Tips for preparing your first child for a new sibling

One of my biggest fears of welcoming a new baby was how my toddler would handle the new addition. He has always been a bit of a momma’s boy and I was afraid how he would react to not having my undivided attention – and so I started to do some research. I took courses, read books, reached out to the community – and I feel like I have now done all the research so that you don’t have to. So here are some of my top tips for how to prepare your toddler for a new addition and create the easiest transition possible. The good news though, every mom I have spoken to says the transition from one to two wasn’t as hard as they expected.

Before baby arrives

There are lots of steps you can do before the baby arrives to help prepare your toddler for this big life change. Something interesting that I found out as I started learning more about what to do was that your preparation differs by age. So most of my focus is for 2-3 years apart.

1. Get some books about becoming a big brother/sister

I have found that books does wonders for my little guy – he tends to really grasp concepts through repetition and visual learning so we got a few different books that talk about becoming a big brother

2. Visit friends with babies

It seems to be the time where a lot of my friends who went through the first pregnancy with me are starting to have their seconds, so I have been introducing Max to their little siblings and showing him how to interact gently with a baby

3. Work on sharing

This has been an area my toddler has really struggled with – and it is only going to be more important once his little brother arrives. This has been another area where we have used books – we also try and praise sharing behavior with us and also when we have friends over for playdates.

4.Spend quality one-on-one time

One of my biggest fears has been not being able to have the quality time with Max that I currently have because I really love spending time with him at this age where he is developing more of a personality. I have been taking him out of daycare once a week to have special “Mom and Max days” so that he knows that he is special to me. I have also talked at length with my partner on how we can make sure I continue to have this one on one time with him once the baby arrives.

5. Do a test run ahead of time

A few of my friends have introduced a toy baby that their toddler can practice with. We found that Max really liked talking about some of the tasks he can help out with once baby is here. It seems to get him excited the idea of helping get a diaper or read stories to his brother. We want him to feel included and helpful.

What to do once baby arrives

This is the tricky part because not only are you introducing a new baby, but you are going to be spending periods of time away from your toddler, the longest he has ever experienced and so it is important to create as little competition for your attention as possible.

1. Get your toddler a gift from baby

This is a great way to show your child that he is still very important and that his little brother or sister already love him.

2. Involve your toddler

It takes a village right, so an extra set of hands with the baby, even if they are little toddler hands can be useful for both of you. Have him hand you wipes during diaper changes, or have him pick out books to ready to the baby.

3. Never make it about the baby/Have baby wait also

A lot of research that I did says the fastest way for your toddler to develop resentment towards the baby is to use the baby as an excuse to not have time for your toddler. Instead of saying ‘ We can’t go to the park because the baby has to nap’ say something like, ‘We will go to the park after lunch. Also it is ok to make the baby wait sometimes too so your toddler doesn’t always feel like second fiddle -\

4. Keep your toddler occupied

The time your toddler is most likely to get worked up is when you are solely focused on the baby, and we all know how much a newborn needs to eat – so try and find ways to keep your toddler occupied during this time. Read books with your toddler while you food, or create a special toy box for when you need to spend time with the baby so your toddler still feels special.

5.  Accept all feelings, even if they are negative ones

Your toddler is going through a lot of emotions, and then adding a new baby to the mix is only going to amplify these emotions. It is important to give your toddler a safe space to talk about all of their feelings – even if it is anger or jealousy – and then use language that makes them feel heard and that is the most important feeling your toddler needs right now.

Good luck mommas – you got this

xo

Mia

 

 

 

Mia’s Momalogue Chapter 4: I hated being pregnant and that’s ok

 

I remember the first day I knew I was pregnant. My stomach would’t settle. I had this terrible indigestion that made me feel nauseous. No amount of Tums would settle it. A test said negative but I knew otherwise. That was just the first of the annoying symptoms that followed me around for 9 months.

In that two week wait window my mind was racing a million miles per hour. I didn’t feel ready for this – not having any other friends that had babies this was a whole new world I knew nothing about and was riddled with anxiety, fear, worry – none of the happy, excited, joyful feelings I thought I would have when we decided to start a family. Which left me confused. This couldn’t be normal could it? (I later found out it can definitely be normal).

Finally those two little pink lines showed up – and instead of happy tears I cried tears of fear ( I hate admitting it now – because I have been blessed with the most perfect little human and I should of been happy but I said I would be totally honest and at the time I was scared.) And then more annoying little symptoms started. I was lucky not to have a bad pregnancy (aside from the GD) but the indigestion, nausea, extreme fatigue, then came the round ligament and joint pain  – and as an athlete not being able to use my body like I was did was strange and unwelcoming.

I tried to hide these feelings deep inside me – I put on a smile because and told myself how lucky we were to be pregnant (and trust me I know how lucky we are and I am thankful everyday) but the more I tried to cover up those other feelings and tell people I was fine with a smile on my face the more lost I felt. I wasn’t being honest with anyone, especially not myself and that made me even more tired.

It was finally at a prenatal workout class where the instructor asked what we have loved most about being pregnant. I was first to go and I just blurted out, ” I haven’t loved anything.” It was the first time I said it out loud and it felt so good to be honest with everyone there as well as with myself. I immediately felt guilty when the very next person answered; “well it took me a long time to get pregnant so I have loved all of it.” – ugh I am such an asshole I thought to myself. But then one person after another agreed with me saying how miserable they have been, how un-magical it was and for the first time in my pregnancy I didn’t feel so alone.

What I am trying to get at here is that you can be excited about the idea of having a baby, but that doesn’t mean you have to be excited about being pregnant. About giving up sushi and wine for 9 months, about waking up every morning with a new pain (and by waking up I mean sleeping for two hours while tossing and turning trying to find a comfortable position), about literally having to fall asleep on the carpet of your office because you are too tired to make it to the bed. Ya none of this is glamorous, or fun, or magical in my opinion (yes I find the process of pregnancy and the fact that we are able to create life magical) but not how I felt in the moment.

So be honest with yourself and with those in your circle. Don’t try and go through this alone my friends.

Oh and lastly just know it will all be worth it – I remember holding that little purple squirmy wormy baby in my arms for the first time and immediately forgot the misery of the past 9 months ( I guess that is how women do it multiple times, they just forget). And while there may have been a moment or two during my pregnancy where I literally told my stomach I hated it ( yes the few moments I regret and blame fully on hormones) everything and I mean everything was worth it when I looked into that little man’s eyes for the first time.

So I promise there is a silver lining at the end of all of this – a love so strong you never knew it could exist and you realize those nine months was just the start of the sacrifices you will make for this human because you will literally do anything for them.

You got this mommas I promise!

xo

Mia

Mia’s Momalogue Chapter 2: Hurry up and wait (for more than 9 months)

Can you believe it has already been a month since my fist mom-alogue?? I can’t believe I thought I would be able to do this bi-monthly, I barely got this one finished in time, but alas here we are. In this chapter I am going to focus on those early pregnancy days where you have to hurry up and wait, and wait, and wait, and wait some more. I honestly thought there would be a lot more to do in the beginning but no, there wasn’t, which also just meant a lot of time to be anxious about all the things I wasn’t doing yet… 

The first Dr. appointment  

When I first saw those two lines on the pregnancy test I called my doctor right away. I was so overwhelmed and flustered that I can’t even remember if I was speaking english on the phone. About a week after my dating ultrasound I had an in person appointment where I actually prepared some questions like, when do we need to discuss my birth plan? What are the next steps? I was surprised at some of her answers: “We have lots of time to work on the birth plan.” “Right now the next steps are to just relax and take care of yourself”. I thought there was going to a whole list of things I need to do and check off, the athlete in me was ready to get to work, but instead I was told there really was nothing to do. “I recommend early genetic testing but that’s about all.

I left the appointment with more questions than answers – I thought pregnancy was a lot of work (which it definitely is later on) but I really thought I was going to have legit homework to do each week – instead I was told to just sit back and try my best to relax ( I later realized that was the hardest homework assignment of them all).

We ended up taking our doctor’s advice and get genetic testing done – those were the longest 10 days of my entire life. I remember the doctor’s office called me while I was at work and when I called them back it was their lunch break. I had to wait 30 minutes, which felt like 30 days to get the results – low risk – the best words in the english language was what I finally heard.

What to expect from the endless waiting game

Then it was back to the waiting game. As someone who constantly has a million projects on the go and the word relax is not part of my vocabulary – this whole hurry up and wait thing was really killing me and then there is the fact that you are expected to wait to tell anyone, so you are going through this nerve wracking experience on your own and have to try and act normal when you see anyone.

At this point I expected that pregnancy glow, that luscious hair, and oh the cute bump pics – but alas I don’t think I got the glow until 30 weeks and it was actually just sweat, the hair never came, and I went straight from not showing to waddling, there was no cute in between phase for me.

But what was really killing me was the fact that aside from my constant indigestion – there was rally no other signs to reassure  me that baby was ok during these early days. When a month finally passed and I was finally back at the doctor’s office I was so anxious to hear that heart beat – and there it was;  boom boom boom boom – the most magical sound in the world.

Then it was back to anxiety – I felt like humpty dumpty trying to get back on the wall. Every day I was googling this new pain or discomfort that was likely round ligament pain but it could also be a deadly rare disease. Every day I had 99 problems and 86 of them were made up scenario  in my head that 0.00001% of the population might develop during pregnancy.

The very very awkward 20 week ultrasound 

Finally after what felt like decades it was time for something –  my 20 week ultrasound. No one warned me that this would be one of the hardest hurry up and wait moments of the entire pregnancy. I knew that this ultrasound was to do all the babies measurements – but I didn’t know it would take an hour of click click here and a zoom zoom here – and since it was still at the height of covid – I was in there all alone with the ultrasound tech – who also doubles as an amazing actor. I kept trying to look for clues in her face – every frown, squint, hmm and ahhh I figured there was something very very wrong with my baby. And every time I asked if my baby was ok she said that I would have to wait until my doctor’s appointment. When I asked if she could at least tell me if he had 10 fingers – she said  we don’t focus on number of limbs just that they are all the right size.

A few days later I got the call that I had a healthy looking baby boy with a very large head, which was quite concerning for me as I was going to have to birth this large headed child (ladies chose your partner wisely based on head size for the sake of your body). And after that 20 week ultrasound I really did have homework. Organize a birth class, book your GD testing, book your rH factor shot and the list goes on. Part of me wished I could go back to the early days of waiting and waiting.

Oh and just a little note – I never actually wrote up a birth plan.

Here are some tips that helped me in the early days and will hopefully help you as well.

  • If you want to tell someone before the three month “safe mark” go ahead and tell them. Honestly the risk of miscarriages goes down tremendously after 7 weeks and if that were to happen to me, these are the friends that I would need as a shoulder to cry on anyway. Telling a few friends early helped make this super anxious time a little easier to navigate
  • Listen to your doctor when they say to take it easy. I freaked out that I wasn’t doing enough, now with a walking 11 month old I long for the days of relaxing. Trust me you have time to finish the nursery and research strollers, and come up with a birth plan
  • Listen to your body not google. Like I said those early days are hard because there is no tell tale signs that everything is going well and baby is healthy and google is a deep dark rabbit hole of fear – instead if you have a concern reach out to the medical team. Where I live our maternity doctors were so gracious and helpful every step of the way and never made me feel like I was wrong for reaching out with any kind of question
  • Find distractions. The waiting game is HARD – but I got into some prenatal workout classes and home deco, and even started meditating to try and calm myself down during this period of time.
  • Just know the 20 week ultrasound is awkward AF ( I wish someone had told me this ahead of time but like I mentioned in my previous momalogue I was the first of my friends to have a baby so I had to find this out the hard way) but just know that every click and zoom is to double check things and make sure your baby is as healthy as can be – and we have a great health care system that prioritizes these checkups. Your baby likely has all fingers and toes – despite not being confirmed – and even if you are told he has a big head – your body can still push out a healthy baby I promise

Like I said after the 20 week mark things really escalate and I am looking forward to sharing that next chapter with you in November but in the meantime mommas enjoy this time where your only goal is to take care of yourself .

xo

Mia

Mia’s Mom-alogue Chapter 1: If you ain’t first you’re last

 

The idea behind mom-alogue

So there I was, sitting with my nearly one year old baby ( well 10 months let’s not age him) sending memes back and forth with a girlfriend who also recently had a baby and then sharing stories of how these memes actually related to our new normal – why yes my baby did bite me while feeding today and yes I did snort his snot out of his nose… And it was in this moment I decided I was going to start a podcast for new moms. As I started to read up on “how to start a podcast” my baby woke up. I decided if I couldn’t figure out how to start a podcast in an hour nap time it wasn’t for me. And so instead I decided to start sharing my mom life lessons here on my blog.

There are a million “real” and “honest” and “funny” mom blogs/podcasts/youtube channels out there right? So what sets mine apart you may ask? Absolutely nothing actually. I have no qualifications, no degree, I am definitely not a doctor – although my mother-in-law is (if you are a mom friend of mine I have definitely said that to you oh a dozen times). But I have just leaned so much on my own friends to get me through the ups, downs, and everything in between of becoming a new mom, that I wanted to be your friend and help you through this crazy, beautiful, exhausting, emotional time of your life. And so every month I will add to the blog a new mom-alogue and I promise to be real, and honest, and open, and I like to find humour in some of these moments (how else do we make it through on like 4 hours of sleep a day?) and I am sure no one will really care because again, lack of qualifications, but that’s ok. If I can make one new, exhausted, and overwhelmed mom feel slightly less lonely then my job here is done. So let’s begin at the beginning.

Chapter 1: If you’re not first you’re last 

I decided to begin my mom-alogue with my experience of being the first of my friends to have a baby. My husband and I were one of the lucky ones that snuck our wedding in before the pandemic, and while I begged to wait until our friends tide the knot to start trying, after the zillionth covid wave, we decided it was time to try this whole baby thing out. Being the first brings on anxiety that I never really expected. Will my friends want to hang out with me ever again because I now bring a crying piece of hip luggage along? Will I ever sleep again ( I really really really like sleep)? I have never held a baby before what if I don’t support the neck right and it break? I don’t have any qualifications to keep this mostly helpless human alive!  (This was a surprisingly very common question or at least statement in my birthing class).

When I got around to taking a pregnancy test and texted 2 girlfriends and my mom asking if they saw the faint pink line I did, while holding it up to every light in the house I had this overwhelming sense of I am so so not cut out for this. I was more scared than that time I came face to face with a black mamba (just the world’s most poisonous snake). And then the very next day I got indigestion for the first time in my life and I knew for a fact that faint line that everyone said I was making up was really there and oh ya that indigestion I speak of lasted for 9 whole months.

We then had to patiently wait for the genetic testing results. The doctor called  me while I was working and when I called back they were on their lunch break. I spent the next 2 hours (which felt more like 10) panicking over every worst case scenario. Finally I was able to get through, and with tears in my eyes and clearly in my voice I asked the doctor how bad is it? She said you are low risk – would you like to know the gender?

Since I was the first of my friends I didn’t have anyone to really talk to about this.  The next few weeks google and I became both best friends and worst enemies as every cramp I felt could either be very normal round ligament pain, or an immediate visit to the ER.  There is nothing worse than going for your dating ultrasound and then literally never speaking to a doctor again for a month. I can be an anxious person but this took things to a whole new level. And while every blog told me to relax my brain said HA.HA.

On top of all of that my indigestion was making me feel sick daily, I had to pee every 20 minutes, oh and I had a food aversion to everything including coffee, which didn’t help with the fact that I was beyond exhausted. In fact I would get to 2 in the afternoon and just need a nap. And by need a nap I mean I would fall asleep on the carpet in my office. I called it my office dirt naps since I didn’t even have the energy to get to my bedroom. It was a fun time, and again I didn’t really have anyone to turn to in my friend group.

The turning point

Eventually a friend of a friend reached out and told me about pre-natal workout classes she was doing. I was only 14 weeks at the time and not showing yet so I didn’t think I qualified for prenatal classes, but I decided to go anyway. It was here that I met my mom crew – my people. We would go on walks together, for none coffee dates (remember I couldn’t stomach coffee). And lunches. I would come home to my husband and be all giddy about the new girlfriend I made and whose number I got today. It was like dating, but way less pressure – and thankfully since I was a few weeks behind all of them they could prep me for what was to come. The awkwardness of the 20 week scan where the tech will literally not say one word to you, the disgusting sugary drink you have to chug for the gestational diabetes test, what a mucus plug is (that was a fun life lesson). I was so thankful for this group of friends.

Yes there are advantages to being the first 

Now let me tell you why I say ‘If you ain’t first, you’re last’. While I was scared, anxious, overwhelmed to be the first of my friends it actually turned out to be a true blessing. Guess what, I still got invited to dinners and trivia night – but instead of two hands to hold the baby I had 20. Everyone wanted a snuggle. “Do you want me to hold the baby while you finish your dinner?” “Do you want me to hold the baby while you shower?” “Can I just hold your baby?” – Guess what, the more babies that come into the group, the less and less that happens – everyone has their own baby to stop from falling down the stairs or eating rocks. Don’t worry through friends – I will always try and offer to hold your baby because I know how helpful it is. And even if you aren’t the first your baby is not last – your baby is special and wonderful and special – but for any of my mommas out here feeling the fear because they are the first of their friend group to take the plunge, just know it isn’t that bad – and then you can pass down all your “expert” advice (again I have absolutely now qualifications except my baby seems to be a happy camper 96% of the time). And now I get to be excited for all of my friends that are going through their own pregnancy journey.

That is all for now my friends – stay tuned for chapter 2.

You got this mommas

xo

Mia

Why gestational diabetes was a blessing in disguise

I remember hearing from friends how awful the diabetes test was. You would have to drink this disgusting sugary drink and then have your blood taken to see if you had developed gestational diabetes during your pregnancy. I didn’t know much about gestational diabetes, and honestly didn’t think much of it because I didn’t have any of the predispositions. I am extremely active and a normal weight, there is no diabetes in my family, I was under 35 and this was my first child. I thought I would go into the test and be told everything was normal. I was wrong. Soon after my first test I got the call from my doctor saying the first test was inconclusive and I would have to go back for a longer and more intense test.

Then I got the phone call I really didn’t want to hear, I tested positive for gestational diabetes. I was in a store and I just broke down in tears. Fear came over me, what did this mean for the pregnancy? What did this mean for the baby?

My doctor told me the next steps would be meeting with a dietitian to come up with a game plan. I would also have to start monitoring my blood sugar levels.

On the call, there were several other women who were also in the same boat as me. The dietician went over how we wold monitor our sugar levels and gave us some tips on how to eat properly, as well as some GD friendly snacks we could try.

The next week was brutal. I had to test me levels six times a day, poking my finger before and after every meal. Writing down everything that I ate, and making sure I was going on at least a 15 minute walk after every meal. Despite my best efforts, sometimes my sugars would spike and I would feel extremely discouraged. I felt pity, guilt, and overall sadness that what should be one of the happiest times in my life was becoming a time of constant monitoring, worrying, and fear.

As the week went on though I was able to start to make sense of what worked for my body and what didn’t. I was surprised at how small changes made a huge difference: substituting white bread for whole wheat and tropical fruits for local berries. I was luckily able to control my sugar levels through diet.

On top of eating healthier – protein and veggies at every meal with some complex carbs – I was also forcing myself to move daily. On days that I was super tired it would be something as easy as a walk after my meals. But as I started to eat healthier (and I even lost some weight) I had more energy. I continued doing spin and pregnancy safe HITT classes – and to be honest the aches and pains I thought I would have during my pregnancy never came, nor did the third trimester fatigue.

On top of feeling healthy and energized during my pregnancy I also felt like my birth and recovery was a lot easier thanks to all the exercise I was doing ahead of time. When it came to pushing during labour I felt strong and in control. Post birth my body felt really good. I wasn’t in pain and was able to get back to walking and exercise fairly quickly. I was also back to my pre-pregnancy weight pretty quickly because of how active I was ahead of time.

Yes, being diagnosed with gestational diabetes was scary and yes it was hard to cut out sweets when I was dealing with endless pregnancy cravings, and yes it was hard to keep moving when I couldn’t even put socks on due to my giant belly, but overall I actually think there were some positive takeaways. So mommas if you get diagnosed with GD, keep your head high, you got this! And here are some tips that I found really helped me navigate GD.

Ways to cope with gestational diabetes 

1. Find alternatives for your favourite food items

I love toast, so it was easy to substitute white bread for whole wheat. Same goes for pasta. I was also enjoying eating yogurt, granola and bananas. So I started buying greek yogurt instead of vanilla and would add berries instead of bananas. Even switching milk for dark chocolate can make a big difference. Oh and I satisfied my ice cream cravings with halo ice cream (a low sugar option but still lots of different and delicious flavours to chose from.)

2. Find some exciting low sugar recipes

Sure it took a little more effort to come up with dinner ideas, but trust me there are some delicious options out there. I am a big fan of the cooking blog pinchofyum and the great thing is they have a whole section dedicated to low sugar meals and snacks. It made dinner time fun.

3. Stay active while also listening to your body

I am a very active person, but when you have been growing a human for 9 months there are days where you don’t even want to get out of bed. So I would try and find activities that fit my energy level for that day, but I would always make time for me to move. 9 months pregnant I would be doing anything from an intense spin class to just a 15 minute walk around the block. To be honest though on the days I didn’t want to do anything, just getting out for some fresh air made me feel more energized.

4. Don’t forget the snacks

Like I said I am quite active and so there were days that I would go out for hour long hikes and my sugar levels would actually drop too low  and so it was really important for me to find some easy GD friendly snacks that I could bring on hikes. Nuts was a great option and hard boiled eggs was another go to.

5. Eat a well balanced meal

When you have gestational diabetes is it is important to still eat carbs, but just make sure they are complex carbs. During your pregnancy it is also important to eat lots of protein (with GD lean protein should be your go to) and iron levels can suffer so you want to make sure you also have some greens.

6. Drink lots of water

I was so surprised one day when I had a high sugar level before a meal and so I went for a walk first and drank some water. The walk was only 10 minutes but the combination of walking and water made my levels go way down. Water helps dilute sugar and bring down your levels. I would mix it up by adding lemon or a glass of sparkling water, but just avoid adding anything too sugary for taste.

7. Treat yourself every once in a while

This is supposed to be the most exciting time in your life – but pregnancy is also hard and you are working very hard to make this little human, so if you are craving a cupcake every once in a while go for it. Safe splurges kept me sane during my pregnancy (like a little piece of cake at my baby shower).

8. Remember you are not alone

Meghan Trainor, Selma Hayek, and even Angelina Jolie are all human and all had gestational diabetes so try not to get too down on yourself (or feel guilty like I sure did). I found that reaching out to other mommas who were diagnosed with GD made me feel a bit better and sharing tips and tricks with them was always helpful. It was also great to share a glass of wine and a sugary treat once our babies arrived.

Good luck mommas you got this!

xo

Mia