We are in the fully swing of the holiday season, which still seems to blow my mind. I’m just not so sure where the time this year? You all know I got started on all my decorating and gift buying super early this year, so I had some extra time on my hands to do some things I never get a chance to do; like getting my hands into a little holiday baking. As the holiday season is a time to share love and best wishes with those around you, I decided that I also wanted to send out holiday cards for the first time ever. I guess having a baby and feeling a bit more domesticated will do that to you!
Here’s the honest truth…I am by no means super crafty and knew if I was going to tackle this whole holiday card idea, it needed to be simple and affordable or else it just wasn’t going to happen. For years Staples as been my one stop shop for all my home office needs and figured their dedicated print team would be the best place to go to help me get this done. Their state-of-the-art equipment and certified “Print Pros” guarantee that any personalized gift idea you can dream up (canvas prints, puzzles, paper invites, gift labels or even professional place settings – if calligraphy invite design isn’t your thing!), can come to life.
For our holiday cards I decided to keep it simple and use a photo of Maxie. I felt this was a much better option as our friends and family are always insisting I send them photos of her and just never get around to doing it. You can always go to your nearest Staples location to meet with a certified Print Pro if you feel like you need in person assistance, but seriously you can easily create just what you need online from the comfort of your home like I did on StaplesPrint.ca. There’s a dedicated “Holiday Solutions” section that displays all their service offerings from photo gifts to labels. In under just 10 minutes I was able to find a card template that fits my aesthetic, choose card stock, upload the photo, create a personalized greeting and place the order. This is a perfect solution for some of your holiday needs if you’re looking to avoid malls and crazy long lines this month. To make sure your personalized items from Staples make it in time for Christmas, orders need to be placed by December 10th. Head on over to StaplesPrint.ca for more information and gift ideas!
Whether you’ve planned your pregnancy or are completely surprised by the news you’re expecting, are you ever really and truly ready for the task of “Motherhood”? Réjean and I discussed having a baby before we began to trying to conceive and with my age slowly creeping higher and higher into the thirties bracket, there seemed to be no better time than the present to get the ball rolling on our baby making plans. Truthfully, conception happened much quicker than we anticipated and of course we were ecstatic but that feeling of excitement was quickly replaced with fear and sheer terror. If you know me, you would probably describe me as confident or even stoic and definitely ready for any challenge BUT with my impending role of Mother just around the corner now, I’m not going to lie, literally freaking out.
Funny enough, all the questions that I asked myself before getting pregnant I was able to answer confidently but now there is some self doubt creeping in all of the sudden and only seems to worsen the closer it gets to my August due date; “Can I REALLY handle this responsibility?”, “Do I make enough money to give this kid the life he/she deserves?” Will I be a good enough?…because my own mother certainly set the bar hight” . That being said, I have gained some confidence from discovering the benefits of practicing skin-to-skin when Bean arrives after getting introduced to the Huggies Hug Plan, which I dished all about earlier this month – found here in case you missed it. Réj on the other hand is somehow the calmest I’ve ever seen him and he keeps reminding me that our mother’s, grandmother’s and women generations before them seemed to innately know things for example the importance of hugs without having access to scientific research.
My plan for sanity is to stay clear of the extensive books on expecting and planning to stick to a few trusted sites like Huggies.com while also turning to some incredible women I am lucky to know, who I look up to and each exemplify the type of mother I want to be for Baby Bean. I’ve turned to them for advice on everything from skin-to-skin knowledge, midwives vs doctors, breast feeding, to even helping me choose Huggies diapers and wipes for my babe (thanks to Shannae) and decided to share some of their best insights with some of you who are also nervous moms-to-be.
Trisha Enriquez – Founder of NoTummyMommy.com, Nutritionist, Pre-Natal Fitness Expert and Mommy to Harper
Trisha Enriquez has become infamous in the city for her adorable photos with 3 year old daughter Harper who shares her mom’s love for fitness, health and wellness. Her Instagram account motivates mommies near and far to find time in their day to move and stay active, while often wearing the cutest matching activewear. A multi-hypenate, Trish is the creator of NoTummyMommy.com, a certified nutritionist, pre/post natal fitness expert and also specializes in helping mama’s work on core rehab, pelvic floor health and diastasis recti (otherwise known as separation of the abdominal muscles during pregnancy).
One of the best suggestions I received after having a baby was to pay an expert to help sleep train my child. It was worth every damn penny and the entire family benefits!
Best advice during pregnancy? Get your hubby to up his perineal massage game! This could be a serious game changer in my opinion.”
Suzanne Cohon – President, ASC PR; Mommy to Parker
A native New Yorker, Suzanne Cohon, who now calls Toronto home, is the fierce boss lady behind ASC PR. Mother to Parker, her 11 year old mini-me, Cohon also finds time to give back to the community as Chair of the Ronald McDonald House Opening Gala and as a member of the Board of Directors at the prestigious Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery just to name a few.
As a new mom, I always kept wishing for the moment for my daughter to crawl, walk, talk, go to school, sleep through the night, etc. I was constantly looking forward to how much I would enjoy her future self. I look backward and regret as I think I missed so much. So much was taking place right before my eyes however, I wasn’t looking. For any new mom or mom-to-be, my advice is this – enjoy every minute of everyday. These littles grow so quickly. If you don’t stop and focus, these precious moments will pass you by.”
Shannae Ingleton Smith – National Advertising Sales Professional at Rogers Publishing; Mommy to Kensington Grey
Toronto transplant and Calgary, Alberta native, Shannae Ingleton Smith is new to motherhood, after giving birth to her daughter Kensington Grey back in December 2016, but what she is not new at is being successful in media sales and the publishing world, currently employed by Rogers Publishing & Media for Macleans magazine. Shannae is currently working on re-emerging herself into the digital space with a new site (launching soon) after taking a hiatus from the blogging world to focus on her corporate career.
Having my daughter has been a life-altering yet beautiful experience. I’m still blown away by the fact that my husband and I created this tiny human being that is a miniature version of both of us but unique in her own way. I’ve learned many useful lessons about motherhood since having Kensie. The first of which, I learned from my mother early on. She told me to relax. Trust the ones you love with your baby. You can’t do everything and you can’t be with her every living, waking moment. Trust me, I tried and then sleep deprivation kicked in. Suppress your inner control freak and let the ones you love help out if they are willing and able. This will allow you to recharge so that you can be the best version of yourself for your little bean, especially in those first few weeks.
Also, as a new mother, I’ve found using a diaper for your baby with a wetness indicator like Huggies Little Snugglers, goes a long way. There will be times when your baby is crying and you’re not sure why so this feature can be a huge help when trying to figure out what your baby needs.
The last piece of advice that I’d give to moms is to not lose your mojo. Don’t be afraid to do all of the exciting and inspiring things that helped define you pre-baby. Becoming a mom is my greatest pride and joy, but being a mom isn’t the only thing that I am. Continuing to nurture my passions post partum was a non negotiable for me. Write that screenplay. Run that marathon. Start that blog. Wear the killer outfit. Keep being the badass, rule breaking, thought provoking, opinionated girl boss that you were pre-baby. Your mini me is watching and he or she will thank you later.”
Elle Daftarian – Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner and mommy to Sophia
Elle Daftarian started off her career in fashion business but then went on to tackle careers in event planning & design titles and is most well known for her upscale bakery Petite and Sweet (now closed) and her television show, Sugar Stars on the Food Network. Now, this petite beauty is transitioning into her next role that will be launching soon on ElleDaftarian.com.
My best advice…lead by example. Kids watch everything you do and they want to be just like you. Learn to love yourself before you can love them and make sure they know how much you value yourself. Lastly, once that baby comes out they become their own person. As a mother, you are there to support their journey, not tell them how to live it.”
Felecia Exeter – Former magazine editor and mommy to yours truly
For those who have followed my social channels, you have seen her face sprinkled in IG posts and appearing in some of my IG stories on weekends here and there because we are thick as thieves. My mom moved to Canada after marrying my father. If you can believe it, she only saw him a total of three times over the course of a couple of years due to their long distance relationship before he popped the question and moved her across the pond to Toronto. A bank employee at BNP (Banc Nationale de París) before going to Canada, she secured a job at Telemedia Publishing, at the time home to magazines like Canadian Living, TV Guide and more, as a secretary and worked her way up within the company eventually becoming an Editor. Being my hero and inspiration, proving that hard work pays off in both love and in your career.
Sasha, as you know I had virtually no additional support when I first had you. I was in my early twenties and thousands of miles away from my family and friends. Everything that I learned was from trial and error, I would say and pretty simple now that I think about it, however I do wish someone had told me these things when I was a new mum.
When the baby is sleeping, you should use that time to get your own shut eye, which you will really need; have a bath or just do something relaxing for yourself. Remember to set priorities. Your job as a mother should be very similar as your career job in a way. It is impossible to get everything done every single day. Do what’s crucial and important and everything else can wait. Last but not least, try and remain positive throughout the pregnancy. YOUR baby feels EVERYTHING!”
I may not be an official “Mommy” yet but I’ve learned so much about pregnancy throughout these last 28 weeks and still learning something new every single day. It has been the most humbling experience. The advice I have for other mother’s is to listen to you your body! If you’re a high functioning person like I am and used to pushing yourself, you will need to slow down and let the baby and your body guide you. When you’re hungry – eat. When you’re tired – rest. If you’re starting to feel stressed out and overwhelmed – find a way to relax and chill. And lastly, don’t underestimate the importance and benefits of hugging your baby before he/she arrives. Give your baby infinite love and good energy by hugging your belly. It’s a great way to interact and connect with your little one and when your further along in your pregnancy, it’s so fun to feel your baby react back with movements.
SHOP THE HUGGIES PRODUCTS I’VE BEEN STOCKING UP ON HERE:
Thank you to all these fabulous ladies for taking the time to share their thoughts and advice with me…trust me, I need every single bit. Have any amazing mommy-to-be tips you want to share with me prior to the Bean’s arrival? I would love to hear from you via Twitter @SashaExeter, where I can also share your advice with my social community.
This post was sponsored by Huggies® Canada, however all opinions and thoughts in this post belong to myself and the women who agreed to participate!
As I get closer to my delivery date, my anxiety continues to rise exponentially. And when it comes to impending motherhood and raising a child, I am realizing how little I actually know right about now. In order to stay grounded, I keep reminding myself that if there were a manual for being a parent, then our baby would come with one. At 25 weeks along, I am now starting to put some thought into a birthing plan with my midwifes and pre-natal naturopath, which I am pleased to say will include a hug plan for our little Bean. Trust me, not a term I had ever heard before until my first official meeting with the Huggies Canada team. I guess now would be a good time to announce I’ve joined their group of No Baby Unhugged Mom Ambassadors alongside Jeanine Macintosh of Six Time Mommy, Elaine Atkins of Elaine Loves, Solmaz Khosrowshahian of TheCuriousCreative.com, and Natalie Preddie from The Adventures of Natty Pamong others.
Ok, so I will be the first to admit, having a baby has somehow turned into a multi-billion dollar industry with products, services, gadgets and apps for literally everything under the sun you can think of, to apparently make parents lives easier. But, with so many options out there, it’s almost impossible not to get too overwhelmed. A lot proving to be useful or even necessary, while there are others you can certainly do without. Diapers are one of those things that obviously fall into the “necessary” category and in my personal opinion, is one of the most important first decisions a parent will make for their baby. Why? Your baby’s diaper is directly on your child’s skin 24 hours a day (more than any other garment) and the choice of brand is usually made before the baby comes before even trying it out. Réjean and I did extensive research over the last few months to allow us to make an informed decision how we were going to diaper “the Bean” and we both undeniably agreed that Huggies was it (much more on why in the coming months).
As part of the #NoBabyUnhuggedprogram, I attend an event last week at what I like referring to as the “Huggies House”, a private mansion in Yorkville, where we got an extensive education on the importance of skin-to-skin, tips on what should be included in our hospital bag and a deep dive into diapering and wiping 101.
The Power of Hugs
Unless you’re a mother, mom-to-be, or surrounded by friends who have already given birth and won’t shut up about it, chances are you’ve never heard about skin-to-skin before. I sure as hell had not heard the term legit until two months ago. It pretty much implies exactly how it sounds and refers to hugging or holding your newborn baby, when he/she is only in a diaper, against your bare chest within the first hours, days and weeks after birth. Sounds quite basic doesn’t it? Turns out it’s actually one of the most valuable gifts you can give your little one. Proving to be vital for the healthy development of babies, our intimate group got a chance to speak with Dr. Dina Kulik, MD; an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Staff Physician in Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Sick Kids Hospital, who shared her very personal story on the rapid improvements she witnessed to her newborn son’s health through skin-to-skin contact after having health issues at birth. During our first of three interactive stations, we got to do a “blind feel” test to get a chance to experience what baby’s would feel when they come in contact with blankets, swaddles, diapers and touch for the very first time while also getting a chance to try on Hug Vests that mimicked the feeling of being hugged.
To be honest, I think the power of hugs has always been inherent with mother’s but when babies are born with health complications, it has been doctors and nurses in the past who had usually recommended babies be taken away and placed in the appropriate unit for extensive care – with good intentions of course. Fast forward years later and 600+ medical studies on the effects of human touch; looks like moms actually do know best and the physiological and psychological skin-to-skin contact were just too great to ignore…dramatically changing the way newborns are treated immediately after entering this world:
Improved oxygen levels
More stable body temperature and heart rate
Improved pain tolerance
Faster weight gain
Healthier brain development
Less stress, and much more
Last year, Huggies launched the world’s very first Hug Plan, which acts as an extension of a mom’s existing birth plan in order to help her fully get the opportunities and benefits of skin-to-skin for their newborn. We have just filled ours out actually and it helped Réjean and I list our skin-to-skin preferences in every possible scenario (because who knows what could happen on delivery day) post birth to make sure the Bean gets adequate hug time. You can create your very own Hug Plan and find more information right here.
Hospital Bag Essentials
Fellow “Mom-Bassador” Natalie Preddie, who had her son Charlie 6 months ago, took us through her labour/birthing experience in the second station and touched on how she found skin-to-skin with her husband and baby, plus dished a few details in regards to what was included in her hospital bag. With most of the items being things I would have naturally accounted for in mine, I will be honest, the Depends protective underwear was quite a surprise and come highly recommended for comfort.
Diapering – 101
Seeing as though hugs are so important for infants, it only makes sense to have a diaper that’s soft and comforting too. Diapers have come a real long way from what I remember them to be in the past and Huggies has become known for their constant innovations that allow them to offer the best protection, comfort and skin care; specifically designed to allow a baby’s skin to breathe.
At our third and final station, in a mock nursery no less that looked so freaking amazing I want to replicate it at home, we got the low down on Huggies Little Snugglers. Seriously, how damn cute is that name? And ironically the same diapers my best friend Shannae swears by for their baby girl. I’ve come accustomed to hearing BM (bowel movement) massacres from other mom’s (who have been using other brands) where poop has literally shot out of diapers and through clothes, and while sometimes the messes are bound to happen, it seems as though Huggies has a good handle on such things with a Pocketed Waistband designed to keep messes where they belong and their trusted Leak Lock System that provides up to 12 hours of leakage protection – thank GOODNESS. While some of the other ladies present were already new moms, I was the only “Expecting Madre” so I found even the simplest details like the colour changing Wetness Indicator, that will tell me when the Bean’s diaper needs changing and the front/back labelling on each will no doubt be a lifesaver when Réj is on diaper duty. Crazy to think that this is how big, or shall I say small, the Bean is right now in my stomach. Currently the size of the baby below weighing in at just over 1 lbs and approximately 10 inches long
I left the Huggies House, feeling more confident and a teeny, tiny bit less stressed out but it definitely got me thinking more about the No Baby Unhugged initiative. Most babies are born healthy and are able to get warm embraces right away from their parents, however there are circumstances in which a mom may not be able to be by her baby’s side…so what happens then? Be prepared to get a bit teary-eyed people! Huggies is going above and beyond the call of duty here and helping ALL babies get the hugs they need when mom’s can’t be there themselves, by funding and facilitating hugging programs in Canadian hospitals.
If you’re expecting too, you can totally take part by visiting NoBabyUnhugged.ca and uploading a photo of you holding your baby (or your belly) on Instagram using the hashtag. In return, as a thank you for your support, you will receive a complimentary pack of Newborn Sized Huggies Diapers.
This post was sponsored by Huggies® Canada, however all opinions and reviews are my own!