Holiday Gift Guide 2019

I am a mom of 5 kids. 

I have a 7.5 year old.

I have a 4 year old.

I have twins who didn’t get to stay.

And I have a 9 month old.

So when it comes to shit pregnant or newly unpregnant people would really love as a gift – I’m basically an expert.

This list is a compilation of some of my personal favourite products, businesses and their owners who I love supporting, and some unconventional ideas that have literally changed my life.

If someone you love fits is expecting sometime soon or has just had a baby, look no further than this list for some seriously dope gift ideas. 

And to be completely transparent, there are a few products and services I am an affiliate for. That means I make a small revenue if you make a purchase using the link or code from this guide. Don’t worry –  I will let you know if it’s an affiliate!

Stuff to Wear

Mayana Geneviere 

I was first introduced to Mayana Geneviere, an ethical luxury lingerie line designed for post-partum women, through the Moms That Say Fuck podcast. The company’s founder, Nadine, was a guest of one of my favourite podcasts! Her patented nursing bra line is ultra sexy and hand-crafted out of black or white lace in her factory in Toronto, ON.

An inclusive Instagram space.

I don’t own any of her products yet but it is on the top of my Christmas list! Check out all of the glowing reviews!

Jax & Pea

Leanna, the maker behind Jax & Pea Tees, has been a life-long friend of mine. Since we were little kids we spent lots of time together and even ended up going to college together. While life has got us busy we still try to support each other in entrepreneurial ventures. I love the quality of her products!  The sibling shirt set featured year has held up SO WELL. No fading, no peeling or cracking. And my kids are hard on clothing. I also have a tank top, D has a t-shirt, and I have another t-shirt awaiting pick up. With so many different #mompreneur options for custom, small-batch clothing Jax & Pea’s will be my number one. Her customer service is unreal!

Stuff to Read

Brave New Mama

@bravenewmama

Photography by Russett Photography

Vicki Rivard is a Canadian author who wrote this moving collection of tiny poems about the early days of motherhood. It is raw and kind and hits you right in the feels (the deep, deep ones). Her work has inspired me to pursue my own love of creative writing. The first copy I purchased was very dog-earred and was passed onto another mama who I thought would benefit. I highly suggest taking this approach with Brave New Mama. Love it and keep it moving, encouraging who ever gets it next to purchase a copy for someone else. 

Handbook for Cool Moms

100% truth. I haven’t cracked the cover of this. 

But. 

The Rebel Mamas ARE MY PEOPLE minus their extremely fashionable lifestyle. I’m a little more Birkenstocks and mom buns than their Margeret Trudeau at Studio 54 in 1978 – esque party girl prowess.

But none-the-less, they’re brilliant women who enjoy smoking weed and talking about how parenthood impacts them. And I’m here for it. And any book that can help women feel a little less stressed about fitting into a #mommyculture mold, imma suggest it.

Stuff to Make Birth Easier

The Good Birth Co.

Shameless self promo.

You can gift Birth Magic or Less Stress C-Sections for a pregnant person in your life! YES. You can give the gift of less overwhelm and better outcomes. That definitely beats a new pair of jammies.

Birth Magic takes you from feeling overwhelmed by the thought of birth to feeling ready to advocate for better birth outcomes with way less stress. This 6 week course is on sale until Monday!

Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy

Pelvic floor physiotherapy is a sub-specialty of physical therapy that focuses on creating a functional pelvic floor. One that is dynamic and can stretch and relax and hold and support. The healthy pelvic floor is a critical component to a smooth birth. PFPT’s are experts who can help you get things working well. 

Often, people feel that this sort of treatment is a luxury and opt to budget their money to more baby gear, more outfits, or a flashier stroller. Trust me, a pelvic floor that you know how to work with in birth is worth a million Silver Cross prams. So if someone you love is pregnant – treating them to a pelvic floor physio assessment is FUCKING AMAZING AND HELPFUL.

Bay of Quinte

Diamond Physio

@diamondphysiotherapy

Toronto

Vital Physiotherapy & Wellness

@vitalphysiotherapyandwellness

Movement

The Right Fit

@theright_fit

The team behind The Right Fit and I connected back in October. They offer fitness, strength, and yoga programming in the Bay of Quinte area. While it isn’t devoted 100% to pregnant or newly unpregnant people, they take care of their perinatal clients well. By promoting modifications for safe exercise in pregnant and a restorative return to exercise post-partum, they get my stamp of approval for a space to join if you’re looking for movement options!

As someone who returned to exercise too quickly after my first son was born (I got the go-ahead from my care provider at 6 weeks!) and caused tremendous trauma to my pelvic floor, I can’t stand by fitness businesses that push women back into exercise before their core is restored.

The Right Fit has so many exciting Black Friday deals happening! They are located just north of the 401 in Belleville. Be sure to pop into my IG stories to see more details!

Riikka Wilson Movement

@riikkawilson

Riikka is a Post Partum Recovery Coach. Why not give the gift of healing after birth? She offers online programming and in-person services in Toronto.

Self Love

Is it bath time yet

@isitbathtimeyet

Last year around this time I was lucky enough to win a gift set from @isitbathtimeyet when they joined with Moga Moms for a big giveaway. I love everything. With products with names like vanilla latte and peach bellini, the quality is next level. AND it’s Canadian made.

If you’re looking for an easy gift to buy online and have shipped to your pregnant person’s door this year – you don’t want to skip this. 

Posh Candle Co.

@poshcandleco

Set the mood for a take-no-shit space.

When getting ready for a really powerful birth, you’ve gotta get yourself into a take no-shit-space [is the thought of that overwhelming? See Birth Magic for a solution!]. I love this Just Made a Man Cry candle to get into the spirit. That is all.

Life Changers

Balance 365

@balance365life

I found Balance 365 about 5 years ago. I was pregnant with Orion and stumbled across @mamalionstrong and have been fan-girling ever since. The movement the founders of B365 Life are creating is profound. They are freeing people (LOTS OF MOMS) from the diet industry. They are being the sherpas on the journey of finding body neutrality, building lasting habits that will support the life we want to lead, and figuring out how to raise our children in a diet-free home.

I can’t really even put into words what their entire community and philosophy has done for me. It has freed up mental space by helping me exit obsessive food behaviour and healing the deep fatphobia and self-loathing. They have helped me see the value in taking care of myself. Not because I’m someone’s wife or mother. But because I, as a human being, am worthy of loving myself.

Affiliate link

I’ve also been featured on their podcast! Listen to episode 77 here.

Modern Planner

@modern_planner

Modern Who? 

Kathryn came into my life sometime in the spring of this year as a masterclass educator in my business mastermind group. Her approach to planning is refreshing. 

I was drowning in life. Between being home on my 3rd parental leave (with my husband home full time too!) and leaving my daily structure of the office behind and having big giant dreams to chase I couldn’t figure out how to do it. I once was very good at organizing my life and time and setting goals and achieving them. But not now. Why?

I wasn’t even close to clear of what I wanted out of my life, let alone what my day-to-day should look like to make that happen. Kathryn’s masterclass lead to my first free Quarterly Planning Party, and then I kept coming back. I started following her on Instagram. I joined her Content Planning party. And then this fall I became an actual PAID customer. 

The $95 I spent on the Planning Party Bundle for quarter 4 might be one of the greatest things I’ve done for myself this year. That works out to be about $32 per party. Uhmm… $32 for planning out your entire month with intention and purpose, with access to a priority and boundry maven? Shit ya, take my money.

All jokes aside, spending these last few months in The Modern Planner’s circle has really helped me to reevaluate my approach to life. I am a mom to 3 little boys (each in a different developmental stage), a partner to someone living with chronic health things and who is growing their own brand, I have a dog I want to train and compete with competitively, and I’m a business owner. Oh and I also live with a chronic illness. And believe it or not, the 90 minutes we spend together planning live has made all of those mountains seem like very do-able challenges.

So why on Earth would a pregnant person or new parent love a Planning Party Bundle (or any other things from Modern Planner!)?? Because, transitioning from career to home is hard and taking the time to get intentional about how you want time to be spent will absolutely make journey a lot more enjoyable. Trust me. I’m living proof.

Cool Shit I’d Love to Get

Shine Cloth

@the.shine.cloth

Black Lives Matter cloth diaper by @the.shine.cloth

Deja is so. freaking. talented. She is also an outspoken advocate and activist for Black families. I am honoured to consider her part of my circle. She has also been kind enough to share her wisdom and ear when it comes to my questions about parenting Black boys. I own a few of her diapers and they are hands down my favourite. The quality is second to none. It’s really neat to find a cloth diaper company that meets so many of our needs as a family. Any one who can create a design my husband says we “have to have” is a genius.

Shine Cloth is celebrating 20 Days of Fluffmas from December 1-20 with ready-to-ship diapers stocking at 8pm EST daily on the Shine site. Her diapers move FAST. Don’t put it off if you want one!

Honest Hustle

@honest.hustle

Custom Portraits

I met Mariangelica at The Imperfect Boss Camp this past October. She is such a kind and fiery spirit. I didn’t realize while I was at Camp that I had already been following her work and LOVED it. Check out her portrait work on her website or her Instagram account. 

momsTO & Mom Halo

@momstoronto

Tickets to a momsTO event [or a Mom Halo membership if it were to magically open up!]

Alana is an expert at creating community, From the first time I heard her speak I knew I needed to know more about her. She is a podcast host, an event curator, a fierce #momboss and now venturing into educating. She is super cool and when I grow up I hope to be like her 🙂

They were loved: A heartfelt dedication to the woman who had an abortion

Men. Old, white men if we want to be more specific. The Knights of Columbus if we want to name names. 

In. My. Fucking. Body. 
If you could get your fragile sense of masculinity out of my uterus, that’d be super. 

You’re not really my type anyways. 

This image were shared by the Knights of Columbus Belleville – Council #1008 Facebook page. Here stand leaders in my local community. Who believe that a woman does not have ownership over her own body. A public monument, built and erected here in the Friendly City and beautiful Bay of Quinte. That’s really fucked up.

Abortion rights are human rights. And these men are proudly basking in the light of the anti-choice movement and their divisive propaganda. And snatching a tagline from another marginalized community trying to save their rights. Bravo. Unborn lives matter? Really? You couldn’t have come up with anything else? Alas, should I have expected anything more?

https://www.facebook.com/kofcbelleville/photos/pcb.786880711757926/791894784589852/?type=3&theater

But guess what? 

I’m not sure how to rally my community to have this “monument” taken down yet. But I can do something else in the meantime. 

I want to personally and publicly acknowledge the babies who were loved but couldn’t be kept. I see you, too, the person who most likely still carries that little soul in your heart. Whatever that day is for you, remember this post. Copy the link and add it to your calendar now. 

I had a wonderful conversation with an old work colleague who shared very candidly about her abortion experience. 

I believe the moment we conceive we are given a very special thing. There is another soul inside of you. I think most people who have been pregnant can identify with the feeling of that other soul being present. Even early on. 

But that does not mean it is your role, duty, or moral obligation to carry that soul to full term and create a living, breathing human being. It is your job to do what is best for both of you. As a parent that is always your job. To do what you can within your power to do your best for them. And legally you can chose to end the pregnancy if you feel like that is what is best. Period. In Canada, thanks to the Morgantaler Decision of 1988, a fetus does not have rights. Essentially that means abortion is legal at any point in pregnancy. Yes – even past 12 or 16 weeks. But that is another post.

I see you. The courage dripping from your breasts that don’t know you chose to end your pregnancy. The bravery of understanding the forever-ness of your decision. I see the love you have but I don’t see much regret. Your baby was loved. And I’m honouring them today. They’re remembered. Not as victims but as however you want them to be remembered. I’m not here to write your story. But whatever it is, just know that your sacrifice didn’t go unnoticed. 

You are not selfish. You are not reckless. You are not a monster. You are not a murderer. You are a human being with the right to make a choice for yourself. 

You are a fucking hero. Never forget that.

Good Birth Story: Shannon + Maisie

The birth of a child is a story we dream of for 40 weeks or sometimes more before it happens. When it does, there seems to be an unbelievable significance to the event and it’s not just because it’s what brings your child into the world.

Could it be because it’s the experience that marks the transition from woman to mother?

Could it be because it’s the experience that connects generations of women through history?

Could it be because birthing a baby exemplifies the sheer power and strength of a woman?

I was 37.5 weeks pregnant with my second child and as my due date began to approach, I would often ask myself, “how will my story begin?”.

On December 14, I woke up around 2 AM and as I stumbled sleepily through the dark hallway towards the bathroom, I felt a sudden gush of fluid hit the ground. I called to my husband who I could hear was coming upstairs to bed after falling asleep on the couch, careful not to wake my daughter, sleeping next door.

Shannon with baby Maisie + big sister Briar

Up until this moment, I was excited for the labour.

My first birth was not at all what I’d planned but it was empowering and beautiful and I was excited to meet our next child. In that moment though, I was terrified. My immediate reactions were doubt and fear. I couldn’t stop my body from shaking as we checked the fluid to make sure it was clear. My husband and I sat in the dark bathroom waiting for another rush to come – a little trick I learned after having my first. I repeated my affirmations from the books I’d read as I began to mentally prepare. Birth warriors don’t stay clean. We complicate it. It is simple.

“Now you finally know how the story starts,” my husband said.

Contractions were mild and I attempted to sleep a little longer, anticipating what would most likely be a long day. I slept on and off resisting the urge to contact my midwives, knowing they also needed rest for what would be a long day ahead. I had no idea that after the baby was born, going back to sleep, a decision that seemed so natural in the moment, would be one fraught with judgment and regret.

I did sleep on and off and we decided around 6 AM to call the midwives. They listened to my contractions over the phone to determine severity. I could still speak through them very comfortably and they were still no more than 14 mins apart, lasting only 30 secs. “It’s up to you”, my midwife said. “I can meet you at the birth centre or you can labour at home a little longer if you’re more comfortable”.

We had to get my older daughter to school and the birth centre was completely across town so we decided to get going. I got up to brush my teeth and get dressed as my husband got my daughter ready for daycare.  All of a sudden and with no warning, the contractions were strong and timing was all over the place.

I can’t explain it, but something changed.

35 minutes later we had dropped my daughter at daycare and we raced through the city as my contractions became stronger and stronger. My husband was flying down one way streets and I braced myself in the front seat, trying to stay lucid through the pain. Little did I know, I was in transition. 

We were still more than 20 minutes away from our destination when I felt the urge to push. “Call 911”, I said, “the baby’s coming”. The operator instructed us to pull over somewhere safe once we were able to alert her to the urgency of the situation. She began with all the usual questions, “what’s your name? How far along are you?”. We kept yelling, “the baby’s coming” until she finally understood now wasn’t the time for questions.

I climbed into the back seat and positioned myself on all fours (between two car seats) and we undressed me from the waist down. The operator asked my husband to get some warm blankets and find something to cut the cord. At this point, I was resisting the urge to push.

A minute later, a paramedic appeared behind my husband and when he spotted me, the same fact finding questions began. I just kept thinking, is this really happening? In the seconds I had between contractions, I convinced him the time for questions had passed. I became vaguely aware a crowd of people had gathered around us. Some of them onlookers and some of them firemen and paramedics.

I told them I could feel the baby’s head crowning and they directed me to get onto the gurney which they’d now wheeled up next to the car door. I said “no” a few times before realizing it was the only way they knew how to catch a baby so I didn’t have a choice. [My husband insists they covered me with some kind of blanket while transferring me out of the car.]

I waited for the next contraction and with one strong push, I felt the baby slide out on to the gurney. It was December, I was naked from the waist down and it was raining. They quickly began to wrap the baby in fire blankets. When I heard the first oxygen fueled cries I knew the baby was OK. Without thinking, I tore my shirt off and directed firmly that the baby be placed on my chest for warmth. They wrapped both of us in blankets and wheeled us onto the warm ambulance.

At this point, I still had no idea if we’d had a girl or boy. Once inside, the paramedic that had caught my baby leaned down and introduced himself, “Hi, I’m Aladdio,”, he said. I peeled back the blankets to uncover a gorgeous baby girl burrowed into my chest. My husband introduced us and our second perfect baby girl, Maisie. 

When I had dreamt of this birth story, I dreamt of a warm and intimate place. A safe place to experience my most vulnerable of moments. Moments before I began to push, I made eye contact with an onlooker outside the car. I’ll never forget the look on his face as he watched in fascination and horror.

For a long time after the birth, it was still hard to talk about. I felt judgment and shame (like I should’ve known this might happen or it was my fault for not leaving earlier). I felt violated. I felt robbed of my amazing, life-affirming birth. The thing I heard most was, “all that matters is that she was healthy.” I know this was meant to be caring but it was hard to hear.

Are our expectations so pathetically low that a healthy baby is the most we can hope for in labour?

In a world where we accept a mundane ritual like a shower to be considered self-care for a mom, I think we should be aiming a little higher for our births. Of course the health of the baby is important, but so must be the comfort of the mom. Birth is unpredictable but that doesn’t mean we should expect it to be bad.

Maisie is now 9 months old and time has given me an opportunity for reflection and clarity. I choose to now focus on what my body did and how strong I am to have come through that experience. My story went from traumatic and shocking to empowering and unique. I think this can be true for all women – regardless of the type of birth. Even though our birth stories have a profound impact on us, they don’t have to define us.

Let’s share our stories proudly, support one another in our triumphs [and defeats] and aim higher for ourselves. 

To this day, Maisie still hates to be cold.

Written + Shared by Shannon Rothschild

Formula is Best

Formula is Best

After a long 70 months of breastfeeding and a very quick 4 months of exclusive formula feeding, I’ve come to a conclusion.

Formula. Is. Best. [for me].

The euphoria was almost instantaneous. I had communicated with my midwives from day one that this baby would be a formula fed baby. I wrote it clearly in my birth plan and communicated it to staff when I met for my care plan meeting. .When I wrote When Breast Isn’t Best, I had contemplated hybrid feeding, but as I got close to the end of my 4th pregnancy, while desperately trying to wean my 3.5 year old, I knew it was time to say “f*ck this sh*t” and go all in with formula feeding.

I found it extremely disheartening that there was so little when it came to good, evidence-based information out there! And even harder to find a supportive mom community to ask real questions. On one hand, I have my crunchy moms who question WHY would I not be breastfeeding or ideas how to pump and bottle feed or how once baby was here, I would change my mind.

Thanks Karen, but as per my previous 70 months (yes you read that right) of exclusively breastfeeding 2 kids who NEVER took a bottle, I’m good.

But the “woo-free” groups were even more harsh. I had my personal page trolled with a fine-tooth comb and was called out and the evidence I was sharing related to efficacy of diets discredited because years ago I made lactation cookies. What. The. Actual. Hell ?! (Important to know – these cookies were from 2016 and I’ve learned quite a bit since then).

I leaned on my sister for tips about which bottles (glass!), sanitizing equipment (Dr. Brown’s microwave bags!) and used up every free sample I was given before deciding on a brand.

It turns out that Pharaoh’s tummy doesn’t agree with iron-added formulas, so we buy the store brand low iron option (President’s Choice or Parent’s Choice). I tend to prep 32 ounces all at once using my Dr. Brown’s Formula Pitcher and find it easy to heat up a bottle at a time with hot water in a bowl. I was tempted by a Baby Brezza but learned that it can actually inaccurately mix your bottles and screw up the concentration of the formula. The simple pitcher option works well instead. Do I have days where I am less than organised and literally mix every bottle individually throughout the day (after I frantically wash it!) – absolutely. But overall, it’s not so bad.

But what did I really learn in these short 4 months of Pharaoh’s life? That I really, really hated breastfeeding. Even though I find formula feeding more time intensive (in terms of prep/cleaning/warming), I wish I had never breastfed my older kids. The attachment and enjoyment I feel this time cannot be compared. The “magic” most breastfeeding advocates and lactivists describe from chest-feeding only existed with my baby I am formula feeding. I’m engaged. I don’t resent having to spend time feeding him. I am genuinely enjoying him. I am so glad over the last 3 or so years I have found the confidence to listen to my needs and honour them.

I know this is an important story. There is one person reading this right now who doesn’t want to breastfeed – this is your official permission to say “no” and carry on with your parenting guilt-free. Trust me, coming from a woman who didn’t wean a kid until he was nearly 38 months after I wanted to, formula is a damn good choice.

If you have any questions about how to formula feed or how to be OK with it – find me on Facebook or Instagram.