From One Mom to Another: Breastfeeding Tips

sarah-breastfeeding-tips

Let’s talk breastfeeding! I’ve been so excited for this week’s topic, thought likely not for the reasons that many would assume. I feel passionately about being supportive of whatever choice a parent makes on how they feed their child. Something that has always horrified me is how so many women (and men!) seem to think that it is their duty to shame other parents for their choices. A parent’s decision to breastfeed, formula feed, or use donor milk has always been an issue for so many people, and everyone seems to think they have the right to weigh in on things. I couldn’t not disagree more. A parent’s choice on how they choose to feed their baby is a personal decision and one that should be respected, regardless of the choice they land on. I should also mention that for many, their decision is not a choice that they made independently; some options just may not have been possible. Whew! Now that that is out of the way…the following is my personal breastfeeding journey, along with some things that made our experience easier.

The Hospital

Breastfeeding is bizzare at first, since both you and your newborn are learning the hang it. Mamas-take advantage of every moment in that hospital! Use those nurses and lactation consultants! After giving birth, we were fortunate enough that Ellie was a willing nurser and that my milk came in with relative ease (at least for those two days...more on that in a minute). But I was so NERVOUS! Was I holding her correctly? Was she getting enough? Those nurses worked their magic and helped so much while we tried to figure things out. They gave suggestions for positioning and even helped manipulate both Ellie’s and my body to make things work a bit better. As hard as it can sound, really letting go and allowing the professionals to do their jobs and help in whatever way they can makes a huge difference.

Going Home

My name is Sarah and I have an oversupply problem. My milk, while normal in the hospital, came in with a vengeance. My breasts became the most painful boulders and were difficult for Ellie to latch on to. They were leaking constantly, and I was uncomfortable to the point of tears. Two things I did that were helpful was calling a lactation consultant and calling one of my best friends, whose daughter was a few months older than Ellie.

My pal Alyssa and I joke that nothing is too much for our friendship after she came over that day. I was sitting in the middle of my living room topless, crying, and leaking. She showed me why my breast pump wasn’t working (those darn little phalanges!) and she also brought over her hand pump for me to try. She was also SUPPORTIVE. It’s amazing how much better I felt after she assured me that after two weeks, things would be so much better. She was such a terrific cheerleader, reminding me of how I made this choice for my family and was giving such a gift to my daughter. If you become overwhelmed or frustrated, please take advantage of built in resources of pals who have walked this path before you-they are rockstars!

Our healthcare system really does fail breastfeeding moms (most consultants are not covered by insurance unless they’re affiliated with an OB-GYN’s office) but in my experience, paying for a lactation consultant ($250 for a certified consultant to come to my home) was well worth it. Our consultant came directly to our home, confirmed that I was struggling with oversupply, checked our positioning, made adjustments as needed, and overall gave us some peace of mind. She weighted Ellie prior to and after nursing, so we had a sense of how much milk she was getting during a feeding. She also made recommendations to even out my supply and when to start pumping/bottle feeding.

Getting into the Groove

After Ellie and I got the hang of breastfeeding, things went smoothly for us. I say that with a heart full of gratitude, as I know so many women experience supply issues, latch issues, postpartum health issues, etc. That being said, I also made choices that were based on what I felt would work best for us both, not necessarily what was recommended by experts. For example, I began pumping a few days after giving birth rather than waiting 5-6 weeks. I became anxious of losing my supply, so for me, beginning to pump and store milk right away helped alleviate anxiety I had about creating a freezer stash. I also chose to pump right away as my husband Steve was eager to experience feeding our daughter as well. There are mixed reviews on introducing bottles very early on, but after getting the go-ahead from our pediatrician, we moved forward and never looked back!

I was very fortunate that I did not experience mastitis but I have watched other mama pals struggle with this and ladies, please please please do NOT wait to call your doctor if you recognize some of the symptoms. This sickness can knock you out and can really alter things for you and your babe long term, as it can hurt your supply, etc.

Time’s Up?

I had a goal of nursing Ellie for 6 months. When that time frame rolled around, I surprised myself by not feeling ready to stop breastfeeding. Then, around 8 months, my supply took a HUGE hit. Ellie and I both got sick at the same time and I was producing only 1-1.5 ozs each time I pumped, when I was used to producing 5-8 oz. I began to agonize over how much I was pumping, charting my supply, frantically trying things to boost it back up. Then Steve stepped in and asked me if the stress I was feeling over continuing to nurse was worth it, from a mental health perspective. I realized that if I was obsessing to this degree over breastfeeding, that it was likely time for us to stop. While the transition to ending this period of time was a bit sad for me, in a week, I already felt better about the decision and now, months later, it’s not something I regret.

Helpful Items

Nipple cream, sleep bras meant for nursing, a good pump,

Kindness

However you choose to feed your babe, be kind to yourself. It is a beautiful gift to be able to provide nourishment for your child (whatever the method!) and this time is so special. Please try not to beat yourself up over issues (lip ties, supply problems, baby gassiness, etc.) and instead remember that you are doing the very best job that you can do in this moment with the resources you have.

-Sarah

My Labor Story: Sara.

sara-labor-story

Hi everyone! I’m back to share my labor and delivery experience! And let me just start by saying my story is just that - MY story. It’s not right or wrong, better or worse, it doesn’t make me any sort of expert, nor does it give me the right to advise others on what’s right for them. Everyone who has given birth has their own unique experience whether it goes the way they had hoped or not. And everyone should feel free to approach the experience with their own wish list of how they’d like it to go in an ideal world. I just needed to get that out of the way, because many people have very strong opinions on how labor and delivery should go, but I am not one of those people, and I am only sharing my experience for the sake of sharing! I personally love hearing other people’s labor and delivery stories, so I hope you enjoy hearing mine!

If I had to sum up my first labor and delivery experience, it was awesome! Side note - we did not take any birthing classes beforehand. We were of the mindset that we didn’t have much control over the experience so we would just go with the flow. One other side note, while I’m starting to write this I’m thinking about my husband reading it and correcting me because I have the worst memory and his is always on point. Anyway, I was induced a week before my due date due to Preeclampsia. My blood pressure had been rising the last few weeks of pregnancy and once it reached a certain point my doctor told me that for the baby and I’s health and safety, it was time to induce labor. At that point I felt very prepared, because I already knew an induction was likely. Plus I had been off work for a week, just sitting around waiting and getting more and more swollen, so I was ready to have the baby! My doctor made the decision around 7am one morning and we set an appointment at the hospital for that day at 10am. So between that time I took a shower and triple checked my hospital bag and was ready to go!

I know Hollywood movies paint this overly dramatic picture of women being rushed to the hospital screaming in pain, which I also realize does happen to some women, but it’s often far less dramatic and fast-paced. Even still, I always pictured having contractions on the way to the hospital and some level of urgency. But that was not at all the case for us. My husband and I calmly drove to the hospital for our induction appointment and casually checked in like we were checking in to a hotel. Once we got settled into our room, I was hooked up to monitors and the nurses explained what the induction process would be like. I felt very calm and relaxed the whole time.  

Once things were underway and I was having contractions (which by the way I didn’t feel for the longest time but we could see them on the chart and the nurses kept looking at me like I was crazy for not being able to feel them), all there was to do was hang out in the room and wait! Within the next few hours my mom, sister and two best friends arrived to keep us company which was awesome. I knew I didn’t want anyone but my husband in the room while I was in active labor, but loved having my favorite people there while we waited. It felt so special to have them in the room while we were on the brink of such a big moment.

At some point (I essentially have no recollection of what time certain things happened) the doctor came in and broke my water to get things moving faster. Not long after that I really started feeling the contractions and as they continued to get worse, it was harder for me to visit with my family and friends in the room. Once I had worked through a good couple hours of hard contractions and I felt like I didn’t want to experience the next level of pain, I asked for the epidural. By that time I think it was mid-late evening, and my family and friends went home so I could have some quiet/rest time knowing the real labor was upon us. Once the epidural was administered (which was a very painful experience by the way - I had an intense contraction at the exact moment the needle was going into my spine!), the nurses suggested I get comfortable and try to get some rest because I likely wouldn’t start pushing until morning.

Once the epidural took effect and I wasn’t feeling the contractions anymore, I thought, ok I can get comfortable and maybe sleep a little. Once I was comfy, my husband got settled in his chair/bed thing and started to watch a movie on his iPad. It couldn’t have been more than 30 minutes before I felt a strong burning sensation that in hindsight seems funny that I didn’t realize what was happening, but at the time I really wasn’t sure what it was. I think since the nurses had me under the assumption that it would be many more hours before it was time to push, I just assumed what I was feeling was something else! I called the nurse in to let her know that I was super uncomfortable and when she checked me she said, “oh, yep! It’s time to push!” John and I were both surprised at going from “get some sleep” to “it’s go time!”

Active labor was such an awesome experience for me, I absolutely loved it. I felt so strong and amazing while I was pushing - like I was doing a badass workout! The epidural allowed me to feel when I needed to push and just enough sensation, but not terrible pain - it was my ideal experience. I had an awesome nurse on one side of me and my amazing husband on the other, and I just felt like I was rocking it! I pushed for 45 minutes and suddenly there was a beautiful baby girl on my chest! Dylan Rose Konye was born on June 11 at 1:57 am. I will never forget that feeling or the looks my husband and I exchanged in that moment. Words can’t even describe it.   

Once that crazy, overwhelming moment passed and the nurses were checking me and the baby, the next few hours were not as magical. The hospital was short staffed that night and the nurse in our room was from a different department and clearly struggling with her temporary role. She seemed to take twice as long to do things as I would expect and she just wasn’t very pleasant! Plus she kept calling our daughter a boy which was so annoying! My husband and I are both very patient people, but most of that goes out the door when you’ve just given birth! We were stuck in the delivery room for over three hours dealing with this bad nurse before we finally moved to our recovery room. We were exhausted by the time we got there and so done with that nurse. But luckily the staff changed over shortly after that and we were in great hands with amazing nurses for the rest of our stay.    

Once it was morning (like real morning, not 2 am), our closest family and friends came to visit and meet Dylan, which was emotional. I could hardly believe we had a baby and that our family was meeting her! The next couple days were a blur of bonding with our new little bundle, navigating breastfeeding and trying to rest and recover. I felt good overall, but definitely overwhelmed and nervous about everything. We hadn’t planned on sending our baby to the in-hospital nursery at all, and I assumed I wouldn’t want her to leave my side, but once I realized I couldn’t rest when she was in the room, we changed our minds. Letting the experienced nurses watch her for a while we slept was the best decision for us. Oh, and once I took my first post-delivery shower, I felt like a new woman!

The part I found most challenging post-delivery was figuring out breastfeeding - I found it so daunting! It did not feel natural to me and I was constantly worrying if I was doing it right and if she was getting what she needed. The nurses were helpful, but I felt a little hopeless when they weren’t in the room. I also think navigating such an important new skill on top of being exhausted is just tough! Overall, while we were in the hospital I was just always concerned that our baby was ok. I felt so much better when a nurse was in our room and a little on edge when they weren’t. But that got better over time and by the time we were supposed to leave, I felt ready (ish).

I don’t love giving advice to other parents, but if someone were to ask me for advice related to labor and delivery, the only thing I’d say is to just trust your instincts and do whatever makes you the most comfortable and happy. During labor, do whatever works for you as long as it’s safe for you and your baby. During recovery, do whatever feels best and if you need help (physically, mentally or new parent guidance), just ask for it. If you want visitors, great, if you want to be alone with your partner and baby, great. All of that probably sounds simple, but I think sometimes we let other people - doctors, family, etc. - persuade us to do certain things. I feel strongly that this amazing experience should only be what the two parents decide.  

My labor and delivery experience overall was wonderful and I wouldn’t change a thing (well aside from that one nurse). I am so excited to go through it again in a few months with baby number two and am just so curious at how similar or different the experience will be! The thought of meeting another human that my husband and I created AND watching our first born meet her is already making my heart explode!

 

Thanks for reading!
Sara   

Vacation → Trip: Traveling with Baby

travel tips

From the second my husband and I started talking about having kids, there was one promise we made to each other: We will still travel. Not only is it something Sean and I both enjoy, but we want to instill a love of travel, adventure, and exploring cultures in our kids. I’m happy to say that we just returned from our first international trip with our ten-month-old son, Ethan. We took advantage of a free plane ticket (hello lap baby) and spent 12 days in Spain. I hope I can encourage you to take the leap with your little one with a few of my takeaways...

Don’t overthink it
To borrow from Nike, Just Do It. We booked our tickets without overthinking it and just figured things out as they came. I asked for advice from fellow moms before we went and got some great tips for the plane (a few helpful tips included: bring the boppy to make plane sleep more comfy for everyone; pack one diaper per every hour of flight; bring something new-to-baby to keep them interested/entertained; pack a change of clothes for you and baby in your carry on). Everything else just kind of fell into place.  

Adjust Expectations
We went into the trip telling ourselves it would be a different type of trip (no longer a vacation, but a trip). We would live like the locals and only do as much sightseeing as we could handle. This meant visiting the local parks, wandering the streets, and making many trips to the local markets. We managed to see the big tourist destinations we’d hoped to, and we had wonderful, unplanned experiences and meals in between.

Get an apartment
Airbnb helped us achieve the “live like the locals” goal. Using the “family” filter, we found apartments equipped with pack-n-plays and high chairs. While Ethan napped, we were able to enjoy the living room with the balcony doors open, listening to the hustle and bustle of the streets below while reading, relaxing, or planning our next outing. It was also great to have a fridge and kitchen to make dinner and pack food for Ethan when we were out and about all day.

Loosen up/Relax
As a stay-at-home mom, I tend to be pretty Type-A when it comes to Ethan’s schedule. I make sure to be home for his two naps and we stick to a very regular routine. I told myself that while in Spain, it would be fine if we couldn’t be at the apartment for a nap and that Ethan could sleep in the carrier. It took extra reminders from my husband to actually get me to loosen up on these things and I’m so glad I did. Ethan always got at least one nap at the apartment (sometimes two), and otherwise, we had the carrier and he just snuggled up with us and came along as we continued to explore. Also, in Spain, kids don’t go to bed until at least 9 p.m. (the sun is still out!!). I also gradually let go of the idea that Ethan’s schedule would look the same as it did at home, with a 7:30 p.m. bedtime. He adjusted to the local time, going to bed around 9 p.m. and waking up around 8 a.m., which worked out great because NOTHING in Spain is open before 8am. By the time we got up, fed, and dressed, it was 10 a.m. and the city was also starting to wake up.

Go where you know someone (if you can)
We were lucky enough to visit a good friend of mine in Barcelona. This deepened our “live like a local” experience once again. Our first night, they came over to our Airbnb with food and cooked an amazing Catalan meal. Another night, I got to go to yoga with my friend while Sean stayed with Ethan. And on our last day, after having a decadent lunch together, our friends babysat Ethan so Sean and I could enjoy some adult time. We’re already planning our next international trip to Columbia where my childhood friend is living for the next three years with her family.

Happy travels!
-Jennifer

The Waiting Game

pregnancy

For some reason, I was convinced that I was going to have my baby early- why? I was born five and a half weeks early and I didn’t believe there was any possible way I could get bigger than I already was. My due date was Thursday, November 2, 2017. Since this was my first pregnancy I didn’t know what to expect on my due date. Do you automatically get contractions, have your water break, rush to the hospital, and pop out a baby on the day you’re due? The answer is … NO. Well for me at least. That day came and went. I remember I made a doctor’s appointment for Friday, November 3, just in case I didn’t have the baby by then and I said to my OB, “don’t worry, you won’t be seeing me then, I’m having this baby long before that date.” Jokes on me! I went to that dreaded Friday appointment for a stress test, to check how dilated I was, and for a membrane sweep. We talked about setting up my next appointment for being induced and what that process would look like.

When I got home I was sad, frustrated, and out of breath from walking down the hall thinking I can’t go on much longer. It hurt to walk, I couldn’t sleep because I was so uncomfortable and the heartburn made me sick, my shoes didn’t fit anymore, and I was so anxious to meet this baby! I had to make it one more week before my induction appointment, so I made the best of it. I told myself it was my “bonus” week to enjoy time with family, Netflix binging, and those final pregnancy snacks.

Finally, it was time. Friday, November 10, 2017, the day we were going to have this baby! We were scheduled to call Kaiser at 8 pm to see if they had any beds available. We went to In-n-Out for one last extra American cheese filled burger (yes, the most random craving), threw the hospital bags which had been packed since I was 6 months pregnant into the car, and called Kaiser expecting to hear that we should head in and get prepared to meet our little munchkin… turns out, they had no beds available. They told us to call back in an hour, so we did, again no beds available. The planner that I am asked what a realistic time would be to call and actually get set up in a bed so that we didn’t keep getting the run-around. We finally were told to come in at 12 am.

Jake and I drove to the hospital completely silent, both nervous and excited about what was going to happen. We parked in the designated stork parking, lugged in our bags and pillows, and were shown to our room- a traditional hospital looking triage room. We waited for the Midwife to come in and check to see how dilated I was and talk about what to expect.

Turns out, I was only 1cm dilated so the excitement of meeting this baby turned into a flurry of emotions- why wasn’t she ready to come out, why wasn’t my body ready, what does this mean for me with the actual labor process. They gave me the option to start on a small dose of Misoprostol, monitor the heart rate, then send me home. While they were monitoring the heart rate, the heart rate dropped just for a second- they assured me this could be totally normal depending on how the baby moved, but they needed to monitor for at least another hour. I was chugging apple juice, checking any latest Instagram stories, anxious as all hell all while Jake is wrapped up sleeping on the chair across from me. Eventually, we got the OK to head out at 8:00 am. With the dose of Miso, we had to be back in 24 hours to get the second, which would be 4 am. The nurse told us not to worry and to come back at 5 am to make things a little easier on us. We had yet another “bonus” day. So we came home, napped, binge-watched Grey’s Anatomy, were too tired to get up and go explore because of the emotional rollercoaster and insane amount of time spent in the hospital.

The next day rolls around and we are up and headed to the hospital to get the next dose of Miso at 5 am. We are talking about our options from here- how can we speed this up, what are the other medications I’ll need to get this baby out, when will we get admitted to the hospital. With an hour stay and all our questions answered, we headed home. “Bonus” day number… I’ve lost count at this point.

Since we spent all of Saturday resting, we decided we should make the most of this Sunday and go out to lunch. We headed to San Carlos to the restaurant Town and while we waited for a table, I waddled around the Farmers Market with Jake. I felt some intense cramping… FINALLY, contractions! Never did I think I’d be so excited for contractions! Jake pulled out his contraction counter app on his phone and recorded how long each was and when they were happening. They weren’t consistent enough to head to the hospital yet so we continued our date day. We headed back home, made sure the hospital bags were ready to go, I vacuumed the house and dusted the baseboards one last time, and then I bounced on my large green Pilates ball hoping to speed this process up all while Jake napped (he wanted to make sure he had enough rest before the “big day”). We were supposed to call the hospital at midnight so we could make sure a bed was available to head in and start the stronger doses of the Miso. Around 10:30pm I woke Jake up because my contractions had gotten worse. I tried to push through the pain and wait it out until midnight, but I couldn’t do it. Around 11, Jake called the hospital and they told us to come in. Ok- this was actually it! This car ride would be the last of just us two, it was so surreal.

We get to the hospital, get shown back to our triage room that we had spent the last two days in, and I practically pushed the nurse out of the way so I could go to the bathroom. I came out of the bathroom to put on my hospital robe and answer a few questions the nurse had, walk back into the bathroom and scream for Jake as a huge gush of water bursts- my water broke. There we are cracking up- had we waited to come to the hospital this could’ve been a mess in either our apartment or our car, but of course it happens within five minutes of being at the hospital. Since my water broke, they couldn’t check to see how dilated I was due to risk of infection. My contractions were getting worse and worse and I told them I needed some meds stat. They hooked me up to the heart rate machines and wheeled me in to our new hospital suite-  I couldn’t tell if I was in a hospital or a hotel.

Once we were in the new room, the nurse gave me the options to have either Fentanyl or Morphine; however, the Midwife suggested the Fentanyl since we weren’t sure how far dilated I was and we didn’t want to risk not being able to get any additional drugs. I absolutely hated the Fentanyl- I was hallucinating that there were Zombie’s scratching at my face, completely out of it, and still in pain! After about an hour the side effects wore off and I just felt drowsy and defeated. When I wake up I see Jake sleeping on his new couch-bed in our hotel suite, it was nice to know someone was enjoying this expensive stay!

The nurse came in and explained that the Anesthesiologist would come in momentarily for the epidural and then they would start me on Pitocin. Jake woke up and sat with me as I got the epidural- I was bawling. I’m not sure if it was because of the pain or this last minute freak out I had thinking I may become paralyzed on my right side since that was the only area I felt the numbing. The worst part was over, from here on out I had my epidural in, my button to increase the meds, an unlimited supply of Jello, popsicles, and juice, and a great team of nurses to check in on me. Post epidural I got extremely nauseous and itchy, so the nurses gave me some meds to fix that. Also, the heartburn continued so I had to ask for Tums which used to be easily accessible and now they were technically considered a drug and could only be given to me as prescribed. In between the alloted dosage of Tums, I would have Jake sneak some from my purse- desperate times call for desperate measures!

My mom came to the hospital followed by my sister, dad, and stepmom. Needless to say, I was surrounded by loved ones to show their support and be there when this little bundle of joy arrived, but there was not a moment of quiet.  The nurses kept saying to rest up, but it’s quite impossible when there is chatter all around, you weigh almost the same amount as an elephant, and you are also nervous and excited to meet your baby finally!

Around 5pm the Midwife came and finally checked to see how dilated I was, she said it would be about an hour before it was time. Jake and I took that time to try and nap (I didn’t, but he sure did). The nurses came in to check on me and I asked if I waited longer if that would reduce the amount of pushing. They told me it could help, but it was up to me. While they were there I asked what the room would look like when it was time and they said there would be a total of about five to six people (Midwife, nurses (my nurse had a student with her), Pediatrician, and a couple of other people I can’t remember now).

I waited a little longer than the hour the Midwife had initially suggested. My mom came back to the room and we called the nurses in for some practice pushing, which come to think of it, those were by no means practice, it was the real deal! I never expected pushing to be so hard, but I was exhausted! They gave my mom an oxygen mask to help me breathe. I have to say that my favorite memory of the pushing was when my mom pulled out her cell phone to tell me my dad’s cousin was in town and I yelled at her to just give me the oxygen- no matter how much chaos there’s always time for humor. After about eight pushes, the nurses told me they could see the head and to stop pushing. STOP PUSHING? That’s all I wanted to do was to push and get this baby out! Not to mention, the nurses told me earlier that evening that there were going to be be about five to six people in the room … there were 2! My nurse and her student! What do you know … this baby decided to make her debut during a shift change! Goodbye to the Midwife we had spent a full day with and hello to the new one who sat down told me to push one more time and caught the baby- she had an easy job that day in our room!

Maddison Anne Plafker was born at 8:12pm, I was only in active labor for 42 minutes! I scarfed down the most incredible plain turkey on wheat sandwich I had ever eaten and we celebrated with our small bottle of champagne we snuck in amongst the chaos of Maddison getting measured, weighed, and a thorough check-up with the Pediatrician.  After everything was complete, we were rolled into our new room- by no means was this a hotel suite.

Jake, Maddison, and I spent the next two nights in the hospital where we slept minimally, Jake got to know me on a whole new level, and we got to bond with this perfect angel that God blessed us with. The road to recovery was not a simple one- this is actually what I was most afraid of and my fears were quickly validated, but I won’t bore you with those details!

Xo,

Corinne



 

 

Tips for Flying With a Newborn

flying-with-a-newborn

A few weeks ago, I took our then 2-month old son on his first flight to watch his grandma coach in the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Division II Final Four. My mom was my high-school lacrosse coach and has gone on to have incredible success at the college level. This year was her 7th NCAA Final Four appearance and we had a feeling that it was going to be the year, so my siblings and I decided to make the trip down to Florida together. Spoiler alert, we were so glad we did because they won the National Championship!

As soon as I booked my ticket, I went into serious research mode. I was fortunate to be flying with my sister who has two little ones as home so I knew I would have a lot of support but she has yet to fly with them so we were both rookies when it came to navigating airports, flights and hotels with a baby!

By no means would I consider myself an expert but I received some great advice and found some helpful tips along the way that made traveling with an infant as smooth as I could have ever hoped for!

Baby’s Ticket & Seat
After I booked my ticket, I called Delta to make sure that I was aware of any of their airline specific rules. I knew that all airlines allowed a baby to sit in your lap until 2 years old but I was glad to have called as they were able to flag my ticket “traveling with infant” and issued Tommy his own boarding pass to make things smoother going through security, etc. They also encouraged me to bring his birth certificate in case there were any questions regarding identification (I didn’t use it but I guess better safe than sorry). Considering his age and size, I decided to hold him in my arms but I also learned that most airlines allow you to bring an infant car seat on the flight if you choose to buy a second ticket (some airlines offer discounted baby tickets).

Hands-Free
I decided to check as much luggage as possible because my husband was dropping us off at the airport so he was able to bring everything in as I got Tommy situated in the carrier and checked in for the flight. With a quick layover in Atlanta, I opted to be as mobile as possible by carrying him versus gate checking the stroller & car seat. I love my solly baby wrap but I decided to use the boppy carrierfor navigating the airport because I like the security of the back buckle and head support, especially when I would be bending over and lifting luggage. I wore him in the carrier right through security (they just did a swab on my hands for as an alternative to passing through the monitor).

Uppa Baby Insurance
I cringed at the thought of our new Uppa Baby Mesa car seat & Cruz stroller getting tossed around the luggage conveyor. I was thrilled to discover these amazing travel bagsand while they are pricier than your basic bag to cover a car seat or stroller, they are built specifically for both models, have durable padding and get this – you can register them which essentially insures your car seat and stroller against any damage during travel when using the bags! I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that both items could be checked as no additional cost, all baby items fly free with Delta!

Avoiding the Pre-Board
I was glad I had read this advice before traveling because it seemed logical to take the airline up on their courtesy offering to board early. In hindsight however, boarding early just means another 30+ minutes of sitting with baby in a cramped space just praying that he doesn’t have a blow out or lose his mind. Both flights, I was so glad I boarded at the end because I was able to keep him comfortable and napping in the carrier and do a last minute diaper change before boarding for take off!

In-flight feeding
Again, another piece of advice I read a lot about, prompted by my angst in cabin pressure changes and the painful effects on his little ears. A lot of moms shared that it helped baby to nurse or bottle feed them during the ascent and descent – it encourages them to swallow and thus keeps their ears from popping. I did this all four legs of the flight and while I don’t have anything to compare it against (I didn’t want to mess with what was working), I would highly recommend this strategy! I wasn’t (and still aren’t) totally at ease with the whole breastfeeding in public thing so I started with a bottle on the first flight that I had pumped the night before. For the rest of the flights I used my covered goods wrap (this thing is my go-to for stroller and nursing cover, so soft!) If all else, feeding in flight also forced me to get more comfortable about breastfeeding in public so that was a win in itself!

Sleeping Arrangements
We are blessed that Tommy has been a great little sleeper (fingers crossed this continues), so naturally I was a little nervous that this trip and a few nights in a hotel would mess with his routine. He had been sleeping in the dockAtot in his bassinet at home so I thought it would help keep things consistent by bringing the dockAtot with me. I learned that most hotels have a pack ‘n play that they will bring to your room at no charge, a perfectly suitable place to hold his dockAtot. I can’t say enough about the dock a tot and the convenience of its size. I packed it right in my large suitcase and packed his clothes right on top of it. I also packed a fresh sheet to use on the pack n’ play so I knew it was cleaned with his baby detergent and fresh and ready to go for tummy time in the hotel room!

…All in all, it was a smooth trip and I was so glad that I didn’t allow my anxiousness about flying with a newborn keep me from being there to celebrate with my mom. I would love to hear any other travel tips from you guys, especially with older kids or road trips in the car. We are driving from Upstate, NY to Northern Michigan (11 hours, yikes!) later this summer so any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

Xo,

Kristen B.

My Favorite Natural Products

alix-wellness-products

Ok friends… time to talk about one of my favorite ways to spend money ;) skincare and beauty products! (Soon to be replaced by baby clothes, I’m sure!)

If, like me, you are a somewhat anxious pregnant lady, you may have also become an obsessive reader of ingredient lists. While only your doctor can say what’s right for you, I figure the fewer toxins in my products, the better, right?  I was shocked to find all the parabens and sulfates hiding in many of the things I’ve used forever. Yikes!

I started transitioning my routine to include more natural products about a year ago, so I have definitely gone through fair amount of trial and error. For example, I’m still on the hunt for the perfect deodorant for summer months. I like Schmidt’s most of the time but it just doesn’t cut it June - September. According to my friends over on Instagram - I should try the brand Native next. I hear good things about Meow Meow too, which I may also have to try if only for the name.

In terms of my skincare routine - I try to keep it pretty simple these days (exfoliating cleanser, gentle toner, and a mineral sunscreen / moisturizer). I LOVE the Tinted Nutrient Day Cream by Josh Rosebrook! It doesn’t really offer much in the way of coverage, just evens everything out a bit, but the consistency is fabulous and doesn’t make me super oily by the end of the day like some sunscreens tend to.

I had pretty acne-prone skin before pregnancy and was hopeful that once I became pregnant, my skin might somehow magically self-regulate and I would achieve the glowy, clear-skinned face of my dreams. Alas, I’ve looked more like I did when I was 14 than I’d like to admit. Hormones - so fun! However, there is hope if you too find yourself breaking out like a teenager. While most traditional over-the-counter acne fighting ingredients are considered off-limits (benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, retinoids...) the Aztec Secret - Indian Healing Clay Mask has saved. the. day. I have to use it 3 times per week, which is definitely a commitment, but the results in just three weeks have been so worth it.  Plus, it’s a nice relaxing self-care ritual I have really come to look forward to! I still have a few cystic bumps here and there, but they are much improved and I can’t recommend this product enough.

I don’t wear a ton of makeup on a day-to-day basis, which you would never know by looking in my medicine cabinet because I practically hoard the stuff! I have not found the perfect all-natural swaps for some of my staples (for example, nothing compares to my Cle de Peau concealer that I can’t give up… I’ve tried! But it’s just that good). Some great natural brands and products that have made it into my regular rotation: W3ll People Expressionist mascara - it looks so natural, never clumpy, and doesn’t melt down my face in the hot humid temps. I also love the Tata Harper Lip Tints and the RMS Beauty Living Luminizer for the perfect faux glow. I still use my trusty Dior foundation when I need more coverage, but the Alima Pure Pressed Powder Foundation is all natural and provides the perfect finish for everyday use. It works really nicely over the Nutrient Day Cream I mentioned earlier too.


One of my favorite places to discover new products and brands is a small shop in DC called Take Care Shop -  Follain also has a great online selection if you don’t have a good local option for non toxic bath + beauty! Thanks so much for reading this week and if you have any recommendations, please shoot me a message! I would love to learn about your favorite natural skin and beauty products!

natural products

My Wellness Journey

  (2017 vs 2018  - I lost 50lbs and put on some muscle after working out for a year)

(2017 vs 2018  - I lost 50lbs and put on some muscle after working out for a year)

As a mom, staying on a healthy lifestyle is not that easy. I don’t always make it to the gym and frozen meals that are loaded with carbs are usually on the menu. After my first son was born, I lost the baby weight and baby “pouch” very quickly. I didn’t eat that healthy and didn’t join a gym. But after I had two more pregnancies my body/hormones changed.

I joined the YMCA in January 2017, about 6 months after my second son was born. My body had drastically changed and I had other symptoms I didn’t have postpartum with my first. I felt I needed to get in shape and try my best to stay healthy. I have been working out for a year and a half now; and started seeing the results in early March. I have always been that person that would give up if I didn’t see results. But I keep reminding myself I have had a total of 3 pregnancies. I gained weight from every single one. I shouldn’t expect change immediately.

I’ve tried diets and they don’t work for me. The keto diet…no WAY…I need my sugar and carbs. I eat what I want (in the right portion sizes) and I work out 5 days a week. I am proud of the progress I have made. Yes, I still have a baby “pouch”. But I’ve learned to love my body.

My advice, don’t ever give up. It took me over a year to lose over 50 pounds. Find a gym that has a daycare. I highly recommend the ymca! My kids love going to the y. So I never have to stress over them while I’m working out. Learn to love your body after having kids. Our bodies are such wonderful things. Even all the stretch marks and sagging skin is a sign of the wonders our bodies can do.

Laughter really is the best medicine

Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 8.52.04 AM.png

One of my most vivid memories from my childhood was visiting my grandparents’ home. Their home was massive and their bathrooms were unlike anything I’d ever seen before. The bathrooms were stocked full of books, magazines, crossword puzzles, word searches, suduko, you name it- they had it. I remember being completely overwhelmed at the selection of things to do and thinking “How am I ever going to leave?” I laugh when I think about that now because I GET IT!!!! The bathroom is one of the only rooms in the house that is acceptable to have privacy. (Notice I said “acceptable” which does not mean that it’s always respected) My grandparents didn’t have a phone with internet, and they certainly weren’t going to drag a few family photo albums to the bathroom each time so creating a small library was the next best thing.

My absolute favorite magazine they had was Reader’s Digest. I know, I know. What 8 year old would choose Reader’s Digest over a word search? This one! But let me explain. Reader’s Digest had a section in each of its issues called “Laughter is the best medicine” and, boy, was it funny. I can still remember laughing out loud at some of the stories I read. So in a nod to a more carefree time and to the fact that you too may be hiding out in the bathroom reading this right now, I’d like to share some the best medicine (humor) from motherhood thus far.

Delirium makes everything funnier.
Last night we were putting my son to bed and he started reaching for a stuffed animal on the shelf. My husband said, “here buddy, let me get that camel for you.” It was a giraffe.

Just when you think you’re the #1 expert in the #2 business...
A parent told me that once they were so tired that when they got up in the middle of the night to change their child’s diaper that they thought they saw some girl scout cookies on the bed- a Thin Mint, to be exact. So reluctantly they picked it up and as soon as they did they realized what it really was they launched it in the air. It ended up in the closet.

WonderWeeks’ lost Leap is called “nipple pinching”
Whether you are breastfeeding currently or not if your child needs to climb on you, hug you, sit near you, watch TV, or anything of the like they will pinch the-you-know-what out of your nipples!

You will mix up nursery rhymes.
I remember being so excited to tell my son nursery rhymes for bedtime. Somewhere between “once upon a time there were three bears” and Goldilocks, she joined the 3 little pigs and then befriended Little Red Riding Hood and were running away from a wolf. I had to cut story time short in order to consult with my friend Google on what the correct storyline was.

Kids will ask for anything
“Anytime we ever went out to eat as soon as my food came out, my daughter would HAVE TO go to the bathroom. This time was no different. The food arrived, my daughter looked up and said she needed to go. Once in the bathroom, I sat her on the toilet and she stared at me and asked loudly, ‘Can you tell me a story?’ The lady in the next stall cackled.”

Bedtime should be called American Ninja Warrior training
One does not understand stealth or athleticism like a parent executing a bedtime routine then exiting the room of a sleeping child. Parents have been known to crawl, slither, hide, choke down a scream after stepping on a Lego, and camouflage into the carpet in order to avoid detection from their sleeping baby.

Kids will say whatever they think
“I remember holding my daughter in my lap and I accidentally passed gas. She said, “Mom, was that a trumpet?”

You’ll have multiple famous last words
My most recent one was saying “I’m just going to do something low key for my child’s first birthday party.”

**Thank you to the moms who shared some of their stories with me for this piece! **

 

Here’s some other funny mom links that are worth visiting the next time you find yourself in need of another dose of laughter. Here and Here

If you have some other “laughter really is the best medicine” material please share it in the comments!!

 

xo,
Amanda

Life as A Mom to Boys

laurie-boy-mom

Hi there! I’m Laurie, the wife to my husband of seven years and the mom of three little guys ages 6, 4, and 8 months. We live in a cozy little farmhouse in rural New Hampshire with our eight chickens.

Ever since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be a mom of three, just like in my family. Before even meeting my husband, I had pictured myself as a girl mom: brushing hair, dressing up, playing Barbies, and reading Babysitters Club books together. I dreamed of dance classes, school dances, and a wedding day. I never had anything against boys - I grew up with a brother that I love just as dearly as my sister - but, these were the things I knew from my childhood that I longed to experience with my own little girl.

However … we all know how the universe laughs when we make plans! We learned our first was a boy at an unexpected 15-week ultrasound to determine the reason for some bleeding. We were so happy the baby was okay that there was never any gender disappointment. I was surprised how excited I was to be having a little guy - I was going to rock as a boy mom!

“I'm gonna love you so much that no woman is ever gonna be good enough for you.” ~ Monica Bing, Friends

From the moment he was born, this boy had my heart. He was my little Mama’s boy! We played cars, trains, balls, and superheroes, and I was pretty good at it, if I do say so.

A month before our son’s first birthday, we learned that we were expecting again. After the initial shock of realizing we’d have two under two, we began talking about how great it would be to have a girl or how great it would be to have another boy.

Of course, everyone else had their opinion, and the consensus was that we needed to have a girl so we would have the coveted one of each. Once we learned our second was also a boy, almost immediately we were bludgeoned with questions about if we would “try for a girl” after this one. I, on the other hand, was really hoping to give birth to my second child before planning a third.

With the arrival of our second boy, I really started earning my stripes as a boy mom. While my first was focusing his interests on superheroes, dinosaurs, bugs, and animals; my second’s interests revolved around vehicles, specifically fire trucks. We read piles of books and watched hours of movies to learn everything we could about their interests. Did you know that Quetzalcoatlus has a wingspan the length of a school bus? Do you know all the specs of an off road fire truck? I know these things!

When talk of having a third child began, there was never any “trying for a girl” discussion. We knew that a third would be another boy, and we would be happy to add a third boy to our family. However, everyone else (family and strangers alike) believed the only reason anyone in their right mind would have a third child is to try for the opposite sex. So, after everyone’s wishes for a girl were bestowed upon us, we simply disappointed them with news of a third boy. We could see it in their faces or hear it in their sighs when we shared the news. Luckily, once he came earthside, their disappointment faded.

I admit, I did need a moment to mourn the loss of the hypothetical little girl I had dreamed of raising. Since I’ve taken that moment, I’ve been at peace with being a boy mom, giving up the hair bows and Barbie dolls. I love watching them build Legos and play TBall. I’ve learned to be tough around blood and scrapes (kisses and Band-Aids cure all!). I love when they surprise me with a wildflower blossom or a bouquet of dandelions.

I wouldn’t trade my three boys for anything ... I’m a boy mom, and I’m proud of my title!

Children's Fashion Tips

catherine

I never thought that I would be the mom that matched my daughter every time that we went out. As soon as I found out that we were having a girl, that all changed. I couldn’t help but sift through all the adorable Mommy and Me boards on pinterest, but I quickly found that there are limited places that actually offer perfectly matching outfits. That’s changed since 2014, but at the time matching with Elliot required a bit more searching. Now there are plenty a boutique that have co-ord outfits, but it can get pricey and isn’t particularly realistic to have every outfit in your closet match your daughter or son. Here are some tips that have helped me with my OCD of not at least coordinating, but trying to be smart about pieces and money spent.
 

  1. Choose a color palette. Each season, there are going to be on trend colors or a color that you gravitate to. For an easy example, during the holiday season red is a color that everyone wears a lot of. The last few seasons, I’ve personally been loving golden yellow and find that it is almost a neutral, matching with any color that I choose. For me, that color has also been great because I have been able to reuse staple items (leggings, cardigans, etc.) across seasons which is also a budget saver!

  2. Invest. The first year of my daughter’s life I couldn’t control myself. The excitement of buying tiny pieces of clothing matched with not following my own current rules led to excess of everything. Over the (almost) four years I’ve learned that my daughter re-wears her favorites and a lot of what is in the closet goes untouched. It’s painful to clean out at the end of a season and have clothing that doesn’t fit her anymore with the tags still on. Choose a few items that you love and your child loves and get fancy with different accessories of changeable pieces. My daughter has a dress that she almost always wants to wear. I’m talking, it gets pulled out of the dirty hamper by her because she can’t contain herself. I change up the look by adding leggings, a sweater or a blazer; maybe even a sneaker and top knot one day and a ballet flat and headband the next. Don’t be afraid to use accessories for your child just as you would yourself.

  3. Gender neutral shoes. This  is one that I have always followed for shoe items like sneakers, wellies and flip flops. I end up getting more wear out of them for Elliot because they are simple in color and go with everything. The bonus is that I now have black Nike sneakers, white converse sneakers and navy blue rain boots for Clark to wear as he grows into them (for whatever reason baby shoes are almost as expensive as adult shoes so this is an awesome saver!). Each season I select a dress shoe for elliot that usually ends up being pink or metallic, but goes with everything. If they’re in good shape, I save with fingers crossed that we have another girl!

  4. Shop the children’s section. This is a tip that may get an eye roll at first, but hear me out: if you want to get matching items stores like Target often carry similar items in the toddler and children’s section. Same goes for shoes. An adult like seven shoe is the same as a youth five. The measurements of a XXL kids are comparable to 4/6 adults. It may not work, but it’s worth a shot.

  5. Comfort and Coverage. This is something that I have observed in buying things for Elliot and noticing the things that are almost always her preference . Some brands, quite simply, don’t cover your kid as well or take into consideration their tiny little body shapes. My favorite example of this are Hanna Andersson underwear verses Old Navy underwear ; I shop both stores frequently, but quite frankly will not buy my daughter unders from anywhere other than Hanna. When your littles get old enough, ultimately you have to incorporate them in the process because if something doesn't feel right on them, you’ll end up wasting your money and likely losing your sanity!

Labor: The Bloody Truth

raquel birth story.jpg

I always imagined labor would be just like the movies, you know, with my water breaking like a tsunami and my jaw on the ground in shock as I’m  shouting, “I think my water just broke.” But as I learned from my pregnancy nothing goes as planned.

To give you a little back story I’m an active person with a lot of energy and after spending over a month on bed rest I was losing my mind. Not to forget my frequent hospital stays for bleeding. If there was a show on Netflix or Hulu during that time trust me, I saw it! No one believed I would stay off my feet I had a babysitter 24/7.

Exactly one month and one day before my due date I woke up bright and early around 6:00am for my husband to drop me off at my parents house. I laid in bed thinking am I crazy or did I pee a little bit in my pjs. I naively showered, threw on some yoga pants and a sweater to head out. My mom took me to the doctors for my weekly baby monitoring and I proceeded to beg her to take me for a mani/pedi. I could give birth any day now and I had to be picture ready. Lucky for me my mom understands the importance of pampering! My manicurist made sure not to massage my feet as to not induce my labor. She kept asking if I was do soon and I laughed foolishly saying I had a little over a month but she didn’t seem convinced. I swear manicurist know everything.

I came home to my 18 year old sister suggesting some Netflix binge watching and a nap but let’s be real it was the only thing I could do anyways so how could I refuse. After waking up from a good nap I noticed I was slightly damp and again thought damn, did I pee myself twice in one day? I consulted my mom and she assured me I would feel a giant gush of water that was uncontrollable. She gave me some sweatpants to put on and told me to call the Labor & Delivery just in case. Sure enough they had me come in to be on the safe side. It was 6:00pm so my mom and I were less than thrilled to drive through San Francis in rush hour traffic.

The admitting nurse said “don’t worry, I’m sure it’s a false alarm” so naturally I had text my sister to make s’mores brownies to fulfill my cravings. My doctor strolled in and did her usual checking down under. She looked at me and said “I think your water has been slowly breaking all day but let me run more test to be sure.” Soon enough she walked back in my room to tell me that it was time to call my husband because they were going to induce me. I call my loving husband and he doesn’t believe me, he thinks I’m joking. My mom takes my phone to confirm I am in fact telling the truth. I shoot a text to my sisters while my mom calls my dad to pick up my husband. My sister in New York calls immediately while my sister here in San Francisco was rushing over. I alert my two best friends and next thing I knew one of them was there.

It’s around 8:00 pm and the room consisted of my husband, mom, dad, sister and my son’s future godmother. My dad headed home as the nurse came in to induce my labor slowly, incase I needed an emergency caesarean section. My husband knocked out on the pullout bed while I played a hilarious game of Heads Up wit my mom, sister and friend.  Around 1:00 am I laughed so hard my water fully broke and I got my Hollywood tsunami. I kept apologizing to the nurse for getting water everywhere. Soon after my labor kicked into high gear from being induced. The commotion woke up my husband and he jumped up ready for action. I was having double contractions from my own labor and my induced labor. I couldn’t even catch my breath as I asked my mom if this is what labor really feels like. My mom said I should be able to breathe and immediately hunted down the nurse to turn off the inducing machine.

I could finally breathe in between contractions but laying in the bed was killing my back. My friend grabbed a birthing ball for me to sit on to help my back contractions. I sat on the birthing ball, my feet firmly planted on the ground, holding tightly onto my moms hands and just breathing. I felt like I was sending my contractions straight into the floor and it was a relief. My husband switched places with my mom and was whispering sweet encouraging words to me. They continued switching until about 5:00 am when I told them to get the doctor because it was show time!

The doctor came in to explain that with every contraction everyone would countdown from ten while I pushed and then I was to test in between. While I pushed I was to curl my head up to position my body to looks like the letter C. The room was set up by 5:30am and everyone in position, my mom and husband each holding a leg up while my sister held my head and friend supported my back. I was focused on breathing and I had my head in the game. The doctor and my loved ones counted in unison as if they’d done it together a million times. I felt the same way I feel when I’m running, visualizing the finish line. After 4 pushes I heard everyone say they could see my son’s head and 4 pushes later my son flew out. In all honestly, it felt like taking the biggest poop of my life.

My son was immediately laid on top of me as my husband cut the umbilical cord. I was on an endorphin high with this beautiful yet slimy baby boy laid across my chest. My loved ones were praising me and showering me with love. I had just done a completely unmedicated natural childbirth and I was feeling like a superstar.

I thought that the hardest part was behind me but it was yet to come. The doctor mentioned that I had an abnormal amount of bleeding and they needed to go in and remove the clots by hand. Next thing I knew a nurse was stabbing my thigh with a needle to try to help stop the extreme bleeding. I looked up out of my daze to see the look of horror on my mom and husband’s faces as they watched blood soaked cloths being tossed into a giant bowl.

I brought my focus back to my son thinking if I didn’t make it I wanted to spend my last moments with this perfect baby I had just brought to life. I never really told anyone how scared I was but I was terrified. I was laying there with hands inside of me scraping the walls of my uterus and it was more painful than giving birth. I was lucky that they were able to remove all the clots and control my bleeding.

It was an experience that truly taught me to cherish every moment with my son and I remind myself that even on tough days because everyday is a gift.


Yours Truly,

Raquel

21 Weeks of Pregnancy: What I've Learned So Far.

datevig

Pregnancy has been a joyous and easy journey for me. My skin is glowing, my energy levels are high, and I have actually never slept better in my life. People stop me on the street to compliment me on my beautiful growing belly and to tell me how pregnancy suits me. Working as a dental hygienist, constantly bending over patients has proven to be quite easy and my slowly growing midsection has not proven to be an obstacle at all. I am truly lucky, especially since this is my first pregnancy.

Okay, I hope no one actually read that without gagging a little or happened to believe a single word of it! Let’s be real…pregnancy is a really beautiful thing, but that doesn’t mean that it is free of challenges, especially if this is your first time and you don’t really know what to expect. I knew that pregnancy was going to be physically challenging of course. I mean, there’s the inevitable growing of the midsection and the weight gain (I’ve actually never seen these numbers on my scale before!) What I didn’t realize were the emotional and mental challenges I would also be experiencing.

I’m currently 21 weeks pregnant and expecting a baby girl this October. I feel excited, nervous, and overwhelmed—basically all the main feelings that women feel when they find out they’re expecting. I’ve bought all the baby books you’re supposed to read, and learned what I can do to help relieve nausea, help an aching back, and how to fashionably dress up your baby bump. But the most important lesson I’ve learned so far is to let things go and to just go with the flow. There’s a lot that is in our control, like what type of foods we can eat, taking adequate rest breaks throughout the day, and drinking enough water. But there’s also a lot during pregnancy that we can’t control! I couldn’t control the strong round ligament pain and cramping I started to experience later in my first trimester, and was in so much pain I couldn’t stand upright. I couldn’t control the varicose veins and additional cellulite that started popping up all over my legs, which made me feel so extremely self-conscious. I couldn’t control the hormonal acne all over my face and back, no matter how many types of topical pregnancy-safe treatments I tried, and felt like I didn’t recognize my face in the mirror anymore.

I learned that what I can control is how I react to all these new changes to my body, which I have to say was difficult for me to do. My body is growing and changing to accommodate this new life that is inside of me. My cramping and ligament pain meant that my ligaments were stretching and my uterus was growing to make more room for my daughter to grow strong. My varicose veins meant that there was more blood flow strongly pumping through my body to help keep my daughter nourished. My hormonal acne meant that there was a surge of hormones needed to keep my daughter on pace with her growth and development. All of this is for her.

I’m planning on taking this new “go with the flow” mentality when it comes time to deliver and finally meet her. Things may not go as planned, and that’s okay. Epidural, no epidural, natural birth or unplanned caesarean…all I can do is control how I react to whatever comes up, to keep calm to the best of my ability, and remember that in the end I’m going to be holding a beautiful baby girl in my arms that made all of this worth it.

xo,

Datevig

What I wish I had known about pregnancy.

shabana.jpg

 Planned or unplanned, getting pregnant is usually really exciting.  You can’t wait to join all the mommy groups, read all the baby apps, follow along with the growth of the baby, transition into motherhood.  It’s all fun and exciting but there are a few things I wish I had known before getting pregnant. Not that it would have changed that fact that I wanted to be pregnant but it would have been nice to know that everything isn’t sunshine and rainbows when it comes to pregnancy. Here is a short list of 5 things I wish I had known before getting pregnant.

 

  1. Extreme bloating-  now, we’ve all experienced period bloat.  I don’t know about you but that time of the month can be awful. You don’t fit in anything and you feel…. larger.  Well, let me just put it plainly. Pregnancy brings on a whole new level of bloat and feeling large and in charge. Holy, wow! Even from the get go I felt bloated.  My stomach stuck out a little more than usual and my pants were tight. I knew it wasn’t from the baby, after all I was only 4-5 weeks along, but nevertheless the bloat was there and it was way worse than any period bloat I had experienced.  Even as I approached 9 weeks I looked as if I was 4 months along. Which leads me to my next thing- having to wear maternity pants sooner rather than later…..

  2. Wearing maternity clothes early-  with that bloat, brought discomfort in my everyday clothing. The button on my jeans were digging and creating a muffin top, it hurt when sitting down because they were a bit too snug.  So, I decided to go look for maternity pants. You know, the ones with the giant belly panel. I wanted full coverage. I wasn’t into the rubber banding my pant button or any of that, I wanted comfort and comfort is what I found.  Now, most maternity jeans with full panel are less than sexy by themselves but once you pull that shirt over the top, no one can really tell. I got myself a nice pair of skinny jeans with the full belly panel and they were heaven.  Not only could I sit down without discomfort but they were stylish and cute as well. Nothing is more irritating than dealing with tight pants AND constant morning sickness.

  3. Morning sickness- boy oh boy was I in for a surprise with the morning sickness.  My mom never had it and as far as my grandma can remember she didn’t have it so I thought I was for sure in the clear. NOPE! It was not in the cards for either of my pregnancies.  From week 1 to about 6-7 I was fine. Moving along and not really “feeling” pregnant. One Mom at work asked if I had gotten sick yet and proudly I said no. Little did I know what was to happen just a week later.  Nausea and not just in the morning. WHAT? What Is this all day sick nauseous feeling? I thought they called it MORNING sickness for a reason… you know, it goes away after morning? No, not the case here. From week 6 to about 14, every day, all day long I was nauseous.  During my first pregnancy I managed not to throw up during this nauseous time but baby number 2? Ha! I was throwing up daily. The morning sickness was killer. I managed to lose 8 pounds but nothing matters when you are feeling sick. Also, taking care of a 3 year old when you’re sick all day, not fun at all. Not all women get morning sickness so if you don’t then give yourself a high five!!

  4. Birth plan goals-  birth plans are great. They allow you to have an idea of what you want to happen.  They give your medical team insight to how you’d like your birth to go BUT sometimes things don’t go as planned and you HAVE TO try to be ok with it.  I had said I didn’t want any pain med intervention my whole pregnancy. I was going to do it without. Well, once I went into labor I labored at home until I was about 6cm.  Let me tell you, on the way to the hospital I told my husband I was getting the epidural and there was nothing anyone could do to stop me. My loving husband didn’t argue but rather supported me in my choice to have the epidural.  Sometimes, things don’t go as planned and you have to be prepared for that and allow yourself to be ok if it doesn’t go according to your birth plan. What matters is you and baby making it through safely. Give yourself a break!

  5. Postpartum Mom bod-  Now, I know it took 40 weeks to cook up a baby but no one told me how long it would take for my baby bump to go down. Even after losing all the “baby weight” I still had extra roundness to my belly. I didn’t realize I would still look 7 months pregnant leaving the hospital either.  No one told me it would take almost a year to get the extra roundness to go down. I guess I was hoping to be one of the lucky ones that leaves the hospital in pre-baby shape… ha ha ha! Let me tell you ladies, that is not typical but it does happen for some. What’s even more important is that it is ok. It’s ok to have a postpartum Mom bod and don’t let magazines or celebrities con you into thinking otherwise.  Your postpartum mommy body is beautiful and it was home to that amazing bundle of love you have in your arms. Give yourself some time. We can’t all snap back so quickly and we DON’T HAVE TO either.

Work/ Life Balance

nicolle.jpg

When I first found out I was pregnant, I was so excited beyond words.  It took my husband and I 2-3 years to get pregnant. After all the excitement, it sunk in that we were creating a life and motherhood was beginning.  I had so many emotions and thoughts running through my mind. Am I going to be a good mom? Am I going to know exactly what to do when my son is born?  Will I be able to breastfeed successfully? Will my son be healthy? Will my labor be quick or long? My head spun the entire pregnancy. It still spins, actually!

    My husband and I were both active duty in the Navy and to start a family was hard.  I was in the Navy Nurse Corps so deployments were inevitable. At one point, we both deployed at the same time on different ships. To find the balance between work and life in general was nearly impossible being both in the military.  So I had to make the decision to resign my commission in the Navy. It was hard, but a start to the many sacrifices I would be making for my family.

    Towards the end of my active duty career was when we found out we were pregnant.  To make it work where we wouldn’t need a babysitter, I decided to work night shifts so that my husband and I would switch off by him taking our son at night and me during the day.  Your next question might be, when does she even sleep?? When people tell you to sleep when your baby sleeps... SLEEP! I don’t even know what real sleep is these days. I don’t remember what that even feels like anymore!

    My son sleeps throughout the night so my husband has it a little easier than I do because my son loves to play during the day.  For me to stay sane, I created a routine. Some days are tougher than others, but who said parenthood was going to be easy? Having a high stress job as an ICU nurse and coming home to having to take care of my son sounds impossible, but because I’m used to always having a routine, I know that I can only balance my work and home life through routine.  I sleep when my son sleeps and when he’s awake, we go out and run errands. I’m big on fitness as well so I take my son out on runs or he is in the garage with me in his pack and play while I work out. On my days off, my husband takes us out on dates as a family so we’re not cooped up in the house all the time.

    Being a full-time nurse and a mom/wife is definitely not easy.  You really have to put forth effort even when you are ridiculously exhausted.  It’s okay to struggle and feel overwhelmed sometimes. Just make sure you have some type of outlet to release your stress.  I found mine in working out and my Etsy shop. You’re not alone, mama/dad! It’s alright if you have to hire a babysitter/nanny/daycare to be able to work.  Do what works for you. In the end, you’re doing what’s best for your family. Others may not understand, but if it works, then it works!

Never Wake a Sleeping Baby…and Other Sleep Myths

bethany.jpg

We are so excited to have this guest post from Bethany of Baby on Board Consulting. Bethany has a life-long passion for children and families. She has more than 15 years of experience as a professional Nanny and is a licensed Nurse in the states of Tennessee, New York, and Connecticut. Having worked with dozens of families and provided care for over 100 children, including 17 children as a full-time Nanny, Bethany adapts to fit each family’s parenting style and unique needs. She has worked with parents of newborns, premature babies, multiples, and siblings. Bethany founded Baby on Board Consulting as a way to positively impact even more families at times of need or challenge in the parenting journey.


Never Wake a Sleeping Baby…and Other Sleep Myths

After your baby arrives, it seems that everyone has good intentioned advice for you, whether you have asked for it or not (I’m looking at you stranger at the grocery store).  And while some advice are little nuggets of mom gold, it can be difficult to sift through all the information to find what’s best for your family.  As a Certified Pediatric Sleep Coach, my goal is to help guide families through what is fact versus what is a baby misconception. So go pour yourself another cup of coffee (I’m on my 3rd) and let’s get started! Here are my top 5 debunked baby myths:

 

Myth 1: Newborns Can Set Their Own Sleep Schedule

As adults, our bodies have long established a thing called the “24-hour clock” or “Circadian Rhythm”.  This clock helps regulate our body’s melatonin levels to know when to be awake (during the day) and when it’s time for sleep (at night).  Unfortunately, babies are not born with an established circadian rhythm (that would be nice, amiright?)… instead they typically sleep more during the day and are up for longer stretches at night.  This results in the sleep deprivation new parents know all too well. But why does this happen?

Well it’s partly due to day/night confusion, which puts your baby on an opposite sleep schedule as you.  While your sweet babe was in utero, your activity during the day gently rocked them to sleep, while your inactivity at night allowed them to stay awake.  That’s why your baby loved doing somersaults while you were trying to sleep. 

Melatonin, the sleep inducing hormone, also plays a role in a newborns sleep schedule. This hormone doesn’t start sufficiently producing in a baby until around the age of 3-4 months, which contributes to the inconsistent sleep that we usually see. While newborns have somewhat of a natural sleep pattern due to their frequent feedings (every 2-3 hours), I recommend that parents create a loosely based sleep schedule that includes all the elements of a safe and healthy sleep environment.

 

Myth 2: Never Wake a Sleeping Baby

I remember as a teenager, my mom giving me this advice when I was babysitting.  While newborns typically need a lot of sleep in a 24-hour period (16-17 hours), it is perfectly ok to gently help them establish their circadian rhythm.

There are many times when waking your baby is appropriate, such as to not miss a feeding or if their nap is lasting too long.  Following a loose sleeping and feeding schedule will help guide you through this process.  And as always, use your best judgement while you and your new baby are figuring out your family rhythm together.

 

Myth 3: If a Baby Has a Bad Night’s Sleep, They Can Make It Up During The Day

This is probably the most common sleep myth that I debunk with clients.  Nighttime sleep and daytime sleep are equally important to your baby, and while their natural sleep schedule is not established yet, having them catch up on sleep during the day does more harm than good. 

If a baby has had a bad night’s sleep, try continually sticking to your loose sleep schedule and waking baby up around the same time in the morning each day. While you might have a cranky baby for part of the day, this helps stop a negative sleep cycle from forming.

 

Myth 4: Babies Should Sleep In Silence

Everyone has specific ways that they like to fall asleep, and babies are no different. In the womb they hear many loud noises inside your body that include your blood pumping , your breathing and even your stomach! All these noises combined create the white noise that babies are so fond of.  That is why household appliances such as vacuums and hair driers help soothe baby…it’s the same kind of white noise!

Babies are very familiar with this noise and by including it in their sleep environment, it can help them stay asleep longer.  And as a bonus, you won’t want to sucker punch your mailman when he rings the doorbell during nap time…they have impeccable timing, don’t they?

 

Myth 5: Feeding a Baby Formula at Night Will Help Them Sleep Longer                                                                                                    

While there is nothing wrong with exclusively feeding a baby formula, supplementing for a better night’s sleep is not always recommended.  A common opinion is that formula metabolizes slower than breastmilk, causing baby to sleep longer. However, regardless of diet, all newborns feed approximately every 2-3 hours, so there isn’t a guarantee that formula will create longer sleep stretches.

Breastmilk however, naturally contains tryptophan (an amino acid that causes sleepiness) and melatonin.  These two natural sleep aids are at their highest concentration during the evening, so breastfeeding your little one before their nighttime sleep can actually help assist them in getting their much needed zzzz’s.

 

Being a parent is hard work and no one has all the answers!  Surround yourself with support and love and remember that you are doing an amazing job!

 

 

  

 

Mental Health

Mental health is one of the most polarizing and controversial topics in today’s society. Having a child, especially a newborn, can push you to the limit in so many ways (hello, relationship shifts, lack of showering, and utter exhaustion!) so it is especially important to pay attention to how your emotional status is changing on a day to day (ok, minute to minute) basis. I want to preface the remainder of this conversation with the understanding that every perspective is unique to your own experiences and mental health journey. I am in no way a mental health professional, and these thoughts are simply ideas that I have found helpful and wanted to share with you in the spirit of community!

Talk about it

As someone who has struggled with moderate anxiety for the past 10 years, I was (shocking, I know) very nervous about how becoming a parent would affect my overall mental health. I had just gotten to a point where I was using strategies to effectively cope with anxiety in a positive way,  and now I was looking at quite possibly the biggest life change I’d ever undertake...I should also mention I find change (even wonderful, wanted change) very difficult! One thing I found very helpful was talking to my husband and mother about my concerns before the birth of my daughter. I asked them both to be on the lookout for major shifts in my emotional wellbeing and to advocate for me at a time when I might not be able to advocate for myself.

Do some research

Another thing I found hugely helpful was researching the typical symptoms of anxiety, depression, and postpartum depression. I wanted to know what I should be keeping my eyes open for and also what warning signs I should be sharing with those closest to me. I was so surprised to learn that postpartum anxiety can manifest itself as being extremely quick to anger-and man, oh man, did I experience that! The National Institute of Mental Health can be a good starting point and gives quick and clear overviews on anxiety, depression, and postpartum depression that can be useful.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

There is such a stigma surrounding mental health. Our bodies are amazing (hello, creating and giving birth to a HUMAN!), but just like your bones and organ systems, your brain and mental health are susceptible to experiencing difficulty at times and it is so important to take that first step and seek help when you may need a “tune up.” And while I know it’s easier said than done, if you or a loved one suspect you may be suffering, taking that first step and reaching out to a doctor is key. Help also can come in the form of asking for or seeking out other supports. Many moms have found that a postpartum doula has been a lifesaver and other moms struggling with things like breastfeeding have found seeking out professional support to be beneficial for their overall mental wellbeing.

Use your resources

Parenthood puts a strain on just about every resource you may have: emotional, physical, mental, and financial. Making good choices about how you allocate those resources can help ease some of the strain. There’s the old adage, “Sleep when the baby sleeps!” But, if running a load of laundry while you watch an episode of Real Housewives or sneaking out for a manicure is a better use of your “resources” and makes you feel a bit more human, then go for it, mama! My husband and I also divide up household and home maintenance tasks/errands between the two of us and try and squeeze in as many things as we can during the week, leaving us with more time to spend to spend together on the weekends, rather than racing around. We also made a clear plan to give ourselves some independent downtime and budgeted to fund some fun activities. It’s certainly not the same as it was pre-parenthood, but I do find we’re also more appreciative of these things now then we were before, and it certainly improves our overall mental health.

Be kind to yourself

When I first sought professional help for my anxiety, the one thing I will never forget was my therapist saying the following phrase: “You just ‘should’ all over yourself!” Her point was that so many things that factored into blocking my mental wellbeing were things I was putting in place. Once I began to be a bit kinder to myself and not have as many “shoulds” in my mind (“I should be able to handle this…” or “I shouldn’t get this upset over…”), my emotional mental health was in a much better place. So every time you start to beat yourself up...don’t! You are a wonderful and valuable human being, but you can make mistakes and that’s ok, mama!

Parenthood is a tough, amazing, beautiful journey, but we are our best selves when we take care of our mental health. I cannot stress enough that I am not a professional, and that mental health is a deeply personal issue, but I hope that these thoughts have resonated with you! Thank you, as always, for reading!

The Balancing Act

mom blogging.jpg

Hi everyone! I think it’s worth sharing where I’m writing from this week since it relates to this topic. I’m currently in my hotel room at Aulani Disney resort in Hawaii, writing while my daughter naps after a fun morning at the pool. This family vacation is all part of maintaining a healthy work / life balance! I think it’s so important to get away as a family to reconnect and recharge. Not that we don’t love our everyday life, but the routines and responsibilities can take a toll, and going somewhere to relax and have fun is so nice! We have had so much fun together this past week just enjoying each other and our surroundings! P.S. I highly recommend this place for families with young children!

Anyway, on to the broader topic of work / life balance. First of all, I think it’s just that - a constant balancing of priorities. To give you a sense of what my daily life looks like, I have a full-time corporate job that I would consider both demanding and flexible, I have a two-year-old who is just demanding and not flexible ;), a husband, another baby on the way, I try to workout at least 3 times a week, I have a side business and all the other typical adult responsibilities like cooking, shopping, cleaning, etc. I think parents today more than ever are trying to do it all, and to put it simply - it’s hard! I know most of the time I feel mentally and physically exhausted at the end of the day, but I also feel like what I’m doing is worth it.

My husband and daughter are the most important things in my life, and if I could spend my time however I wanted without worrying about money, I would spend most of it with them. But this is the real world, and we need money (and lots of it in the Bay Area!) not only to survive, but to live the life we want. So I spend most of my time working. I’m fortunate to love my job, but I won’t sugar coat it - it’s still work! Having said that, it is important to me to have a career, so it also holds a top spot on my list of priorities. My short list of top priorities looks something like this - family, friends, career, fitness, healthy eating / living, travel.

Since the way I spend most of my time is dictated by financial need and career aspirations, it’s really important that I maximize my time for myself and with my family outside of work. Since I became a mom, I have learned to cram a lot more work into a shorter period of time and/or work different hours so I can fit everything that’s important to me into my day. I go into the office a bit later in the morning so I can spend time with my daughter when she wakes up and most mornings we have a family breakfast before I leave. It’s important to me not to fly out of the house unless I absolutely have to. I like to be home to get my daughter up, dressed and ready for her day. I also try to leave the office relatively early so I can go to a Crossfit class on my way home. While I would equally love to race home to my family, it’s also important to take care of my personal fitness and well-being, so I try to dedicate an hour a few evenings a week to working out. I feel so much better when I’m consistently working out, and I’m a better person, wife and mom because of it. Since I’m often getting to the office on the later side and leaving on the early side, I sometimes work again in the evenings once my daughter has gone to bed. But usually if I’m efficient with my time in the office I don’t have to do that which is great. I’d much rather put work on pause to spend a few hours with her before bed and pick it back up when she’s asleep, than work straight through and miss that precious time with her.

Once our daughter goes to bed in the evenings, my husband and I have a few hours to spend how we want (well, once the house is picked up and the kitchen is cleaned which is the bain of our existence!). Sometimes one or both of us has work to do, but ideally we get to spend quality time together, which usually means watching one of our favorite shows. The weekends are a bit all over the place just depending on what’s going on. We try to spend as much time as possible together as a family, but my husband is a self-employed videographer so his work often takes place on weekends. We just try to be mindful and if we aren’t together for a period of time, we just prioritize family time as soon as we can to balance it out. We realize that sometimes you just have to make tough choices for a variety of reasons and prioritizing what’s important isn’t always clear cut.

Because my time outside of work can feel so limited and I want to maximize time with family and friends, I’m always looking for ways to simplify or save time on those must-do things like cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc. Once the weekend rolls around after a busy week, the last thing I want to do is spend it all doing errands and chores - but they still have to get done! We’ve been using various meal kit services for a couple years now and love that they give us healthy dinner options without the shopping or thought process. We have dabbled in grocery delivery services and use Amazon prime like nobody’s business! We also have a house cleaner come every once in a while to do the deep cleaning that’s so time consuming, although I am always saying that if I had a bunch of extra disposable income I would hire a daily housekeeper in a second! Keeping the house clean (especially when you have kids) is so time consuming and I am always thinking of what better things I could be doing instead of it!

Like I said, it’s a constant balancing act in prioritizing and being mindful about what’s most important to me. It’s not easy and I’m not perfect at it. Sometimes I let something less important get in the way of something more important, but I try not to beat myself up for it because I can always rebalance.

I’m looking forward to seeing how things change yet again once our second baby arrives this Fall. My daily life will obviously look a lot different while I’m on maternity leave (hello baby snuggles all day!) but I think it’s these ebbs and flows that keep life interesting! I will love the change of pace while missing work and my typical routine all at the same time.

I hope this post either gave you inspiration, validation or just the satisfaction that you could relate in some way. I look forward to connecting again in a couple weeks!

Sara  



 

 



 

 

What You Should Really Know About Having Three Kids

heather priss and vingear.jpg

Big families are totally trending, you guys! KIDDING. But maybe not entirely? It seems like everyone I know already has three children or is agonizing whether to add juuuuust one more to their brood of two.

My husband and I spent years wracked with this same angst, and Internet “research” did us no favors. There are a million articles peddling “truths” about having three children, and they are mostly scary AF. I learned that three is scientifically proven to be the most stressful number of children and that having only two hands for three children is apparently a real problem. The data was undeniable: DO.NOT.DO.THIS.

I’m here to tell you to stop agonizing and go for it, because being a family of five is actually terrific. The energy in our home has totally changed from “eh, we’re bored, let’s go do something” to 24/7 good-time chaos party, and I’m here for it. We don’t need to go to the zoo anymore because we are the zoo.

Suffice it to say, the Internet is getting this three-kid thing all wrong, you guys. Let’s clear up some of these misconceptions right now:

Two Hands + Three Children = Catastrophe.
WRONG. I don’t know why, but I find this one extra annoying. Like, unless you’re an octopus your family should just sit tight at two kids? Sorry, but mommy’s two hands aren’t the only capable ones in your household. My husband is a fully engaged co-parent and my big kids, at ages six and four years, are legit helpful. Everyone takes turns pushing the stroller, entertaining baby, and packing the diaper bag. I don’t have two hands; I have eight! Guess I’m an octopus after all?

Your House Will Be a Mess 24/7.
This one really flipped me out. I’m a neatnik, not because I’m trying to impress anyone or I want to suck the joy from my children’s lives or the patriarchy made me do it (I read the comments on Scary Mommy, too, you guys) but because I just can’t relax in mess. Sorry. It’s not you, its me.

Anyway, I’m here to tell you that welcoming another child will not turn your home into a vortex of filth. Buuuut you’re going to have to delegate more and find places to loosen the reins a bit. My older children have regular household chores (which are good for them!) and I am learning to accept my husband’s help without micromanaging how he does things. Our basement playroom is a designated free zone that can be a disaster, and I don’t care one bit.


You Better Like Your Partner Because You’re Going to Be Together ALL THE TIME.
Wrong again! Because of nap schedules and soccer games and birthday parties, my husband and I are constantly heading in different directions with varying assortments of children. We’ve also found that all five of us going out en masse can be more stressful than a trio and a pair doing their separate things. This, for us, has been the hardest adjustment, because we do actually like hanging out with each other. But, good news: we can’t get a babysitter anymore so we’re home together every night anyway. Wheeee!

You’ll Never Find a Babysitter Ever Again.
Sorry, you guys, but this is true. It is HARD to find someone who can juggle big kid energy and a baby’s needs simultaneously. Unless you have a regular nanny or au pair willing to work weekends or energetic grandparents living nearby, your social life is going to take a hit. This is, however, a short-term problem because eventually that precious baby will be part of your wild kid wolf pack that a neighborhood teenager can totally handle.

The Laundry Will Kill You.
I will never understand how adding one person to a family exponentially increases laundry output, but it’s just true. Our family is extremely grateful to be able to outsource most of this work, which we realize is a huge privilege not available to everyone. But let me tell you: I’d make so many other budget cuts before cutting housekeeping because not having to scale Mount Laundry chills me out way more than any trip to the day spa.

Your Middle Child Will Hate Life.
I always thought this was just parents projecting their overwrought guilt until it turned out to be kind-of true. (Tear.) My four year-old, Brooks, lost his mind a little bit when his baby brother arrived, kicking him out of the only son, baby-of-the-family sweet spot. The boy formerly known as my most well-behaved child suddenly started throwing tantrums, fighting with the older sister he worships, and refusing to do pretty much anything. It was awful and I will admit to shedding my fair share of tears over “ruining his life.” (What did I say about overwrought guilt again?!) A committed one-on-one time campaign helped tremendously, as did allowing him more hands-on time with baby. But still, I can’t wait to hear what his therapist has to say about it in twenty years.

Say Goodbye To Your Free Time.
My bandwidth for “extras” -- yoga classes, elaborate weekend cooking projects, working on my blog -- is significantly limited since welcoming baby number three. This sucks. But as with the aforementioned babysitter conundrum, this is a short-term problem. Eventually the baby will become a proper kid who’s way more interested in chasing his older siblings than snuggling his mama. I’m not crying; you’re crying.

You Will Never Sleep Again.
I mean, were you really sleeping that much with two kids anyway? Between nightmares and bathroom trips and things that go bump in the night (spoiler alert: it’s your kid), sleeping a solid seven consecutive hours is always a pleasant surprise. Adding a newborn to that mix is a little hairy for a bit, but I’m convinced that making the baby wait a moment before being tended to a la Bringing Up Bebe is why Mac is the easiest baby.

When One Kid is Gone, It Feels Like Vacation.
And when two kids are gone, it’s basically a spa day. Mark this one as true, folks. My standards for what qualifies as “leisure” have lowered dramatically, but I’m not mad at it. I’m actually grateful. Expanding our brood forced me to find small moments of relaxation everywhere because a big block of “me time” is so hard to come by. Whether it’s listening to a favorite podcast while nursing the baby or a few minutes on Instagram while sitting in the dry cleaner’s parking lot, these corners of calm feel all the more delicious because of their scarcity.

Three is the Most Stressful Number of Children.
It’s science, you guys! No, seriously, studies reveal that three is, statistically-speaking, the most stressful number of children. For what it’s worth, I think this can vary wildly from family to family. If you have three under three or a set of twins in the mix or a child with special needs, then yes, this is probably true for you. Hugs.

If, however, you have some age gaps like we do, your stress levels are unlikely to take a hit. Having a newborn and a two-year-old was SO much harder than this! All hail the Caboose Baby!

Pregnancy: The Not So Glamorous Side

heather-bundle-pregnancy

Growing up there was one thing I always wanted to be, a mom. I dreamed about it from a young age, role played with my Barbies and dolls. I could not wait to feel that little bean move around inside of me and feel the miracle of life. While I 100% agree that pregnancy is a miracle and I loved every single little hiccup and movement from both my boys, I will admit that pregnancy was not what I thought it would be. I remember growing up and my mom telling me how much she loved being pregnant. What she left out (or rather blocked out) were all those “not so glamorous moments”.

I feel like I could check off every single box from that “not so glamorous” checklist. I will admit I did not glow during my pregnancies. If anything I was sweating from all the nausea. From the moment I found out I was pregnant the nausea began. Everyone kept saying, “wait until the second trimester comes, you will feel great!” Well on came the second trimester, then the third but my nausea stuck around. Not only was I nauseous but the thought of meat was enough to send me running to the bathroom. And heartburn, oh the heartburn! I swore I was growing either a monkey or a fire breathing dragon from all they symptoms this little bean was giving me. So if you are reading this and have just found out you are expecting here is my first piece of advice. Eat what you can, when you can! Obviously we all try to eat healthy so our baby can get all the nutrients they can. But don’t get to hung up on that if you find you can’t hold anything down. If there are days where all you can eat is cereal than eat the cereal. If you need to keep a snack beside your bed for a midnight treat or early morning pick me up, that is ok. No one will judge you! Do what you need to do.

My second not so glamorous symptom was the back pain. Iy yi yi! The sciatic pain was unbearable. You know that pregnancy waddle that you read about. Yup! Been there, done that. At one point it was so bad my legs would give out on me and I would have to grab something around me so I would not fall. So my second piece of advice is this. Treat yourself. Whether that be a massage, a visit to the chiropractor, acupuncture, a pedicure with a good foot rub or a relaxing night of netflix and laying on a heating pad. Do what you have to do to stay comfortable and ahead of the pain. With my first pregnancy I kept saying, “I’m fine!” and would push myself more and more until I could no longer walk. Don’t do that. You are growing a little miracle and that is enough of a reason to say “I deserve a break!”

So here I am reflecting back on both my pregnancies with my two little boys tucked upstairs in their beds and you know what the first thing I remember is? I remember the way their movements would make me smile, I remember my husband kissing my belly every night before he would go to bed. I remember the absolute joy I felt when they were placed the sweet babe on my chest the first time. All those horrible pregnancy symptoms seem to be pushed out of my memory. All those horrible pregnancy symptoms all of a sudden become totally worth it. So if you have made it through this whole post and are feeling these little bubbles and twirls inside, I just want to say, “you got this girl!” Trust me, it is totally worth it. Enjoy it, because even though my pregnancies were not fun I have to admit I totally miss it.

 First Pregnancy- December 2015

First Pregnancy- December 2015

 Second Pregnancy - July 2017

Second Pregnancy - July 2017

pregnancy 2

Advice for New Moms

In early March, we welcomed our second baby into the family. My second pregnancy was not as easy or enjoyable as my first and I was being constantly plagued with the projection that, because our first, Elliot, was such an easy baby, surely number two would rock our world. I don’t know about you, but that kind of sentiment didn’t rest well with me and I am a stubborn person, so I was that much more determined to not need people after the birth of our son, Clark. Enter advice for new moms.

  1. Don’t let the opinions of other people  dictate your actions.  As I said above, I am, perhaps to a fault, a very stubborn person. I like to pretend that it translates to determined, but for the most part it’s me not wanting to be vulnerable. Mommas, the most humbling and perhaps most important thing I’ve learned is to not let what other people say change how I decision-make when it comes to my children. Sometimes that means eating your words and succumbing to what everyone was telling you, but I find that more often than not, it’s giving other people a polite smile, followed by doing exactly what you intended to in the first place. You see, there is this thing called a mother’s instinct. And it’s real-life. I have found that when I ignore that, I always end up regretting it.

  2. Listen to your body. After I had Elliot, I didn’t want help at the house from anyone. I had felt great the entire pregnancy and bounced back relatively quickly. When I delivered Clark, I knew that I would need help with Elliot, so my sister came to stay with us for a few days, but I still fought letting her and my husband take care of me. Another part of that maternal instinct is to, above all else, care for our little ones. The problem there is that our bodies need healing. Because I didn’t want to forego changing every diaper, my body suffered and I ultimately took twice as long to heal. Give yourself a second to get back on your feet and don’t be so hard on yourself. Ultimately, we can’t be at our best mom-selves if we aren’t feeling our best human-selves (and there is a difference).

  3. Make a routine.  Children want boundaries. They want to know what to expect and what you expect of them, even at birth. I think it’s fair to say that most of us function best when we can plan our day out and know what is required of us in that day. I fought this with my second baby. I think, perhaps, because I had, “He’s going to rock your world” stuck in my brain that I was just trying to make him happy, regardless of the fact that it was nothing like what I had done with my daughter. I would face an inevitable “witching hour” in the evening and dance around my living room like a fool, just for some silence. I thought that every time he cried he just needed to be fed so I stopped writing down everything I did and threw my second time mom experience out the window (huge mistake). I didn’t trust myself and my whole family briefly suffered for it. Finally, at six weeks, I stepped out of my new-mom-fog and smacked myself back to the reality that my babies like designated nap-times. They like routine feedings and structured active time. I wrote out a schedule on Sunday night that I intended to follow Monday and stick with no matter how challenging it became. It was a glorious day. He ate well, he napped well, he smiled when we played and when witching hour came, I heard silence. I’m not going to give you my schedule because it likely won’t work for you. It’s important to look at your family and block things out in a way that makes the most sense for you and fulfills the need of your newborn. I promise you, if you do this, you’ll feel like yourself again. It gives you a sense of control in what can feel like an uncontrollable new norm. It frees you from the anxiety of leaving the house and not knowing what to expect.

  4. Stop. For me, there is always something that can be done. I struggle daily with enjoying little moments and taking care of a task that feels like it’s looming in the corner. After having our son, I was very nervous about how I would give one hundred percent of my time to two children. Friends, that isn’t possible. Don’t burden your brain with that. It requires mental discipline to not go there, but you have to find ways to stop and enjoy the moments with each child, with both and as a family.

  5. Seek out other moms. This goes for moral support in addition to advice and finding great products that your kids will love. If you’re reading this blog, you’ve got a jump because you’ve already realized that our greatest assets are each other. I can’t tell you how many Instagram accounts have brought me to some of my most useful and helpful baby products. It’s this gift that we, as new moms, should definitely take advantage of more often.

I could probably write a book about different things that I’ve used or women who have helped me along the way, but those are the five that, I found, have given me the most peace of mind. Let’s be honest, we all need a little bit of that when we bring home tiny people who rely entirely on us for their care and nurturing.