New Mama Essentials

by Nadine on September 30, 2015

There are a lot of lists online about what a new mom needs and doesn’t need in the first few weeks postpartum. I read most of them. And found many of them helpful, whether or not I took the writer’s advice or not.

Here’s my version.

(I’ll have a “New Baby Essentials” list up soon. This one’s just for the mamas.)

Earth Mama Angel Baby New Mama Bottom Spray

Awkward name aside, this magical little bottle helps a new mom pee/sit/live without crying. (Bonus: It can spray upside down!) I would pay all the money for it.

AB Tank and Wrap

This tank-and-wrap system, paired with a gentle exercise routine, is designed to prevent and treat diastasis recti (ab separation). Honestly, I felt a little self-conscious/vain wrapping my belly — aren’t post-baby bodies, in all of their hollow squishiness, to be celebrated? — especially since I squeezed into my skinny jeans again sooner than anticipated.

I should probably write something about post-baby bodies soon…but I’m not sure what to add to all the noise. Basically, tell a new mom she looks amazing. ‘Cause she does. (A HUMAN CAME OUT OF HER.)

Anywho, the nursing tanks provided some modesty in the early days of breastfeeding AND worked like Spanx when I started wearing real pants again. The wrap helped my core feel supported. And, yes, I’m back at my pre-baby weight. Probably a combination of genetics, belly wrapping, seemingly endless breastfeeding, and God trying to trick me into having another one. See: Trick Baby.


These disposable blue pads, usually used for incontinence, were a midwife recommendation. I sat on one in the car after my water broke. I slept on one the first night for fear of bleeding all over the sheets. I still change Ursula on one. (I assume they’ll be great come potty-training time, too.)

Maternity Pads

Not glamorous, but essential in the first few days. (Toronto mamas-to-be, you can find both these and the underpass at Starkman’s on Bathurst.)

Epsom Salts

New mamas, take baths! Nothing sped up my healing faster than hot baths with epsom salts. Bonus: a 15-minute bath is priceless “me” time. Take (at least) one daily if you can.

Sleep Bras

Even if you’re not usually a sleep-with-a-bra-on lady — who is?! — you will become one once baby shows up. (I wear these during the day, too. Comfort is king.)

Honourable mention: Medela Nursing Pads. One morning you will wake up with leaky boobs. And you will understand why these are on the list.

Online shopping. Do it. You can have pads, Tylenol, mascara, whatever you need, delivered right to your door. (Free shipping!)

Not Essential But Wonderful

BareMinerals Complexion Rescue

That new mama glow? I give this magical product — sunscreen, moisturizer and foundation in one! — all the credit.

Essie Nail Polishes

I really missed my ankles — and being able to actually reach them — during pregnancy. Painting my toenails again after she was born felt like a luxury.

(I’m a sucker for Essie polishes. Mostly because of the packaging.)

Mama Bear Necklace

I bought this for myself in the weeks leading up to Ursula’s due date. Ursula means “little female bear,” so I just couldn’t help myself.

Somewhat related, this cracked me up yesterday:


Moms out there, what were your postpartum essentials?


Smells Like Teen Spirit Homemade Deodorant

by Nadine on September 18, 2015

I vividly remember begging my mom to let me wear deodorant. Specifically Teen Spirit. She was supervising our lunch hour at school. I was probably 9 or 10 at the time. And all the cool kids were doing it.

When she eventually caved, I was hooked — and I’ve worn deodorant every single day since.

(Somewhat related: I’ve washed my face twice a day since I was 11. Every. Single. Day. This habit does not break for camping, mono or childbirth. Clearly I don’t have commitment issues.)


When Matthew and I were beginning to talk more seriously about starting our family — a weird phrase considering getting married is a pretty great “start” if you ask me — I did some quick research regarding the foods and products I should and shouldn’t be consuming/using when pregnant.

And while I was pretty laid-back when it came to adopting any real pregnancy rules — other than a few obvious ones: no whisky, no cocaine, no cat litter — I did return an unopened bottle of moisturizer that contained retinoids.

And I started thinking about my armpits. And parabens. And synthetic fragrances.

So when I was assigned a “DIY deodorant” article last spring, the timing couldn’t have been better. Most surprising was that I actually used the homemade variety. All of it.

I’m now on my third batch.

Sure, it takes a little getting used to smearing cream under your arms, but change is good, right?

(And, yes, dear skeptics, it works.)

I use’s recipe for Homemade Deodorant for Sensitive Skin. (I add lavender and tea tree oils.)

You’ll need:

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup arrowroot powder — or arrowroot flour, it’s the same thing
  • 5 drops lavender oil
  • 5 drops tea tree oil

Find the super-simple directions here. (Seriously. It’s S.I.M.P.L.E. I made this while a baby rolled around on the floor — yep, she’s rolling! — for about five minutes.)

Do you make your own deodorant? How does your recipe differ from mine?


Aww, (Spiced) Nuts!

by Nadine on August 31, 2015

I’ve had a few many requests for this recipe, so I thought I’d post it here and then send friends the link — like a nerd — whenever asked.

Warning: Once you start snacking on these, you can’t stop. And then your pants will start to feel tight. And you’ll blame your dryer, as you should. (Yes, nuts are healthy. But ALL THE NUTS are not. Sigh. Portion control sucks.)

Shout out to Martha Stewart, without whom this version would not be possible. (Just don’t follow her recipe exactly if you like mine. Hers are impossibly spicy.)

If you don’t have allspice — I didn’t the first few times I made these — make this easy substitute: equal parts cinnamon, ground cloves and nutmeg.

Aww, (Spiced) Nuts!
Author: Martha Stewart, modified by me
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 30 mins
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • just under 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 1/2 to 4 cups nuts: an even mix of roasted unsalted cashews, raw pecans, walnuts and almonds
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Beat egg white until soft and foamy. Add all remaining ingredients (except nuts) and whisk into egg white.
  3. Stir in nuts until well coated. Spread nut mixture in single layer on (engrossed) baking sheet.
  4. Bake nuts for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven. Stir and separate nuts.
  6. Reduce oven to 250 degrees.
  7. Return nuts to oven, bake about 10 minutes more.
  8. Remove from oven. Stir and separate nuts again.
  9. Place baking sheet on wire rack to cool. They will harden as they cool.
  10. Break apart any nut clusters and store in airtight container. Or just eat them all. Whatever.


*Michelle Tanner forever.


Bad Idea? Sewing With A Baby

by Nadine on August 5, 2015

A few weeks ago, Ursula had an impressive afternoon nap. The unexpected time to myself – paired with new-mama superwoman endorphins – inspired me to make a skirt. We had two weddings fast approaching, and my nursing-friendly wardrobe options were limited.

I downloaded a cute pattern, washed and dried some stretch chambray I had in my stash. and…she woke up.

I bought a skirt.

Those weddings have come and gone, as has that supernatural surge of energy and, sadly, Ursula’s siesta skills. But the pile of uncut fabric still remains.

And I still want to sew.

Yesterday, a serger arrived in the mail.

No more fraying seams. No more fear of knits. Now I just need to convince the kid to nap more. (Or at all. I’ll take what I can get at this point.)

Wish me luck!


Ursula: A Birth Story

by Nadine on July 27, 2015

Three-hours-old Ursula. Our first family photo. 

Everyone likes a good birth story, right?

Even though I knew nothing about childbirth and had nothing to base my convictions on, I was pretty sure I was, A, going to deliver early, B, have a fast labour, and, C, not swear at my husband or the midwives.

I was eight days late.

Two out of three ain’t bad, right?

Around 7 p.m. on Father’s Day, my water broke. In the kitchen. While my in-laws were over.

I knew that the odds of my water breaking were pretty slim — the movies lie! — so my first assumption was that I peed myself. Embarrassing. So I quietly mopped up the floor and ran to the bathroom, telling no one that amniotic fluid was running down my leg.

I cleaned myself up and returned to the kitchen.

ME: Matthew, I think we need to call the midwife.

Family quickly cleared out — after taking a family photo, obviously — as our midwife made her way over. Almost immediately after calling her, I started having contractions, another unexpected development. We had both assumed labour would take a few hours to begin. We thought we had time to clean the bathroom, watch a movie and get some shut-eye.


If you’ve never had a contraction, it’s sort of like a severe period cramp…that keeps getting more and more severe, until waves of pain take over your whole body and you question why you ever thought having kids was a good idea.

My first handful were bearable. I could chat through them and actually eagerly anticipate meeting our daughter. And then they got worse. Fast.

(Early labour can often take hours — or days — before active labour begins. And even then, active labour can take, on average, up to 12 hours or so for a first-time mom. I am not average, apparently.)

My midwife suggested we head over to the midwife clinic down the street so she could perform a nonstress test to make sure the baby’s heartbeat was healthy and that she was moving. It took Matthew and I FOREVER to leave our apartment because I had five crippling contractions on the way out the door. Fortunately, we brought our car seat and birth centre bags with us. There wouldn’t be time to go back home.

At the clinic, our midwife discovered I was already 8 centimetres dilated. At least the pain made sense! I barely made it back to the car — poor people on the sidewalk had to watch a heavily pregnant lady lean against a concrete wall and cry out in pain — and Matthew drove straight to the Toronto Birth Centre.

When we got there, the tub was full of hot water. The (electric) fireplace was on. Everything was ready for me.

I climbed into the water, expecting some relief. I got a little, but then the pain caught up with me again.

Nine centimetres.


An hour after arriving at the birth centre, I was ready to have a baby.

Dignity kind of goes out the window when you’re in labour. You don’t care who sees you naked or what guttural, moaning noises are coming out of you.

Matthew, my champion, breathed through each contraction with me, holding my hand, cooling my neck with a wet cloth, encouraging me, helping me change positions on the bed. (No position “feels good” during labour. Not a single one. And during a fast labour like my own, there’s also no time to consider any sort of pain relief.)

MIDWIFE: Nadine, it feels intense because it is intense.

Between pushes, I passed out from exhaustion, grabbing 10-second naps that felt like forever. I told the midwives — three were there at this point — that I felt too weak. I wanted to give up, but my body wouldn’t let me.*

And then, shortly after midnight, she showed up: kicking, screaming, and pooping.

Ursula Jean. Our “little bear.”

Ursula’s first morning with us. She still likes being swaddled. 

Matthew and the midwives “caught” her, then slid her onto my stomach.

And in that moment, the pain was (mostly) gone. My energy was back. My sense of humour returned. I was my old self again, but with a jiggly, hollow belly — the weirdest thing ever — and a slimy, slippery baby on my chest.

Eight pounds 12.5 ounces, 21.5 inches long.

One look at her and we were goners.

Matthew helped a midwife with the newborn exam — he’s the baby whisperer around here — while our primary midwife cleaned me up. I was blissed out.

I ate a banana. I (carefully) put on pants. My makeup hadn’t even smudged. Nothing and everything had changed.

Less than five hours after my first contractions, I had a daughter in my arms. Three hours after that, we were loading into the car, heading home from the birth centre as a family of three.

Ursula slept for six hours straight that night. I didn’t. I just stared at her, high on endorphins and adrenaline.

Five weeks later, we’re all still getting to know each other. But Matthew and I wouldn’t give her up for the world — even during poop explosions. Or when she spits up breastmilk down my bra.

She’s new. But she belongs.

*Matthew told me afterwards that I’m no longer allowed to do “girly pushups.” He knows what my body can do.

If only there were contractions that made the body work out involuntarily….


Small Victories

by Nadine on July 23, 2015

Today, Ursula and I left the house.

This is sort of a big deal.

Don’t get me wrong: we’ve left the house before. But it was always with someone else, like Nana or Daddy. Today it was just the two of us.

We live in a walkup.

Three flights of stairs. No elevator.

I have a heavy baby — 10 pounds! — and an even heavier stroller.

Here’s how we did it:

Cast of characters: Happy Baby Wrap, Kånken backpack, UPPAbaby Cruz stroller

I put Ursula in her wrap. (She’s still not sure about it, usually fussing after a few minutes against my chest.)

I use a backpack as a diaper bag.

So with baby on my chest and her stuff on my back, I was able to carry the stroller (collapsed) down the stairs.

Setting up the stroller was no picnic, but we survived. Then we rolled on over to a local coffee shop to swap new-baby stories with two women from our prenatal class.

And then I did it again, bundling an overtired-and-ticked-off Ursula into the wrap as I struggled to fold the stroller and lug it upstairs.

We survived. With only one meltdown. (Ursula, not me. Although I’d understand if you thought otherwise.)

Who needs a gym membership when you can have a baby?

Getting buff, one staircase at a time….


One Month

by Nadine on July 22, 2015

Hello, world. Meet Ursula.

She’s one month old today.

To celebrate this milestone, she let me nap for two hours this morning, screamed at me a few times this afternoon, and is now snoozing in my arms.

She’s a keeper. (And a pooper.)

Birth story coming soon….


Domestic Goddess

by Nadine on May 8, 2015

Guys, I’m pretty much a Fifties housewife — with a job. (For three more weeks, at least.)

I haven’t been blogging here as often because I’ve been busy in my kitchen for Shine On.

Here’s what I’ve made recently:

Beer bread. Cake-mix pie. Moisturizers. Waffle eggs. Ice Cream. Peanut butter. Pear pie. Deodorant (to be posted soon). Eggs Benedict.*

Click on any of the above links for recipes/reviews.

I’ve been using the aloe moisturizer and deodorant daily. I’ve made the peanut butter twice already. And the ice cream will be a repeat offender in our household. Not bad for a day’s work.

*Full disclosure: Matthew made the Eggs Benedict. As per usual.

P.S. Speaking of work: Two friends of mine are going viral. I’m pretty proud. Read their story here.


Getting Organized: Paper, Paper, Paper

by Nadine on May 8, 2015

I’ve always wanted to build a dollhouse. Maybe with a filing cabinet in it.

Our apartment is a total mess right now. It looks like we’re moving. We’re not.

Boxes and books are stacked everywhere. Tools are lying on the floor. Old paint cans are hiding beneath my desk kitchen table.

The reason: a baby. (Who, according to our latest ultrasound, has a very sizeable noggin. Poor girl’s gonna have to shop for hats in the men’s section like her mama. Also…ouch.)

I’ll share our nursery progress soon. Hopefully we’ll have it set up in the next week or so, considering I’m almost full-term and would like to have a place for her to sleep here should she make an early appearance.

(Both Matthew and I are firstborns. Both of us defied the stats and were born early. So I don’t trust my midwife when she says to expect to be 10 days late. Nope. Not in this family.)

The construction project in the old office has kept me from “nesting” as I should — the desire to waddle around the house and make it pretty is a very real thing, folks — so I’ve been stuck addressing other house issues. Like paperwork.

Whoever said we were becoming a paperless society lied.

Because we work from home, we have to keep more receipts, bills and bank statements than most.

So if you’re hoping to launch into full-time freelance work and don’t know where to begin, paper-sorting wise, here’s what’s currently working for us:

(Not shown: online spreadsheets tracking our income and tallying our annual expenses.)

For the baby:

She has her own accordion file.

(I stole this idea from Unoriginal Mom.)

Categories: Government, Health, Midwife, Resources, Receipts/Warranties, Gift Receipts, Lent, Borrowed, Articles, Keepsakes, Cards/Notes, Misc.

Already filed: our prenatal class booklet, ultrasound pics, a list of local resources for new parents, and our midwife’s contact information.

To file: a list of things we’ve already borrowed from our adorable three-month-old nephew — thanks for outgrowing your Moses basket, buddy! — and the warrantee for our (super-cool) stroller.

For the current year: 

Every couple of weeks, I toss all of our bills and receipts that are otherwise scattered across our apartment into this file.

This file separates our work expenses from our personal ones, our individual expenses (my files are labeled in purple, Matt’s are in blue) from our joint ones (the green files).

Record keeping: 

At the end of the year, files get consolidated into folders in our brand-new mint CB2 filing cabinet. (It’s the pretty piece of office furniture I’ve ever purchased. Highly recommended.)

Each year gets its own colour. At the front, we keep important files and contracts that will need accessing throughout the years, like life insurance paperwork — I’m finally worth more dead than alive, just like George Bailey! — notices of assessment, and child sponsorship information.

It’s not a perfect system, but it’s the best one we’ve implemented yet.

How do you organize the piles of paper at your place?

P.S. Here’s how we’ve organized our manuals and warranties. And here’s a peek inside our laundry closet.


Bye, Bye, Barbie Feet

by Nadine on April 30, 2015

 These two dolls cannot wear the same shoes. Welcome to my life.

I’m almost 34 weeks in. I miss my bony ankles. And cute shoes. That is all.