), not expensive and VERY comfortable! I think that it looks perfect with this print on wood that I ordered yesterday from Petit Collage.

I also made a few little bibs for mini A using this simple tutorial. Since we won't know if it is a boy or a girl, I tried to get fabric scraps that were neutral. It is not manly man stuff but I don't think that it is too girly girl! Anyway, a little flower print never killed anybody!

Also, I asked a few "expert mom" bloggers to share their experiences about different subjects related to childbirth, eco-friendly baby, breastfeeding, etc. Even if there are many ressources available for soon to be parents, I naturally turned to Internet friends for advice. So, stay tuned for what I like to call "mommy talk". And you are more than welcome to participate if you want. Just send me an email.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

A maternity milestone - wearing menswear

I always loved classic menswear. The simplicity, the colors, the fabric...aaahhhhh! For example, when the J.Crew catalog arrives at our door, I always look at the men's clothes section and whisper "unfair, I would totally get that jacket" (the worst part was when Dan got the "unfair" jacket)! Anyway, as much as I fall for menswear, it was a shock this week when I had to wear my husband's pj pants in the name of comfort!

I would like to show you nice maternity sleepwear but sadly it won't happen because for a strange reason everything that I saw online was 1) too expensive, 2) too kitty like (I'm not really into cutesy barn critters pattern) 3) too satiny or 4) too grand-ma style!

So, instead, I will show you a potential diaper bag...from the men's clothes section at J.Crew ;)

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Ignorant Claudia - weekly question

Every week, ignorant Claudia will ask you a question...hoping that somebody has an answer!

So, what is the deal with crib bumper pads? Are they dangerous? If they are too risky for babies, how come I see so many adorable crib bumper pads everwhere?

This is a great exemple of a crib bumper pad that I would buy if I was rich, if I didn't know how to make one myself (hello, Lotta Jansdotter's Simple sewing for baby) and if, of course, it was totally safe for my baby!!!

Monday, 8 November 2010

To shower or not!!!

Do not fear! It is not a post about feminine hygiene during pregnancy! It is actually about baby showers!!!

Getting presents is fun, having a celebration in honor of the baby is sweet and seeing my family /friends all together in a room one month before I give birth to play little games is...not that great! So go ahead, call me cheap, control freak or simply irrational...I don't care (fine, I do care so don't be too mean please).

I went to one baby shower and honestly, after 30 minutes of crust-less sandwiches, games with baby food and an orgy of presents I was a little uncomfortable. My friend, however, was having a blast being the center of the attention! And this is is just not for me!

So after much considerations and knowing that this will annoy some people (aka my mom who I think wanted to do something called the "diaper cake game"!), we decided that we do not want a baby shower!

1) Dan and I are...I don't know, maybe...modern hippies (!) and we decided to go easy on the purchase of baby items and see what we really need as we go with mini A.

2) We are having a good time buying a few things each week for the baby. I see it as a little couple therapy. The smile on my face when I saw Dan, this weekend, testing a stroller at the store.

3) Our family and friends will visit us anyway to see the baby so why not use those smaller, more intimate, gatherings to celebrate the arrival of our little bundle of joy?

So this concludes my little expose on baby showers! And again, it is not because we don't want one that nobody should have one :)

And, on a completely different subject, have you look at the Christmast Toast catalogue??? Pure pleasure!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

week 19

I didn't know that I would get pregnant that month and a positive test! I believed that it would take us six months and that I would have plenty of time to analyze my birth options (home birth, birthing center or hospital).

However, I got pushed in a certain direction by my gynecologist and I found myself in the childbirth hospital system. I would be very curious to know how it works where you live but in Montreal 1) 25% of women don't have a doctor during their first trimester 2) there is a dramatic shortage of ob/gyn 3) there are only two birthing centers 4) home birth...well home birth was never a realistic option for me.

I have nothing against home birth. In a perfect world, I would love to give birth at home but you have to understand that I have a tendency to think that with my medical history (and the list could be much longer believe me!) I would have to get rushed to the hospital anyway!

So long story short, I went to "my" hospital for the fist time today. Every month, I see my ob/gyn at a cute family clinic but for my 4th echography they asked me to go to the "sick people house"!!! Yeah, this afternoon, I really wished that I had called a birthing center while I was peeing on the pregnancy test last summer!!! But what is done is done and I will give birth at the hospital...end of the story.

But this doesn't really matter to me right now because I know that, so far, we have a healthy baby with all the right bits in all the right places :)

And as our disappointed friend said on our way back home: "it HAS to be a girl, boys don't cross their legs"!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Babies the movie - mini review

Dan and I just watched Babies and our conclusion is that we have to pack our stuff and move to Mongolia ;) No, I don't like goat meat enough for that but Bayar, the Mongolain baby in the film, stole our heart!

The film is adorable and made us giggle many times. The images are stunning and for ignorant people like Dan and I it is very interesting to see the babies' evolution over a year. However, I think that some people might not enjoy that much cuteness without dialogue and narration. But this is why we have imagination, right!

Another little "problem" that I have with the documentary is that it is almost too perfect. None of the kids get sick, no mothers seem to be sleep depraved and strangly enough the dads are almost never on camera. Oh well!

I might be a little biased considering that I basically dream about babies every night but I still give the film a 7.5/10 (and I could add some bonus point because the animals in the film are awesome)!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

It made me think

This morning I got an anonymous comment that tickled my pregnant lady hormones. At first, I was a little upset! What are you talking about: "it would be nice to see more art and less baby"???

After compulsively gulping a few Brazil nuts I started to think about how my life has evolved over the last few months. And it hit me the same way as when my cat puts his paw in my mouth at 5:00am. I slowly pushed aside many aspects of my life and centered my thoughts on my belly...and the fact that I can't entirely see my feet when I look down ;)

So yes, I'm pregnant and I do love to talk about it, after all, it is a freakin big deal! But it is true that there is more to life than the fact that at 19 weeks my baby is starting to produce meconium (a substance that will become the baby's first bowel movement)!!!

So, with this in mind, I would love to share with you a few illustrations made by a very talented woman living in Finland.
Anna Emilia delightful work won my heart and I hope to find some of her illustrations under the Christmas tree this year.

Monday, 1 November 2010

This week I will watch...

...Babies. This documentary (2010) takes a look at one year in the life of four babies from around the world: Mongolia, Namibia, San Francisco and Tokyo.

I heard that it was visually stunning but the reviews are so-so. Maybe you have to be in the mood (and I think that I'm in the right mood!) to appreciate this film. Have you seen it?