5 Tips for Nursing in a Wrap

Babies love to nurse, and sometimes they like to nurse non-stop. Often, they want to nurse when we have things to do or are out and about. (There’s nothing like mama comfort, right?) Because all 3 of my babies have been avid comfort nursers, I’ve had to master the art of nursing in public with hands free to be able to supervise my other kids. 
Enter: Beluga Baby Wrap! This wrap is one of the most comfortable carriers to nurse in because of the 4 way stretch. Can you believe that I’m nursing in this photo below? Scroll down because I’m going to share a few nursing tips!

  1. I pull my top down and my breast out instead of pulling my shirt up. But don’t worry! The side pass will keep you covered if you prefer privacy!
  2. Lean forward while supporting your baby’s back to allow gravity to give the wrap a little stretch while you establish a latch. Sometimes I do a little shake to really get my breast in between us for a latch. 
  3. I like to wear Juliette very high up when out and about, but when I need to nurse, I temporarily loosen and re-tie the knot so that she can be more “boob-level.” Though I’m am smaller framed, I am a bit busty so I find that this helps a lot!
  4. If she falls asleep nursing, I tighten it back up while she’s latched. 
  5. Need to adjust your latch? I sneak my hand into the wrap through the side instead of into the wrap from the top as the side panel allows for very discreet nursing. Most people can’t even tell that I’m nursing!

I hope these tips are helpful for you! Nursing in a wrap is easy once you get the hang of it, and it makes going out so much easier for us! 

These opinions are my own, and the post is not sponsored. I truly wanted to share these tips as I get asked all the time! Make sure you check out Beluga Baby below!

Instagram: @shopbelugababy

Shop:  http://www.belugababy.ca

Facebook: Beluga Baby

*Disclaimer- These are my own tips, and each mama will have her own. Please be careful when loosening the wrap and also when letting your baby sleep in the wrap and monitor their breathing and ensure their noses are not blocked. 

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Golden Summer Evening Photoshoot

This past August, Mint & Birch celebrated 4 years of business! We celebrated with a gorgeous photoshoot by the glimmering golden sun. It was a magical evening surrounded by a tribe of beautiful women! It was definitely a beautiful summer night to remember! Thank you to Tamara Clark Photography  for beautifully capturing Mint & Birch’s story through these photos!

1d8a3239New Font: “Storybook”  S H O P  H E R E

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How beautiful is this glowing Woodland Wovens Teepee? It has 6 poles, so it is extremely sturdy!
Right: Modelling 3 different sizes of our bar necklaces: our one name, standard and extra long!

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NEW: Cuffs! Each one has been hand cut and hand stamped!

1d8a3344I cannot stop gushing over our beautiful photo props! These pillows by Joue Design are absolutely beautiful- they are fluffy, soft, and have a luxurious feel to them. They aren’t your regular pillows, that’s for sure! And of course, a dreamcatcher by Shop A to Z and a beautifully hand painted garland from Coral + Cloud!

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1d8a3047A handcrafted, padded clutch from Pecan Tree Creation is shown above with our cuff bracelet! And below, a special custom mint dish from Three Corners Artisan! This dish is one of my staples! Oh, and if you know me, you’ll know that I love rustic vintage goodies. The typewriter from this photo shoot is an old Underwood Typewriter that I bought at a market!

1d8a3067Styled by: Mint & Birch @mintandbirch
Models: Tara Teng@misstarateng & Amy @oneofthelibbys
Pillows: Joue Design @jouedesign 
Clutch Purse: Pecan Tree Creations @pecantreecreations
Teepee: Woodland Wovens @woodlandwovens
Trinket Dishes: Three Corners Artisan @threecornersartisan
Photography: Tamara Clark Photography  @tamara.m.clark
Wooden GarlandCoral + Cloud @coralandcloud
Dream CatcherShop A to Z @shop.a.to.z
Makeup (Tara) –  @belleandrebelbeautymua

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6 Reminders that Keep Me Going

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Photo by Kaylyn McLachlan of McLachlan Studios from her Day in the Life Shoot! 

As many of you know, my husband is out of town and will have been for about 4.5 months by the time he returns. Ive’ had a lot of questions about how I “do it all” with 3 kids aged 5 and under. I run this business on my own, I am on a board, and I only depend on family help maybe once every few weeks. I am by no means a supermom as I know there are tons of moms who single parent every single day. To those moms- hats off to you. You are truly supermoms!

The short answer to a lot of questions that I get is this: I don’t do it all. I can’t. There are things I have had to scale back on and compromise on. And I do have a wonderful nanny who has become part of our family.

But… I’ve come up with a list of things that helps me. I thought I’d share them with you too!

1. Cheat. I buy pre-sliced cheese and cook a lot of frozen dinners. By frozen, I mean the ones that come out of a box!

2. Don’t say no to help! Take all the help you can get and give yourself permission to rest!

3. Make a physical reminder of something that motivates you to keep going. My kids motivate me. And most of all, when I feel frustrated, exhausted and desperate from all the mothering and parenting I do- what motivates me is that I want my kids to know that they are unconditionally loved and that they can feel vulnerable with me. My reminder is my FOREVER mama necklace. I fiddle with my necklace when I feel overwhelmed and it helps me stay focused on what I value so dearly.

4. Give yourself a treat on a regular basis so you have something to look forward to. Starbucks Frappacino. Every other Friday. 🙂

5. Surround yourself with positivity and create boundaries so people that do not respect you, cannot hurt you. Cynical, right?! But it’s true. Positivity energizes me. I am SO thankful for all my wonderful mama friends for this.  Now, for the boundaries part… I won’t go into it, but the short form of it is this: My children depend on me, and they require every ounce of my emotional and mental energy. I would rather spend my emotional energy on them, than on people that do not reciprocate or respect my emotions. Surround yourself with friends and family who can walk this crazy journey of motherhood with you. And protect yourself from those who do not respect you, or those that you feel like you have to prove yourself to.

6. The days are long, but the years are short. Lastly, I know that this period of complete neediness and dependancy that my children have for me is very short. Though it is intense, these short years of babyhood and childhood are so beautiful. When my 3 children cling to me as I cook dinner, I remind myself that one day, I’ll be lucky to be able to give them a kiss in front of their friends! This short phase comes and goes in a very short amount of time. And though they are my babies forever, they will grow up and out of my arms eventually.

So there you have it. These are 6 little things that help me when I feel like I am at my wit’s end. Every mama is different, and each of you may have a different list. I’d love to hear what your tips are!

xo.
jessica

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Mama Story: Cejay

Our next #minttobemama story is Cejay’s- I made her a courageous mama necklace because she is a courageous overcomer, and such a strong mama!

As a mama who has also had a c section, her story touched me. Yes, she has healthy babies, but she should still be allowed to grieve that her birth didn’t happen they way she envisioned it. And the best thing about her story is that she has overcome and is such a champion! She is NOT a failure-she is a wonderful mama who faces challenges with the fierceness of a mama bear who loves her cubs so much!

My favourite thing about Cejay? She faces her struggles and her vulnerability with such courage. She is real, raw, and honest. To me, that is so inspiring, and I hope she inspires you too!

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Here is her story written by her: 

My story is one of failure, one that no matter how many times people say “but you delivered healthy babies” it does not fix the fact that I feel I failed as a woman. My first pregnancy was a whirlwind, I found out I was pregnant when i went in for a tonsillectomy (surprise…you’re 13 weeks and 6 days pregnant)… Not only had I not been expecting this news, but i was in month 3 of the worst case of pneumonia and tonsillitis you could imagine and had been heavily medicated for those 3 months. Needless to say, no surgery took place that day (my tonsils and I are still together and going strong) and I stopped taking any medication that day (no more codeine cough syrup for this mama to be). Fast forward 20ish weeks I was just barely 8 months pregnant and swollen beyond recognition (my cankles had cankles). Most of my doctors visits had been normal up until now, only a slight spike in my blood pressure until my mother started to question the readings of my blood pressure and began monitoring it at home. Turns out the nurse at my doctor’s office hadn’t been taking accurate readings, my blood pressure was extremely elevated and I was told I had preeclampsia and placed on bedrest. One week later I found myself being checked in to the hospital with plans to bring my blood pressure down with copious amounts of medication (oh joy). Attempts to induce labor were made, but failed… My blood pressure was 190/160 at this point and the only option was to deliver my little 35 week bundle. No contractions. No waiting for my water to break. No labor. No excitement. Emergency c-section was my only option. I was terrified. Fast forward an hour and I was in the operating room in a complete haze. It took 6 minutes… 6 minutes to cut into me… 6 minutes to forcibly remove a child from me… My child. A little girl who i did not meet until 7 hours and 54 minutes later. This was the first time my body failed me. On to my second pregnancy. Immediately upon finding out I was pregnant my blood pressure was on the rise. I tried everything to keep it down (diet, medications, positive thinking) nothing worked. I was well on my way to preeclampsia. I was monitored closely by my doctor and a specialist, and had hopes of having a VBAC. But this was not in the cards. I was told I needed to schedule a c-section and was given the task of picking the day my child would be born (how weird is that?!) My dream of natural child birth would be ripped away from me for a second time. Unfortunately all my fighting with the doctor for a VBAC and hoping to go into labor did not pay off. Preeclampsia struck again. I was on two different medications 3 times a day attempting to control my blood pressure, and at 39 weeks I was on the same operating table for my second c-section. My heart was completely broken. Two pregnancies and not once did I experience the joy (and pain) of labor. I carried two beautiful babies… I kept them safe… I grew them to absolute perfection… I did everything right. The grand finale of pregnancy was taken away from me. Twice. My own body failed me. Twice. I still cry when I think of my delivery experiences, they are not the happy tears of reflections, they are not tears full of pride in my accomplishments. They are full of pain… sadness… disappointment in myself. I failed at the one thing my body was made to do. In my eyes I failed at being a woman. I am not sure if the disappointment I feel in myself will ever subside; but I have come to accept that failing is part of life, you have to go on and keep living. I am blessed to have two beautiful girls that won’t see the disappointment, they will see a mom who sometimes fails, but always keeps trying.”

Thank you Cejay, for sharing this beautiful story of courage for us. 

I hope that each of the stories we will be featuring inspires, uplifts and perhaps brings happy tears to your eyes. If you’re interested in a chance to be being featured (you’ll receive a necklace if you become featured!)- please send your story to:
jessica {at} mintandbirch (dot) com! 

We are looking for stories that show the beauty, tribulations and trials, and the raw emotions that motherhood brings. We want to showcase and celebrate motherhood- the good and the bad. We want to celebrate YOU. We want to hear from real mamas like you! And in exchange, we will send out a necklace as a gift. The reason why I’m doing this is because I LOVE making jewellery for others. This is the reason we started our business, and we want to honour and love on you mamas! If you have already submitted a story and have not heard back, please don’t fret! We are going to be reading every email that comes in. I wish I could feature and gift every mama that sends in a story, but it’s a little hard to, but I will do my best to do this regularly and frequently!

xo!
jessica

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Mama Story: Pilita

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Mamas, this story brought tears to my eyes. Pilita’s story is one that shows what true motherly love is. Pilita is an adoptive mother. She isn’t her son’s biological mother, but she IS her son’s mother. She even breastfed him with a supplemental nursing system (think tubing attached at the breasts) to help him bond.

I made her a necklace from our shop that says, “a mother’s love” on it because a mother’s love transcends beyond biology: As Pilita writes, she “didn’t give birth to her child… but she did labour for him” during the adoption process. Here she is as she meets her newborn baby for the first time… happy tears and all!

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Read below as she shares her story with us!

Pilita writes,

My son was placed skin to skin with me the moment he was delivered via C-section and we have never been apart since. I have been his hopelessly in love Mommy since his first breathe, have cared for his every need, stressed over the decision of “circumcision or no circumcision”, breastfed him and cried over his umbilical cord nub falling off. He is my life, my heart, my Everything…..yet, weekly, I hear comments and questions that label me as less than. You see, my son is adopted. I’m sharing this so that other adoptive Mamas know they are not alone. I SEE you. My heart aches with yours and my heart overflows with joy to hear of the love you have for your precious Littles. No, I did not give birth to my child…but let me be the first to share with all of you, that I LABOURED for him! It was long and difficult, painful and filled with an ocean of tears. For 5 long years, I felt that infertility (severe Endometriosis) had robbed me of the gift of full-term pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood. I wish I knew then what I know with all of my heart now. Endometriosis didn’t rob me of anything. It gave me the most beautiful, incredible son and I know now that this is how it was always meant to be. The moment I heard my son’s first cry and laid eyes on his sweet little face…I knew I had been waiting for him all of my life. I have no other way to describe it other than I recognized him instantly.

We had begun the process of preparing for IVF and, two weeks in, we received a call from family members (across the continent) asking if we would adopt their unborn child that was to arrive in less than 8 weeks. We hadn’t even known that they were expecting. They were very young, struggling emotionally and financially and already had two little ones to care for. I was terrified. Adoption was always a part of my life plan regardless of whether or not I was able to have a biological child…but our relatives were young and understandably not entirely reliable by way of decision making. There had not been a single doctor’s visit, we had some mild concern that drug or alcohol use could have played a role in the pregnancy and the only certainty was that there would be no certainty…about anything. We decided to throw caution to the wind and jumped in with both feet. We contacted adoption attorneys and began to prepare a nursery with everything a baby could possibly need. Spending thousand and thousands of dollars with no guarantees and nothing but faith and hope to carry us through. There were hurdles. MANY painful and scary hurdles. The first adoption attorney we contacted near our relatives’ town ended up also owning a baby matching service and she tried to scare them and talk them into giving their baby to someone else. She began showing them books with profiles of couples looking to adopt and told them that she didn’t think we would be approved as adoptive parents. They were so scared and confused by her manipulation…for what I can only imagine was all about the money she would earn for making a match…instead of allowing this child to be raised by loving adoptive parents who would keep him immersed in his biological family. We went on to find a supportive, honest attorney…but then came legal fees, court fees, travel expenses (many MANY travel expenses), social worker home visits and more fees for that, immigration processes (that we are still going through today) and the STRESS of waiting and wondering.

We arrived one week early for our son’s birth. We had never formally met our birth mother. It was awkward. I had guilt. I saw her big, beautiful belly and felt horrible for hoping that she didn’t change her mind. I imagined her seeing me as a thief who had come to take her child. I wept alone, on the floor of the bathroom, for the emptiness and heartache I knew she would feel when we left with our son and her arms would be aching for the child she wouldn’t raise. I had been aware but completely unprepared for all of the feelings I would go through. Over those 7 days, I grew to love our birth mother more than I could ever explain in words. If I could have wrapped her up in my arms and adopted her too, I would have. She needed a Mother also. Desperately. Her own Mother was only a year older than I was.

During that week, our bond grew. I cared just as much for her as I did for the child we would share. As our birthing day drew nearer, there was a growing sadness between the two of us…only now it was not only about the baby, but about having to say goodbye to each other. The mere thought tied my stomach in knots.

It had been previously decided that I would be the one to accompany birth mom in the delivery room. The morning of the scheduled c-section they wheeled her hospital bed away from me and made me wait outside while they prepped her for surgery. She was terrified and each minute passed like a decade as I waited for them to invite me to be with her. I didn’t want her to feel alone for a single second. Tears stung my eyes as I tried to force them back. I eventually took my place next to her and held her hand as the hospital staff began their work. Every person present was aware of our unique situation and the room was filled with love, support and complete understanding. I told her I loved her and that I would stay beside her for as long as she wanted me there. She squeezed my hand tightly as she felt the tugging and pulling on her belly. It all happened very quickly. In just a few minutes we heard our son’s first cry. Tears streamed down our faces. She had requested that he be placed skin to skin with me after birth. A gift, I will always cherish and one that took such strength and selflessness on her part. I stood next to her as our son lay in my arms with his head on my chest. I asked the nurses to unstrap her hand and I placed it on our son’s back. The nurse captured a photo of that moment for us. It means everything to me that our son will see how much both of his mothers loved him…and each other…in his first moments of life. We became a family that day.

Our birth mother made the wise and brave decision to have her tubes tied while she was in the operating room. I held her hand while they performed the procedure. I promised her I wouldn’t leave her until she was ready…and I didn’t. When all was said and done, the hospital staff brought baby and I to the hospital room where we would stay for the next few days, all together. Birth mom allowed me to care for our son as she stepped back and watched. She allowed him to only know me as his Mommy. I can’t even imagine the hurt and sacrifice it took for her to do that. She chose not to breastfeed but did appease my request for her to bottle feed him a few times so I could take photos of the two of them for him to have when he grew older. The following few days, I slept in the hospital bed next to hers with our son in my arms and I watched over her like a protective mother…calling the nurse for more pain meds, running to the cafeteria for better food, fetching warmed blankets and propping her legs up for her. We talked for hours about life, love and everything in between. Reality was setting in that I would have to leave her soon and it was a reality I could hardly bare. Everybody tells you how much you’re going to love your child but nobody mentions how much you’re going to love your birth mother and how devastating it is to say goodbye to the woman who gave you everything you’ve ever dreamed of, at the expense of her own broken heart.

They discharged us on day three and I wrapped our son up in a carrier, cradled against my chest as our birth mother stood close by. We took separate cars to the shopping mall and picked up some things together. We went to separate homes for 4 days, while we waited for our son to reach the allowable age to fly in a plane. I adored every minute with my new baby boy but there was always hurt in my heart for or birth mother. I missed her terribly. It was strange to not be together but I gave her the space she needed to cope and begin to heal and she gave us the space to bond and care for our son. We texted back and forth about her incision, how to stop her breastmilk, pain meds and how the baby was sleeping. On that 4th day, we came together to sign our legal papers and say our goodbyes. We would be driving to Dallas and then flying back to San Diego and then to Vancouver. The sadness was thick in the air as we all greeted each other with hugs. The papers were signed and notarized and our birth parents held our son for a while. His biological sisters held and kissed him too. They knew him only as “Auntie’s baby” but the oldest knew that he had come from her Mommy’s belly. Shortly after, we prepared to say goodbye and begin our travels. Birth mom burst into sobbing tears and I quickly followed suit. We were connected by heart and by tear ducts by that point. We hugged each other and didn’t let go for what must have been close to an hour. I didn’t want to leave her in the chaos of the life she was living. I wanted to save her and to love her and show her how smart and exceptional she was. She later told my mother in law that she felt like she was losing her best friend and the mother she always wanted. I walked out of that door, sobbing harder than I had ever cried in my life. I was, at once, the happiest and the saddest I had ever been. It took me hours to stop crying and get a full breathe.

Birth mom and I sent text messages and emails for a while but eventually she built a wall to protect herself. I understand, but miss her every single day. I see her in my son and I am reminded of the ultimate gift and sacrifice that she gave for us. I remember that the best way to love her right now is to keep my promise to her…to love our son, protect him and give him the best life I possibly can…and when she’s ready, I will share him with her…the way she shared him with me. He will always be OUR son.

I didn’t carry him in my belly for 40 weeks, I didn’t get stretch marks, swollen feet, morning sickness or feel him kick inside of me. I didn’t give birth to the little love of my life…but YES I laboured for him. I walked through fire, jumped over hurdles, threw up from the stress, had huge swollen eyes from having my heart broken a million times….and at the end of it all, I birthed my family in a different way and I was given a healthy, beautiful son whom I could not live without and for whom I would give everything. Make no mistake, I am his REAL Mom…and I will forever be grateful to the woman who made that possible for me. She will always be a part of my heart and a part of this family that we created together.

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Thank you Pilita, for sharing your story of motherhood with us. I hope that each of the stories we will be featuring inspires, uplifts and perhaps brings happy tears to your eyes. If you’re interested in a chance to be being featured (you’ll receive a necklace if you become featured!)- please send your story to:
jessica {at} mintandbirch (dot) com!

We are looking for stories that show the beauty, tribulations and trials, and the raw emotions that motherhood brings. We want to showcase and celebrate motherhood- the good and the bad. We want to celebrate YOU. We want to hear from real mamas like you! And in exchange, we will send out a necklace as a gift. The reason why I’m doing this is because I LOVE making jewellery for others. This is the reason we started our business, and we want to honour and love on you mamas! If you have already submitted a story and have not heard back, please don’t fret! We are going to be reading every email that comes in. I wish I could feature and gift every mama that sends in a story, but it’s a little hard to, but I will do my best to do this regularly and frequently!

xo!
jessica

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From Simply Selling Jewellery to Storytelling through Jewellery

As we approach 4 years of business, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about why I started this shop. Last Friday, Kaylyn from McLachlan Studios came over to do a “Life in the day” shoot. We hung out all day while she captured photos of our everyday life- tantruming children, messy floors and all! I got the opportunity to make a nest necklace for her right in front of her, and also got to gift it to her right then and there. I loved being able to make sentimental pieces that mean so much to mamas!

I started this shop as a hobby, because I LOVED making pieces of jewellery that could become keepsakes. Something that told a story, unique to the person wearing it. I started this business because I saw so much joy in people’s faces as they opened up their little box that contained a nest in it with their babies in it.

Fast forward 4 years and I have something to admit: I have lost sight of the very reason I stated this business. It’s has become all about selling, growing my numbers and logistics. And I have to say- it is so exhausting and draining to be focused on things involving only numbers and statistics. It’s also easy to get caught up in the social media frenzy as a shop owner. There is a lot of pressure I put on myself to post great giveaways that yield results, to post the perfect product photo, and to portray myself a certain way. I will admit- I have become a little bit shallow because I am so caught up in being a “shop owner” and all the glam, glitz and pride that that naturally brings. There is nothing wrong with being proud, but when it becomes shallow pride, it is a problem. I’ve gotten caught up in the numbers game and quite honestly, and embarrassingly, I’ve forgotten to focus on why I love to make jewellery. As a result, running my business can be a chore sometimes. I still enjoy and lo handmade everything, but the social media frenzy/logistics/numbers has gotten in the way of me truly connecting with my business and the passion that I have for it. I did a short post on it a little while ago here.

Some of you may know, but I did not grow up in the most ideal environment. I never had nice things, the newest trends or the coolest clothes. I had a bowl cut for the first 8 years of my life. I felt inferior, unworthy and very insecure. I’ve worked through these issues as an adult, but on social media, it is so very easy to have these uneasy feelings surface again. I know that this is not uncommon- how many of you have scrolled through your Instagram feed to see a perfect kitchen, a perfectly stage photo or a “perfect” mom bod, only  to feel a little bit inferior or insecure? I know I feel this every single day. The truth of the matter is that there is no such thing as perfect. There is beauty in imperfection, and within every one of our “imperfect” lives, there is a story to tell. And this is where my passion lies… to tell the story behind each  beautiful “imperfect” life.

So, within the next 6-12 months, I want to make a shift in how our business runs and feels. Right now we are posting and focusing on products, giveaways and sales, but I want this to change because I want to hear more from YOU. If you haven’t already checked out the tag #minttobemama, please do so! I want to feature everyday, real moms like YOU on my feed, and in exchange, gift you a piece of jewellery. We want to feature everyday mamas because we want to celebrate the beauty of things that are not staged, but instead, things are real, raw and from the heart. We don’t look at your following count, we don’t look at how many friends you have, how nice your kitchen is, or what you wear. We want to hear from YOU.

We’re going to be shifting to post #minttobemama stories in conjunction with our jewellery, because this is the very reason I started our business. While our business is our livelihood in that it feeds and clothes our children, this business is something I created to celebrate moms and to celebrate the real, raw, unedited aspects of our stories. In short, I want Mint & Birch to be more about community and sharing, rather than about simply selling necklaces.

Are you in? Submit something to share to jessica (at) mintandbirch (d o t) com along with a photo!

xo!

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