Best of the Blogosphere

home-office-336378_640The Internet is chock-full of information and entertainment and everything in between.  We like to share with you some of our favourite posts –sometimes whimsical, sometimes wonderful and always worth the second or so it takes to read.

From Beth-Anne

When my boys were infants I could sit and watch them sleep for hours.  Most of the time, I was marveling at the fact that I. Made. Them. When they were toddlers and would fall asleep, I would steal quick wistful glances at their sleeping pudgy faces but mostly, I prayed they wouldn’t wake up.  Now every night before I can go to sleep, I have to peek at them deep in slumber.  There is something so peaceful about watching them sleep.  On more than one occasion I have been brought to tears; overcome by emotion.  When this video of Theo (The Dog) and Beau (The Toddler) Star In A Naptime Love Story, I found it adorable (as did the hundreds of thousands of other people) but I also longed for those toddler days when I didn’t really appreciate their boundless energy and blissful sleep.

Do you know anyone who is pregnant?  Or has just recently had a baby?  No Airbrushing Allowed: This Is What a Mother’s Body Really Looks Like by photographer Jade Beall is mandatory viewing.  Similar to 4th Trimester Bodies photographed by Ashlee Wells Jackson that I told you about in the last Best of The Blogosphere, this collection of images is an intimate reveal of what a woman’s body is capable of and how beautiful it can be – even post-baby.

Very few people know this about me but I have strong views on baby names and this article by Drew Magary for GQ sums up all of my points quite nicely from Do Not Invent A Name to Don’t Abuse The Letter y.

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you know by now that I have a renewed interest in all things green and the environment.  While I am not about to ditch my deodorant or make my own shampoo, just yet, I have taken to subscribing to takepart an Eco blog.  Way back in January they featured this incredible story about recycled cans being morphed into furniture.  Check it out – you won’t believe it!

I am not a single parent, but I enjoyed reading 10 Things I Love About Single Parenting by Maria Mora.  Single parents: Did this one resonate with you?

From Nathalie

Snark.  Good snark.  Clever snark.  The internet is great for providing it.

I recently discovered a great blog called Manfeels Park, a wonderfully snarky mash-up of Jane Austen and feminism, in which Austen’s men try to mansplain gender politics.  Not to be missed!

And in a similar vein, check out this great series of annotations of painting of women listening to men.  Priceless.

So do you see what I mean

yeah i definitely understand 

because its kind of complicated

no I’m with you 

ill explain it again

Decidedly not snarky, but ever so cute: birthday cakes inspired by classic kids’ books.  Via Cake Wrecks, a great (usually snarky) place to go when your baking goes wrong.

Do you know of something that has to make the Best of The Blogosphere list?  Send it to us!  Our next list will be published in October.::

A reminder that voting is open for the best mom blog of 2014, for which we are thrilled to have been nominated.

Please head over to Toronto Mom Now and check out the other nominees.  You can vote for your favourite three.  Voting closes on Monday, July 14.

All A Baby Needs

A few weeks ago my husband and I were out for dinner and from our window seat watched a young couple pull up to the valet and wrestle to set up a monstrous stroller, snap on the car seat, bundle the baby for the three steps from the curb to the restaurant, and struggle to get through the door with the oversized baby bag that looked like it contained enough stuff to back pack around Europe for an entire month.  The mom looked weary.  The husband even more so.

My husband and I exchanged a knowing glance.

“First timers,” he said to me under his breath.

“What gave it away?” I replied, both of us smiling.

Everyone with more than one child knows that with your first you have photographic evidence of every milestone and breath in between.  Thanks to digital technology, hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures are taken of first-borns.  By the time a second is welcomed into the family, photos are taken but not nearly as many.  And as for number three . . . there are pictures.  Somewhere.

The same applies for babies and gear.

When I first discovered that I was pregnant with my first, nearly six years ago, I scoured the internet for “must-have lists”, interrogated the merchants of our neighbourhood baby store, and researched the pros and cons of every stroller, bottle, breast pump and sling on the market.

I was going to be prepared.

“What about a birth plan?  We NEED a birth plan. ”  I barked hysterically at my husband, father-to-be, who quickly discovered his status was being usurped by this unborn baby.  He took that as his cue to rein me in.

“Beth-Anne, this is ridiculous!  People have babies in caves in war-torn Afghanistan.  Women have been having babies forever.  Everything is going to be fine.  We don’t need all of this shit that’s taking over the house.”

I huffed.  I puffed.  I resigned.

And then our baby unexpectedly came two weeks early.

The crib that I had researched so extensively and hunted around for the best bargain wasn’t set up.  It wasn’t even delivered!  The mobile was in a heap on the floor.  The onesies that I had painstakingly picked out were way too big for this tiny newborn and the coming home outfit that I had debated over, turned out to be completely impractical.  With its lack of buttons I was unable to maneuver his tiny limbs into the holes with confidence.

Determined to breastfeed, I was unprepared when it proved challenging and sent my husband on a mission to find nipple shields after already retrieving disposable panties and ice for my throbbing episiotomy.  This wasn’t the way I imagined the birth of my first child unfolding.

And then it came.  My first post-natal meltdown.

I had been warned that it would be epic but this was foreign territory.  In my semi-private hospital room with a worn pink curtain separating two beds, with my pinkish son swaddled tightly in the blue flannel blanket, I lost it.

I was well past exhausted and my body was both aching and unfamiliar to me.  Tears ran down my cheeks and the sobs that racked me could only be described as primal.

I was panicking.  In an instant everything had changed.  I was no longer a woman and wife.  I was now a mother.  The responsibility was overwhelming.  It was crushing.

I had done all of my homework and nothing was going according to my well- researched plans!

And then the nurse who had stayed by my side for days on end extended her warm, wrinkled hands to clutch mine as she looked into my eyes.

“Everything’s going to be okay.  Just listen to his cries.  They are telling you what he needs.  Everything he needs you alone can give to him,” she said with her soft Jamaican accent.

Three days later we went home to a house with no crib or mobile, unsure of what we were doing and who we were, but certain that what we needed could not be found at any store or in any book.

All we needed was each other.

A Mother’s Body

A Mother’s Body

The skin is pulled tautly over my rounded belly and my full breasts sit high on my chest.  The photo of my pregnant body in its ninth month is displayed on the bookshelf above my bathtub.  I look at that picture almost nightly.  Not only do I find the curves and silhouette of my maternal frame captivating, I am drawn to the expression on my face.   There are no lines indicating worry or discomfort, my lips rest lightly together, and slightly curl at the ends but it is the eyes that speak to me.  There is a peaceful calm exuding from my stare, owning my nakedness with a confidence that I had never felt before, or for that matter, since.

Many women feel at their most beautiful when they are pregnant.  Sarah, a mother of three from Ottawa, loved being pregnant and describes her first pregnancy as though it felt like an experience she was waiting her entire life for.  “My wide hips helped make my first birth a relatively easy process (as far as births go).  I just loved never having to suck in my belly – I could let it all hang out!  I really do feel like I never felt better than when I was pregnant the first time.”  Sarah is not alone in admiring how awesome a woman’s body truly is.  Mirielle, a Toronto mother of two, says of her pregnant body, “I was in awe of its incredible capacity every passing week… it was truly one of the best experiences of my life where I could focus on myself and the needs of my unborn baby without feeling guilty for neglecting something else.”

Some nights, when my self-confidence is wavering, I look at those pictures and long for that unbridled self-love.  Soaking in the bath water, I admire the toll three pregnancies have taken on my body.  Like battles scars the silvery stretch marks tell a story.  The long spindly looking one running up the left side of my abdomen is from the first time my belly stretched to cradle an unborn child.  The series of red claw-like indentations along my pubic bone are the newest markings to my canvas.  My breasts and stomach sag, the skin like a deflated balloon and a thickness has settled around my waist.

I knew that pregnancy would forever alter my body and most days I wear these changes with pride but living in a culture where celebrity baby bumps has become a spectator sport and images of lithe post-baby bodies are plastered across virtually every glossy tabloid magazine, I would be liar to say my body image hasn’t taken a hit.

I remember being shocked at how my body looked in the days following the birth of my eldest son.  I wasn’t prepared that I would still look pregnant.  The experts at Just The Facts Baby say that when a woman leaves the hospital after giving birth her uterus is still as large as when she was twenty weeks pregnant and Baby Centre reports that post-baby a woman’s body can appear rounder in the hips, thicker in the waist and softer in the tummy after she has bore a child.

Sarah’s first pregnancy was a singleton and she found that she was able to bounce back into shape pretty quickly but after the C-section she experienced with her twins her post-baby body image wasn’t as positive.  “Between carrying two babies to term and having a c-section my stomach is a mess of yucky, saggy skin and stretch marks.  I sometimes look in the mirror and wonder whose belly that is!”  While Mirielle was forewarned, by her mommy-friends that she wouldn’t be slipping back into her skinny jeans a few weeks post-partum she remembers being surprised by the length of time it took for her to fit back into her shirts due to breastfeeding.

A Mother’s Energy

Since having my third child a few months ago, in addition to the changes in my body, I have noticed a change in my energy.  Exercise and alone time used to re-charge me but now I find that the demands of having three young children under the age of four take up most of day and energy, leaving little left over for myself.  Sarah, Mirielle and many other mothers report the same thing.

This post is the first in a series.  Next week will explore how to incorporate exercise into busy lives, the benefits of exercise for a healthy body image, and how parents can use exercise to provide the ultimate self-care.

How has your body image changed since having children?  Or has it?

photo credit: http://www.blogcdn.com/www.parentdish.com/media/2009/08/naked-pregnant-woman-240js080509.jpg