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.


Because reading is the best way to procrastinate. 

The F Word: How to build a Canadian rom-com

The F Word was one of the most underrated films of last year. If you get the chance to watch it, do so. Well-written, with a lovely dose of Toronto. It made me want to write a movie.

Speaking of writing….

Neil Gaiman shares the easiest way to become a successful writer

While I don’t really consider myself “arrived” when it comes to writerly success, Gaiman’s advice is pretty spot on.

The Nerd Hunter

I love profiles like these. Allison Jones is a casting genius.

Somewhat related and also recommended: the documentary That Guy…Who Was in That Thing.

Yelp Reviews of Newborn Babies

Not sure if you want to have a baby or not? Read the reviews first.


[photo source: Shadetree Photography]



Havin’ a ‘Me Party’

by Nadine on March 25, 2015

Last night’s party guests:

  • J.R. Watkins Calming Bath Soak
  • DIY shea butter moisturizer
  • DIY lip scrub
  • Essie nail polish in Bahama Mama
  • Not pictured: “Kitchen Confidential” by Anthony Bourdain

In a few short weeks, life is gonna change. Big time.

As we prepare for a tiny person to turn our lives upside down, I’m trying to really appreciate the quieter nights (and lazier mornings), the dinners for two, the quality alone time I’m about to (at least temporarily) forfeit.

Instead of pining for her “to just get here already,” I want to take advantage of the here and now: of warm baths and at-home manicures and reading too late before bed.

Because I don’t want to regret not doing these things while I had the chance.

And because I want to find little “me time” indulgences that I can easily reintroduce into my life once the little one and I get used to each other. ‘Cause mama’s gonna need ‘em.

New moms out there, how do you take time for you? What’s your favourite way to unwind? (Please include “glass of wine” in your answer.)


Ignoring the Pregnancy Police

by Nadine on March 11, 2015

The pregnancy police’s favourite song: “The Word is No”

The pregnancy police. It’s a phrase I came across early in my pregnancy that I’ve since adopted to refer to, well, any experts/forums/strangers that have very strong opinions about my body and/or unborn child.

Instead of serving and protecting, as police should do, they exist to preach, judge and scare.

“Don’t touch receipts!” one article warns.

“Are you ready for stretch marks?” an online newsletter threatens.

“You’re so small!” and “You look ready to pop!” strangers bump-assess. Sometimes on the same day.

“Decaf, right?” asks someone who’s never been pregnant but has “read things.”

“Don’t eat your husband’s shoes!” this tag says:

And I know it’s only going to get worse. Enter the mommy brigade.

“Don’t let your kid ride the subway alone!” says…America.

I’m fortunate that I have a laid-back, everything-in-moderation midwife who doesn’t lecture me when I tell her I still drink a cup of coffee or two a day. A husband who doesn’t stop making hollandaise sauce just because the egg isn’t totally cooked in it. (I avoid restaurant hollandaise sauce, though, as I don’t know how long it’s been sitting around.) Parents and in-laws who let me set my own food-and-lifestyle boundaries during this short 40-week season.

Refreshing articles like this one help, too.

As a general rule, I try to assess food-poisoning risk and make smart decisions. I won’t eat mall sushi, but might give it a go at a reputable restaurant. I avoid raw sprouts, but I’m not going to sweat the deep-fried spring roll. And I won’t line up for an out-all-day deli platter, but have no problem frying up a slice of ham for a sandwich.

I avoid cat litter. But I don’t have a cat, so that’s not hard.

I don’t use skincare products with retinol or salicylic acid in them. I’m careful with essential oils and avoid questionable herbal teas.

I don’t attempt to ski. Because I can’t. (Literally. I’m the worst athlete. Even when not front-heavy.)

I suppose my approach is: avoid the forums, trust my gut, chat with my midwife, don’t stress. Oh, and don’t do drugs. (Unless pie is a drug. I do pie.)

And I hope that I will extend this same freedom to other friends who are/will be pregnant. Some will drink wine occasionally. Some will abstain. Some will ditch the aspartame. Others won’t. I want to be nothing but supportive. I don’t want to judge the temperature of your bath water or your tuna-consumption frequency. Just do your thing, mamas. Love your babies and bellies. I’m on your side.

A lovely friend (and new mom) recently gave me some great parenting advice:

“Ignore what other people say. Walk away from the computer. Do what works for you and your family.”

I like that.

Sorry, pregnancy police, but I’m not listening. (And, no, I’m not “ready” for stretch marks. Ask me again next week.)

And who eats shoes?!