A Colourful First Birthday Party

We recently celebrated our son’s first birthday. Um, how has it been a YEAR already?!

It was a perfect Sunday, sunny and hot. I love late summer just before it tips into fall, and now we have an extra special reason to have a party every year around Autumn Equinox.

I created a Pinterest board to share our photos. Enjoy!

We love you, little man! You’ve brought so much love and joy into our life, wow. And we’re only one year in! Happy Birthday Baby…


Adventures in Sleep Training

DISCLAIMER: This is simply MY experience with MY baby. I’m not espousing any particular method of sleep training or even sleep training itself to anyone. I just wanted to share my story.

For anyone who knows me personally or has been following my blog, you’ll know we went through one helluva four-month sleep regression with our little one. I used to laugh at the term Mombie (Zombie Mom), but now I’ve lived it. I started to hate life. I started to have regrets about becoming a parent. It was a dark and unhappy place. Sleep deprivation has been used as a torture method, did you know?

My baby boy used to nurse to sleep every night and regularly sleep an initial stretch of 5 or 6 hours for the first three months of his life. So we were taken by surprise by the sudden change. I had gotten into the habit of rocking him an extra 20 minutes or so before moving out of the chair to make sure he was in deep sleep (thanks a lot, Dr. Sears!). Sometimes even after checking his “limp limbs” he would suddenly wake up as I moved towards the bassinet, at which point my wife would take over holding and swaying him back to sleep. It started regularly taking us an hour (or two!) to get him to bed, and he was waking 5 or 6 times a night. Ugh.

Then we experienced two incidents of “sleep training by accident”. Meaning, in my exhaustion at 4:30am I put the baby back in his crib after nursing him, STILL AWAKE, crawled into bed fully expecting to be getting up again in 5 minutes, and then us all waking up a few hours later. Meaning, HE FELL ASLEEP ON HIS OWN. TWICE. We knew he was ready for sleep training.

My wife and I were not ready to end our room-sharing arrangement, but we went ahead with a new bedtime routine that involved putting baby to bed awake. None of this, half-drowsy BS, just awake. At this point, nursing to sleep had stopped being our bullet-proof method anyway.

After much reading and researching, we chose the Sleep Lady Shuffle method. Also called Parental Presence, basically you stay crib-side for the first three nights, watching your baby learn to fall asleep on their own. The next three nights you sit in the middle of the room, and the next three nights you sit in the doorway. Then, presumably, you are done and can put them down, sing a lullaby, leave, and your (magical unicorn) baby will then fall asleep.

We waited until my partner had a few days off over a long weekend to start. We had both really psyched ourselves up for it, expecting horrendous screaming and it being a big nightmare. Nothing could have prepared us for what happened. Which was, he just fell asleep. No tears. Nada.

Huh? I thought this was “cry-it-out”?

Yup, our lil’ guy just lay there, fully awake, cooing a bit, scratching the sheet, moving his head side to side, scratching the sheet some more, until one minute he was asleep. It took 40 minutes that first night, and he slept a longer stretch than he had in two months! Needless to say, my partner and I were shocked. And thrilled!

The second night it took 30, the third night it took 25. He went from waking up every 1-2 hours to sleeping 4-5 hour stretches before his first night feeding. And no tears at bedtime.

Naps, on the other hand, were an entirely different story. He wailed. But, since we’d read up on this, we knew that naps take longer to adapt to. At this low point we were often facing 10 min crap naps or motion naps. Quickly, the morning nap became easy, and we often just went with motion naps for the rest of the day, or at least the third one. 30 minute naps became 45, and after a month or so, most naps were no longer a battle. Nowadays he pretty consistently sleeps two 90 minute naps a day- and at pretty consistent times too!

I should also mention here that we decided to be soft on the whole soother thing. After 10 minutes of crying we would give in and he would fall asleep right away. Now we just give it to him when we put him down. So yeah, our baby sleeps with a soother. He also has a little wooly blanket and a lovey for comfort.

Was sleep training our little one and having him learn to fall asleep independently our golden ticket to sleeping through the night? Heck no. He’s 9 months old now and still rarely sleeps longer than a 7 hour stretch. Only recently has he semi-regularly started to need just one night feeding, it’s often still two. Two months ago we went through a few weeks of him waking three times a night. But for us, sleep training was never about night weaning. We just wanted bedtime to not be an hour-long battle anymore, and for him to nap in his crib.

In May we traveled for almost three weeks and our baby slept anywhere and any time, without crying or needing rocking/swaying/nursing to get there, so he’s pretty awesome in my books.

That experience proved to us that he was ready for his own space, so we moved the crib out of our bedroom. Sigh. They really do grow up so fast. I’m happy we kept him close for as long as we did: co-sleeping within arms reach in the bassinet from day one, occasional bed-sharing (mostly to survive the sleep regression), then room-sharing with him in a crib, and now separate rooms. It appears that he’s sleeping better now, and so are we. It’s nice to have our bedroom back!

We are still a ways off from complete night weaning I think, and I’m fine with that. Truth be told, I’ll miss those quiet, gentle night nursings.

So that’s our personal story with sleep training. We waited until he showed us he was ready, and it worked great. It’s such an important skill to teach babies, and vital for parent’s sanity I think! So… does YOUR baby sleep through the night?!

1977 vs. 2014 Mommy stress

Since the birth of my son, I’ve turned to my Mother from time to time for insight and advice. She raised my brother and I, and we turned out pretty great, so naturally I thought she’d be a wellspring of information on babies.

I. Was. Wrong.

Her response to almost every question I’ve had? “I’m sorry, I don’t really remember.” The next runner-up: “Oh you would know more than me, with all your reading. I was just winging it, being a hippie Mom.”

So this got me thinking about the vast difference in the typical Mommy stress in 1977 compared to 2014.


What Moms in 1977 worried about:

  • “Feed the baby when it’s hungry.”
  • “Change baby’s diaper when it’s wet/dirty.”
  • “Help baby nap and sleep, but if baby resists, no big deal. Let them stay up late with you, watching TV/jamming with our friends.”
  • “All the other Moms in my Library storytime group seem to have their s#!t together so much more than me.”
    What Moms in 2014 worry about:

  • “I know breast is best, but should I supplement with formula for the added DHA and Iron?”
  • “My baby is in a high/low percentile for weight/length.”
  • “What kind of diaper should we use? Is cloth diapering really the more environmental option?”
  • “What kind of stroller/baby carrier should we use?”
  • “Should we vaccinate?”
  • “Co-sleeping or crib sleeping?”
  • “Attachment parenting or baby training?”
  • “What method of sleep training should we do?”
  • “How the heck do I get my baby to sleep?! They require 4-6 HOURS IN NAPS A DAY & 10-12 AT NIGHT FOR PROPER BRAIN DEVELOPMENT!”
  • “Did I remember to give the Vitamin D drops/Infant probiotics/homeopathic colic remedy, and stimulate them with black & white high contrast images/songs/story books/tummy time EVERY DAY?”
  • “Is this amber teething necklace really working?”
  • “How do I prevent my baby from watching me text and wanting to play with my Smart Phone?”
  • “All the other Moms in my Stroller bootcamp class seem to have their s#!t together so much more than me.”
    I guess some things are the same.

    I just try to gently remind myself — whenever I am stressing out over (lack of) naps, forgetting the daily D drops, or my son being in the 5-10th weight percentile — that I truly am doing the best I can and if he’s fed, clean, happy, and the house isn’t on fire, then it’s a good day.

    And now that I’ve already read all the books, websites and blogs, I can just let it all go, trust my instincts and be a carefree millennium-hippie Mom. (I think I just made that term up) I can try, at least.

    Besides, apparently late night TV and second-hand pot smoke didn’t hurt me!

    What I hate most about being a Mom

    So I haven’t been blogging much lately. Caring for a newborn baby can get in the way of things like that. I’m only two months in, so admittedly, I’m still on a steep learning curve. However, my wife and I do feel like we have a handle on some things; at the very least, we are feeling like we are getting into a rhythm and it’s pretty good.

    But there are definitely aspects of my new job that I’m not too crazy about. So while my adorable tiny beast is napping, I want to vent a little.

    1. The verbal abuse. Maybe I’m weird, but I don’t like it when someone screams at me. But now I have to put up with a boss who, if he gets hungry or cranky, pulls himself up to his full 22 inch height and BELLOWS at me until he’s reddish purple in the face. To make things more stressful interesting, he and I don’t speak the same language, so I am constantly trying to translate. Usually what he wants is my breasts however, which also makes this whole scenario borderline sexual harassment.

    2. I am now a 24 hour human buffet. It’s wonderful and all that I can nourish my baby the way nature intended, with the “liquid gold” that flows from my breasts, but wow it takes up a lot of my day (and night). For someone whose stomach is apparently the size of a walnut, he sure spends A LOT of time feeding. Good thing I have a comfy chair, a breastfeeding pillow, and books, magazines and my iPhone to occupy myself. What? WiFi is dangerous to infants? Screw you.

    3. It’s a dirty job. If you saw a job posting for a 24/7/365 live-in caregiver that required you to deal with human excrement, urine, drool, and (if you’re really lucky) vomitus with no overtime, stat pay, or holiday bonuses, would you apply? Just the other day my baby spit up on my freshly laundered shirt in the morning, and leaked pee and poop on my pants in the afternoon (two different occasions- glad I didn’t bother changing my pants the first time). Motherhood is NOT glamorous.

    4. Date nights look a lot different. My wife and I established our Friday date night tradition years ago. Whether we actually went out for a nice dinner or night of dancing or just stayed in and ate nachos and watched a movie, we always did something fun together. Nowadays, Friday date night involves us entertaining our baby while he sits in his swing so we can eat our dinner with both hands, then maybe catching up on Modern Family before it’s bath time and I’m in the glider nursing him to sleep for an hour. If that works (and sometimes it doesn’t), we then fall into bed, exhausted, or she’s already asleep by the time I hit the pillow. Sexy time? Not so much.

    5. It’s all my fault. Suddenly, I’m blaming myself for everything. Baby is gassy? Must be something I ate or drank. He won’t fall asleep? My fault for keeping him up too late. I thought I’d be immune to the ubiquitous Mommy guilt, but apparently not. Can’t I at least share the blame with my wife? There’s two Moms in this house!

    6. Not enough sleep. It’s cliché , but it’s true. I love sleep. And I really shouldn’t complain because by definition my baby sleeps through the night- which is 5 hours in a row. Yaaaay… So forgive me if I don’t have the energy for Mom and Baby Pilates or Stroller Boot-camp in the park (even though I do need to work off my remaining pregnancy pudge. Oh joy!).

    7. I feel incompetent. Normally I’m a confident, capable woman. Since having the baby I now doubt myself more and question my knowledge (I’ve never done this before!) and intuition (this feels right but the books say no?). I don’t know how to navigate the unfamiliar feeling of being responsible for another human! Being a new Mom is probably the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, and I can’t just walk away and quit when it’s tough. It’s a good thing the hospital doesn’t have a return or exchange policy…

    Okay, okay, enough sarcasm. Besides, we haven’t even hit the really rough patches yet- like teething, the terrible twos and teenage years! (shudder)

    Yes I love my baby and I count my blessings every day that we are both healthy, live in a peaceful part of the world, and I get to raise my child in a solid and loving partnership.

    I love it when he smiles, coos and giggles. I love seeing him adapt and grow. I love how strangers smile at me more. I love how much stronger my connections are to my family and friends. I love being a member of the Mommy club now. And I LOVE not being pregnant anymore- which really, let’s be honest, is the second-best gift you get after your baby. ūüėČ

    A Letter to my Newborn Son

    Dear Son,
    You turned one month old the other day. 30 days have never passed so quickly. How radically my life has changed in such a short time. I will never be the same.

    I had nine months to ponder the transition into Motherhood. Actually, I spent a good two years before deciding whether and how I wanted to do this. I felt honoured to have the ability to consciously conceive you, and further blessed that you came to us so easily. We opened our hearts and you swept in, like a shooting star from the heavens.

    And now you are here with us, earth-side. Our angel, our son-shine, our marvelous mystery. I loved you at first sight, when the midwife brought you to my face, so close I could smell your sweet breath as you cried. But it took two weeks for me to fall IN love with you. It happened in a split second: one moment tired and unsure, the next still tired, but heart broken open as I embraced you completely. My son!

    Your Grandma gave me some good advice today. She reminded me that in a few years these sleepless nights and all the tears and diapers will be a distant memory that won’t matter anymore. But what will matter and the memories that will remain are the snuggles and giggles, the proud milestones, and watching you grow into yourself.

    I will provide the best nourishment and guidance for you that I can. We will have a lot of fun together, I know. I ponder what kind of man you’ll be, what direction your life will take, how you will touch other people’s lives. Know this: your Moms will love you forever and always. xoxo

    belle ancell photography

    belle ancell photography

    Stupid things people say when you’re pregnant

    angry pregnant
    Seriously, what is with some people? No social filter, I guess, or a complete lack of how their comments could be misconstrued or offend.

    When I was newly pregnant I heard the tales of un-asked-for birth terror stories and belly touching from strangers, and friends and family rudely asking “was it planned?” Thing is, I never experienced any of that. Obviously, when there’s two Moms, and we are married and very much in love, people don’t ask if it was planned. They take it one step further and inquire “so how did that happen?” Ummm…

    Now, if you’re a close friend or a relative, I might feel comfortable telling you. But my Boss? Or, how about the stranger at the grocery store, who thinks because her nephew is gay she’s “cool enough” to ask? Sheesh.

    And what’s with people wanting to guess the sex of the baby, or ask if you have names picked out already? I find it all very amusing. My wife and I decided to find out (mostly because we felt SO strongly we were having a boy- and we were right!) and so we have told everyone. But names? No way. Private information until the baby arrives safely air-side, people.

    Then there’s your weight, which suddenly because you’re carrying a child is OK to discuss? Wrong. Never venture that a pregnant woman must be ready to ‘pop’- because she might still be months away from full term. And it is never funny to joke, “Are you sure there’s only one in there?”

    Lastly, why is everyone so hung up on this due date thing anyway? It’s really just an estimate. Approximately 50% of pregnancies end before, and 50% after. Best piece of advice I got early on was to NEVER tell anyone your actual, 40 week due date. Be vague, just say the month, or downright LIE and tell people 2 weeks later than it is. Trust me.

    I honestly think that the due date should be 42 weeks, like a “best before” or expiry date- since then and only then should people start to get concerned. Right? Where can I make an official complaint?

    All this negative stuff aside, I have also discovered a rarely-talked-about perk of pregnancy: panhandlers don’t ask me for change anymore. I guess even they can draw the line somewhere, which, I think, is great. I also love knowing that good manners aren’t completely dead when people offer me their seat on public transit.

    So, I won’t be pregnant much longer. Then I’ll get to enjoy unsolicited parenting advice. Oh joy!

    Starting a family

    Hello! I know I haven’t posted in a while, sorry about that! I’ve been kinda busy… being pregnant.
    baby bump
    Yes, it’s true. I’m knocked up, preggers, in the family way, got a bun in the oven. Whatever euphemism you prefer, come September, my wife and I will have a baby!!

    It’s amazing to have planned this for so long and have it come true so quickly (we conceived our first month trying!). Our families are thrilled. I had nausea in the beginning, but I’ve been feeling really good for the last few months.

    Being the practical gal that I am, we timed it so it wouldn’t conflict with my summer work. We are saving as much money as we can to be able to pay for prenatal classes, buy baby things, and have funds to live on before my benefits kick in- which aren’t very much anyway. Things will be tight over the Fall and Winter, but ultimately we know that we’ll be ok and we are too excited to worry too much at this point!

    We have the advantage of having planned to get pregnant, so we’ve had lots of time to have all the big discussions and really decide whether or not we wanted to start a family. At 35, I feel like the timing is perfect for me. I’m ready!

    We told our parents in a really cute way, by making cards.
    grandparents_cardsFor once, my Mom was speechless. Lol!

    After we were past the first trimester, when it’s considered “safe” to tell more people, we sent out a mass email to our extended family and friends.
    thrilledtoannouncegrowingbytwofeetwelcometotheworldWe got a great response from everyone- it’s so wonderful to feel all the love and support!

    So in case you’re worried wondering if this will turn into just another “Mommy blog”… well, don’t fear! While Motherhood will obviously become my main focus, I still want to discuss other things and have an outlet for my varied passions. I’ve got a few months left to enjoy being child-less, and I’ll figure something out. Being the practical diva that I am, I always do.