Countdown to Vacation!

Hurray for sunshine and warmth and grandparents! We are counting down the days until our cruise getaway to the Bahamas at the end of the month. This will be our first time travelling by air with baby Henry and I am so excited/nervous about it. Luckily my parents are coming with us, so we'll have plenty of hands on deck (pun intended.) When deciding where to go on vacation this year, we chose a cruise because a.) it's a floating hotel room with a diaper service, b.) exposure to Zika would be limited and c.) all we really want to do is eat good food and relax. We figured a cruise would be the easiest option with a 6 month old in tow. Truly, this is the ideal time to travel. Henry isn't crawling yet, he loves being carried, he can nap anywhere, and all he eats is milk. Royal Caribbean even provides a pack & play in our stateroom, so we don't need to worry about a safe play/sleep space. Despite knowing that our needs will be adequately covered on-board, I'm still a bit nervous about what to expect, mainly because I'm still breastfeeding every 2-3 hours. Here I am packing all my fancy pre-pregnancy vacation attire and I don't even know if it will be practical to wear. I literally haven't worn a real bra since Henry was born so packing anything but nursing bras and easily accessible shirts might be wishful thinking. Speaking of packing, it feels weird to devote half of my suitcase to baby things, especially when I usually fill my whole suitcase and then end up taking up real estate in Roger's with shoes. I'm really trying to pack light but the list of baby essentials just keeps growing! Here is what I have so far:
  • Dockatot (Henry co-sleeps with us nearly every night so this is a must. Also, it will be a lifesaver for naps on the go. Luckily it fits in my extra large suitcase!)
  • Inflatable bathtub (stateroom bathrooms are so teeny and they only have showers)
  • Umbrella stroller
  • Backpack to use as a diaper bag
  • Baby shampoo, bum cream, wipes
  • Sleepsack
  • Tula Baby Carrier
  • 3 burp cloths
  • 1 blanket
  • Baby Tylenol
  • Baby MumMum rice cookies
  • Wubbanub for cuddling
  • 1 teether toy (Ahhh imagine he starts teething on vacation? Lol)
  • Blanket bear (his lovey)
  • Assorted favourite toys (Sophie + 4 others... max!)
  • 1 bottle just in case
  • 5 disposable swim diapers
  • ThinkBaby natural sunscreen
  • SPF sun hat
  • Rice cereal
  • 1 silicone feeding bib + 3 cloth bibs (we're so bad at using bibs, but keeping clothes clean-ish is important!)
  • Baby safe laundry pods
Things I'm on the fence about bringing:
  • 80 diapers (Is that too many? We can pre-order Huggies. We've always used Pampers, so I'm wondering if we should just pack our own.)
  • Squeezable puréed food packs (Henry is currently on a puréed food strike. Perhaps we should just commit to BLW for the week.)
  • Bug net for stroller. Actually, I should definitely bring this. Note to self: see if it fits on the umbrella stroller.
We'll be 4 days at sea and 3 days on shore. The shore excursions we chose are pretty family friendly and only 1-3 hours in duration. Naps should be pretty easy to accommodate throughout the day, whether in the stroller on the go or on the ship in the pack & play or Dockatot. Henry has proven to be a pretty well-behaved dinner buddy so far (he usually sleeps), but if he is hungry or gets fussy during a fancy dinner, I can simply take him back to the stateroom for a quick break... or hand him to Nana. Overall we're feeling prepared and excited for our first nautical adventure with baby... soon to be dressed like the cutest little sailor!

Well that went quickly: Henry’s 6 Month Update

If there's one piece of advice that I've followed in early motherhood it is this: cherish every moment with a new baby because they grow up way too fast. Now that I'm a mom I finally get why my parents talk about us kids like we were born yesterday. Because in their minds, we were. The consequence of raising kids is that the decades are compressed into a whirlwind of milestones. Birthday parties and family vacations and first bike rides and sporting wins and school graduations... all a blur, I'm told. As a new member of the mom club, I've officially signed up for this crazy fast-paced life. Henry is only 6 months old and time is flying by SO quickly. When he does something super exciting, like roll over for the first time, I think to myself "I'll never forget that this happened on February 6th 2017 at 1:30pm!!" but then I'll be writing in his baby book a few weeks later like "did he roll at 6 months or was it 5 months?" Sigh. My memory bank is already getting too full. DSC_0587 DSC_0581 IMG_3275 I never want to forget the day Henry discovered his arms (what? these things do THINGS?!) and the three days following that he waved them frantically in the air like a mad man, batting every toy in sight and yelling at the top of his little baby lungs. Those three days made my entire week and then BAM, on the fourth, the incessant arm waving stopped. He learned that those arms could be used to propel himself into a back to tummy roll. Amazing. Now he rolls and looks up at me so proud of himself. Watching babies grow and develop is simply amazing. But also sad. These changes come about so swiftly. Don't blink. I want to preserve forever the memory of Henry's sweet little face waking up in the morning. Now that he's sleeping through the night and not hungry all the time, he wakes up so incredibly happy to see me. I feel like a celebrity when I peek into his crib (or if we're co-sleeping, when I reach over and unzip him from his sleep-sack) because he gives me the biggest gummy smile and I just about burst. Sometimes I can hear him babbling through the baby monitor and if I'm luckily, I can hear a distinguished "Ma-Ma" in his cries. At 6 months? I know! I thought it was early for words too. But I guess he's more so mimicking sounds. He's not reaching for hugs yet (Roger can't wait for this), but he'll wrap his arms around my neck like a small monkey when I'm carrying him and it's the best feeling in the world. I want to always remember the cute sounds he makes and the smiles he gives me when I'm nursing him. He's so cheeky these days. He's going through a stage where he pulls off and cranes his neck completely back to look at the world upside down. Heaven forbid his dad walk into the room or the dog make an appearance; he'll get completely side tracked. And sometimes he simply breaks out into laughter looking at my face and I have to rock him back and forth for a bit to get the sillies out before he'll eat again. So freaking cute. You can tell his curiosity is blossoming. I doubt I'll forget Henry's first experience with real food. Watching babies eat is so much fun! And also nerve-wracking because of the real fear of choking. We introduced hunks of avocado and lots of purees at 5.5 months. He took to spoon-feeding very well at first. He was a fast fan of pears, carrots, peas, green beans, broccoli, bananas, apples, prunes, blueberries, and peaches. Oats and rice were okay. He hated and still hates sweet potatoes. A taste of them on his tongue and he will gag and spit-up everywhere. Unfortunately my hungry hippo is currently on a pureed food strike and will not let a spoon near his mouth. Mister Independent only wants to feed himself and because the food gets everywhere and rarely reaches his mouth, he's basically back on the all-milk, only-milk diet. Just for fun, I now give him a bit of whatever I'm eating, mainly scrambled eggs and toast and bits of cheese. He loves toast. I'll also put slices of apples and cucumbers and carrots on his highchair tray and he'll suck on them for a bit. He even sucked out the contents of a small tangerine as I was holding it. I really thought he would hate the citrus taste, but nope. Food is still very foreign to him; he's happy to have it in his mouth but is taken by complete surprise when he swallows it. Oh! And I'm happy to report we tried peanut butter and lived! I'll have to write a post on that later. Henry is a super cuddly baby and always has been, which I am so very grateful for. I've been told that some babies are not big-time huggers. On a typical day, I can pull Henry onto my chest and cuddle with him for short bursts throughout the day, whenever I crave some baby hugs. On a sleepy day, he's content to lie on me for hours. I cherish the evenings when he falls asleep on one of us and we can carefully transfer him to his crib after a groggy diaper change. Between newborn and three months old, he was literally attached to me all day. I wore him in a baby wrap around the house and on errands and his preferred way of sleeping was on me. Even though he's still affectionate, I miss the effortlessness of snuggling with a teeny tiny baby. Now he wants to be carried all the time and 21 pounds is a lot for my small frame. I imagine babies and most people in general enjoy good old fashioned fun. Baby Henry is no exception. He smiles and laughs at dance parties, he giggles when I purposely go over big bumps with the stroller, and he's in heaven when we enthusiastically lift him up in the air. I truly believe that babies respond positively to positive energy; if you're having fun, they're having fun. When Henry starts to make a sour face, I can usually prevent a full -out cry by being silly and showing him everything is okay. I lost my voice singing to him so much when he was a newborn. I would just sing and smile and bounce and dance and there were very few occasions where I couldn't win him over with persistence. It doesn't take long to get to "know" your baby, which makes total sense considering you spend every waking moment with them since birth. We so very much enjoy watching Henry's personality develop every day. He truly is a happy baby. He loves when I sing "Under the Sea" in a really deep voice. He loves bathtime and swimming; the more splashing the better. He falls asleep within five minutes of a car ride. He expects a dad hug as soon as Roger gets home from work. He always smiles when we smile. He's a fabulous sleeper, but we really need to work on getting him to bed before 9pm. He usually has three naps a day; two short ones and a long one. My caffeine intake doesn't affect him, thank goodness! We thought he had a preference for grabbing toys and food with his left hand, but now he's indifferent. He loves the Jolly Jumper and his Piano Kick & Play mat. He's an excellent shopping buddy and so well-behaved at appointments. He doesn't mind hats or bibs. He has only been mistaken for a girl once when I had him all bundled up. He likes to hold the ends of my hair and gently twirl them between his fingertips, absolutely mesmerized. He thinks it's hilarious to bite and slobber over my nose and chin and cheeks and he loves scratching and grabbing at Roger's face. He toots a lot. Like a lot a lot. He loves seeing himself in the mirror. Sometimes I'll catch him staring at his hands in wonder, analyzing every finger movement. The only thing that calms him down when grumpy is nursing or a bath. He loves the dog. He's slightly strange about seeing family members after a long absence; we're working on that. Babies really do grow and change as fast as everyone says and the milestones fly by in the blink of an eye. I'm trying to write down as much as I can to make room for new memories before I inevitably forget the details of these ones.

Observations on Becoming a Mom

As a first-time mom, each day brings a new adventure. Babies grow and change so fast that it feels like our Henry is checking off milestones so quickly by the day. Three weeks ago he was so small that he could barely fit into newborn clothes; now he's just over 8 pounds and not looking so tiny in his car seat anymore. He's grabbing our fingers with his little fists, lifting his head up at tummy time, and making sucking noises and funny faces when he's hungry. I feel like I know him so much more than I did yesterday and love him just a little more as well. I know that every moment is fleeting and we have to enjoy them all, even the sleepy midnight feedings and the non-stop diaper changes because they too will pass. Some days are more challenging than others, but all days are rewarding and fun. Here's my personal experience of life with baby:
  • time stops when you're cuddling with a sleeping baby on your chest
  • staring at baby is a fulfilling activity
  • not having pregnancy heartburn is amazing, especially because you're starving all the time
  • you have a new appreciation for moms with twins (how do they do it?)
  • your boobs actually know when baby is hungry
  • you might as well throw out all your underwire bras
  • and any shirts that can't easily be pulled down or off
  • cold tea/coffee is perfectly okay and still enjoyable to drink
  • rubbing your eyes while exclaiming "this is the most tired I've ever felt" is a nightly occurrence
  • never have you ever done so much laundry in your life
  • getting peed on/pooped on is no big deal
  • nap time is anytime
  • baby hickies are a real thing (Roger can attest to this)
  • exercise is going up and down the stairs for a zillion diaper changes
  • your uniform consists of yoga pants, running shoes, and a t-shirt with milk stains on it
  • you will feel like a rockstar every time you shower
  • bonus points for managing to do your hair
  • online shopping is no longer a guilty pleasure but a necessity
  • "me" time is doing anything at all while baby is sleeping
  • going for a walk outside with baby is the best thing ever
  • being woken up by baby every 3 hours instead of 2 is cause for celebration
  • drinking alcohol again for the first time is exhilarating, even if it's only half a beer after feeding baby
  • you will rack your brain trying to remember the words to nursery rhymes and then opt for singing "Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur" over and over again
  • you will sadly realize you've kissed baby a million times and your spouse only once
  • your spouse will be okay with this because they are also a zombie
  • you will rekindle your love for children's books
  • you'll wonder how anyone did this parenting thing before Google
  • your new hero is your own mom
All that said, it's so very worth it. IMG_2366

My Pregnancy Experience & Henry’s Birth Story

Bringing a baby into the world is honestly THE BEST FEELING EVER! I feel so blessed to have had the experience of being pregnant, giving birth, and becoming a mom. My heart is so full of love thinking back over the past couple of months of pregnancy and the whirlwind that was our first week with a newborn. I consider myself fortunate to have had a relatively easy pregnancy. Asides from terrible all-day nausea from week 6 to 14 (flu symptoms all day every day) and relentless heartburn up until my tummy dropped, everything progressed smoothly. No swelling, no changes in my complexion, no mood swings, no cravings other than for cantaloupe, and I slept pretty well with my Snoogle up until 9 months. I know not every mom can say the same; I'm so thankful for my luck. I did; however, pay for my general lack of discomfort with lots of stretchmarks. Much of the 30 pounds I gained went straight to my belly. I had the biggest belly! IMG_1705 Roger and I found out we were pregnant on December 17th, the morning of his work Christmas party. I was too excited to hold back the results of my early pregnancy test. I barged into the bathroom while he was showering and showed him the two pink lines. Roger, being the pragmatic guy that he is, told me to not get my hopes up until I officially missed a period and confirmed the results with my doctor. That was the longest two week wait ever! I have zero self control so of course I took more pregnancy tests on the sly, all of which boasted a big fat positive. An expectant bundle was confirmed around Christmastime. I had the hardest time pretending to drink wine around my family members! Roger kept sneaking sips from my glass and we managed to keep our secret under wraps through multiple holiday get-togethers. The only person who caught on was my dad. He's incredibly observant. He hugged me by the decadent Christmas cheese tray and whispered in my ear, "I know." All I could think was "Ahhh, please don't tell mom." He didn't. We kept the happy secret to ourselves until mid-February. We shared the exciting news with my parents by gifting them a "late Christmas present" - a pack of diapers. For Roger's mom, we wrapped up a pacifier. And for Roger's dad, we re-gifted an old Christmas card where he wrote to Roger, "I can't wait to see what kind of dad you'll become." We gave it back to him and wrote underneath, "You don't need to wait very long!" We decided to keep the gender a surprise for everyone, including ourselves. For anyone thinking of going this route, I highly recommend it. There are few surprises in life like this one and I LOVED not knowing! I won't soon forget the momentous occasion of our first baby's birth; however, I feel obligated to record the event just in case my memory fails me on the small things. Roger co-wrote many of the details below because quite frankly I was in baby-having mode that day and my sense of time is not reliable. I'm still in absolute awe that my body was able to bring a human into the world. It's such a miraculous and strange feeling to spend nine months pregnant and then suddenly have a baby in your arms. A baby that you created and are now completely responsible for. For your entire life. You are that person's person. All at once you are so full of love and so aware of your importance. I'd be lying if I said I didn't sob uncontrollably when we first brought our brand new baby home. I cried wet tears all over the crown of baby's head. Firstly, because I already loved this little person so incredibly much. Secondly, because my mom just left to go back home. Thirdly, because baby was already a few days old and one day would be all grown up and not my little baby anymore. Fourthly, because Disney nursery songs make my ovaries hurt. And fifthly, because my milk had just come in and my hormone levels were through the roof. Before I get teary again, I'll share my birth story here. It was a Tuesday. My water started leaking at 6:15am. I got out of bed, showered, and got ready for work, thinking maybe it was just pee. I organized a team photo with my new colleagues at 9am, so my main concern was making it to that on time. I had Roger place the infant seat in the car, just in case. My water continued to leak until 8:30am. I called the Labour & Delivery nurse at the hospital and she advised me to come get checked out. If it was a false alarm, I'd be sent home within 10 minutes and would make my work photo. When I got to the hospital my water broke with a gush while lying in triage. Like in the movies. Except I was lying down and in the larger than life granny panties that the hospital provides. My OB sent me into a spin when she calmly remarked, "Your water definitely broke. You're having a baby today." How could this be? Baby had only been cooking for 37 weeks! I had three days of work left before maternity leave! My cupboards were a mess! I hadn't prepared any frozen lasagnas! I called Roger with the news and he left work straightaway to grab some items from home. Thankfully we had our hospital bags packed and the car seat installed. I called my mom next and I could tell she was itching to jump in the car, even though I advised her and my dad to take their time getting to the hospitals. I wasn't feeling any cramping or contractions yet. It was all so surreal. My parents were just at our house two days prior helping us install new flooring. Before they left they joked, "You better not go into labour this week!" They live 4 hours away and had to make the trek all over again. Happily, of course. But definitely not what any of us expected. I turned out to be GBS positive, so an IV drip with antibiotics was administered right away. The nurses started giving me Pitocin around 10:30am to start contractions. My original plan was NOT to be induced in any way, but what was best for baby was good for me. Any hint of a birth plan was pretty much thrown out the window when my water broke early. I was perfectly okay with this. I just wanted baby to be healthy. I was hooked up to a fetal monitor to track baby's heartbeat. The nurses were so nice and reassuring and my OB had no concerns whatsoever about me giving birth at 37 weeks. They just wanted to get baby out as soon as possible to avoid any GBS infection. For how busy the maternity ward was I received the best of care. Six women arrived whose water had broke that morning, which resulted in more ladies in labour than nurses on duty! I spent much of the day waiting to feel something and texting updates to anxious friends and family members. My cervix was checked around 4:30pm when contractions started to ramp up. I was told that it was highly posterior. The nurse couldn't tell if I was dilated or not, so she had another nurse check me. At 5:30pm I was 2cm dilated. Contractions were coming on strong, but were not consistent. By this time Roger had all the medical equipment figured out; he was keeping track of my contractions, baby's heart rate, my heart rate, and both the Pitocin and penicillin levels. At 5:45pm Roger went to the cafeteria to stock up on food before it closed and at the exit he noticed fortune cookies and decided to tempt fate. My fortune cookie read "Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today." We were convinced at this point we would have our baby before midnight. IMG_2142 By 7:00pm the nurses changed shift and I was 4cm dilated. Things were relatively slow going, and the Pitocin dosage was getting too strong with irregular contractions. I was not having any fun and become very non-communicative as I focused solely on my breathing. The nurses needed me to lie on my left side to help me dilate. I couldn't move; it hurt too much. I tried sitting on the peanut-shaped birthing ball. That was more awkward than helpful. At this point I decided to go with the epidural as my yoga breathing just wasn't cutting through the pain. This too was not a part of my original birth plan. The epidural took an hour to be administered and thank goodness we decided to get it when we did! After the epidural I was able to relax and turn from side to side for the contractions, helping baby get into position.  Time passed much more quickly when I was not in pain. Around 10:45pm my OB checked me and I was 9cm dilated. My parents brought me a steeped tea with honey and I threw it up. Apparently this is common at the "transition" stage. We were ecstatic at the progress made and felt more confident this baby would arrive before midnight (although all the nurses and my OB felt 1am-2am was more likely). Only 20 minutes later our nurse decided to check me again and determined I was fully dilated! I could feel a lot of pressure down low near my bum and with the epidural turned off, I certainly felt the urge to push. This was around 11:20pm. My OB and the nurses coached me to breathe in, hold my breath, and push with everything in me. Finally my efforts were rewarded. Roger was very quick to notice the genitals and was beside himself with overwhelming joy as he was the only  person in the room who thought this baby was going to be a boy! At 11:37 our brand new baby boy was delivered and Roger cut the cord! My OB laid him immediately my chest for some mommy-baby skin-to-skin bonding. He hardly cried; he made faces and cooed like a baby lamb. Of course, we immediately fell in love with our little guy as he looked up at us with wide blue eyes, all brand new and adorable. IMG_2141 IMG_1855 IMG_1854 Baby Henry Leo Roger Claveau officially arrived on August 2nd, 2016. He was more than ready to born at 7 pounds 3 ounces. Seeing now that he is beautiful, healthy, and alert, I am so thankful that he decided to grace us before his official due date. As for his name, we had Henry picked out for about two years, ever since we seriously started talking about having children. We wanted a strong, old fashioned name (like Roger) that was unmistakably masculine. We also like that his pet name can be pronounced "Ahn-ree" which works so well with our French surname. Leo just so happens to be one of Roger's middle names and it suits little Henry so well because his birthday falls under the Leo zodiac sign! IMG_1872 IMG_1875 Baby Henry couldn't be more perfect, nor could we be more smitten with him. Despite the lack of sleep, the constant worrying, the poopy diapers, and all the trying times that come with learning to be parents, Roger and I are loving every moment of this new adventure. Mom life is truly shaping up to be the best life.