From Bump to Birth

Oh, hello! This is my first post to my revamped blog that is not about books. To say I’m incredibly nervous is an understatement. I’ve decided to open up and share some of my thoughts and experiences surrounding pregnancy, labour, and birth. After Ellie’s birth, I found that so many friends and acquaintances opened up to me about their own experiences. It’s not often that we talk about these topics. Be gentle.

Ellie is two and a half months old now, so I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on labour, birth, and our first few months together.  Okay, so she’s actually five months old now, but that’s how long ago I started writing this post… ohhh #momlife.

When I was pregnant I loved reading about other mama’s experiences. Writing is also therapeutic for me, so I’m sharing this with hopes that someone out there will find it helpful, mildly interesting, or regrettably relatable.

I have always wanted children, but have always been TERRIFIED of pregnancy and birth.Β  I was also one of those people who scoffed at women posting photos of their baby bumps.Β  Who would want to share a pregnant belly on social media!? HAH… that was me. I became that woman.Β  And I feel no shame. I didn’t understand how pregnancy itself is such an experience. I mean… the morning all-day sickness is the WORST.Β  Not to mention that near the end I was so uncomfortable that I resorted to waddling my way to the nearest lake or pool just to feel weightless for awhile.

I need to clarify here that I did NOT have a cute little baby bump. Every time I would see the Instagram ads of women and their adorable, tiny baby bumps and look to see how many weeks pregnant they were, I had to restrain myself from throwing my phone at the wall.Β  My bump was MASSIVE. I had to restrain myself from whacking a stranger over the head every time I was asked, “are you sure it’s not twins!?” Yes, I am sure. I am also very aware of how large my belly is, BECAUSE IT IS ATTACHED TO ME! By the way, no judgment if you are/were one of those mamas with a cute little bump… I am just insanely jealous.

It’s more than just a belly though β€” there’s a TINY HUMAN in there, and that’s a freaking miracle! There is nothing like feeling your baby kick, move around, or hiccup inside of you.  Before the rest of the world meets that little munchkin, you are already getting to know them, and that is special! Now I see pregnancy photos or #bumpies and smile. It’s pretty darn amazing what your body can do, so flaunt those baby bumps!

Yeah, it’s no wonder that bump was so big. She was born at a whopping 9lbs 8oz.

I’m a planner. An organizer.Β  I like to know everything before jumping in.Β  This is why I knew I needed to prepare myself for labour and birth. I couldn’t just show up at the hospital and β€œwing it.”  Again… jealous if that’s your jam. I bought WAY too many books on pregnancy and childbirth, and they pretty much contained the same information.Β  If I were to do it over again, I’d skip most of the pregnancy books and use an app to track my little bean’s development instead. You can pretty much look anything up online anyways. I downloaded three of those baby tracker apps… again, they all had pretty much the same information! I just realized that I am definitely a β€œMonica” *sigh* who always wished she was a β€œRachel.”

The ONE book I would recommend is Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.Β  If you’re at all interested in natural birth, or just want to be awed by what the female body is capable of, it is an excellent read.Β  It definitely helped me to develop more positive feelings towards labour and birth.Β Β 

Oh, and follow Pregnant Chicken. You won’t regret it!

The Value of a Doula

I desperately wanted a midwife, but I applied and wasn’t able to get one.  I also didn’t have a family doctor, so we went to the maternity clinic at the nearest hospital.  We saw different doctors each time we were in, and they rotated through the labour and delivery ward.  While the doctors were excellent at caring for the medical side of things, I knew that I needed more than that.  One of the best decisions we made was hiring a doula. Suvannah (from Stork to Cradle) is such a kind soul and is AMAZING at what she does.  I don’t have many friends who have been through pregnancy, labour, and birth, so it was nice to have someone to chat with and who has an insane amount of experience and knowledge.  We had two prenatal sessions with her, she was with us for the labour and birth, and she came to check up on us postpartum as well. There are so many choices you have regarding birth, and I didn’t even know about a lot of them until we discussed them with our doula. I know that my husband also really appreciated having her with us, as it took some of the pressure off of him.

The Importance of Mindset

There are so many options out there to help prepare for labour and birth.Β  Because we live in a rural area it was a hassle to drive into the city for classes; however, even if I lived in the city now I would 100% recommend The Positive Birth Company.Β  I am positive that my pregnancy, labour, birth, and recovery would have been a lot more challenging if I hadn’t completed their digital pack, whichΒ is a series of hypnobirthing videos. Even if you think β€œhypnobirthing” isn’t something you think you’d be interested in, the videos on the actual science behind labour are fascinating.Β  It helps to actually know what happens to your body and to have strategies for staying calm and relaxed. After the video series and meetings with our doula, I actually felt excited about labour and birth. I made some positive affirmation cards (available here) and really worked to maintain a positive mindset right up to the end (as uncomfortable and “overdue” as I was).

Discussing Birth Preferences

Deciding our birth preferences together was SO valuable and empowering. Suvannah had a comprehensive worksheet for us to go through, which allowed us to research, discuss, and note our preferences. From that, we created a one-page document which went in my file. I don’t think our personal copy was even taken out of my hospital bag, but the value was in discussing everything beforehand so that when we had to make decisions during labour (when my mind was not functioning), it was a lot easier.Β  If you want to see what our birth preference sheet looked like, let me know and I can send you a copy.
Our preferences, based on the research we had done, were to have the most natural labour and birth possible. We didn’t want medication or intervention unless deemed necessary, which leads perfectly to…

Going with the Flow

Yeah, I know this one is easier said than done!  Here’s where my β€œMonica” mind had to just let go.

While it’s valuable to know your birth preferences, there are so many things that are completely out of our control when it comes to labour and birth. I had to work hard (with many reminders from my husband) to remain calm and recognize that fact.

I tested positive for Group B Strep, which meant that I would need IV antibiotics every few hours after my waters broke.Β  I was hoping that my labour would start and progress without my waters breaking so that I wouldn’t have to go to the hospital until I was in active labour.Β  Of course, my waters breaking was the first thing to happen and we had to head to the hospital right away. There was also meconium in the fluidβ€” EW, that little baby pooped inside me!Β  My desire to labour mostly at home (well, my best friend’s home) flew out the window.

After I was admitted to the maternity ward, we went for hours with surges barely intensifying and no dilation.Β  The doctors were worried about infection and recommended induction. I was so conflicted about what to do, but we discussed it and agreed that it was the best decision for us.Β  So much for no intervention… haha.

Labour without any pain medication was the one thing that did go to “plan,” and I am still so proud of myself for sticking to my preferences. It honestly wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.Β  I managed to stay calm and relaxed by focusing on my breathing and visualizations. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like more of a warrior!

As a side note: I should mention that I am incredibly squeamish and have low pain tolerance. Allow me to illustrate: when I was eight, I passed out after getting my ears pierced; I can’t even watch the “surgical” parts in Grey’s Anatomy, and I’ve passed out on many occasions from seeing blood or getting my blood taken.

After three hours of pushing in every position imaginable, our little munchkin was not budging.Β  Apparently, she was head down but facing my side β€” not surprising considering she had been sunny-side-up before I went into labour.Β  I was exhausted at this point, and we were worried about infection or baby becoming distressed if we continued with no progress. At the doctor’s recommendation, we opted for a cesarean.

To be honest, the next few hours were a complete blur. I still don’t have very clear memories β€” only snippets. I was just relieved to have our baby earthside.

This was taken on our second or third day (?) in the hospital after I finally was catheter-free and “able” to have a shower β€” by which I mean my husband rinsed me off and washed my hair with the removable showerhead. It felt luxurious though!

Acknowledging ALL the Thoughts & Emotions

My labour and birth ended up being entirely different from what I had anticipated, which is probably the case with many women’s experiences. For the first few days, I was so wrapped up in everything that I had little time to mentally or emotionally process it.Β  I was in the hospital for three days after birth, and the recovery was brutal.Β Β 

Breastfeeding was a huge challenge from the beginning.  Ellie struggled to latch, and I was in pain. She would just scream inconsolably whenever we tried.  I kept wondering: if we’d had immediate skin-to-skin after birth would that have made a difference? Was this my fault? If I had kept pushing, and not opted for a cesarean, would she have come on her own? I also felt incredibly guilty that I didn’t really feel “present” at her birth or for the hours following.

She lost more than 10% of her birth weight and we had to start feeding her formula with a syringe.Β  This made me feel even more guilty. Wasn’t breastfeeding supposed to be natural and easy? Why wasn’t it working? What was I doing wrong? I felt incredibly discouraged, and I hadn’t anticipated it being so difficult to feed my baby.


It was a bittersweet feeling when we were finally able to leave the hospital. How could we take this precious and fragile little bundle out of this safety bubble and on the road!?Β  I started tearing up as soon as we walked out of the hospital doors. How were we supposed to care for this small being on our own? How would we know what to do?Β  The hour-and-a-half drive home was both painful and terrifying.

For weeks afterwards, I had flashbacks of birth and recovery and had to ask my husband to fill in a lot of the blank spots.Β  I still felt so much guilt about not giving birth to my baby β€œnaturally,” and not being successful with breastfeeding right away. Β Β 
I was feeling guilty, scared, disappointed, and overwhelmed. On top of that, I was recovering from major surgery. Along with those emotional lows were complete highs. I was awed and amazed that we created such a perfect little human. My heart fluttered when she opened her eyes, and I cried a river of happy tears with her in my arms. I constantly found myself thinking: I shouldn’t feel guilty, disappointed, or scared. I should just be happy and grateful that we’re both fine. But I soon realized and had to mentally remind myself on so many occasions, that I was completely justified in feeling guilty, disappointed, overwhelmed, etc. Yes, I tried to focus on the positive, but I also needed to acknowledge and work through the negative.

Invaluable Support Network

I honestly don’t know what I would have done without the huge amount of support that I had at home in those first few weeks. My husband is an absolute rock star! We were also lucky to have my parents staying with us. They helped to make meals, clean, do laundry, and be there for both physical and emotional support.Β  This was crucial for me, as it was certainly not a quick or easy recovery, and caring for a newborn is incredibly demanding.

I also spent a lot of time on the Positive Birth Company Facebook Group, which you have access to with both the Hypnobirthing and Postpartum video courses. When I was up at night with a screaming newborn, I could interact with other women around the world who were going through the same struggles; we could share our experiences and knowledge with one another conveniently.Β 

We took advantage of the free breastfeeding clinic offered nearby, and I’m so happy that we did, as we’re still going strong five months in! I had friends and relatives from near and far checking in on me and asking not only how Ellie was doing, but how I was doing. My mental and physical recovery was a lot easier thanks to an amazing support network β€” so thank you to all of you!


It’s hard to be vulnerable and open up about things that aren’t often talked about. I still feel pangs of guilt and jealousy when I see other mama’s “natural” birth photos or stories. I constantly have to remind myself that my experience and story isn’t something to be ashamed of. Looking into Ellie’s eyes reassures me that I’d go through it all over again if I had to. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but it’s our story.


I’d love to know your thoughts, questions, and comments below. Let me know if there is anything you’d like to hear more about.

Stay tuned for a creative “c-section” piece I’m working onβ€”which is going to take a lot of courage to share with you…

Thanks for reading!

New Beginnings

After yet another few months away from my blog, I’m back!  I don’t feel like the same person I was when I left you…

I began my journey as a new mama on August 16th, 2019 when our beautiful baby girl Ellie Rose was born. Now she is almost THREE months old !@?#$%*

It’s been a whirlwind since then!  Caring for a newborn is exhausting and challenging, but also amazing.  I swear she changes every single day, and it’s incredible to see her grow and develop her own little personality.  With this new chapter of my life, I’m also taking a new direction with my blog.  My main platform is Instagram, and when I became pregnant I chose to expand my account from solely focusing on books to also including other snippets of my life.  Through doing so, I’ve been able to connect with so many more people and have meaningful conversations about books AND so many other topics!  I’m going to take my blog in the same direction.

I’ll admit that it’s more difficult these days to transform my thoughts into sentences you can actually comprehend… but I’m going to try  β™« with a little help from my friends β™ͺ (coffee, coffee… and more coffee).

I plan to continue with monthly wrap-ups and the occasional longer book review, but I’ll also be writing about the rest of my life.  I’m FINALLY crafting a post with photos and details from our vintage bookish wedding (umm, yeah that happened over a year ago…), and I’ve got some pregnancy, birth, and new mama life posts coming your way!  Let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like me to write about.

I hope you’ll still continue to join me on this little journey of mine.

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Early Morning Musings

Are you ever awoken by words?

Swirling around endlessly, beckoning to be released.

Tormenting you until you put pen to paper.  

Always appearing at the most inconvenient of times:

In the middle of the night,

In the early morning hours.  

Your body and mind plead with them:

Let us rest for a few more hours.

Unsuccessful.

Defeated, you rise

And let the deluge of words pour from your mind,

Washing over the page.

No matter how insignificant or incoherent,

The words have been set free.

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It’s five o’clock in the morning.  I sit here in the sweet silence, because your wiggles woke me.  You are 37 weeks old today. Each day brings us closer to your arrival.  Each day brings an onslaught of new thoughts and emotions,  bubbling up at seemingly insignificant moments.  Washing over me like waves.

Yesterday, I sat on the deck, book propped on my swollen belly, surrounded by the gentle sound of rainfall.  As I inhaled the cool, crisp mountain air, a hummingbird flitted up to a flower basket, prodding the bright pink blossoms in search of sweetness.  I felt an instant surge of emotion rise up through my body, tears welling in my eyes as I reflexively rubbed my belly. What absolute beauty our world holds – a beauty that I can’t wait for you to experience.

How can such a simple, fleeting moment bring me to tears?  How can I already feel such a deep love for you? You have already changed me irrevocably.

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The calm before the storm.  

The quiet before the chaos.  

The last, fading moments 

of lives about to change forever.  

You stretch and squirm,

adjusting to your increasingly cramped quarters.  

The only home you’ve ever known.  

Pushing the boundaries. 

Responding to the mysterious sensations surrounding you.  

We prepare.  

We clean, organize, learn, 

and savour our moments together.

“Things will never be the same,” they say.

Of course they won’t be.  

You’ve already altered our lives.

Ever since those two little blue lines

appeared magically in front of us.

The anticipation.

The wonder.

The questioning and worrying.

You have grown so fast.

Time has passed so quickly, 

yet now it seems to slow.  

To pause.

My body urges me to relax, 

to contemplate.

Preparing me physically and emotionally

for what is to come.

The worries and hesitations

that have so long surrounded birth

swiftly disappear, 

as I realize that I’ll endure anything

just to finally hold you in my arms.  

I feel calm.  

At peace.  

Still in wonder of the miracle moving inside me.

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A bit of a departure from my usual book reviews and wrap-ups, but I hope you enjoy anyways.

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Life & Reading Update | 6 months later…

Hi everyone!  Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve made an appearance here… so much for my monthly reading wrap-ups and frequent book reviews…

I think I’ve got a pretty good excuse though?  Coincidentally, my last blog post was around the time we found out that I’m growing a tiny human inside of me! (Well, to be honest, the human is not feeling so tiny these days…)

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We are SO excited to welcome a little bookworm into the world this August!  I won’t say I haven’t had time for blogging, but I certainly haven’t made time for blogging.  Between teaching full time, being ridiculously sick during the first trimester, buying and moving into our first house, and preparing for baby, I’ve been pretty exhausted.  I have still managed to stay on track with my reading goal for this year – miraculously!

So here’s a little update on reading and life.

Reading Update

My Goodreads reading challenge for this year is 50 books! I know my life is about to change a LOT, so I lowered it from last year’s goal.

Well, instead of a monthly wrap-up, let’s go for a 6-month wrap-up!  Here’s a summary of my reading from January-June.

Total Number of Books: 30
Total Number of Pages: 9,702 (that was way too much math for a Saturday morning)
Average Pages per Book: 323
Average Rating: 4.06

Here’s the list with my ratings (and a summary of my rating system below):

  • The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies? by Jena Pincott β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Keeper’n Me by Richard Wagamese β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • By Chance Alone by Max Eisen β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Hunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • How to Stop Time by Matt Haig β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Wishtree by Katherine Applegate β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Homes: A Refugee Story by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah & Winnie Yeung β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Brother by David Chariandy β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Fablehaven by Brandon Mull β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • The Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope by Karamo Brown β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Circe by Madeline Miller β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • The Wisdom of Psychopaths by Kevin Dutton β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction by Meghan Cox Gurdon β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • When We Found Home by Susan Mallery β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding by Ina May Gaskin β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Rick Mercer Final Report by Rick Mercer β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • On the Come Up by Angie Thomas β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
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Here are a few of my top reads so far this year:

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By Chance Alone by Max Eisen β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Max Eisen just turned 90 years old.  His memoir details his tragic, brutal, and heartbreaking experiences as a survivor of the Holocaust.  His story is incomprehensible, but so important.  I had to set the book down several times because it made me so emotional.  But that is what it is meant to do.  Some of the most important books are the hardest to read.  I am so happy that this book won Canada Reads 2019, because it truly is a story that needs to be told and shared – especially amidst the rise of divisions based on race, ethnicity, and nationality.

“I am inspired by the need to document my story so others may learn from the past. On a personal level, I have a highly developed sense of observation of the world around me, which constantly inspires and motivates me to take action.”

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Homes: A Refugee Story by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah & Winnie Yeung β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Homes was another Canada Reads finalist, and I love this story and also how it ended up being written.  Abu Bakr’s family fled their home in Iraq and moved to Homs Syria, just before the civil war broke out.  The book details Abu Bakr’s experience growing up in a war zone and eventually finding safety in Canada.  Winnie Yeung, his high school English teacher here in Canada, has listened to his story and written it, as told by him and his family.  It’s eye-opening, and sheds light on the experiences of immigrants and refugees.  Another important and timely read.

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A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

The last season of Game of Thrones on TV got me back into reading the book series (because it is just so much better!).  I just love the description, detail, and all the different plot lines. If you haven’t read the books, I definitely recommend them!

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

I listened to this on audiobook and it was SO GOOD! An entire cast reads it, and it honestly felt like I was listening to interviews with real people who had experienced these things.  In fact, it was so convincing that I googled the band and was looking for some photos and their songs… when I realized that they don’t actually exist.  THAT is good fiction!  I can’t say whether it would be as engaging to read, but I would definitely recommend the audiobook.

Life Updates

As I mentioned above, it’s been a big year for us!  We are expecting our first baby in August, which we are so excited about!  We’ve decided to keep the sex a surprise, and are looking forward to meeting our little munchkin this summer.  I’m lucky that my pregnancy has gone well so far.  I had a lot of “morning” (hah – it’s actually 24/7) sickness in the first trimester, but since then I have just been tired, hungry, and sore.  I’ve always wanted children, but I always dreaded being pregnant.  Surprisingly, I’m enjoying it for the most part!  Sure, some days are frustrating and increasingly uncomfortable, but it is also amazing what my body is going through.  I love feeling baby move around and watching my belly wiggle and ripple, trying to figure out which body part is jutting out here or there.  Yup, now I’m being one of those cheesy people who declares that pregnancy is just “such a miracle!” Haha… who’d have thought.

We also bought and moved into our first house this spring!  We absolutely love it, and I’ve enjoyed collecting plant babies…

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Plus we have the perfect reading window ledge in our bedroom (pictured here).

I’ve now finished teaching for the year, and it’s going to feel so strange not going back in September!  I’m definitely going to miss all of my students and coworkers, but I’m also looking forward to new adventures in motherhood.

My little bookish shop, Bibliophile Belle’s Boutique, is still going strong, and I’m currently working on my last restock of book sleeves before baby arrives!

AND just because there aren’t already enough new and exciting things happening in life this year, my friend Kristen (@my.book.is.calling) and I have started a Canadian book subscription box – The Uniquely Bookish Box – which will debut in October.  Visit our Instagram or Facebook pages for more information.  Our website will be launching soon, with pre-orders happening in July!

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Well, that’s about it for now!  Hopefully I’ll be around more often now that I am off work and have a bit more time on my hands.  Let me know what is new in your life – reading or otherwise!

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