This blog is about life with a baby. It's not always what 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.

Be sure to also check out our Travel Blog where you can share and read stories about travelling with the family.

We encourage you to share your experiences - by sharing your experiences and commenting on other posts, you may be helping other moms.

  • Sunday, March 11, 2018 8:00 AM | Christina (Administrator)

    Life With A Baby is turning 10. To celebrate, we are excited to share with you insights from 10 different Moms, answering 10 questions honestly. 

    Jessica M.

    Jessica is a wife and first time mother to a beautiful baby girl. She is a teacher, but would love to be a stay at home mom once her maternity leave is over.

    1. How would you describe yourself before having a baby?
    Before having my daughter I would tell people that I was a generally happy person. I would tell them that I love my job and what I do and that I was lucky to have found a career that I love. 

    2. How would you describe yourself after having a baby?
    Since my daughter has been born, my answer is different everyday. Some days are exhausting and extremely trying, while others are so great I forget about the bad days, but I’m always proud to tell people “I’m a mom.” For me, being a wife and a mom are my number one priorities. 

    3. What is one thing you miss about your pre-baby life?
    I miss my friends. Being the first of my friends to be married and have a baby is hard on a friendship, it doesn’t mean that the friendship is over although it changes the relationship you have with that friend. 

    4. What is one thing you wish someone prepared you for, when it comes to Motherhood?
    It would have been nice to have some insight on where to find mom groups and places to go with your baby to meet other moms and babies. It was 3 months before I found mom groups and things to do.

    5. How has Motherhood changed you?
    I always wanted to be a mom, since I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up and be a mom. Since having my baby, I feel complete. I thought I loved the career I had, but now I realize I was meant to be a mom.I feel happier and more confident in who I am since having my baby. 

    6. Do you feel like you have “balance” in your life and why?
    Yes and no. Some days I feel like I have everything figured out, I feel like “super mom.” I have the house tidy, dinner prepped and ready for when my husband gets home, and even the baby is happy, fed and playing. Other days it feels like a whirlwind of emotions and a million things that need to be done. The laundry is pilling up in the baskets, baby and I are still in our pyjamas at 3pm, the dog has to go for a walk still, dinner hasn’t even been thought about, the list goes on. Finding balance is hard. I guess I have a good balance of “together” days and crazy days, but I don’t have balance each and every day.

    7. What helped get your through the postpartum transition to Motherhood?
    Having my mom around helped me a lot. She was there when I needed her to be, but she was never around more than I needed. My mom was some how able to be around the perfect amount of time, enough that I loved having her around to help and yet never a minute more than that (because I never got to the point of being frustrated with her being around). My mom would come over and would just keep me company at first when I didn’t know any other moms or have anywhere to go to talk to people. 

    8. Motherhood is hard. What gets you through each day, day after day?
    Having my husband be involved has made Motherhood SO much easier. In the beginning he would get up with our daughter in the night to change her diaper and then he would bring her back to me to feed her. He helped share the work load.

    9. What makes you grateful about Motherhood?
    Everything. Seeing my baby grow everyday and learn new skills. Realizing that she loves me more than any words could ever explain (even though I know exactly what that’s like because I feel that kind of love for her). 

    10. What is one thing you would tell a new or expecting Mother?
    Whatever you’re wondering about, ask. There are so many unexpected, strange and unknown things about pregnancy and babies so if you’re wondering something, ask someone. 

    #HonestMom #LWAB10 #MomConfessions #MomTruth #MomTruths #ConfessionsOfAMom #Motherhood

  • Saturday, March 10, 2018 8:00 AM | Christina (Administrator)

    Life With A Baby is turning 10.  To celebrate, we are excited to share with you insights from 10 different Moms, answering 10 questions honestly.

    Leigh D.

    Leigh lives in beautiful Muskoka with her husband, two daughters, and a mini dachshund.  She is currently on maternity leave with her almost 8 month old.  When she’s not chasing after two tiny humans, Leigh keeps busy with her creative outlets: baking (Comfort Bakeshop), jewellery (Leigh Frances Jewellery), and blogging (Bad Moms Canada).

    1. How would you describe yourself before having a baby?
    I would say that I was more relaxed and carefree before having a baby.  Definitely more selfish, in the sense that I could just do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted (no schedule).  Sometimes the responsibility that comes along with parenting can be overwhelming. 

    2. How would you describe yourself after having a baby?
    After having a baby, I’m a lot more tired (aren’t we all?!).  Parenting can be exhausting.  On a positive note, I’ve become a lot better at multi-tasking and juggling more things than I thought I could handle.   

    3. What is one thing you miss about your pre-baby life?

    I miss being more carefree and spontaneous.  Last-minute road trips or going out for dinner still happen with children, it just requires more planning or arranging childcare.  Waking up whenever I want, going where I want – basically anything that just requires worrying about myself is something that I miss sometimes.  Life was definitely easier/simpler before children.

    4. What is one thing you wish someone prepared you for when it comes to Motherhood?
    Honestly, I’m not sure if you can truly be prepared for Motherhood.  For me, it was such a difficult transition that I wasn’t expecting, and I don’t think that anyone could have prepared me for that.  Motherhood can be strange - no one really knows how being a Mother will change them, until they become one.  

    5. How has Motherhood changed you?

    I’ve always been a very empathetic person, and Motherhood has made me even more so.  I feel like Motherhood is the great equalizer among women.  At the end of the day, I think everyone is just trying to do their best, to be the best Mom they can be.  I’ve become more supportive of all Mothers that I meet.  It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had, and also the most rewarding.

    6. Do you feel like you have “balance” in your life and why?

    This is a tough one to answer.  Overall, I do feel like I have balance in my life; however, I don’t always feel this way on a daily basis.  I always say, “I’ve got some of my $h*t together, some of the time”.  Let me explain.  Some days, it’s hard to feel like you’ve had enough time to do all of the things that you want or need to do (e.g., get enough sleep, eat healthfully, exercise, play with your kids, carve out quality time with your partner, etc.).  Other days, you feel like a champion if you’ve put away the laundry!  It really depends on the day.  For me, I need to remind myself that it’s impossible to do all the things, all the time, in a single day.  It’s definitely challenging to achieve that balance.  Overall, if you prioritize spending time on things that are important to you, or on things that make you happy, then you can feel balanced.

    7. What helped get you through the postpartum transition into Motherhood?

    Having a supportive “village” - partner, family and friends, and a wonderful team of professionals (midwives and my family doctor) helped me through the postpartum transition.  I experienced Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety following the birth of both of my children, with varying symptoms and severity each time.  The first time, I was not myself at all, so I wasn’t easily able to identify that I needed help.  I really relied on those closest to me to advocate for me and get me the help I needed.  The second time, I could feel myself slipping and I knew that I needed to get help.  I was really honest with myself and those around me, and it allowed me to get help sooner than later.  Having people in your life that you can be yourself with really helps.  I’m lucky to have amazing friends and family that would regularly check in with me, and ask me the tough questions (e.g., how is your mental health?). 

    8. Motherhood is hard. What gets you through each day, day after day?

    Motherhood IS hard!  I think it can be hard for all Mothers, whether we like to admit it or not.  Knowing that I’m never alone, that we all struggle in our own ways, is something that helps me get through the tough days.  Having fellow mom friends that you can be honest with is one of the most important things for me.  Motherhood is like a rollercoaster, with lots of ups and downs.  Just like anything else in life.  When you’re having a tough moment or a tough day, knowing that it will pass helps to keep things in perspective.  Along with all the hard moments of Motherhood, there are so many wonderful moments too.

    9. What makes you grateful about motherhood?

    I feel really fortunate to have two healthy children.  Seeing their smiles, and the wonderful, unique qualities and personalities that they each have makes me so happy.  Children are the best teachers, so I feel grateful to have the experience of being a mother. 


    10. What is one thing you would tell a new or expecting Mother?
    This is what I always tell new or expecting Mothers: be patient with yourself during the “fourth trimester” (aka the first 3 months).  There will be really tough days, and you will get through them all.  You will figure it all out in time, so be gentle with yourself while you work through all of the challenges in the early days.  

    #Motherhood #HonestMotherhood #TruthBomb #LifeWithABaby #LWAB10 #ConfessionsOfAMom #MomConfessions #Family #IAmMom

  • Friday, March 09, 2018 8:00 AM | Christina (Administrator)

    Life With A Baby is turning 10.  To celebrate, we are excited to share with you insights from 10 different Moms, answering 10 questions honestly.

    SARAH M. 

    Sarah is a mom to 5 boys (9-8-7-6-4). Radio news announcer and administrator for a local midwifery practice. Hobbies include baking bread, fermenting and riding a rad scooter.

    1. How would you describe yourself before having a baby?
    I was Organized, controlled, private.

    2. How would you describe yourself after having a baby?
    I am open & honest.

    3. What is one thing you miss about your pre-baby life?
    I miss sleep.

    4. What is one thing you wish someone prepared you for, when it comes to Motherhood?
    The ultimate loss of control

    5. How has Motherhood changed you?
    I’ve really solidified my personal philosophies (the why stage does that) and gained such a deep understanding of myself.

    6. Do you feel like you have “balance” in your life and why?
    Yes! I have a very supportive partner and we have a mutual vision of what our expectations are (it’s ever changing)

    7. What helped get you through the postpartum transition into Motherhood?
    Community, not every interaction led to a friendship, but every interaction was needed at the time.

    8. Motherhood is hard. What gets you through each day, day after day?
    Being part of a very interesting family.

    9. What makes you grateful about motherhood?
    Getting to really know myself, and making sure I stay grounded surrounded by my favourite people.

    10. What is one thing you would tell a new or expecting Mother?
    Be real, the more you share the more you’ll get back. Make a mom friend who “gets you”. Let your partner parent they way they do, you might learn something.

  • Thursday, March 08, 2018 8:00 AM | Christina (Administrator)
    Life With A Baby is turning 10.  To celebrate, we are excited to share with you insights from 10 different Moms, answering 10 questions honestly.

    Summer C
    Summer is a first-time Mom from Niagara Falls to a beautiful, stubborn baby boy and is a Stepmom to an equally as beautiful, sweet girl. She is currently on maternity leave until September. She loves to curl up and browse through Amazon for great toys and baby things, while watching her guilty pleasure channel TLC.

    1. How would you describe yourself before having a baby?
    I was more spontaneous. I wanted to go and do so many things. Go out for drinks, go to the casino, go shopping. I had very different priorities. Get the renos done with our house. Go to work and have fun with my husband. Buy a bottle of wine after work and just chill out. Stay up until stupid times watching movies or drinking or talking.

    2. How would you describe yourself after having a baby?

    I'm more reserved now. I was orderly before, but now with my son, I have a schedule. Instead of drinks, its a coffee. Instead of the casino, it's baby talk groups. Instead of shopping for me, its diapers and wipes and baby food. My priorities are not renos. It's putting together the new exersaucer. Now I don't go to work. I go to a crib to work for the wonderful baby I've brought into this world. I still have fun with my husband, it's just spent together on the couch with two wonderful children between us instead of a pool table. And I do stay up, But I'm watching a baby monitor, drinking a big glass of water and talking about the newest struggle or newest skill baby James has acquired.

    3. What is one thing you miss about your pre-baby life?
    In a way, I miss not having someone depend on me and not having to worry about someone else's well-being but my own. Don't get me wrong. I love my son and I wouldn't change that for the world. But I do sometimes miss not having to do laundry every day so we both have clean clothes that aren't spit up on; being able to sleep for however long I wanted. 

    4. What is one thing you wish someone prepared you for, when it comes to Motherhood?
    The emotions. The baby blues were horrendous. Going from being excited, to depressed,  to angry,  to flat all in 10 minutes. I thought I was going crazy. And I wish someone prepared me for PPD. But There isn't much help or talk about that until, most times, it's too late and you think you're going crazy yelling at your husband and crying while you hold your baby at 3 in the morning. 

    5. How has Motherhood changed you?
    I'm more reliable now. I need to be reliable. I can't just flake or run away when there's a problem. More time oriented. I now truly see the meaning behind taking all the pictures. Wanting dinner time to be family time. I now know that its okay to ask for help. That I need it sometimes. Even if I don't want it. 

    6. Do you feel like you have “balance” in your life and why?
    HA! Balance? What's that? For me, since I chose to breastfeed, the scales all weigh closer in my son's direction. I do get loads of help from my family and especially my husband. But I don't feel like there's much balance for me and "me time". Unless I forfeit sleep or a shower (laughs). 

    7. What helped get you through the postpartum transition into Motherhood?
    My husband and my parents one hundred percent. Having them to help and talk to was my saving grace. I give kudos to all those women who are single moms who don't have the support that I did. 

    8. Motherhood is hard. What gets you through each day, day after day?
    Knowing I have a little person that I'm helping to mould into a human being. Hearing my husband say that he is proud of me for doing the things that I'm doing to get better. Seeing the amazing smile from my son next to me first thing in the morning. Hearing my stepdaughter giggle and coo over her little brother. There are so many things that get me through the daily struggles like no sleep, sore nipples, and dishes spilling out of the sink onto the counters.

    9. What makes you grateful about motherhood?
    I'm grateful that I get to watch my children grow. That I created that person or helped to raise that person. That I get to see their personalities develop. To see my son go from a helpless, tiny being to slowly becoming his own person. To see my stepdaughter go from a sweet little 4 year old who just started school and was so shy, to this wonderful first grader who is starting to open up to her surroundings and see the world differently every day. Watching my son learn to grab toys and trying to teach him to roll over.

    I'm grateful that I get to call them mine. And that they will be able to say that's my mama/ stepmom. 

    10. What is one thing you would tell a new or expecting Mother?
    Don’t be scared. Even though it's easier said than done. When someone asks if you need help WITH ANYTHING! Take it and let them help! And if you ever feel like something is wrong, whether it is with you or baby, whether it's how you feel emotionally or physically. Talk to someone, anyone. You are not alone. There are others who understand you and love you. There are many people who know you're a wonderful mom or will be and they want to see you succeed and be happy. I want to see you succeed and be happy. 

  • Wednesday, March 07, 2018 8:00 AM | Christina (Administrator)

    Life With A Baby is turning 10.  To celebrate, we are excited to share with you insights from 10 different Moms, answering 10 questions honestly.

    Mallory is a single Mom of four children (5 months,6,8,11). She works in the community as a Family Service Worker with The Salvation Army. Her hobbies include drinking coffee and taking pictures. Although, if her children were asked, they would say her hobbies are cooking, doing dishes and laundry 

    1. How would you describe yourself before having a baby?
    I was a lot more calm and had a ton more patience. I was always babysitting and enjoyed being around kids.

    2. How would you describe yourself after having a baby?

    A little less patient and always tired. But not much different to be honest

    3. What is one thing you miss about your pre-baby life?
    Just getting up and going at the drop of a hat. And sleeping whenever I wanted....also having a clean house lolll

    4. What is one thing you wish someone prepared you for, when it comes to Motherhood?
    That you will never sleep again, lol

    5. How has Motherhood changed you?
    It has changed me for the best. I feel like i am better person. It's made me more assertive and outgoing.

    6. Do you feel like you have “balance” in your life and why?
    As for the balance between work, the kids, and keeping the house with a social life no lol......I don't really ever have me time or any sort of social life if it doesn't involve my kids or social media Lol, especially as a single mom its tough but I try to do small things like a nice walk or a drive which yes the kids are there but usually quiet or hot bubble bath when they are in bed.

    7. What helped get you through the postpartum transition into Motherhood?
    I'm very lucky to have some great friends and a very supportive mother. I always dreamed of being a mother and loved to be surrounded with kids, so I was so happy to finally be a mom. Also joining moms and tots groups in my community helped to meet other new moms as well and connect with some "new friends (it's hard to continue friendships with people who do not have children I found)

    8. Motherhood is hard. What gets you through each day, day after day?Very hard....sometimes I struggle more than other days and honestly can't wait until it's bedtime. I try to keep myself and kids busy every day to make the day go fast. Always remind myself that we all have bad days and its OK. Sometimes venting to friends especially ones in similar situations helps as well. Also, I started going to church after my 2nd child. I had never gone as a child, but for me being there and joining programs the church ran made me feel much more whole inside and much better about myself.

    9. What makes you grateful about motherhood?
    Everything. As hard and frustrating as it gets, just looking at my children makes me feel amazing. I've read a lot and know many women who have trouble conceiving or who have children who are sick. And me having been blessed with 4 healthy children makes me very grateful. 

    10. What is one thing you would tell a new or expecting Mother?
    To not "read" into it too much. There are no books with the right answers. No doctor who knows it all and no other mom who is living in your shoes. You know what is right and wrong for your child. There is no right or wrong answer also, you can plan all you want, but it will never work out that way. And always remember that having a bad day or feeling like giving up is normal and OK. You don't have to be a super mom......just be you, your child will love you unconditionally no matter what. Also in saying that it is OK to ask for help, it is OK to tell someone when you are struggling. Do not keep it in, if you have a friend or a Family member or ever your Dr or even a church pastor.

  • Wednesday, February 21, 2018 10:52 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    If you have mental health issues, exercise can often feel like the last thing you want to do, yet it’s one of the easiest and least intrusive ways to manage mental health. Study after study has shown that physical activity can help lessen feelings of anxiety and depression and help reduce stress. In fact, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health both recommend exercise as a way to reduce stress and promote mental well-being. Exercise has been demonstrated to be effective in treating depression, anxiety, and insomnia. The best part about this is that it doesn’t have to be regularly scheduled exercise in a gym (though it certainly can be), it just needs to be a total of 30 minutes of physical activity (3 x 10 minutes or 2 x 15 minutes work just as well as 30 minutes at a time) between 3 and 5 times a week. Here are some of the ways that exercise can help promote mental health.

    Better sleep

    Regular exercise can help improve the quality and duration of sleep. Not only that, but exercising in the morning or early afternoon can help to reset the sleep / wake cycle – which is a great way to beat things like jet lag, and recover from a few too many late nights. When you don’t get enough quality sleep, you are less able to small stressors and that can steamroll and negatively affect anxiety and depression. Conversely, getting a good night’s sleep can improve feelings of mental wellness. It’s worth noting that vigorous exercise in the 2 hours before you want to sleep has been shown to negatively affect the ability to fall asleep in many people so to maximize the benefits of exercising for sleep, plan your workouts accordingly.

    Reduced Stress

    Research has shown that something as simple as a 10 minute walk at a moderate-brisk pace will lower levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline and contribute to a more relaxed feeling. Exercise that focuses on mindfulness, such as yoga, can help interrupt the flow of negative thoughts that is common to sufferers of anxiety. Stress also causes physical discomfort, including muscle tightness through the neck and shoulders, and can negatively affect sleep patterns - both of which can be ameliorated by regular workouts and the stretching / cool down processes that follow a workout. It’s interesting to note that one of the ways scientists believe exercise helps with anxiety is through repeated exposure and desensitization to common anxiety reactions such as increased heart rate and perspiration. So not only can exercise help reduce anxiety and stress you already have, but it can help prevent anxiety and stress in the future.

    Happy Chemicals

    Can exercise actually make you happy? Well, that’s up for debate, but exercising has been proven to aid in the release of endorphins which do elevate mood. This is what accounts for the ‘runner’s high’ – the feeling many runners experience after a run that helps them ignore the pain. Endorphins go to the pain receptors in the brain and fill them, which reduces the perception of pain. Endorphins also help boost your mood, triggering feelings of satisfaction and optimism. Exercise also triggers the body to release serotonin which can help alleviate symptoms of depression.

    We all agree that exercising is important to physical health. It can help to treat and prevent conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Recent evidence is showing that regular exercise (30 minutes, 3-5 times a week) can help improve mental wellness as well as physical wellness. It’s not a magic bullet - exercise cannot replace medical advice and you certainly shouldn’t just stop any medication because you’ve started working out, but as part of a holistic approach to mental health, exercise can do wonders for your mental well-being.

    Recently I’ve been going to Orangetheory fitness to get strong and fit. While I’m at my ideal size and weight I was really out of shape. After just 2 months at the gym I see a huge improvement in my mood, my body composition and my energy.  So much so that a few days ago I was debating if I should go and hubby said: “go, you are so much better when you exercise’.  It’s true. I am.

  • Friday, February 09, 2018 1:47 PM | Glynis

    When an expecting mother goes on maternity leave, there’s a general assumption that what she’ll come back to when she returns will be the same job she left. Any woman who has gone on mat leave once, however, knows this isn’t always the case. A year, which is what mothers in Canada have traditionally been allowed by the government to have (it has since extended to an optional 18 months), is a long time in any business. A lot can change, including a person’s role or job description.

    This is exactly what happened to me during my first mat leave – the company restructured while I was gone, and my job disappeared. I kept the same pay rate, so technically it was legal, but I was essentially demoted. I didn’t bother fighting for the right to maintain my job duties, because I was only working part time and it wasn’t a “career,” but it made me realize there’s a reason some women feel a huge amount of stress while on maternity leave.

    If you end up suffering from a postpartum mood disorder, that stress can spiral out of control. There continues to be an enormous stigma attached to postpartum depression, and a woman who is suffering from it may fear repercussions in the workplace upon her return. What if your boss happens to be the type of person who assumes that postpartum depression is the same as postpartum psychosis? Many women may be afraid to talk about their PMAD openly due to how it may affect her role when she returns to work.

    In addition, there are so many people–including healthcare providers–who assume that postpartum mood & anxiety disorders end one year after giving birth. According to research, however, recovery time greatly depends on a number of factors. These include how long it took to be diagnosed and treated, what things are like in the rest of your life, and how effective the treatment you’re in is for you. All of this to say, you may find that as you approach the end of your maternity leave, you still don’t feel stable enough to return to work. 

    Having a healthcare provider who understands that PMAD don’t abruptly stop at the one year mark can make the difference for any woman who needs to apply for long-term disability, as they continue treatment. There are members of our community who have struggled with this exact issue, and it’s one of the things we need to advocate for in Canada. Healthcare providers need to be properly trained in postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, so we don’t leave mothers facing the possibility of having to return to work while still incapacitated or losing their job.

  • Tuesday, February 06, 2018 7:28 PM | Glynis

    January 31 has come to be known as Bell Let’s Talk Day, and anyone who advocates for those struggling with mental illness can be found on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk. Every single time someone used the hashtag on January 31, beginning in 2011, Bell donated $0.05 to mental health initiatives. Over the past 8 years, the number of interactions has more than doubled to a whopping 138,000,000.

    Not once in those 8 years has the Bell Let’s Talk initiative mentioned maternal mental health.

    Many of you reading the blog already understand the importance of making space for maternal mental health, but for anyone who isn’t convinced, let’s break it down. Postpartum depression and anxiety are, in many ways, different that other mood disorders. While having a mood disorder gives new moms a predisposition toward developing PMAD, the overall rate of moms who experience PMAD is higher than that of the general population. It’s not like other forms of depression or anxiety, and while many moms already know it, the study mentioned in this HuffPost article confirms it: the PPD that a new mom experiences manifests in the brain differently than a major depressive episode or generalized anxiety disorder. 

    There’s already so much stigma attached to women experiencing a postpartum mood disorder, thanks to the societal expectations that new moms should be happy and content with their new baby, and that motherhood comes naturally. Anyone who’s a mom can attest to how wrong those assumptions are, how much pressure those expectations create. Add to that the fact that a major player in mental health advocacy, Bell Let’s Talk Day, isn’t mentioning anything about postpartum mood disorders, and the stigma only increases.

    This year, Claire Ziobin created a new hashtag in the hopes of getting Bell’s attention: #BellLetsTalkMaternalMentalHealth. Claire enlisted the help of fellow advocates, Sarah Beckel, Patricia Tomasi, Shannon Henning, and Lisa Tremayne, along with other supporters, and got some serious traction. Personal stories about postpartum depression and anxiety were being shared on social media with the hashtag, and those posts were being shared by others. 

    It was amazing to see the hashtag grow across all social media platforms throughout the day. Right now, #BellLetsTalkMaternalMentalHealth has 16.5 million impressions on Twitter alone! 

    It also, finally, has the attention of Bell. The chair of Bell Let’s Talk Day reached out to Claire the next day to start a conversation about broadening and deepening the conversation about mental health. 

    Hopefully, this is the start of a beautiful relationship.

  • Monday, February 05, 2018 1:41 PM | Allison (Administrator)

    When I think of Valentine’s Day, I think of the heart symbol. This year for Christmas, I bought crochet hearts for my research team Dr. Sheila O’Keefe-McCarthy & Dr. Karyn Taplay. Through Sheila & Karyn, in my role as a research assistant, I have learned a lot about early warning signs that can happen up to two years before other signs and symptoms of when the heart doesn’t work properly!

    When I think about heart attacks, I think of the media image of an older male clutching his chest with a facial expression of pain. The work of Dr. O’Keefe-McCarthy, and others, is asking people who have had a heart attack about their experiences to try to move beyond this image.  

    I have been privileged to sit in on interviews with women. They readily shared their stories of their heart event (some had experienced a heart attack, others could get medical help before it reached that point, such as bypass surgery or stents.)

    These women were also asked about their very early warning signs. These can happen 3-24 months before the heart event. These include fatigue and anxiety. Most women I know feel fatigue often, and we also brush off these symptoms, as we are busy caring for others, managing the motherload as some say.

    The other symptoms include increasing anxiety, unusual fatigue, arm pain/ discomfort, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal complaints, chest discomfort/ pain, jaw pain, back/ shoulder blade pain, dizziness, sleep disturbance, headaches.

    I feel it is important to get this information out and to have these discussions with family and friends, especially if anyone in your circle have a history of heart disease or other risk factors. Risk factors include high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, obesity, smoking, stress and family history of heart disease.

    If you experience any of these, or have any concerns or questions, talk to your health care provider. Also, pass this information on to your family and friends so that everyone knows this information – all year long, but also during February for heart month! 

    For more information, please visit 

    Allison Bowman 
    Community Manager - Niagara Region
    Masters Candidate, Brock University, Applied Health Science

  • Sunday, February 04, 2018 12:30 PM | Christina (Administrator)

    When I decided to run one of the Workshops for Life With A Preterm Baby as a "Building NICU Memory Boxes" it was because I needed to do it. If I felt like I wanted to "seal" that journey as a memory in a shadow box, many other Preemie Parents like myself must also feel that way. 

    The attention was astounding - so many Parents wanting to share their NICU journeys with one another, to share their keepsakes, and to capture those Memories in a display.

    During the time my daughter was going through her 91 day NICU journey, I collected a lot of items. Her first pacifier, her first outfit that actually "kind of" fit her, a Preemie diaper, and the dozens of hospital bracelets that she went through as she grew. These items sat in a box in my closet for almost 5 years. I knew one day I would be strong enough to revisit the items.

    On Thursday, I joined other Parents of Preemies in Mississauga at the Port Credit Library. We sat in a circle, shared our stories - some Veteran Moms, some recent Graduates. We sat and listened to one another, and a sense of Community was there. It was emotional, therapeutic and quite frankly magical. To see these Moms come together to talk with others who "got it" was inspiring. My heart felt so full to be able to be part of a group of peers supporting one another. 

    We all pulled out our boxes of Memories. Some had blood pressure cuffs, Oxygen lines, and name tags from the Incubator. This was the therapy we all needed. Revisiting our journeys, sharing it, and sealing it in a shadow box - our way of displaying some form of "Award" or "Certificate" to show what our precious little ones achieved while they did their time in the NICU.  The magic about this is, you can add to the shadow box whenever you'd like.

    For my daughter's, I included:
    - her first pacifier which was almost half the size of her face
    - her first hospital bracelet that was still to large it kept falling off
    - the first outfit a nurse put her in at 30 weeks & 6 days )which had to be rolled at the sleeve twice, and it's a preemie size)
    - her head piece from her Baptism on World Prematurity Day (November 17)


    Here's the final piece:

    If you want to make your own, here's what we used:

    Items you've saved from your Journey
    Some examples of what the group brought:
    - Hospital Bracelet
    - First Outfit
    - Blood Pressure Cuffs
    - Preemie Diaper
    - Pacifier
    - Foot print Art
    - Going home outfit
    - Name tag from Incubator
    - Oxygen lines

    TO PURCHASE (purchased from the local Art Store*)
    - Shadow Box (11"x14") 
    - Pearl Top pins
    * Keep an eye out for 50% off one item coupons!


    1. Sit down, with some time to reflect on the journey you had. This is important as it may trigger some emotions. Share this experience with your Partner, a parent, or maybe even your child. Discuss the items and why they're important to you. This is part of the healing.
    2. Remove the backing place the items from your Memory Box that you want displayed on the backing. 
    3. Continue moving the placement around until you are happy. 
    4. Use the pins, inserting on an angle through the item and the backing to to keep the items in place (the backing is padded)
    5. Place the backing back when you are satisfied with all the items and their placement.

    TOTAL COST: $22.00

    Share your Memory boxes below or on our FB page! We'd love to see them.

    #NICU #Memories #LifeWithAPretermBaby #PreemiePowerCanada #CanadianPrematureBabiesFoundation #LifeWithABaby

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