BIG, BIG NEWS ALERT

IT’S HAPPENING!

You know how people tell you that you should shoot for your dreams? This year, after far too long of mulling over it, I went for it. I launched myself towards them and I didn’t look back.

I’m so excited (and quite honestly, in a bit of disbelief) to announce that I’ve signed with an AGENT and MY BOOK is officially underway. It was written about motherhood for YOU. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, it’ll look a lot like what you see here – and I hope you’ll love it.

My agent and I had a chit-chat this morning about next steps, and he will be pitching it to publishers come January.

Keep your fingers crossed, send your prayers, and your best vibes.

I’m so excited to share the next stretch of this journey with you and am forever grateful for your support and friendship. ❤️

All my love, always.
A

P. S I see you, Maxwell.

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Honestly, I Don’t Care How You Feed Your Baby, But I Want You To Know This…

Last week The Honest Company approached me and asked if I wanted join them in a conversation about one of the most intimate and important experiences in a family’s life: feeding their newborn baby. Without hesitation, I said yes. Honest presents judgement free stories on its blog covering moms from every walk of life. Today I share my story and a letter to parents in hopes to end the judgement and stigma that comes with the personal choices families make to feed their baby.

Before I dive into my raw and real  experience, I’d like to say I’m not here to argue breast isn’t best. Instead, I’m here to shed some light on why breast wasn’t exactly best for my family under our circumstances. I would never encourage or discourage a mother from breastfeeding, pumping, or formula feeding. I’m 100% in favor of supporting moms by advising them to do what they feel is best for their baby and family. It’s my hope in sharing my story that a mommy in need, a mommy who feels like a failure when it comes to feeding her infant, will know she’s not alone.

Dear Mommies,

Congratulations on your beautiful ray of light. You’ve just started one of the most incredible chapters in your life. With all new roles, this one comes with a period of learning. Actually, there’s a good chance you’ll never stop learning – and you’ll grow stronger because of it.

I was where you are only nine short months ago. I was living (and continue to live) a life that no amount of reading, watching videos or joining Facebook groups could have prepared me for.

I’m a mom who had a baby that was unable to latch – and there was nothing that could have prepared me for it. Most of my reading and most of my encounters with medical professionals, peers and family prepared me for breastfeeding my baby. No one ever mentioned failure. Of course, there was the option to choose other methods, though these methods were hardly addressed or explained to me.

As a new mom,  I was afraid of wronging my son and I was afraid of not giving him the best. Through pressure from myself and the fear of being judged, I sacrificed my sanity and well-being to make breastfeeding work.

I could talk to you about the visits I had with lactation consultants, months I spent attached to a breast pump, suck training, syringe feeding, jaundice, formula and nipple shields.  I could also talk to you about the the guilt, anxiety, frustration and heartache that came with the decisions I had to make to keep my son fed and nourished. However, I’m here to talk to you as a mom on the flip side of all of that. I’m the mom that has done it all – and every step of the way I felt some type of pressure, stress or guilt.

I’m here to tell you that it’s okay if one, some or all of these options work for you and your family. Sometimes, as much as we prepare,  life has a different plan and pushes us in a different direction than we initially imagined.

Whatever direction life has pushed you in when it comes to feeding your child, whether it’s what you expected or what you’ve had to resort to, as long as you are nourishing your child, keeping them fed and loving them endlessly, you as a parent are doing your job.

The best you can give your child is accepting your circumstances and making it work. Show them you can overcome adversity, adjust to change and go with the flow.

If there’s one thing I learned from crying on the bathroom floor at three in the morning from emotional and physical exhaustion, it’s that my choices were driven by love, not logic.

In all your parenting triumphs and struggles, there is someone else out there who gets it – and as one of them, I want to say I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you for doing your absolute best.

In closing, I want to introduce you to my nine month old son, Jack.

See his smile? It’s not a result or being fed formula or breast milk, bottle or boob, his smile is a result of love. For for first week of his life he was fed breast milk by a syringe. For the first three months of his life, he was fed through a bottle filled with breast milk I pumped around the clock. From months three through four, he exclusively breast fed after finally latching completely out of the blue. From months four through six, he was fed both formula and breast milk as I struggled to maintain my supply. And lastly from months six and onward, he’s been formula fed (along with purees of his favourite Italian dishes) after my supply complexity dried up.

My biggest goal as a parent is to raise Jack to always be compassionate, kind and gentle. How he was fed as an infant will have never come up on first dates, university applications or job interviews. It has no indication of the type of person he is or will grow up to be.

Together, lets stop making moms feel isolated, hopeless and judged as they navigate uncharted water and raise their families. Lets answer questions rather than offer advice, lets offer support rather than sympathy, and lets be the generation of moms who end the mom war.

We’re all in this together, we may just be doing it a little differently.

Wishing you sleep + happiness,
Annie

Jack’s First Thanksgiving

This is a year of firsts for us. For Jack, everything is a first – which is why I’ve been trying my hardest to make each holiday extra special (even though my son will remember none of it). Earlier this month we dedicated an entire week to celebrating Thanksgiving. Lord help this child when Christmas rolls around. Next to Christmas, Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays. Growing up, my parents would load our kick-ass, boxed style mini-van with a turkey, cranberry sauce and our little family to head north for Thanksgiving weekend. There is only one Thanksgiving I recall not being there – a weekend when my Dad threw his back out, and coincidentally, our hamster Molly kicked the bucket (R.I.P).

The first year Dave joined our family for Thanksgiving at the cottage was in 2012. We were just two early-20-something’s in love.

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First came love, then came marriage, then came our dog Louie, and THEN a baby carriage.

To celebrate Jack’s first Thanksgiving and our first year of marriage, Dave took a week off of work, and I went into overdrive planning excursions.

We packed our small, hatchback Volkswagen with turkey, cranberry sauce and our little family to head north for Thanksgiving weekend. We continued the tradition of spending Thanksgiving at the cottage.

20161009_110637 The cottage is home. It’s a structure that has weaved its way into my heart in way that could never unravel. I hope to weave this piece of my heart into Jack’s.

We spent three peaceful, warm autumn days laying fireside, watching movies, and hiking the wilderness (that’s really not that wild).

20161009_134305From there, Dave and I did the unthinkable.  We abandoned our 9 week old baby to spend a night alone celebrating our first wedding anniversary…in Blue Moutain. Fear not. He was with my totally-obsessed-with-their-first-grandchild parents, and I’d bet he was completely and totally smothered with love and kisses.

We started our night away with a beer tour at the Collingwood Brewery, a small, quite brewery about 20 minutes outside of Blue Mountain. I had the sampler – and after five small tasting flights felt like a 17 year old with their first taste of freedom.

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Childless and ready to party, Dave and I checked into the hotel and quickly made our way into The Village for an early dinner. After pounding pasta covered with primavera and washing it down with a cold glass of water, I crawled my way into bed at 9 o’clock (after pumping to keep my supply up, of course  – #momlife).

The next morning we grabbed a coffee and jetted up the mountain for an early morning hike.

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About a quarter-way up the mountain we stopped and hugged while we stood in silence. Between the chaos of a newborn and adjusting to life as parents, we remembered how to love but we forgot how to hug. Standing there with the sun beating on my back and my arms around my man was one of the most calming moments I’ve had in these last two and a half months.

After 18 hours of being away from our sweet, baby Jack, we craved him. Ditching our afternoon plans, we ventured home to scoop our kin from his dotting grandparents. “Do you think he missed me?” I asked Dave. “Of course” he replied. “Do you think he loves me?” I asked Dave. “Yes, he loves you” he smiled.

I showed up at my parents with tears flowing from my eyes… and my baby barely blinked.

To wrap up the week we did something I’ve always looked forward to – baby or not – pumpkin picking. Although this year I looked forward to it more than any year before. What two month old isn’t dying to pick a pumpkin? The answer: all two month olds, especially mine:

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We got a cute family photo –  though, Jack was less than impressed.

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To me, Jack’s first Thanksgiving was everything I could have dreamed of and more. It laid the foundation for tradition, gave this momma some much needed time to relax, and created some beautiful memories – that we will always keep in our heart and Jack can one day admire through photos.

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Mom and Baby’s Favourite Things

Jack’s officially been a part of our family for a little over three weeks now. Being that this is baby #1, there has been a lot of trial and error over the last three weeks to learn which baby items work for us and for Jack. Here’s a quick list of the baby items that we currently can’t live without!

  1. 4mom’s MamaRoo: The MamaRoo is an item that was kindly gifted to us by family at our baby shower. It’s an expensive must-have for baby’s who love to be rocked and swayed. The MamaRoo replicates the natural motion parents use to comfort their baby through five motions and speed options.
    Why Mom loves it:  It’s great for rocking Jack to sleep or keeping him calm while I tidy up the kitchen or sip that cold cup of coffee.
    Why baby loves it:  As the weeks pass, Jack loves to be held and rocked more and more, and when Mama needs a hand-free minute this little contraption does just the trick!
  2. Baby Einstein Caterpillar and Friends Play Gym: This is a toy that I think will be used for months to come. The gym features 6 activities – from rattles to glowing lights, sounds and melodies. The soft play mat is the perfect place to lay baby down for tummy time. The gym also features a musical star which can be removed and attached to a crib, stroller or car seat.
    Why Mom loves it: Easy to clean, easy to assemble, easy to use. We currently use the mat for brief entertainment and tummy time (Jack’s laying on the mat figuring out how to roll as we speak). As Jack gets older the gym will help develop his motor skills and hopefully continue to keep his attention!
    Why baby loves it: Even though Jack is only three weeks old, the Caterpillar and Friends gym has already grabbed his attention. He swats and kicks his legs – unintentionally hitting rattles and responds to sounds. He also loves the musical star, which calmed him to sleep on a five hour road trip this past weekend.
  3. Earth Momma Angel Baby Nipple ButterThis all natural, organic, plant based nipple butter is heavenly. Breastfeeding and/or pumping can do a number on a Mama’s nipples (cracked, bleeding, dry) and this pricey miracle butter is worth the investment! Due to it’s natural ingredients, there’s no need to rinse it off before a feeding – and, it smells like chocolate, added bonus!
    Why Mom loves it: Before I discovered Earth Momma Angel Baby Nipple Butter I was using coconut butter to sooth my sore nipples. The coconut butter was unable to provide the comfort I needed after my intense pumping sessions (every 2 to 3 hours), I needed something more. Although the nipple butter is on the expensive side, you really only need a small amount and it provides instant relief!
    Why baby loves it:  The taste and texture have no impact on the Jack’s feeding.
  4.  Medela Freestyle Double Electric Pump:  This lightweight, double electric pump has met all my pumping needs. It’s portable and chargeable so you can pump anywhere. It also has a timer and back-light which makes it easy to track your night time pumping sessions.  The two phase expression technology encourages more milk production, which has been an added bonus! Our freezer is currently stocked meaning Mama can have a glass of wine every once and awhile. Lastly, the kit comes with all of the accessories you need: tote bag, bottles, breastshields, tubing, membrane, handsfree accessories kit – and it’s compatible with medela nursing bras.
    Why Mom loves it: A few weeks ago I shared my struggles with breastfeeding. When we first brought Jack home he had trouble latching. Jack became dehydrated, Jaundice and lost weight while I nearly lost my mind. I was lucky enough to have had invested in the medela freestyle pump prior to bringing my baby home, so I was immediately able to pump my breast milk and feed it to my son. As soon as I began pumping and bottle feeding, Jack began gaining weight. We’re able to track his intake which helps ease this Mama’s mind as I’m able to ensure he’s getting enough to eat. I wasn’t attached to the idea of breastfeeding but really wanted to feed my baby breast milk if I could, this was the perfect solution for our situation.
    Why baby loves it:  Food. Baby loves food.
  5. Medela Nipple Shield: The medela nipple shield is a thin, silicone shield that is worn on the nipple while breastfeeding. The nipple shield is used when a Mom and Baby have a difficult time securing a latch.
    Why Mom loves it: I was introduced to the medela nipple shield after two weeks of exclusively pumping.  On our first attempt using the sheild, Jack was able to latch. After a week of using the shield, I have been able to get Jack to latch occasionally without the shield. Getting Jack to latch without the shield is still a work in progress, but the shield has given me the ability to breastfeed my baby.
    Why baby loves it: Food. Baby loves food.
  6. WubbaNubb Giraffe:  A WubbaNubb is a nifty little soother with a plush toy attached to the end. You will never lose a soother again!
    Why Mom loves it: Jack hasn’t grown dependent on a chooch but there are times where we use it so he can sooth himself to sleep. We found Jack was over eating because he loves to suck and introducing a soother has solved that problem.
    Why baby loves it: I literally watched my 3 week old maneuver this chooch into his mouth today. The plush toy makes a great cuddle buddy and also helps baby guide the soother into their mouths.
  7. Baby Jogger – City Mini 4-Wheel Stroller:  It took us FIVE visits to Snuggle Bugz to select our stroller. We wanted something that was lightweight, easy to fold, would fit in my Ford Focus, would fit our car seat adapter (Maxi Cosi – Mico AP), could go “off-roading” and wouldn’t break the bank. Well folks, it exists! I give you the City Mini stroller by Baby Jogger. Although not suitable for off-roading, the stroller is all terrain and meets the needs of our family.
    Why Mom loves it: The one hand fold and lightweight of the stroller gives the ability to quickly and easily take the stroller in and out of my car. The adjustable handle is also a plus when my husband is in the drivers seat. The storage bin at the bottom could be a little bit bigger (it only fits a diaper bag), but there are various compartments on the actual stroller that allow me to store my wallet, keys, cell phone, etc.
    Why baby loves it: The shock absorption makes for an incredibly smooth ride.
  8. Live Clean Calming Bedtime Bubble Bath & Soap + Body Lotion: I cannot say enough good things about this product. The live clean calming bedtime bubble bath & soap + body lotion was another gift we received at our baby shower.  Both the lotion and the bubble bath are infused with natural ingredients known for their calming and relaxation properties. It’s also designed to keep baby’s skin smooth and soft.
    Why Mom loves it: The product is made of 98% plant based material, so I feel comfortable and confident putting it on my baby’s skin. In addition to that, the product smells amazing. After Jack’s bath (which he absolutley loves), I snuggle his little body and smell him for hours, love me those newborn snuggles.
    Why baby loves it: I’m not sure if it’s the calming properties in the bubble bath, but Jack is in LOVE with bath time. On occasion he instantly falls fast asleep as soon as his little bum hits the water. The lotion has also been a savior for soothing his dry skin.
  9. Ingenuity Rock and Dream Sleeper: This soft sleeper is perfect for keeping baby close (if you chose to have your baby out of their crib for the first few months of life). It’s easy to assemble, clean and use. The vibrating motion and rocker are ideal for comforting and calming baby.
    Why Mom loves it: When Jack first came home he slept in a bassinet beside our bed. It wasn’t before long that we found ourselves up all night due to an uncomfortable baby. Jack suffers from some minor reflux in addition to gas after feeding. He would wiggle, squirm and wince when he was placed flat on his back at bedtime. The rock and dream sleeper keeps Jack at an incline which helps manage his reflux. It also cradles him in a way that makes him feel safe and protected, just as he was in my tummy. We love the rock and play because it’s easy to assemble and take a part (requiring no tools). We brought it with us on a recent weekend trip which made for easy sleeping arrangements and a happy baby.
    Why baby loves it: He can (almost) get a good night’s rest now – between feeding every two hours.

Well, there you have it! Our favourite Mama and Baby items during Jack’s first month in our home. I’m sure there’s more but these are the ones we use on a daily basis. Are there any items you would add to the list?

Pregnancy Update: 37 Weeks

WE DID IT!

Well folks, we did it! Today officially marks 37 weeks pregnant and we’re in the safe zone for delivery. New bets have been placed on when I’ll deliver (officially due August 16) and all to-do tasks are done! We’re ready!

Baby Stats

Baby boy has been measuring a week ahead of schedule and weighs (approximately) just under 7 pounds. He’s expected to gain half a pound per week until his due date. With three weeks left this could put him in the eight and a half to nine pound range. Pray for me.

Highlight from the Week

Bed rest is officially over. With an okay from my doctor, I was able to fulfill my maid-of-honour duties for one of my closest friend’s wedding this past (hot, hot, hot) Saturday. Baby boy was a champ and allowed me to party hard until 9:30 p.m. WOO.

Annmarie was a beautiful bride and her wedding left not one dry eye in the house. We’ve been friends for the last 16 years and to watch her marry the man of her dreams was truly a blessing. 20160723_204132

Mama & Baby’s Health

Yesterday morning I happily told Dave I hadn’t reached the “I feel miserable” stage of the third trimester.  Well, I jinxed myself and my body laughed at me. Everything and I mean everything started to hurt come mid-afternoon.  Getting back on my feet after being off of them for 6 weeks has introduced some new aches and pains but it’s nothing a good bubble bath can’t fix.

Overall, Pork Chop is doing very well.  He’s grown a little reputation for himself at the hospital as “the swimmer” (we’ve become well known from all of our visits). He’s always moving and grooving, making it difficult at times to take proper measurements – but a moving baby is a happy baby.

Cravings

Bring me all the watermelon and white flesh peaches!

New Symptoms

I really struggled with insomnia during my first trimester and it seems to have come back in full swing. If I’m lucky, I’ll score about 4 combined hours of sleep (between the tossing and turning and frequent bathroom visits). Despite all that I seem to be keeping my sanity and making it through the days fairly well with only one power nap.

I’ve also been experiencing loss of appetite and a ton of pain in my hips. Thankfully I have a kick-ass (and should I add, incredibly handsome) husband, who has literally gone above and beyond anything I could have expected.

On Saturday he offered to follow me around in an air-conditioned car while we snapped pictures outside for my friends wedding. He brought Popsicles, snacks and frozen bottles of water to ensure baby and I were well hydrated, well fed and avoided the dangers of the heat. Bless him.

That’s all for now – I expect my next post will be our birth story – so stay tuned and stay cool!