My Jewelry Brand – Seren + Skye

Last year I started a project that has truly become the number one passion in my life – besides my babies of course! I launched a jewelry brand: Seren + Skye.

While on maternity leave, I needed a creative outlet; something to occupy the minimal time I had between sleeping, pumping and feeding. I had always had an interest in making jewelry (I even started a jewelry line in high school with a friend of mine, but it only produced good memories) and I thought I would take some of my ideas and see what I could do.

The first few pieces I made were no so great, ha! But they got the creative juices flowing and as I made more and more I got better and better at what I was doing. In the summer I launched my Instagram page and my website. I quickly gained 2000+ followers and numerous sales on my website. In the fall I also started launching pop up shops at local artisan and mama’s markets. This has so far been the best way for me to get my name out there and make a sale.

I’ve created with many different mediums, including brass, sterling silver, cellulose acetate, gold plated, gold filled, gemstones. They’re all great. But the future of my business will definitely be gold filled, sterling silver, gemstones and natural rocks. My future vision for the brand is to create an affordable but classy line of jewelry featuring hypoallergenic materials. I want to make sure that all the ambitious mama’s of this world (like me!) have the best pieces they can get.

I am so excited for what this next year has to come. Jewelry design and small business management has taken over my world and my thoughts, in the best possible way. I hope you will pop by the online shop or a pop up near you to see what we have to have offer.

With Love,

Laura

32 Week Update!

I haven’t posted a weekly update in a while! Well, that’s because it’s been a world wind of the last few weeks.

At about 28 weeks I was sent for further ultrasounds because they were concerned about my placental notching – essentially the blood flow from my placenta to the baby was not even – and that’s worrying because it can mean a whole slew of things for the baby’s development and my health.

During this ultrasound, they determined that the baby had now dropped to the 36th percentile of growth. Down from the 75th percentile two weeks earlier. The OB was pretty concerned and said that I would now be deemed high risk and would need to do ultrasounds every two weeks. She also said that if the baby did not grow, I would have to deliver early (somewhere between 34 and 37 weeks) and he would need to stay in the NICU until his body weight and development improved. She wanted me to stop working and she told me to go home and relax. Ya Right!!!

I was mortified and as soon as I left the office, I was hysterical. All I could think about was being separated from my newborn and having to leave him in the hospital when I went home, and being separated from my toddler while I was in the hospital. I know that there are a lot of mama’s that go through this exact scenario and my heart breaks for you. I just couldn’t handle the thought of leaving my baby.

Two very long weeks go by, with my husband extremely stressed, our parents extremely stressed, and me just trying to keep it all together. At my next ultrasound, I met with a different doctor who told me that everything was normal… the beginning of our conversation went something like this:

DR: Everything looks great!
ME: Really?!
DR: Ya! Your blood pressure is perfect.
ME: Really?!
DR: Your amniotic fluid is perfect.
ME: Really?!
DR: Blood flow looks good and your baby has put on a bit of weight. He’s in the 50th percentile.
ME: Really?!!!!
DR: Why are you so surprised??

I told her about the last visit. She said that there was probably an over measurement the first time and an under measurement the second time, that the baby has likely always been in the 50th percentile. She assured me that everything was fine based on today’s ultrasound and that as long as he kept putting on weight, we would likely have a perfectly happy, healthy and strong little boy. I almost cried again.

This past Monday I had another ultrasound and data continues to look good! All my data points are keeping up, blood flow is good and baby put on 500 grams in two weeks! He’s now about 4.5 lbs. If the assumption that babies put on .5lbs every week in the last trimester is true, i’m looking at a 8 pounder! He’ll be bigger than his brother!

Anything can happen so I’m just hoping that we can stay happy and healthy (especially with the global pandemic going on right now!). I’m off work for the next two months, as per doctor’s orders, so as to ensure I continue to find ample time to rest and let baby grow, as well as putting in every effort to avoid this flu!

I’ll update you during the next ultrasound – which will be in about 1 month’s time.

25 Week Update

One more week down! 15 more left to go!
Baby is now a cauliflower and he’s getting bigger. I can definitely feel the stretch now. Every time someone asks how i’m doing I say: “Stretched” haha.

I’m really feeling the belly bump itch these days. I have to catch myself so often, I look like I a flea infested dog scratching away. But I’ve also been using some amazing products. The main thing that I use is almond oil – I love the scent of almond oil and it absorbs so well into the skin. I’m also hoping that it helps expose the baby to tree nuts in utero and therefor helps in building his immunity to any allergies.

Nothing particularly new health wise, although I am finding that there are more and more days where I am not just physically exhausted, but excessively sleepy as well. Yesterday it was all I could to keep my eyes open throughout the day.

Cravings have pretty gone away now, I can barely get anything in my stomach. I was looking back on my 36 week picture from when I was pregnant with Tiago, and there is such a long way to go and i’m going to get much bigger!

Stay Tuned!

Travelling with Frozen Breastmilk

Last summer I travelled to Europe with my 3-month-old and I was still breastfeeding. To be more specific, I was exclusively pumping, which meant that there was a lot of breastmilk waiting to be consumed. I was really nervous that the flight over would somehow impact my supply. I get really dehydrated when I travel on planes and I had a feeling that my supply would dip. At this point in my pumping journey I was pumping every 3 hours to ensure I had enough milk for my bebe. When I arrived I began pumping right away and put myself on a 2-3 hour pumping schedule to ensure that my supply kept up with my bebe’s demands. Well, that resulted in a huge overproduction that I really didn’t need to establish. The good thing that came out of it is that I had about 250oz of frozen breast milk by the time I was scheduled to return home – about a month later.

I considered donating the milk while I was still in Europe, but the red tape around doing so and the amount of work that would have gone into researching and bringing it to a collection site was just too much for me at that point. Besides, my baby could use the milk too. I decided that I was going to attempt bringing the milk back to Canada with me. Below you will see how I successfully brought 250oz of frozen breastmilk back home: in my checked luggage, across an ocean, 15 hours outside of a freezer.

Before I begin, I should mention that if you live in the United States, you might be able to benefit from breastmilk shipping services. I haven’t used any of these, and they cost money, but if you’re able to spend on shipping breastmilk, then it may save you some unnecessary stress. You can ship with the following companies:
Milk Stork
FedEX
Maven Clinic (they even have international shipping kits to check your milk)

Required Materials:

Step 1: Organizing your frozen milk

  • Put your frozen breastmilk bags into one of the large ziploc freezer bags.
  • It’s important to maximize space, so organizing them so that each other one is facing a different direction (up or down) should help you save space.
  • You want to get as close as possible to a rectangle shape.

Step 2: Preparing the Freezer/Cooler Bags

  • In order to ensure that your freezer bags keep in the cold, you want to line them with aluminum foil. You can do this twice if you prefer. Ensure you get all sides lined with aluminum foil and the corners as well so as to ensure no cold air escapes. This doesn’t need to be perfect, but you want to do your best to ensure your precious milk stays frozen. I used small bits of duct tape to ensure that the aluminum foil didn’t come off.
  • After the aluminum foil has been added, use your ice sheets and line the freezer bag as well. You may need to cut the ice sheets to size. Ensure that all sides have some ice and that you also have some to go on top.
  • If you’re using dry ice, I would likely put the ice in after step #3 to ensure that the freezer bags are well cushioned with ice.

Step 3: Place your breastmilk in the insulated thermal bags

  • If you can find insulated thermal bags, this is ideal, but if not, wrap each freezer bag with aluminum a couple times.
  • Insert each freezer bag into the thermal bag and close, then seal with some duct tape to ensure no cold air escapes.

Step 4: Fill in empty space

  • This step is really important because you want to ensure that there is minimal airflow inside the freezer bag.
  • Once you have put in as much frozen milk as possible, add another ice sheet on top.
  • After this, get your magazines out and begin ripping out pages.
  • I recommend magazines, specifically, because they are less likely to absorb any moisture that comes from the cold ice packs and therefore will repel the cold as opposed to absorbing it like regular paper would.
  • Scrunch them up and start stuffing them into the bag to fill in all empty spaces.
  • You may need to remove the top ice sheet to ensure you have everything and then replace it.
  • Ensure there are magazine sheets on top of the ice sheet as well.

Step 5: Close and seal your freezer bag

  • Once you have added your bags, your ice and your magazines, kiss your breastmilk goodbye and wish it luck.
  • Zip up your freezer bag.
  • Apply duct tape around the zipper. This ensures that no air escapes through the small holes in the zipper. I also duct tape around my duct tape to make sure it’s extra secure.

Step 6: Add to your checked baggage

  • Add the bags to your checked luggage suitcases.
  • Put some clothing items around each bag to ensure that they are not damaged or bumped in the transportation process.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations:

  • This method is not guaranteed to work, but it did for me.
  • If you can, prepare your bags the night before your flight and then put them back in the freezer to ensure everything reaches the same freezing temperature together.
  • Each freezer bag weighed about 25 – 30 lbs. You may need to purchase another suitcase and/or more luggage weight in order to bring your milk back. Check with your airlines on weight restrictions.
  • You may find that one or more of the outermost breastmilk bags have slightly started to defrost. I would take those out and use those in your baby’s next few bottles over the 24 hours after you arrive back home. I had about 5 individual bags that I felt were starting to defrost so I thawed them out and used them.
  • If any milk has defrosted, you cannot refreeze them. Use them in bottles, or use them to give yourself and your baby a relaxing and nourishing breastmilk bath. You deserve it after all that travelling!
  • Do some research on your home countries regulations around bringing breastmilk home. You shouldn’t have any problems with this, as most airlines and governments are very good about allowing mothers to travel with breastmilk. Still, it doesn’t hurt to be very well informed about your rights. Print out copies of government and airline regulations or save them to your phone so you can use them if you come up against any obstacles.

How I play with my 8-month old

Let’s face it, many days with a baby can be downright boring! The first six months, at least for me, were all about recovery, sleep, and survival. My little one wasn’t doing much playing. He was pretty much eating and sleeping, sleeping and eating; while I was mastering the art of exclusive pumping and bottle feeding. Since he started rolling around though, there has been a considerable less amount of sleeping and a whole lot more entertainment required.

There are many days that I find myself stuck at home with nowhere to go. I live out in the suburbs – where a car is required for pretty much any venture out of the house. While the weather was still warm, we would go for a walk around the neighbourhood, but now that winter is here, we are pretty much cuddled indoors always. It’s also just me and the Bebe most of the time, so it’s important that I’m also enjoying myself as much as possible. My hardest and most tiring days are those on which I find myself surrounded with boredom and house tasks. I have learned to get a little creative with our activities in order to help us pass the time.

Below are some of the things that Bebe and I do to keep ourselves entertained. Most of these activities are probably already part of your routine, but if you alter them just a bit, you should be good to get them to last anywhere between 20 – 30 minutes. Note that we definitely do not do all of these activities in one day. I try to spread them out so that Bebe doesn’t get too bored of things and I don’t have to come up with new activities.

Car Watching: Bebe loves to wake up in the morning and stare out the window watching cars go by and neighbourhood kids go off to school. We can do this for a pretty solid 15 minutes! I’m usually the one that gets bored of this activity first.

Eating: We take our time eating. I try to make our mealtimes last at least 20 – 30 minutes by playing little games while eating and/or holding back some of the food. I’m doing half/half puree and baby led weaning so Bebe is often getting little bits of food put on his plate. I know from too many scary episodes that he can’t have everything on his plate at once or he’ll put it all in his mouth, so going slow helps a lot.

Cat Watching: Bebe T loves our cat, Judaea. He loves to watch him walk around the house and do his thing, but he loves it more when Judaea is playing with a toy or cuddling with mama. We try to do this as often as possible, but at least once a day, as baby Jude is definitely feeling left out most of the time.

Couch Climbing: T loves to be put on the couch and crawl as fast as possible from one end to the other. He finds it so funny to be up there and goes back and forth at least ten times. We do this multiple times a day.

Roomba Chasing: This one is extra fun because not only is it entertaining, but it’s getting some housework done at the same time. I put the Roomba on and let Bebe T chase it all along the main floor.

Laundry Folding: Also a productive one. Bebe T likes to pull clothes out of baskets, so I often bring up a load of laundry to be folded and do it with him. He definitely undoes a lot of my work, but it extends the activity. I also like to think that he’s learning about housework while we are doing this.

Dance Party: Bebe T loves music and he loves to watch me dance around the house. I’ll put on some of my favourite tunes and start dancing away while he watches or I’ll pick him up and we’ll dance together. Extra credit for a Youtube Zumba class!

Floor Workout: Similar to the dance party, T seems to find it funny when I do some floor level workouts, such as pushups and leg raises or yoga. I don’t always feel like doing this activity but it’s good once it gets going. I’m hoping that one day he will join me.

Watching the News: I know it’s screen time, but whatever! He’s going to watch TV at some point. This helps keep me up-to-date and it gets another voice in the house. T is really into this one, of course.

Bath Time: I definitely don’t do this one every day, unless I have to. I don’t think that soap and cleansing your skin is necessary on a daily basis unless you are obviously dirty and stinky. T loves the water though so I’ve moved him into the big tub where he can move around and splash more.

Reading: T loves a good cuddle and reading. He definitely has his favourite books. To keep it entertaining for me I will: read the book backward, in funny voices and accents, or sing it like a song.

Napping: This one is my personal favourite. We nap together, and by together I mean, cuddled up in bed. I try to do this for at least one of his naps per day. It’s a great bonding and skin-to-skin opportunity. Best of all, it allows me to get some rest and I find that he often naps for 1.5 hours as opposed to his regular 40-minute session.

Playing with Toys: when we play with toys, I like to get down on the ground with him and play too. He can, and definitely does, play on his own, but I think it’s extra fun for him when I get involved. I like to: stack lots of his toys on top of each other for him to knock down; roll balls around and at him, in hopes he’ll roll it back to me; make teddy bears talk (he LOVES this); hides his toys and help him find them; put them all away in his basket so he can take them all out again.

There you have it! Keep doing a great job Mama!