Mama in the City since 2008 and blogging since 2009!

I’ve had the privilege of being present at so many families birth experiences. Being at a birth is not routine for me and each one has it’s own story. I’ve had mamas labour all on their own and those that brought a village. I was introduced to the role of the doula back when I was specializing in perinatal nursing, and the idea of this person that was there just to give awesome support, well it sounded really good to me.

People often ask me, ‘what exactly is a doula?‘  and I find it easy to tell them what a doula does.  A doula is hired by a mama-to- be to support her during labour, birth and immediately post partum. A doula is not a medical professional and they don’t deliver babies or provide medical advice. A doula is flexible with the situation and also supports the woman’s partner through out the birth too. They recommend different positions and massage your back. I’ve been totally amazed at the amazing snacks and drinks some of the doulas pull out of their bags! I also love it when they bust out the essential oils and the room starts to smell amazing.

Over the years I’ve been fortunate to work with several amazing Vancouver doulas. I love that feeling that I get when I’ve worked with a doula and I’ve learned a new techniques or idea for labour support. Doulas must feel passion about empowering women and get excited thinking about being by the side of a mama as she births her baby.

My first encounter with a doula happened when I was in my final practicum for my maternity nursing, I had one last night shift to do before I was on my own and I was at a birth of a first time mum. I was starting a nightshift when I met her and she had been labouring for a long time with her husband and doula at her side. Watching her doula in action was eye opening and it was the first time that I saw such loving  hands on labour support. I was in awe. Her support was effortless and comforting and she was so good at it. Her anticipation of the changing needs of the mother was impressive.

 

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Photo taken by the doula.

If thinking about supporting a mama through labour gets you feeling excited, you might be a birth geek and that’s totally awesome. Pacific Rim College is offering an extensive doula certificate program in Vancouver and Victoria. The program really covers a lot of different subjects that relate to carrying for a mother before,during and after birth. and is a 270 hour program.Find out more info about becoming a doula here.

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A few fun links for you: doula stuff, PRC Facebook Page.

Disclosure: While this post has been sponsored by Pacific Rim College, all of the opinions and language are my own.

 

I remember excitedly awaiting my first ever birth back when I was studying to become a perinatal RN. I was just really observing and trying my best at labour support. I was so excited for this mama to push her baby out and see how it all happens. The pediatrician came by the room and asked me how much longer I thought it would be till the baby was born and I confessed how it was my first birth and that I had no idea how long it would be. He responded told me it was probably his 40,000th birth. We chatted a bit about babies and he matter of factly told me how you could tell the personality of a person right from their birth. I had no idea what he even meant but filed that tid bit of info away.

Fast forward to 2008 when I gave birth to my first baby and as soon as I pushed him out he cried loud and long and didn’t stop crying till he was over 5 months old. Even when the crying settled down he was still high needs and required a lot of touch and parenting to wind down and settle. I couldn’t help but reflect on what that pediatrician had told me back at my first delivery and, in our care, it was totally true.

I always felt that Ben just hated being a baby. He was much more content when he was able to move around on his own and do more things. As he grew into toddlerhood I could still see some of his high need qualities growing with him. He needed quite a bit of comfort to go to sleep, he disliked loud noises and all of the earthquake/fire drills at preschool would freak him out. When he was an only child we’d take him to the park and it wasn’t a big issue to play one on one with him. Having a 2 year old in tow really changes how I give attention to each kid individually and I’m trying to get better at how I do that.

Since we’ve basically spent the last 2 months together I’ve noticed that my boy is still sort of high needs. The biggest challenge I find is his need to constantly have you play with him. He wants you to be his side kick at all times and I can tell he feels deflated when I respond with a no. No, I have to watch Josie. No, I have to make dinner. No, I want you to play on your own.

We go to the park or playground most days and I’ve noticed that each day it’s the same parenting struggle for me. ‘Mum, play ninjas with me. Mum, lets play Pokemon and have a battle. Mum, you be the monster and chase me around! Mum, what can we do now?’. I find this really exhausting and feel that parental guilt creep up when I’ve turned him down a few times in a row. I always make an effort to play something with him at some point but the truth is, I just want him to run around and play on the playground by himself. I don’t always want to have to play ‘something’ with him.

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I know that this is parenting and  I’ve got to learn how to be involved in some of the stuff that he loves too. Ultimately, I want him to learn that it can also be fun to play on your own. Sometimes I just want to go to the park with my kids and enjoy watching them go up and down the steps to the  slide and master the monkey bars with sweat on their face. I want to push them on the swings and cheer for them when they finally figure out how to get up the rope pyramid.

I also totally see that my kid is so ready to go back to school and be challenged and get that constant interaction with other kids that he loves so much. He needs to play ‘Pokemon’ with his old kindergarten buddies because I just can’t pretend to be Pikachu again. I can’t.

Do you actively play with your kids at the park? What’s your style?

Articles to check out: 9 Reasons Why Parenting is the World’s Hardest Job, Dr. Sears and What High Needs Means, The Value Of Play

 

 

 

I love living in Vancouver and I especially love it during our summer months. The sweet warm summer days we get to enjoy make up for those 8 months of rain that bestow Vancouver the rest of the year. We live through the constant rain and associated attire so that when June, July and August come our way we are rewarded with beach time, mountain hikes, seawall bike riding and more.

People always ask me, ‘are you guys going on any holidays this summer?‘ and I always respond, ‘nope…this is the place to be in the summer!‘. In fact, each summer Vancouver floods with tourists trying to catch a piece of the awesomeness of this city. Cruisers dock and check out the downtown, people from all over the world book up the hotel rooms and try to join in on the fun. Sometimes our routine quiet little spots are over filled with extra people, and while that is not always great, we totally understand why people come on their holidays to check out our city!

We live right downtown and truly we haven’t had a boring day since school was out for Ben in June. Every day that we can we get up to something and have so many fun things  to choose from. On our laziest hottest days we trek a few blocks down to the beach for some digging and swimming and making sand castles. Sunset Beach, English Bay, Second Beach…we love them all. We love the pool at Second Beach and it is great for little children and parents alike.

Flying a kite at English Bay on a hot summers day.

Flying a kite at English Bay on a hot summers day.

If we need to escape the sun we head around the corner to Science World and spend hours going through the kid friendly exhibits there. We have an annual pass and the kids are at great ages (5 and 2) to make use of all of the different types of fun on each level. Favourites include the hands on science at the Eureka! exhibit. The kids love doing the light and sound experiments on their own and the 2 year old loved anything to do with water.

Many days this summer we’ve taken the water taxi across False Creek and headed to Granville Island. This is a family favourite and I love the idea that as my kids will grow and Granville Island will be a big part of their memories. Sometimes we go cheap and just play at the water park or the playground behind the Kids Market. We run in the green space and we always play in the pretend boat and feed the birds! Our favourite stop include buying donuts from Lee’s Donuts right in the public market and I often get a delicious coffee at the JJ Bean right next to there too.

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Just hanging around. Climbing the old equipment in the green space at Granville Island.

 

Vancouver is awesome and my list could go on and on with all of the fun things we get up to. What’s your favourite summertime activity in Vancouver?

 

Over the last 9 years as a maternity RN I’ve had the privilege of meeting so many new mothers and I definitely have a few things to say about breastfeeding. Especially so in those early moments and days with your newborn.

For me, my professional experience was enhanced when I had my own babies and was privy to a different side of breastfeeding. That emotional and exhausted side where you’re trying to learn new skills after giving birth. I’d love you to take these 5 Things as if I was your  big sister who just happens to know a thing or two about breastfeeding.

 

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1. Feed on your baby’s cue. Look for your sweet baby to be thrusting their tongue, putting their hands to their mouth or opening their mouth and moving their head around. These are all great signs your baby would like to eat, crying is actually a late sign of hunger. If you have a healthy term baby, feed on their cues and not by the clock. Sometimes your babe will want a snack, then a drink, then a large meal and before you know it they want another drink. Feeding times can vary and they don’t tell us how much milk your baby got.

2. Block out the visitors or make sure to just invite the A list. People love you and they’re so excited to meet your new baby,  but those early hours and those first few days are not the best time for your baby to be separated from you. If people do come, ask them to bring you food and take a peek at your babe before they are on their way. Visitors: keep it short and sweet and bring food! It turns out that new mamas don’t always feel comfortable telling you to leave and so they don’t.

3. Don’t expect to learn how to breastfeed all on your own. If you’ve never seen another person latch their baby on and feed them, how do you now how to latch on your own baby. It turns out that breastfeeding is more than just feeling ‘natural’ and a lot about learning a new skill.  The same goes with your baby, who born at term, is born knowing how to suckle but not how to latch. Just like you, your baby is learning to latch too.

4.  If it isn’t working ask for help. If you’re in the hospital please ask your nurse. If you didn’t love her advice, then ask another nurse! Be aware of who you do ask for help from. We love our doctors but they don’t learn about human lactation and breastfeeding in medical school.  Unless they have sought out their own education, most medical doctors don’t have any formal training on breastfeeding.

5. Skin to skin! Take off the blankets, remove the swaddle, get them out of their onesie and get that baby skin to skin with you. If mama is busy or recovering than dad can do it to. Baby’s need that warmth from going skin to skin to help them regulate their temperature and stabilize their blood sugar levels. It’s not just something cute, even though it is super adorable, skin to skin actually has some science behind it. If you’re ever having any issues with breastfeeding, whatever the issue is, try to do even more skin to skin and get that baby in love with your breast. Having baby hang around your breasts by doing skin to skin can also help with your milk supply and an easier time recognizing those early feeding cues.

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This photo was taken by my husband during the first hour after Josie’s birth.

These 5 tips are all things that I practice in the hospital setting as a perinatal RN and also what we teach in prenatal classes. These tips are intended for healthy full term babies. You can find more evidence based information and support at these websites:

Kelly Mom

Dr Jack Newman

Science of Skin to Skin

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One Month

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August 4, 2014 // Pure Mama

I recently went back to work at the hospital after having a full month off. On the first morning that I had to get up early and go to work, my kids were up before my alarm clock went off and they both were crying about not leaving them. Please mama! Please don’t leave us! We need you! Apparently my kids really enjoyed having me home with them for the whole 31 days of July.

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To be honest, at the start of the month I had these lofty visions of getting so many things done during my time off, but in reality I hardly did anything productive. Instead we had many lazy late mornings at home, beach visits, a long weekend out of town, lots of down time and in a matter of seconds the whole month off from work was over. OVER!!

Apparently yanking shift work out of your life for a month doesn’t mean that you will have endless time on your hands. It does mean that you will be on mama duty and that in itself makes life full enough. Being off from shift work didn’t mean that I got all my projects finished and tidied up like I was really hoping for. Nope. Instead, it meant that I never had to stay awake all night long under the guise of a night shift and that was lovely!

I thought that by having a month off work it would make me less frazzled with my kids, but I still lost my patience and I still did use my ‘MAMA MEANS BUSINESS’ voice each and every day. I thought that having no work for a whole month would mean that I’d be in the kitchen crafting amazing summertime meals for my family, but it turns out that I sort of like sandwiches for dinner and ordering in sushi.

I most definitely thought that I would have oodles of time to meet up with friends, with kids and without, but it didn’t really happen like I had been hoping. Sure it’s much easier to plan meet ups without having to worry about day shifts and night shifts and all that stuff, but in actual fact life is still busy. Friends will still be busy, the days start and finish like they always do and before you know it… 31 of them have gone by.

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In the spirit of being on holidays there were a couple of days that I definitely enjoyed an earlier adult bevvie (gin and tonic with a squeeze of lime) and I raised my glass shouting, ‘I’m on holidays!’ to whomever was listening which was mostly just the dog. Sure my month of holidays are over but I’m going to be determined to continue to embrace this last month of summer.

Here is a few fun and inspiring summertime posts from fellow Vancouver bloggers:

Summer Reading Club from Weekdays from Scratch

A love letter to the pan pacific whistler village from Mother Your Business

5 Mom Summer Essentials for Your Purse from The Write Balance 

Chocolate Cherry Zucchini Muffins from Food & Whine

 

Single me: get a degree, work a job, make some money and spend some of it it on fun stuff for me.

Married me: enjoy coupledom, eat out LOTS, spend money on luxuries just for us!

New Mama me: get through the day, focus on my babies, survive.

Experienced Mama me: get through the day, enjoy my kids, enjoy my husband, learn new things.

After having baby #2 and going back to work, I’ve been in a good groove with the day to day grind and I’ve felt really comfortable with how things have been working. I had a job that I was good at and my biggest concern was getting enough sleep and what to make for dinner.

Then I decided it was time to get out of my comfort zone and learn something new

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This weekend I taught a prenatal class with my friend for her company. She is mentoring me one one one so that I can eventually take on some of the classes on my own. I am so excited for this opportunity but, to be totally honest, I’m sort of nervous at the same time. This is a big learning curve for me as I’m used to teaching at the bedside as a maternity RN with just 1 couple. So, being in a class of 20 people as a prenatal teacher has been a different experience for me.

So far I’ve done 3 prenatal weekends and each time I’ve loved it and I hated it a little bit at the same time. I’ve come to realize that my personality really wants to be an expert at things right away and I feel frustrated when I can’t be an expert right from the start. The hate part is because I was surprised that I didn’t feel totally comfortable in a new situation despite it being related to a familiar topic. I also know that  I am one of those personalities that gets a little uppity with change.

Teaching this past weekend reminded me of the time back when I was a newlywed and I confidently told my husband that I could most definitely paint our entire apartment. In fact, I was SUPER excited to paint it! We picked out the colours, bought the paint and supplies and off I went! It turns out that I am not a naturally talented painter and after 2 days we hired a professional painter to come and finish the job.

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I was worried that the same thing would happened when I went to teach a classroom full of expectant parents. Previously I had told myself, no problem I can totally teach prenatal classes! However, on the first class I got up in front of the class and realized there was a bit more to it than just feeling passionate. There are actual skills to teaching a large group of adult learners. No matter how excited I feel about birth and breastfeeding and baby care, I wasn’t naturally talented to just teach right off the bat. I needed some actual lesson plans, notes, experience, etc to feel good about what I was doing. Who would have thought?

I am so glad to have a mentor that I can learn from and take her experience and grow from that. Each weekend that I’ve spent teaching prenatal classes has been a really good learning experience for me. I honestly can’t wait until the time when teaching a large group feels like second nature to me. I am welcoming this new season of my life and am excited to see how it unfolds.

When was the last time you got out of your comfort zone and tried something new?

Time Out!

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July 23, 2014 // Uncategorized

Raising Josie has been a hilarious parenting ride so far. I feel like I am constantly having to keep on my parenting toes to figure out how best to parent her. Her 2 year old personality is nothing like her brothers was at the same age, so I can’t fall back on my tested out parenting tricks from kid #1 with her.

We’ve recently had to start time outs with Josie for either not listening (safety issues) or naughty behaviour. We give her a warning and help guide her on to something else but the girl is Stubborn (with a capital S!) and so far these approaches are often met with a big laugh and smiles. Apparently we are hilarious when we are trying to be serious with her and she will laugh in our face when we are being stern. After her warning, if she doesn’t change her behaviour, she gets a 2 minute time out. The first dozen of times were met with huge drama from this girl but she is slowly catching on and (sometimes) the warning works to help her shift that behaviour before things escalate.

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How we do time outs:  

  • Call out the behaviour (hitting, not listening, being unsafe, etc)
  • Give a warning to change the behaviour
  • If they don’t change the behaviour they get a time out in minutes that is similar to their age (3 years is 3 minutes)
  • Child goes to a quiet area or their crib and is told they are to sit there for X minutes and a timer is set
  • Timer beeps and parent goes to the child and asks, ‘do you know why you were in time out?’.
  •  We get down on their level, bring them in our laps or sit next to them. The child says what happened and then apologizes if it’s appropriate (hitting your brother, etc)
  • Hugs are given and we move on. We don’t bring up the time out or rehash it once it’s over.

We didn’t start time outs with kid #1 until he was 3 years old and even then he didn’t have oodles of time outs and often the warning was sufficient enough to change his behaviour. Time outs worked great with kid #1 and even at 5.5 years old the warning of a potential time out usually changes his behaviour.

We all adore Josie and her huge personality and she is a hit wherever she goes. The girl is a constant performer who expresses her emotions to whomever will listen to her. She’s challenging and strong willed and, according to my parents, somewhat similar to me as a little girl. I feel like I am going to be in trouble when she is a teenager. I’m hopeful that time outs will work with her like they did so well for her brother. It’s not about punishment, it is about taking the time away from the situation to reset and calm down and also reflect.

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 What do you think of time outs? Do you give them to your kids or do you do something different?

Fellow Vancouver blogger Tairalyn of Little Miss Mama is currently hosting a lovely giveaway to win 4 luxurious sleep sets from Lusome. She asked me to share a sleep story with her readers and it turns out that I had many to choose from! It’s funny how once you have kids the topic of sleep becomes so pivotal in your day to day life and conversation.

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Next week The Craft Council of British Columbia and Circle Craft Cooperative Summer Market will be at the Jack Poole Plaza downtown Vancouver for their free summer market. This is a great event for locals and out of towners alike. to come and enjoy . I’ve loved their Christmas Markets and I’m sure I will enjoy browsing and shopping the summer market this year! I’m looking forward to the open air style, the summertime vibe and enjoying all of the artisans.

I’m excited to be giving away 100 Summer Craft Show Dollars to spend at the upcoming market! One lucky reader will be able to do a little shopping! How awesome is that? This is a short giveaway and the winner will be announced on June 21 and will have 48 hours to claim their  prize. Maybe I’ll see you there? 

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I want to come across as a relaxed mother when I’m out with the kids. One of those calm, cool and collect mothers that can manage two children with ease when out in public. Playing with them and laughing out loud and just being carefree. So far this summer we’ve been doing lots of outings and one thing that I’ve come to realize is that I’m not naturally a calm, cool and collect mom when I’m out with the kids and I tend to find myself getting a bit uppity chasing Josie around and watching Ben at the same time.

My nearly 6 year old is okay to play out of my direct sight, he knows our safety rules and what kind of behaviour I expect from him, after all he spent a year at school going for lunch and recess without a parent hovering over his every move. It’s my 2 year old that is a different story! She is that toddler that will dart across the road without any sense of caution to be had. She would gleefully join another family that has better snacks or run after a cute puppy dog that she saw across the way. There’s no way that I could safely get caught up in playing with Ben and let Josie just play in the periphery. She is too feisty, curious and super FAST on her feet when it comes to her impromptu get away moves.

I’ve been finding my balance between being a mum that can keep my kids safe and also being able to engage with both kids and just have a fun time. Right now I find the age difference a little bit challenging because they want to do such different things. I’ve had Ben should out, ‘Mum! Mum! Watch me!’ while he is doing something cool or new and my quick response has too often been, ‘Sorry bud! One second! I’ve got to chase your sister!’.

One common interest of both Ben and Josie is heading to a water park. So, this week we went to two different water parks on back to back days, one out in the burbs and one in the city. As long as I am okay with getting wet at the water park then I can be that fun mum to Ben and also play with Josie and keep her from running off and joining another family.

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Running around at a spray park in the late evening is a great way to burn off some extra energy and cool down on these warm summer nights. It was also something on our Summer Of Us list and even though we will still be going to the water park many many times in the next couple months, we can officially cross it off the list that Ben made with me. I also love knowing that my kids are running around and being physical and having a totally awesome time too.

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I know that when I’m working I have less energy to run around and immerse myself into their world and I’m sometimes happier on the sidelines watching them and keeping Josie safe from taking off. Luckily for us water parks are our happy medium, not just for the kids but for this mama as well because I really do want to be that fun mum.