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.

  • Thursday, January 11, 2018 1:23 PM | Bhavishree (Administrator)

    Anonymous author

    Reflecting on the early years of parenting the first words that come to mind are exhaustion and overwhelmed. Last year a teacher said it's assumed that parents want to volunteer with their children's age bracket but in reality many parents really need a break from whatever stage their children are in and/or don't like certain ages and stages. Amen! She went on to say that most new parents don't belong in the church nursery - why don't the people who aren't on 24/7 baby duty take that role and let the new parents have a break she said... hmm...

    Both of the churches we attended when the boys were babies said that all new parents are to take turns in the nursery. Well, I've come to realize why I hated the days I was on nursery duty. I never had the desire to be in the nursery before having babies, and I still don't now. I definitely didn't belong in that nursery room. I should've said no and served elsewhere. You see, I was completely exhausted, overwhelmed, longing for adult conversation and a break from caring for a baby and a toddler. I was on the verge of a mental break for years. Instead of getting a break from parenting duty I agreed to take care of even more babies and toddlers out of perceived obligation.

    One of the churches had my injured husband on the schedule as well when it was known that he suffers from chronic pain. We had to explain why not only did he have no desire to be in the nursery but he physically shouldn't be doing it. No really, he will not be doing nursery duty. He cannot put on his own shoes nor shower himself, he can barely take care of himself and his own young children, he will not be regularly volunteering to take care of more babies and toddlers.

    I write all of this to give you permission to say no even if you aren't a chronic pain sufferer. If you are as overwhelmed now as I was then don't allow peer pressure to put you on nursery duty if you dread it. Find a way to serve that energizes you and uses your skill set. Ask the people who want to hold your baby in the lobby to take a shift in the nursery on occasion.

    I wish that churches would hear the woman who gave me this insight and stop obliging new parents to serve in the nursery. I'm not frustrated with the nursery coordinators for putting me on the schedule, I do however wish I knew then that I shouldn't have agreed to it. I'm proud of the people who said no to me when I asked them to volunteer for stuff. There's endless places to serve within a community, and we give best when we are giving in our areas of expertise and capacity.

  • Thursday, January 11, 2018 11:28 AM | Bhavishree (Administrator)

    Author - Jenny M. 

    After the winter holiday, it’s time to plan for the summer! We still have fond memories of our last #SummeratFern. We love traveling but it’s always been to big cities. It was our first road trip and we were not sure if staying in a resort is going to keep us entertained. We were traveling with my 3.5year old and 7 months old baby. Packing for a weekend trip was fairly simple since Fern Resort provided a crib and everything there is family oriented. The room had blackout curtains so baby can nap during the day. The checking in process was quick and easy. Just remember there is no elevator, it’s a workout just getting to the room. Bring your travel stroller as the room is not big enough for a full size and carrying the stroller up the stairs is no fun.


    Let’s talk about food! The dining area was set up like a cruise ship. We sat at the same table for all our meals. We walked in and high chair, towel and bib were already there for us. Crayons and coloring pages are available by the door if you want something to entertain your kids. When we travel, we always dine earlier just to skip the crowd and tantrum. At Fern, they also have that options but it is catered to the kids. It's buffet style for main and dessert. Kids can pick and choose what they want to eat. After they finish their meal then its time to send them off to Playvillage! By the next meal, they will be BEGGING you to go! It’s free and they entertain your kids while we enjoyed dinner like real adults. We got to dine kids free, adult conversation, hot food (yes that’s a luxury) and the best of all no dishes and floor to mop after! Don’t forget to bring a snack box to pack fruits from lunch as afternoon snack for the kids. There’s a refrigerator in the room so the food won’t go bad.

    During our check in we were given a newsletter that listed out the entertainment schedule. There were shows you can catch at night and family shows during the day. There is plenty to do at Fern; pony rides, fishing, paddle boat, golf trampoline, sunset cruise (extra cost), floor hockey, tennis, swimming and more. Just endless entertainment you can enjoy as a family or without kids. That's right! You can drop them off at Playvillage anytime during the day too. At night, you can call in a babysitter (extra cost) so you can enjoy the evening. I took the opportunity to reconnect with my hubby and spend some one-on-one time with my older child. It was a nice change from our usual city vacation.

    If you are thinking where to go this summer check out Fern Resort. You won’t be disappointed!

    Author - Jenny M. 

  • Tuesday, January 09, 2018 2:13 PM | Julie

    Travelling as a family of five is no easy thing.  Not only do I (because my hubby packs the car and I pack all other things) need to pack most of my house to get us through any and all situations, but finding a place to accomodate us is a struggle. Often hotels and resorts charge premium rates for the extra human or we struggle with finding things to do to entertain our age ranges. 

    This summer we had the chance to visit Fern Resort and it was hands down the best part of our summer and the easiest trip my family of five has ever taken. 

    We have a shy 6 year old, an outgoing - no limits 4 year old and a starting to toddle 10 month old.  So we need activities, safety and a wide variety of foods. Fern had all this and more.  

    We were welcomed with friendly staff who were very helpful with making sure we had all the things we required, or that I forgot (naturally). The rooms were ready with the crib I requested, bumper rail for the pull out bed and mattress protectors in case of accidents. The rooms arent as modern as you want but they are quaint old world Ontario and reminded me that resorts like this are from another time. A place that memories are made and have been for generations. 

    We have traveled with our kids but were always the ones hesitant about kids clubs or programs. Through conversation with people who had attended Fern in the past we were given tales of games, crafts and activities far beyond what we could offer our kids through out the day. We decided to give it a whirl. This is absolutely a MUST DO at Fern. It is why you go there, it is what they do best. My kids walked in with some nerves but ran out screaming "lets eat quick, I need to go back!"  They filled our dinner with tales of obstacle courses, jungle gyms, sports games, crafts etc etc etc  My husband and I were thrilled to hear how much they enjoyed it and relieved because we had enjoyed a lazy few hours laying pool side, reading and enjoying each others company. It felt like a second honeymoon. I mean how many hours do I get kid free, to read and swim - um none, ever! 

    Our dinner was a three course sit down dinner served AFTER the kids had their dinner and were returned to the kids club for the evening portion. You heard me - more kid free time! We decided to let our baby have an early evening nap in the nursery, which we kind of thought would just be the nannies entertaining her while we ate. But they sent us a text picture of her fast asleep in a comfortable crib snuggling her bunny. We had a glass of wine, ate our dinner talking with other adults and really enjoying a HOT meal. The food was splendid. Prepared fresh and it was a formal menu to choose from. The servers were polite, helpful and attentive.

    I could go on and on about kids club, nursery service, the food and the grounds. The kids loved the pool and the beach area. The shuffle board, basketball, giant chess and checkers, mini golf, fishing, paddle boarding - the list is really endless. But what is most important to share is that this vacation with three kids was truly a vacation for my husband and I. How often can you say that? Travel with kids is often just like regular life but in a new location. You return feeling as tired or more then when you left. But our experience at Fern was the opposite. We left with fond memories, shared joy with seeing the smile on our kids faces and knowing that we would return. 



  • Monday, January 08, 2018 9:02 PM | Krista (Administrator)

    I had never heard of Fern Resort prior to being invited on the LWAB Training Retreat last year so I really had no idea what to expect. My fellow volunteers suggested comfy clothes, bathing suits, toiletries and beach towels (although those could be borrowed on site) so that's what I packed! And we had everything we needed!

    We were told we could enjoy all the amenities of the resort as soon as we arrived on check in day, even though check in time isn't until 4pm, and true to their word I saw them giving out wristbands to early arrivals. We lucked out and our room was ready a little early so we unpacked the car before we headed to the pool.

    Our room was in the Hearthside Inn. The location was perfect - steps from the pool, beach and dining room, right across the parking lot from the kids Playvillage, and a short walk to the Marina Dock, mini golf and playground. My only complaint was that there are no elevators and the rooms are on the 2nd and 3rd floors, but if you need an accessible room there are other buildings with ground level rooms. The lower level of the Hearthside Inn has 2 conference rooms, our group utilized one while we were there, it was so convenient to have our meeting in the same building as our accommodations. The room was well lit with a large table and seats for at least 16 people. It came equipped with a fully stocked Keurig machine and a bar fridge full of cold drinks.

    Back to the fun stuff! We did bring our own puddle jumpers but it looked like there were a limited number available to guests who requested them. The first day the kids just wanted to try out the wading pool, it was a perfect size for them! A gradual incline where it maxed out at around 2' deep. The area around the wading pool has a bunch of kid sized chairs and loungers for when (or if) they are ready to get out of the water.  There are also 2 full sized pools on the pool deck, and even at a busy time never felt really crowded. Just off the pool deck is a small beach area with a box of sand toys for the kids to use - my kids spent an entire morning playing here!

    There are lots of water sports to enjoy as well, we only took advantage of a paddle boat on our last morning, and it was a short one since the rain showed up just as we got on, but still fun!  At the docks they also offered fishing, just a simple piece of wood, fishing line, hook and a piece of a worm (that they hook for you), this kept the kids busy for a little while watching the little fish nibble on it.

    The dining room experience was nice, we had the same friendly waitress all 3 days. Dinner service includes a 5:30 children's buffet, with 'basics' like chicken fingers, fries, pasta, veggies, as well as sliced ham one night and roast beef the next. This allowed parents to feed their kids, and then take advantage of the Playvillage's supervised playtime, for free! We did bring the kids there the first night, but my daughter was overwhelmed and didn't want to stay very long, so the next night we opted out. Maybe next year we'll get a child free dinner :) 

    The regular dinner menu had a nice selection of starters, salads and entrees to choose from, and of course delicious desserts to finish it off! At lunch you had the option to stay inside or have a BBQ lunch on the pool deck, the food selection for both was quite good and we all found something to eat without complaints!

    We were sad to leave, with being in a meeting for most of one day, and early bedtimes for the kids, we definitely could have used more time to experience all the resort has to offer, but I guess that just means we'll have to go back!

  • Thursday, December 28, 2017 11:00 AM | Christina (Administrator)

    Thanks for joining us during the Holiday Season. Many of us forget to take care of ourselves during this time. Let's take a moment to chat about ways to take some time for YOU.

    Kasia Pytlik joins us to chat. Kasia has been an NICU social worker both at Mount Sinai Hospital and Sunnybrook Hospital over the last six years, supporting families with their NICU journey. She currently splits her time between clinical work and parent programming at Mount Sinai Hospital.

    What is Self Care?

    Simply put, self-care is a deliberate act in order to take care of our mental, emotional and physical selves. This sounds simple and easy, and in theory, it should be. But often times people, particularly busy parents, feel guilty for doing something for themselves, especially something that has been traditionally overlooked in the maintenance of “good health”. But here’s the thing: we take steps to maintain proper oral and physical hygiene like brushing our teeth and bathing without feeling guilty, so why should taking steps to maintain emotional and mental health be any different? 

    Why is self care so important?

    Self-care is not just important, it’s crucial. If you aren’t taking care of your emotional and mental health, then you can’t care for another person. Something I routinely say to new NICU parents: you need to put your oxygen mask on first before you can attend to your child. If you get sick, both physically and/or mentally, then who will care for your baby? When framed this way, it’s a little bit easier to see how self-care isn’t a selfish act—something busy parents might think when they feel guilty for taking their own ‘timeout’ from life.

    Not only does self-care maintain healthy mental and emotional health, but it is also a preventative measure against “overload burnout”. It also reduces the negative affects of stress, and it should rejuvenate you. This last point is important to underlined because self-care shouldn’t become another thing you have to do. While, yes, we should make time for it, we shouldn’t have to force ourselves to do it. That completely defeats the purpose! Self-care should refuel you; you should have a sense of being refreshed and ready to dive back into life after you do it.

    What are examples of self care? 

    Self-care means different things to different people—as mentioned above, it has to be something that you enjoy doing. One person might find journaling cathartic and a good way to organize their thoughts, while another person might find the thought of journalling fluffy and unhelpful. That being said, there are some guidelines that might help you find a fulfilling self-care routine:

    • Self-care doesn’t just happen. You do have to make a conscious effort and plan to incorporate it into your daily life. Put it in your schedule; tell your partner that you’re planning a ‘self-care timeout’; or actively find a free 15-20 minute chunk of time to practice self-care.
    • Identify your self-care practice as self-care. For example, someone might find a hot shower as relaxing and as a way to unwind, but only view it as a personal hygiene act. By identifying your hot shower as a part of your self-care, you can tack on a few extra minutes to your routine and (hopefully) not feel guilty for doing so.
    • Set some boundaries by identify things you don’t want to do. For example, not answering the phone during lunch/dinner, not reading emails after a certain time, not attending events that you’re not interested in attending, and limiting time with people who bring negativity into you life. 
    • Eat Healthy. I get it—this gets pushed down our throats everywhere we turn (pun intended!). But eating a balanced diet does affect our mood and thus our emotional and mental health. Eating healthy is hard most days, but especially so over the holidays. Remember the key is balance—there’s nothing wrong in indulging a little in holiday goodies, just remember to throw in some leafy greens, and fruits throughout the day too. 
    • Exercise. Yup—another thing we hear over and over again. But this too affects our mood. But how can we exercise when it’s -100 out and we have a fragile NICU graduate with us? Sometimes getting to gym is not an option. One way to work up a bit of a sweat and stay comfortable and away from crowds is to wake up early, and head to mall before it opens. This might sound unrealistic and kinda cheesy, but it does work! Try brisk walking or a light jog around The Eaton’s Centre’s three levels five times without stopping, and you’ve got yourself a sweat glow. 
    • Okay—some explicit (and traditional) examples of self-care: journalling; yoga classes; ten-minute meditation breaks; crisp fresh air; lunch dates with friends; joining a “parent and baby class”. Remember—these examples might not be something that works for you. But you owe it to yourself, and your family, to find something that does work for you. Once you become mindful of things that do refuel you, you’ll be able to identify more explicit forms of self-care that work for you and fit into your life.

    How often should I make time for “me"?

    Every day. That’s not to say you have to take two hours daily to get to that spin class. But you should be doing something for you, and only you, every day. That also doesn’t mean that it has to be by yourself. Maybe a 15 minute conversation with that friend that always makes you laugh is all you need to leave you in a great mood for the rest of the day. But try every single day to do something uplifting, or relaxing. Once you become cognizant of incorporating self-care into your life, you’ll start to develop your own routine of finding ways to bring some rejuvenation into your life daily. The more you practice self-care, the easier it will be to find ways to incorporate your self-care practices into your daily living. 

    The Holiday season is tough. My baby is home from NICU, I'm trying to get to see everyone and I feel overwhelmed. HELP! How can I accomplish it all?

    You can’t accomplish it all. And you don’t have to. Once you give yourself permission to not be super parent, the expectation to “do it all” disappears. The thing is, most people aren’t expecting us to do everything either. Most of the time, it’s an expectation we place on ourselves. The holidays brings a certain level of stress though—everyone’s in town, and everyone wants to see us (and probably your NICU graduate too!). But this is where setting boundaries comes into play. There will be some people who will be disappointed they didn’t get to see you this holiday season. But most people will understand why. It’s okay to reschedule plans for when things are less busy a couple of months from now. Maybe using Face Time or similar sort of technology to catch up with friends is an option. Prioritising your own sanity during the busy holiday season should be taken seriously, and not just an option. 

    What's the easiest way to take care of myself?

    There are many free apps out there that can lead you with mindfulness/meditation exercises. Just ten minutes of deep breathing, body scanning and letting your mind drift to a safe and relaxing space can do wonders for regulating your mood. 

    An app I really like is called Headspace. It is Guided Meditation is a free app that I’ve used and would definitely recommend.

    Thank you Kasia for joining us and providing all of these amazing insights and tips. Wishing you all some "me" time this Holiday and time for some self care every day.

    If you have any suggestions of future topics to chat about, shoot us an email to We'll see you next month (and next year!) for our next #PreTermChats!

    #SelfCare #PreTermChats #LifeWithAPretermBaby #LifeWithABaby #NICU #PreemiePower #PreemiePowerCanada #Holidays

  • Monday, November 27, 2017 2:28 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    What to Expect When You're Expecting Part 2– The Checklist

    So much to do and so little time. Expecting parents are, in a very real sense “on the clock”, with so many concerns to address in a finite and quickly shrinking window of time. In hopes of easing some of the pressure, this article will provide a simple checklist of things employees can do to prepare for the big day.

    1 - Find out the Due Date
    This is, not surprisingly, the most important piece of information for expecting parents and employers. Though rarely exact, a due date provides a rough idea for everyone as to when maternity leave or parental leave may begin.

    2 - Know the Law
    You don’t have to be an expert in employment law, you simply need to know the basics.

    First, familiarize yourself the with law as it relates to taking an unpaid job protected leave of absence under Federal or Provincial law (discussed elsewhere).

    Second, look into what benefits may be available to you as an expecting parent. Benefits available may include Maternity Benefits and Parental Benefits under the Employment Insurance Act, as well as any benefits available through a private or employer funded benefits plan.

    If you are covered under a group health benefits plan or contribute to a pension plan, it is important to remember that while your employer is obliged to keep this plan in place, you may be required to continue your monthly contributions or premium payments during your leave if you want the employer to match them and maintain coverage or participation in the plan while you are on leave. This is why it’s important to gather information from your employer.

    3 - Obtain Copies of All Relevant Policies and Insurance Plans from your Employer
    Even before advising your employer of the due date, it would be wise to ask your employer for some information:

    If the employer has any written policies regarding parental leave, request a copy in advance;  

    If you are covered under a group benefits plan that provides for health benefits or disability benefits, obtain a copy of the plans and policies and understand your entitlements. Are you, for instance, entitled to a supplemental benefit that will top up EI Benefits during your leave? Do you have disability insurance? etc.;  

    Find out whether you are required to pay insurance premiums during your leave (if you contributed through deductions to your pay while working, you may be required to make payments during your leave of absence);  

    Ask your employer for a copy of any policies regarding accommodating pregnant employees or persons with disabilities. It would be good to know, for instance, whether the employer has a policy regarding medical visits leading up to delivery or a policy regarding accommodating parents returning to work;  

    Out of an abundance of caution, it would also be wise to familiarize yourself with policies regarding employees’ obligations regarding unpaid leaves of absence, just in case you find yourself disabled from returning to work on the agreed upon date.

    Once you have obtained and reviewed all of the above information, you may want to discuss any concerns with your employer or a lawyer if you believe the policies are discriminatory (or if there are no policies at all).

    4 - Plan Your Leave and Provide Notice
    With all of the above information you should be in a good position to provide your employer with written notice as to the start of your maternity or parental leave as required under the employer’s policies or under the Federal or Provincial law.

    Remember, if you are covered by private insurance policies, it may be beneficial to push back the beginning of your maternity leave. If you otherwise find yourself disabled from working in the days leading up to the start of maternity leave, short term disability benefits may be payable from the date of disability to the agreed upon start of the maternity leave. Of course, this will all depend on the policy of insurance, which you have already asked for, above.

    As the due date arrives, it you may wish to make arrangements with your employer to pay premiums to continue your health benefits.

    When providing written notice to your employer as to the day your maternity or parental leave may start, it is also important that you make it clear – in writing – that you would like to be apprised of any internal job postings or opportunities and provided with an opportunity to compete for them while on leave. You should also request that you be made aware of any changes to your job and given an opportunity to participate in any work-related discussions or training provided to employees still at the work place.

    Of course, it’s important that your employer has up to date contact information as well if you hope to receive any communication from your employer.

    The list of matters to canvass and issues that arise prior to the birth of a child is endless, consequently, legal advice should be sought from a lawyer prior to you embarking on any search for the truth insofar as to what your rights are.

    The comments in this article are not be taken as legal advice, rather, legal advice should always be sought prior to engaging in actions which have the potential to harm your employer-employee relationship notwithstanding your rights. My recommendation is that if you have a question or concern, simply send an email to Aaron Waxman at or call me at 416-661-4878/1844-583-4878 (or #LTD on your cell phone). One more thing, before you call you should always remember that there are no bad questions!



  • Sunday, November 05, 2017 1:09 PM | Julie

    When we were first time parents many people told us, "wow have you got it easy!" and looking back, we did. Our first born was chill. From the very beginning he basically took care of himself. Other then his refusal to nap more then 40 minutes twice a day (but we all know that was more me then him, I'm smarter now!) He hardly cried, was easily satisfied and as he grew and developed a personality he remained that easy natured, calm child.

    Enter, baby 2!

    Imagine a world where everything is opposite, bizarro and LOUD! That was our new life. Our second born decided to be different. He wanted volume, drama, alarm bells and to be utterly confusing minute by minute, day by day.  His spirit was (still is) naturally vivacious and extreme. He feels all things passionately and is not afraid to show it.

    As a Mom I have always felt it was my job to be conscious or purposeful in my parenting. I believe that parenting your children isn't all about instincts and leaving it up to fate. I haven't been the type to throw my hands up and "well I can only do what I can do".  I knew that I had to learn and grow with my kids at their different stages. I wasn't born with the skills to settle a sibling dispute over who ran so hard they broke the others lego creation, I mean huh?  I don't have the natural patience level to hear the explanation of how the toilet paper ended up in the toilet unwound and half flushed filling the bathroom with water. Professionally, I am trained, educated and experienced in dealing with behaviour, anxiety, developmental stages and challenges, family dynamics etc But that means NOTHING in your own parenting sphere. So I read. I scoured the internet for parenting blogs, articles, books etc. I loved it and because of it I found my parenting identity. I helped my husband find his own style (different from my own, annoyingly!) and together we started to sort through the rubble of having a spirited child. Or as we affectionately refer to him, our Three-nager.

    I believe the definition of Three-nager would sound something like this. A beautiful complex blend of a toddler and a teenager. A tiny human full of the big emotions, learning  challenges and limitations of a 3 year old but the mood swings, temper tantrums and need for independence of an adolescent. Thank you universe for that cocktail blend of crazy.

    Over the course of a year we tried and failed at many strategies to cope with our sons tantrums, crying spells, behaviours and emotions. There were times when we spoke to our doctor so overwhelmed with how to cope. We were convinced he had a learning or developmental disability. Perhaps he was on the autism spectrum or had ADHD. I ran his attributes through checklists, questionnaires etc. Nope - nothing. We finally figured out a blend of strategies that really helped our every day life. Life was never perfect, days were still hard but for the most part they were better, mostly enjoyable!  Its not cold to describe this stage in my sons life in this way, its realistic. Three year olds are learning and figuring out complex emotions through daily situations. They struggle to balance the need for adult support with their desire to be independent. How many times have you heard, "I do it!" and three hours, two meltdowns and maybe some kicking or throwing toys later - they do! Some kids breeze through the 2-3 yr stage without these concerns. Some people have them to varying degrees. It doesn't make it easier or better for one set of parents. We all have our own sets of struggles at different stages. Comparing what you experience with your own children to what others experience just creates fear, self doubt and shame. Sharing and listening to each other creates dialogue, support and empowerment.

    Here is what I have learned;

    Hold them Close

    Pull them close, hold them tight, wrap your arms around them and let them cry. Sit and snuggle through the screaming and tears until their body relaxes. Stand close, at their eye level or on the floor in front or beside them. It feels counter intuitive to pull your screaming 3 year old, who might have just kicked you or took a giant bite out of your shoulder, in for a hug but their internal regulators are firing on all cylinders. They are confused and overwhelmed and no matter of talking AT them will help.  Your warmth, slow deep breathing, soft cooing of "its ok. Im here and I love you" will help them ride the wave of complex feelings until they are ready to problem solve or move forward.

    Let One Go

    Sometimes "this way or no way" just starts a power struggle big enough to blow the roof off the house. Things may seem prescribed "this is how we put on a coat" but to a Three -nager there are no limits. He or she sees that coat with endless ideas and options. Legs in sleeves, upside down, buttons only etc. Time and patience permitting let them do it. It won't be the worst thing for them to wear the coat upside. Let One Go. Meals especially make this idea difficult. No one wants to run a restaurant in their kitchen, making many separate meals is exhausting. But, if dinner is tacos and the Threenager says "i do it" or "eww gross" - face palm yourself, pray for bedtime and say these three words to yourself "let one go". Let the little darling assemble her taco, create her own version of a taco (PB+J anyone?) or if disgust is on the menu let them create a plate of items using whatever is in the fridge. Don't fight the hurricane, ride the wave. You won't damage their healthy eating habits, or ruin your dreams of family dinners. It all still happens because eventually the fight is gone and the Three-nager moves on. Obviously safety trumps this notion but in most situations if you take a deep breath and ask yourself whether your "way" has more to do with how you think something SHOULD be and no harm will come to the Three-nager, Let One Go.

    Acknowledge Them

    Big emotional reactions are basically many little feelings triggered from many tiny experiences that stick together and then implode inside the Three-nager. Think of a carbonated beverage slowly being turned upside down repeatedly in a day. Eventually the lid pops off and sprays everywhere. Throughout the day say things outloud like "Peppa Pig is being sassy today isn't she?", "wow I love this hot cup of coffee it makes me so happy", "Mommy thinks you must be feeling frustrated that I can't find your favourite purple sock" repeat repeat repeat. The more Three-nagers here emotional language used in everyday experiences the more likely they are to use that language in explaining or talking with you. My Three-nager would not have held off a tantrum due to saying he was frustrated but at least I had a 1 minute warning to set the coffee down, put on a rain poncho and wait for his lid to pop off! (figuratively speaking of course!)

    Rest Repair Repeat

    The days of parenting a Three-nager feel endless. 6am to 7pm is a long time to be on guard, ready for battle, restating emotions, creating choice, holding them close etc. Wearing down. growing weary and feeling resentful is common. Its hard and only parents of Three-nagers really get it. Lots try to understand and be empathetic, "oh my darling got so mad yesterday she yelled at me too!" Nope, thats different! Give yourself some leeway to feel bad, to be sad, to wallow and to fear if you are doing a good job. Acknowledge your own feelings, share them with your partner but then find time to repair. Create moments to build yourself back up, to feel the joy in your parenting, to be kind to yourself and do something that brings you peace and calm. In the same way repair with your child. Create opportunities to snuggle, to laugh, to be present and enjoy the beautiful complex angel in your life. They feel all things strongly, including their own happiness and joy. Revel in their ability to stand against the normal and forge their own path. Tell them you love them, you adore them, you learn from them everyday. REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT

    My Three-nager isn't an angel everyday. But when we gave up on waiting for him to grow out of it, as if this personality trait was a pair of old pants - and we focused on learning and experiencing with him, our daily lives and his got better.



    check out more of my writing at 

  • Thursday, October 26, 2017 9:11 AM | Claire (Administrator)
    Planning for the arrival of a baby can be overwhelming. From shopping for the perfect stroller and crib, to stockpiling diapers, wipes and onesies, there is a lot to think about as the big day approaches. In this article and the articles that follow, I hope to provide an overview that is not to be construed as legal advice and address work related concerns and tries to simplify the laws regarding maternity and parental leave, accessing benefits before and after you bring home baby, obtaining accommodations, and returning to work at the end of a leave of absence in the Province of Ontario.

    In this article, we discuss expecting parents’ rights to take job protected unpaid time off work before and after the birth of a child.

    Which Law Applies?
    The laws governing employment are different depending on where you work. Of course, everything starts with what’s provided in an employment contract; if your contract says you are entitled to two years of maternity leave, that’s great! On the other hand, if your contract says you cannot have any time off after having a baby, then that contract (or that part of the contract at least) is likely unenforceable because it violates the Canada Labour Code (“CLC”), or its provincial counterparts like the Ontario Employment Standards Act (“ESA”).

    There are only minor differences between the CLC and the ESA with respect to protected time off from work, but it is important to know which law applies to your situation. If you work as an employee in a federally regulated industry like banking, telecommunications, air or rail travel, then the CLC applies. If the CLC does not apply, then the Ontario ESA will apply (assuming you work in Ontario). It’s that simple.

    Do you Qualify?
    Expecting mothers are eligible for pregnancy leave under the CLC if they have completed six months of continuous employment before leave begins.  Under the ESA, expecting mothers qualify for pregnancy leave if they have started their employment at least 13 weeks before the expected due date. Any absence that does not sever your employment – like a sick leave of vacation – does not interrupt your continuity of employment.

    Pregnancy Leave
    Expecting mothers – not spouses and not adoptive parents – are permitted to take up to 17 consecutive weeks of pregnancy leave, also be called maternity leave.  

    Under the CLC, pregnancy leave can start up to 11 weeks before the expected due date. Under the ESA, leave can start up to 17 weeks before the due date. The last day to start this leave of absence is – understandably – the day the baby is born.  A pregnancy leave may be extended if the baby arrives after the expected due date.

    Expecting parents are required to provide between four weeks notice (under the CLC) and two weeks notice (under the ESA) of the start date for a pregnancy leave. Failure to do so doesn’t deprive you of your right to time off, but it certainly sends the wrong message.

    An employer may require a medical certificate confirming your pregnant, and the due date. The start date may be changed if sufficient notice is provided. If they do, there’s no harm in proving one. An employer cannot, however, dictate when a pregnancy leave starts, even if an employee is sick or her pregnancy limits the type of work she can do.

    Parental Leave
    New parents, including birth parents, adopting parents, and people in a relationship with a parent of a child with plans to treat the child as their own, have the right to take parental leave, which provides for up to 37 weeks of job protected leave (or 35 weeks if you’re a mom who has already taken pregnancy leave).

    A birth mother who takes pregnancy leave is generally required to start her 35 weeks of parental leave as soon as pregnancy leave ends, though there are some exceptions. Any other eligible employee can start their 37 weeks of parental leave anytime within the 52 weeks following the arrival of a child. Just like pregnancy leave, parental leave must be taken all at once and advance notice must be provided to the employer.
    Other Types of Job Protected Leave
    Pregnancy and Parental leave are baseline entitlements, which means your employer must permit you time off work. An employer may also simply agree to provide more time off if requested. If time off is needed for medical reasons, an employer would be hard pressed to deny a reasonable request supported by a doctor’s note, especially where an employee is participating in an insurance plan that provides for disability benefits. If, heaven forbid, complications should arise before or after a pregnancy, the law also provides for other types of job protected unpaid leaves of absence, such as personal emergency leave or family medical leave.

    Changes Ahead
    As you may have heard, the federal and provincial governments are proposing changes to these laws, and to the Federal Employment Insurance program that may extend parental leave. Right now, however, these changes have not been put into place, this article only touches upon the system as it stands.


    The law is quite fluid and this article is an overview of the law.  The comments in this article are not be taken as legal advice, rather, legal advice should always be sought out prior to engaging in actions which have the potential to harm your employer-employee relationship notwithstanding your rights.  My recommendation is that if you have a question or concern, simply send an email to Aaron Waxman at or call at 416-661-4878/1844-583-4878 (or #LTD on your cell phone).  One more thing, before you call you should always remember that there are no bad questions! 

  • Monday, October 02, 2017 11:04 AM | Claire (Administrator)

    I don’t consider myself a "handy" person. In fact, if I can outsource something I will. So when we decided to get our interlocking walkway done, it made sense to us that we would call a company to get it done.

    We saw some signs around our neighbourhood and figured that if our neighbours were using this company, they must be good. We got the number from one of the signs and called Mega-Loc Interlocking. It was a very, very bad decision, and we ended up getting scammed. They played off the power of community and scammed the whole neighbourhood at the same time. We thought that since the neighbours had already done their homework, we didn't have to. As you can see they have a horrible rating on Home Stars, a website I didn't even know about until we were scammed.

    Five months after we signed the contract, our driveway ended up looking like this. 

    And I cried about it here

    We were then left with two choices: call another company, or do it ourselves. We had already used up a big chunk of our budget with the deposits that we gave to Mega-Loc Interlocking, so we decided to test out that Home Depot slogan "You can do it. We can help". As it turned out, we could do it and we did an amazing job, if I do say so myself!

    Home Depot was a big help because everything we needed was  available for rent.

    Here’s a bit about our process…

    Before you start, it's important to measure the area, and figure out the design and what type of paving stones you want to use.

    1. Use the walk-behind saw to cut the driveway where needed.

    2. Dig. Even though they had excavated some of the area, it was poorly done and we had to remove the base gravel layer they had used because it was the wrong one. You can either hire someone to dig out the area or rent a container for the soil and a small excavator like this one.

    3. We got two types of gravel from Home Depot to use as a base. First, we used larger gravel and then the compactor to press it down. Then we used Limestone Screenings and the compactor again (20 bags of each).

    4. Set your paving stones. We got ours at a great price on sale, and they were delivered to our door.   You'll want to order in advance and have this ready when you start the process because you don't want to wait for the stones to be delivered if everything else is ready to go.

    5. Put sand on top to finish it off, and use the compactor one last time to press it down firmly. We used 3 bags of sand and swept it into the cracks.

    Voila! Just five easy steps to a new walkway..

    We finished right on time too because it rained the next day :). We still have the stairs and landscaping to do, but the hard part is done. We are so happy with the way it looks! 

    Of course, it’s a lot of work, and took us about three weekends to get it all done but we did it!

    Our 6 year old also wanted to help. Once he heard we were going to Home Depot her ran and got his Home Depot Kids workshop Apron. 

    So yes, we were scammed and we hope that you won't have the same experience, but we learned some valuable lessons. 

    If you decide to do your next home improvement project yourself, head to your nearest Home Depot. 

    I was provided with a gift card to cover a portion of the equipment rental, as always all opinions are my own.

  • Thursday, August 31, 2017 9:30 AM | Christina (Administrator)

    THIS IS A COPY OF OUR AUGUST #PreTermChats ON FACEBOOK. To participate in the next one, be sure to like and follow

    Thanks for joining us for today's 
    #PreTermChats about Triggers. 

    Kasia Pytlik joins us to answer your questions about your Triggers. Kasia has been an NICU social worker both at Mount Sinai Hospital and Sunnybrook Hospital over the last six years, supporting families with their NICU journey. She currently splits her time between clinical work and parent programming at Mount Sinai Hospital. 

    Q. What is a trigger and why do they happen?

    A: A trigger is anything that sets off an intense memory or flashback that brings a person back to the place and time of their original trauma. When this happens, a person may have an emotional reaction that is similar to the one he or she experienced at the time of the trauma. Triggers are a very personal and individual thing, and therefore it is hard to pinpoint what might actually be a trigger for you. Triggers are touched off by our senses: sight, touch, sound, smell and taste. For former NICU parents, a trigger may be a smell similar to that of the hand soap that was used at the hospital your baby was at; beeps that sound like the ones on your baby's monitor; or being physically present in the hospital that the trauma was experienced in. Some of these triggers are more obvious than others, but it's important to underline that everyone will experience their past traumas in individual ways triggers, and it might be something that we least expect. It is also important to note that even if you don't experience a trigger that is connected to your trauma doesn't mean that you are "less traumatized" or "emotionally stronger" than someone who does experience a trigger. Everyone processes and assimilates their experiences in their own personal ways.

    Why triggers happen is a much harder question to answer because brain functioning and memories are not completely understood. That being said, sensory memory, and the emotions we attach to these memories, is a very powerful thing--and it can be both positive and negative. Hearing our favourite song that we played endlessly during that carefree summer when we were 16, or eating a favourite meal that an older loved one used to always make us will bring us right back to that moment in our life. Positive memories will usually put a smile to our faces as we let ourselves get taken back in time. The brain functioning and sensory memories that are working in these moments of positive memories are the same ones that are at work when we experience a trigger that causes a rush of negative emotions as well.

    Q. How long do triggers have an affect on my mental health and happiness?

    A: This is hard to pinpoint, again, because trauma and our trigger are so personal and individual. For some people, triggers may be a life-long affliction. My grandmother lived through WWII and still, years after the war and years of living in Canada, she would be struck with fear every time a plane flew over her house.She told me as a young child while she was babysitting me, that she would feel the fear, but then remind herself that she was in Canada and safe, and slowly her fear would subside. There is no right or wrong way to think, feel and respond after experiencing a traumatic event. So don't judge yourself for the reactions you may experience with you have a trigger. Your responses are a normal reaction, to an abnormal event. Allow yourself to feel the emotions that come with a trigger, and allow yourself the time and space to process your traumatic experience. For some people, the trigger happens, and they are able to identify it, contain it and have developed their own way of working through the emotions that come with the trigger, like my grandmother did. Some triggers, however, are linked to Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD) and may actually ignite a PTSD episode. PTSD is a serious and debilitating response to trauma that interferes with living everyday life. For most people though, as time goes on, the intensity of a trigger will begin to fade and/or you will develop your own ways to deal with the triggering event.

    Q. Question from a Parent:  I have experienced PTSD from our rollercoaster experience with our little one in the NICU and although I haven't had any issues as of recently, I am wondering how to work through my triggers and PTSD so that a future pregnancy doesn't bring on a series of anxiety attacks or just anxiety and stress in general?

    A: For someone who had a traumatic pregnancy and birth, it would be absolutely natural to have some worry and anxiety about their future pregnancy. Worry and anxiety is a normal human emotion, that everyone feels in their everyday life. It is normal to worry or to be scared of something, but it is when chronic worry and intense anxiety that interferes with how we would normally live out our lives that the worry and anxiety becomes a problem. For those women having a subsequent pregnancy after delivering prematurely, they will likely be followed very closely by a physician who specializes in the women who have a history of early deliveries. Speaking to the GTA population, there is mental health support through Mount Sinai's Perinatal Mental Health Team , and Women's College Hospital's Reproductive Life Stages program 

    These programs do require a physician's referral, but if you are working closely to with your OB, she may ask if you want a referral to the program without you initiating the conversation. You may also be linked up with a perinatal social worker at your delivering hospital who can support you through the anxieties of your next pregnancy. If your physician doesn't bring up mental health supports, be a self-advocate and bring it up yourself. Having holistic health care means caring for your mental health as well. 

    I talk more about ways to minimize the occurrence and impact of triggers with another question--read on for that  :)

    Q. What resources are out there for me to speak with others who may be going through the same thing?

    A: A first step may be speaking with your family physician about how you are feeling, and any resources that may be available in your community is always a good way to find some support. Additionally, your local public health department will likely have supports available through their Healthy Babies, Healthy Children program (found only in Ontario). Calling Telehealth Ontario is also another option (1-866-797-0000). This is a 24 hours, 7 days a week service available to get confidential and valid health advice and information from a registered nurse. The Canadian Premature Babies Foundation has started an online support group for NICU parents ( or )

    If you were linked up with a NICU social worker while in the NICU, connect with her to see if there are any local support groups available

    Q. What can I practice at home to help me deal with triggers?

    A: Some might groan at this, but exercise is something that can really help stabilize your nervous system. The release of endorphins that come with exercise, along with the physical movement of your body, can help bring your mind back to it's natural equilibrium. Thirty minutes of exercise on most days is what is recommended. Exercises that have total body movement like fast walking, running, swimming, playing soccer or basketball, and even dancing. Bring on the Zumba! 

    It's also important to get out and socialize. You're natural inclination may be to withdraw from those around you, but the isolation may make things worse. You don't have to talk about the trauma--doing every day things, and developing a routine may bring some comfort. For some, talking about the trauma may be exactly what they need to do, so joining a support group can help. Hearing about how others coped with triggers, and knowing that you aren't the only one facing the same problems can help in your own recovery.

    It may sound cliche to say, but getting enough sleep, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and eating a well-balanced healthy diet can go a long way in minimizing triggers and your ability to contain them when they do occur. 

    When you are in the midst of trigger, there are some ways to minimize the impact of them by self-regulating your nervous system. You can calm yourself using techniques such as mindful deep breathing, and grounding techniques. A grounding technique that you could use is sitting still in a chair and focusing all your attention on one item in the room. Make note of the colours, it's size, where in the room it is positioned. After doing this, you may notice that your breathing has slowed, and is deeper, and calmer. Like most things, exploring different ways to control and calm the emotions that come with trigger will help you develop your own ways of minimizing the impact triggers have one you.

    Q. A question from a parent: I feel like noone understands me. I get anxious everytime I go to the doctor, and my family makes me feel like there's something wrong with me. Is this normal for a parent who has spent long periods of time in the NICU/Hospital?

    A: Absolutely, getting anxious about having to see a doctor after spending a long period of time in the hospital is a normal reaction to have. I'm sorry to hear that your family isn't as supportive as they could be. Our family and friends may not really understand everything that occurred during your baby's NICU stay, and may not truly appreciate how traumatic an NICU admission can be. With any traumatic event, grief comes along with it. Even if the traumatic experience didn't include a death. You're grieving the loss of a long and healthy pregnancy; you're grieving the loss of all that excitement that came along with what you envisioned your pregnancy to be. Many people will not understand your grief, but that doesn't make it less real for you. As well, processing that grief has no timeline. As with a lot of things, the healing that comes from a traumatic event is so personal and individual that some may have a longer or shorter time to process the grief and trauma they've experienced. 

    If you are really looking for someone who does understand you, there are support groups available through your public health department. If you're not a group person, linking up with a counsellor, or a therapist may be the thing that you need to help support you through this part of your life. It doesn't mean you'll have to see that therapist forever either; even one or two sessions can help validate some of the feelings you have and provide an outlet to someone who is removed from your everyday life. It's amazing how liberating one feels after a good session of talking it out.

    Q. Question from a parent: What if I feel like I cannot deal with it on my own? It's been years, and it's just not going away... who should I talk to? Who CAN I talk to?

    A: First off, I'm so sorry to hear that you've not been feeling like yourself for so long! It must be so challenging (and frustrating!) not being able to live your truest self. Your family doctor is someone that you can speak to about this, and she/he can also refer you to a therapist, or counsellor in your community. You can also self refer to a counsellor. Here is a link of where you can find qualified therapists in your area: 

    Keep in mind that finding the RIGHT therapist is important. It's okay to see a few different therapists to get a feel for what their therapeutic style is. Professional therapists are aware that their frist-time clients do this, and shouldn't be offended if you decide to get support elsewhere. When seeing your therapist for the first time, make a note of some key details: do you feel comfortable and safe when talking about your problems with this person? Do you feel like the therapist understands you, or is making an effort to see where you are coming from? Were your concerns taken seriously, and not minimized? Did your therapist treat you with compassion and respect? You may find it difficult to trust someone right away, but with time do you think you could grow to trust this person?

    I think it's also important to note that reaching out for support from a professional does not, by any means, indicate that you are "weak", or 'flawed", or "incapable". There is still so much stigma attached to reaching out to mental health supports in our society. But if you had a broken arm, EVERYONE would be urging you to see a doctor! Our mental health should be no different. It is absolutely hard to reach out for support sometimes. We don't want to be a burden. We want to be "strong enough" to get through it on our own. Sometimes reaching out for professional support IS the strongest thing that you can do. And as mentioned already, just because you link up with a therapist does not mean this is a long term commitment. Sometimes just a few sessions is enough to help us process our experiences in a way that we are able to incorporate them into our life story, so that we are able to fully engage and focus on our current moment in life.

    Q: I had my daughter at 33weeks very suddenly, and a week later my sister had a still born at 37 weeks. As a family, I am still dealing with the grief and trauma from both, and while personally I believe my sister had a much more difficult experience, I often find my sister discounting my experience, and my healing from my birth and grieving the loss of my nephew. Do you have any tips on how to handle my sister grief while still honouring my trauma?

    A: I am so sorry to hear this, (name). The best thing that you can do for your sister is to listen to her (when she feels like talking about it), and try not judge the thoughts and feelings that your sister is going through. This will be really tough for your entire family to go through, and it will take time for her to heal and process her time. Grief is a natual response to any sort of loss in life, and giving both yourself, and your sister, permission to feel the grief will go a long way in both of your healing journeys. You have a double whammy of having the task of not only being there to support your sister, but also of having to process your own NICU truama and grief. Be kind to yourself, and try to practice as much self-care as you can at this time (while also caring for a newborn). If your sister is not currently receiving professional support, encourage her to do so. And be aware that it may be difficult for your sister to see your daughter, as least in the first little while. This may hurt, but giving your sister her space to process this life experience may be the best thing for her right now.

    TB: It's comforting knowing we are on the right track. It's been just over a year, and my sister has always been great with being around my daughter, and now she has a daughter of her own. I'm very open and considerate of how she is feeling, but sometimes if I do something that I feel helps me heal, it triggers for her and I have mixed emotions on the best course of action.

    A:  Healing is never a smooth ride--it's messy agonizing ride. I wish I could give you a textbook way to remedy how to naviagate both of your journies at the same time. But, with many things, what may help one person, may be a trigger another person. Which is exactly what has happened between your sister and you. The single best way to minimize the affect of this is to keep your communications with your sister open, honest, and compassionate. Your sister sounds understanding of your own grief. As long as she is able to understand where you are coming from with your own healing techniques, then this may lessen the impact the trigger may have on her. You can even premptively say "I'm going to do something that will help me heal, but I recognize that this may be triggering for you--so I'm giving you an out to not participate in x-y-z and I promise that I won't take it personally".

    Wow! This has been a fantastic and supportive chat, filled with tons of information and resources. Thank you Kasia, for your expertise on the topic of Triggers and taking the time out of your day to be here with us.

    Parents: This chat will be taken from here and posted as a blong on in the next few days. This is so those of you who missed the chat or want to refer back to the resources have it all in one place.

    Thank you again for joining us and we look forward to chatting again soon for our monthly #PreTermChats!

    #Triggers #NICU #MtSinai #NICU #Preemie #PreemiePower #Premature #PrematureBirth #Sunnybrook #Neonatal 

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