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.

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

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

    The Spa

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

    The Ritz-Carlton Club® Level

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


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

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

    Customized service

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Monday, January 16, 2017 5:03 PM | claire (Administrator)

    When it comes down to hosting play-dates and meet ups most moms can be a little apprehensive about taking it on. I think the thoughts of food planning, spending money and having to clean your house are what keep us from jumping at the opportunity to be the hostess.

    I know when I am planning a play-date I am one of those who over-think it all and end up going a little above and beyond the usual duties. At the end of it all, sure it’s nice to have my place smell like fresh baked cookies and for my shelves to be well dusted, but I know the other moms could care less about the ‘staging’ and care more about socializing, getting to know other moms, and having the opportunity to get out of the house and have their kids interact with others.

    Joining Life With a Baby has helped me and other moms do just that. LWAB encourages their members to meet up for various activities such as stroller walks, park dates, activity centers, coffee chats, home dates, and more without the added pressures of worrying about providing food or having spotlessly clean homes. Since more and more moms are creating play groups and meet ups through LWAB, we wanted to make sure everyone knew how easy it was to be what we are now calling a Mommy Greeter!

    A Mommy Greeter is someone who loves to get out there and meet other moms and kids; someone who is welcoming and enjoys striking up conversations about everything from teething to date night.

    All a mommy greeter needs to do is show up at the meeting spot of the play-date/meet up, at the scheduled time, and welcome all the moms and kids who show up to join in on the fun! It’s that easy!

    Being a new mom can be a lonely and isolating experience at times, but by being a mommy greeter you can get out, meet other moms, exchange tips, and advice and start some wonderful friendships that can last a lifetime.

    If you are interested in being one of our mommy greeters, please email

    If you would like to arrange your own meet up with moms and connect with other members in your area, visit

    Written by : Madeline Soleil Alaouze 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The KG Program (4-6 years) aims to prepare students with the skill set for future schooling and to create a smooth and successful transition to elementary school. A distinctive factor that sets the Little Scholars Montessori KG Program apart from public school is the teacher to child ratio. Little Scholars Montessori maintains a 1-8 or 1-10 ratio compared to a 1-20 ration in other KG programs. The lower ratio allows the teachers to focus on each child individually and to prepare them for an invaluable foundation of lasting academic and social skills as well as the knowledge to succeed in a traditional elementary classroom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Thursday, December 01, 2016 9:01 PM | claire (Administrator)

    Stigma is a real and debilitating problem affecting new mothers. I had Postpartum Anxiety & Depression with my first baby more than 8 years ago and then had a second child without experiencing any depressive symptoms.  Since then, I’ve created a charitable organization that supports other new parents through education and support.  BUT the stigma is always there in the back of my mind.  Every time that I share my story, or discuss the challenges I know that PPD is linked with my name and if I wonder will this affect my career prospects?  What will people think of me?

    It’s true that, thanks to the media and others who are ignorant about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs), people believe mothers with PPD think of harming their babies or will harm their babies or children.  I’m baffled that we continue to talk about PPD ONLY after a tragedy occurs, and I know this only helps to reinforce the idea that moms with PPD hurt their kids.

    Because of a recent tragedy, I’ve had many moms contact me with severe anxiety, worried that they could “harm their child” because they have PPD. They’ve seen media articles saying that this behavior is normal, or common with PPD.  I’m seeing firsthand how when we speak about this only after a tragedy we increase the stigma and create fear.

    I think it’s important to provide credible, evidence based, supportive information about PMADs and clearly establish the difference between depression and psychosis.   I understand the need to ”normalize” parenting challenges and postpartum depression – I get it, I’ve been there.  Even so, I think this a very important topic and we NEED professionals who research or work directly with parents or who suffer from PPD to join the conversation.  The fact is: postpartum psychosis is rare and serious condition and should be treated as such, while PPD is more common and need not be feared. 

    Katherine Stone, the founder of Postpartum Progress says: “It’s easy to feel, when you hear of a tragedy, that you are capable of terrible things. The truth is that the vast, VAST majority of mothers with perinatal mood or anxiety disorders never do anything to harm their children. Not ever. The fact that you have PPD or postpartum anxiety does not make you a dangerous person, just a person with an illness." It is also true, though, that mothers with postpartum psychosis or postpartum depression that has become so severe that it has psychotic features have the potential of harming their child. Notice I didn’t say they will harm because most do not and would not. They simply have the potential to harm, usually due to delusions and hallucinations that make a mom believe she needs to do something dangerous to protect her children or others, NOT because she is a bad or evil person. This is why if you’re having delusions or hallucinations or other symptoms of psychosis you need to call a doctor right away, for your own health and safety. If you’d like to see our list of symptoms, check here:

    All moms who suspect they have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder should reach out for professional help, not because they’re dangerous but because they deserve to feel like a healthy mom who is able to function as she would like. Additionally, your children need you to be as healthy as possible. Getting help is a gift to your family. You deserve to be well.

    Meantime, know that perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are very common and all the women who have them are regular, everyday, good people, just like you and me. It’s just an illness and is temporary and treatable with professional help.”

    I also reached out to Hiltrud Dawson, a health promotion consultant with the Best Start Maternal Newborn Resource Centre in Canada who provided the following:

    “Some parents experience irrational thoughts and may see repetitive pictures of harm in their minds eye, even without any other symptoms of a postpartum mood disorder. Apparently this happens to about 40% of new parents (dads included) mostly during the last trimester of pregnancy and the first few weeks or months postpartum.

    The theoretical thinking behind this is that parents need to adapt their protective system to protecting themselves only to now being responsible for a little life as well. A lot of things can happen and these thought flash into their minds. Sometimes it is linked to common tasks or circumstances (what if I dropped my baby in the bath, what if I dropped my baby when I am carrying her/him downstairs?) Sometimes the thoughts get more irrational, for example while cutting vegetables for supper, they may see a knife hurting the baby.

    Often the more they struggle against these thoughts, the more often they appear seemingly unprovoked and out of nowhere. How do we know it is a “normal” parenting response? I don’t think we can ever be completely complacent. A good assessment by a skilled professional would be very helpful here.

    In the meantime, getting someone to talk about these thoughts and images is very powerful. It does a couple of things.

    1) It makes the parent realize that the thought, picture is irrational and they often confirm that they would never act on this.

    2) It makes the parent realize that this happens to others as well. It has been shown that after parents talk about these thoughts and images there experience of them will lessen.

    If you have scary and unwanted thoughts and images or other symptoms of PPMD, talk to your healthcare provider. Get  a good assessment by a skilled professional and reach out for support from knowledgeable professionals and mothers who have been there. ”

    If you are living in Canada visit for me information on the signs, symptoms and where to get help.

    Raising a baby is a wonderful experience, but it is can also be a challenge… If you are a new parent (mom or dad) and want to connect with peers to learn more about parenting, connect with others, and have fun with your little one(s) join us at  Our unique approach will help you overcome some of the challenges you face as a new mom so that you can enjoy your new baby and maintain a happy, healthy family dynamic.



    About the Authors:

    Claire Kerr-Zlobin is the Executive Director of Healthy Start, Healthy Future and Founder of the Life With A Baby program.   Life With A Baby is a three-tiered peer support system for parents.  It offers local, community-based social events to build relationships, online support, and multi-lingual parenting programs.  Claire founded Life With A Baby after her own struggles with social isolation and depression.  Life With A Baby serves over 5000 members across the province of Ontario. Claire is involved in innovative initiatives and partnerships focused on peer support, parenting, newcomer supports, parent engagement, and financial literacy.  She is passionate about supporting parents, developing collaborations, reducing social isolation, and building healthy and strong parent-child relationships.

    Hiltrud Dawson has extensive experience in the maternal newborn field as a nurse, midwife, and lactation consultant. She had been a health promotion consultant with the Best Start Resource Centre/Health Nexus for over seven years. Hiltrud provides training and consultations to health and social service providers on perinatal mood disorders and has been the project lead in the development of a number of resources for both parents and service providers such as the “Life with a New Baby” video, brochure and website. Hiltrud is also an active member of several associations and networks.

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

    Written by Brandee Foster

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

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

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

    • Saying no: I had to get good pretty darn quickly at putting my little family first, even if that decision wasn't always what others wanted. I knew that in order to protect my little dude the best we could, we couldn't be shy in asking potential visitors how they were feeling *before* they came over. I also got wise and started asking if they had been around any sick kids or adults, even if they, themselves, were feeling ok. At first I felt bad asking and screening visitors like that, but I knew that if it was me being asked, I wouldn't be hurt, but would do my best to understand that the little babe had to come first. I stopped worrying so much about hurting people's feelings when it came to the baby. Any sign of a cold and it was hands off. My husband was forever scooting off the other way in public places when he saw people with that droopy, sick look come anywhere near our son and he had zero qualms about asking people to admire from afar if they were coughing or sneezy.

    • Wash: Don't be afraid or intimidated to ask people to wash their hands before the touch the baby. There is a very good reason why the NICU makes you scrub up, and that is to protect all of those vulnerable little ones. Same goes for at home. No washing? No touching!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Written by Fabiana Bacchini 

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

    Written by Alana Romain

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

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

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

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

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

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


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software