Monday, 30 December 2019

Goals for 2020



Much like the end of a year being a period of reflection for me, I can't help but think about the year to come. I'm not one for resolutions - I would rather set goals. I like to state my goals and set my intentions every year; not only is it a great way to organize my thoughts, but it's also nice to reflect on at the end of a year to see what's been accomplished (check out my posts from 2018 and 2017.) This upcoming year will see my first full year of being a mother, my first bit of international travel with a baby and (hopefully) setting down further roots in Toronto. It's bound to be a year of learning, growth and likely challenges along the way. Knowing all of this, here are some specific goals for 2020 that I would love to move forward with as the year progresses.


Buy A House


Yes, Brian and I have finally decided to explore the possibility of home ownership. I honestly thought that we would be condo dwellers forever but there's nothing like sharing 750 square feet with three humans and a dog to really change your perspective on things. I'm not going to lie - the thought of being a home owner terrifies me. I genuinely enjoy the simplicity that comes along with renting a small space and condo living, despite minor inconveniences, is so damn easy. While I don't think that having a baby automatically means that you need a house, we really do need more space and I just want to make sure that we're doing the best to our individual abilities for Benny. Buying a house in Toronto is not for the faint of heart, and I expect that this will be one of our biggest transitions and challenges as a couple that we've faced to-date. I'm hopeful that we'll come out on top and move towards home ownership in 2020.

Develop (and stick to) A Fitness Routine


After a fairly inactive pregnancy resulting in a C section, my body is now feeling the consequences of a major abdominal surgery and a nonexistent fitness routine. My back and hips are in constant pain and I lack the energy levels that I once had. Not that I was ever a body builder or a gym person, but there was a time when I was going to regular SoulCycle classes that I felt amazing, my mood was great and I had lots of energy - I miss that. I need to get back into a solid fitness routine that I can sustain long-term. Having a baby definitely makes going to fitness classes more difficult, so my goal for 2020 is to develop an at-home plan for simple strength training and making walking a priority. Baby steps so that I can feel strong in the new year.

Get Back To Blogging

Since starting La Petite Noob in 2013, I've always tried to made this blog a priority. What was once a hobby for most turned into full-fledged business, with companies favouring Instagram and video content, I'm embarrassed to admit that I have not paid the blog the attention it deserves in the past few years. Business aside, there is something therapeutic to me with sitting down to write a blog post. I also feel as though you can develop a more intimate connection with your readers through a blog post - more-so than just a photo on Instagram or even a video. I miss it.

That being said, this blog needs a bit of an overhaul. I feel as though the user experience is lacking; there's virtually no organization and there's got to be a better way to search for relevant content through over 6 years of blog posts. I'm also a bit lost as to what people enjoy reading when it comes to blogs now - the landscape is so different than when I first started. City guides? Shopping round ups? More personal, diary style posts? Let me know!


What do you guys think? Do you enjoy setting goals for the new year? What are you working towards in 2020? Let me know!

xo Joëlle
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Friday, 27 December 2019

2019 - Lessons Learned


To say that 2019 has been a year for the books would be an understatement; it's been the most transformative year of my life. With the birth of our sweet boy Benjamin, it's been a year thats brought me my greatest blessing. I never understood the joys of motherhood when people would try to explain it to me, but 2019 is the year that I finally got it. Benny has only been with us for 5 months, but it's hard to imagine what life was like without him.

The year, however, didn't pass without any strife. Spending the majority of 2019 pregnant really tested my mental and physical health. A near-crippling case of prenatal depression coupled with an emergency hospital stay for a kidney infection while pregnant definitely pushed me to my limit. For someone who typically remains in good health both physically and mentally, my struggles this year were unlike anything I've ever experienced.

In the spirit of reflection, and continuing on a tradition of blog posts that I've been keeping up from 2017 and 2018, here are some big lessons I learned in 2019.

Health Is Wealth

Being a former funeral director and witnessing health struggles from close family members, I've always been aware of how valuable your health is - but this year really hit that lesson home from me. It's so easy to get caught up in the frivolities of the everyday, and spend enough energy coveting material objects to really loose track of the big picture - listen, I'm guilty of it too. But it's true that if you're in good health then you truly are fortunate. No amount of money or material objects can buy the ease of a life of someone in good health. While it's near impossible to spend every minute of the day being grateful for your good health, I now start off with a quick thought of gratitude every morning and it's really made a difference in my perspective and outlook on life.


Not Every Situation Is Mind Over Matter

I have a confession to make: I used to be a 'mind over matter' person for most situations in my life. Although I recognized that there were situations that were beyond an individual's control, I just didn't think it applied to me and would attribute a strong mind to overcoming mental challenges and even your physical health. I can' tell you how many times that Brian would be coming down with a cold and I would be chanting at him to squash it with his mind - poor guy would be feeling like crap and I would be shouting at him to fix it with strong thoughts.

Do you hate me yet?

Nothing like having your body completely rocked by a surge and change in hormones to really put it all in perspective. I've mentioned how I was struggling with prenatal anxiety, but honestly it was bad. I spent the majority of my first trimester and a bit of my third in a very dark place, and nothing I could do would pull me out of it. No amount of strong thoughts, gratitude journalling, perspective - nothing. It wasn't until my hormones regulated that I felt any reprieve.

Needless to say, I've changed my tune on mind over matter. While the saying certainly applies in some situations, it definitely isn't universal.


Have Patience

With the immediate gratification we've become used to, waiting for a situation to unfold can feel like torture. While having patience is something I'm sure will be a lifelong lesson, but I'm working on deciphering between "hasn't happened yet" and "won't happen ever." Patience is a process, but I'm trying my best to surrender to timing of your own individual life and to enjoy the journey.




What do you guys think? What have been some of your biggest lessons for 2019? What are you looking most forward to in the New Year? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Photos by Vai Yu Law
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Monday, 9 December 2019

Banana Republic Luxe Holiday Gift Ideas


This post is sponsored by ShopStyle and Banana Republic. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

It's the most wonderful time of the year, and I'm getting right into the holiday spirit by planning my gift lists for all of the amazing people in my life. This year is a big one for me with the birth of Benny and I honestly could not have made it through the last few months as a new mom without the strong and inspiring women who all rallied around me to help out. Words could never describe how much I appreciate the support, so instead I really want to spoil them this holiday season with luxurious gifts that I know that they'll love. My ideal gift is something beautiful that I know the recipient will love, but would not necessarily buy for themselves.

Enter Banana Republic. I've been shopping at Banana Republic for luxurious gifts for my nearest and dearest for years. It's a place that I can depend on to find elevated pieces that can not only be enjoyed during the holiday season, but are always just great pieces to incorporate something special in your wardrobe on the weekly.

My first recommendation when choosing a luxurious gift is to consider a new coat. Now hear me out: if you live in a colder climate, sometimes it feels like putting effort into an outfit is all for nothing because it ultimately gets covered by a coat. BUT if the coat itself is something special and feels like a statement piece in itself, then the colder months don't feel like such a sacrifice to personal style! I'm loving the teddy coat trend again this season, and definitely have my eye on the Sherpa Cocoon Coat and Sherpa Car Coat from Banana Republic. For more of a bold statement, you may want to consider the Faux Fur Long Coat for a seventies vibe, or even a a Leopard Top Coat - because at this point, leopard print truly is a neutral. If the individual on your gift list veers more towards the practical side, then the Twill Utility Jacket may be more appropriate; this is a jacket that can be worn for most of the year and adds instant-style to any outfit.

Knitwear is a more traditional gift, but can be just as luxurious and special when gifting different cuts and styles. Take the Puff Sleeve Sweater; just as practical as a traditional sweater, but the puff sleeves make the design more current and fun! Such a treat to gift to someone that you love. For a real show-stopper of a gift, I have my eye on the Turtleneck Sweater Dress. Just as cozy as any sweater, but with a glamorous twist.

Something else to consider when choosing a luxurious gift is a piece of clothing in an unexpected pattern or with a fun detail that the recipient wouldn't necessarily splurge on for themselves. My absolute favourite is leopard print. Not only is it so on-trend for this season, it's a pattern that is truly flattering on everyone and can easily fit into most wardrobes. My picks that instantly stood out to me from Banana Republic are the Leopard Print Maxi Skirt (I have this same one and it's truly one of the most versatile pieces in my closet)  and the Leopard Print Peasant Midi Dress. For a touch of sparkle, and because you can never go wrong with a fun handbag, I love the Rose Gold Glitter Clutch.

I'm so excited to share my luxurious gifts from Banana Republic with my loved ones this season, with maybe a few gifts for myself as well haha.

What do you guys think? Do you like to treat your loved ones to luxe gifts for the holidays? Which is your favourite piece from Banana Republic? Let me know!

xo Joëlle
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Tuesday, 15 October 2019

5 Reasons To Invest In An UPPAbaby VISTA


From the minute we announced our pregnancy, it seemed as though our lives were consumed with collecting our baby gear. With so many products on the market, and with us being new parents, the process seemed to be completely overwhelming. One of the biggest items to consider with baby gear was and is your new baby's stroller. Brian and I knew that we wanted to make sure that we made the absolute best choice for our family; after all, we're city dwellers that live in a small space and travel on-foot for the majority of the time. Choosing our baby's stroller was a crucial decision.

Let me just cut the suspense and let you know that after lots (and lots) of thought and research, we ultimately landed on the UPPAbaby VISTA and we could not be happier with our decision. You guys - this stroller is absolutely fantastic. The VISTA is everything we were hoping for in a stroller and more, providing us with all of the features that we were looking for, and many that we didn't even realize we needed. The stroller has truly been a game-changer for our family, and while it does come with an investment price tag, I would choose it over again in a heart beat. Here are five reasons why you should consider investing in the UPPAbaby VISTA for your growing family.


1. It Handles Busy City Streets Like A Champ


Brian and I are very passionate about staying in the city with Benny, so we knew that we needed a stroller that was easily able to maneuver the busy city streets of Toronto. The UPPAbaby VISTA has exceeded our expectations. Not only do the wheels offer a smooth ride for baby, making sure Benny doesn't wake up during his stroller naps, the back wheels are large enough that we're able to handle any sort of terrain. Those of us in the city know how much construction affects our lives, so I'm grateful to be able to smoothy sail through any detour construction has to offer. Not only that, but we're still going to be traveling on-foot through the winter months - the wheels on the UPPAbaby VISTA will be key in traveling on a poorly-plowed sidewalk.

Ride aside, what truly sets the UPPAbaby VISTA apart from the rest when navigating through a city is how light and agile it is. My worst nightmare was being stuck when all of a sudden a route became inaccessible for wheels, especially since I would be walking by myself during the day. I've easily been able to lift, tilt and squeeze through narrow lanes with my UPPAbaby VISTA making it key to keeping my independence when alone with Benny.

And don't get me started in the basket - my word, the roomy basket under the UPPAbaby VISTA has been a total game-changer. I fit everything down there, and I mean everything - this is where our chihuahua Fritz will hitch a ride! On any given day, our basket will hold a full grocery shop, my large diaper bag, a spoiled dog and even my giant blogging camera. It's truly been a dream, and instrumental in making sure that I can get all of my errands done with a baby in-tow.



2. The Bassinet Is Dual Purpose


One of our fears when starting to choose and collect baby gear was that our tiny condo would become cluttered with all things baby. For this reason, choosing items that were multi-purpose was key. Thankfully our UPPAbaby VISTA has proven to be the ultimate in multi-purpose item - we actually use the stroller's Bassinet as Benny's bedtime bassinet in our bedroom! With the addition of a bassinet stand, we were able to easily convert the Bassinet from stroller to bedtime. The Bassinet itself is gorgeous, and with it's vented base and mattress for breathability and the fact that you can remove everything to wash in the machine, it's an easy choice for both stroller naps on-the-go and overnight sleep.

I just love the Bassinet on our UPPAbaby VISTA, and am already sad for the day when Benny outgrows it (once he reaches 20 pounds or can push up on his hands and feet.) It's been an amazing addition to our condo for its style and dual purpose.




3. It's Great For Small Vehicles


Are you sensing a theme here? Not only do Brian and I live in a small city space, but we also drive a small city vehicle - no mini vans or roomy SUVs here! For this reason, it was really important to me that our stroller be able to fold up compact to be able to fit into our small trunk. Not a problem for our UPPAbaby VISTA, which fits into our small car's trunk no problem. What's more is that because the frame is so compact and light, all 5'2 of me has no problems getting it in-and-out of the car on my own.

Another cool feature is how easily all of the UPPAbaby products work together. For example, we also use the UPPAbaby MESA infant car seat in our vehicle and it clips into the frame of our VISTA easily - without having to use a car seat adapter. I feel like a have a whole new stroller when I use this set up with the MESA car seat, a compact travel system that makes traveling with Benny so much easier. Truth be told, taking Benny in the car with me was one of by biggest anxieties and I credit how easy the UPPAbaby VISTA frame and MESA car seat are to being able to concur that fear.



4. It Grows With Your Family

On of the biggest reasons that Brian and I decided to go with the UPPAbaby VISTA was for how easily the stroller would grow with Benny. Currently we're using either the Bassinet or the UPPAbaby MESA infant car seat, but once Benny starts to grow over twenty pounds, we'll switch seamlessly to the Toddler Seat which can be positioned both front and rear facing as well as reclined. The fact that we know the UPPAbaby VISTA will be able to last our family through the entire stroller stage is amazing and is totally in-line with our 'buy once, use forever' philosophy.

Another reason we ultimately landed on the UPPAbaby VISTA was for the fact that, should we decide to have another child, the stroller converts easily into a double - even three, if you attach a piggyback ride along board!


5. It's Gorgeous While Still Being Practical


Look, I'll be honest - aesthetics are important to me. If I like the way something looks, it makes me very excited to use it. The same applies to the UPPAbaby VISTA. I mean, look at it - it's gorgeous! I myself chose the BRYCE, a beautiful whitish-grey colour, but had a hard time landing on a colour because I loved so many of the choices. There's also so many different accessories to customize your VISTA, from cup holders, handlebar organizers, snack trays and so much more!

Aesthetics aside, we're dealing with a stroller for babies and kids here - and babies and kids are messy. Because we use our VISTA multiple times a day, and Benny sleeps overnight in the Bassinet, things get messy. Poo explosions, pee explosions.. all of the explosions, we've dealt with and appreciate how everything with the UPPAbaby VISTA can be taken apart and washed. Make sure to read the directions on the label.

If you're like us and find that you're agonizing over making the right choice for your baby's stroller, I cannot recommend the UPPAbaby VISTA enough. I'm so glad that we made the choice and I'm excited to see where our Vista takes us.

What do you guys think? How important was your stroller when becoming a new parent? Have you ever tried the UPPAbaby VISTA? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Thank you so much UPPAbaby for partnering with me for this post. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
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Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Bathtime with JOHNSON’S® CottonTouch™


Thank you JOHNSON’S® for sponsoring this post. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. 

Since finding out that I was pregnant, one of the things that I was most looking forward to about motherhood and spending time with our new baby is bath time. Growing up, I loved bath time.My parents always made it so fun for my brothers and I, and I truly believe that this is what cultivated our love for being in the water. Even now as adults, you can usually find my entire family swimming or floating in the lake at our cottage. Knowing this, I really wanted to make bath time special for Benny from the very beginning; so much so, that I packed my favourite bath time products, JOHNSON’S® CottonTouch™,in my hospital bag with me so we could start on the right foot.

From the very beginning, I knew that we would be using JOHNSON’S® products on our baby's delicate newborn skin. My parents had used JOHNSON’S® products on me, so aside from trusting the brand, it's also fun to see them get nostalgic themselves when we pull out the products. In fact, JOHNSON’S® has been trusted worldwide for over 125 years! Aside from having my parent's seal of approval, I like that all JOHNSON’S® products are designed to be close to baby’s natural skin pH and hair pH, so they help to avoid disrupting the skin barrier. JOHNSON’S® products use 50% fewer ingredients and are free from parabens, phthalates, sulfates or dyes and are made with 96% naturally-derived ingredients.



For bath time, Brian and I are using the CottonTouch ™ Newborn Wash & Shampoo. I love how easy the product is to use, especially since time is of the essence when bathing a newborn. An easy lather, and washes off quickly and easily with no residue. What gets me most about the product is the smell; it seriously smells so good and I can't help but sniff little Benny's hair all day after a bath. Call me a nut, but it makes me relieved to know that I'll always have the scent of the CottonTouch™ Newborn Wash & Shampoo to bring me back to these precious newborn days.




CottonTouch™ Newborn Face & Body Lotion is what we follow up with after the bath to keep Benny nice and moisturized for up to 24 hours. This is such a beautiful part of bath time, as I love bonding with Benny with a gentle newborn massage, and seeing him look up to me in his tiny newborn towel after the bath. He's so calm during this process and it's honestly such a touching moment that I'll remember forever.




I'll admit, the first bath experience with baby Benny was not the picture-perfect moment that I had imagined. Since then, Brian and I have mastered our technique and
bath time has become one of my favourite parts of the day. I'm so happy that we chose JOHNSON’S® CottonTouch™ bath products to help us out with bonding with Benny and keeping him fresh.

What do you guys think? Was bath time a great memory for you too? Have you tried JOHNSON’S® products? Let me know!

xo Joëlle
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Monday, 30 September 2019

I'll Always Remember Us This Way


It's been nearly two months since we welcomed our little potato Benny into our lives. So strange - on one hand, it feels like he's been here forever and on the other hand I can't believe how quickly two months has flown by.

We've made it out of the newborn fog, survived the cluster feedings and are now in something that vaguely resembles a routine. Of course, there are challenges on the other side of that initial newborn stage. Brian returned back to work only to enter one of his busiest times; this means working overtime, weekends and work-related travel. Myself, as a self-employed freelancer with no maternity leave, I've been trying to juggle being there for Benny while maintaining my business and accepting and fulfilling contracts - something that's really important to me. It's been difficult trying to manage a balance, but we're getting through; largely with the support of our family, which has been key.

Even with all of the challenges that come along with bringing a baby into a very busy life, I can't express how much I've been enjoying this time. Having and raising Benny has taught me so much already - and it's only been two months! I want to sit down and update you with a proper post of how having a child has changed me, but that will come later in the week. For now, I just wanted to share these precious moments captured on-camera by Laura Clarke.

Through all of the chaos, and how quickly life moves, I always want to remember us this way.








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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

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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

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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
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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


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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
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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.
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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 
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