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So unfortunately we’ve joined the “KEEP PEANUTS AWAY FROM MY CHILD!” club. We made this discovery a few weeks after Leah turned 1 year old.  I knew that the books recommended waiting until after the age of 1 to introduce peanuts so a few weeks after Leah’s first birthday, I thought it would be okay to let her taste my peanut butter toast when she showed interest in it one morning. She touched the peanut butter and tasted it, but didn’t seem to particularly like it. Before I could wash her hands, she got some on her face and started rubbing her eyes. Her eyes got red and swollen and then she developed hives on her face. She started scratching her body and hives appeared on her arms. Thankfully she didn’t seem to have any problems breathing, she was just whining from the itchiness. I gave her a dose of Children’s Benadryl (thank you First Aid course!) to delay and minimize the symptoms and we gave her a quick bath to remove all traces of the peanut butter. The hives subsided and the swelling went down. Leah was still a bit irritable but after speaking to a pediatrician friend, I felt it wasn’t necessary to take her to emergency.

In retrospect, this wasn’t Leah’s first allergic reaction to peanuts but it was definitely the most severe and traceable. I suspect she had her first allergic reaction at 6 months old when she was exposed to peanut butter cookies from a playdate with a mommy friend and her toddler. Leah was crawling at the time and though she didn’t eat any of the cookies, she seemed to show mild allergy symptoms (itchy eyes and skin rash) after the visit. We washed the playmats and vacuumed the house thoroughly and the symptoms didn’t return. The second allergic reaction which was more severe, occurred when Leah was at a playdate at the park with another mommy friend and her child. Her daughter was eating peanut butter on bread but Leah didn’t have any. After playing on a picnic blanket together, Leah experienced a significant eczema flare up. She couldn’t (and wouldn’t) stop scratching her arms and legs and was incredibly irritable and cranky. After the third allergic reaction at 1 year old, I realized that the other two incidents should have clued me into Leah’s sensitivity to peanuts. Upon speaking to my pediatrician friend, I also learned that I should have delayed introducing peanut butter since she had eczema (making her more susceptible to other allergies and sensitivities). Darn.

When Leah had her next doctor’s appointment, we told the Doctor about her allergic reaction to eating peanut butter and we asked him if she should take an allergy test or get an epi-pen. Surprisingly, he advised against both. He said that since Leah reacted within 5 minutes of eating the peanut butter, her reaction would be categorized as severe and he wouldn’t recommend that she eat peanut butter regardless of the allergy test. Since the test is unpleasant to go through, there’s really no point in subjecting Leah to it to confirm what is pretty obvious. With the epi-pen, he said that as long as we had access to EMS services, he felt that the risk of potentially using the pen incorrectly was significant enough that he would recommend against it. Instead, he suggested that we keep Benadryl close at hand to help in the case of another reaction.

Now that Leah is eating more table food and dining out more often, we really do have to be quite vigilant about what she is eating and exposed to. We removed all traces of peanut butter from our home (I was so sad) and we had to avoid eating at Thai restaurants when Leah was with us. Thankfully (?), peanut allergies are so common nowadays that most restaurants, schools and theme parks are peanut-free. Even more amazing is the number of great peanut butter substitutes available like PTPA winner I.M. Health SoyNut Butter. I was so happy to receive this in the mail and was really looking forward to Leah finally being able to enjoy something like peanut butter. At that time we were really struggling to come up with ideas for what to feed her for breakfast so it was perfect timing. It’s easy to spread, tastes great, is totally healthy and the best thing is, we can all enjoy it without worrying about about Leah having a reaction. With the frequency of nut allergies out there these days, I totally recommend it to all parents, regardless of whether or not your child has a nut allergy.

Learn more about this PTPA Winner here.

Visit the product website here.

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Photo credit: Tim Chin Photography (

The journey of being a new mom has really challenged my sense of self-image. To say it has been a roller-coaster would be an understatement. When I was pregnant, I really enjoyed my new body. Physically, I felt great most of the time and mentally, I found it liberating to dismiss my insecurities about not being skinny enough and instead, to celebrate my growing belly. I actually found that I had more wardrobe options with my baby belly (I could now wear items that fit more snugly around the tummy area) and had fun adapting my clothes to my new new shape. It helped that I often received compliments on how I looked from my friends and co-workers which boosted my self-esteem. My positive self-image reached its peak when I gave birth to Leah naturally like I had hoped and planned. I was in such awe of what my God-given body could accomplish and the miracle that was created in my womb. But once that high passed, the roller-coaster started its steep descent.

The first blow to my self-image was the soreness and pain I felt “down below”. Every time I sat up to breastfeed or walked over to the bathroom to pee, I felt like I would never be the same down there (don’t even talk to me about sex!). Not only that, I quickly realized that I  wasn’t just dealing with an issue of comfort but also control! I was shocked to find that I had trouble controlling my pee which was both distressing and embarrassing. My boobs were painfully engorged, my nipples were sore and incredibly sensitive and the whole breastfeeding thing, while amazing, was hard to mentally adjust to.

Next, postpartum PUPPPS brought on massive hives all over my legs, belly and arms that could not be controlled despite my best efforts. This angry, red rash was unbelievably itchy and my relentless scratching resulted in bleeding, scabs, and awful stretch marks. Oh yeah, the stretch marks! Now that my belly was gone, I could see my stretch marks clearly and what a sight they were. I was prepared to throw out all my bikinis and secretly wondered if I would ever hit the beach again.

In terms of losing my belly bump (belly flab), it was a very long process… year long to be exact. While I knew that it wouldn’t happen right away, I still felt so frustrated when I found myself wearing maternity pants for many months after Leah was born (they really should call them maternity AND postpartum clothes)! Yoga pants, sweatshirts and hoodies were my wardrobe staples. I thought that the breastfeeding would help things but I wasn’t seeing the results that I had hoped for. I was even more frustrated with myself when I saw the mommies in my Mommy Group shedding the pounds and back to their normal wardrobe far quicker than I was.

A good mommy friend of mine warned me not to try on my pre-maternity jeans before Leah turned one, but I ignored her good advice and tried to stuff myself into them. At the six month mark, they weren’t even close to fitting, and at the eight month mark, still no luck. Another major beating to my self esteem. I knew I had to do something to help me feel better about myself and I couldn’t find the time to go to yoga class with Leah exclusively breastfeeding. I decided to finally invest in a few pairs of regular pants that fit my new body instead of waiting for my body magically return to its pre-pregnancy state.

Before returning to work, I also decided to start wearing my contacts more often and to spend a bit of time on myself in terms of putting on makeup and refreshing my work wardrobe. By accepting the reality that my body had changed and embracing my new shape, I finally found some peace and happiness in my new look. The extra effort seemed to pay off and with every comment and compliment (I treasured each one immensely), my positive sense of self slowly started to return. Now don’t get me wrong, I know that my identity is a whole lot more than just how I look physically, but I have to confess that the journey of my physical body from pregnancy to postpartum also made a significant impression on my mental sense of self. Being a parent ushers you into many new experiences, a new understanding of yourself, and taking stock of your physical self is a natural part of that process.

I think my positive self-image finally came full circle when I stopped breastfeeding. Leah was 1.5 years old and we were finally able to wean her to my great relief. As much as I loved breastfeeding and spending that quiet time with her, I was relieved to have my body back. I have to admit, I’ll never think of my boobs the same way again, but at least for now, I don’t have to share them with anybody else. Clayton, stay away, these girls are mine! :)

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Family Literacy Day in Canada was this past week so I wanted to celebrate by sharing some tips for raising a reader. As a self-proclaimed bookworm, it was very natural for me to share my love of reading with my daughter Leah. Here are some tips for raising your own avid reader!

Leah with her favourite ABC board book at 6 months

1) Start early - You can start exposing your child to books before they can actually hold them or read them. The pictures are great visual stimuli and reading books aloud gives your infant the chance to hear your voice, learn words and familiarize him/herself with sounds. When Leah was a newborn, I placed books by her change table so she could look at the pictures while she was getting her diaper changed. Early on before Leah could even hold her head up on her own, Clayton and I started the tradition of family storytime before bed, with one of us holding the book and the other, the baby. When her fine motor skills improved, we gave her lift-the-flap books (which she loved!) and board books with interesting textures (check out her page turning video here).

Before long, Leah became a pro page turner, often turning the page before we could finish reading them. When playing, she would pick up books on her own to “read”. Now one of her favourite things to do is sit in our lap while we read a book with her.

Leah playing with a lift-the-flap book at 8 months

2) Build a library – Take the time to build up your child’s personal library.  Funny enough, Clayton once made the mistake of saying “I think we have enough books…” and I quickly set him straight. My rule is, you can NEVER have enough books! :) You don’t have to spend a lot of money to build up your library. Check out sites like Kijiji and Craigslist to purchase hand me down books (I scored an amazing box of Dr. Seuss and Bernstein Bears books for just $20, in perfect condition!). The clearance section of Winners (and popular bookstores too) often have great finds for just a few dollars. These clearance books might not be in pristine condition, but I figure since Leah will probably destroy them anyway, it doesn’t really matter! Warehouse sales are excellent too such as the Samko Miko Toy Warehouse (brand new books for just a few bucks, great book sets for amazing prices). Lending books from the library or book swapping with other moms is another low cost option that will help your personal library stay fresh. Need more ideas? Click here for a list of Top 100 Children’s Books from Today’s Parent.

Leah reading a cloth book with a friend

In terms of the type of books you should invest in, here are some of my suggestions. In the first three months, you can read any book to your child but I suggest something not too long (short attention span at this age) with vibrant colours or black and white patterns. From three to six months, I suggest ABC board books and fabric books like Happy Duck that your baby can safely play with and even chew on. Finger puppet books are great fun too! When the fine-motor skills start to develop, add on lift-the-flap book and textured books that your child can interact with. Include some story-telling board books and even some vocabulary or word books to start teaching your child the names of objects. I find that Leah always loved small (miniature sized) books because she could handle them so much more easily. Plus, they’re the perfect size to bring along in the diaper bag for outings.

Leah picking her favourite book at 15 months

3) Involve the whole family… and friends too!

At first it took some encouragement to get Clayton to read with Leah, but once he experienced her plopping her down in his lap with a book in hand, he was hooked. Reading with your child is such a meaningful bonding experience and one that will stay with your child forever. Encourage friends and family visitors  to spend some time reading to your child so the message is reinforced in your home.

4) Enrich the reading experience – When you’re reading to your child don’t feel you have to stick to the script. Take the time to point out interesting illustrations or to ask your child questions about the story. I would ask Leah “where is the flower?” or “where is the fish?” to teach her what these words meant. In fact, wording questions in the right way you can improve your child’s thinking skills. Participate in reading programs at your local library or Early Years Center so your child can experience fun games and activities that involve reading and literacy.

Whatever you do, have fun and enjoy the process… learning is contagious!

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It has now been almost 9 months of this parenting adventure and I have to say it has been full of surprises. One of the most welcomed surprises is to witness on a daily basis how my husband Clayton is such an amazing father to Leah. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since he has been a loving and supporting husband these past 5 years, but seeing him as a father has really opened my eyes to how truly incredible he is. Here are my Top 5 Tips for Daddies in honour of our first Father’s Day!

1) Ensure You’re Ready

I remember one key conversation that started my husband and I on this journey of having a baby. We were sitting around with friends chatting about the next step in our marriage, and when they asked if we were ready to start having kids, Clayton surprised me when he promptly replied that he was! Though I never doubted my desire to be a mom, I felt that I still needed to methodically analyze the pros and cons for having children, before actually starting on that path. Clayton on the other hand, knew he wanted to be a dad, and was ready to become one. Even so, he waited patiently as I examined all the arguments for and against, and interviewed our friends and family who had kids. When we were both ready, we embarked on the journey together, ready and excited.

TIP: Regardless of who is ready to have a child first, it is incredibly important to have both husband and wife completely on board before starting a family. Having a child is not a small decision and should not be entered into lightly.

2) Start Out Strong

The labour and delivery of baby Leah went better than I could have hoped for and with the help of Clayton (and our doula), our baby was born naturally, according to our birth plan. It helped that my husband and I attended great prenatal classes, spent time discussing our hopes and fears for the labour, and practiced relaxation exercises and labour positions beforehand. He respected and responded to my needs throughout the labour (no talking or noise during contractions) and helped to keep me relaxed (amazing hand massages) the whole time. After Leah was born, we spent the first night in awe of our new baby, taking turns holding her skin-to-skin and sleeping in the hospital bed (me) or in a chair (him). The next four days in the hospital proved very difficult as Leah was diagnosed with jaundice and had to spend the majority of her time under UV lamps in an isolette. She was inconsolable and it pained us to hear her cry, to be separated from her, and unable to hold her or breastfeed on demand like we had planned. To make matters worse, we were incredibly sleep deprived from taking turns monitoring, feeding and changing her (with attempts to nap in between). Despite all this, Clayton refused to leave our side until we left the hospital together as a family, showing from the start the kind of commitment and sacrifice that Leah would always have in her father.

TIP: Spend time skin-to-skin with your baby in the first few weeks of his/her life (and onwards) for quality bonding time and numerous health benefits to the baby. The bonding time between baby and dad helps the baby to become familiar with daddy’s scent and helps the daddy to form a connection with the baby early on. This bond is so essential when he’s struggling to soothe or care for the baby, and can help him to gain confidence in his role as a father.

3) Work as a Team

For the first few weeks of Leah’s life, Clayton and I worked as a team to take care of her every need. From joint diaper changes to taking turns rocking her to sleep, we did everything together. Though I was breastfeeding and thus couldn’t share the load of feeding her like we would have otherwise been able to do with a bottle, Clayton still supported me every step of the way, playing his own role. While I was feeding Leah, he would sit next to me, checking the latch, reminding me to finish the feed, and bringing me ice cream in the wee hours of the morning. He also took on the role of burping Leah after I fed her so that he was involved in the feeding process. Even when Clayton returned to work, he continued to participate in the night feeds, which I will always remember as being one of the most loving and meaningful ways he supported me in my first few months as a mom.

TIP: Each couple is different in how they work as a team, but ensure the dad has his own role to play in the parenting process so he doesn’t feel left out and so he has a chance to build his confidence in caring for the baby. Though it may sometimes be easier for the mom to soothe, feed or care for the baby, give him a chance and he’ll surprise you, and possibly himself, with how great of a father he is.

4) Communicate, communicate, communicate!

Having a child catapults a marriage into uncharted territory and even the most prepared couples may find that their lives are quickly turned upside down. Clayton and I had over 10 years of friendship as a foundation for our marriage, and supported each other through a number of difficult circumstances throughout our dating relationship but still, having Leah pushed us to a new place in our relationship. Talking to each other through it all has helped a great deal. Sharing our fears and worries has helped us to manage them, and expressing our needs to each other has helped us to meet them. Clayton is not the most talkative or outgoing person, (especially in comparison to me!) but having Leah has really helped him to come out of his shell. I have witnessed him asserting himself in decision-making and really stepping up to the plate to take care of the both of us. Of course it took some time for us to get to this point, with some tough conversations between the two of us at times, but we got there. And we’re still growing as a couple through this experience.

TIP: The best way to navigate the world of parenting is to have open lines of communication with your partner. Talk about things beforehand, as it happens, after each experience and every moment in between. You’ll learn a great deal about yourself, about each other, and if you stick with it, having children will strengthen your marriage instead of weakening it.

5) Be Patient

Even though you may follow tips 1 to 4, sometimes things take time. Patience for yourself, for your child and for your spouse is key. The good (bad?) news is that change is the only constant, so when you feel like you’re at the end of your rope, things will improve and when you feel like you’ve finally got the hang of it, things will change again. That’s the adventure of parenting and though it can be tough and full of surprises, it’ll be the the greatest ride of your life!

TIP: Have patience for yourself, your child and your spouse. Learning and growing as a parent takes time, and is a lifelong journey.

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Clayton with the Peapod Wrap

There are a lot of baby carriers available to parents out there and selecting one is not easy, but when you pick the right carrier and use it correctly, it can be a godsend! Unfortunately, figuring out which one to use, and when, is not an easy task.

The benefits of ‘baby-wearing’ are well documented on sites such as They include reduced crying, improved physical, mental and emotional development, improved maternal bond, easier breastfeeding and better care, thereby reducing the incidence of postpartum depression. On a practical note, baby-wearing is convenient and can give you some of your freedom back. Like I mentioned in my previous post about Leah’s sleep habits, we spent the first 3 months of Leah’s life holding her (both when she was asleep and awake). Though this was wonderful bonding time for us, sometimes I just needed to have my arms available to get a few things done around the house. Putting Leah in a carrier gave me my freedom back and it felt amazing.

We started shopping around for a baby carrier while I was still pregnant and purchased the Baby Trekker at the HIGH recommendation of a friend. I also decided to purchase a baby wrap (PeaPodBabe) since I heard they were really useful as well. A friend of mine loaned me her Hotslings baby sling so I had 3 major types of baby carriers to experiment with. So far, I’ve found that carriers vary in effectiveness depending on the size and stage that the baby is in.

Before I go any further, I want to address the recent recall on the Infantino SlingRider. Like all baby products, it is important to know how to use the product properly and the risks involved. It is important to note that the recall was for a bag-style sling which can be more risky due to the tendency for the baby to be scrunched up, thereby compromising the airway. Like stated on, I agree that when properly positioned, a baby in a sling is as safe as a baby in arms.

Here’s a summary of what worked for us.

Clayton with the Peapod Wrap

The Baby Wrap

In the first few months of life, a sling is a great option for baby wearing (again when properly positioned). However, unlike some newborns, Leah didn’t seem to like being in the confines of a sling. The first time we put her into the sling she squirmed and clearly wanted out. This was unfortunate since a lot of my friends had great success with going out to weddings and restaurants (even high tea!) with their newborn in a sling. Without this option, we always held Leah in our arms when we were out and about.

At home, we started experimenting with the baby wrap so our arms could have a break once in awhile. It worked because the wrap supported her easily and adjusted to her small size (like a custom fit every time). Plus this super cute video peaked my interest. At first we put her into the wrap in the horizontal position (cradle hold) like in the video but as she got bigger, she preferred being in the upright position (tummy-to-tummy). We only used it while we were at home since wrapping her was tricky. We’d often have to re-wrap a few times before we got it right and in the process of doing so, the ends of the wrap would drag along the ground. The only caveat was that he would only tolerate the wrap during certain times (after being well fed and burped) and not for too long in most cases (3o minutes to an hour).

Me with the Baby Trekker

The Baby Carrier

When we started going out to the mall or grocery shopping, holding her all the time became increasingly cumbersome. She didn’t like being in the car seat (since we were still using the car seat in the stroller), so most of the time I would push the empty stroller while Clayton held her. Again, not the most convenient arrangement, especially when I started going to the mall with my other mommy friends and without Clayton. I didn’t want to use the baby wrap because it would drag all over the floor while I put it on. Instead, we started trying the Baby Trekker baby carrier and it worked out perfectly since she was able to look around (nosy girl!) and I could push the stroller myself since my arms were free. It was so comfortable that we could wear it for hours! Leah would enjoy looking around and often nap in it as well. The only tricky thing about the Baby Trekker brand of carrier is that putting it on is a bit of a two person task. As long as I had another mom or Clayton around to help me it was no problem but if I was home by myself, it was a bit of a struggle. This is why I later moved on to the baby sling.

Me using the Hotsling

The Sling

A baby sling is great because it is very compact and can fit in your diaper bag easily (unlike the Baby Trekker which I always needed to remember to bring separately). If Leah is fussing, I can quickly slip her into it without needing help from anyone else. I used it a few times at home when she started to get clingy and I needed to be able to move about the house. In the modified cradle carry hold she can still look around. Now that Leah has really good neck and back control, I can even start to use it with her in a hip-carry position. The disadvantage of the sling is that it can be tiring and straining on your back once the baby gets bigger. Carrying Leah in the sling (she’s about 15 lbs) gets tiring after 30 minutes. the Trekker on the other hand never got tiring.

Other Brands

My sister using the Ergo

In terms of different brands, I can only comment on what I have learned from my own experience and from talking to other moms. I thought I would also mention the Ergo since a lot of my mommy friends have had good success with it (and it’s easier to put on than the Trekker). Like the Trekker, it distributes the weight of the baby well, with the help of a waist strap. The standard Baby Bjorn and Snugli don’t have this feature so once the baby gets to a hefty size, your shoulders will start to ache. A friend of mine even experienced plugged milk ducts from using her Baby Bjorn, so make sure you adjust what carrier you use once your baby starts to get bigger. The Ergo however, does not allow the baby to face outwards which is how we typically use the Trekker. Another mommy friend of mine uses the ErgoSport carrier for all of her baby’s naps, so you can imagine how important comfort would be.

In summary, you will likely find that you prefer various carriers depending on the age of your child and how/when you’re using it. For this reason it is useful to have a few on hand and to try them out with your baby. Buying used carriers (in good condition) or borrowing them from your friends can make this feasible.

For a different perspective, check out a recent article on Baby Carriers in Canadian Family.

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One of the greatest challenges we’ve faced with Leah (aside from breastfeeding) is sleep training. Sleep is one of the most talked about issues among parents, and now I know why. Sleep and good sleep habits are one of those things that is always changing, hard to master, but highly desired.

There is so much to say about sleep training, but since this the first post on the topic (and I can’t write it all in one post) I’ll just start off by giving you a list of the most valuable lessons I learned:

1) Read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child - This book is the “Bible” of sleep training and practically every mom I’ve talked to has recommended it. Though it is sometimes hard to understand (maybe I was too sleep deprived), it takes a balanced approach to sleep training and doesn’t force one method over another. Instead it gives you several options at each stage and so you can pick which method suits your parenting style best. Which leads me to:

2) Pick an approach and method that you are comfortable with - There are a lot of different approaches out there for sleep training, but like a lot of parenting topics, I believe that there isn’t one right or wrong way to do things. Each child is unique and requires an approach that works best for that child, and for the parents. That’s why I found the Healthy Sleep Habits book is so helpful. I also read The Baby Whisperer and The No-Cry Sleep Solution but they are very specific in telling you what you should and should not do. Methods like soothing the baby to sleep through patting or nursing, or allowing the baby to cry-it-out (CIO) was frowned upon. The Healthy Sleep Habits book gives you the option of soothing your baby to sleep (through nursing or patting) or allowing the baby to CIO and explains how to adapt the methods accordingly. Even with the CIO method, he  explains how to do so gradually (going back in to soothe the baby at increasing time increments) if this suits you better.

3) Be consistent and be strong- It will be much easier to follow this tip if you follow tip #2 and pick a method that you are comfortable with. If you pick a method that you’re not comfortable with, or try something before you’re ready, you’re more likely to revert back to what you were doing before. This inconsistency will make it harder for your child and for you. Also keep in mind that it will take some time for your child to learn how to develop good sleep habits and it will usually get hard before it gets better. In the process of following these sleep training methods (especially if you choose to let your child CIO) its important to be strong! Remember that there must be some short term pain for long term gain. If you give in too early and revert back to what you were doing before, the inconsistency will make the process longer and harder in the long run.

4) Have a support system – Find a fellow parent who can support you in the process who has the foresight of having gone through the sleep training process with their child. Preferably find someone who knows you and your spouse, and your child’s temperament so that they can guard you against your weaknesses and help validate if you are using the right method for your child’s personality. You’ll want to find the person who can support without judging and give you the right push at the right time. It’s also great to have someone to update when things go well and to vent to when challenges arise.

Our experience with sleep training Leah:

To give you some history, here is a brief history of Leah’s sleeping habits up to now:

Months 0 to 2: DAY: in our arms; NIGHT: co-sleeper; METHOD: No-Cry Method
Month 2 to 3.5: DAY: in our arms; NIGHT: crib, in our room; METHOD: No-Cry Method
Month 3.5 to 5: DAY: crib; NIGHT: crib, in our room; METHOD: No-Cry Method
Month 5 to 7: DAY: crib; NIGHT: crib in our room; METHOD: Cry-It-Out Method

In the first 3.5 months, Leah would cry every time we tried to put her down to sleep so she ended up sleeping in our arms for all of her day time naps. For her night sleep (her bedtime was around 10pm), I would nurse her to sleep or Clayton would pat her to sleep before we put her down in her crib. If she woke up crying either when we put her down, or sometime during the night, we would start over again. I really enjoyed holding her while we slept, but the process of nursing, patting, slowly lowering her down into her crib for her night time sleep (and eventually for her day time naps), was a long and tedious process. It required a lot of patience and her nap times became the most stressful times of the day. At night it would sometimes take hours of patting and nursing until we could put her down in her crib without her waking up again. In some instances she would be crying while we were trying to her to sleep. We realized that she was becoming too aware of what she needed to do to be held and wasn’t getting enough deep sleep as a result.

We finally decided to try the CIO method (she was crying half the time in our arms anyway!). For us it was the right method at that time, and for Leah’s temperament it was necessary. We did the CIO Extinction method because we knew that going back in the room at intervals would only make things worse. The first day we did it, she fell asleep nursing during her daytime naps so there wasn’t any crying. The first time we let her CIO for the night time sleep she cried for 35 minutes. I was on the phone with my support system mom and while she was convincing me that it was going to be okay, Leah stopped crying and fell asleep! From that point onwards her sleeping improved dramatically! She woke up only 2 times a night (or less) for feeds, her bedtime moved from 10:30pm to 7pm and her naps stretched out from 3o minutes to an average of 1 hour with occasional 2 or 3 hour naps. Clayton and I were so relieved to see her sleeping so well and we had our evenings back! It was incredible.

These days she cries less than 5 minutes before falling asleep unless she falls asleep nursing. She generally wakes up once (or not at all) between 7pm and 7am. We’re so happy with her sleep habits (for now at least!) and would definitely attribute our success to following the tips I outlined above.

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I know this tip sounds like its meant for newlyweds but communicating with your partner is SO important in the journey of being a new parent that I thought I would take the time to write about it. Similar to a new marriage, having a new baby really introduces new challenges into a couple’s relationship and on top of that, both individuals are usually so sleep deprived and exhausted that resolving a conflict and making decisions together is that much more difficult. In addition, a new baby introduces many fears and uncertainties that can cause one to act irrationally or out of the ordinary.

Clayton and I are the kind of couple that rarely argue and we typically resolve issues and conflicts quite quickly and easily but the introduction of Leah into our lives changed that in a big way though, especially in the first few weeks of parenthood. I found myself getting so frustrated with him for the things he was doing (or should I say the things he wasn’t doing) and I felt like I was a newlywed again, trying to figure out how to communicate how I was feeling without hurting him. I wasn’t sure if my expectations were too high or if he just needed a good kick in the butt.

I would say that things really got bad once Clayton went back to work. During the day I felt so frustrated and exhausted from being home alone with the baby and counted down to his return home so I could vent to him about all the things that were bothering me. But when he came through the door, I was so happy and relieved to see him that I didn’t want to bring up all these negatives thoughts. Plus, I didn’t want to spend our precious moments together arguing, not to mention that we had hardly any time to argue anyhow. We were fully occupied changing, feeding and trying to put Leah to bed before we collapsed into bed exhausted ourselves. Before the end of the first week had ended I had written him a strongly worded email expressing all the things he had been doing that caused me pain and frustration. Although it was really hard to sacrifice those precious moments of the day to write that email I was so glad that I did, especially when it helped Clayton to see how much more I needed his help and support. He agreed to try harder and help out more, and his support really helped me get through a rough patch. Later on, the open lines of communication helped us to make important decisions regarding breastfeeding, sleep training, and other challenging issues.

Moral of the story: make sure you take the time to talk (or email) your partner when things start to get rough or when he’s not quite supporting you in the ways you need him to. He may not know how much you need his help or perhaps may not know how to help. The physical and mental support will help you to be a better mom and also, a better wife! And you know what they always say: “Happy wife, happy life!”

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When Clayton and I attended our prenatal classes with BabyReady, we spent part of the class talking about diapering. In particular, the idea of cloth diapering sparked our interest because of the following reasons:

1) Cost-savings (particularly if you have more than one child)

2) Decreased environmental waste

3) Easier toilet training in the future (improved feedback for the baby as to when they pee or poo compared to disposable diapers which are so absorbent that it can make toilet training harder in the long run)

4) Less exposure to chemicals (disposable diapers have a lot chemicals in them)

5) Positive experiences from other parents (we spoke to a few other mommy friends of ours and was pretty amazed to see how many of them had really positive experiences with cloth diapers and that leaking was rarely an issue!)

For more information on the environmental analysis of cloth diapering, check out this article.

In terms of terminology, the jargon in the cloth diapering world is kind of confusing. Some hints: A “pocket diaper” must be used with an absorbent insert which is inserted into the “pocket” of the diaper and a “prefold diaper” requires you to fold up a piece of absorbent material (different folds for girl versus boy) and then you use it with a waterproof cover. An “all-in-one” is both the cover and the absorbent core in one diaper which would seem like a good idea except that it takes forever to dry. There’s also the gDiaper with a flushable, biodegradable core, but having learned a lot about sewage treatment plants from my dad, just because you can flush it, it doesn’t make it okay. The waste from sewage treatment plants could end up in the landfills anyway (after some processing).

There are MANY different brands of cloth diapers and many types, beyond even the ones I’ve described above. Clayton and I ended up buying the Wahmies pocket diaper. We originally picked this brand because it was on sale (hehee) and after trying it out, we really like the fact that it uses hooks and snaps that allow us to adjust the size for newborns to toddlers. The diaper is really soft and the liners are REALLY absorbent. We rarely have leaks and the few times we did, it was because we didn’t fasten the diaper tightly enough. Overall, it seems like all the brands are quite good (the liners across the pocket diaper brands are practically interchangeable), it’s just a matter of preference and sometimes what fits your baby the best.

One thing we hadn’t counted on is that you have to “prep” the diapers by washing them several times (sometimes up to 5 times) before you even use them to strip them off their water repelling chemicals, and you do have to use a special detergent to keep them absorbent, but it’s not that bad. Of course there’s the not-so-pleasant process of washing out the diaper and the extra effort of laundering and stuffing the diapers in between use, but for the benefits, I find it totally worth it. We alternate the use of cloth diapers with disposable (we use the disposables when we go out and at night) so that we’re not always doing diaper laundry, but still saving the environment! Overall, cloth diapering is way easier than I had expected and I totally recommend you consider it.

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Leg cramps are very common in the third trimester of pregnancy. I woke up a few times grabbing my calf and screaming in agony, begging Clayton to help me. Ironically, the first time I got a cramp was the same week he injured his arm in hockey so he was in pain himself and had to use his left hand to help me… it was pretty hilarious.

From what I read, leg cramps are related to potassium levels so I started eating a banana a day to keep my potassium levels up. Like they say: “a banana a day keeps the leg cramps away!”. You can also try drinking milk to increase your calcium levels and overall, make sure you stay hydrated. More info here.

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Okay, so this is definitely a topic that is discussed rarely if at all among moms. It’s a tough topic to breach and now I know why. After delivering a baby (vaginally), being completely sleep deprived and seeing how dramatically your life changes with S-E-X, there is really NO motivation to go back there (sorry Clayton).

Let’s break this down further. In the first two months, we had Leah in the co-sleeper in our bed so there was no opportunity for physical intimacy, not even any cuddling. Besides at that point, my boobs were leaking like crazy, I was still healing and sore “down there” and like I said, I definitely did not have any interest in doing anything that might produce another screaming baby. When we got our master bath renovated in the third month, all three of us moved into Leah’s room. She slept in her crib while Clay and I slept on a single mattress on the floor. I have to admit it was nice to have a little cuddle at night but that was the extent of it.

At this point, I have to mention this episode of The Tyra Show on the topic of being a new parents (disclaimer: I usually can’t stand watching Tyra but it was a relevant episode). A new dad was confiding his frustration with his wife, who was disinterested in having sex despite having received the go-ahead from her OB-GYN at her 6-week checkup. It had been only two months and already he was frustrated that she was not responding to his advances. Well, that got me enraged! As soon as Clayton got home that night I was sure to inform him that if he were so bold as to expect ANYTHING from me anytime soon, he would be sorely disappointed. Just think about it this way – birthing a baby out of your vagina is like the opposite of foreplay.

While reading one of my favourite blogs written by a dad, I came across an incredibly hilarious and honest post on this same topic which describes a lot of what I’m feeling now, at the 5 month mark. Read it here.

A tip for the dads out there, don’t expect much from your wife in the first several months after you baby is born. Woo her with chocolate and ice cream and she might consider it, but if you want to be safe, I’d wait until she brings it up lest you lose a “limb” in the process. HAHA

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