One Year Postpartum!

On March 10th my daughter celebrated her first birthday.  The official “new baby” days are over and I survived!

Turning 1 has it's rewards.  Larissa enjoys her first cupcake!

Turning 1 has it’s rewards. Larissa enjoys her first cupcake!

I may be a slightly worn version of the woman I was 12 months ago, but overall I’ve gotten through this challenging chapter of motherhood largely unscathed.  I’m no longer a “postpartum mom”, a “new mom” or even an “adjusting to two children” mom. I’m now just your everyday mom enjoying family life.

Life with my girls is finally predictable.  I can generally count on them to sleep certain hours of the night (although there’s not nearly enough of them).  I can turn my back without fear of my toddler inflicting bodily harm on my baby (albeit not for long).  I can even leave my baby with my husband without her screaming bloody murder (well, sometimes).

In short, life is manageable.  I’m no longer in survival mode.  I’ve gotten to the other side of pregnancy, birth and babyhood and everyone is alive, healthy and well-adjusted.

Breastfeeding has been good to my figure.  Thanks to my incessantly hungry baby, I weigh about nine pounds less than I did before getting pregnant.  My c-section scar is a non-issue.  I acknowledge that I’m one of the rare lucky moms who got through two pregnancies with no new body issues to worry about.

On Monday I return to my full-time job and I actually feel ready.  My three year-old now loves her preschool and my one year-old will be staying home with her beloved Nana, so my girls will be happy in my absence.

I am filled with gratitude and fortunate to not any pressing reason to worry about my children.  Whether I will actually succeed at turning off my postnatal anxiety and just enjoy life, however, is another matter.  One day at a time …

My 2014 Blogging Resolution Fail

This is how  I blog.  At the kitchen counter with a child in tow.

This is how I blog. At the kitchen counter with a child in tow.

Almost exactly a year ago, I made a New Year’s Resolution to commit fully to blogging and turn Mom Closet into an inspiring forum for moms seeking practical wardrobe advice.

I have failed.  Worse still, I barely tried.

All year long, I ignored the golden rule of blogging: consistency.  I wasn’t fully committed to the project. I didn’t make regular blogging a priority. I didn’t spend nearly enough time in the blogging community, building relationships.

It’s no surprise then that I didn’t generate the results I dreamed of 12 months ago.

I’m a sad statistic.  It’s reported that less that only 8 per cent of people succeed at their New Year’s resolutions suggesting that the vast majority of us are either delusional in making our resolutions, lazy in executing them, or abject failures making them happen.

Or are we?

I started MomCloset because I was developing an ever-growing interest in the transformative power of style. I had just begun trying to get pregnant for the second time (I actually was pregnant, I just didn’t know it yet) and was already thinking about the challenge of looking chic through pregnancy.

Mom Closet was motivated by these self-indulgent interests.  It was about my changing body.  My personal style obsessions. My experience as an amateur mom (who still couldn’t get her 18-month old to bed at a reasonable time) with a second little tyrant on the way. 

Throughout the year I adapted to my new role. I’m no longer pregnant.  My youngest child is almost 10 months old.  I outgrew the need to consume myself with maternity and postpartum matters.

Simultaneously, my interest in the transformative qualities of clothing grew.  I craved more than my own experience to draw on. I wanted a formal education.

I took an online course to become a Certified Image Consultant.  It was quick course, but I sucked up and chewed on every piece of insight it provided like a sponge.  Course completed, I knew my journey in image consulting was just beginning.

My next step was to pursue a Visual Branding Certification from the Fashion Stylist Institute, a much more in depth program that prepared me to start my own consulting business.  Professionally, I already have many years experience helping people present themselves as speakers and to the media.  Cultivating the ability to advise them on their visual image as well is a natural fit. Continue reading

9 Months Postpartum!

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“Hmm, should I start walking today?”

My baby is nine months old today!  While I reflect on every monthly anniversary, this one seems particularly special as it means she has now been with me in the physical world about as long as she spent growing inside me. 

It’s a symbol of how fast time goes by.  It won’t be long before she’ll no longer be a baby at all and then, because she is my last child, this magical “new mom” chapter of my life will be behind me forever.

So what’s it like to be nine months postpartum with two babies under three?  It’s a combination of intensely chaotic and sublimely charmed. Rare is the moment I’m free of a child demanding something from me.  Even time alone in the washroom is a rare occasion.

On the other hand, raising a nine-month-old is a blessed, life-affirming privilege.  It’s enchanting to watch this little human mammal come into her own as an intelligent, socialized being. 

Though she doesn’t yet have words, Larissa is an effective communicator, looking at what she wants and grunting with tightly balled fists until she gets it.  She finds it intensely amusing when she discovers her older sister sleeping and squeals with delight to find herself in this position of power over her usually dominate older sibling. Continue reading

Dear Precious Breastfeeding. Is this the end?

BreastfeedingThe last month has been my roughest yet in nearly three years of nursing.  So bad, in fact, I’ve contemplated shutting down shop after 34 months of mass milk production.

I have treasured my breastfeeding journey.  I’ve sailed through periods of exclusive breastfeeding, extended breastfeeding, nursing through pregnancy and tandem feeding.  I’m a proud, seasoned breastfeeding mother.  How could one tough month have me waving the white flag?

First, it’s become blood sport:  My eight-month-old has turned nursing into an acrobatic mission of twists, turns and claws.  It’s as though she’s playing a solitary game of Twister and every combination starts with “mouth on nipple” (as in “mouth on nipple, bum in the air, finger in mommy’s eye”).  There’s an awful lot of face-grabbing, breast scratching and nipple tugging going on these days, making it more of a wrestling match than a bonding session.

Second, I got a nipple bleb:  If you have a special interest in innocuous-looking things with the ability to produce monstrous pain, look up nipple blebs.  A bleb is a small callus or blister that builds over one or more of your milk ducts.  It might not look like much (mine was a small white mark just half the size of a pencil eraser), but by blocking your milk flow, it’s a catalyst for fierce pain.  Breastfeeding on my right side was impossible until I found a trained lactation consultant prepared to scratch it off me with a hypodermic needle.  Had I waited another few hours before finding help, my over engorged breast just may have exploded (which I imagine would still be less painful than nursing through that darn bleb!) Continue reading

My 1st DVF Dress (& tips for buying yours)

DVF Wrap Dress

DVF Wrap Dress

Around three months postpartum, I was on the market for a “go to” label to simplify shopping while reflecting my new sense of style.  After months of infatuation, I started to suspect DVF would be that brand. 

On the chance you’re not familiar with the label, designer Diane von Fürstenberg skyrocketed to prominence when she launched the wrap dress in the early 70’s.  The label, designing for “the woman who loves being a woman”, has been an industry staple ever since.  Diane von Fürstenberg also has a reality series, House of DVF, launching this November.

I’ve long adored wrap dresses and felt it was time to get aquatinted with the Real McCoy. I was also desperately needed a dress for rapidly approaching summer wedding.  DVF.com was offering very tempting sales, but my faves were all the dreaded FINAL SALE.

With the wedding weeks away, two babies to take care of and no time to hit the boutiques, I was tempted to take the risk.  Holding my breath, I keyed in my credit card information and clicked “confirm order” on the purchase of a lace party dress and classic wrap.

The good news is that DVF quality is everything I hoped it would be.  The bad news is that buying DVF online presents some significant challenges (sometimes expensive ones), for the international shopper.  After a great deal of research, correspondence with DVF stores and one shocking import fee, I hope to spare you the same tribulations with the following tips:

Avoid Shipping Costs and Duties with Big Retailers:  As an international shopper, you’re better off purchasing the line through big retailers, such as Neiman Marcus and Saks 5th Avenue.  Both companies offer free shipping with a minimum purchase and frequently run duty-free promotions. DVF.com charges $25 for shipping and I had to pay a $106 care-on-delivery charge for a less than $200 dress.  Yikes!

Cross-check Reviews:  The great thing about DVF products is that they are sold through a number of different outlets, including all the big American department stores, Polyvore and Shop Bop.  As a result, you’re not limited to the product description on DVF.com, but can cross-check reviews on several sites before making a decision.  Continue reading

Work Your Tight Budget to Your Style Advantage

Is your wallet worth more than what's inside it? Work that tight budget to your advantage!

Is your wallet worth more than what’s inside it? Work that tight budget to your advantage!

Do you bemoan a tight clothing budget? Think you’d be better dressed, more chic and ultimately more confident if only you had more money?

What if I told you that a tight budget can actually improve your style? It’s true!  If you invest deep thought (instead of deep credit) into your purchases, you can master the style-presence of a celebrity. 

Here’s three ways that a limited budget can actually make you more stylish:

Careful decisions:  A tight budget forces us to reflect on purchases rather than buy every item that grabs our attention.  Thank your limited budget for forcing you to do the style homework that the wealthy (or reckless) can’t be bothered with. 

Remember that clothes are ensemble cast members, not solo performers!  Invest your money in items that work with the strongest performers in your closet for award-winning looks.

Only buy items that flatter your figure, fill a gap in your wardrobe and make your existing clothes more fabulous.  In the end, you will have the leg up on the compulsive buyer who has a swollen closet of designer items, but no formula for making them work magic together.  Continue reading