Dear Diary

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First off, apologies for the late gift guide posting – growing a human in my body has really impacted my time management as of late!

The good news is, you so do not need a big excuse like Christmas to treat the moms-to-be and new moms in your life. Whether someone you know has just announced, is waddling through their third trimester and getting a little bit impatient (hem… me), or basking in newborn bliss these people in your life are working hard, and it’s so important not to forget about treating them! Of course baby clothes and cute felted rattles are always appreciated, but a gift that says “I see you and I’m here for you” specifically for the moms in your circle? That’s a special gift that isn’t as often received.

This guide includes some of my very favourite purchases from the past 8 months, plus the top items on my wishlist right now. I’ll be doing a more practical guide to dressing the bump and the essentials I couldn’t live without while expecting, but this guide is more about those special surprises that remind a new mom you still care about the her that’s hiding behind that bump or baby.

And remember, when in doubt, bring FOOD!

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The Goods //

1. Nurture by Erica Chidi Cohen
2. Love Wellness Do it All wipes
3. Woodlot Palo & Rose everyday mist
4.‘Mama’ gold necklace
5.Love Wellness Good Girl probiotics
6. Moodbeli Bliss Booster
7. Hatch Nipple + Lip balm
8. Hatch Belly Oil
9. Moonbath bath tea
10. The Every Bodysuit by Knix
11. Woodlot essential oils
12. Hatch cashmere sock bundle
13. BBhugme Pregnancy Pillow

A few more of my personal favourites //

Blanqi maternity and postpartum supportwear
Maternity teas by New Moon Tea co.
Mama bird t-shirt

Services and Instant Gifts //

Mom Box or The Womb Box – Who doesn’t love a good curated gift box?
A West End Mamas Gift card – prenatal yoga, massages, acupuncture; if you can name it, they do it!
At home beauty services from Wink and Wave – send some pampering direct to mama.
Postpartum visits from an awesome Doula (like Birth Boss!) – good support is priceless.
Sprout Collection Subscription – the best way to look cute and save on maternity wear when expecting!

And you can find so many more great ideas at Mother Mother shop!

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A Pastel BabySips, Sweets & Snacks

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They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but these days as the third trimester ticks on and my baby’s birth day creeps closer, you might catch me arguing a good doula is a pregnant girl’s best friend!

To be honest, I was totally in the dark about what a Doula was before becoming pregnant. I’d heard the word in passing, a sort of spiritual coach that gets you through big life moments like birth, but from what I could understand the whole concept was a bit too hippie for me. It was only when I started really paying attention to other women’s birth stories this year in anticipation of my own pregnancy, eager to hear what it’s really all about, the word kept coming up again and again. So many strong, smart women I respected in my community seemed to give birth with a doula by their side, and so I started to consider I might be into having one on my team too.

I shopped around online for a bit, but none of the websites or Instagram pages I came across really spoke my language – they were all a bit too woodsy or granola feeling, and though I absolutely respect that sort of thing, I know it isn’t the kind of vibe I respond to best. When my friends at Good Space (best yoga in the city FYI) sent me Birth Boss’ profile with the note “You NEED this Doula!” I knew she was the woman I had been waiting for. We almost immediately connected over DM and made a date to talk through if we might be a good match – a sort of two way interview. After many hours of excited chatting in a coffee shop, the rest very quickly became history!

So who is Rhiannon when it comes to my birth team, and what exactly does she do? While I’ve heard she’s SUPER amazing at leading and coaching partners on birthing day, in my case she’s sort of a full-on partner/support person stand in. She’s my main advocate, helping me figure out all of my preferences ahead of time and committed to enforcing them in the moment. She’s my number one cheer leader, director of any friends and family I chose to include, and soft touch expert (pressure and soft touch can really help with labour pains when done correctly!) There have already been so many moments in my pregnancy when I have felt endlessly thankful to have her on my side, and I seriously can’t recommend her enough if you need support with pretty much anything fertility, birth and postpartum related.

But enough from me, let’s hear from the Birth Boss herself:
We’ve also included a nourishing third trimester smoothie recipe too! Scroll down to the bottom for all of the details

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What even IS a modern day doula? //

Basically, a doula is like a BFF / life coach / wise sage / maid of honour for all things birth & postpartum. They support and empower you to make the best choices for you and your family, and leave the medical side of things to the folks wearing scrubs. As a maternity care specialist, I’m a trained doula in all aspects of the journey to parenthood, starting from fertility all the way to the first year after baby.

Why do you need a midwife and a doula? //

While a midwife is your primary medical care provider, a doula provides support in a different way, supporting the birthing person emotionally, informationally (by providing answers to all your questions), and physically (by offering comfort measures in labour). I like to think of it as your midwife focusing on the waist down, whereas a doula focuses on the waist up in birth.

How can a Doula help if you’re a single parent? //

Every birthing person deserves to have someone who is entirely focused on you & your comfort in labour. A doula can provide comfort measures, talk you through the scary bits, and help you advocate for your preferences to your care providers. You’ll never be alone (unless you want to be).

How can a Doula help if you’re partnered? //

I love working with partners to help them feel involved in labour too! For example, a partner can physically support the birthing person by slow dancing/swaying together during a contraction, while the doula applies pressure to the birther’s hips from behind, allowing the pelvis to open for a smooth descent for baby.

Otherwise, it can be nice to have an extra hand on deck so that your partner can sleep, text updates to the fam, get a bite to eat, or go to the bathroom without worrying about leaving you alone. You’ll always have one person supporting you when it’s a team effort!

Do you think physical atmosphere affects birthing? Explain. //

Absolutely! When you’re uncomfortable or feeling afraid, your body reacts in a way that can definitely effect your birth. It’s called the fight or flight response, which causes all the blood to rush to your limbs so you can run away from the danger in your environment, actually causing the blood flow to stop going to your uterus, causing a slower and more painful birth. Science is crazy, right? So feeling safe & comfortable in your environment is pretty much essential to make sure your labour progresses in a positive way.

-What are some of your favourite things to bring to a birth day? What’s in your kit?! //

– Essential Oils
– Massage Oil
– Reflex balls (great to hold on to or apply pressure on the lower back)
– Rebozo (traditionally a Mexican shawl, used for many purposes, including carrying babies, as well as being used to help support women during the birthing process. Traditionally Midwives, Mothers and Doulas around the world use the Rebozo to wrap around the pregnant mother in a way that serves as a support to her during labour.)
– Snacks (for mama, partner, & me!)
– A fan (for when things get hot & heavy!)
– Crystals
– Chapstick
– Water Bottle
– Face cloth (a cold cloth behind the neck or forehead feels amaaaazze)

If you had to use one word to describe birth, what would it be? //

Powerful.

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Third Trimester Strength Smoothie Cubes

We developed this smoothie cube recipe with Birth Boss for the perfect boost of winter nourishment. The ingredients are tailored for birthing body wellness, but it’s safe and delicious for just about anyone, whether you’re just starting to think about fertility or caring for your newborn. We recommend making a bunch of these cubes early on in pregnancy to help get you through the exhausting days at the end where extra easy nourishment can make all the difference, and they’re great for the postpartum period too!

Ingredients //

3 bananas – high in potassium + magnesium (helps with those third trimester leg cramps)

1 cup pitted dates (depending on how sweet you like it, chop and soak overnight If you don’t have a high power blender) – high in potassium, magnesium & fibre (prevents pregnancy constipation). Recent studies found that women who consumed dates showed a “reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labor, and produced a more favourable delivery outcome” Source here.

¼ cup almond butter – high in healthy fats that help fetal growth, energy source

⅓ cup Vegan Protein powder – the protein requirement for pregnant people goes up as pregnancy advances, so protein powder is the easiest way to supplement! Plant-based protein powders avoid the bovine growth hormone found in some dairy-based powders that could affect fetal development.

2 teaspoon Moodbeli Bliss Booster or similar cacao / maca powder – a traditional Mexican fertility enhancer; adaptogenic (improves energy, hormone balancing)

Tablespoon milled chia, plus a tablespoon to sprinkle on top – omega-3 fatty acid (good for fetal development); protein (for labour energy!)

Water, just enough to get the mixture blending (1/4 cup)

Glass of Almond Mylk – 50% more calcium than regular milk, calcium stores needed for milk production

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Recipe //

Blend everything until completely smooth, use a spoon to add mixture to an ice cube tray. We used a silicone one which makes getting the cubes out extra easy!

Hit the ice cube tray against the counter once or twice to remove air bubbles and freeze!

Enjoy 2-3 cubes blended with your choice of milk.

Recipe makes 12 to 15 cubes. Make sure you take them out of the ice cube tray within a couple days to prevent “freezer taste”. Store cubes in a Tupperware or freezer bags for up to 6 months.

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Dress UpOh so Pretty

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Tis’ the season for holiday parties, rocking around the Christmas tree, and great hair! There’s nothing I love quite like getting all dressed up at Christmas time – let’s be real, it’s the only bit of the year where adults cover themselves in sparkles and sequins and it’s considered totally normal. Stories are stocked up with all the glitter, and let’s just say I always feel like it’s my time to shine.

I usually struggle with dry brittle hair in the winter, but this year I have the blessing of pregnancy hormones on my side, making my hair much more full and luscious than usual. For the first time in a long time I’m taking my hair health seriously, sleeping with a silk head wrap (LOVE Silke London) and being wary of using too much heat. I’ve also been letting my natural colour grow in, which means with less bleach I’ve needed to get used to washing my hair way more, so choosing a good shampoo and conditioner combo has never been higher on my priority list! This holiday season that means the new OGX x Nicole Guerriero Limited-Edition Holiday Collection.

I am scent-obsessed, so this super cute Disco-themed festive collection is absolutely speaking my language. Created in collaboration with beauty influencer Nicole Guerriero, the three shampoo and conditioner pairing scents are Ice Berry Queen with sugared cranberries, jasmine and amber, Midnight Kisses with warm vanilla, orange blossom and sugar cane, and my personal favourite, Mistletoe Wishes. With notes of red holly berries, light fresh evergreens, and a touch of sparkling grenadine, your hair really can’t get more Christmassy than this!

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Available for $10.99 each at most major retailers and drugstores like Shoppers Drug Mart, this collection is only here until Christmas, so make sure you get them on your list to Santa!

Dear Diary

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it 100 times over – Toronto is simply not a happy place. There’s very little colour in our city, with the scales tipping toward grey and black especially in the winter. We’re a town of neutrals, of busy streets and even busier people who all seem to have their own very set agendas. We get a lot done, but I definitely wouldn’t describe Toronto as exceptionally HAPPY.

Luckily, Happy Place is here to save the day.

Much like The Museum Of Ice Cream, Happy Place is a touring installation of fun, photo-friendly experiences, and just in time for the winter blues it has popped-up in Toronto for the first time ever! There’s lemonade, there’s a pot of gold to jump into, there’s a confetti cannon globe you can stand inside, and there’s even a snack bar at the end with all rainbow food! I don’t want to give too much away in case you decide to go yourself! The surprises are all part of the fun…

Here’s the info if you want to go //

Where // 245 Queens Quay W (Harbourfront Centre)
When // November 1st – January 1st
Get tickets here

And some photos from our visit of course – how could we not?

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Party Time

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When talks of planning my baby shower started to surface I knew two things – I didn’t want to be too involved, and I didn’t want anything too typical.

I’m a total control freak with a set vision for just about everything in my life, so letting go of the reigns on this one was NOT easy for me. I knew I wanted to have my baby shower early-ish in case I ended up feeling too huge to move near the end, and when my parents and sister all simultaneously decided to come visit from the West Coast at the end of October I knew that was the perfect time. Though it was a challenge not to obsess over every other tiny detail after setting the date, I decided to put a little faith in my amazing friends and family. I created an email listing some of my best ideas and contacts, hit send, and then let the chips fall where they may. My partner in crime Johanna and little sister Sierra headed up the planning committee, and though Sierra and I may have disagreed on the importance of games and gift opening at first, in the end these two did NOT disappoint. My “village” came together in the most beautiful way, offering up everything from handmade treats (what’s a baby shower without scones from my pals at Kitten and The Bear?) to their amazing design skills for the invites. I couldn’t believe the way so many talented people from Toronto and beyond came together to make this day so special for baby and me.

But why not just have the typical baby shower?

Let’s be honest – baby showers are long overdue for a bit of a revamp. Sitting around a room with a bunch of strangers making small talk and and letting people guess how big my belly is was just never my cup of tea, and I have a feeling a random survey would reveal not many people actually enjoy those types of events. In case you haven’t noticed from following this blog, I don’t take to normal very well – I tend to do everything out of order and on my own terms, I always have. This whole pregnancy has been such a big adventure, and I wanted a shower that mirrored that, not another quiet afternoon filled with awkward diaper games and soggy tea sandwiches. If I’m having a party, it better be a party to remember, and this one was definitely one for the books.

The party itself was at SoSo Food Club, a super cute new Chinese fusion restaurant in Toronto’s west end that just happens to have an all mint and pink colour scheme (my kind of interpretation of the whole pink and blue thing!) There was an epic snack table created and plated by my talented sister herself, topped off with scones and jam from KATB, candy from The Candy Bar, and tea from Tealish. Fun fact, this family-run tea shop is where Johanna and I originally met, and it’s still one of my very favourite places to sip in the city. If you haven’t tried their Toasty Almond blend, it’s totally pregnancy safe, caffeine free, and steeps hot pink (see if you can spot it in these photos – it was definitely the crowd favourite!) Then there was the cake, an ombre masterpiece custom created by Millie Desserts. These cakes have hundreds of thin crepe layers with the softest cream in between, and the result is basically a fluffy vanilla cloud dessert that melts in your mouth.

With gorgeous blooms from our friends at Wild North Flowers, who always knock it out of the park with their arrangements, and balloons from Balloon Bar, the space couldn’t have come together more perfectly. And the cookies! How could we forget the magical little pink and blue teacup cookies?! Johanna gave Little Rose Cookie co. full creative reign and she absolutely killed it, plus I am a bit of a sugar cookie connoisseur and these ones tasted as good as they looked which is HARD to come by, believe me.

A dreamy event might be #allinthedetails, but this one was so much more than that. I like to stay positive so I don’t talk about it much, but the reality of having a baby on my own with my family living so far away is daunting at times, and though I know down in my bones this was the right choice for me, my pregnancy hasn’t been without its fair share of anxiety about the future. Seeing all of these amazing people show up for me and baby with bells on, armed with hugs, gifts and warm wishes was exactly what I needed to remember that my little family is anything but alone in this journey. The whole afternoon was so filled with happy it flew by almost too fast, and I wish there was a way to bottle it up into a magic potion that I could take a sip of whenever I start to have doubts.

In the car on the way home my parents were recounting tales from the day and they said one thing that really stuck with me: “Your friends sure have a lot of faith in you Lyss, they all really seem to wholeheartedly believe you can do this and have your back. No one has any doubts. It’s kind of amazing.” Amongst all the gifts I unwrapped that day, hearing these words was the most precious.

Credits //

BonBons from The Candy Bar
Florals by Wild North
Ombre layered crepe cake by Millie Desserts
Custom magic sugar cookies by Little Rose Cookie co.
Tea from Tealish
Scones and Jam from Kitten and The Bear
Balloons from Balloon Bar
Soso Food Club
Risograph invitations designed by Jennifer Iliett

Take a peek at MyRegistry here!

The biggest thank you so Johanna, Sierra and my mom Judi for making my fun, colourful baby shower dreams come true. You guys made the most unexpected dream team and this day was better than I ever could have conjured!

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