Sips, Sweets & Snacks

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I’ve mentioned before that I’m not much of a salad fan, and though my general feelings on the matter haven’t necessarily changed I did find myself craving cold, crunchy veggies more than ever over this humid, hot summer. It’s pretty hard to imagine eating lasagna, soup, or other hot savoury foods when you step outside and break into a sweat!

When I went to Calgary earlier this year on my Subway Ambassador trip we got to learn a handful of recipes on the grill with their head chef, and my absolute favourite part was learning how to marinate and grill romaine lettuce. It’s shockingly simple, quick, and makes a massive taste difference to your salad. I was instantly hooked.

When I got my Lil’ Tex Pellet Grill this past August, trying my romaine tricks at home was at the top of my list, and I had a feeling Traeger’s Blackened Saskatchewan Rub would make the creation even more delicious. With grilled romaine lettuce as my jumping off point I made a list of other ingredients to incorporate – I’ve been experimenting with making the perfect vegan caesar dressing for what feels like years, and I think I finally managed to perfect it over the past month. Paired with smoky chickpeas and cashew nut cheese crumble, this salad might just be so good that it has the power to change a salad hater’s mind!

Scroll down for the recipe!

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ROASTED CHICKPEAS

Ingredients //

Can of organic chickpeas
Blackened Saskatchewan Rub
Smoked paprika
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

Recipe //

Strain and rinse one can of organic chickpeas, toss with olive oil, Blackened Saskatchewan Rub, smoked paprika and salt and pepper. Spread evenly across a bed of aluminum foil or bbq safe cooking sheeting and cook on medium-high heat for 30 mins.

NUT CHEESE

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Ingredients //

1/2 cup Soaked cashews
1 garlic clove
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
pinch of salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Recipe //

Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor until it reaches a crumbly texture.

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VEGAN CEASER DRESSING

Ingredients //

1/2 cup soaked cashews
Juice of one small lemon
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup tahini
1 tsp dijon
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup water
Salt and pepper

Recipe //

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or high powder blender until completely smooth.

Wash the romaine lettuce well and allow to throughly dry. Cut each Romaine heart in half length-wide, cutting off the stocky part at the bottom. Use a brush to lightly coat the cut surface with olive oil and season with Blackened Saskatchewan Rub. Place face down on the grill on high heat for 10-15 mins until grill marks appear. Place grilled romaine on a bed of finely chopped kale and top with roasted chickpeas, crumbled nut cheese and vegan caesar dressing. Garnish with a lemon wedge and enjoy!

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Blush dinnerware from Ikea Canada

Dear DiaryDress Up

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As if by magic, I’m somehow already over halfway to meeting this baby! I remember when I first got my positive test result and mapped out the trimesters, 20 weeks seemed like a lifetime away, and every moment was spent just wishing my belly would grow enough to show. I remember standing in the mirror trying to puff myself up and constantly worrying I somehow wasn’t actually pregnant.

Yet here I am, heading into week 22 (!) and In a lot of ways it still doesn’t feel any more real – even after that 20 week anatomy scan showing each tiny arm, and even as my belly grows far too big to fit into any of my old outfits. I expected to feel so sick and in a constant state of discomfort during my pregnancy, just like in the movies, but I’ve been so incredibly lucky this past 5 months with how healthy, energetic and happy I’ve felt that I seriously have consistently worried I’m not actually pregnant almost the whole time. I guess pregnancy anxiety in my case is very very real, even if the more typical symptoms haven’t been! Oh and the boobs, I definitely have the boobs as evidence.

SO what happens now? Waiting on that first “for sure” kick has seriously been agony for me. It finally happened late last week (I think? How do you know for sure!?) and I’m still impatient for a more serious kick so I can REALLY FOR SURE know this is all really happening. What can I say, this motherhood thing has been so surreal! I’m genuinely starting to worry I won’t fully believe there’s an actual baby in there until I’m actually in labour/giving birth. Some of my mom friends have even said years down the line, looking at their toddlers, they still don’t believe it!

And of course this process hasn’t been entirely without any lows. Some of my friends who started out supportive when all this was just an idea have since faded or even disappeared completely. I fell down the stairs early on and probably cried harder about the fact that no one was there to pick me up than I did about the actual fall. I’ve had 3 UTI’S (I get them chronically) and this last one has gone on for a month, totally resistant to the few antibiotics I can take. Some nights I fall asleep happily cuddling my pregnancy pillow, and some nights I fall asleep worried sick about my finances and wishing I had a partner to rant to. I may have had an “easy” pregnancy so far, but nothing worth doing is ever just easy, and of course there are times when I’m scared and worried and just want a hug. So I’ve made the choice to stay as positive as I possibly can and focus on all the good in my story, because at the end of the day this is everything I’ve ever wanted, and though nothing is ever perfect, this magical time is pretty darn close in my books!

Some fun new features that have come out since my initial announcement:

My interview with the Unapparenthood podcast here
This interview on the FASHION magazine site here

And now over to you guys! Here are my answers to all the things you wanted to know.

Q+A //

Did you consider other paths to parenthood when making your decision? Such as adopting or fostering? If you did… did you find any barriers in those processes being single? // It was definitely something I thought about, but yes, there are a lot of things about my lifestyle that would make that route pretty difficult. It’s absolutely a lot harder to qualify as a young, single woman who rents her apartment and has two dogs and a cat, with a fairly nondescript job title/business to boot. In all honesty I also really deeply have always wanted to be pregnant myself if it was a possibility, though adopting in the future when I have a partner and the process isn’t so daunting is absolutely still on the table.

I’m dying for nursery sneak peeks! // They’re coming! All setup is on hold until the ceiling mural I have commissioned Johanna for is finished. Once that’s complete and the light fixture goes up, everything else will start to take shape.

Are you finding out the gender? + Have you found out gender yet? // This is by far my most asked question I get, pretty much on the daily, and it’s a bit of a point of contention for me if I’m being real. I have always felt there was way too much focus on gender for expecting parents, and knew I personally wouldn’t want to find out long before I started trying. It’s not just about being excited for the surprise, which I totally absolutely am, but also my understanding of how fluid gender can be and how detrimental gendered parental expectations can be in turn. Let me explain:

I have dated all over the gender spectrum, and I’ve seen so many wonderful people that I care about deeply suffer from the impacts of not turning out the way their parents anticipated based on determination of sex at birth. I understand knowing what you’re having can make the whole baby thing feel more real in so many ways, and a big part of me craves that, but I think in a lot of cases it also kickstarts how you think your child will be and how society starts to perceive your child will be, before they even take their first outside breath, all based on a body part. I dated someone for years whose mother was absolutely heartbroken her child hadn’t turned out to be the straight, feminine woman she had expected to raise, so wrapped up in the fact that her kid wasn’t settling down with a nice man in a white wedding dress that she couldn’t celebrate all the incredible things this person was doing in the world. I remember hearing this story – whenever she did laundry she’d throw out her child’s American Apparel unisex underwear and replace them with frilly bikini cuts. I also had a trans* partner whose parents felt such a massive sense of loss when their child came out to them, constantly struggling with the idea of losing their daughter instead of grasping how truly remarkable, happy, and brave their son was.

These relationships were painful to watch as an outsider, and I swore I’d never make my kid feel like they had to dress, look or behave a certain way to be worthy of my love and support, especially when it comes to gender expectations. Of course I will find out the gender of my baby when they’re born, and I will be using gendered pronouns like he/she until my child is old enough to tell me to do otherwise, but I don’t want to get overly attached to my kid being a certain way because of something that in the end isn’t necessarily solidified or all that important. At the end of the day, I just want a baby to love, and I hope more than anything they’re happy and healthy.

As for decor and wardrobe choices well… let’s just say my love of pink does not subscribe to “boy or girl” norms! #allpinkeverything

What has surprised you the most about pregnancy? // Probably how surreal the whole thing has felt. As I mentioned I haven’t really been that sick, sore, or exhausted, which means some days I wake up and before I reach down and feel my belly I have a wave of fear it was all just a dream. I also like being pregnant so much that it’s almost like I can’t image the baby really arriving, like I might just stay pregnant forever? I think I expected to be one of those talking to my belly women but I’m still not fully grasping there’s someone in there to listen.

Are you dating while pregnant? I worry that after I conceive I’ll be alone forever! // Absolutely! I have a whole article on this coming out on the FLARE site very soon so I won’t go into too much detail… but don’t be afraid! NO ONE stays alone forever, and people with kids get together and join their families all the time. Yes, being pregnant and having a baby cuts out a lot of potential partners who aren’t ready for that yet, but if this is something you want, you didn’t want someone who isn’t ready anyway! I think of it as a really great auto-filtration system for my dating life.

Will you be getting a nanny? (no judgement!) // I’m not totally sure yet, but it’s likely I’ll need some help when it comes to running my own business and being a mom. Of course we all hope to have that sleepy newborn who can sit lazily in a bouncy chair for hours while mom gets work done, but I’m going with the “expect the worst and hope for the best” strategy. My family will be staying with me to help for as long as possible and when they head back to Vancouver I’ll have to evaluate what kind of childcare setup I need, if any! Certainly not against the idea, especially if it’s someone who comes to help out while I’m home working so I’m still around for all the milestones.

How long was the process before getting pregnant? // It was pretty quick for me, definitely quicker than I originally expected! I had this totally unfounded fear that I might be infertile because I’d never had any sort of a pregnancy scare, plus my family doesn’t have the best track record with female health issues (hello endometriosis). In the end I tried for three months at home without any clinical intervention or tracking, just over the counter ovulation strips and cycle tracking, and it worked. I guess it was about 10 months from the time I first decided to stop taking birth control until I actually got that plus sign on a test.

How do you maintain a positive body image while pregnant? // This one is tough to answer because in my case it feels really natural to celebrate this new body. It may not be what I’m used to, but I like to think of it as a super body, like my old one but with way more crazy impressive powers. I mean, on top of my daily life this bod is now growing a whole new human! I think staying as active as possible, having fun with how I dress (it’s not everyday you get to layer over a big old bump and huge boobs) and eating healthy have all kept my confidence up, because I haven’t completely lost my old self in this new skin. Doing the things that always made you feel like a confident babe are just as, if not more, important with a baby on board!

I want to know more about your decision to do this alone, I’ve been considering it for a long time // I’m not sure what more there is to say! It didn’t really even feel like a choice to me – I knew for so long this is what I really wanted out of life, and I ran out of reasons not to go for it! Having a baby is always scary, but for me the idea of waiting for the right person and potentially missing my chance was way scarier than going for it on my own.

I was wondering how you selected a donor and what was important to you? // I struggled super long and hard with this one because it’s a huge responsibility, and I genuinely date all sorts of people (I can legitimately fall in love with anyone), which means gravitating toward my “type” wasn’t an option. In the end I tried to choose someone a lot like me, so hopefully I will have as much in common with my kid as possible. Yes I could have gone for an academic or sports star, but without that second person around to identify with and nurture those traits I was worried I would fall short, so I went the more creative route to be safe. Who knows what I’ll actually get, but it was my attempt to be responsible!

What are you most nervous about as you become a mom? // Probably the concern of developing really bad PPD. I’ve struggled with mental health issues my whole life and the idea of feeling detached or down when I meet this baby sort of terrifies me. My mom also had a particularly bad case, which ups my risk of having it too. Luckily I live in a city with a ton of really great resources and lots of help for new moms so even if it does come up, I’m confident I’ll be able to get it under control!

What song puts you in a good mood no matter what? // Not pregnancy related haha, but I can always count on Kokomo by The Beach Boys!

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Outfit credits:
Shein Overalls (search ID 393457, get EXTRA 15% off with code “randomac15”
Mother’s are Magic t-shirt – Bee and Mae
Earrings – Shop Machete
Checkered high tops – Vans
The Motherhood Club pin – Bee and Mae
Don’t Make me Blush pin – Shop Ban.do
Empowered Women Empower Women Button – Paper Heart Calligraphy

Sips, Sweets & Snacks

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Peach season is a precious time for us here in Ontario and I’ve been extra obsessed with fruit this Summer – somehow as unhealthy as I usually am, fruit has been my biggest pregnancy craving!

When I moved into #heaveninhighpark back in March I was already scheming to get equipped with the perfect grill to use in my newly acquired outdoor space. Going from a tiny condo to a home with both a yard and a front patio was a bit daunting at first, but as soon as I started filling the space it was such a fun project to dive into. I planted a fruitful garden (no peach trees… YET!) and set up seating, but the grill hunt took a lot longer than expected. There was so much to consider – charcoal or propane? How does one even use those flavoured wood chips? What type of grill was least likely to accidentally singe my eyebrows off while lighting it? After months of passively searching I finally found Traeger.

When it comes to BBQ’ing, it doesn’t get much better than Traeger. These pellet grills use wood-fired fuel to cook your food, giving everything a seriously delicious smoky flavour, plus there’s an actual smoker setting to play with too! I wanted to set up my grilling station on the front patio for easy access, so I went with the Lil’ Tex Pellet Grill – it’s the perfect size for an apartment but still fits quite a lot of food. The best part? It’s super easy to fire up without lighting yourself or anything else on fire, and food cooks everything from corn to tofu steaks fast!

When the grill arrived, I couldn’t wait to get one thing cooking: peaches! I know most people think meat when they think BBQ, but my lifelong veggie diet means BBQ season has always looked a bit different, and I love getting creative with fruits and veggies on the grill. I had tried grilled peaches at restaurants, but never made them myself, so I was determined they be the first thing I try to make, especially with it being the height of peach season! Of course plain old grilled peaches wasn’t all that exciting, so the idea evolved into strawberry grilled peach basil and honey ice cream sundaes with powdered donut crumb topping. Served up on perfect blush pink dinnerware from Ikea Canada, this recipe makes the dreamiest Summer treat!

Scroll down for the recipe!

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Ingredients //

Fresh local peaches
Vegetable oil
Strawberry ice cream
Mini powdered donuts
Liquid honey
Fresh basil leaves

Recipe //

When choosing peaches for grilling it’s best to stick with slightly firmer ones. Wash and dry the fruit and carefully slice each one down the middle, vertically from it’s stem end. Twist each half in the opposite direction of each other and gently pull apart, use a spoon to dig out the pit.

Apply a light and even coat of vegetable oil to the cut side of each peach half. Place on a medium to high heat grill until golden brown grill marks appear.

While the peaches are grilling, crumble powdered mini donuts into small crumbs for the topping.

Place two grilled peach halves on the strawberry ice cream, top with donut crumbs, then drizzle with honey and garnish with a fresh sprig of basil!

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Sips, Sweets & Snacks

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This post was made in collaboration with Melitta Canada

Confession: I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker. I know, I know, how can I live without coffee? The saying is literally “But first, COFFEE”, not cereal or green juice or tea! The truth is, I do like the taste of a good cup of coffee with a healthy dose of milk and sugar, but I can’t take the caffeine! I always end up with palms sweating, heart racing panic, so I’ve just steered clear for most of my life… and now that I’m pregnant, decaf or nothing seems like a no brainer considering how sensitive I already was to coffee.

Johanna on the other hand lives for her daily coffee(*s). I don’t know how she does it, it’s like coffee actually replaces her blood. Unlike me, she never takes sugar, just a small touch of cream, and flavour-wise the bolder the better.

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Jo is constantly complaining about the lack of coffee in the office, always arriving at work with a to-go cup in tow that runs out too quickly. Having my own rocky relationship with coffee, I had never really felt the need to stock beans at home, nevermind a coffee maker of any sort. The whole thing seemed like an expensive investment and though I’ve always wanted to be able to serve guests coffee, I was overwhelmed by the seemingly complex (and often controversial) methods of making the world’s favourite drink.

As you know I’m easily swayed by almost anything pink, so I was immediately drawn in by Melitta’s Ceramic Heritage Series Pour Over Coffee Maker in “pastel pink”. Melitta is a female-founded family run company started by a German housewife. Tired of bitter coffee, Melitta Bentz invented the two-part filter system that would become known as the pour over method in her kitchen in 1908! Since then Melitta has grown to become an international coffee and pour-over maker company, though it’s still run by the Melitta family four generations later.

Cute on the countertop and easy to use (even for a noob like me), this little #MelittaPourOver appliance seemed like the perfect addition to my kitchen, and it was amazing to be able to order pre-ground coffee from the exact same website. I even got myself a decaf roast to indulge in! The only problem: I had no idea how to make a cup of coffee! Luckily Johanna had all of the pour over knowledge to shower upon me when it arrived.

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THE PREP //

The first step to creating the perfect cup of pour-over coffee is to boil the kettle – make sure to boil a little bit of extra water (about double what you need).

Pour the first bit of boiling water into the bottom pot of the coffee maker and allow it to sit while you prepare your beans or coffee grounds (about 2-3 mins.)

Pour out the boiling water in the pot and place the natural bamboo coffee filter inside the top part of the carafe. You are now all set to start brewing coffee!

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THE GRIND //

The pour over method’s versatility makes it the perfect way to prepare coffee in the office or at home.
4-5 generous teaspoons of a finely ground Columbian Roast will produce a medium to bold cup with a high caffeine content, Johanna’s personal go-to.

Alyssa opt’s for the Naturally Decaffeinated blend, with lots of honey of course!

A Dark Roast will produce a strong and smoky cup with a lower caffeine content.

For the absolute freshest brew every time, go for a whole bean and grind to your desired taste before each brew. Remember, the finer the grind, the stronger your infusion!

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THE POUR //

Start by slowly pouring, in circular motions from the outside in – only pour enough to just cover the grounds. It should resemble wet sand, you’ll notice large bubbles start to create craters in the grounds, this is carbon dioxide being released from within the beans cell structure. Allowing this gas to be released results in a smooth and even brew.

Now very slowly pour the boiling water over the grounds in circular motions from the outside of the filter inward, the carafe can hold 20 oz. Allow to fully drain from the filter.

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MAKE IT YOUR OWN //

-try adding a 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the grounds for a spicy, festive treat.

-stir in your favourite honey or maple syrup

-Love a creamy brew? Stir in about half a teaspoon of coconut oil to your cup for extra buttery texture

-Love lattes? Try infusing the 4-5 generous teaspoons of Vanilla or Hazelnut flavoured coffee blends with only 6-10 oz boiling water for a strong, flavoured concentrate to pour over ice or combine with steamed milk.

Head over to Melitta’s online shop for 15% your purchase using my promo code Alyssa15% and create your own cup of coffee using the pour-over method! #pouroverisbetter

Dear Diary

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WHAT. A. WHIRLWIND.

In all honesty I had a whole other blog post written to share today, but as the week unfolded since my announcement Monday I decided something more raw and less bubbly-blogger was needed. Yes, of COURSE I’m so excited, and this is everything I’ve ever dreamed of coming to fruition, but there’s a LOT more than that to say!

First – thank you, thank you, thank you. I had been counting down to when I got to share the news with my followers since pretty much day one, and I spent countless hours trying to mentally prepare myself for all of the judgemental, scary and maybe even cruel responses that were sure to come. I know my story is controversial in a lot of ways, that it doesn’t fit what society expects, especially from a blogger, and when I put my post up Monday I was ready to go to war for my right to be a mother on my own terms.

And then something strange happened. Love.

You guys showed me so much love it almost made my heart explode. Yes I was absolutely sure this was right for me, but I absolutely expected the general population to find it, well, a bit crazy. Instead my comment sections were filled with words like “so proud of you”, “empowering stuff” and “love this story”. I had a massive flood of messages from other women who have similar plans or are already on their way to being single parents too. A few even mentioned how isolated they’ve felt for wanting to be moms from a young age. So many happy tears were shed, stories shared and questions politely and respectfully posed. So above all, thank you – I really expected the worst earlier this week, and I ended up feeling like reality was even better than my best case scenario.

Of course nothing is ever ALL positive, especially when challenging the norm is at play and this conversation ended up spreading far past my amazing, supportive, sparkly feminist community, all the way onto Wednesday’s episode of The Social (a popular Toronto talk show, for the non-Torontonians here). It was super interesting to see the dialogue that came up when my story was shared with a totally different audience, and though the commentary from the hosts wasn’t all positive (you can watch the clip here) I think they all raised really good points… a few of which I’d love to speak to, because I’m sure other people have the same criticisms in mind! Here’s what stood out to me as comments to address:

If you’re going to do this, you have a responsibility to ask your parents and friends first, because they’re all going to have to chip in //
Yes, community is absolutely crucial in this choice, whether it involves your blood related family or not. I am extremely lucky to have a massive, strong support system comprised almost entirely of people who jumped at the chance to be a part of this baby’s life. Their faith in me and my ability to be a good mother played a big part in my decision making process. It was not something I “just decided”, it was something I hashed out and contemplated with my people for years before taking any steps toward making it a reality.

It’s a selfish decision //
This was the criticism I was most afraid of when I went public with my story, and though I can understand where Sonia is coming from as a single mother herself, I think she made her comments with the assumption I had made this choice on a gust of whimsy, without a real consideration of the sacrifice and hardship involved. Now I am the queen of whimsy, you guys know that, but when it comes to children I do NOT mess around. I thought about this every hour of every day for literal years – it consumed me in ways I didn’t know that something could. I weighed out my options and I know that for me, personally, dealing with the heartbreak of a divorce would be much more detrimental to me and my child than me building up my life, doing this thing on my own and worrying about finding that big love later on. Of course it would be nice to have met the love of my life, had babies and stayed together forever, but I wasn’t going to try and force that only to watch it go up in flames, potentially impacting my child’s ideas about love in the process. I say if the shoe doesn’t fit… make your own more realistic, better-fitting shoe!

Are you romanticizing the notion of motherhood a little too much? At 27 it’s going to impact every single aspect of you’re life. She doesn’t know what yet because she’s not there //
Of course NO person can prepare for the insanely difficult, messy, stressful, terrifying journey that is being a first time parent, in any situation, but I have done my absolute best to try. I work in childcare with my church, I spend a ton of time with my friends who are moms, I have a line of candid conversation open with my own mom about her struggles with postpartum depression and parenting, plus I have this amazing community of moms on the internet at my fingertips that have already been so helpful! I have heard the horror stories, I have wiped the tears, I have witnessed the sleepless nights – I get it, this shit isn’t “cute”, its the ride of a lifetime… but I’m as ready for that ride as I’ll ever be, and there isn’t anything more important to me than this adventure.

If she’s taken the time to build her village before, then I have more respect for her choice, but I don’t know that she’s done that //
As mentioned above, I wouldn’t dream of having a baby on my own without a kick ass community to help me do it, and I am thankful every moment of every day for the expansive village that has built itself up around me in this journey. I can’t wait for this baby to meet all of the inspiring, strong and talented role models who are so unwaveringly a part of our lives.

You bring a child into this world, you need money! You need stability! //
Of COURSE this is the ideal scenario, yes, and luckily I have the privilege of having a great financial situation and lots of stability without a man. I don’t think those things are mutually exclusive, stability and not having a relationship – it’s entirely possible to have one without the other, and had I had a child with one of the men I dated over the years, I always would have been the one with the financial stability in the relationship anyway. What can I say – I work hard, and I’ve been saving for this dream, for parenthood in general, for a long time! Not to say that’s mandatory though – so many people, single or coupled, have babies on a budget and make it work!

And now, onto YOUR questions! I’ve always been an open book when it comes to my writing, and I really want to create a lot of dialogue around this subject specifically, so feel free to DM or comment below if I left something out and I’ll make sure I address it in the coming months!

How did friends and family react to this decision? //
It was genuinely shocking to see how many people in my life were immediately on board, I think because the people closest to me know how badly I want to be a mother for such a long time now. Of course there were doubts and lots of really helpful critical conversations where friends and family brought up their concerns and we worked through them together. Being able to hold my own in these conversations only further solidified I was on the right track.

Did you have any fears? Such as will it be harder to meet someone? Sad? Lonely? //
I have this blessing/curse where I commit to an idea and don’t look back, which really came into play here. My biggest fear, above anything else, was to miss my chance to be a mother. Every other fear faded into the background when compared. So I made a mental switch to create my own happy ending, not something sad or lonely or disappointing, just a different romantic narrative. Here’s what it sounds like:

We live in a world where women are told we can be anything we chose, masters of our own destiny, so why should becoming a mother still be dependant on finding the right man first? I have no doubt at some point I’ll find a life partner, or at least have a handful more great loves down the line, and in my books having a baby doesn’t contradict that, it compliments it. Someone who doesn’t have the same goals, values and desires simply won’t date me, which automatically weeds out anyone I would have wasted my time on. I think a massive part of my problems when it comes to dating were rooted in pressure, because it was so undeniable that I knew what I wanted and generally it was terrifying to potential suitors. I constantly felt held back and slowed down, limited by love, and I’ve always known that if I waited for “the right person” and found them too late, I’d never forgive myself.

I have faith my great love will come along, they’ll just have to be ok with fitting into the family I’ve already built instead of building it from scratch with me. The right person will only love me more for being a proud mother.

How long did it take before you felt fully ready to make this decision? //
I seriously thought about it every day for years, but I only felt pushed to make some sort of official plan a couple years ago around age 25. Having a deadline and a strategy made me feel more in control of my own destiny, and when I hit 27 and the need for a baby was effecting everything in my life (relationships, career choices, holidays and special events), I knew it was time to actually take the leap.

What are you most looking forward to as a single parent? I find that most are asked “what’s the scariest thing about being a single parent?” but I’d love to see the narrative turned around to things to look forward too rather than things to fear. //
LOVE THIS! I think I’ll have to say living in our own magical little world of make believe without anything to get in our way. No drama or parental disagreements, no relationship stress, just fort building and snuggles. Pure, uninterrupted play time where it’s just us and our imaginations. Some people may think being alone with a child sounds sad or scary, but to me it sounds like freedom from all things adult, if only for those small special pixie dust moments.

Are you still with C3 church? Do you plan to raise your baby Christian? //
Really great question! I do still attend, though some of the policies on the C3 global site have raised a lot of concern for me and until I get more answers from my church leadership I’m not totally sure about what particular Toronto church I will continue to grow with. I love my C3 Toronto family so much, and it absolutely feels like home on a personal level, but I just can’t be a part of an organization that opposes gay marriage, even at a distant top level. That said I do plan to raise my baby with some aspects of modern, inclusive Christianity – I think believing in something bigger than yourself and having a strong moral compass, whatever that means for you, is really super important. I will never force my child to attend church or believe what I believe however, those choices will be up to them when they’re able to decide, the same way my parents left my own spirituality up to me.

Did you rely on any sort of support system in making the decision? //
Absolutely. As much as I’d love to say “whatever, just go for it”, I think it’s endlessly important to have a lot of really dedicated, loving people on board if you’re going to take this route, not only for the sake of your future sanity, but so your child grows up with lots of different role models from different walks of life too.

How are you functioning with morning sickness? //
I have been one of those rare lucky women who didn’t really get that sick – sure I’ve had food aversions, but I never actually threw up a single time, and now that I’m in trimester 2 I feel pretty close to 100%. I will say eating small amounts of plain foods ALL the time really helped the first couple months and hydrating heavily was another big one. Also, don’t deprive yourself of naps! If you can, nap, nap all the time. It helped me so much to snooze here and there, and it’s good new mom training too.

Will you be finding out the sex of the baby? Or let it be a surprise when you give birth? //
No gender reveal parties here folks – we’re all just going to have to wait and see until the moment baby is born (yes, even me.) I love a good surprise and this is the ULTIMATE one!

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How did your parents first react to your decision? First shock and then excitement? Or only excitement to be grandparents, love and support since the beginning? //
It was definitely a process. My parents are super supportive of everything I do, but we also have a very open honest relationship, so if they’re skeptical of something they say it. When I first suggested the idea to my mom she raised all the usual points like “Alyssa, it’s going to be really hard, you have no idea”, and insisted I’d needed to move home to Vancouver for support if I was serious. As my mom warmed up to the idea with time, listening to all the reasons I was confident it WOULD work, my dad refrained from chiming in, though as one point when I pushed the issue he said something like “it just seems really forced”. They were unsure about my plans to say the least, but I think the more serious I was about it the more seriously they started to take it. In early Spring they came to visit me at my new apartment and it was clear by then that my mom was fully on board, but my dad still sort of kept quiet on the subject. Apparently on their car ride back to the airport my dad turned to my mom and said “You know, I was worried about this plan Alyssa has, but seeing her home and the life she’s built, I really do think she can do it. I think she’s ready.”

I got pregnant two weeks later, and my dad likes to think it was his blessing that sealed the deal. They were still definitely in shock when I called them crying my eyes out screaming “I’m pregnant” into the phone so soon after their visit, but within seconds shock turned to nothing but excitement. They’re probably reading this and crying happy tears / shopping for baby clothes right now (there have been a lot of those in my family lately).

How do you deal with negativity towards your decision to be a young single parent? //
I think I’ve accepted negativity as an important step toward widening the conversation. If someone is being negative, they likely feel their views are being challenged in some way and rather than get down about it I see it as an opportunity to stretch their perspective a little, if only an inch. Chances are if someone has a concern it’s something I’ve already thought of myself and then worked through while preparing for all this, so it doesn’t scare me.

What are you most excited for and least excited for as a mom? //
I’m definitely most excited for our future adventures, to show this baby the magical world around us with music, vacations, stories and snuggles. In my books, it’s never too early to start teaching them how to dream!

Least excited… definitely sleep deprivation. I really, REALLY love to sleep.

Have your pets noticed a change? //
I don’t think they have yet! I am working with K9X, an amazing dog trainer, to get Mylk ready for baby because he’s SO big and still very young. I want the whole fur family as prepared as possible!

Do you have a birth team? //
Yes! I’m with Kensington Midwives and LOVING it, plus I have the most awesome Doula, Birth Boss.

Would you share how potential sperm donors reacted when you approached? //
Oh gosh, was that ever a funny experience. I spoke to a lot of different men long before I had actually started trying, gauging interest. A couple guys said they were up for it but then backed out when it was actually go time, others had their own timeline in mind that didn’t work with mine. All of them took some time to think about it and speak with their partner (in the case they had one) and all were surprisingly logical and respectful. I’ve even had some men in my life come to me since the announcement and say “hey, why didn’t you ask me!”

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Photos by Ainsley Rose