Traveling with a newborn

I have to say that I was on the fence about taking a newborn on an international flight. I have to be honest that if it wasn't my sister's wedding, I may have opted out of long haul travel as we were still getting used to our new lives. We truly wanted to be there as I know that family get togethers are rare and this is a very special moment in our lives. We traveled to Prague from Vancouver with a 3 month old baby. It was approximately 15 hours flight with two transfers.

And guess what?

We had an incredible time! It was heart warming to be around my family, meeting my brother-in-law's family and surprising my younger sister especially. Baby did fabulous! I have to credit some of the prep work and checklist below. 

I strive to carry key items only though there were things we didn't end up using. I've updated my list below and marked with (x) the ones we did not use, but I felt was nice to have and maybe useful on another trip.

Key is: Imagine logistics from leaving our place on the Monday morning - cab to airport, terminal to gate, when to feed and change, what we should wear to be comfortable, etc.
One Must Have: Humour (take it anywhere you go and it's free)! I am blessed to have a husband who just finds humour in everything because some things do not go as planned (miscommunication with the cab, very tight 1 hour layover between landing and departure at Frankfurt, sketchy apartment which I booked etc.)

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Pre-Departure

  • Plan Itinerary
  • Passports
  • Currency Exchange
  • Airport map look up - map out route for terminal transfers
  • Amenities - look up hospitals
  • Advance booking - car service, hotel, restaurants, shows
  • Unlock phone - pre-order SIM card
  • Device Back up - phone pictures, clear space, bring extra microSD cards
  • Adaptor

Airport

  • Gate check stroller and car seat
  • Bag for the car seat - If you don't have a car seat cover, at the check in counter, ask for an oversized plastic bag you can use to cover the car seat. Minimize those germs exposure for the baby. Save this bag as other airports did not have it. 
  • Asked for 'assist' - gate check lady made a note to have someone help us with transfer upon arrival in Frankfurt. This made our 1 hour connection possible.

Airplane

  • Carry on: 1 Backpack each person
    • diapers X 30
    • wipes
    • onesies X 4 
    • wet bag/garbage bags
    • burp cloths/muslin
    • toy
    • save offline songs Emily love
    • carrier (I-angel, Sollywrap) (x)
    • sunhat (x)
    • phone charger
    • baby bottle (x) 
    • pump (x)
    • water bottle
    • snacks and food
    • extra clothes for parents
       
  • Checked Bag
    • Clothes
    • Diapers
    • Shoes
    • Outfit planned for trip plus extras
    • Gifts
    • Baby Tylenol
    • Thermometer
    • Home reminder: wall flower decals that Emily love, baby book (x)

Should you book a bassinet? In my experience, no - it is not necessary. On our flight back, we booked a bassinet which was free for 1 parent, but an additional ~$150 one way for the other parent. We flew Air Canada Rouge coming back, and frankly, the plane was much smaller than our initial flight. There really wasn't much of a leg room and the bassinet for the baby (once attached) didn't allow room for me to move from my seat. I would say, check the type of plane you have (if it's the larger planes, those may be worthwhile paying extra). Another thing I didn't appreciate was you lose the ability to have your backpacks under the seat, so every time we need an item - we have to keep opening the cabin storage above us.

 

Musings on my birthday

I turned 32 this month. Birthdays give me a certain anticipation more on how I feel about growing older. It has certainly become a little less and less of a logistical gathering, whereas years back I would want this person and that person and as many people around me as possible. I am an extrovert after all.

How do I feel? I feel many things.

Incredibly blessed as this is the year I have become a mother. When Emily was born, the mother in myself was born too...I also feel that I am growing as she grows - patience is longer, care for my family is deeper and a greater appreciation for the people who have come before me. 

 I think about what world my daughter would grow up in - what does connection and relationships look like in a more virtual world. 

The reality for me, at this moment of my life, I feel an incredible privilege - to have my baby girl, a loving husband...friends and family who reached out to me, a bouquet from a friend (m-dizzle haha) living away, a plant from my mother in law, my sister who drove an hour to spend time and bought me a cake, having the time today to get a new haircut..I am blessed. This evening I held my baby a lot lot longer, she is getting heavier each day, and I am looking forward to her sweet smiles.

August Celebrations

Lots of celebrations this month  - my birthday, my husband's birthday, our wedding anniversary...friends and family weddings! 

We are also traveling to Prague to celebrate my sister's wedding. I was initially back and forth with this decision given Emily would only be 3 months at the end of the month. I have asked everyone that I could, and all of the interwebs on traveling with a newborn. I've taken some comfort that my doctor said "well why not?". Am still nervous about taking her. It wasn't too long ago that I could barely go four blocks without wanting to come back to our home so I can nurse, change or soothe my baby. I am learning to understand her different cries and cues - but key word is that, still learning.

I've started a checklist for our international trip to hopefully be best prepared, but I know that it is a different ballgame with a little one in tow. Additionally we decided to surprise my sister (we love to surprise!) so let's see how that goes. We did have to mention to her fiancé to save us spots for the different venues.

I have so much to be grateful for - a loving partner who cooks, clean, works extra hard and puts up with my mood swings, our family and friends who have come to see and help us the last few months with the baby..and my Emily for being here and giving us warm smiles every time she wakes up.

Baby Emily is here!

Life is sweet. Spring came and our baby Emily arrived at the end of May!
Everyday my love for her keeps growing. My husband and I are in awe and feeling lucky that she is so perfect for us. Of course the early weeks were very difficult - lacking sleep, learning to breastfeed and recovering from surgery. I had a long labour (30 hours) that required a c-section in the end. The doctors called her "chunky monkey" when she got out :) and indeed, she is a healthy baby at 8.5 lbs and 21". 

Our family is now somewhat falling into a rhythm slowly. She is also sleeping longer and so this mama is getting some zzz as well. I've gained back energy too. 

I can't say thank you enough to family and friends who have come to visit us. We had a lot of help. In my opinion, that is a privilege in this day and age where families live far from each other. I also received great support from doctors, midwives, nurse and other healthcare staff. 

As new parents, we are learning. It is hard - the new emotions and responsibility of caring for a new person weigh on us. I feel we are so lucky because she is such a good baby - doesn't fuss much and gives us the best smile every nap and sleep she wakes up from. Seeing her face as she wakes up - so much love!

February Wish List

Though we've made huge strides in other areas this month, we've got some clearing up to do. I listed out a couple of wish list to do last month - both of which I was not able to complete.

I will stick to my main priority for now:

1. Tidy our bedroom - we are in a 1 bedroom apartment (a junior sized apartment). Anticipating a little one in the next 3 months is exciting! On the space front though, we need to make room for a crib/bassinet and other essential items that require storage. All the while balancing the aesthetic and keeping clutter at a minimum. It's do-able (though part of me feels I should just get rid of most of my clothes, then problem solved..hmm, but that's not balancing my needs either).

My husband and I are both on this quest. Wish us luck!

February Update

 A short month and it is flying by fast! I am now 27 weeks - 13 more weeks to go! Overall, I would rate the last month as having tackled on major changes and challenges (aside from the baby front). There were other big projects that my hubby and I tackled on in the last 3 weeks, hence a sidetrack from what I have outlined from the beginning of the year. I feel I have some catching up on the baby front. But what this last month also revealed to me is how incredibly lucky Corey and I to be surrounded by people (near and far) who would come through to help see us succeed. I feel very blessed and thankful.

To recap the past month since my last post:

1. Recap of January Wish List:

Tidying List
KonMari - still in the works! I have started on culling my clothing and was successful in giving away clothes that I have not used in the last two years since my last KonMari in Calgary. However, I have let in more clothes as I ran into problem of not having any left to fit me when I grew too fast too quick! My sister came to the rescue with clothes that she wore during her pregnancy. I have selected the ones I will keep and will return some back to her. 

To Make List
Candle Class - I had to reschedule the candle class to April 14 (this was a Christmas gift to my sister). We are signed up at Soigne in Vancouver and that happened to be the only availability given the limited class schedule and my sister's work hours.
Maternity Dress - I have 13 weeks to go! Ahh! Need to make one for myself pronto :p. I found some inspiration online.

2. Gestational Diabetes Glucose Test
I went in for my Gestational Diabetes Glucose Testing first thing on Saturday at 7:30am (week 27). I chose the Lifelab on Keefer Street. Great staff! They attended to me right away. My last meal ended at 7pm from the night before, and I have had only water since. My blood was drawn 3 times. First one at the beginning of the appointment and every hour after that. I was given an orange juice to drink - the first staff said to drink it slow as other people have commented that it made them gag or puke. But I loved it! It tastes like Sunny-D. :D. For the next two hours, I just had to wait in the waiting room and go in to get my blood drawn every hour. My husband also stayed with me the whole time. He's been a big support. So another one off the checklist! 

Maternity and Parental Leave in Canada

A new announcement was made on Dec 3, 2017 regarding changes to the Maternity and Parental leave in Canada. Read the official website carefully: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/ei/ei-list/reports/maternity-parental.html#h2.1

I'll be updating this post as I go through submitting and processing EI for maternity and parental leave. Hoping this information will help others who are also on the same boat.

To consider:

  • Eligibility (accumulated 600 insurable hours, you have paid premiums, etc).
  • Choice of 12 month (standard) vs 18 month (extended) of insurable income to a max amount.
  • Benefit rate of 55% of insurable income for standard vs. 33% for extended to a max amount
  • Maximum insurable income amount of $51,300 or expect to receive $543/week (12 month leave) or $326/week (18 month leave) gross.
  • EI is a taxable benefit. Provincial and federal tax rates applicable.
  • Bi-weekly payment; paid on Tuesdays.
  • Financial picture: what would it be like to go from 100% to 55% to 33%?

    The process that I am following is what my spouse and I agreed are best for our situation. It may be different for you. Generally...
     
  • Research your work benefit thoroughly for top up benefit during parental leave, if available.
  • Advise your managers of your anticipated leave. Provide an overview of your current work in place, and give them a plan or recommendation of someone to take over your position for the leave, if possible. Here are my tips on this post.
  • Apply for maternity leave before expected due date (3 months).
  • Share parental leave with spouse