Gruffalo First Birthday Party

After we bought “The Gruffalo” book by Julia Donaldson I read it to Sullivan and was inspired by the rich illustrations and comical story of a little mouse who out-smarts all of the other animals in the forest. I figured this would make a perfect theme for Sullivan’s first birthday party!

We began planning a few months ago, (aka me planning and Travis consenting ;)) I found Gruffalo cookie cutters on Etsy (linked below) which took several weeks to arrive from the United Kingdom and our party began to take shape.

I knew I wanted to make his cake myself and made the fondant characters a few weeks in advance giving them time to adequately dry (and to come up with a backup plan if they didn’t turn out.). For the cake I used a recipe that we’ve been using for several years for a Vanilla Poppyseed Cake with a Swiss Meringue Buttercream (via Sweetapolita) The Buttercream took MUCH longer to come together than it says in the recipe (there… I’ve given you fair warning!)

The” Sullivan is One” cake topper is from Etsy.

The balloons/helium and kids candy were all from either Party City or Balloons Online. I will say the quality of the balloons wasn’t amazing as they all were sitting on the ground by the next morning.

Sullivan’s “1” sweater is from Jacadi (Sherway Gardens) and is my new favourite store for him!


Baby Essentials

There were several items that we found useful during our year and a half of parenthood but a few items that we thought were absolutely necessary!

  1. The Love to Dream Swaddle was definitely one of our favourite items for Sullivan.  We received two as gifts and bought more so that we would have two in every size for those inevitable midnight blowouts throughout his first 4 months.  Sullivan never wanted to be swaddled with his arms at his side and would always un-wrap himself and end up with his hands beside his face so these were the perfect solution.  They prevented the startle reflex and made the many nighttime diaper changes an absolute breeze with the two-way zippers.

Love to Dream Swaddle

2.  This strolled has been phenomenal! The Bugaboo Donkey 2 is spacious and pushes like a dream which is fairly crucial in our ranging climate.  The bassinet was great when Sullivan was a baby and the transition over to the reclining seat was seamless and is extremely versatile.  Upright for looking around and reclining for nap time!  Forward-facing to check out the scenery and rear-facing to keep a close eye on Mommy and Daddy.  The possibilities are endless ESPECIALLY since you can pop out the side carrier and add a second seat (or bassinet)!  Perfect for a growing family. We still are using this stroller often!


Bugaboo Donkey 2

3. This Hydrasense Nasal Aspirator is something that we think is very crucial for that first newborn cold.  I have a friend who told me that we needed to buy this before our new bundle arrived but because I’m stubborn and refused to believe that our baby would ever get sick, did not listen! (stupidly). When Sullivan got his first cold at 1.5 months it hit hard, in the middle of the night and it was all kinds of stressful.  He couldn’t breathe and if he was reclined AT ALL he would start choking on mucous.  We seriously considering bringing him into emerge but decided to wait it our and see if we could get in to see our Family Physician in the morning. Travis and I sat in the bathroom with the shower running for almost two hours hoping that the steam would break it up and it did help, for a few hours anyways.  Anyways, immediately after seeing our doctor in the morning Travis went to buy one of these and what a lifesaver!  After saline drops, you literally insert one end of the aspirator into the baby’s nose, and the other into your mouth and suck, hard!  Mucous-be-gone! At nearly 20 months, we still use it every time he’s sick!


Hydrasense Nasal Aspirator

4. For newborns, the 4Moms- Mamaroo4 Plush was a lifesaver.  It allowed me to shower or get a few jobs done while the babe slept peacefully.  As Sullivan was a little bit older, he loved the music and mobile for entertainment and it was usually successful in putting him to sleep. Once Sullivan was big enough to roll we had to put it away but it was wonderful while we could use it!


Mamaroo Plush

5. Dream Egg Sound Machine

We are obsessed with this sound machine, it has SO many sound options and the nightlight is awesome, just the perfect amount of ambient light. There’s 30,60 and 90 minute timer settings or you can toggle to continuous. There are 24 sounds including lullabies, nature, rain and fan sounds. The only thing I don’t like is that we didn’t get it until over a year and a half! It would have been the perfect amount of light/sound when I was nursing him when he was little.

6. The Halo Bassinest is life.  Pure newborn perfection.  The numerous settings, sounds, swivel, lights, and overall design sure made those first few (sleepless) months simpler and oh so convenient.


Halo Bassinest-Premiere

7. The 4Moms- Breeze Playard has made travelling a breeze, pardon the pun.  While we have never used it as a playpen, it has been used countless times for naps and nights while visiting family or at hotels.  It folds with such ease it honestly takes less than a minute to set up/pack up.  The newborn insert was perfect when Sullivan was little and once he began sitting up and the insert was no longer suitable we put it away and just use the regular mattress pad which also doubles as your box.


Breeze Playard

8. MAM Glow in the Dark Pacifiers- If your little one likes a soother at bedtime, after trying many, MANY soothers, this one is our favourite. The main reason we love it is because it glows in the dark which is amazing because when they lose it, instead of crawling around on your hands and knees to find it in the middle of the night you can see it immediately.

*All opinions are my own.*

*Most images via Google

Sullivan’s Birth Story

I had a wonderful pregnancy, I felt a little tired somedays but as a whole found it to be a wonderful experience.  I prepared the best ways I knew how; by talking to other moms and by reading. Lots and lots of reading.  Probably over-reading to be honest.  I’m a firm believer that knowledge is power however in this case it was likely to my disadvantage as the more I read, the more fearful I became of the idea that I actually had to push this baby out of me.

I made a birth plan and planned for the most natural birth possible. My intention was clear; to avoid pain medication unless I got to a point where I truly could not handle it any longer and then I would get an epidural.

I did yoga, and stretching and we walked. We walked A LOT.  I was hoping to get labour going without the pending induction but to no avail.

I wrote Sullivan’s birth story quickly just a few days after he was born.  It all felt like a blur, days blended from one into the next as we were overwhelmed with this new all-consuming love.  I assumed (and as I had been warned) that the days following having a baby are exhausting and overwhelming however, I felt just the opposite.  I was full of energy albeit, a little sore and SO. IN. LOVE.  I was in love with my brand new, tiny, squishy and content little baby but also so in love with my husband who would forever be thought of from now on as; Sullivan’s Daddy.

Sullivan’s original due date was January 27th which was then adjusted based on my 20-week ultrasound to February 1st.  Less than 4% of babies are born on their due date, however Sullivan was one of them!  My OB-GYN discussed the option of being induced at one of our appointments before baby arrived as we considered the potential weather hazards that Northern Ontario can present at the end of January combined with speeding the 1.5hour drive to the hospital. She also stated that current literature suggests inducing at 39 weeks led to less c-sections compared to those who went overdue so with this in mind, if I didn’t go in naturally before January 27th, this would be my induction date as she was working that day/night.

I had cervical ripening done Friday night (January 26th) at 9 pm and I it (apparently) started working overnight. We awoke the next morning and ate a leisurely breakfast at the hotel in Sudbury while we waited for 8:30 to roll around so we could head into the hospital to be checked.  I assumed they would need to do another round of cervical ripening in the morning when I went in to be checked because I had just been cramp-y overnight but nothing serious.   Once we arrived and they checked me they said I was dilated 3cm and that I was in the very early stages of labour and that the Doctor would be coming in to break my water.  I started contractions right away “naturally” and felt very minimal pain all morning so when they came in at noon to offer me an epidural I felt very confident in my decision to tell them “no thank you!”

At 1pm they checked me again and I hadn’t progressed at all. They said Baby had moved down but that I hadn’t dilated any further and that we needed to get things moving so they put me on an Oxytocin drip. From 2pm-5pm was painful but nothing unbearable and the Nurses kept coming in to offer me gas and an Epidural and I refused again. At around 7PM I asked to be checked again and was only at 7cm.   This was so defeating because the Nurse that had been with me all day (her name was also Julie) was leaving for shift change and we were in hard labour now.  The new nurse’s name was Mel and she was so sweet but didn’t do much in the form of encouragement so that was a little unfortunate but Travis and my mom were both by my side and they were amazing! Travis was so supportive, he didn’t leave my side and was seriously so tuned in all day to my every need that I’m pretty sure he worked as hard as I did.

From 7pm to 9:30 pm was brutal, I wanted to give up and I vomited and then dry heaved with every contraction. The pain was indescribable and the pressure even worse and I really broke down so I asked to be checked again around 9:00pm and was still only 7cm.  This felt so discouraging and I felt frustrated as the Nurse.  At this point my nurse left for a break and the head nurse came in for about 15 minutes and instantly began coaching.  She instructed me to get on all fours and a few different things right away and although these things were incredibly painful it gave me the courage to go a little longer as she explained how these things would speed up the final few cm. We laboured until 10-10:30 and I asked to be checked again because I was getting the urge to push and the pressure was incredible!  She checked me once again and I was at 9cm.  Just hearing her say 9 meant that I was SO close to the finish line and that gave me a second wind.  Suddenly I had this strong feeling of confidence that I could do this and that we were SO close!

The next 15 minutes were such long, hard contractions in transition until I told my nurse that I had to push right now!  She checked me again and said that I was at a 9.5 and asked if I could just hold on for another three contractions that I would be able to push.  I agreed and after 3 more contractions and I started pushing involuntarily.  My nurse said  okay just let your body do what’s natural but don’t push any harder yourself. She checked me again and I was at 10cm and ready to go!

She called for the Doctor and before my Doctor came in I did 2 “practice” pushes with about 5 nurses and the resident that was working with my OBGYN. Pushing was probably the BEST feeling!(or the worst, depending on how you look at it but at least I finally left like I had some control!)

I pushed with every ounce of strength I had left in me. I only had two contractions worth of pushing before the baby’s head was out.  This part was going quickly and I was SO thankful!  I gave one another good push and he was stuck, his elbow was up beside his shoulders so after a quick adjustment I gave one final push and he was out and I cried my eyes out! In total I pushed for just over 10 minutes from when I started pushing without trying to push! He was born at 10:59 pm and was 7lbs 14ozs and 21.7″ long.

I was patiently waiting for someone to tell me whether it was a boy or a girl but no one said anything! With my upper body shoved between my knees our baby finally opened his legs and through my tears I said “Travis, it’s a boy!! You have a son!” and then they put him on my chest and we did skin to skin.  Fortunately I only needed one stitch from him getting stuck and we were able to cuddle while the Doctor did that.

It’s a special moment and one that is oh so unforgettable.  It’s not a feeling that can be explained and the wave of emotions and love that overcomes you is like nothing else.  Looking at my husband with love in my eyes and looking at our new baby boy with disbelief as if to say, “Is he ours? Did we make this perfect baby?”

Labour is something that needs to be experienced to truly understand.  After talking to many other women, listening to countless labour stories and becoming as educated as possible on the subject and I still felt utterly unprepared for the events of that day.  No one can prepare you for the pain, but no one can prepare you for the love either.  The best part is is that the memories of the love quickly overcome the memories of the pain and make us want to do it all over again!

Love. at. first. sight.


Thanks for reading!