December 27, 2017

Confession: I am not a parenting, nor pediatric, expert. In fact, I had only held one human baby before my own. All the more reason you should trust me when I tell you that, as a clueless new parent, these are the best items for the first seven weeks. I’m sure everyone has their own opinion and favourite things, but these are my must-haves. O.K., some of them are ‘wants’ and not ‘must-haves,’ but if you are creating a registry, throw this ish up there.
Speaking of registries, I stumbled upon Babylist, which was the best thing ever. You can add any item from any store or website. Your gift-giver can purchase them from the site/store you posted, or just claim that they are going to get the item and then purchase it from where ever they want. You can also ask for non-monetary gifts like childcare, help, and meals. Plus, the service is free!

Here is what you put on the registry:

Aden & Anais swaddles: Or Aden & Anus, as my husband calls them. These muslin swaddles are just cute and they happen to be good quality, made of cotton. Once our baby hit six weeks, she began sleeping for 5-7 hours at a time when tightly swaddled. I found the best deal buying them as a four-pack on, but if you can find them at Winners, that is often an even better deal. $35 for four,

Awesome Birth Services Postpartum Herbal Sitz Bath: A friend gave me this tea right after I gave birth. I didn’t understand what it was or why I wanted it until I used it. It is a blend of organic herbs, flowers and Epsom salts to help soothe you and baby. You brew the leaves in a French press or teapot and add the tea to your bath or peri bottle (you will learn what this is at the hospital) or use it to clean around baby’s cord. Awesome Birth Services is a B.C. company and also sells both a prenatal and Postpartum Deluxe Care Kit. Sitz Bath, $26, Awesome Birth Services

Awesome Birth Services Postpartum Herbal Sitz Bath

SKIP HOP Backseat Mirror: I thought we could get away without this until I was the one driving and could hear Sophie crying and had no idea whether she was fine or, the more likely scenario in my head, being suffocated to death by her blanket/headband.
Or the other common scenario, where you are driving in the dark and not sure if you forgot the baby at Carter’s and can’t see in the backseat.
Hopefully that’s not just me… Anyways, for some reason, we inspected every single mirror and the Skip Hop brand seemed to have the clearest mirror. I would recommend buying this item from Buy Buy Baby. It is also available on, but if you sign up for Bed Bath & Beyond/Buy Buy baby coupons, you can wait for one and use a 20% off coupon. $29.99, Buy Buy Baby

Skip Hop Backseat Mirror

Chick Pea Fleece Sleep Sack: Apparently, a lot of babies love those swaddle sacks that are shaped like eggplants without stems. My daughter is not one of them. She sometimes does not enjoy being confined in bags without arms. Fair enough. And regular cloth sleepers are not warm enough at night in the winter. A friend gave us this fleece sleep sack with arms and it has been the best thing ever. It is cute and soft and warm and baby can move his or her arms – we use it every single night. $32.99, Winners.

Sophie in her Chick Pea Fleece Sleep Sack

Diaper Genie: I really thought this thing was a scam, like the Williams & Sonoma countertop sommelier. But actually, you can’t live without it. Well, you can, but don’t. It’s slick. Somehow, I found a 100% off coupon for mine on amazon because it was hospital green and my husband painted it white. I wish I could tell you how it was free, but I can’t. Just be on Facebook all the time, and these things will pop up. $37.97,

Diaper Genie

Fisher Price Rinse ‘n’ Grow Tub: This one is definitely a want, as any of us, whose mothers remind us that we were bathed in the kitchen sink, will tell you. But it will make your life easier. Put it in the middle of your kitchen island, fill it up to the line with a pot. It has this inner baby net, which hangs above the water, just in case you are terrified of drowning your baby. Again, just me? Seriously though, the net is helpful in the beginning when your baby still has its umbilical stump and cannot be submerged. $30.36, or Chapters/Indigo

Fisher Price Rinse ‘n’ Grow Tub

Go Macro Bars: I love food. I never understood how people could forget to eat; isn’t that what life is for? But since I have had a baby, there have been days I have realized it is 2 p.m. and I haven’t eaten anything yet. Not ideal. Since you also end up getting out of bed at 11 a.m. and heading back to bed at 9-10 p.m., there tends to be a missed meal in there somewhere. My naturopath recommended these bars; they are as healthy as bars can get and they still taste good. Bars are not an ideal food source, so please don’t adopt them as a lifestyle, but they are better than nothing. $34.68 USD for 11 at Go Macro or Target

Indoor Carrier or Wrap: There are many different carriers and wraps; find a smaller, thinner one. I have the Moby wrap, which takes some getting used to, but is very comfortable once you are wearing it. Limited varieties are available at Nature’s Fare, but I order them buy the box and have them shipped to the U.S. There are also Facebook wrap-swapping groups; if you end up with a wrap your baby doesn’t like, you can swap it with someone else for a different one.

Long-Sleeved, Zippered Onesies: The most versatile onesies/sleepers have legs and long-sleeves. The best ones have zippers or, better yet, inverted zippers, which zip from the bottom. Also look for onesies that have finger tabs on the shoulders; they are so you can take the onesie off over the baby’s head when they have pooped all over their lower half. $16, Old Navy​

Pants!: Again, everyone will gift you adorable onesies! Most of them will not have legs. Ask for baby pants. Old Navy has cute, inexpensive baby pants for as little as $5 each. $4-22, Old Navy

Organic Cotton Reusable Breast Pads: Again, I didn’t understand why I would need these. Especially because, for the first few weeks, I didn’t. But when you do need them, you need them. You can certainly use disposable pads, but the reusable ones from Buy Buy Baby are comfortable, soft, and inexpensive. They come in packs of six, which I find to be enough that you can always have a pair in the wash and a couple on hand. $5.99 for six, Buy Buy Baby

Boppy Waterproof Changing Pad Liners: The change table is the nursery’s greatest mystery. How do you assemble it? Does it need sheets? Do you have to change the sheet every time the baby poops on it? Do you have to rinse the poop off before you throw it in the dryer? Exactly. Luckily, my husband saved the day and bought these reusable, waterproof change pads. We get by with a pack of three, but six would be nice if you want to do less laundry. We have two change table sheets that we alternate and then place the changing pad on top and swap it out when she poops aaaaaaall over it. If you are lazy, (no judgement), you can also use doggy pee pads and then just throw them away. If you have time, I would wait for a Buy Buy Baby coupon and buy these there, otherwise, Amazon! $17.78 for three,

Robeez Cozy Ankle Soft-Sole Boots: As a general rule, baby boots and shoes will fall off. These Robeez soft-sole boots are the only ones I have found that are cute, warm and stay put. $29.99, carter’s, Osh Kosh

Thinx Period Underwear: I saved the best secret for last. You may have heard, after you have a baby, you will bleed for up to six weeks (probably less). Once you are out of the delightful mesh diaper, it would be nice to not have to buy giant Hanes panties to accommodate the pad you will still have to wear. Enter period underwear! This is the best thing ever. They are absorbent panties (or boy-shorts, or thongs), which are anti-microbial, leak-resistance, and last all day (or night). They are super comfortable; no garbage, no pads, do it. They are not cheap, but you can keep them and use them when you get your period back, which, unfortunately, you eventually will. Use this link to get $10 off! $24-39/each, If you are going to be shopping online for anything you didn’t receive at your shower, you have to use Ebates! Simply create an account and then click on the plug-in before you shop to receive cash back on purchases at most common online retailers, including amazon, The Body Shop, dyson, expedia, Hudson’s Bay, Indigo, Joe Fresh, lululemon, Old Navy, Sephora, and more. I know it sounds too good to be true, but it’s real! Like almost every other online shopping site, Ebates gets a commission – they simply pass it on to the consumer. You can take your cash back as a cheque, have it deposited to your PayPal account, or given to a charity or family member. There are both Canadian – – and American – – sites, if you order from the U.S.

December 25, 2017

Have you ever downplayed your excitement over something about which you were genuinely excited? It may have been an audition, a job opportunity, a pregnancy, a new relationship, or anything else you truly wanted to come to fruition.

“Playing down the exciting stuff doesn’t take the pain away when it doesn’t happen,” says Brene Brown in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection. “It does, however, minimize the joy when it does happen.”

Engagements, career opportunities and pregnancies are just a few excellent examples of instances where we commonly downplay their value to us, so as not to appear needy or to risk disappointment when it doesn’t pan out.

Over the past six-ish years, many of my friends have been getting engaged and married. There is/was a common theme of ‘not getting hopeful for a proposal’ in case one is disappointed.

The story is: ‘If I don’t tell my family/friends that I am hopeful, or that I want to be engaged/pregnant, it will hurt less to explain that it didn’t happen.’

The truth is: ‘If I don’t tell my family/friends that I am hopeful, or that I want to be engaged/pregnant, no one will know, and I will be alone in my disappointment.’

I have had both failures and successes in this area. Now, when I say failure and success, I don’t mean the outcome of the actual situation, I mean my failure and success in dealing with the situation. Let me tell you about one of each.

Success: One of my close friends and I had the same goal of obtaining a coveted position in a fitness company. It is safe to say that, at the time, it was probably the highest career goal for both of us. We were both qualified and worthy, and had equal chances of being chosen. When the call for applications came out, we both created our application packages. The application had choreography and video components, which we shared with each other and gave feedback. Weeks later, we both got the crushing email that neither of us had been chosen.

“Once you’ve diminished the importance of something, your friends are less likely to call and say, ‘I’m sorry it didn’t work out – I know you were excited about it,’” Brene Brown says. “When things haven’t panned out, it’s nice to be able to call a supportive friend and say, ‘Remember that event I told you about? It’s not going to happen, and I’m so bummed.’”

My friend and I were both devastated. But since we had communicated how badly each of us wanted the position, we both knew how disappointed the other felt. That evening, we got together to drink wine, eat pizza, and re-watch our videos, just for fun. If we had have been competitive, secretive, or insincere about how badly we each wanted the position, we would have been alone in either failure or success.

I later moved on from the company, deciding the position was no longer what I wanted. My friend was eventually chosen for the position in California. We sincerely celebrated her; and I am so proud of her.

Failure: I was not a little girl (or even a young woman) who dreamed of her wedding or her wedding dress. I always wanted to get married, but I didn’t once think about the details. I was, however, raised in a family where frugality and practicality are most important, and making a big deal about anything is frivolous and impractical.

So, I believed that I wanted my wedding to be inexpensive, low-key, simple, and small, without ever thinking anything else of it.

I do not like shopping – that story is true. So, when I got engaged in April of 2015, I went wedding dress shopping in June so that it would be done, although I wasn’t getting married until June of 2016.

None of my bridesmaids live in the city, so I went wedding dress shopping with a great crew; my aunt, my cousin and my mom. I had never once thought about what I wanted in a wedding dress, other than that there would be “no frilly shit. And no veils.” To a bridal shop, this is like going to your hair stylist and saying, “Do whatever you like, I don’t know what I want and I’m easygoing.”

Our first stop was The Bridal Gallery in New Westminster – a beautiful, two-story appointment-only store, just like in Bridesmaids. There was an intake form about what you wanted and when your wedding was, etc. One of the questions was, “What is your budget?” I had created a budget but I hadn’t actually considered what we could afford – I just knew I would keep it low-key and not extravagant so I wrote $X, an amount that was very reasonable for a wedding dress in 2015. My lovely mother saw it and said, (with awe, not judgement or passive aggression) “It looked like your budget said, $X!” Although she didn’t mean to, it crushed me to hear that she would think I was being extravagant. “That is the high end,” I whispered in reply.

The efficient and lovely salesperson said, “One man, one dress, and we will find you yours!”

I found a beautiful dress that was a couple of hundred dollars above my budget. This had been our first stop so we just moved on. After looking for a different bridal shop in North Vancouver, we ended up at Isabel’s Bridal. This shop was smaller and different. Instead of the salesperson bringing you champagne and dresses only in your size, the salesperson with an Irish accent said, “Just try on whatever you like, we can alter anything to fit you.”

My mom found a beautiful dress in the window and it was extremely discounted as a window model. It was 4-5 sizes too big for me, but the employee assured me that it could be altered to fit me. We took photos, bought the dress, and went out for dinner to celebrate.

The first dress

Fast forward to two months before my wedding; I got off work early and my friend got a babysitter so she could come to North Van with me for the dress fitting. Long story short, the shop’s only seamstress apparently got stuck in their bank during an armed robbery and the store didn’t call me to cancel. I was disappointed but I sulked home with my dress and found a different seamstress closer to home.

I took my dress to the new seamstress, put it on, and she pinned it for alteration. I looked at myself in the mirror. The seamstress apologized and said she couldn’t make it completely fitted – I had just bought a dress that was far too big. I took the dress off. I got in my car and bawled. It looked awful. Why had I bought this dress? Why had I settled to be cheap and easy and get it over with? Because it was less dramatic and more low key to be cheap, easy, and chill.

My wedding was quickly approaching, I was heading to New Orleans for my bachelorette trip, and I didn’t have a wedding dress. I recounted the story to my bridesmaids. “Should I just settle? What should I do?” My friend Jessica simply said, “I think you need another dress.” I am so grateful for her saying that to me; giving me permission. She, and one of my other gracious bridesmaids traveled into town a day early so we could deal with this dress business. We went back to the bridal gallery, where the same salesperson gave us champagne. This time she said, “I guess for you there is one man, but two dresses.”

We found a beautiful, comfortable lace dress, the same price as the first dress I didn’t buy, but I bought it on the spot. It was the one. It cost me the price of two wedding dresses, but…lesson learned.

That story about my wedding dress has served to be the reminder I need when I am trying to downplay my excitement. Like this year, instead of telling everyone that I didn’t need or want a baby shower, as uncomfortable as I was, I admitted to my friends that I did want one and to myself that it was OK to be excited and make a big deal over having a baby.

I think that when we are living authentically, we know what is truly O.K. to be dramatic or excited about. Like anything, it may take practice and boundary-pushing before we are completely comfortable admitting our excitement and successes.

I won’t lie – it will take a couple of painful failures to teach us about what we maybe didn’t know we really wanted. But the risk is never truly celebrating anything for ourselves at all.

So, if you know anyone who wants to buy an inexpensive, never-worn wedding dress, I’m selling!

December 5, 2017

Low back pain is the fifth most common reason for visiting a doctor in the United States. (1)
About one quarter of American adults report having low back pain that lasted at least one whole day in the past three months. (2)

This picture shows a bulging disc beginning to impinge on the nerves leaving the spinal column.

Many patients have bouts of low back pain that resolve and they never seek medical care. The thing about those acute bouts of low back pain is — even though they resolve, they are usually warnings. Sometimes, it is just an acute muscle spasm or strain. But often, these episodes of severe back pain that put us out of commission for days or weeks can be indications of tearing of the annular rings (those blue things on the right).

As the rings heal and the pain subsides, we go back to doing whatever action it was that caused the pain in the first place.

The problem is: these episodes often lead to one severe incident, where the bulge tears through the final wall and becomes a herniated disc.

A 2007 systematic review “found fair evidence that acupuncture, massage, yoga, and functional restoration are also effective for chronic low back pain.” One trial found therapeutic styles of yoga to be superior to guided self-care (For example, patients following a book of self-care exercises) alone. Yoga was also associated with decreased medication.” (3)

However, one 2008 control study showed that yoga as an intervention was only effective after three to six months of practice.

One of the greatest appeals of yoga for back pain is: unlike medications, yoga is not associated with any serious adverse effects. (4)

12-week outcomes for the yoga group were superior to those for the self-care group. However, this randomized trial involved subjects taking 12 weekly yoga classes, and the results were not far greater than those of the subjects doing only stretching. Both had benefits lasting for several months. (5)

Look out for my back pain workshops coming up in April, May, and June 2018 in South Surrey: Yoga for the Spine at Vayusha Yoga.

1. HartLGDeyoRACherkinDCPhysician office visits for low back pain. Frequency, clinical evaluation, and treatment patterns from a U.S. national survey.Spine199520119PubMedCrossRefDeyoRAMirzaSKMartinBIBack pain prevalence and visit rates: estimates from U.S. national surveys, 2002.Spine20063127247

2. DeyoRAMirzaSKMartinBIBack pain prevalence and visit rates: estimates from U.S. national surveys, 2002.Spine20063127247

3. Chou R, Huffman LH. Nonpharmacologic Therapies for Acute and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Review of the Evidence for an American Pain Society/American College of Physicians Clinical Practice Guideline. Ann Intern Med. 2007;147:492-504. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-147-7-200710020-00007

4. Padmini Tekur, Chametcha Singphow, Hongasandra Ramarao Nagendra, and Nagarathna Raghuram. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. August 2008, 14(6): 637-644. doi:10.1089/acm.2007.0815.

5. Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC, Wellman RD, Cook AJ, Hawkes RJ, Delaney K, Deyo RA. A Randomized Trial Comparing Yoga, Stretching, and a Self-care Book for Chronic Low Back Pain. Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(22):2019-2026. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.524