Mama in the City since 2008 and blogging since 2009!

I love getting personal mail from my readers and I recently got an email asking me about gestational diabetes and pregnancy. So, why ask a blogger? I’m not just a blogger but I’m also an experienced labour and delivery nurse AND a type 1 diabetic who has had babies, so  I’ve got a bit of street cred on the topic.

During a woman’s pregnancy she will be screened for gestational diabetes. Pregnant women can ultimately choose to decline the testing for diabetes in pregnancy, however, I am FOR the screening of diabetes in pregnancy. Despite the yucky drink that all you ladies have to chug, I feel that knowing if you have diabetes in your pregnancy is vital for your own health and the health of the baby you are growing.
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The letter was from a lady whose ‘surrogate’ daughter  was pregnant and recently found out she screened positive for gestational diabetes:

Dear Mama in the City,

We support a lady who is struggling with gestational diabetes for the first time. She is in her 3rd pregnancy but this is the first time she has had diabetes. She attended a group session at the diabetes clinic the other day, and is starting to track her blood sugar levels but has so many questions! My question is, could you give her some practical advice about maintaining her sugar levels and not feeling hungry all the time?

Truthfully, I could write at length about living with type 1 diabetes and being pregnant but for this topic I decided to reach out to 3 different mamas who all had gestational diabetes in their own pregnancies (PS. all 3 of them are also maternity nurses). The reality of getting a new disease diagnosed while pregnant can really rattle you and challenge your every day.

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When I was first diagnosed with gestational diabetes I struggled with the thoughts that my body had failed me.  I won’t lie, I cried for the first week after my diagnosis. Everything seemed very overwhelming but within a few weeks I was testing my blood sugar 6 times a day and giving myself insulin twice a day. I ate what they told me to and walked after every meal like the education clinic recommended.  After tracking things, it did not take long to see what foods/meals spiked my sugars and which did I not.

I felt that the endocrinologist and the diabetic clinic I went to were excellent. They explained how diet and exercise effected my diabetes, how to do blood sugar readings, and then later how use my insulin pen. The nurse was a kind and understanding women and made a difference with how I accepted my new diagnosis. Although I am also a nurse and I give a lot of  needles at work, I would still break out in a sweat whenever I had to poke my finger or give myself an insulin injection!

As the size of my belly increased so did my insulin requirements. My brain understood that increasing insulin meant that my placenta was working well, but I could never seem to stop cringing when my endocrinologist said I needed to increase my insulin dose again.

My biggest tip would be….Peanut Butter!  I love peanut butter on a good day but nothing was better than a slice of whole wheat bread with peanut butter and a glass of cold milk as a bed time snack.  A perfect protein/carb that would keep me feeling full and keep my sugars level.

-Cheri, mom to 1 year old Katie

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The biggest challenge with being diagnosed with gestational diabetes was having to accept that I actually had diabetes! I was an athlete who did professional level competitions, I ate healthy foods, and never even considered that  I was at risk for diabetes in my pregnancy. I spent most of the pregnancy in denial and I even argued with my doctor over the validity of the diagnosis. How could I be a diabetic?

It took awhile but I eventually accepted that I had gestational diabetes. Initially I blamed myself that it was something I had done, or maybe something I had not done.

For my pregnancy, despite doing what I needed to do with blood sugar testing, my sugars never stabilized during the pregnancy. I really felt like I was doing everything I was “supposed to” be doing but I never really  felt like I really figured it all out. I struggled with my diabetes until the birth of my son. Once the placenta was delivered, my gestational diabetes story was over.

For me, I felt like the only thing that really helped was seeing my sweet baby boy born healthy and well. He was also not the 10+lbs they predicted!

-Krista, mom to 11 month old Westley

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I was very surprised when I first got diagnosed with diabetes in my pregnancy. I actually  did the test twice because I just did not believe the first results. However, the second bloood test was even higher so it was true. I had gestational diabetes.

I had already healthy eating habits before pregnancy and I also exercised regularly, so when I was diagnosed I just did more of the same. The only thing I wasn’t used to was the snacking that my diabetes nurse recommended to help me stabilize my blood sugars. For me, the finger pokes were not as bad as I imagined! However, cutting out sweets was really hard as I was craving so many sweet things after I was diagnosed.

In my pregnancy I controlled my diabetes just with diet and exercise, so it wasn’t too bad. What really helped me stabilize my blood sugars was the snacking between meals, cutting out the white carbs and going for a walk after meals help keep my sugars normal. What helped me survive having diabetes during pregnancy was meal planning and making sure to have lots of healthy snacks on hand so I didn’t reach for the sugary stuff I was craving. It was hard for me as I never had to watch what I eat before and I ended up really sympathizing with everyone that has diabetes after my experience.

-Aye, mom to Kianna 1 year old

I hope that these personal stories will help someone out there who is learning how to cope with their own gestational diabetes. Bottom line, support is important when it comes to diabetes and all you can do is your best. A big thank you to the three mothers who shared their personal stories!

Did you have gestational diabetes in your pregnancy?

M.I.T.C is MIA??

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October 27, 2014 // Pure Mama

Well, hello old friend! I’m dusting off the blog and I’m getting those creative writing juices flowing. I’ve seriously missed you all and while my ‘Mama in the City’ Facebook page is fantastic at keeping our interactions close and connected, it’s not the same as having you read my words over here. The thing is I’ve had a bit of writers block and every time I went to sit down and write out an amazing blog post, it would crumble and turn into nothing worth sharing. Instead of pushing it and churning out crap (just because I wanted a new post) I decided I deserved to take a break and so I did.

I think after 5 plus years of blogging it’s normal to get a bit of a creativity block and feel a lack of inspiration when it comes to writing. I’ve been looking through some of my old posts and I’m really enjoying reading through them and seeing what a then 2 year old Ben got up to in the city and what our baby Josie was like when she was just teeny tiny. This blog is seriously their modern day baby books and I love that so much.

I’ve also really missed writing about the topics that get me feeling excited like birth and breastfeeding and babies. On some nights when insomnia found me I’d create the most amazing posts about these topics, but they were all in my head and when it was time for morning to come they had dissolved and were mere one liners in my memory.

I want to write. I’ve missed it and I feel like the juices are starting to simmer and flow and I’m ready. I just hope you are still around to read!

I totally get that sensory play is important for kids and it’s also really fun! We’ve made homemade play dough, bought store bought play dough and tried out those little tiny sticky balls that stick together and hold shapes.  I started hearing about this newish product that was suppose to be ah-mazing and a really great substitute for play dough/rice/sand tables.

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Apparently this stuff didn’t dry up and it was non toxic and super easy to clean up. People raved about how easy it was to clean up! I was hooked and went on line and searched for a set of Sands Alive and bought the biggest set possible for the kids. Here is the excerpt from Sands Alive that I totally ate up.

“Bring all the fun of the sandbox indoors with Sands Alive! Easily make and mould shapes, patterns or creative sculptures with this unique indoor play sand. The texture of Sands Alive is similar to cookie dough, but completely dry to the touch. Mould it into hard durable shapes and with a soft touch, it will break apart and appear to move! This product a parent tested, parent approved award winner, and is water-soluble, 100% non-toxic and anti-bacterial”.

Let me tell you the truth, Sands Alive is what it promises in the above description. It does feel like cookie dough, it does mould into shapes and it is completely dry. However, it also tracks all through your home and onto the tiny feet of the children playing with it. After the first couple play sessions with Sands Alive I was cursing it and the tiny white splotches that I found everywhere. Ground into the carpet, mushed into the grooves of the hardwood floor, slathered onto the clothing of the kids. Heaven forbid if they wore cords while playing with it! Just imagine tiny white stuff melded into each groove of the cords.

My kids do love playing with it but I absolutely hate the clean up and the mess that comes with it. I would much rather make a batch of homemade play dough than clean up Sands Alive from the entire apartment. It’s pretty amazing how a short play session can track so much Sands Alive through out the entire 1200 sqf of our condo.

Yesterday morning I foolishly decided to take it out from the storage room for the kids to play with. They were all ready for school and we had a bit of time to play before we had to leave for school. They loved it and were playing so nicely together. In that moment, I didn’t care about the bits of white fluffy stuff that I saw landing at their feet!

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Fast forward about 5 minutes and I soon realized the school boy needed a completely new outfit and I had a mega mess to clean up. It also got on the bottoms of Josie’s feet and she walked about the dark wood floor leaving tiny little foot prints and a Hansel and Gretel type of trail from the area they had played in, into the bathroom, into the bedroom and then back down the hall.

I  am officially done with the stuff! I’ve packed it up and, since it isn’t suppose to dry out or go bad, I think it will sit in the storage room until I have a moment of insanity and drag it out for a total gong show of a sensory play time. Do I think you should run out and buy a case of this stuff…no, not really. However, if you find out a friend has some then definitely go over and let your kids have fun mushing it through their fingers and tracking it through their home. Your kids will absolutely love it and your friend will remember why they too had put it away.

Short and Sweet

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October 2, 2014 // Parenting

Oh yeah, it’s Fall! We couldn’t be happier about it, especially on those days where the air is crisp and the sun is shining and theres no raindrops to dodge or get dressed up for. We are fully into the swing of school days, shorter days and we are loving the colours that come with this time of year!

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Just A Moment Of Clarity

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September 29, 2014 // Parenting

At the time it wasn’t a great moment for me. I wasn’t feeling super hot and was under the weather and after I let her watch way too many shows in a row on the iPad, the mama guilt was starting to settle in . We are usually an ‘up and at ‘em’ family and we go to all the fun Vancouver family activities and can usually be found walking to a park or playing at a park. You get the picture.

Maybe it was the sickness, but I had a moment of insanity fuelled by this ridiculous, because it is ridiculous, guilt and I decided we would haul ourselves out the front door and go to the next door park. I’d watch her play, we’d collect the gorgeous fall leaves that are currently scattered all over the ground right now and go home to do a craft. Despite being sick I thought I could muster up the energy for an easy toddler craft (haha, easy-toddler-craft…that doesn’t go together).

Original idea: Together we would sit side by side and delicately paint our collected leaves with gorgeous colours, placing them gently on the paper to make a cool stamping effect. We could hang up these masterpieces and get that nice ‘it’s officially Fall’ vibe going.

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Reality: I ended up laying on the couch and cheering on my girl from the side lines. The paint soon became finger paint and soon it was on her clothes, in her hair, under her shirt, and all over the table and chairs (and splattered generously on nearby furniture too).

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Then the best part happened. I got off the couch and took a look around and got frustrated with the mess. The paint was all spilled all over the table top and onto the floor. I was thinking about how much work it would take to clean up the paint splatters that were seriously everywhere and I sighed loudly at the thought that now I needed to give her a bath to scrub the paint off.

I loudly said something like, ‘oh my god…this is such a big mess!!!‘. She looked at me and with her 2 year old wisdom and best teenage voice said ‘mummmmm..it’s only paint…but look what I made! I love it!‘.

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The paper was too sopping wet with paint to salvage any of her masterpiece but she did thoroughly enjoy the process. We are still finding flecks of purple paint in the most unique spots and I’m left looking at these wonderful photos and remembering the moment she created.

I’m Not Ready

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September 24, 2014 // Vancouver

We are coming off a totally glorious dry summer here in Vancouver and I got seriously used to walking around the city in sandals and t shirts and not worrying about packing layers or umbrellas. We had weeks upon weeks of hot sunshine and we did not waste a moment of it. It was so easy getting the kids ready and out the door. There was no fuss about coats and our footwear was casual and was easy to slip on. However, it is inevitable and things are changing.

You know you live in a rainy place when there is an anonymous art project dedicated to celebrating the seasons here in Vancouver, especially those really wet ones. There’s a cool backstory on those red umbrellas over here.

Rainblossom Project

Let’s talk about footwear

Now that September is well on it’s way to being over, the season of rain is coming our way and I’m not ready. I’m not ready for the need to always have an umbrella stashed somewhere or the change of foot wear that is mandatory. I’m not ready for that feeling of wet feet that happens to me too often, because it wasn’t raining when I left and I stupidly wore my cute slip on flats (story of my life).

For the most part in Vancouver, the rain is  always sort of there but you can often get by with just closed toe shoes.  I didn’t even have real rain boots until a year or so ago when I needed to do more walking to fetch kids from school. It also turns out that unless you are puddle jumping with your kids, wearing boots all day every day isn’t that awesome.

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I do have a pair of Hunter rain boots in a bright blue hue and they are great addition to cheering up a dreary driizzly Vancouver day, but honestly I’d rather be wearing flip flops.

Years ago I found a great black water resistant coat at Lululemon and I’ve been trying to breathe life into it for the last couple of years. It’s been my go to coat for walking around and feeling sort of put together and I loved that it tied at the waist. The thing is, it’s lifespan is nearing the end and considering we are just starting the rain season, I might need to get on it with the raincoat browsing. Right now, I’m eyeing this coat in mulberry from Mountain Equipment Co-op. I want something functional but it has to be fashionable too!

I’ll leave you with this cool street photo my husband took awhile back. While I’m not feeling excited or ready for this constant drizzle, the truth is…the rain is here.  Now we live through it to get back to our gorgeous summer.

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In Memory Of Charlotte

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September 18, 2014 // Parenting

I had been reading her blog for just a couple of weeks now, the posts weren’t frequent but she had months of interesting stories to read. Each word she wrote dug into my heart and made me pause and reflect on my own motherhood, my own life and my own way of being. She was a mother, a wife, a writer and a woman living with terminal bowel cancer. Charlotte Kitley was her name and while she has just recently left this earth, her words are a permanent reminder about what is important in life.

She wrote her last blog post just before she died and it sparked something in me,  it rumbled that reminder that we all need every now and then. Slow down and enjoy our moments. It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment, especially while we are shuttling our kids to and from. Trying to get them to put their shoes on and yelling at them to remember to get their coat and to keep their hands to themselves. I know that that these frazzled feeling can easily overtake us, but let’s try to make sure that those moments don’t become the theme of our days and the focus of our memories.

So, in my absence, please, please, enjoy life.  Take it by both hands, grab it, shake it and believe in every second of it. Adore your children.  You have literally no idea how blessed you are to shout at them in the morning to hurry up and clean their teeth.

Through her blog, Charlotte became that big sister we all want in motherhood. She was that woman who told you all those awesome tips on how to get the most out of each moment.  Despite knowing her time would be cut short, Charlotte really seemed to live each moment and she was able to teach us about the importance of being. Through her words she gave us insight about the things that are truly important and the reminders that we all need.

Charlotte taught us to live without regrets and enjoy the process of each moment. So, tonight when the day has come to an end and I’m feeling like I just want my children to go to bed, I’m going to consciously take it slow and remind myself to be grateful.

I’m going to embrace putting on their little pajamas, even when they get stuck on their heads and they freak out. I’m going to nestle next to them in their beds and read books and when they asked me if there is time for just one more book, please please please mum, I’m going to say yes. Tonight I’m going to lay with them until they fall asleep and, just before I sneak out, I will kiss the top of their heads and remind myself what is important in this life.

Read Charlotte’s last blog post: And So There Must Come An End (have some tissues on hand if you are a bit of a weeper like I am).

The Tale Of The Tooth

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September 11, 2014 // Parenting

Most parents will agree that teething and babies is dicey business and I have yet to meet a parent that says, ‘I loved the teething stage!’.  Pushing teeth up and through the gums is an annoyingly slow process and a memorable one at that. How many times were you most certain that your baby’s tooth would be appearing only to have it come a month later? Then finally a glimmer of white appears and you think, ‘Yes!! The tooth is here!’…but it takes a couple more weeks before it actually looks like your baby has an actual chomper.

Between my two kids I had two totally different tethers resulting in two different experiences. One was miserable with lots of disrupted sleep and extra crying. Doses of homeopathic drops, Advil, cold teething rings, frozen blueberries in those mesh feeding bags. Followed with the constant look out for that freaking baby tooth. AIE! However, the other baby sailed through it waking up with a glimmer of pearly white showing and no disruption to our usual day.

Awhile back I stumbled upon this cool/creepy x ray photo of a child’s skull and was impressed and amazed at how all their little teeth are already up in their skull long before we see them. I guess I hadn’t really given it a lot of thought about where the teeth actually came from before they started to wreck havoc attempting to push through my baby’s gums. Some food for thought: did you know that your child’s teeth start forming when you are 6 weeks pregnant?

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Compared to the ordeal that some babies experience when teething, losing a tooth is a pretty simple affair. In fact, the other morning Ben lost his very first tooth while he was brushing his teeth. It had been wiggly for a couple of weeks and finally it just came on out. Funny enough, the tooth he lost was also the first tooth he got as a baby, the one that caused all of us so much stress. I vividly remember that first tooth and all of the grief it caused us trying to work on up. He was miserable and we were certain it would arrive any day, but it took weeks of him clawing at his mouth, drooling and chewing on everything before it finally did erupt.

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When his tooth fell out I held it in my hand and looked down at it. It was so tiny and white and I felt like we had sort of come full circle from the teething hell of his babyhood, to the celebratory dance and cheer we did when it fell out. As much of a milestone it was for Ben, it was also a big milestone for me as a mother.

Bringing home baby

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September 8, 2014 // Parenting

Today my boy turns a glorious 6 and he is so proud that now he has to show two hands to show his new number. In honour of this special occasion, I’m reposting an oldie but a goodie from back when Ben was my only baby. It’s the tale of bringing him home from the hospital.

BDB7597-party-partners-madison-park-group-paper-rainbow-happy-birthday-banner-party-decoration-pennantsSpoiler: This apartment baby gets left in the elevator…by himself!

Originally posted: June 22, 2009

We hadn’t really talked about the how we we were getting home from the hospital once we actually had the baby. We don’t own a car and we were used to walking around town or taking taxis when we needed too. Once in awhile we rented a car to go out of town and that was the end to our transportation story. It worked out perfectly and we never had an issue until it came time to bring home baby Ben.

I really hadn’t given much thought to how my baby was to get home. Obviously I had thought strolling the city after giving birth would be high on my priority list or maybe a vehicle would just appear with a proper fitting car seat already installed. However, neither of these were an actual option when it was time to go home.

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My husband really wanted to walk home with the baby and push him in our new stroller. It was a perfect autumn day and it was warm and light out. The idea of walking home sounded horrendous and exhausting to me and I vetoed it right away. Our “compromise” was for me to get in a taxi and for my husband to stroll with Ben home in our new fancy stroller.

CUE THE HORMONAL WATERWORKS!

The mixture of being separated from my baby for the very first time and the huge waves of post partum hormones left me a slobbering mess in the back of the taxi. Luckily the cab driver did not talk to me which was perfect. I arrived back at our condo and was so happy to see my oldest sister standing out front waiting for me. It was so anti climatic to just come home all alone and it was such a nice surprise to see someone waiting for me.

A few minutes behind me was my husband and he really loved his walk home with the baby. It was seriously such perfect weather and the baby was swaddled and having his first breaths of outdoor air. Soon we were all home and I was smooching my baby and relaxing on the couch with my new family.

The thing my husband didn’t tell me, until quite a while later, was that he temporarily lost the baby in the condo elevator. It wasn’t necessarily his fault but my apartment baby’s first elevator ride up to our condo was alone. Apparently, the elevator doors had been malfunctioning and they were not shutting; as they waited inside the elevator for it to go up, my husband stepped out of the elevator to see if it was out of service. At that exact second the elevator door closed, taking the baby up to the tenth floor alone.

With some quick thinking he raced to the second elevator trying to get up to the tenth floor, hopefully arriving just in time to meet the other elevator containing our baby. Somehow things aligned and it actually worked out that his elevator door opened just as the other one was going to close. He pulled out the stroller and continued to walk to our front door where I was anxiously waiting to get my hands on that newborn.

When he finally decided to tell me this story I didn’t freak out, but once in awhile I do tease him in the most loving way.

 

Over the last six years of parenthood our master bedroom has been infiltrated by children and their things. This is, obviously, something to expect when living with kids but I recently decided to reclaim my bedroom. So, for the last few weeks I’ve been attempting to put some touches on my room to really make it MINE.

Recently I announced to my family that my bedroom was going to be just that. All mine!  You see, for the last couple of years I’d be getting ready for bed and step over miscellaneous children’s books that were piled high and scattered on the floor, I’d crawl into bed and could see that someone had wiped their peanut butter lips on my pillow. I’d go to slide into the sheets and  a piece of Lego would scrape my foot  as I went to get in.

I love my kids, obviously, and for many moons we room shared or bed shared and they were welcomed into our space. Piles of little clothes and diapers were always piled high on my dresser and the room was still functional. Now that they’re 2.5 and nearly 6, I’m ready to take over the space and allow myself the opportunity to have a hide out of my own. I want a space that represents me and that is fresh and makes me feel happy.

My first goal is to replace my current bed comforter with something fresh and that can also take a lot of wear.  Our current one is only just over 2 years old and was a fantastic purchase from Marimekko, but it’s been so well loved (and washed at home one too many times) that I need to replace it. I’m still waffling back and forth about getting a duvet or a comforter and have done hours of on line browsing.

I’m loving this bedding planner tool from Crate and Barrel and I’m totally obsessed with trying out lots of different looks.

Over the summer I treated myself to some luxurious high thread count bedsheets and when I go to crawl into bed,  I close my eyes and just for a second I feel like my bedroom is once again…my bedroom. Then reality takes over and I open my eyes, glance around and see the black paint that Josie accidentally tracked onto the bedding after our latest painting session. C’est la vie.

Instead of peanut butter brown, finger paint black and Lego red I’m thinking these colours would freshen up my space.

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We have all the basics in place for furniture and the mattress is still newish. So, I’m think that some new art or special photos hung on the wall could really spruce the joint up. Now I just need the time to go and get everything together and make my space my own.

I found this website a great inspiration for focusing my ideas on how to change my master bedroom: Master Bedroom Ideas by Entirely Eventful Day.

What is your go-to trick for sprucing up a room?