Some helpful advice for new mums

I posted some baby/parenting advice when I first had Darwin (see posts under “Baby” category). I reckon I should blog about parenting more since it’s such an interesting topic.

Here’s some advice/tips that I sent out to a girlfriend who was expecting. She absolutely loved them!

“Of course each child/mum/family is different in many respects so it may not work but may be worth a try anyway ;-P

  1. Set up a blogging site for baby. With so many distant friends and family, we thought that it would help keep them up to date on the life of baby. My mum, who now lives with us, goes on the site every day to stay updated! It’s also a great alternative to scrapbooking (who has time to anymore??!!). It’s so handy having the Blogging App on your phone too- posting pics and videos are easy as pie!
  2. Night time gowns. I had a hard time finding one for your baby! It’s a time saver especially in the first month when baby poops every hour in the middle of the night and you don’t want to be bothered with snaps because all you want to do is to go back to sleep!
  3. Do away with baby wipes. Baby poops everywhere and I find that wipes don’t really clean as well as a nice warm wash cloth. Plus wipes are often cold and uncomfortable. I then dry the baby bum with a dry wash cloth and apply vaseline for skin protection. It’s convenient to have the baby changing station in or near the bathroom if you’re employing this washing method.
  4. Baby massages. Baby will have gas pain unfortunately and I’ve found that baby massages are a great way to relieve some of that pain or help prevent/reduce it (other than burping the baby well after feeding). There are many youtube videos to follow. I bought some baby massage oil for you! BTW- Weleda is one of my favourite baby skin products.
  5. Have some granny undies in stock. Should you have a c-section, hip huggers can be pretty uncomfortable to wear as the stitches are positioned where “typical” hip huggers lie.
  6. Stock up on thick menstrual pads. The flow is heavy after birthing and unfortunately the super thin pads just don’t cut it!
  7. Humidifier and nasal mist spray or drops. Edmonton is super dry and even with a humidifier baby can start congesting easily.
  8. Audiobooks. Some mums can read paperbacks while nursing but I can’t seem to have any free hands to hold a book properly. I’ve used “Audible” and they have a pretty good monthly subscription deal. It’s also nice to go for long walks with baby and listen to a book.
  9. Hydrate well. Breastfeeding will make you thirsty! I bring a big water bottle to bed with me every night and carry one in my diaper bag and drink after every feeding. Breastfeeding can also leave you hungry too so it’s good to have fresh fruit and veggies cut/washed and ready for consumption when you’re feeling peckish.
  10. Cuddle that baby! There’s no such thing as spoiling a baby with love and affection 😉 I love wearing baby and there are so many different types of carriers out there. I’ve found a sling (simple and fast to put on, short term use) and ergo-carrier (for longer walks/use) works best for me.
  11. Breastfeed lying down. Such a lifesaver in the middle of the night! Of course you’d have to eventually prop yourself up to burp and change the baby but it’s nice to lie down and relax beside baby during feeding.
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Summer’s End

Feeling and smelling autumnal now. Summer’s such a short season, so unfortunate especially when I was JUST getting acclimatised to the hot humid weather (i.e. not sweating or feeling uncomfortably sticky).

Summer’s end also is making me sad because it’s another day closer to the end of my maternity leave. Can’t believe 7 months have already passed- I wish I can spend the summer with Darwin for ETERNITY!

We had an enjoyable summer together- morning runs, baby laptime sessions at the library, render-vous with friends and family…of the most memorable were: my brother’s wedding and a family vacation out to the Rockies; week trip out to Vancouver to visit Jenny; babysitting my niece Liya for a week; re-uniting with some old childhood classmates.

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(Brother Phong and his beautiful Bride Christine)

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(Tim and I emceeing the wedding reception. I also gave a presentation and made a video/slideshow about the  newly weds; you can view the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgWLIdQTQ3o&feature=g-upl)

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(TIm, Darwin and I at our neighbours 80s retro party)

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(Darwin having a jolly good time in Vancouver)

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(Darwin looking enthused about mum’s 10k race)

To mark the end of summer, we went on a camping trip to the Rockies (Kootenay Plains/Bighorn Region) for the Sept long weekend. Such gorgeous scenery, makes up for the long car journey there!

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(Crescent Falls, Bighorn River)

Image(A somewhat amusing photo of Darwin reaching for all the things)

Darwin’s trip across the pond

Haven’t had much time to write in my blog lately (not surprisingly!) so a picture post will hopefully suffice. Quickly scanned through the plethora of photos of our recent trip to the UK/Germany/Amsterdam and drew up a few collages…hope you like them!

1) Darwin’s meet and greet with his overseas family. So many people happy to meet lil’ Darwin!

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2) Walking the countryside is a perfect way to discover the UK. Tim was slightly obsessed with canals so we walked along a few as well. And yes, I carried Darwin everywhere we walked!

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3) Delighted in some English cuisine!

L to R, Top to Bottom: Ploughman’s lunch, Full English Breakfast, Roast Turkey, Roast Pork

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4) Few attractions visited in-between family visits:

The Shambles in York, York Minister, local cricket match in Malpas (down the road from where Tim’s parents live), Port Meirrion, Anglesey Island (Wales), and Cowry (walled city):

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Downtown Manchester, Dinner at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant, Anne Frank Museum/House in Amsterdam, canal boat tour in Amsterdam, Crouching Tiger and Turtle sculpture in Duisburg (Germany), downtown Chester (walled city)

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My favourite photo: Bolton Abbey, The Strid (Yorkshire)

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Best purchase ever: Minton tea set from the potteries in Stoke-in-trent. Tea in a proper cup never tasted so good!Image

Postpartum (1 month)

Can’t believe a month has past since Darwin’s birth! Just starting to feel that life is finally reaching an equilibrium.

The first two weeks were absolutely blissful- newborns are so amazing and adorable. there were often times that I would just stare at him for hours! Had many visitations from family and friends as well, which also added to this excitement. Sleep deprivation wasn’t an issue as he would quickly  fall back asleep after feeding (every 2-3 hours). The only challenges faced were self-inflicted- had awful bouts of eczema and itchiness on different parts of my body, and the engorgement from over milk production was extremely painful (still trying to regulate my over abundant supply of milk ;-P)

The third week was fairly challenging- baby started to fuss and cry (lots of grunting), and it was difficult to understand why. But by week 4, we finally began to understand baby’s cues and when he has a tummy ache/gas, needs a good burping, or is just tired and needs to cuddle. The sleep deprivation is manageable- he falls asleep within a half hour after feeding at night (total time ~1hour of feeding, burping, diaper change, and settling him back to sleep)…so say from 11pm-8am the next day, that averages about 6 hours of kip. Not bad! It took awhile to get used to disrupted sleep/segmented sleep, but as I said, it’s manageable when you can take afternoon naps!

Starting to return to my studies- feel like I’m miles behind my reading! Oh well, like every year, I’ll be cramming in September for exams.

Other than that, postpartum is going well. Had the “baby blues” twice during the first 2 weeks- it was a combination of fatigue, irritability, and being overwhelmed (and guilt of feeling this way when you should be happy as hell). I guess you just have to remember that there’s no shame in crying. I’m so very thankful to have my husband, friends and family help me in my postpartum recovery!

Welcome to the world, Darwin

Say hello to Darwin Fletcher. Born at 1355 on February 10th 2012 in Edmonton, Canada by scheduled Caesarian section and weighing 5lbs 13oz.
He was born 2 weeks early due to complications/concerns with my placental function and because he was breech. I was disappointed to hear that I wouldn’t have the experience of a vaginal birth/labor, but having a happy healthy baby is all we hoped for in the end.
It’s been Day 7 of being a mummy and I’m really enjoying it. It’s been a rewarding experience breastfeeding and nurturing this small being. I’ve been averaging 4 hrs of sleep at night, but have been making up for it by napping with him during the day. Darwin (so far) has a good temperament, however I’ve read that might change in a few months when his personality really starts to take shape (?)
Dad’s been extremely helpful this week with preparing meals and diaper change. He keeps getting shat and pissed on though by Darwin in-between changes: if any one has any suggestions as how to avoid these disasters, feel free to share!
For those interested in keeping updated on Darwin’s development and life, Tim and I started a blog for Darwin: http://darwinfletcher.tumblr.com . We’re hoping that Darwin will take over this blog when he’s old enough to write and type!
All the best! Mai

Nesting period (part deux)

Took three weeks off for the holidays and it’s already half over!!!

Keeping busy with a few things. Numero Uno priority was researching baby stuff (of course). Here are a few references that I’ve landed on so far:

  • Co-sleeping- excellent reference website: http://cosleeping.nd.edu/frequently-asked-questions/). Not commonly practiced in Western countries.
  • Hyponobirthing. Purchased hyponobirthing labor CD by Michelle Leclaire; I listen to it EVERY night and I’ve had amazing uninterrupted sleeps since!
  • General guidance info on labour, pregnancy, postpartum, etc- I recommend this book: “Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn” http://www.pcnguide.com/
  • Breastfeeding- heard that this Dr. Jack Newman was the guru of breastfeeding even though he’s a man: http://www.nbci.ca/

Also got my hospital and baby bags (car seat still needs to be bought) packed. Also packed Timmy’s swimming trunks so he can climb in the tub/shower with me ;0) Unfortunately the Royal Alex hospital doesn’t have a birthing tub, but the hospital birthing room itself is very spacious and clean.

Nesting Period

Started to prepare for baby’s arrival- helps that I’ve got a constant reminder (i.e. growing belly) that baby’s on its way! I’ve been taking prenatal yoga classes at the Lotus Soul Gym– our instructor is terrific and offers birthing advice throughout the class. We’ve found our doula as well; she energetic, positive and relatively young (early 30s maybe?). Having only spoken to her a few times, I feel like she’s already my best friend!

I’ve also started researching baby products that I think I might or will need…its quite overwhelming as there are so many baby products out there. Here’s a wish list that I came up with last week:

  1. Baby sling for newborn (baby K’tan has good reviews). I found a sling (Hotsling) from kijiji for only $15 (used), which would cost ~$70 brand new. Tested out the sling with cat- she loved being in there- started purring from contentment!                                                
  2. Ergo carrier for infants <40lbs. We don’t plan to use a stroller much and this carrier was given TOP ratings for comfort for both the infant (legs are at 90 degrees) and the carrier. They are fairly pricey (~$135) but I found a distributer on EBay who was selling them for $70. Not bad.
  3. Baby BJorn Babysitter. I’ve read that this baby bouncer is awesomely light and travel friendly, and allows the baby to sit upright. It is expensive ($145) and I’m not sure how useful it will be after it’s able to sit up on its own so it might be worth investing in a cheaper bouncer instead.
  4. Inglesina Fast Table Chair ($45). I think this is a definite- it’s fast to clip onto the table and it’s travel-friendly (and a good space saver). I haven’t found a company that sells them here and shipping it from the US makes it costly.
  5. Bike child trailer from Mountain Equipment Co-Op/jogging stroller. An obvious necessity considering Tim and I cycle more than drive in the City. Haven’t found any used ones on EBay or Kijiji- many used Chariots are sold, though the handle bars are too high for me.
  6. Car seat. Luckily we found one in the dumpster.  I’m serious!

The Essentials List…this list is more challenging to make. The obvious is clothes- I bought some newborn clothes (gender neutral) from a thrift store where onesies/sleepers cost $4-6. They look absolutely brand new- goes to show how quickly newborns grow!

And then there are cloth diapers. There’s a company from Ontario (Giggle Life) that I’m considering purchasing from- they have good reviews on their FB page and their diapers are comparably cheaper than other brands I’ve seen. However their diapers are manufactured from China. Not sure if this should factor into the decision-making equation. They do sell Bamboo diapers, so maybe that’s a compromise? Hmmmm…

Okay, so that’s as far as I’ve gone on my essentials list. It’s a start. If you have any suggestions to provide, I’d be glad to hear them!