Sabina swims

sabinaswims

Ben and I have started swimming lessons, which has been super fun. And the 2-hour mega-nap that Ben takes after swimming class is awesome (and maybe even my favourite part)!!

But I have to admit that my teeny-weeny bikini days are over for now, and I’m still wearing the FABULOUS maternity two-piece that I bought pre-Ben! It is no secret that maternity bathing suits are super ugly. But I have found that most amazing suit that has seen me through my “maternelle aqua-aerobics” class in France, our mini-babymoon in Europe, and now toddler swim classes, and I still love it! The company is called Sabina Swims, and they are headquartered in Hong Kong. The secret is in the flattering cut of the neckline, and the drawstring sides that expand as you do… and then back again, making them the perfect post-baby suit too! Their new patterns come out in April so I just might pick up another.

The best part? Sabina Swims has free international shipping!

Happy shopping!

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On baby naming

baby-names

So you may remember that we were having some minor difficulty with finding boys names that we could both agree on. Difficulty that started to resemble panic and infatuation. At the end of all that, we went to the hospital with 2 names for girls that we loved, and 4 names for boys that we were alright with (none of which were Benjamin) and ended up with Benjamin Rudolf!

Why?

I have no idea.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Rudolf is my hubby’s middle name, and his father and grandfathers’ names, and we both thought a namesake name was perfect in the middle name slot. (But I kind of like that people ask me, “Rudolf?? Because he was born at Christmastime?”  It would be hilarious if we had named little Ben after a reindeer just because he was born in December. Hilarious and tragic in equal parts. But I love that people think it enough of a possibilty to ask!)

Hubby suggested Benjamin about 4 days before he was born, as kind of a last effort to scour the baby name book and come up with something (anything!) that we could add to our list of boy names. We both vetoed it, and put it in the pile of names that we had considered, but not seriously.

And then he was born and we both (separately) thought, “Benjamin!” And so he was.

So now I look back at all of the those hours I spent reading name blogs and name books and writing list and after list and I think: crap. I probably should have used my time a little more productively… like maybe by finishing my thesis before Ben’s birth 🙂

Did you have a hard time naming your children? Did you have a process for coming up with names? I’ve heard everything from a brainstorming session over drinks a la Rosie Pope to hockey playoff charts that pin names against one another! How did you choose?

Bringing on baby

4 days overdue, I am eager to meet this baby and to not be pregnant any longer. Pregnancy dreams are bordering on crazy, baby movements feel like ninja-kicks, and waddling is not my preferred mode of transportation. Now that I am past term, I have to go to the hospital every second day for monitoring, and if there is some progress will give me 14 days before inducing!! 14 days overdue?!! Nooooo thank you! But if there is no progress, we will be facing a C-section.

SO, I went to my midwife and asked for some tips. Here is what she suggested: sex, walking, resting (baths, sleep), belly massage , raspberry leaf tea, cinnamon tea, spicy food, and a homeopathic medicine that I’ve been downing like candy every 4 hours.

Were you overdue? Do you have any tips for bring on baby?

Baby Massage

Before leaving France, a friend of mine, who is in the process of becoming certified to teach baby massage, taught me some moves! The “squeeze and twist”, “swedish milking”, the “water wheel”, and it all sounded pretty nice. Apparently, infant massage is great for encouraging bonding, and has a lot of other benefits as well such as improving sleep patterns, relieving colic, gas, and constipation, and promoting the release of calming hormones. I have also heard that it is best to start baby massage early on in baby’s life. So I’m curious:

Have any of you tried baby massage? When did you start? Did you notice any benefits? Any drawbacks? Would you do it again?

Weekend Picks: holiday fun!

An unreliable internet connection eliminated an entire week of blog-writing and so here we are at another weekend, which also happens to be the first Advent, or the first of four Sundays before Christmas. I’m new to Germany and so new to the whole advent thing, and discovered very quickly the best part of being 4 weekends from Christmas: Weihnachtsmarkts!

1. Christmas Markets: 40 weeks pregnant and waiting for baby in a small German town surrounded by rolling pastures and livestock has been uber relaxing, but this city-girl needs a bit more excitement and if a Christmas market is the new thing in town, then I am there. We spent the weekend wandering through our local Bavarian market, tasting some delicious Christmas treats and smelling the gluhwein with envy.

2. Movies: Our second new discovery in town has been our local video store and I’m sad to say that it was the highlight of our week. I’m sure there are other mamas out there who might relate to the excruciating boredom and crazy uncertainty that comes with waiting for potentially the most painful and fulfilling experience ever to occur in my life, and in my opinion a little distraction is in order. Add to this that watching a Christmas movie is second only to a hockey game in my husband’s eyes and you have two happy campers. We have also discovered that for a Christmas cartoon quick-fix, youtube has some of our favourites.

3. Music: I say this with tongue in cheek as my husband, who some might say is Christmas-obsessed, has a favourite Christmas album that drives me absolutely crazy: Boney M. It happens to be the only album that he has downloaded on his computer and has therefore been on repeat all weekend. Here is a glimpse at the nightmare that is my Christmas music reality at the moment.

4. Cookies: I brought my cookie cutters and rolling pin to Germany with us and planned to make Christmas cookies as a labour project. I read that it’s a good idea to plan an activity to keep yourself busy with when labour begins to keep your mind off of contractions and to let labour progress while it is still easy to deal with. Always the optimist (and cookie enthusiast), I thought that perhaps starting on the labour project would help to kick-start actual labour and have baked (and consumed) at least 6 dozen cookies since arriving 2 weeks ago. No labour yet, and the baby feels humongous. Yep, that back-fired.

5. Snow: Okay, there’s no snow here yet, but it’s been hovering around 0 degrees every day and I’ve been promised snow very soon by a very reliable source. According to said source, 0 is very warm for this time of year, and I am inclined to believe it as it seems as if the locals think it’s summertime. As I was tromping through the town in my Ugg boots this weekend and shivering in a scarf and toque and jacket that doesn’t close in the front anymore, the locals seemed happy as clams eating in outdoor cafes in sweaters and jeans! And just last night as we were walking back from the Weihnachtsmarkt in the crisp and clear -4 degree night, we saw a couple laughing together, coats unbuttoned, eating ICE CREAM! Let me tell you, Germans are sturdy folk.

I came from a very “Christmas” family, and my husband’s family is equally festive and so the holidays are typically the highlight of the year for us. This year promises to be extra special as we are returning home to Canada the day before Christmas after being overseas for a full year, and with a new baby to boot. So even though it is still November, I’m happy to start the countdown to the holidays on this first advent!

What are your favourite Christmas traditions? Do you have any songs/movies/activities that you just can’t live without during the holidays?

Anticipating Birth

At 38 weeks and 3 days (5 hours and 23 minutes… no, not really) pregnant, I can’t help but think about what lies ahead. I have always had a bit of a fear around birth and so I have been reading about birth for months, or more accurately, 34 weeks and 3 days. As someone who has always worked with parents and children, I have heard my share of birth horror stories, and so when my good friend gave birth earlier this year and described it as “awesome”, I definitely wanted to hear more. On her advice, I’ve been reading only positive birth stories, as well as some informative (but not at all scary) books written by some well-known midwives and birth educators.

My preference for a natural birth had me a little bit scared in France, where our local hospital has an 89% epidural rate. But we decided instead to birth in Germany near my husband’s family and so we drove the 8 hours to a small city in Bavaria to wait it out. To be completely honest, I was surprised by just how natural natural birth is here! We took a tour of the hospital delivery rooms and they looked like gymnastics studios, with giant exercise balls, birthing stools, and ropes hanging from the ceiling! We also learned that all of the hospital midwives are certified in homeopathy, aromatherapy and acupuncture.

I have read all about what to do ahead of time: pack a hospital bag, buy supplies, wash the baby’s clothes, write a birth plan, but haven’t quite started on any of that yet. Instead, we had a lesson on birth from our midwife (how exactly does one use a birthing stool??), and sat through an entire 3-hour class on newborn care in German, nervously laughing with 5 other expectant couples fumbling to put cloth diapers around plastic baby dolls. Now we are just waiting and walking, walking and waiting. And drinking litres of raspberry leaf tea. Apparently it tones the uterus, and I have no idea what that means, but according to Wikipedia it can cause labour to start or be easier or something, so I’m all over it.

I would love to hear about what you did to prepare for the birth of your child, or the interesting ways you spent your time waiting! I am also curious if anyone has a story about crazy birthing equipment?!

Weekend picks: favourite websites

Ever since I discovered I was pregnant, I have been trying to prepare for birth and parenting in some way or another, and in this day and age that means scouring the internet for help. Here are some of my favourite websites and blogs:

Baby Center – This by far has been my most well-used resource. Weekly updates tell me what the baby’s up to, what I should be feeling, and compares the babies size to a fruit or vegetable, which is endlessly entertaining. Especially when I catch myself freaking out in the produce aisle of Carrefour, or at the market. “reeaallly, a PAPAYA???!”. I’m immune to it now. I know this because this week baby reached watermelon and I barely flinched.

Swistle Baby Names – I am constantly checking this blog, because at 38 weeks pregnant, I still have no idea what we are going to name this child. Actually, this is a small lie, because we have about 3 solid names picked out for a girl. The problem is that we have a 50% chance of having a boy, and in that case we will be screwed. Or our son might get a really feminine name. This blog lets people write in with their naming dilemmas and it has been super informative. It’s given us lots and lots of maybes but I am still checking daily just in case “the one” turns up just in the nick of time.

Cup of Jo – This blog is by a writer/mother in New York who has great taste in just about everything. She posts about everything from fashion and restaurants to breast-feeding in public, and I love hearing what she has to say.

Lay Baby Lay – Nursery inspiration at its finest! I’m not even very in to home decorating (and have very little skill in this department) but I find myself checking this website often for inspiration and just to check out the new and beautiful things! My favourite is “Zoe Ellen’s nursery” which is filed under “turquoise”. I think that if I were to design a nursery for Baby (which I suppose I will eventually) I think I would go for something like that one; gender neutral and eclectic.

You Can’t Call it “It” – Another great baby name site with lots of cool articles and ideas on baby names. I am getting desperate so I spend a lot of time on baby name websites. This one is particularly good!

What are some of the websites that you visit for pregnancy/baby/parenting advice? And how the heck did you find and decide on a name for your child? (I would love some tips! …and suggestions too!)

Baby-wearing

Another thing that I saw a lot of in Germany is baby-wearing. Two of the world’s most popular woven baby wraps (Didymos and Storchenwiege) are made in Germany and it seemed like everywhere I went I saw people wearing them! They are made from beautiful fabrics and come with instructions on a variety of wrap styles. I ended up buying the Storchenwiege Inka (pictured above) and I can’t help but practice wrapping almost every day! I’m very excited to try it out for real, but I do have some apprehensions about its’ practicality.

Did any of you carry your babies in a wrap or sling? Did it meet your expectations? Would you use it again? What are some pros or cons that you experienced?

a post about not making pumpkin muffins

Today I was planning a leisurely post about pumpkin muffins (my absolutely obsessive pregnancy craving of late) but Baby had other plans. Instead, I spent the greater part of yesterday and today with painful contractions (at 36 weeks!) and decided to call my doctor. Apparently this and a few other fun symptoms led her to believe that I was in early labour and she told me to head to the hospital for tests. If they came back positive, I would have to deliver within the next 2 days! This was not what I was hoping to hear, I quickly threw together some necessities in case we would need them later (toothbrush, car seat, change of clothes) and we were off! After a few tests and a couple of hours of monitoring, all was deemed well and it was clear that Baby had changed it’s mind about an early exit.

From here I could go on to explain the quirks of the medical system in France, especially as they pertain to birth, or the weird and wacky practices I have experienced this year managing prenatal care in four different countries, but I won’t. Because I already did that here.

But I will conclude with the pumpkin muffin recipe that I would have made (and devoured) if I had not been so rudely interrupted. (Braxton-Hicks, you are an SOB). Please let me know how it goes for you if you decide to make them.

Also, if you have any tips on staying pregnant (at least until 38 weeks), I would really appreciate them!

Ingredients

I cup of pumpkin puree (roast the pumpkin in the oven
for 1 hour, skin, and puree)

1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cups brown sugar

1 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

1 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 12 muffin
cups or loaf pan.

To roast the pumpkin, remove seeds and strings. Place it on
baking sheet, cut side down. Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven until
tender, about 90 minutes. Remove pumpkin pulp and puree in blender. Measure out
1 cup pumpkin puree.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking
powder, all of the spices and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together pumpkin
puree, vegetable oil and eggs. Stir pumpkin mixture into flour mixture until
smooth. Scoop batter into muffin cups or loaf pan

Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick
inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Halloween while 36 weeks pregnant

As this is my first pregnancy, I never before had to think about a Halloween costume with a giant belly. However, I have a Halloween party to go to this coming weekend (late, i know, but a costume party nonetheless) and I am a bit stuck.

This was my initial idea:

But I am still convincing the hubby. What are your thoughts? Have you seen any great pregnancy-incorporating costumes this year?