Thursday, 29 August 2019

4 Weeks Postpartum - Checking In


Yesterday officially marked four full weeks of welcoming baby Benny into our lives. Four of the shortest weeks, and also the longest at the same time. It's so strange to think back to a time when he wasn't in our lives, or being pregnant - any of that! It sounds cliché, but life before Benny was beautiful in its own way, but since he's arrived its become more of a distant memory and our new reality with a new member of the family has me feeling excited for the future.

I really want to make sure not to forget and neglect my blog along the way. Having a new baby has a way of changing everything, but I still feel like the same 'me' as before and I want to honour what is important to myself and my identity. This blog has been such a blessing in my life, and I look forward to seeing how my content evolves as I grow into different life stages.

That being said, as important as La Petite Noob has been to me, finding time to sit down and update the blog has proven to be very difficult. It's not that I don't have the time - Benny is such an incredible baby with a chill little attitude so I do have some time to myself throughout the day. It's my concentration that's the problem. Writing, which once came so easily to me, is now such a struggle. On the flip side, editing video is proving to be easier than ever. So funny how everything shifts with a new baby, even your working habits!

On the topic of shifts and changes, I thought that I would sit down and force myself to get back into writing - starting with a general life check-in and update since having Benny four weeks ago.


How I'm Feeling Physically


I'm happy to report that 4 weeks postpartum after my c-section, I'm feeling pretty great! My incision is healing nicely, I no longer wince when I have to get out of bed and the majority of my swelling has gone down. The first few days though? Brutal! Thankfully I seemed to turn a corner at day 5 and it's been slowly getting better ever since.

The one thing that's still a little strange to get used to is how soft my stomach is now - like there's literally no muscle, and it still feels kind of empty (I've read that this is a common feeling after a C section.) I'm honestly really looking forward to being able to work out again in a few more weeks so that I can build my strength back up.

How I'm Feeling Mentally


I'm so, so happy to report that my moods and headspace have seemed to normalize after dealing with some pretty heavy prenatal anxiety. I was so afraid for postpartum depression, but I feel as though a load has been taken off my shoulders since having Benny. You guys, I was experiencing some dark feelings in pregnancy - it was pretty bad. I'm so relieved to be feeling more like myself, albeit with a lot less sleep now, haha.


How We're Adjusting To A New Baby

I have to say, I'm really proud of the way that Brian and I have adjusted to having a new baby in the house. We're both older, so I worried that we would be too set in our ways and that having a huge life change thrown at us would lead to some tension. Of course it hasn't been all easy, but for the majority of the time we've been working as a team and developing a new routine to include baby Benny. In hindsight, I'm glad that we waited until we both felt like we were ready to have kids because I don't think the transition would have gone as smoothly even 3 years ago. Coupled with lots of help from friends and family, and we've been great.

Struggles


Of course, it's not all baby cuddles over here. There are a few things that I've been struggling with. The one biggest thing that has been harder than I anticipated is breastfeeding.

Now, it wasn't without warning; plenty of people warned me that breastfeeding would be hard. I just interpreted it wrong - I thought they meant that it would hurt. Turns out, it's not the physical pain thats the hardest part. For me, the challenge with breastfeeding has been developing a routine that seems to change by the hour, all while worrying if your child is getting enough to eat. There were a few days there where it felt as though I was breastfeeding every few minutes of the entire day, and Benny never seemed to be satisfied. With the help of a breast pump, and also just time, it seems to have gotten better but there is still the occasional hard day where everything changes all over again.

Another struggle that I'm embarrassed to admit, but want to address, is my relationship with my body. I'm really having a hard time getting used to the extra weight, the soft stomach and the feeling of weak muscles. In hindsight, I should have known that this would happen. While pregnant, whenever I imagined myself with baby, I saw my old self with my old body right away. Totally unrealistic I know, and it's resulted in having a hard time celebrating my postpartum body. All of my old clothes don't fit, and I feel as though I have to change my entire wardrobe again to accommodate my new weight and for breastfeeding. I'm really hoping that being cleared to workout by my doctor at six weeks will make things better and will put me in a better headspace.


That's it for me! Let me know how the first few weeks of bringing baby home went for you! What were your struggles? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

SHARE:

Monday, 12 August 2019

What I Actually Used In My Hospital Bag



For those of you who don't follow me on Instagram, you'll have missed that we recently welcomed our beautiful baby boy Benjamin into the world! After a scheduled turned emergency C-Section, followed by a three day hospital stay, both Brian and I (and little Benny) are all very happy to be home.

I had actually filmed a video prior to giving birth all about what I was planning on taking with me to the hospital, for both myself and baby. You guys know that I'm a light packer for all of my trips, and packing for the hospital was no exception to this - I really tried to only bring necessities as too much stuff always makes me anxious. Even with this in mind, there were still a few things that I probably didn't need to take with me, and also a few things that I under estimated just how important they would be.


Now that we're good week out from our hospital stay, giving birth to baby Benjamin and the recovery process after, I'm excited to share with you everything that I brought with me in my hospital bag and if each item was a good decision or not.

My Own Pillow from Home: YES

Bringing your own pillow from home is a total game changer the it comes to a comfortable hospital stay. I used the pillow for extra support when sleeping with my incision, and as a make-shift nursing pillow when trying to get into a groove a breast feeding baby. Brian had also brought along his own pillow, blanket and sheets for staying over with us in the hospital. Whatever you can bring from home to make sleeping at the hospital, which is a feat within itself, more comfortable - do it.

Two Litre Watter Bottle: YES

Not only are you incredibly thirsty after giving birth, but you also need to keep hydrated afterwards to help with your recovery as well as breast feeding. Because I did not want to rely on guests and nurses to help me refill my water, and I was in no position to get up and get it on my own, I'm so happy to have had my humongous two-litre water bottle with me.

Phone and Ear Pods: YES

Can we really do anything without our phones these days? Between photos, to messages, to using it as a make-shift TV to watch Netflix while late-night feeding, the phone is a game-changer. Ear pods came in handy when it was Brian's turn to sleep (we worked in shifts) and I wanted to watch a show while up nursing without disturbing him.

Wallet + Lip Balm: YES & YES

While I certainly wasn't doing much online shopping in the hospital, I needed my wallet for my ID and health card. And lip balm in the dry hospital is a game-changer.

Cloth Bag for Laundry: YES

I'm no germaphobe, but there's something about the hospital that gives me all the germy vibes. I stuck everything that wore into that bag and threw it all onto the wash (along with all sheets and blankets) the second we got home.

Indoor Slippers: YES (with modification)

I definitely was happy to have a pair of slippers to use from home for walking around, although in hindsight I should have packed disposable slippers to just discard after use (those germs again.)

Belly Binder: NO

I had originally packed my belly binder to help with my incision and to also guide my uterus to shrink, however my abdomen was way too tender in the hospital to even consider using it.

Toiletries: YES (with modification)

I was so happy to have my toothbrush, toothpaste and face wash with me during my hospital stay, but because I kept my bandages on until I was discharged, I didn't need any of the shower toiletries. I'll tell you, that first shower at home felt amazing.

Adult Diapers, Menstrual Pads and Nipple Cream: NO

Luckily the hospital provided me with more than enough supplies to manage my bleeding during my stay. Although I probably should have used the nipple cream while I was beginning to nurse in the hospital, my priority and attention was all focused on making sure Benny got adequate nutrition so I didn't even think about it.

Underwear: NO

I used and abused the high-waisted mesh underwear that they give you in the hospital. They are truly the best undergarments for healing post-birth.

Sleep shirt, Robe, Nursing Bra, Eye Mask: YES TO ALL

Although if I had it my way I would have been topless the entire hospital stay, we did have quite a few visitors so wearing PJs was definitely necessary. I was so happy to have my sleep shirt, robe and nursing bra to feel a bit more human when we had our family visiting, and the sleep mask was a huge game changer when it was my turn to get a bit of sleep in the hospital.

Makeup: YES

Call it vanity, I don't care - my second day in the hospital when we had the bulk of our visitors, I was very happy to be able to put on even the tiniest amount of makeup to feel more like myself.

Camera: NO

We were able to capture tons of beautiful photos and videos between all of our phones. The quality of phone equipment is really spectacular and it makes it so much easier to capture memories when you don't have to use a bulky camera.

Diapers, Wipes, Diaper Cream: YES

Likely because we had a private room and really didn't need any urgent assistance, we found that the nurses pretty much left us alone. This was great for getting some rest, but not ideal when you needed your change table re-stocked with diapers, wipes and diaper cream. I'm so happy that I brought along my own, and in hindsight I probably should have brought even more diapers (maybe 10) because we used every single one that I had packed.

Bath Supplies: NO

I really wanted to give little Benny a bath in the hospital, with the nurses present to help guide us. Unfortunately due to how busy the nurses were, and again with the private room and very limited checks, this didn't happen. That's okay, we all figured it out with his first bath at home!

Swaddle + Outfit: YES

While Benny was in the hospital, we mostly used their swaddles and kimonos but it was nice to dress him up and use our own for going home.


That's it! Everything that I packed in my hospital bag and if I actually used it or not. Aside from bringing a few more diapers and lots more snacks (although our families had the food situation covered) I'm really pleased with how it all turned out.

What do you guys think? Did you over or under pack for your hospital stay while giving birth? What do you wish that you had with you? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

SHARE:

Thursday, 25 July 2019

My Prenatal Village [In Toronto]


They say it takes a village to raise a child; my baby isn't even earth-side yet and I already know that to be true. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it also takes a village to grow a child.

My pregnancy journey is quickly coming to an end, at just shy of 39 weeks pregnant today. With a scheduled C-Section on the horizon, I've been doing a lot of reflecting on the past 9 months and have had time to really think about all of the people that have helped me navigate the start of a new chapter in life. Pregnancy is magical and beautiful, but can also be anxiety-inducing, confusing and, at times, physically painful. It's not all frolicking in wildflowers, as my Instagram feed would have you believe - haha!

Knowing the challenges that pregnancy brings along, I'm so grateful to have had so many great individuals behind me helping me along the way: My Prenatal Village. Aside from family and friends who have really stepped up and shown up, there's a few key players and organizations who have truly been a Godsend, and have made all the difference in my enjoyable pregnancy experience. If you're expecting in the Toronto area, I could not recommend them enough.



Riverdale Community Midwives


There are so many choices to be made when first discovering that you're pregnant. The biggest one, to me, was deciding who I would be trusting my prenatal care to. I knew from even before becoming pregnant that I wanted to explore midwifery. To me it seemed like the best fit, especially knowing myself and the questions and anxieties that would come up. I'm so thankful that I ultimately chose Riverdale Community Midwives.

My primary Midwife, Kathy, is a beautiful soul and very patient. I usually come to my appointments armed with a variety of different questions, and Kathy has always taken the time to answer all of them. What I really have appreciated with Riverdale Community Midwives is that they don't fear monger (something I'm very sensitive to) and really focus on the expectant mother. They also consider all aspects of health, including mental health, which in a medical field is refreshing.

Something else that appealed to me when considering midwifery in Ontario is the level of care that you receive after baby is earth-side. This includes in-home visits after baby arrives - or in my case, in-hospital at first as I recover from my C-Section. I also appreciate the open communication that midwives allow. We even did our birthing classes through the clinic!

Choosing a prenatal care provider is such a personal decision, so I would always go with my gut instinct. I'm really pleased that I ultimately chose to go with Riverdale Community Midwives.


My Chiropractor


I've never visited a chiropractor before, never had an adjustment - nothing. Not that I wasn't open to it; it was just one of those things that I never chose to explore.

That all changed in my early second trimester of pregnancy. I started to experience horrible hip pain, sometimes so bad that I would have difficulty walking. The pain was awful, and after watching fellow pregnant (at the time) blogger Marlie of Kale and Krunches document her visits to her chiropractor, I knew I had to partake.

Enter Dr. Aliya Visram - famed chiropractor and acupuncturist who not only introduced me to the amazing world of chiropractic medicine, but also single-handily saved my hips and my sanity. Dr. Visram is specially trained in treating pregnant woman, children and babies so that helped to put my fears at-ease when first going in for an assessment. Most importantly, as a mother herself she's a wonderful resource for navigating pregnancy and motherhood in Toronto and has a great, calming presence to her.

People have been commenting how well I've been handling this pregnancy, and how they're impressed that I'm still able to get out and move around as much as I have been in the last stages - I honesty think it's because of the chiropractic care that I've received from Dr. Aliya Visram. I just had my last adjustment pre-baby, and already can't wait to go back and help my body heal postpartum.



Toronto Yoga Mamas


Nestled in the east end of Toronto in Leslieville, Toronto Yoga Mamas is a literal haven for expectant mothers, as well as moms with new tiny babies and tots. It's basically your go-to place for all things motherhood.

I loved visiting Toronto Yoga Mamas for my weekly prenatal yoga sessions and bar classes. At my best, I was going three times a week and the classes really helped with keeping my mobility in pregnancy, increasing blood flow and easing anxiety. Lately I haven't been going to my regular classes, simply because baby is breech and I don't want to do anything to prevent a natural turn (sometimes a deep squat in yoga can do this.) Let me tell you - by not exercising as regularly, I definitely feel a difference in my body.

Another huge resource that Toronto Yoga Mamas offers is a variety of different services for expectant and new moms. One of the biggest services that I took advantage of is the prenatal massages. Oh Em Gee. Lisa, my absolute favourite RMT, delivers such an amazing prenatal massage, that I would honestly feel like a whole new preggo. They also offer pelvic floor physiotherapy, which I had every intention of taking advantage of but time just got away from me. Maybe postpartum.

If you're expecting in the Toronto area, specifically in the east end, I would not recommend Toronto Yoga Mamas enough.



I hope that this little list helps anyone who's currently pregnant in Toronto, or will be expecting soon! Creating and cultivating a strong prenatal village has really helped me to enjoy my pregnancy to the fullest, and I wish the same for every expectant mama in the city.

xo Joëlle

Photos by the lovely and talented Eryn Shea Photography
SHARE:

Saturday, 20 July 2019

My Hair Care Routine with Pantene


This post was created in partnership with Pantene. All thoughts, experiences and opinions are 100% my own.

Everyone told me when I became pregnant that this would be a time when I would experience the best hair of my life. 

Well, I waited. And waited. As I entered my third trimester with a head of hair that was even dryer than it originally started with pre-pregnancy, as well as more dull and lifeless than ever before, it was time to throw in the towel and take matters into my own hands. Pregnancy hormones didn't magically transform my hair to be healthier as it does with other women, so I needed to rely on products that would help to rehydrate my locks Enter the new Pantene Sulfate Free Rose Water Collection.

Let's talk rose water: as someone with sensitive skin, I'm very familiar with rose water for its calming and hydrating properties in skincare, but I love that I can now use the ingredient in my haircare for the same reasons.  And because the formula is high in vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients, it's been really effective in giving my super-dry hair the boost that it needs. Also, I love the Pantene Rose Water Collection is for what's not in the ingredients list. It’s sulfate-free, paraben-free, dye-free and mineral oil free. And don't think that just because the formula is free of all of those ingredients that you have to sacrifice on lather – I was pleasantly surprised by the rich lather and amazing shower experience. A huge win all around!




So now instead of waiting around for these supposed magical pregnancy-hair hormones, I've taken my hair routine into my own hands. The result is hydrated, more manageable hair that's less frizzy and all-around healthier. I'm so happy to have found this to help me sail from pregnancy to baby with my best hair possible.

What do you guys think? Did you experience more dryness in pregnancy? Have you tried the new Pantene sulfate free Rose Water Collection? Let me know!

xo Joëlle


SHARE:

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Expectation Vs. Reality: Pregnancy Edition


I first remember when I was settling into being pregnant. There were so many expectations that I placed on myself; how I figured I would act, dress, think, etc. Isn't that always the way with any new life change?

Flash forward to present time, and I can honestly say that a lot of my expectations that I have placed on myself have flown out the window. Now that we're in the home stretch of pregnancy (37 weeks, holy crap) I can look back at my expectations in early pregnancy and how things have panned out and just laugh. Here's a few of the expectations that I swore would be my reality in pregnancy, and how off-the-mark they eventually ended up being.


1. I Wouldn't Bump-Cradle In Photos


I'll admit, I was someone who would roll my eyes at the amount that women would touch and hold their pregnant bellies in photos. "We get it," I would think, "you're pregnant." I was confident that I wouldn't fall victim to over touching my bump in photos as I grew into pregnancy.

Flash forward to present day, and a few scrolls through my Instagram feed reveals that there aren't very many photos of myself in the last few months where I'm not cradling the bump! What I've learned in these last 37 weeks, particularly after the 24 week mark when I actually started to show, is that there is a very fine line between baby belly and burrito belly in clothes - and that hand on top of a protruding stomach is that line. Also, the more that I eased into pregnancy, felt baby move and kick from within me and grew, the more I wanted to enjoy and celebrate what was going on! Listen, I don't know if I'll ever be pregnant again - if I want to celebrate my body and touch the life that's growing within me for photos, I will damnit - haha.

So as I enjoy the last couple of weeks of pregnancy, I will be touching the bump as much as humanly possible and documenting it all through photographs. No shame in my game.


2. I Would Continue To Travel To The End


I'm happy with the amount of travel that I was able to accomplish while pregnant. Once I hit 30 weeks, and international plane travel became more restricted, I remember telling anyone who would listen that I would be continuing to galavant with many road trips, sight seeing and hotel stays. I wasn't going to let a little something like pregnancy get in the way of my summer plans.

Well, I can officially say that my last plane trip to Charleston was my last trip of the pregnancy. Road trips? Ha! Y'all, I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm tired. The third trimester hit me like a ton of bricks, and while I'm grateful to still feel pretty good, I was relieved to make a conscious effort to slow down. Not only that, but I found that I began to feel more content just staying in and organizing our condo making room for baby instead of driving to Montreal to complete my ambitious itinerary.

It's an interesting shift, learning to slow down for someone who typically takes comfort in a chaotic schedule. Hopefully this is preparing me for a more content fourth trimester when baby arrives.


3. I Would Continue To Exercise 


Now, this assumption is one that I wish that I had kept up with, but sometimes it's not in the cards. I was doing great with exercising for most of the pregnancy; between walking, at-home workouts, barre and prenatal yoga. Something shifted at about 30+ weeks, where my body stopped being able to handle it. I found that a workout would drain me for the entire day, or would trigger swelling within my body. Couple that with the fact that my baby has been breech for the majority of the pregnancy and I didn't want to do anything to make it worse (deep squats, etc.) and my fitness routine fell to the wayside.

I do worry that this lapse in exercise will make it harder to get back into a healthy routine when baby arrives, but honestly I've been trying hard to listen and follow the cues of my body. Everything within my body has been telling me to slow down, and I'm respecting that. Barre class can wait. Until then I'm continuing to walk, albeit at a very leisurely pace these days, making sure to take the time to enjoy the view.

What do you guys think? Have you broken any expectations that you had for yourself in a new situation? Let me know!

xo Joëlle
SHARE:

Friday, 5 July 2019

Prenatal Anxiety: My Story


It's hard for me to think of an appropriate way to start this very personal blog post. Let me just start by saying that this is a hard subject for me to talk about, as is anything deeply personal that delves deeper than the superficial and lightness that I strive to keep throughout this blog. It's just who I am; I like to keep any problems I'm experiencing to myself, both on and offline.

The reason that I wanted to open up a bit and talk about my experience with prenatal anxiety is that it seems to be a reoccurring theme when talking to expectant, new and seasoned moms alike. "How are you feeling?" they would innocently ask and in the odd time that I would open up and let them know that my biggest pregnancy symptom was/is anxiety, it was more often than not met with women telling me that they experienced the exact same thing while expecting. In fact, I would say that the vast majority of women I've spoken to about prenatal anxiety have their own experiences, anecdotes, memories and battles. For a pregnancy symptom that is seemingly so common among women, why is it that I rarely - if ever - hear it mentioned in any of the information available that coaches women on what to expect when expecting?

That's why I wanted to share my story today. Hopefully someone who is struggling, or has struggled in the past with prenatal anxiety will read it and know that they're not alone.

My Story


My story with prenatal anxiety begins almost right away after holding my positive pregnancy test. Our first attempt to conceive ended in a chemical pregnancy, so I was so happy to see that we were able to get pregnant again so soon after. While I experienced all of the "typical" reactions to a positive pregnancy test (excitement, overwhelm, disbelief, etc.) I also has this nagging sense of guilt. Why should it have been so quick for us, when others struggle with infertility? It was a feeling that I tried to shake, but ultimately ended up manifesting itself into a cloud of doom that seemed to follow me around the entire first trimester.

The first trimester for me was tough, and when my prenatal anxiety was at its absolute worst. Some days it would present as just a nagging feeling and weight on my back that would follow me around and other days it would be full-blown episodes of panic that prevented me from leaving my condo. In fact if I look back at my first trimester I rarely ever left our place, didn't see anyone unless it was family and just spent hours frantically Googling anything from miscarriages to pregnancy complications or anything else that could possibly go wrong. This would then lead to feelings of crippling guilt that I was ruining what may the only time that I was ever pregnant, and therefor was undeserving. It was a vicious cycle that I could not seem to pull myself out of, despite rationally knowing how destructive my behaviour was. The feelings seemed to be beyond my control, and despite knowing that fresh air and a good laugh with friends would make me feel so much better, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. So inside I stayed, alone with my thoughts and Google. It was miserable, isolating and seemed like it would never end.

Thankfully the fog lifted in the second trimester as my hormones regulated. It's then that I finally allowed myself to feel joy and excitement, without feeling like I was jinxing anything. I started to travel again, see my friends and just feel good. It was such a relief to have the monkey on my back finally leave. Even with my brief hospitalization and a short bout of anxiety that came along after, it was amazing how different my second trimester was from my first.

Fast forward to my third trimester, and with another shift in hormones that damn cloud of doom came back. Thankfully for me, it was then late spring and Toronto was experiencing more sunlight and milder weather and it made a world of difference. I also had developed some coping mechanisms in my second trimester that really helped; namely yoga, starting a gratitude journal and listening to classic rock all day (yes, that actually did help.) And while I definitely don't want to insinuate that yoga and Elton John is the solution to struggles in mental health, it seemed to work for me so I just went with it. Everyone is completely different.

Now here we are in the home stretch, and there are definitely more good days than bad. I also feel as though I've gotten a glimpse into what postpartum depression can feel like, and have taken preemptive steps to make sure that I have outside support should I need it. This experience has made me realize that maternal mental health goes far beyond just the 'baby blues' and if you're feeling these feelings of panic that seem to be beyond your control that you're not alone and it's not something to feel ashamed of.

So that's my story. While this was a hard one for me to share, since I don't want to look back on this very fleeting time and remember anything but the joy, I do think it's important to speak to my experience with prenatal anxiety. Hopefully this helps anyone who's feeling panicked, isolated and alone in what is thought to be a magical time.

You are not alone.

xo Joëlle

Disclaimer: If you're experiencing uncontrollable feelings of prenatal anxiety or depression, please talk to your doctor, midwife, or someone that you trust.
SHARE:

Thursday, 6 June 2019

30 Weeks Pregnant Update - 3rd Trimester


I can't even believe that I'm just passing 30 weeks of pregnancy, and am well into my third trimester. They really aren't kidding around when they say that time flies - and our baby isn't even here yet! I can just imagine how quick time will speed by when we meet Baby C earth side; a reminder to myself to really soak in the baby time because it will all pass by in the blink of an eye!

So how am I feeling now that I've hit the home stretch? Honestly I feel like everyday I'm on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. We're mostly getting excited to meet Baby C, but with anxiety because I feel as though we still have so much to do and prepare! Add in the physical symptoms of the 3rd trimester and some days it's a big 'ol mess, haha! I don't want to complain too much though; other than my not-so-perfect hospitalization in my second trimester, this pregnancy has been pretty incredible. I talk to other women who definitely had a much harder time than I, and it always makes me grateful for my experience.

That being said, I swear that the moment the third trimester arrives I noticed a huge shift in how I was feeling - both physically and mentally. Now I understand why they call the second trimester the honeymoon phase! Here's a quick breakdown of the last stretch of my pregnancy; from physical changes to my moods, cravings and everything in between.


How I'm Feeling Physically

Everyone warned me that the third trimester may be the hardest, and as always I brushed it off as probably not happening to me. Boy was I wrong. Although I'm grateful for still being able to function fairly normally everyday, there's definitely some strong physical symptoms that seemed to come out of nowhere the second I hit my 3rd trimester.


  • Exhaustion: OMG, the exhaustion is so real! It honestly felt like the first trimester all over again, where you get so tired during the day that you can barely keep your eyes open. I've never really been one for naps, and there are some days that my body will actually just stop until I lay down and sleep for a couple of hours. It's really been something else, and has forced me to really slow down. Not that I'm complaining - I know I'll miss all of this sleep once baby arrives!

  • Swelling: I've noticed that my body now tends to get extremely swollen when I overdo it on physical activity - and by overdo, I mean walking more than 4 blocks at a time! My feet have been the most prone to swelling and now that it's nice enough to wear skirts and dresses again, I'm not wearing my compression socks as much as I should. Mental note to myself to start back on them - they really help!

  • Aches and Pains: As with suddenly gaining 20+ pounds, my body has been adjusting with dull aches and pains that manifest throughout the day. Mostly in my back, hips and feet, these pains are much more prominent now that I'm in my third trimester. Thankfully, between prenatal yoga, my chiropractor and prenatal massages I feel as though I've been managing the aches and pains extremely well! They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that definitely seems true, but I also believe that it takes a village to carry a child as well. I'm going to do a whole blog post on my prenatal team and how much they've helped me throughout this pregnancy.

  • Appetite: Whoa Sally, look out! This expectant mother can eat. Although I didn't have a huge appetite in the first and second trimester, I'm more than making up for it in my 3rd. People have been asking what I'm craving, and honestly I just love all food at this point. I have noticed that my spice tolerance has gone way down though and anything spicy seems to upset my stomach; something that never happened to me before becoming pregnant. I'm curious to see if I'll be able to eat spicy food again once baby arrives.




How I'm Feeling Mentally


One huge shift I've noticed in my mental health is that the anxiety I experienced in my first trimester has started to come back, although thankfully it hasn't been as bad this time around. It may be because I've developed some different coping mechanisms and have more of a routine that incorporates my pregnancy, but my anxiety hasn't been nearly as bad. I mostly feel anxious about how much we still need to do to prepare for baby and I just don't feel like we're ready yet.

Thankfully I have some coping methods that have really been helping me. I take a prenatal yoga class 2-3 times a week and it's been beautiful. I've also swapped out my true crime podcasts to listen instead to music that makes me feel happy; Elton John, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles. Basically all classic rock, all the time! The weather has also improved and we're seeing the sun more in Toronto; that alone has been a huge help.


What's Left On The Agenda?



  • Birthing Classes: I went back and fourth as to weather or not I even wanted to do a birthing class, but I gave in and we're starting our classes next week with our midwives. If anything, I think that the class will help to alleviate some of the anxiety I feel about the birthing process and about being prepared in general. I also think that it's important Brian have someone other than me explain what birth may look like and his role in the whole thing. Overall, I'm optimistic that this will be a good decision!

  • Nursery: Another huge source of anxiety for me, we still have yet to complete (or even start) our nursery! Thankfully we have all of the furniture picked out, and a date set for Brian and my dad to convert our condo's den into a tiny nursery. I honestly feel like I'll be so relieved once this happens.

  • Travel? I feel so lucky to have done as much travel as I have during this pregnancy. That being said, although my midwife has given me clearance to fly until 32 weeks, I think we're officially staying grounded until baby arrives. I would still love to sneak in a road trip or two, and of course lots of cottage visits. It honestly feels nice to know that there's no big trips on the horizon and we can focus all of our energy on baby.

  • Name: I'm happy to say that after many battles lengthy discussions, Brian and I have finally settled on a name that we're both happy with. I have to say, you really don't realize how many people you have disliked in your life until you start the process of naming a child LOL. That being said, we won't be sharing our name until the baby arrives.





So that's it! Now it's just time to enjoy the nesting phase and this last season of life as a family of two (and Fritz.)

What do you guys think? How was your third trimester? Did you find that your pregnancy went by in the blink of an eye? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Photos by the mega-talented Raeleen Giffin 
SHARE:

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Charleston City Guide


When the term 'Southern Charm' is ever spoken, what immediately comes to mind for me is Charleston. I first visited the charming city of Charleston, South Carolina in 2017 with Brian, a trip booked on a whim after watching a reality show based in the same city (yes, this is how we sometimes choose destinations.) We were smitten upon landing, and have been wanting to go back ever since.

Fast forward a few years, after again booking a trip on a whim with Sabrina after noticing a discounted flight, and I found myself back in Charleston. This time, the pace was a little slower (I was 27 weeks pregnant) and the itinerary less ambitious, but the feelings were all the same - I've can't wait to go back.

Here's a breakdown of how we spent 2.5 full days in Charleston; what to eat, how to get around and everything along the way.



How To Get To Charleston

I'll be the first to say it: the only frustrating thing about visiting Charleston, South Carolina is that there are no direct flights from my home airport in Toronto. As someone who hates connecting flights with a fiery passion, this can often be a deal-breaker when choosing a destination.

Thankfully there are a few fairly painless options to get to your destination:


  • In the world of connecting flights, getting to Charleston isn't too bad. For both of my trips, we connected in Chicago on the way there, and then through Newark, New Jersey on the way back. TIP: If you have the time for it, I would suggest making the most of your connections. Our first trip, Brian and I choose an eleven hour layover in Chicago which gave us the whole day to get out of the airport and explore the city. On the way home we actually extended the layover to stay a couple of nights in New York City. It felt like three trips in one!

  • There are direct flights from Toronto to either Savannah, Georgia or Myrtle Beach. Both destinations are only a couple of hours drive from Charleston and may be worth checking out before heading to the city.

  •  If you're up for the road trip, Charleston is about a 16 hour drive from Toronto. Definitely not for the faint of heart, but certainly do-able and an option if you crave the open road.





How To Get Around

One of the best things about visiting Charleston is that once you arrive, it's so easy to get around! Sabrina and I took a very quick and inexpensive cab ride from the airport to our hotel in historic Charleston. Other than that and a cab ride back to the airport at the end of our trip, we explored exclusively on-foot.


  • Because Charleston is a fairly small city, and the historic areas are all very close to one another, it is extremely easy to navigate on-foot. We explored everything that the city had to offer on-foot, while taking multiples breaks in our hotel to rest.

  • Renting bicycles is another great way to explore Charleston. Although I wasn't able to partake on account of being pregnant, I remember renting city bikes with Brian on our first trip and it was an excellent way to get around the city. 

  • Although I don't think that you need a car if you're planning on staying exclusively within the limits of Charleston, it may be a good idea to look into for exploring the surrounding areas. Charleston is very small, and if you're staying for longer than a few days then you may find yourself looking for a new area to explore. Renting a car is a great way to check out the surrounding plantations, or make your way to Savannah for a change of scenery.  




What To Do

Seeing as how I had previously visited Charleston, and that I was 27 weeks pregnant during this particular trip, we took a much slower pace than usual. That being said, Sabrina and I managed to pack in a ton of different sights and fun things to-do during our two and a half day stay. If you're visiting for a girl's trip, and aren't interested in historical monuments or museums, here's some fun things to do in Charleston:


  • Head South of Broad and just walk. Trust me. The beautiful, picturesque houses and perfectly manicured neighbourhoods are worth checking out, and are to me some of the best features of Charleston. Sabrina and I got lost everyday just wandering through these gorgeous, historic streets and taking in all of the sights - and smells! It was jasmine season when we visited and the air smelled of flowers. It was truly beautiful.

  • If you're in the mood to shop, then you're going to want to head to King Street. A mix of little boutiques and major chain stores, there's literally something for everyone. 

  • With all of the history in Charleston, a ghost tour would 100% be appropriate. If I wasn't convinced that our hotel was haunted, I definitely would have partook as the picturesque neighbourhoods definitely take on a more eerie vibe at night.

  • Visit Waterfront Park and take in the iconic, much-instagrammed Pineapple fountain. 

  • Eat. Honestly, Charleston is no place to visit while on a diet. Between award-winning restaurants, and the rich, buttery southern delicacies that grace most every menu, be prepared to eat. I find the restaurant prices to be pretty reasonable, especially when compared to the major cities in the states. 




Where To Eat


Be still my heart - the restaurants and food scene in Charleston is absolutely unbelievable. Brian and I experienced all of the culinary wonder that is food in Charleston on our first trip and I was anxious to get back for more! Here is where you can indulge in southern cuisine at it's finest; think hushpuppies, shrimp and grits, fried chicken, Carolina Gold rice - I could go on! Although there were many restaurants and bars to try, here are a few of my favourite:

Husk: You honestly can't make the trip to Charleston without visiting Husk. An upscale take on southern dishes and ingredients in a comfortable atmosphere, Husk is a true gem. Sabrina and I were able to get reservations at Husk for Sunday brunch, and braved the wait to enjoy our last dinner there. Word to the wise - make a reservation as soon as you book your trip to Charleston. I'm not kidding. Reservations go quick and while you may be able to score a walk-in seat, it will only be if outdoor seating is available and will undoubtably come with a long wait.

Basic Kitchen: A beautiful space boasting a healthy menu made up of local ingredients - many of which are actually grown on-premise! I had Basic Kitchen on my radar for it's beautiful, light-filled space and chill decor but I kept on coming back for the food. We enjoyed both brunch and dinner at Basic Kitchen, and each meal was absolutely delicious.

Leon's Oyster Shop: Leon's Oyster Shop is an unassuming, casual eatery that takes classic southern dishes to the next level! We enjoyed hush puppies that were literally served with a side of pure butter, scalloped potatoes, a gigantic shrimp salad and all-you-can-drink sweet teas. My only regret is stopping into Leon's for a snack rather than a full meal; I hear their award-winning fried chicken is not to be missed.

The Rise Coffee Bar: While Charleston doesn't have the bustling coffee scene of a larger metropolis, The Rise Coffee Bar will satisfy your espresso-based craving in a bright and clean space.

The Darling Oyster Bar: Created with a female clientele in mind, The Darling Oyster Bar is the perfect place to share a drink with girlfriends or to have a beautiful date night in Charleston. Although Sabrina and I had made reservations in advance, we opted to sit at the Oyster bar and literally feasted on seafood. It was glorious. The presentation is incredible and even the smallest details on our mocktails were taken into consideration. I already can't wait to go back.









It was an incredible getaway, and I can hardly wait to visit Charleston again. Have you been? Let me know what your must-dos are in this beautiful city!

xo Joëlle
SHARE:

Friday, 17 May 2019

A Letter To My Son


A letter to my son: even typing the words out still makes me step back in disbelief. The knowledge that there will soon be a new life in our family is so enormous that it just seems beyond me. I have so many feelings about raising a baby boy into a happy and loved young man; love, warmth, protectiveness and pride.

I recently saw the new commercial from the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, where a letter is shared from a real Ontario dairy farmer to his children. The letter is so heartwarming, and details how this hardworking father hopes that growing up on a dairy farm will instil strong values in his children. Now, I don't know if it's the pregnancy hormones or the fact that one of my best childhood friends grew up on a dairy farm, but to say that I was misty eyed after watching the commercial is an understatement.

I was inspired to write my own letter, to my unborn child who may not be in our arms just yet, but who I carry close to me and who keeps me company every day. So, to my boy: this is to you.


To our son,

Although we haven't met formally, I feel as though your place in our lives has always been. With each movement, each kick I feel as though our bond grows. There are so many feelings involved with bringing you into this world, and so many unknowns for when you make your grand arrival. Although I cannot predict or control the future, as much as I try, there are certain things that I want you to know and that I hope for you as you grow.

I hope that you always know and feel the strong love of a family. You are already so wanted and so loved, not only by your dad and me but also by so many others who cannot wait to meet you. Your grandparents, who truly thought that this day would never come and beam with excitement with each passing week. Your uncles, who already vow you make sure you always have someone to play, laugh, and explore with. Cousins, extended family, great grandparents. So many people and so much love for you; I hope that you always feel and take comfort in it.

I hope you know that your dad and I always want what's best for you, be it in school, activities and just life in general. But above everything, your happiness will always be our number one priority. Never worry about disappointing us, because as long as you're happy then our souls will be filled.

The world can be a scary place, and often times life will not seem fair. My hope for you is that we give you the emotional security to navigate this sometimes confusing life. I hope you know that it's okay to truly feel, and that it's okay to cry. It's okay to fail, and there's honour in getting up and trying again. And above all I hope that you know that we will always be there for you, both in your proudest moments, your struggles, and everything in-between. I hope that your family always remains your source of comfort and security.

Trust in the good intentions of others, and treat everyone with respect and dignity. Lead with a strong heart and a good mind. Know that vulnerability and kindness will be your biggest strengths in life, and not a weakness. Make good choices.

We haven't even met earth-side yet but my wish and hopes for you, our son, is that you always know and feel love.




Wow, the hormones are REALLY kicking in after that one. Thank you for allowing me to share this personal piece with you. I feel more focused, assured and confident in our future. And more than anything, I feel more excited to finally be able to meet our boy.

xoxo Joëlle

This post was inspired by and created in partnership with the Dairy Farmers of Ontario. Thank you so much for the amazing vision and for inspiring this post that will stay with me forever.
SHARE:

Monday, 13 May 2019

Tips For Flying Comfortably While Pregnant


Travel is so important to me. I still get a kick out of getting on a plane and being able to land in a totally different part of the world than where you started. When I first found out that I was pregnant, I will admit that I did momentarily consider that I may have to put my upcoming travel plans on-hold. After all, this is my first pregnancy and I honestly had no idea what to expect. What if I was feeling too sick to fly? Can you even fly comfortably as a pregnant woman?

It turns out, all that worrying was for nothing because I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy some amazing trips during my pregnancy. From Disneyland to Los Angeles, Philadelphia, a quick trip to NYC and a trip to Charleston - I feel very lucky to have been able to still keep up with traveling while carrying a baby.

That being said, there are definitely a few tips, tricks and lessons that I've picked up along the way in order to stay comfortable while flying while pregnant. Just a few simply things that can make or break a flight being comfortable, accommodate your changing body and anticipate any of the annoyances that come along with air travel that become HUGE inconveniences when pregnant. Here's what I've learned:

Eat A Large Meal Prior to Boarding


I cannot stress this enough. For some reason, all of my flights this year have had a larger-than-normal amount of turbulence. Turbulence on a plane is irritating on a good day, but when you're pregnant and potentially dealing with stomach/nausea issues it can be brutal. I've found that making sure that I'm comfortably full before boarding a plane helps to keep any nausea from turbulence at bay. I've even gone so far as to order food on the plane, which I typically never do. I've also found that being comfortably full helps to settle your stomach during takeoff and landing - something I never had a problem with prior to flying pregnant. Whatever the case, just make sure that you eat a proper meal before boarding; it makes a world of a difference.

Pack Lots Of Snacks

On the same note of making sure to eat before boarding a plane, I've also found that over-packing on snacks can be really helpful. We all know that air travel can be unpredictable, and the chances of your itinerary not going according to plan are high. Making sure that you're stocked up with lots of snacks (and a refillable water bottle) in case your flight takes longer than anticipated. When I was flying home from Philadelphia, our plane was stuck on the runway for almost three hours waiting in a massive line to de-ice. Thankfully, I had a backpack full of snacks and it made the wait much more tolerable - especially with a tiny baby doing somersaults in my belly! Snacks are always important with air travel, but become a lifeline when flying while pregnant. Bring more than you think  - trust me, they will get eaten!

Stay Hydrated


Okay, I promise that this is my last food and drink related tip but it's honestly the most important one: stay hydrated. Drink water - more than you think. Instead of relying on the flight attendants to start beverage services, bring a large refillable water bottle and don't be afraid to visit the flight attendant's station in the back of the plane to ask for refills. It may mean more bathroom brakes, but it also helps to improve your comfort and reduce the swelling that comes along with air travel.

Choose An Aisle Seat


I love a window seat, but when flying while pregnant I've learned to change my preferences to the aisle seat. Not only do you have a bit more room to stretch out, but it's also imperative for making a quick getaway for the washroom - you're going to need it after drinking all that water! 


Travel With Your Medical Documents


This tip is definitely the most doomsday of them all, but I'm a firm believer in better being safe than sorry. For every one of my trips, I've gotten copies of my medical documents from my midwives and keep them close to me at all times - just in case. Any document that has your blood type, how far along you are, any medications that you're on or have been on during your pregnancy, any allergies etc. It's good to have this information on-hand should you need to visit a hospital, or need medical supervision in-flight.

Let Everyone Know That You're Pregnant


Listen, I'm all for being discreet and not having a fuss made over me but I totally change my tune when I'm flying while pregnant. I let the airlines attendants know that I'm pregnant in hopes of getting a better seat (it works,) the flight attendants know so they understand why I'm always requesting water and going to the bathroom - heck, I've even told the man making my breakfast sandwich at the airport in hopes of getting more bacon added (that worked too!) Don't be shy and let people know.

Other than these tips, here are a few quick things to keep in mind in order to help make your flight that much more comfortable while pregnant:


  • Get up and walk every hour or two to help with the circulation in your legs
  • Wear compression socks for longer flights
  • Wear comfortable clothes and dress in layers
  • Opt for a backpack as your personal item to help distribute the weight
  • Ask for assistance when dealing with the overhead bin
The thought of flying while pregnant can be daunting, especially if it's your first time. But with a few small steps and considerations, it can be an enjoyable experience!

What do you think? Have you ever flown while pregnant? What are some of your best tips for staying comfortable with air travel?  Let me know!

xo Joëlle

DISCLAIMER: I'm lucky enough to have felt relatively well during the course of my pregnancy and have flown with my midwives knowledge and blessings. Always speak to your doctor/midwife before planning a trip involving air travel.
SHARE:

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Simple Brunch with Boursin Apple & Maple


I love brunch. I love the simplicity of it, the ambiguous timing and the general laid-back energy that comes along with it. I also love spending time with friends, and am happy to host them for a brunch in our tiny Toronto condo. The only thing I don't love? Cooking. That's why you'll find Boursin on the menu for all of my hosted get-togethers.

I absolutely love Boursin cheese - as readers of my blog will recognize from my multiple posts gushing about it. Boursin cheese is produced locally and made out of 100% Canadian Milk. Let's just call it as it is - Boursin is always a hit at every event. Always. There's just something about the delicious taste, and the fact that the texture is so smooth and creamy while remaining crumbly and spreadable. Add in that there are so many delicious flavours to try, perfect for every palette. Boursin is also great about adding new delicious flavours to their line up of cheeses, and the flavour that I chose for my brunch is no exception. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Boursin Apple & Maple.



When I was tasked to host an intimate brunch using the new Boursin flavour Apple & Maple, I knew that I wanted to venture away from my typical cheese plate. Although I'm not a huge fan of cooking and the prep that comes along with it, I tried re-imagining how I would use the new Boursin flavour and in the end I was really happy with the results!

Here's a quick breakdown of a very simple addition to your brunch menu using the new Boursin Apple & Maple flavour:


  • Cut a baguette into one-inch pieces. You may wish to toast your baguette pieces, but I prefer not. I find it makes them easier to eat when left un-toasted.
  • Slice up an apple into very thin pieces
  • Spread some Boursin Apple & Maple onto your pieces of baguette. The amount is totally up to you, but my cheese philosophy is always 'more is more'
  • Arrange your slices apples on top of the Boursin
  • Top with a walnut
  • Enjoy!




After it was all said and done, my intimate and simple brunch winded down and there were barely any leftovers to pack up. The Boursin Apple & Maple mini toasts were a hit and I think they may be a welcome addition to all of my hosting menus.

Have you ever hosted a casual brunch? What are some of your favourite no-bake, no-cook recipes? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

This post was created in partnership with Boursin. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
SHARE:
Blogger Template Created by pipdig