Friday, December 8th, 2017

What Worked – The First Year

Realistically this could have been a precursor to my post on what’s working now that I’m back at work, but there’s something to be said for hindsight. Looking back, these were some of the things that made a big difference for me while I was on maternity leave:

Sticking The Playpen By The Kitchen Table

I struggled with eating enough, especially in the early days. It didn’t help my energy levels, which after the first two weeks were stretched thin, and it didn’t help my milk supply either. Running up and down the stairs between the kitchen and the nursery wasn’t working while I looked after munchkin, and I would go all day without eating.

So what did work? Sticking the play pen beside the kitchen table. My son could coo and giggle (and later play with his toys), while I made a cup of coffee and had something to eat. It didn’t always work for lunch, but once I moved the playpen downstairs I was able to eat breakfast without fail.

If he got fussy I would throw him in the stroller and do laps around the kitchen island, but that’s a story for another day.


I recognize that there are some women who can give birth and leave the hospital in the same clothes they fit before they got pregnant, but I am not one of them. In fact, I was several sizes larger.

I could have worn my maternity clothes, but it was summer and most of my clothes were better suited to winter and spring. Lets be honest, I was also tired of wearing the same things on repeat. Buying a whole new wardrobe retail would have been prohibitively expensive, and only would have fit me for a couple weeks. Months at most.

Enter thrifting:

Half Thrifted ^

Not everything I purchased was thrifted, but purchasing some of those transitional clothes second hand allowed me to transition between sizes regularly without completely breaking the bank. Not only that, but as I was no longer familiar with my body or what looked good on it, it allowed me to experiment with a variety of styles that may not have been easily available in stores.

Wearing A Bra That Fit

Following up on the clothing train of thought. I seriously struggled with the changes my body went through after giving birth. Some people really embrace the, umm, expansion that happens when lactating. Me, not so much. If you don’t believe me, check out my second trimester recap.

When it was all said and done, I topped out at a 32L. Not exactly department store sizing. Between the excess weight, deflating postpartum stomach, and the insufficient bust support, looking in the mirror wasn’t a great time. It was hard on the self-esteem.

So what helped? Getting a bra that actually fit. Not only was it better for my back, which was already lacking in abdominal support, it was better for my self image. Lifting everything up exposed my waistline and showed something closer to the figure I was used to having. It was just better for my head overall. It still is.

Instead of trying to find a nursing bra that worked, I had myself fitted for a proper bra and then had it converted to a nursing bra. I had a bra that actually provided the support I needed, and if I recall correctly the conversion was less than $20.

If you’re in the Edmonton area, I went to Dawn’s Bra-tique off Jasper Ave for my bra. If you don’t live in a major city, you could try an online brand like ThirdLove out of the US. If you need a more extended size range, Bravissimo out of the UK works as well.


Also known as baby wearing. There’s many, many variations on how to do this, from pre-made carriers to more traditional, regional methods.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t know what the proper name for my wrap is. It is literally a long strip of fabric. It was woven by a good friend of mine who used to have a business weaving baby wraps (Mama Minnow if you’re curious). We designed the pattern together using the lower mainland of British Columbia as inspiration.

But back to the main reason why this was a game changer. I can pick munchkin up and have my hands free at the same time.

Fussing while I’m making supper? Tie him to me.

Hazardous items on the floor? Tie him to me.

Farmers market isn’t stroller friendly? Tie to to me.

Can’t get home anytime soon and he needs a nap like crazy? I can tie him to me!

I find I’m resorting to this most frequently when he’s teething. He wants to be comforted, which is understandable, but sometimes I still need to get things done. Out comes the wrap!

As a bonus, the wrap is long enough that my husband can wrap him as well. If we’re going to be out for an extended period of time (several hours), he carries our son.

Being Flexible

This was a big one. Sometimes I have a mental image of how things are going to work out, and it just doesn’t.

Take diapering for example. I was adamant I wanted to do cloth diapering, and for the first two months it went great. The third month however, things went downhill hard. Munchkin ended up with a rash that I just couldn’t get rid of. I changed the soap, stripped the diapers, changed the rash cream, changed the absorbency material, added a barrier layer, added additional absorbency layers… nothing worked. It took a week in disposables to get rid of the rash. When I swapped back to cloth diapers the rash came back again within the day.

I couldn’t justify hurting his skin for the sake of keeping him in cloth diapers, so I relented and we switched to disposables. His skin has been much better since.

There have been lots of trade offs since then. I made his food purees at home, but when we travelled we bought pre-packaged options. We purchased books and quiet toys, but didn’t prevent him from playing with the noisy flashing toys his grandparents bought. When he wasn’t nursing we provided milk in glass bottles, but didn’t freak out if he drank something in a plastic cup.

It’s a trade off. You have to figure out what works for your family unit and run with it. Opinions be damned.

What worked for you?


2 Responses to “What Worked – The First Year”

  1. Your little munchkin is so cute!!
    I hear you on point #1. The previous house I lived in was 3 stories with a small floor plan. There was no bedroom on the main floor and the tv was on the basement floor. About 6 weeks after the baby was born I moved the tv to the main floor and I also set up a portable cot and changing station on the main floor. Made a world of difference. You have no idea how thrilled I am that we have now moved to a single story house 🙂

    Totally agree with the last point, we have to be flexible as parents. We imagine things will go a certain way but everything changes after you have a kid. You just have to do what works and keeps us sane lol!

  2. Mica says:

    I agree with that last bit so much! I think parenting really teaches you to be flexible as you have to do whatever works.

    We have the bedrooms upstairs and the living area and kitchen downstairs, and downstairs is all open plan, so that made things a bit easier for getting food while baby played, as you can always keep an eye on them. The only thing I did differently with my second is to have made up a little nappy changing station downstairs as well as upstairs. I can’t believe it took me until my second to realise it was much easier than going up and down the stairs all the time, haha! I was reading a blog the other day and the blogger shared that she used a little portable changing station with the nappies, wipes and changing pad in this little carry tub so it could go room to room – kinda wish I’d had that!

    Hope you are having a wonderful weekend and your Christmas preparation is going well. After a crazy week I managed to wrap some presents which is good, although (as always!) I’ve run out of tape!

    Away From The Blue Blog

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I'm Cassie.

I'm a petite hourglass, slow adopter, food geek, Engineer, wife and mom. Welcome to the little corner of the internet where I ramble on about random things. Mostly clothes.