Rumi’s Lovely (and Fast!) Birth at Home

The last few weeks of this third pregnancy were hot and I was miserable. We had a pretty mild summer for our area and it’s never easy being heavily pregnant in August, especially with a third pregnancy and two other children to keep up with, so when my due date rolled around with baby 3 I was pretty miserable at the thought of potentially going another two weeks. My first two babies were born at 40w2d and 40w4d but at 40 weeks with the third I had felt absolutely NO twinges, pangs, or signs that she was getting ready to make her arrival.

It was a hot day the morning of her due date, a Wednesday, and would turn out to be the last hot day of the summer. I had had a cervical sweep on Monday morning and was disappointed that it hadn’t worked to induce labour, but as with all other attempts at natural induction, they really only work if your body is super close to going into labour anyway (sorry to disappoint the heavily pregnant women reading this, but no amount of dates or pineapple will kickstart labour if your body and baby are not ready). Because I was so miserable, Tom took a break from work to take the kids and I for a trail walk before the day got too hot. I was uncomfortable and walking slowly. We saw a few friends on our walk but it did nothing to lift my spirits.

Wells went down for his midday nap at 1pm and I took the opportunity to lie down, hoping that I could make the day pass faster by sleeping through as much of it as I could (if someone had told me I would have a baby before dinnertime I would have had a hard time believing them). I woke up half an hour later (because good sleep isn’t a thing when you’re heavily pregnant) and felt some mild cramping. It was the first time I’d felt my uterus do anything so I didn’t want to get up in case it stopped, as I assumed it would. I laid in bed for a bit and then got up to walk to the end of the block to check the mailbox (late pregnancy is basically just going on multiple walks a day until you go into labour). There was a tee shirt in the mail box from a friend and I came home and took a selfie and posted it to Instagram around 3:30.

My cramps were coming on and off but were so inconsistent that it almost wasn’t worth timing them (some 11 minutes apart, some 18 minutes apart) but I timed them anyway because it made me feel hopeful. Suddenly at 4:30 they ramped up to a consistent 3-5 minutes apart and the intensity made me stop what I was doing and breathe through them. The “rule” my midwife gave me was to call her when contractions were 5-1-1 (5 minutes apart and 1 minute long for at least an hour) so I settled in to wait diligently for my hour of contractions. In between them Tom and I were scrambling to get things ready, filling the birth pool with nice warm water and putting waterproof liners underneath the sheets in our guest bedroom. The kids were at the kitchen counter through it all, happily helping my mom prep veggies for dinner and totally oblivious to their mama who stopped every few minutes to lean over the counter and breathe heavily through a contraction. I still didn’t call the midwife yet but I texted my doula and she sped right over, arriving just before 5pm. A few contractions later, at 5:14, my water broke and we knew that things were about to ramp up even faster. The first contraction after my water broke I felt an unbelievable amount of pressure, so I got into the birth tub for the next one, hoping the warm water would alleviate some of the pain. The next contraction was even more intense and my doula, Jane, asked if I felt the urge to push. I said no, I just felt so much pressure. During the next contraction I absolutely roared, it was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. In hindsight I was already in transition, the most painful but shortest phase of labour when the baby is moving down the birth canal and is almost ready to be pushed out. During the contraction I reached down and could feel the top of Rumi’s head, and that I was almost fully dilated. I said “she’s coming out on the next contraction!” and Tom quickly jumped into the birth pool behind me. On the next contraction I didn’t even push; my body had the Fetal Ejection Reflex (involuntary pushing) and her head came out! It was absolutely wild. Tom said he had her head (weird, lol), and Jane told me I would need to push out her body on the next contraction. When I felt the contraction rising I pushed and her body came out and Tom had her! He put her up on his own chest because I was facing away from him and couldn’t turn around.

She cried immediately and was nice and pink so we knew she was okay. Tom stayed in the water and held her to keep her warm. I was in total shock and having bad cramping as my body tried to get the placenta out; this is normal and it can take up to half an hour for the placenta to come out on it’s own. I couldn’t turn around to see my new baby without having to lift a leg over the umbilical cord so I stayed put for a while until the midwife arrived. While we waited the doula went and got my mom and the kids and brought them in to meet Rumi! It was a really fun and special moment to be able to introduce them to the new baby right in our own home, one of the many reasons I was excited about having a homebirth.

When the midwife arrived we all had a good laugh about how fast everything had gone. She cut the cord and helped me deliver the placenta (one easy push) so I could get out of the pool and rest in bed with my new baby! The midwife checked out me and Rumi, told us we were both doing well, and that was that! A few measurements and some clean-up and we were done! The midwives were on their way around 7:30pm, less than two hours after Rumi was born, leaving us to put the big kids down, eat take-out and cuddle our new baby in our own bed.

I’m so excited that for my last birth I was able to have the homebirth of my dreams! It was a wonderfully empowering and exhilarating experience and while we never planned on Tom catching the baby it was so cool that he did. I don’t think we’ll ever forget it!

Third Trimester Meal Prep: My Fave Recipes

It’s that time again! The one-month-countdown is on and that means I’m taking to the kitchen to stock my deep freeze with easy meals that will save me time and effort once baby is born. The only problem: most of my go-to dinner ideas won’t work super well for freezing ahead. Oh, and another problem: this last month of pregnancy is the month of August. InstaPot meals, anyone? My very short list of go-to freezer meals, if you’re interested in trying any, include the following (PS we are not vegan but most of these are meat-free):

Lentil Cauliflower Soup (Oh She Glows) – soups thaw fast and make an easy meal when you pop some naan bread into the toaster! This one is hearty and healthy and pairs very, very well with a Ginger Cider (not that I would know!)

Our Perfect Veggie Burger (Oh She Glows) – highly customizable, super duper healthy, and makes 8-9 patties. I freeze them with a small piece of wax paper between them, then bake or fry to reheat. Throw on a brioche bun with avo, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and mayo and dinner is DONE.

This Vegan Lasagna (Erin Ireland via America’s Test Kitchen) – a little labour intensive to make but a good hearty and healthy meal that should last two days. Just add garlic bread!

Spicy Chipotle Turkey Burritos (Pinch of Yum) – I’ve made this recipe so many times and it’s another easily customizable one! I’ve made it with the turkey, with just veggies, and once subbing the PoY Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat (don’t roll your eyes at me okay, it’s spicy and delicious, especially on nachos!). I like to reheat frozen burritos by defrosting them and then frying them in a pan quickly before I smother them with guac and hot sauce.

Coconut Chickpea Curry (Jessica in the Kitchen) – so easy, I make this weekly in the winter time! Another meal that’s delicious just with some toasted or fried naan bread on the side.

Batch Breakfast Sandwiches don’t really need a recipe but if you need some help take a look at these 15 Minute Meal Prep Breakfast Sandwiches (Pinch of Yum)

Muffin staples in our home include these Perfect Pumpkin Muffins from The Kitchn (they really are perfect, and so moist you could whip up a cream cheese frosting and serve them as cupcakes) and these Quick and Easy Banana Muffins from Sally’s Baking Addiction and these Easy Carrot Cake Muffins from An Italian in My Kitchen that we make a LOT (without the frosting, unless I’m feeling sassy). I make all of my muffins with coconut sugar instead of brown or white because it’s much healthier for the kiddos, and I often use vegan butter or coconut oil in place of the butter and oil, as well as Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer for the eggs just because.

What would you add? Please share any go-to recipes that freeze and reheat well! Bonus points if you get me to use my Instant Pot for the second time!

My Favourite Birth Books

The third trimester is for birth prep and for a nerd like me that means studying! I’m re-familiarizing myself with a few favourites that I haven’t read since I was a first time prego four years ago (I did zero birth prep for my second labour two years ago, felt like wingin’ it!).

This third time will be the farthest I’ve lived from a hospital, the only birth I’ve been able to consider a homebirth for, and of course my first birth during a global pandemic. So many (weird) milestones but I’m so ready for the challenge and as a third timer I feel knowledgeable enough about birth that I’m excited rather than fearful.

During my first pregnancy I found the “What to Expect” book series pretty fear-mongering and very much not-my-style. The two books I swear by now are The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin and Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth.

The Birth Partner presents a clinical account of birth and is written for (you guessed it) whoever is going to be acting as the mother’s birth partner during labour. I like to read it as well because knowing what’s happening in my body makes it easier for me to understand what is needed of me mentally. Emotional accounts of birth are easy to find because it is inherently a deeply emotional and transformative act, but the Birth Partner reads more like a well-informed textbook, clearly explaining the physiology of labour and offering tactics for each different stage (ie. helpful positions to try, where a birth partner should apply pressure to relieve lower back pain, and what the mother might be feeling or thinking during the different stages). I like to put tabs on the pages I want Tom to read and highlight the things I think will be helpful for me.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, on the other hand, is very obviously written for the birthing mother and for a specific purpose; that purpose is to challenge some common myths and misconceptions we’ve grown to accept as normal in our modern day birth culture. The first half of the book is full of positive birth stories that are sorely missing from birth discourse today, where we’ve learned to deeply fear the birthing process and readily share our horror stories with others. These birth stories portray birth as a natural, intense, ecstatic experience that can be positive, feminist, and community-driven, with women cheering each other on and offering comfort and support to each other. Most importantly, the birthing woman and her needs and wishes are always placed at the center of the labour experience with minimal intervention from modern medicine. At the time Ina May was practicing this was a radical difference from the norm, which saw birthing mothers heavily medicated, often strapped on their backs on a sterile table.

The second half of the book explains how Ina May achieved such drastically different birth outcomes than the rest of the US over the decades that she and her team delivered babies at The Farm Midwifery Center, in Tennessee (stats like a 1.4% c-section rate compared to 24.4% in hospitals at the time, and a 0.05% vacuum- and forceps-extraction rate compared to 10% in hospitals at the time, and don’t get her started on the episiotomy rates!). Ina May’s Farm was one of the first out-of-hospital birthing centers in the US. She talks about lots of physiological stuff like Sphincter Law (issa thing!) but a lot of the mental stuff as well, highlighting how the mind-body connection works during birth, how fears and anxieties can stall labour, visualization techniques and mantras for opening the body, and so much other good stuff. It has truly given me peace to read this book in the third trimester as we approach out third and last Labour Day (and hopefully first homebirth!).

*disclaimer: because Ina May did much of her work in the 70s and we’re in the middle of a racial reckoning I was struck by some problematic issues with the book, most notably a natural birth tactic to combat shoulder dysplasia being named The Gaskin Manoeuvre even though Ina May learned it in rural Guatemala from indigenous midwives. All of Ina May’s research and experiences are still deeply valuable, it’s just something to be aware of when reading.

Anyway, I highly recommend both of these books for any pregnant person and their partner! A few other titles I’ve read and would recommend include Like A Mother: A Feminist Journey through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy by Angela Garbes, Childbirth Without Fear by Grantly Dick-Read and Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin.

It’s Okay to Talk About the Tough Times

I’m finding it really hard to find the line between being realistic about life lately and sounding like I’m complaining during a time when, inarguably, everyone is struggling. On one hand, I don’t want anyone to ever think that I don’t love my babies or that I’m not grateful that I could get pregnant the first time I tried, three times in a row. I am privileged to not know loss, I am privileged that my family has a safe space in which to make messes and cry and whine incessantly, I am privileged that the genetic syndrome that our oldest child was born with has so far been mild enough that we get to raise her like a typical child. Despite what a lot of people have been assuming, we did choose to have all three of our kids this close together. None of them were a mistake and we don’t regret our choice to get these tough years over with all at once.

But on the other hand, shit’s hard right now, and I started this space to talk about hard shit. Back when Hennie was a purple-crying Colic Baby I searched the internet in the midnight hours for someone who would admit that there are some real rock bottom moments (or days, or weeks) in the long journey of parenthood. Instead all I found were thousands of accounts of peacefully sleeping babies and postpartum moms with fresh blowouts and a face full of makeup. To say I couldn’t relate would be an understatement and I vowed to never post just a highlight reel. I want parents to know that alongside the inevitable joys are times when we all struggle, and most importantly, that our struggles are NOT the exception, they are the norm. Parenting is tough! You WILL struggle. And you’ll probably be tempted to compare your situation to all of the perfect-looking parents on the internet but I hope you know you can come here when you need some encouragement or just a healthy dose of real talk.

So here’s my truth right now. I’m tired. Like, so tired. I haven’t woken up with that “well rested” feeling in weeks and the moment I get out of bed I’m already thinking about when I can get back in. At my last blood test I had a Ferritin level of…1. My midwife assures me this does not mean that I win 1st place, but it should be noted that it IS the lowest she’s ever seen… #winning.

Unfortunately the result of having no iron stores and no energy from being in late pregnancy is that right now I’m just not the mother I want to be. I seem to be oscillating between the rage that comes from having subzero patience and the indifference that comes from not having the energy to give a shit about anything. I’m wishing the days away, wishing the terrible two’s away, and wishing this pregnancy away even though I’m not sure I believe the future is going to be any easier. I’ve always worked hard to try not to wish my life away because it steals so much joy from the present but my present doesn’t feel very joyful right now and that’s just where we’re at. I’m sure that pregnancy hormones are somewhat at play here but I am fully convinced that I am not going to be able to handle the care of three kids AND my own self, and that scares me because I already feel that I’m neglecting myself deeply during a time when I know I should be taking better care. 

But we’re all just doing our best, right? It’s all we can do and we will do it and get through it. This has been a really, really tough year for so many of us and there are likely still hard times ahead in our new post-civid world. All we can do is survive the best we can, hopefully learn a little bit, and all become kinder and more empathetic people when this phase inevitably ends and a new, easier one begins. If there is one thing I’ve learned through my four years with three pregnancies and two kids, it’s that every phase ends. The good times give way to tougher ones but the tough ones are never permanent either. Life is always good and bad in different ways but we can always do it. It takes a village and right now during this ongoing pandemic all we’ve got is our emotional (and on-line) villages. If you need support or encouragement, I’m here for you!

Dear Baby 3


This pregnancy with you has not been at all what I expected. You see, I found out about you just days before a new year started; that year is only half over but so far it’s been a year of challenge and growth not just for our family but somehow also for the entire world. It has been a strange and complicated time where unity and isolation have gone hand in hand, where we are collectively un-learning and re-learning.You will be born into a world that is in flux and I hope it all ends up for the better. We are fighting so hard to break down and dismantle the system that we have so we can build it all anew. For you, babe, and your siblings and your peers. 


I hope that the work we are doing now has long, long lasting effects that change the course for your generation. I hope you speak well to each other and are aware of the power of the language you use, I hope that you see and celebrate colour, that you laud each other’s differences the way humans are meant to, that you cheer each other on and fight for one another as though you were fighting for your own family. I hope you grow up knowing what it looks like to challenge wrongly held beliefs that have become the norm, what it looks like to admit when you’re wrong, to grow, and move forward, that you always knows that change is possible because you grew up amidst a continual transformation of thought.


I hope that you take medicine and science seriously, that you and your generation are miraculously able to find a way to save the planet we have failed to treasure, though time is running out. I hope that the women and men who lead your generation prioritize all of the things our current leaders are neglecting and if they don’t I hope you are enraged enough to march in the streets and burn and burn in anger until a new course is assured. There is no more room in this world for complacency, baby girl, and I hope you and your peers have all of the passion and rage and education that we have lacked. I hope that you rebuild what we are tearing down. I hope that you rise up where we have fallen short. I hope, I hope, I hope…

Resources for Anti-Racism, White Privilege, and Decolonization Work for North Americans

The list below is a jumping-off point educated by what I’ve seen in the media recently as well as the mistakes I’ve made over the last decade or so since first coming across anti-racism work in university.

What Not to Do:

  • don’t watch or share videos of black deaths. Many individuals are expressing how exploitative and invasive it is for white folks to watch and circulate these videos and photos. They are causing deep distress and trauma amongst communities. Don’t do it. 
  • don’t assume you’re blameless / a nice person / not racist and therefore don’t have to do or say anything. We have to do this work. If you think you’re too old or too young or too kind to have to truly understand the systemic nature of oppression, then your privilege is getting in the way of your ability to learn. 
  • don’t ask or expect any person of colour to educate, explain, or argue with you. You might be just discovering anti-racism work now but this work is not new. There are likely decolonization/ abolitionist experts who have been providing information and workshops in your area for years. Seek them out, read or listen to what they have to say, pay them for their work, and don’t ask them to explain it to you later or argue with them in the comments section of their own platform. We have to do this work on our own. They are exhausted from having to explain shit to us.

What You Can Do:

  • just start! If you are overwhelmed by some of the more intense titles and content below and aren’t ready to dive into the Real Work yet, try reading some of the memoirs, histories, or works of fiction first. Familiarize yourself with and normalize the stories of non-white individuals who are experiencing the same system we are in North America, but in a very, very different way. Learn about the barriers and obstacles others face that you have not had to think about.
  • talk about all of this with your kids! Silence is dangerous because it allows children and teens to come to their own conclusions which may often be problematic or educated by the opinions of friends or teachers whose perspectives may not align with your own.
  • if you are white, use the inherent privilege you were born with to highlight and shine a light on other voices. There are numerous ways you can do this depending on your platforms and abilities. If you’re a teacher, educator, or caregiver you can ensure that your home or school libraries offer a diversity of representation. If you’re an avid reader you can start a Book Club that focuses on anti-racism and work and authors who specialize in it. If you have money you can support local small businesses and bookstores in your area owned by BIPOC rather than big box stores (and of course you can donate to one of the many worthy social justice organizations being highlighted at this time). If you’re a boss you can hire an anti-racism or decolonization educator to host a workshop or presentation for your staff. If you’re an employer you can ask your boss or HR personnel if she can look into hosting one in your workplace.
  • recognize the harm and dismissiveness in saying “I’m not racist, this doesn’t apply to me,” then come to terms with the fact that we all have inherent biases to confront and work through. Only once you admit that as an individual who grew up / is growing up in a system that prioritizes white lives over all others can you begin to root out the racism that exists within yourself. 
  • if you’re Canadian, don’t assume these are just American issues. Our country also has systemic racism, disproportionate incarceration rates, race-related poverty, and violence committed against queer, trans, and coloured bodies (yes, sometimes by the police!). Just like our southern neighbours our country was built on stolen land by exploited bodies and thinking we are exempt from the conversation is self righteous and wrong. 

Anti-Racism Specific IG Follows

Podcasts and Audio

  • CodeSwitch on NPR
  • This episode of This American Life highlights issues of poverty and education in the US.
  • 1619 a NYTimes podcast about the history of slavery in America
  • Nancy podcast about the queer experience, focuses on LGBTQ community.
  • 2 Dope Queens mostly comedy but touches on race

Non-Fiction Reads

  • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin d’Angelo
  • Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognize Your Privilege, Combat Racism, and Change the World by Layla F Saad
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X Kendi
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colourblindness by Michelle Alexander
  • Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald
  • An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortis
  • Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racism in America by Ibram X Kendi
  • The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr edited by Clayborne Carson

Memoir

  • Black is the Body by Emily Bernard
  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
  • The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Ordinary Light by Tracey K Smith
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • Black Boy by Richard Wright

Fiction Reads

  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
  • Things Fall Apart by China Achebe
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Loving Day by Mat Johnson
  • We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin
  • The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
  • The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Native Son by Richard Wright

For Parents:

  • Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America by Jennifer Harvey 
  • Like A Mother: A Feminist Journey through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy by Angela Garbes

Children’s Books

  • @hereweeread and @booksfordiversity on IG both showcase diverse educational products and books for kids
  • www.theconsciouskid.org offers book subscriptions for $1-$5 / month for families
  • A Boy Like You by Frank Murphy
  • Let the Children March by Monica Clark Robinson
  • A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory
  • The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodsen
  • I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont
  • Rosa Parks by Lisbeth Kaiser
  • The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantley-Newton

For Young Adult audiences:

  • This Book is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work by Tiffany Jewell 
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X Kendi and Jason Reynolds (this is a version of another book by Kendi that has been reworked specifically for young adult readership. That book is called Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racism in America)
  • The Project Lit Initiative

Docs to Watch

  • 13th (Netflix): “scholars, activists and politicians analyze the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S. prison boom.”
  • Student Athlete (HBO): highlights how college sports in America exploit players by failing to pay them despite being a billion dollar industry. 

CANADA SPECIFIC RESOURCES

  • Step One: go to www.native-land.ca and find out whose land you live on cuz it ain’t your land.
  • @cicelybelle_xo Cicely Blain is the founder of BLM Vancouver 
  • @decolonizefirst : a resource for decolonizing practices with work “grounded in Squamish ways of being”

Non-Fiction Reads:

  • The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King
  • 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality by Bob Joseph
  • Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Klimmerer
  • The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir by Joseph Auguste Merasty and David Carpenter

Books for Young Adult audiences:

  • Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation by Monique Gary Smith
  • Sugar Falls by David A Robertson (graphic novel about residential schools)
  • Good for Nothing by Michel Noel
  • Those Who Run the Sky by Aviaq Johnston
  • Pemmican Wars: A Girl Called Echo by Katherine Vilamette (graphic sci-fi about Indig history)

Fiction Books by First Nations authors: 

  • Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson
  • The Break by Katherine Vermette
  • Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson
  • Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
  • The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
  • The Back of the Turtle by Thomas King

Workbooks

Children’s Books 

  • A Promise is a Promise by Robert Munsch and Michael Kusugak
  • Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox by Danielle Daniel
  • Coyote Tales by Thomas King
  • When We Were Alone by David Robertson
  • Little You by Richard Van Camp
  • I Am Not A Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer
  • Just A Walk by Jordan Wheeler
  • Amik Loves School by Katherine Vilamette
  • We Sang You Home by Richard Van Camp (board book)
  • You Hold Me Up by Monique Grey Smith
  • What’s My Superpower? by Aviaq Johnston

Maternity Clothing Hacks: When to Spend a Little and Where You Can Save A Lot

Right off the bat let me establish that this is meant to be a (mostly) tongue-in-cheek look at maternity clothes with just a little bit of actual advice thrown in, because I am not a fashionista, not a style savvy mama, and not often found wearing anything besides a comfy tee shirt and jeans whether I’m pregnant or not. I also realize that my views won’t be applicable to everyone’s circumstances or everyone’s body – by a long shot! If you’re excited to order a shitload of maternity clothes and you can afford to rock the amazing maternity fashions that are available to you, go girl! Do what you can to find joy in your bod during this weird time of having it taken over by another human. If your size necessitates specialized clothing (lookin’ at my big-busted mama friends! I see you!) then investing in certain high quality pieces could be wise for you because cheaping out on bras probably ain’t gonna cut it. This guide is just some basic advice from a third time mama with very low standards on how to cut some corners if your budget isn’t leaving room for a $70 maternity t-shirt that you’ll only wear for a few months.

All of these photos were taken at 35+ weeks and feature non maternity clothes!

Where I Got Swindled:

  • after ordering a ton of brand new maternity clothes online during my first pregnancy I was shocked when it all arrived. The shirts and dresses only had 1-2 extra cm of fabric on the front side of the dress and were otherwise exactly the same as my non-maternity clothes. They fit me well for the first few months when I only had a tiny cute bump but were laughably short once the bump grew even a little, which is when I actually needed clothes that fit.

When to Spend on Real Maternity Items:

  • shorts and pants: unless you plan on living only in dresses and stretchy rompers for 9 months you’re likely going to need some maternity pants. I bought two pairs of jeans from TopShop ($80 each) after finding that the stylish jeans at my local maternity store could run up to $150-$200 per pair! Old Navy also does some amazing maternity jeans but the sizes sell out quickly so you need to keep your eyes out for frequent restocks. I’m Canadian, but when I was in Palm Springs while pregnant I found that TJMaxx and ROSS in the US each had a small rack of denim maternity shorts with cute pairs for about $10-$15 (I’ve never seen this at Winners but they should get on board!).
  • special events: hard to imagine during these Covid days but you might be invited to a wedding again one day! Depending on your bump you might be able to wear one of your existing outfits well into the second trimester (god bless stretch fabrics!) but if you’re in later pregnancy or just wanna dress up there are a lot of options available online at PinkBlush (on the fancier side) and Asos (more casual dresses).
  • professional clothes: if you have a big girl job like at a bank or office you will obviously need to spend a little more money than those of us who work in more casual positions or from home. You can look around for some used pieces first – call your local consignment stores to see if they offer used pieces or post to your local Mom Group or Buy and Sell on FB and see what comes up! Lots of women have maternity clothes gathering dust that they’re wiling to part with, often for free. Otherwise Old Navy has some decent budget-friendly professional stuff and Asos has some very cute and trendy skirts and tops that you can layer under your existing blazer/ cardi/ jacket of choice.

Where You Can Avoid Maternity Pieces (and Save Money!):

  • (most) nursing bras: I admittedly do not have a large bust, but of course that changes quickly postpartum and, for many, in early pregnancy already. The size of your breasts will also adjust over the course of the first few months – they start out pretty engorged but after 3-4 months when baby has found a bit of a schedule with feeding (or you’ve found a schedule with pumping or formula), things will reach a new normal and that’s a great time to invest in a good quality nursing bra that you can wear out of the house and feel good in – Knix has a new line of nursing bras but I’ve gotten away with two of these from TopShop (just basic comfy mesh and lace, $7). At home I have always just worn and slept in basic bralettes (try Aerie or Blush) and sized up. I find when you need nursing access it’s easier to just pull them down – you do not always need something with a clasp! I personally found it to be a waste of time and the plastic mechanism can break easily anyway. I also found these super helpful during my second pregnancy and postpartum when my ribcage expanded (ugh) and my bras were too tight to be comfortable (spoiler alert: ribcage never went fully back to normal so I guess I’m just a whole new bra size now).
  • basic tees: not only are maternity tee shirts way overpriced, they’re often SO ugly, with truly awful corny graphics about being pregnant splayed across the front, sometimes in glitter. I guess that could be cute for your instagram feed or something but most of us would probably prefer a plain tee. Even though I am a very long torso-ed person I easily found inexpensive basic shirts that were long enough to cover even my 40 week bump. I found some at my local thrift store and another 1-2 at my WalMart (I don’t generally shop for clothes at Walmart but spending a minimal amount on a few tees during late pregnancy got me through to postpartum during a very hot summer).
  • dresses: if you’re having a late-summer or Fall baby you may want to search for a few breezy little summer dresses now! I scoured the thrift store and the local discount store (shoutout to Army and Navy) and bought a couple cheapie ones that would be long enough to cover a bump. I mostly wore these at home all summer in late pregnancy or I’d add small workout shorts if I wore them out in public. Can’t say I was very into shorts or pants near the end, especially when the temps hit 34 degrees!
  • leggings and comfy pants: I’ll admit that my bump outgrew my Topshop jeans the last month of my first pregnancy but by that point it was October and I’ve always been more about comfort in the Third Trimester anyway. Many women recommend Old Navy for a pair of comfy leggings for late pregnancy and I’ve seen some good options at Target as well, but you can also score a “buy one get one free” deal every couple months through the more expensive maternity stores. Don’t bother paying full price as this deal happens often! At home I generally just wear my regular comfy pants and fold the front down under the bump.
  • workout wear: I’m on my third pregnancy and haven’t bought any maternity workout wear yet. A lot of Lululemon’s basic tanks are super long and stretchy and will fit comfortably over a third trimester bump (I have one that is too long even when I’m 40 weeks!) and discount stores like TJ Maxx and Winners usually have a huge selection of workout tops as well – just size up and you’re sure to find something to accommodate a bump for around $15. I wore my pre-pregnancy workout shorts throughout all of my pregnancies and just rolled the front under my bump, but of course if you do a lot of workout classes or runs you may want to invest in something that looks cuter in public. Don’t get sucked into the need for a nursing sports bra either – I don’t think I’ve ever fed a baby during a workout.

I know, I know, these are hardly earth-shattering pregnancy hacks, but I find that in late pregnancy I’m usually so uncomfortable that I don’t care if I’m wearing fancy expensive clothes or not. Maybe dressing up is the only thing that keeps you going through that uncomfy phase and that’s fine, too! But First Time Mom’s often feel they need to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe when they find out they’re pregnant and I wanted to share with other budget conscious mamas that you don’t need to run out and spend hundreds to look cute, you just need a few staple pieces, a fair amount of stretch, and an open mind!

It’s Our One Year Coastal-versary!

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March 28, 2019 – the day we moved in!

Break out the bubbly and let’s celebrate! The ProckyFam has been on the coast for one whole year today! And what a year it’s been. I don’t think when we bought this home we expected to be self-isolating in it from a global pandemic while pregnant with our third child, but here we are. I know a lot of people are curious so I want to talk about how this move from the city to a smaller town has been for us, plus how we’re finding living in the community of Gibsons itself. Here’s what you need to know!

Our Family 

The hardest thing for me has been the lack of walkability in our neighbourhood. For the last decade I’ve had the luxury of living only a block from coffee shops, grocery stores, bars, and parks, and it has been a bit of an adjustment for me to give up that #strollerlife I was used to. It’s worth mentioning though that I still haven’t gotten my license so that could be contributing to some feelings of being housebound (oops! I was going to start lessons this spring but now I have to wait until the pandemic has passed). I have always preferred to walk to stores than drive though, so not being able to that is a bummer for me whether I have my license or not. We still walk up to the shops from time to time as there’s a trail that takes us to our local bars, bank, hardware stores, and grocers, but it’s a solid 25 min trail walk to get there (while pushing a double stroller) so I can’t say I do it daily.

That said, moving from a 722 sq ft condo with three small windows and no direct sunlight to our big rancher with massive south-facing windows has had a positive affect on my personal mental health that outweighs living in a walkable neighbourhood, at least for me. Having two young children in a small, dark space was deeply impacting my happiness and contributing to anxiety when we were living in our small condo. I got out of the house as often as I could and we lived only a block from a large, walkable riverfront park, but you just can’t beat having access to outdoor space at home. My life as a stay-at-home-mom has drastically improved with the added space in our home and our yard. I feel like I finally have room to be a separate person from my kids now that we’re not living on top of each other and the kids aren’t waking each other up with their cries at night (they used to share a wall and Wells was in our bedroom). I’ve had far less anxiety attacks in the last year than any years previous. I distinctly remember the way I felt for the first couple weeks and months of living on the coast last Spring. I had space, my kids had space, we no longer had to fight for parking spaces… it just felt like I could breathe easier. That feeling has become the norm for me now, to the point where when we drive back to the Lower Mainland again to visit I can feel my body physically tensing from the stress of busyness and traffic.

Our House and Neighbourhood

Despite the grief it has given us in the first year we LOVE the house we bought! Being homeowners of an actual house feels totally different to us from being homeowners of a condo with a strata, fees, and strict rules. The responsibility and learning curve has of course been massive and various things went “tits up” over the course of our first year (you can scroll through a bunch of our adventures on Instagram here, if you’re curious!). Despite all of the crazy shit we’ve had to deal with so far we’re so glad to be masters of our own domain. We love the layout of our home, the open floor plan, the massive kitchen, the deck area, and the spacious yard. We love having a guest room with an ensuite so we can host family and friends for extended stays! We love that it’s a rancher and we love that none of the bedrooms border each other so no crying babies ever wake up sleeping babies; this is a big win for parents who are about to have 3 kids under the age of 4!

When it comes to neighbours we hit the absolute jackpot. The family across the street has two girls close to our kid’s ages who are always happy to come over and play (plus their yard has slides, a swing, a trampoline, a sand pit, and a zipline, plus a fully stocked beer fridge so…). We’ve known our neighbours for less than a year but they’ve happily leant us tools, trucks, and lawnmowers. When Tom totalled our only vehicle last summer after hitting a deer the family across the street gave us their SUV for two weeks while we looked for a new one (we have since bought a truck and were able to repay the favour for a few months when one of their vehicles died!). When we first moved in people stopped by with planters full of local beer and batches of fresh cookies still warm from the oven. A few months ago we found a pristine booster seat on the doorstep and still don’t know who left it there. These are the kinds of neighbours that come by with fresh produce when their garden is overproducing butter lettuce, who come over with hot dogs and beer when we’re around the fire, and who bring their tool belt over when Tom’s out of town and I’m stuck on a DIY, the kind of neighbourhood where we order pizzas to the front yard in the summertime and eat them while the kids ride their bikes in the street. The kind of neighbourhood where my friend across the street had a way more excited reaction than Tom when I told her I was pregnant, haha. When we first moved in I thought we had gotten particularly lucky but I’ve since met so many people on the coast who have said the same thing about their own neighbourhood that I’m starting to think it’s just how coast neighbourhoods are.

The Coast Community

The cons first. There is good food here but anyone who has come from the city would undoubtedly miss the diversity of culinary options there. I miss middle eastern food sooo bad. In Gibsons we have fantastic Mexican food, sushi, pizza, pubs and breweries, a Greek place, a bomb Italian place, coffee shops, donuts, and some hole-in-the-wall diners, but I would definitely sponsor someone to come open up a Lebanese restaurant (Nuba, anyone?). Another con is that if you’re moving here from the lower mainland the parks on the coast are going to seem absolutely pitiful to you. There are some great ones but nothing that comes close to comparing to something like Queens Park in New West (and since there are water bans in effect here for the hotter summer months, the one water park is turned off when it gets hot anyway).

That doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of things for your kids to do, though; there are many beaches on the coast and in Gibsons any of them are only a few minutes drive away. Parents here take their kids to the local trails, the mountain bike park, the beaches, library drop-ins, Strong Start programs and other drop-in programs, some of which even provide excellent free meals for parents and kids (most I’ve seen are free or $2 if you want to sneak off and leave your kids for a little bit to do a workout).

A supposed con that turned out to be not an issue is the postal system. I was told when we moved here that Amazon deliveries to the coast would take about 11 days to arrive and that they would never come to our door, but most Amazon deliveries we’ve ordered have come in 3-4 days and come straight to our door every time (only one Amazon delivery went to the post office in the last year because it was super oversized). It’s not the same day delivery we enjoyed when we lived in the same city as the Amazon warehouse but we don’t mind at all; instant gratification probably isn’t good for people anyway (and before anyone roasts us about using Amazon, please note that we try to support small, local businesses whenever we’re able, but sometimes availability and price on the coast necessitate buying stuff from a large corporation).

When it comes to the Coast community though, by far what has made us the most sure that this move was the right choice has been the people and the welcoming nature of the community itself (though of course the rugged coastline views don’t hurt either!). We lived in a condo for a year and never met any of our neighbours. The community in Gibsons looks out for one another in a way I know we would never see in a larger city setting. It’s very easy to meet people because you see the same people are town at the beach, at preschool drop-off, at the coffee shop, and especially at events like the summer night market which brings out pretty much everyone. While it’s easy to meet people, we’ve found it a bit tougher to really make friends, but we have only been here a year and know good friendships take time to form (not to mention we’ve been so busy with our house this past year it hasn’t left much time for anything else!). The winters can be a little isolating socially, as with any community, but invitations to deck hangs, beach hangs, boat trips, and BBQs abound in the spring and summertime. It’s been really fun getting to know a ton of new people.

Another amazing thing we’ve found about the coast is the sheer willingness to help others. I’ve seen the community jump at the chance to help a stranger move, lend their truck, drop off firewood to a family who is running low, donate supplies to a new mom, run to the pharmacy for someone who is housebound, or deliver soup to someone who is sick (last week I posted on Instagram about having a craving for cinnamon buns but no yeast and there was a cinnamon bun on my doorstep the next day). We have a community FB page dedicated solely to delivering groceries to those in quarantine right now on the coast. Local businesses and breweries are delivering groceries and supplies free of charge right now and it feels like anyone who asks for help will receive it. It’s amazing to see the community really pull together through this global crisis but honestly, people here have been helping others since long before the pandemic started.

We have truly enjoyed our first year here and are so hopeful about our family’s future in Gibsons! The Coast is proving to be a wonderful place to raise a family.

What is Mindfulness and Why Do We Need it Right Now?

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I’ve long considered myself to be a #mindfulmama but so far I haven’t spoken much on here about what that means or how it translates into daily life with my kids. The concept of mindfulness is simple even if the practice is less easy to implement; to be mindful is just to be present without judgement. This can feel counter-intuitive for us for two reasons: most of us suck at being present and suck at not judging, particularly when it comes to ourselves. These same two points that make mindfulness so difficult for most of us also make them important lessons for us to learn.

With constant access to technology literally at hand, being present just isn’t something that most of our generation excels at. Personally, I have often struggled to curb my penchant for always looking forward to the “next best thing” and just be in the moment. It’s hard not to think “when I meet the right person…” or “when I get a new job…” or “when I lose this weight…” or “when my baby is older…” or ” when my kids are in school full time…” or “when we have a little more money…” but this line of thinking pulls us right out of the joy that exists where we are right now (for anyone currently struggling with this, consider starting a gratitude journal and jotting down a few things you’re grateful for at the end of each day, it has helped me so much!).

The second reason that mindfulness can be hard for us is because is trains us to see without judgment when judgment has become so ingrained in our psyches. From a young age we tend to judge and compare, from schoolyard bullying to online trolls to seemingly harmless stuff like the “Who Wore It Best?” articles in magazines. We have a tendency to want to conform to the norm rather than celebrate our differences, but for many of us the harshest judgment is self-imposed. When mindful practices ask us to be present without judgment, the goal is to really see what’s happening and to refrain from criticizing or even categorizing what we see.

So what does this look like? It’ll be difference for all of us but for me, practicing mindfulness in my day has a lot to do with my inner dialogue. On my most anxious days I might spiral quickly, thinking, “I’m having a hard day with the kids. Their misbehaving means that I’m failing as a mother because I can’t keep them happy. I don’t know why I ever thought I could do this. Tom should leave me for someone more capable.” (I know, what?). If I’m able to be mindful instead and withhold judgment of myself I can be gracious with myself and keep my thoughts from escalating. I might think, “I’m having a hard day with the kids. They’re at difficult ages right now and I’ve been exposed to a lot of overwhelming news stories lately. I feel anxious and impatient.” This simply gives voice to where I’m at and provides clarity without trying to problem solve. If you know you need to make a change like turning off the news, putting away your phone, or going outside, of course you can, and that’s a great idea. But being mindful doesn’t necessitate solutions, it’s more about noticing where you are in the moment and just being okay with it. Which I think we could all use a little more of these days!

For me mindfulness practice is especially important during the time of Corona because ruminating about the future is anxiety-inducing at the moment. Normally I revel in thinking ahead and making plans but there’s just so much uncertainty right now that it’s easier to focus on enjoying the present moment instead. I have definitely had many (many!) moments of exasperation but all in all I’m grateful to be home with my two oblivious children. The blissful, unconcerned way they continue to play and fight and demand snacks has been a refreshing dose of normalcy for me and has kept me grounded in an unexpected way, reminding me that what’s truly important during this frankly weird time is hanging out with the people I love most.

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. This kind of attention nurtures greater awareness, clarity, and acceptance of the present-moment reality. It wakes u up to the fact that our lives unfold only in moments If we are not fully present for many of those moments, we may not only miss what is most valuable in our lives but also fail to realize the richness and the depth of our possibilities for growth and transformation.” – Jon Kabat Zinn

 

Why I Want My Kids to Witness My Anger

I don’t really love writing about the super vulnerable parts of parenthood, like the brokenness and shame I felt after six months with my colicky first baby or the inexplicable rage and sadness I felt shortly after my second baby was born. But even more scary than baring my soul on the internet is the idea that other mamas might not see these parts of parenthood represented on this platform and wrongly assume that nobody else feels the way they feel. For me as a stay-at-home-mama isolation has always been the hardest part about parenthood these past 3.5 years and my goal is to talk about even / especially the hard stuff in order to help break down those barriers and make other mamas feel less alone.

So let’s talk about anger. I’m sure that none of us love it when we break down and yell at our kids. It happens in our house really, really rarely but of course there are days when I’ve been tested and depleted for days or weeks and something trivial pushes me over the edge. Growing up I assumed it was a parent’s job to keep their composure all the time but I know now that of course that’s not true. It was never our job to not have, or to hide all of our emotions. Since children learn how to regulate big emotions from their primary caregivers it’s actually extra important that they are able to see how we de-escalate from those big emotions of anger and exasperation that they will inevitably feel as well (this is also why we don’t do isolated time-outs in our house, but that’s probably a whole other post for another day).

Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows that while I communicate well I have a tendency to shut down and walk away when things get too overwhelming. This has led me to leave the room and take some time alone when my anger or frustration get the better of me, especially if I know that the kids are safe for a few minutes or if Tom’s off work and available to pick up the slack. I’m an introvert and need alone time, but it’s so, so hard to come by in these early years of motherhood when my kids’ emotional and physical needs are so high and unrelenting. So I’ve been focusing on staying in the room when I lose my composure. I make a point of talking through what I’m feeling so the kids can see why I’m upset and watch as I calm myself down; it’s important to me that they know that the big emotions they feel are valid, that everyone feels them, and that’s it’s possible to have self control when we’re ready to calm down again.

What does this look like in practice?

Last week after I had a rough, anxious, lonely week I yelled at Wells at dinner (don’t bother shaming me because you couldn’t possible make me feel more guilt and shame than I put on myself for it already). I had fiiiinally been feeling well enough to make a really nice meal and Wells threw the entire bowl on the ground as soon as we sat down. I shouted, dropped an expletive, and both Hen and Wells started to cry (my sensitive babies are not used to seeing their mama have an outburst). I instantly reined myself back and said “I’m sorry kiddos, I shouldn’t have yelled but mama is just feeling really frustrated today and I’m having a hard time. I’m gonna take a few big deep breaths and calm myself down, okay?” I took some deep breaths (while tearfully locking eyes with Tom) and Hennie breathed along with me. Then I repeated that I was upset but I shouldn’t have yelled, and I apologized again. Hennie kept telling me through her tears that it was “not nice to say dat mummy!” which broke my heart a little but two minutes later the kids were fine and eating their dinners (except for Wells, whose rice, salmon, and veggies remained on the floor). 

I know that this approach may not seem super revolutionary but I’m hoping that in the long run it leads to me kids being comfortable with their big emotions and not thinking that anger, sadness, and frustration are “bad” and should be hidden. My goal is to raise kids that feel comfortable coming to us with their emotions and I figure they won’t feel that way if they learn from us to run into another room and feel them alone.