This blog is about life with a baby. It's not always you you expect and there is definitely no job description. Every baby is different and unique which is why motherhood can be so scary, fun, terrifying, exciting and rewarding all at the same time.

We encourage you to share your experiences - by sharing your experiences and commenting on other posts, you may be helping other moms.
  • Wednesday, January 18, 2017 3:11 PM | claire (Administrator)

    We recently visited the Ritz-Carlton Toronto for a special occasion, and it exceeded our expectations in every way. For your next special occasion, if you are looking to treat yourself to a luxurious getaway or staycation, this is one of the places to go. I'm going to give you five reasons why a visit to the Ritz-Carlton Toronto should be top of your list for your next special occasion.


    The Spa

    Whether you book a few treatments, a couples massage, or just use the spa day pass. You will enjoy spending a few hours in this space. Don't feel like getting treatments but want to relax? Get the all day spa pass. The spa pass gives access to the Salt Water Lap Pool, Hot Tub, Sauna, Experience Showers, Eucalyptus Steam Room, Green Tea Infused Vitality Pool, Fitness Centre, Relaxation Lounge and Co-Ed Sanctuary. The co-ed relaxation room has a huge skylight which gives you beautiful views of the city. Imagine sitting down with your love, with the views of Toronto surrounding you with a cup of tea, or glass of wine in hand.



    The Ritz-Carlton Club® Level

    The club level takes your relaxing and luxurious vacation and wraps it in indulgement. One of the benefits of the Ritz-Carlton Club level is the continuous complimentary culinary offerings throughout the day. This includes breakfast, light lunch, hors d' oeuvres, alcoholic beverages and sweets. Imagine sitting with your love with a glass of champagne and the best views of Toronto & The CN Tower. Go ahead, spoil yourself. You deserve it! 




    Toca

    There are many dining options at the Ritz-Carlton Toronto, and my recommendation for a special occasion is definitely Toca. From their collaboration with Chef Oliver Glowig, one of Rome’s most celebrated culinary leaders, to the feeling that surrounds you immediately upon entering, this place is designed for special occasions.

    Another reason I love Toca is the TOCA Cheese Cave which offers 35 varieties selection of perfectly aged local as well as international cheeses. You can see their upcoming cheese cave events here. Toca offers special occasions menus throughout the year; you can see their Valentine's day one here.



    Customized service

    There are many hidden gems at the Ritz-Carlton Toronto, and all you need to access them is call or email, and the staff will create a personalized experience for you. Whether that is a private dinner at the Chef's table or a romantic dinner for two in the wine cellar, your special occasion can be as unique as you want it to be.




    Location

    We visited for our 10th Wedding anniversary in December, and once we checked in, we didn't leave the hotel until check out. With all the great options like the spa, the club floor, dining we didn't need to leave. But if you are looking to explore the area, The Ritz-Carlton Toronto is right in the centre of it all. Steps away from Roy Thompson Hall. Which is great for people watching in the summer. The Red Carpet for TIFF is literally in front of the lobby doors. The hotel is walking distance to many great attractions like the Air Canada Centre, TIFF Bell Lightbox, CN Tower and the Entertainment District.

    If you are looking to spoil yourself in Toronto, this Ritz-Carlton Toronto is a great choice.  Happy celebrating! 

  • Wednesday, January 18, 2017 11:40 AM | claire (Administrator)

    Recently, I went on my first solo vacation in almost 15 years. No friends, no hubby, no kids. Just Me. I spent five glorious days in Atlanta. It was Fall in Canada, but after just a few hours I was able to step back into summer! Since I was traveling on my own I wanted to stay somewhere that was close to the action, but also had a nice boutique feel. I stayed at The Ellis Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel, situated on Peachtree Street in that sweet spot, where it's downtown, in a safe neighbourhood, steps from the Subway (MARTA) and close to everything you need. Of everything I loved about the Ellis Hotel, my favourite is the women's only floor which is accessible only with your room key. Traveling on my own, it gave me added bit of comfort.



    There are so many things to do in Atlanta; the main challenge is choosing what you want to do, and what works for the people you are traveling with. Whether you are traveling solo, as a couple, or with kids, you must pick up the city pass. The city pass gives you access to five of the seven most popular activities in Atlanta. Be awed as you walk through the Georgia Aquarium or the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Be humbled, be inspired, and feel just how far we've come as you walk through the Center for Civil and Human rights. Tickle your taste buds at the Coca-Cola Museum, and on a side note marvel at their marketing genius.




    Getting around in Atlanta is very easy. I was surprised at the many options that I had. While I was there, I used Uber, the MARTA, the Atlanta Streetcar, and my own two feet. One of the things I love to do when visiting a new place is to explore by foot. Since I was on my own, I was a bit reluctant at first, but after two days I adjusted to the area and was comfortable walking from my hotel to many of the activities within 45 minutes from my hotel. Thank you, Google Maps! From The Ellis Hotel to the Atlanta Aquarium, and many other activities was only a 15-minute walk. Exploring by foot gave me a chance to see more of the city, walk through the Centennial Olympic Park, which is stunning, and a great place to go if you have little kids.



    On the topic of walking, there are quite a lot of places to explore. My favourites are:

    The Beltline Eastside Trail: Home to Paris on Ponce, a 46,000 square feet space with art, antiques, furnishings, and that authentic feel.

    Westside Provisions District: Lots of fun to walk around; it's the hub for home decor, clothing, and culinary boutiques. When you are there, you have to check out JCT Kitchen & Bar.

    Ponce City Market: Housed in the largest brick building in the southeast and features a central food hall, leading retail brands, and skyline park which is a retro amusement park fitted with carnival games and panoramic views of Atlanta. This one is great for the whole family.

    For the kids, you want to go to Historic Fourth Ward Park. Lots of green space, a playground, splash pad, an outdoor theatre, and a two-acre lake.



    There is so much history in Atlanta, and being the birthplace of the civil rights movement, there are lots of tours that teach you about the movement. Take one of them. Atlanta is also known for its food, so I was delighted when I was able to combine Food and history together. Check out the Atlanta Food walks for delicious soul food, barbecue, Lowcountry cuisine and Creole-style candies. Seriously YUM! And the reason you want to pair it up with the walking tour is you get to burn off some those calories. Win/Win 


    Please do not go to Atlanta without visiting the birth home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I cannot even begin to describe the feeling of standing on the street he walked, standing on the ground that this great man existed. There were moments of tears, too because it is a very emotional place, but The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site is one of the most inspirational places I've ever stood.




    If you've read Gone With The Wind, you'll enjoy the Margaret Mitchell House tour, and you can use your Atlanta History Centre ticket to enter, so it's a great deal. The Atlanta History Center houses 50 of Atlanta's most revered objects. Treasures such as Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech manuscript, Georgia Tech's famous 1930 Model A Ford, a 1915 Coca-Cola bottle mold, among others. You'll need about two hours to explore fully, and I wouldn't recommend this activity for those traveling with little kids.



    When it comes to places to eat in Atlanta, there are too many places even to list. No matter what you feel like, you’ll find some great spots minutes from wherever you are standing. So many places to eat in Atlanta, and I tried quite a few.

    My absolute favourite for taste and experience is Sweet Georgia's Juke Joint. Not only was this place steps from my hotel, the food is delicious, and they play live music. One thing to know about this spot is there will be lines; the line will be quite long. Call ahead to see if you can get a reservation.

    My next favourite is The Sun Dial, a revolving restaurant on the 73rd of the Westin Peachtree Plaza also steps from The Ellis Hotel.

    For breakfast, I enjoyed the Farm-to-table cuisine at the Terrace Bistro Restaurant & Lounge, at the Ellis Hotel.



    When it comes to places to eat in Atlanta, you have options galore! But for places to have a great time with friends, the #1 is WildPitch Music Hall. It’s a new project from the incomparable DJ Pierre. You are definitely in for a treat for great music, and a great night out.

    I was in Atlanta for five days and I still feel like I only got a glimpse into all that Atlanta has to offer. Even though I had a full itinerary each day, I left feeling like there is so much more I want to explore. 


  • Thursday, December 15, 2016 5:20 PM | claire (Administrator)

    As you step into this Manotick based Montessori-BrightPath Early Learning & Child Care school you are transported into the wonderful world of Harry Potter and all of Hogwarts.  Everything from the colours on the walls to the round library and the clock tower on the roof capture the wonderful and mystical world of the imagination.  The spacious classrooms are decorated with beautiful flowers hanging from the ceilings and the cosy library provides a sanctuary for learners.


    The Manotick Montessori program provides an environment where children (between the ages of 18 months-6 years) are free to respond to their natural drives to work and learn. The school incorporates the Montessori philosophy with an extensive creative program which includes anatomy, creative arts and music. Children are encouraged to learn through opportunities to engage in spontaneous and meaningful activities under the guidance of their teachers while developing concentration, motivation and discipline skills. Within this framework of order, the children progress at their own rate and rhythm according to their individual capabilities during the crucial years of development. For the toddlers program the teacher to student ratio is 1:5 and for the Casa program it is 1:8.


    The school’s extensive creative program includes Body Movement taught in the adjoining dance studio through Yoga, Music, Drama and Dance classes. The centre also encompasses 15 acres of outdoor space complete with a rope climber, sandboxes and basketball court. The school truly prides itself in their ability to guide children in their own learning experience through the use of natural materials and the Montessori philosophy. To further accommodate the growing needs of the students, the school offers prepared hot lunches and snacks in their sizable kitchen. The school’s seasonal menus are rotated regularly and can be adapted to meet the needs and concerns of children’s allergies.


    The school also places great emphasis on Two-Way Communication (TCH) between the school and the parents. This mobile application enables teachers to connect in real-time with parents of the children with messages, developmental reports, daily routines, and even share photos. This allows parents to have up to date information on the child’s well-being and development. The school also organises monthly newsletters, report cards Curriculum Nights, parent-teacher interviews and open houses on a regular basis to highlight children’s learning.


  • Thursday, December 15, 2016 5:12 PM | claire (Administrator)

    As you enter the Little Scholars Montessori Strandherd location in Ottawa, you are greeted by bright colours separating the different sections students. The walls are lined with active learning materials to enhance fine muscle activities and prepare children for future development. Little Scholars Montessori  aims to create distinctive environments for children where they are encouraged to explore, create, learn, socialise and celebrate their unique talents. 


    The curriculum takes a global perspective by combining the Montessori Method, which allows children to learn at their own pace in a comfortable, warm and stimulating environment, with best educational practices focusing on language, arts, mathematics, science, geography, and culture. Little Scholars Montessori education promotes the development of the whole child,aiming to help each child reach his/her full potential in all areas of life, so that children may become positive, confident and responsible individuals, lifelong learners and problem solvers. 


    The Little Scholars Montessori philosophy focusses on some of the following pillars: that parents and teachers are partners working together for the benefit of each child; that each child has a unique nature and, with that, the capacity to become a successful learner; and that promoting opportunities for self-discipline and the development of a child’s inner resources will enhance self-esteem. Outside of the classroom, Little Scholars Montessori aims to create memorable and tangible learning experiences through other activities such as field trips, dramatic plays, talent shows, parent presentations and environmental projects.

    The school offers three programs for parents to choose from: a toddler program, a casa program, and a KG program. The toddler program (12 months-2.5 yeas) intends to provide the child with a period of self-development and learning self-help and social skills. This includes active learning materials to enhance fine muscle activities which prepare toddlers for future development. 


    The learning is conducted in a nurturing atmosphere that follows the natural rhythm and needs of the child. 

    The Casa Program (2.5- 4 years) develops the building blocks for learning in a Montessori based environment that fosters all areas of development-intellectuals, physical, emotional and social.  Little Scholars Montessori strongly believes that a stimulating, language rich, social learning environment is an imperative part of early development.

    The KG Program (4-6 years) aims to prepare students with the skill set for future schooling and to create a smooth and successful transition to elementary school. A distinctive factor that sets the Little Scholars Montessori KG Program apart from public school is the teacher to child ratio. 

    Little Scholars Montessori maintains a 1-8 or 1-10 ratio compared to a 1-20 ration in other KG programs. The lower ratio allows the teachers to focus on each child individually and to prepare them for an invaluable foundation of lasting academic and social skills as well as the knowledge to succeed in a traditional elementary classroom.

    Lastly, Little Scholars Montessori schools are committed to developing in their students a sense of responsibility and interdependence with their community and the world.


  • Wednesday, December 07, 2016 1:21 PM | claire (Administrator)

    So, you may have seen online that parents are spending thousands of dollars trying to get the Hatchimal toy for the holidays. Thousands of dollars for a toy that retails for under $50. Now, I'm not the type of person to tell parents what to do, but I do have some other suggestions of gifts for the holidays that everyone in the family will enjoy.

    My kids are now aged 9 and 5 and for the last few years Santa has spent less than $50 on each child's toy. The kids know that Santa has a budget and they are fine with that.

    Last year my daughter's most treasured gift was a box of hand written notes with experiences that we can all do together. There was a variety of activities from going to the movies to picnic at the local park. They ranged from things for the whole family to things for just her and one parent. She treasured this gift more than anything else she received.  

    For years I gave my son things that he enjoyed that didn't cost any money. One year it was a box all wrapped up with nothing inside, another year it was bubble packaging that I had collected throughout the year that he could pop to his delight. Kids just love having fun, and often they don't need a new toy.

    I've found that experiences are much preferred over things and often the toy gets played with once and then forgotten about. Even worse? Kids change their minds between the time they send their letter out to Santa and when the gifts are delivered leaving you expecting your child to be overjoyed that you got the toy they wanted, and in reality, they couldn't care less.

    Unlike that toy that is discarded and forgotten about minutes after they open it, experiences are remembered for years and provide a great bonding experience. The best part is it's something the entire family can enjoy. Here are the tops three things that I'd suggest putting that $1000 towards instead of a toy.


    Go to the theatre.  Our favourite in the Toronto area is the annual Ross Petty Musical. You are guaranteed to laugh throughout the performance, and you'll get immense joy out of the look of wonder on your child's face. Not only will you have a great time, you'll have lots of money left over for another activity. Feel like the money is burning a hole in your pocket? Turn it into even more of an evening out by going to dinner before the show.  The ultimate experience would be to turn a stay-cation by booking a hotel downtown for the night and exploring downtown with the family the following morning.




    Take a family vacation. Take that $1000 you would be spending on a toy and put it towards a family vacation together. Which kid has ever said I don't want to go on a vacation? It's something you can all enjoy together, and the memories made will be priceless. My top pics of places to stay in Ontario are Blue Mountain Resort and Fern Resort. Why not save up for a big trip to Disney? It might take a few years but it's a much better option that spending that money on a toy that won't last.




    Backyard Trampoline. You are probably thinking that's not an experience, but it is. It's an experience that happens in your yard every day. For me, the kids get home from school, and they are in the backyard playing for over an hour while I'm making dinner. Of course, it's not for just the kids, so we hop on all the time. I like that I can jump for 10 minutes and get a good cardio workout and it's the equivalent of running for 30 mins. We got a Springfree Trampoline which means we can jump all year long, and since kids like snow, they'll love playing with fresh snow right on the trampoline. Since we  got our trampoline, we no longer go to indoor playgrounds to burn off energy which saves us money we can use towards another family gift.

    Another big savings for us this year was at home birthday parties. Both the kids wanted to have a trampoline party at home. That saved us over $1000 and honestly between the savings form indoor playgrounds, and savings from parties - that cost of your trampoline is covered easily.





    The main thing here is to think about ways to have fun as a family and make your hard earned dollars go further. I'm sure we can all agree that there are better ways to spend $1000 than on a Hatchimal toy. 


  • Wednesday, November 16, 2016 10:52 PM | claire (Administrator)

    Written by Brandee Foster

    Cold and flu season. These four words strike fear into the heart of pretty much every parent I know. Bringing a baby home from the hospital is daunting at any time of the year, but those of us who are parents to fall and winter babies have experienced the joys of trying to keep our new, tiny little people from coming down with the many cough, runny nose and flu-like ailments that seem to plague people pretty steadily between the months of October and April, give or take a few weeks.


    When you have just had a preterm baby, though, the thought of bringing that wee babe home and exposing them to the sickness and germ stew that you find in most public places during this time of year is downright terrifying. Having just spent days, weeks, even months in a place where you have to scrub up upon entry and you are taught to wash and sanitize before you touch your own child, the thought of other people's germs can be a tough one to swallow.


    My son was born a few days before Thanksgiving 8 years ago. At birth, he weighed 4 pounds and 11 ounces, and was the smallest human being I had ever seen. He wasn't allowed to leave the NICU until he was able to gain enough weight to keep him over the 5 lb mark. He was so tiny, and I was so terrified. Given that he was in the NICU, it wasn't too hard to limit visitors in those first couple of weeks. Once he came home, though, everyone wanted to meet the baby and the visitors started to flood in. I was absolutely terrified that someone would bring their germs around the baby and he would get sick. He was already so small, and had already been through a fight,so the thought of him getting sick made me a bit crazy. In order to preserve my sanity, as well as those around me, I had to find what I was and wasn't comfortable with pretty quickly. Since I didn't know any other NICU parents, though, I was sort of own my own in figuring out what worked and what didn't.


    - Saying no: I had to get good pretty darn quickly at putting my little family first, even if that decision wasn't always what others wanted. I knew that in order to protect my little dude the best we could, we couldn't be shy in asking potential visitors how they were feeling *before* they came over. I also got wise and started asking if they had been around any sick kids or adults, even if they, themselves, were feeling ok. At first I felt bad asking and screening visitors like that, but I knew that if it was me being asked, I wouldn't be hurt, but would do my best to understand that the little babe had to come first. I stopped worrying so much about hurting people's feelings when it came to the baby. Any sign of a cold and it was hands off. My husband was forever scooting off the other way in public places when he saw people with that droopy, sick look come anywhere near our son and he had zero qualms about asking people to admire from afar if they were coughing or sneezy.
    - Wash: Don't be afraid or intimidated to ask people to wash their hands before the touch the baby. There is a very good reason why the NICU makes you scrub up, and that is to protect all of those vulnerable little ones. Same goes for at home. No washing? No touching!

    - Sanitize on the go: Hand sanitizer became my best friend. To this day, we have remained close companions, actually and I always carry a bottle in my purse, and use it often, especially during this time of year. I bought bottles of nicer smelling stuff when I could find it, and used good old alcohol based Purell when I couldn't. Hand washing is best, but there are times when you just can't get to a sink, and this gives me peace of mind. When my son was young, anyone who wanted to touch or hold him had to was hand sanitize. I had bottles in the diaper bags, in the car and at the house.

    - Get out: We didn't sequester ourselves in the house all the time. We had weekly doctors appointments for the first few months of his life, and we had things that needed to get done. We just went about our business as usual and hoped that everything would be okay. Isolating ourselves in the house wouldn't have been good for my mental health, and as hard as it was to remember sometimes, I had to remain healthy too. We couldn't hide away just because we were afraid of the baby getting sick. After seeing how strong he really was during his time in the NICU, we knew we had to balance practicality with concern and life had to continue on. - Keep it fresh: We did a lot of boiling of things that went into our son's mouth or near it. Soothies, nipples, teething toys, anything that might have a decent chance of coming into contact with a little mouth was routinely cleaned and boiled for that extra bit of freshness.

    - Don't be afraid: One piece of advice that our doctor gave us was not to be afraid of a bit of dust or dirt. It seemed really counterintuitive to me after the sterility of the NICU, but she explained that children who were kept in perfectly sterilized, spotless environments didn't have the same opportunity to build up their immune systems as those who didn't, so once the baby was healthy enough to be discharged, not to be too scared. This was a big one for me and one I wished I had taken to heart a bit sooner than I did.

    - Trust yourself: you are the parents and ultimately, you are the keeper and protectors of your little human, and you know what is best. Reach out and ask for help if you are unsure. Trust your gut. You know your child best. Don't worry about "bothering" the doctors office,or the people at the 24hr Nurse Line. That is what they are there for, and so what if they privately brand you a crazy parent? You can't buy peace of mind,and when you listen to your heart, you will rarely go wrong.


    Honestly, it's now 8 years later and these are still a lot of the same cold season coping strategies that I use. I found that once our son started school, he began this seemingly never-ending cycle of fall and winter sickness. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, the germs are out there, but if you use some common sense and follow your gut, you should be just fine.

    This post is part of the #HealthyThisWinter Campaign sponsored by AbbVie Canada. The experience and comments listed above are my own.


  • Wednesday, November 16, 2016 10:35 PM | claire (Administrator)

    Written by Fabiana Bacchini 

    It was a cold and rainy morning when I drove to Mount Sinai Hospital in the middle of fall. I had taken that drive hundreds of times over the last 6 months. That morning, however, it would be the last one I drove with an empty car seat. On the way back home later that afternoon, I was going to have my miracle baby Gabriel with me.

     

    Gabriel was born at 26 weeks gestational, 14 weeks ahead of time, to our surprise, weighing a mere 2 pounds. My surviving twin spent 146 days in the NICU and that morning he was finally going home, still on oxygen, but nevertheless going home.

     

    During our NICU stay we were part of a pilot study called Family Integrated Care, which encourages families to be part of the team and care for their babies despite of their size and condition. I had spent over one thousand hours by his bedside and attended education classes 5 days a week. Therefore, I knew very well the risks of Gabriel getting sick once he was discharged. A simple cold would not be a simple cold for him. Because he was born so early, his lungs were very premature and it would be a while until he was strong enough to fight germs like a full term baby.  It’s on the third trimester of the pregnancy that the babies get a boost to their immune system. I had missed the entire trimester. Gabriel’s immune system was fragile and I had to be extra cautious during the coming winter months, when everyone seems to get sick.

     

    I had a plan in mind leaving the hospital. My plan was to hibernate. I locked myself inside the house with him and we only went out for doctors or therapists’ appointments. I bought boxes of hand sanitizer and it was almost part of my home décor. I had spent months ‘brain washing’ my 3 year old son, Thomas, to hand wash as often as possible. I knew I had to keep him healthy so no germs would come inside the house, but he was in a full day Montessori school in the peak of the flu season.

     

    Half way through December, Thomas came home coughing. I panicked and isolated Gabriel in his bedroom with his oxygen tanks and monitor. Two days later, he started to cough and I knew he wasn’t breathing well. Back we were at the hospital and my little guy admitted with pneumonia. It was a hard time. We spent Christmas in total isolation in the Intensive Care Unit at Sick Kids Hospital.

     

    Two weeks later, he was home and I was scared that it could happen again. From January to March, I didn’t leave the house and no one came to visit us. My grocery shopping was done on-line. I made my husband change his clothes after work before touching Gabriel. I isolated myself and by March I wasn’t feeling great.

     

    In the beginning of spring, one of Gabriel’s doctors asked me how I was doing and he reassured me that he was stronger and it was time for me to get out of the fight or flight mode. So, one Saturday morning I decided to pack the diaper bag and go out with the kids to a shopping mall with the oxygen tank and monitor. I felt I was seeing life for the first time, everything seemed so fast paced. It was a fun morning walking around the mall with the kids and for the first time in months I felt a sense of normality.

     

    It was time to get life back, to do the things we always loved to do as a family. I realized that being healthy was more than not having pneumonia or the flu. Being healthy for us meant living life to the fullest, enjoying what we have today; celebrating the little things, finding the balance that we all strive for.

     

    It was a hard winter for us as a family and if I could do it all over again, I would have left Gabriel with my husband for a couple of hours to do grocery shopping or to go for a coffee with a friend. Or perhaps, I would have gone for dinner to a nearby restaurant with my husband for an hour or two. Hibernating did not prevent Gabriel from getting sick and made us all feel the winter blues. On our second winter, I did everything I could to find some balance so we could all enjoy the cold months.

     

    To all families recently discharged: keep a good hand washing routine, find someone you can trust to leave the baby for one hour or two, go for a walk, ask for help, invite a friend to come over to have a cup of coffee with you. These are little things that can help you get through the first winter with your miracle baby at home.

     

    Enjoy it! After all, the NICU days are now a memory.


    This post is part of the #HealthyThisWinter Campaign sponsored by AbbVie Canada. The experience and comments listed above are my own.



  • Wednesday, November 16, 2016 10:33 PM | claire (Administrator)

    Written by Alana Romain

    There’s nothing easy about spending any length of time in the NICU with your baby, but if your preemie came especially early or faced significant complications, life in the NICU can sometimes feel like it will never end. When my twins, Reid and Madeleine, were born at 25 weeks gestation in 2012, it was hard for my husband, Matt, and I to imagine that we’d ever be a “normal” family living together at home. But almost four months after they were born, our babies finally came home. We were overjoyed, but I was surprised to learn what a huge adjustment it can be to leave the hospital. And for parents bringing their preemies home in the winter — aka, prime time for germs that could be really dangerous to their vulnerable immune systems — the transition can sometimes feel overwhelming. So if discharge from the NICU is on the horizon, and you’re worried about how to handle it, here are some of the things I wish I’d known about surviving cold and flu season with a preemie.


    First thing’s first: you are not being paranoid if you’ve suddenly turned into a huge germaphobe. No matter how lax you may have once been about germs and illness, the NICU inevitably turns pretty much every parent into a hand sanitizing, germ-fearing crazy person. When we were facing our first winter with our twins, I was very strict about hand hygiene, denied any visitors who had even the slightest throat tickle, and insisted that our extended family members get flu shots (even if they’d never gotten them before in their lives). I knew that not everyone understood why these things were important, and struggled with some guilt at feeling like I was overreacting or being unreasonable. But the truth was, we’d been through so much during our twins’ hospitalization that the last thing I wanted was to see them readmitted because they’d caught RSV. Looking back now, I wish I’d known I didn’t have to apologize for wanting to protect my babies. And I’d much rather have been too over-the-top than be left feeling like I hadn’t done enough.


    In all honesty, our first winter after the NICU was one we largely spent at home in a kind of self-imposed isolation — and I’m glad we did it that way. The twins were still so young and small, and the memory of hospital life was so fresh in our minds, that there didn’t seem to be any rush to get them out into the world and expose them to the coughing, sneezing masses. We maintained the NICU practices of hand washing and hand sanitizer, and did our best to keep Madeleine and Reid as protected as possible from illness (that became particularly difficult when Matt and I both ended up with a totally debilitating stomach flu, but with a little help from some loved ones, we were able to stay away from the twins long enough that they remained totally healthy). 

    Coming home from the NICU is daunting no matter what time of year it happens, and it really is a big adjustment to figure out “life on the outside” when all you’ve known so far as a parent is nurses and doctors and hospitals. What I wish I’d known then is that it’s OK to be worried or nervous or uncomfortable, and it’s also totally fine if you aren’t a laid-back parent the way you might have been if you hadn’t had a preemie. Any parent who’s had a premature baby knows that it is scary and at times completely heartbreaking, and that the worries that you felt when they were born don’t necessarily go away as soon as you are discharged.


    If you’re preparing to bring your preemie home this winter, congratulations, you made it! You’ve got so many wonderful experiences ahead of you. But navigating cold and flu season with a preemie really can be nerve-wracking and complicated, so it’s important that you do whatever you feel is best to get through it. No guilt or apologies required.


    This post is part of the #HealthyThisWinter Campaign sponsored by AbbVie Canada. The experience and comments listed above are my own.






  • Wednesday, November 16, 2016 10:30 PM | claire (Administrator)

    Written by Christina Moss - Mississauga, Ontario

    It's the most wonderful time of the year..." I thought as I announced I was pregnant on Christmas Eve to my family with a Christmas Card from Baby saying they were excited to meet them.  I looked around the table and pictured a high chair at the end, between my husband and myself. The baby would be 5 months next Christmas. How memorable that first Christmas will be, filled with more love, laughter and little giggles.


    Fast forward to May, and at 27 weeks and 2 days, my water began to leak. After 6 days in hospital, my daughter surprised us all when she came into the world at 28 + 1. All the joys of becoming a first time parent that I had envisioned seemed to have vanished in an instant as our concerns were now focused on getting my baby the care she immediately needed.


    We spent the majority of the summer in the NICU. We learned about proper hand hygiene, taking care of ourselves so we could take care of our baby, and learned just how fragile a preemie baby could be. I missed only ONE DAY of her 91 day stay because I was feeling  like I was fighting a cold. I still hate that I missed one day of her journey, but I was doing it to protect her and to keep her safe.  Her safety and well-being was my new priority. 


    A week before discharge after our stay of just over 3 months, we were given our RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) and winter season educational talk in the midst of other daunting paperwork and chats. Life was going to feel different now. No guests with signs of a cold or flu, make hand washing stations, hand sanitizers at every door, and to not take any chances with her health. Keeping our child safe in our own home became our number one priority.  It scared me. It really scared me. My husband and I made sure to get our Flu shots as soon as the season began and changed our routines. We lived in a germ free bubble. If I heard a sneeze, I grabbed her and ran the other way. No way was she getting sick on my watch. 


    The first major family holiday since her discharge the end of August came in October. My baby’s first Thanksgiving. So our emails and messages started flying: “If you've been near anyone sick, stay home. If you show up and sneeze you have to leave…” It was segregating us from everyone else. We missed the "typical" family Thanksgiving, since not everyone could be certain of not being ill. That was fine. I convinced myself I wasn't a big Thanksgiving person anyways. 


    Then, Fa La La…my baby’s first Christmas rolled around and the same emails flew around. This time with: "Please get your flu shot because she’s  too young and fragile to get her own.”. We have always had huge Christmas gatherings. Christmas Eve was the biggest day, when my side of the family had our big Seafood Feast. Well, we had three school aged cousins and one teacher on my side. They were amongst a population who frequently fall ill and I just couldn't risk it. I couldn't bring my Preemie and risk her getting the flu, a cold, or worse, RSV. We asked the RSV clinic and they advised that it was best to skip this year. So we did (sort of). 


    My immediate family, my Mom, Brother and Sister (who received flu shots) were supportive and joined us in our new home by making a small version of our typical feast. Even my in-laws (who were mixed on the idea of a flu shot) got theirs as a sign of their support. My extended family was beyond supportive of our decision to not attend, more than I ever expected. And thanks to technology, we were able to share the holiday from afar... on Skype! No hugs were shared, no sounds of little giggles around the table like I expected for them. Instead a quiet night in, protecting my baby the best way I knew how. 


    I'm not going to lie, it was depressing (at the time) to sacrifice my annual Christmas traditions. It was one of the darkest Christmases I've ever experienced, emotionally. I felt sheltered. I felt alone at many times. I felt like no one knew what I was going through. It was after a few months into RSV season that I realized that I wasn’t alone. Many Preemie parents feel this way and make these small sacrifices (they never feel small at the time) for their children. It's what makes you a good Parent. Our babies are our world. She is my world. I was able to protect her that first winter.  I did my duty. I kept her safe. I protected her. I was Mom. I am a Preemie Mom!

    This post is part of the #HealthyThisWinter Campaign sponsored by AbbVie Canada. The experience and comments listed above are my own.






  • Wednesday, November 16, 2016 10:25 PM | claire (Administrator)

    Written by Lesley Donaldson-Reid

    Home life with a baby wasn’t what we thought it was going to be before Torran’s premature birth. Our first winter at home with our son, Torran, he was six months corrected age. He had come home from the hospital in late July after 139 days in Mt. Sinai and Sick Kids in Toronto. His head was the size of a one year old due to hydrocephalus, a swelling of fluid in the brain.

    November was the first month since being born at 26 weeks and 6 days gestation in March that Torran wasn’t hospitalized for some health problem or another brain surgery.

    Our struggles with prematurity did not end when we left the hospital. We brought home a complicated little man who required weekly medical appointments, daily professional interventions, and constant therapy provided by his parents.

    We monitored his smallest actions, feeling the biggest responsibility for getting him to his milestones. He had hearing loss, fine and gross motor delay, and contractures, among other things. The only thing Torran could do well was eat and poop.

    We sanitized everything and declined visits to, or from, friends with colds. Our social sphere shrunk and life focused on Torran’s development. I wouldn’t take my son to play groups for fear of infection and RSV. He had already had two colds despite our isolation, which, thankfully, didn’t turn into pneumonia. I also didn’t want to feed the bitterness that lay just a tiny scratch beneath the surface of my skin.

    By December, Torran transferred from the bassinet at my bedside to a crib in his own room. Because of a problem with his shunt surgical site, we inclined his mattress and secured him in a Tucker Sling that prevented him from sliding down.

    I missed rooming in with him dearly. I stood by his bed, or stared at his camera monitor, apologizing to him that I pushed him so hard to do his best every day. Every night I checked to make sure he was still breathing because I was still haunted by his apnea spells in the NICU.

    Despite all of this atypical parenting and emotional struggle, my son amazed me in so many ways. He loved blowing juicy raspberries. Eventually, the down-cast appearance of his eyes (because of the pressure in his brain) improved and he would truly look at me - and smile. I watched him discovered the tiny actions, like hand regard, which are key to infant development.

    Torran’s MEDEK therapy, which I did with him for 45 minutes twice a day, helped him gain enough core strength that he maintained a sitting position for brief periods. He was so cute when he tumbled onto the protective cushion surrounding him.

    The weird lump on his head from brain surgery persisted. We couldn’t let Torran lie flat for long periods of time - the last time we did that, his shunt slipped out from his skull. My arms felt the strain of carrying my mini Sumo who couldn’t support his own body weight.

    We took special care to monitor the site for complications. As the days stretched away from the most recent surgery, his body began growing into his oversized head. A head which he loved hiding in a bucket.

     

    Torran had sunshine in the smiles which matured into giggles, and, after lots of auditory verbal therapy, into sounds. He wore hearing aids shortly after his first birthday, an event which my food-driven son celebrated by saying all three syllables of banana.

    A year after his premature birth, he refuted the doctor’s prognosis of a greater than 50% chance of paralysis from the bleeding in his head. Instead of sleeping at nap time, he pulled himself into a standing position.

    Facebook wasn’t a thing when we were first at home with Torran, and we felt very isolated. Our days focused on his healthy development, so it made sense to keep to ourselves until his little body could face the big, bad, germy world. We were told sickness could set him back, and we wouldn’t deny him his accomplishments. Having a premature child with increased medical needs made our family life more challenging, but no less worth living.

    This post is part of the #HealthyThisWinter Campaign sponsored by AbbVie Canada. The experience and comments listed above are my own.







 

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