Postpartum

Life With Two Kids.

Photo Credits: Jennifer Kendall Photography

Photo Credits: Jennifer Kendall Photography

I had my second baby when my first was 2 ½ years old. We knew we wanted two kids from the start. But really had no clue what to expect. Adjusting to life with 2 in the beginning went smoothly but as they get older it gets a little crazy.  

When my second was born, I signed my oldest up for part time preschool. That was definitely the best decision ever. I got two days a week to focus all of my time to just one kid. It definitely helped the transition period. As my youngest gets older, I’ve noticed the need for multiple cups of coffee. HA!! Life with two boys can get a little crazy at times. They get into EVERYTHING!!  From playing in the dirt to playing in the toilet bowl, there is never a dull moment in my house.

I have learned to keep my kids busy doing something like puzzles or coloring. We also stay very active. I joined a wonderful moms group last year. We go on play dates at least once or twice a week. I highly recommend finding a moms group. This is a great way to get kids out of the house to mingle with other kids their ages.

My boys like the same things. So having two of everything is very important. Although, I’ve noticed they still want what the other one has regardless of it’s the same. They are still learning how to share and play nicely with each other.

Being a mom of two can be so challenging at times. But I can honestly tell you it’s the best decision in the world to grow your family. My boys don’t always get along, and that can be annoying. But I can tell they love each other so much and as they get older they will only grow closer. I keep telling myself not to blink because the last two years just flew by.

Partner and Family Dynamics

This weekend I traveled to New Orleans to catch a flight to Pennsylvania for a work conference. Fortunately for me, my in-laws live there and not only did they let me crash the night before my early morning flight, but my mother-in-law drove me to the airport at 6am. (Praise hands!) As soon as I made it through security, I grabbed a chai tea latte and made myself comfortable while I waited until it was late enough to FaceTime my husband and son.  By 6:50am I was making silly faces as I was talking to Chris and Blake, and when I hung up the phone I laughed and thought to myself: “Wow… times have changed!”

With that reality setting in, I started thinking about the last 19 months. I thought about how different my relationships are, how differently I prioritize my time/energy/resources, what values lead my life, and how my identity as a woman has evolved. I’m sure a lot of moms can relate to this, so I’d like to share some of the obvious and not so obvious impacts that these changes can have with your partner and your family dynamics and what you can do to manage that.

First, your identity (or the role you’ve played) changes, thus your identity/role in your closest relationships changes. Sure, I’m still Amanda and you’re still you, but also… not really. How you see yourself changes, and I’m not just talking about the reflection in the mirror. Being a mother means your priorities shift, your responsibilities grow, and your values evolve as you begin to settle into life as a parent. When your primary identity changes from wife or daughter to MOTHER the ripple effect can seem like a tidal wave to the people who knew you before.

Emotions, oh, the emotions. Being a mother certainly can introduce new emotions and even significant shifts in your mood and behavior. You may find yourself on the verge of tears as you look at your kids’ baby photos from last month (seriously?). You may also find yourself operating in extremes- becoming completely enmeshed with you child’s emotions or completely intolerant of your spouse’s. The emotional rollercoaster you didn’t sign up to ride has you barreling down a cliff and as you look behind, you see your very confused husband and family screaming behind you. Whoops! Who knew these emotional changes were so powerful.

Another change that is both obvious and expected is that your spending habits change. And I’m talking more than just money (hello, new roommate!). You’re also spending more time getting out of the door every morning, you’re spending less time sleeping, you’re spending more brain power trying to manage multiple workloads and sets of expectations, and you’re spending more physical energy making sure your new roommate is housed, clothed, and fed on a daily basis. Your regular date night is forgotten about, running that errand for your sister is impossible, and that birthday reminder you wrote on your calendar gets overlooked. And all these changes mean you’re spending less time/energy/attention focusing on your romantic and family relationships. So, you guessed it- these changes in your spending have consequences!

It’s ok… I repeat- IT IS OK. You are human, and you are constantly in transition. And I promise you that if your support system is made up of a least a couple of decent individuals they will forgive you. However, in an effort to not completely bankrupt your support system’s forgiveness bank I’d like to share some communication strategies and other tactics that I use, and that you can try to bring some balance back to your partner and family dynamics.

Ask for what you need.

This is probably the most important one! I swear, there is no greater spiritual practice than being aware of what you need and asking for it. Tell your partner and your family what’s going on, tell them what you need, ask for their help- and accept it. Despite these people loving you and knowing you does NOT mean they can interpret or even anticipate your needs. They are very used to you being just their wife, just their daughter, just their sister and will likely continue to treat you that way unless you inform them that you need something more/less or different.  

Take accountability.

I can tell you from experience, this one can be hard at times; however, when I’ve done it right it strengthens my relationships. Tell your spouse you’re sorry if you forget something important; don’t let the guilt make you avoid them or the topic. If you snapped at your mom- make amends.  Acknowledge your newfound limits and make a game plan for how you want to manage your multiple roles.

Be open and honest.

Say “no” when you really can’t make something happen- I promise you, people handle an initial rejection better than a delayed one. If you’re feeling burned out, let your partner or family know. They may be willing to take over if it means you’ll be recharged the next day.

Set boundaries

This one can be difficult pending your pre-baby dynamic. If things were tense before you started a family, you can probably anticipate that setting boundaries will continue to be difficult. However, decide what boundaries you need for yourself and your new life and communicate those to your family and partner. If someone in your family repeatedly crosses boundaries, make a game plan for what consequences will be upheld and how you want to address it with them.  

Be gentle with yourself

Give yourself permission to feel a wide range of emotions in general and towards others. Don’t judge these emotions as they come up. Be realistic about what you can handle any given week and don’t put unnecessary things on your plate. It may sound silly but if you make it a point to talk kindly to yourself you will feel better as you figure all this transition stuff out.

To all my fellow roller coaster riders out there, I hope you’re enjoying your ride!

 

xo,

Amanda

 

My Favorite Baby Gear

Hey mamas! This week we’ll be talking about some of my favorite products for little ones. I want to preface this by saying that I HATE baby gear-truly, I hate clutter of all varieties and my husband can attest to the fact that nothing makes me happier than purging our possessions and getting rid of things we don’t love or use frequently. I know the usual rule of thumb is if you haven’t used it in 6 months, get rid of it; I prefer to use a 2 month rule, seasonal items notwithstanding. What we have in our home are products that are used regularly and are fairly neutral in design. Something to also keep in mind is that every babe and family is different and has their own set of preferences and needs but these are the hands-down the best products that we’ve used for our family.

Feeding:

This is such a tricky area to make recommendations, as things are so individualized to you and your baby’s needs. One thing that we found to be very helpful was the Boon Grass drying rack. We’ve used it since the beginning and are still going strong with it 18 months in! I love that it looks a bit more fun than most drying racks-if it’s going to sit on my counter for two years, I want to like how it looks! A few other items that worked for us were the Tommee Tippee bottles and soft lid cups (not a million parts, easy to wash, and never gave her gas!), and the Munchkin 360 cups.

Sleeping/Clothing:

One product I found to be very helpful isn’t exactly a “baby product” but I highly recommend reading Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. The section on “The Pause” was so helpful to read when we were working on establishing healthy sleep habits with Ellie. We are also huge fans of Petit Pehr swaddles; the muslin is so soft and stretchy (perfect for creating baby burritos!) and the prints are fantastic. When we found out we were expecting our new babe, this was one of the items I immediately ordered, along with some new Petit Pehr crib sheets. Our nursery is predominantly neutral colors, but these fun sheets gave the nursery a bit of a playful pop.

In terms of clothing, I’ll try to be brief but wanted to share those items that we’ve loved and would buy again and again. The Gap has most adorable knit Garter Collection sweaters. These beauties hold up wonderful after multiple washes and work well for little boys and girls. I always imagine that I’ll end up saving one for each of my children to pass down to their little ones one day. I have the same thought towards the Freshly Picked moccasins. While a little pricey, they stay on your babes feet easily and are just such a great basic shoe for both babies and young walkers. Hanna Andersson pajamas are also a favorite in our house. These jammies are excellent quality, super soft, hold up beautifully after many cycles through the wash and come in my favorite style-stripes!

Something I’d recommend investing in is a Patagonia down sweater. Steve gave me the hardest time in spending the money for this item but it was so worth it. After a winter of playing outside, this jacket looks just as good as the day we got it. We plan on purchasing these in gender-neutral colors and having each of our children get some wear out of them.

My last favorite items for Ellie have been her L.L.Bean fleece jacket, as well as her very own L.L.Bean slippers made from the same material as the popular Wicked Good slippers. These shearling beauties are so toasty and the rubber sole was terrific for her, especially when she was just learning to walk.

Play:

It is so easy to get carried away with purchasing every toy imaginable for your little ones, but I really don’t have too many recommendations in this area. Ellie loved playing with some traditional toys like the Fisher Price stacking cups and rings, but one thing she got the biggest kick out of was the Munch Mitt. This little glove-like toy is capped with a food-grade silicone top that babies LOVE to chew on and the mitt design allows them (ok, you!) to not worry about dropping it over and over again. Anything made by Bannor Toys has also gotten a lot of love in our house. These heirloom quality wooden toys can also be personalized and not only are beautiful and durable but make great gifts for friends and family when they bring home a new babe.

Gear:

Like every girl who wasn’t the first to have a baby among their close group of friends, when I initially registered for a stroller, I stole recommendations from my mama pals who had done all the research. We wound up with the Britax B Agile & B Safe 35 Travel System. I was perfectly happy with this set up...until I got pregnant again. Now my suggestion for new moms is to register for a stroller that can convert to a double! We recently purchased the Baby Jogger City Select and man-oh-man, am I in love! This stroller is fantastic because of it’s in-line set up (hello, aisles of Target that I can easily fit down!), ability to handle easily (because what mother honestly has two free hands to push a stroller?), and it’s flexibility configurations and in fitting an infant car seat along with toddler seats. The City Select also has converter clips for almost every major car seat which is so helpful!

Another mama hack I couldn’t live without is babywearing. While I know this is certainly subject not only to your preferences but also your child’s, I highly suggest giving it a try a few different time. I started wearing Ellie in the Solly baby wrap (so soft, so stretchy, perfect for brand new babes) and while she wasn’t super happy the first few times I wore her, by the end of the first week, she was snoozing away in the wrap, giving me more time to use both of my hands. Once she was around three months, I switched to using a Wildbird ring sling. Mamas, purchase one of these beauties at your own risk as they are highly addictive! The simplicity of the ring sling design (so easy to get on and off) and the gorgeousness of the breathable linen material is why I prefer slinging to a more traditional structured carrier. That being said, if a carrier is more your bag, I highly recommend checking out Happy Baby and Lillebaby carriers-they have excellent reviews and come in the cutest prints.

Now for my all-time favorite baby/toddler product-the Ciao Baby high chair. Steve and I joke all the time that we should be brand ambassadors, due to the number of times we’ve been asked about this amazing chair when we’ve been out and about. This collapsible high chair is made much like a camp chair and folds neatly into its fabric case for easy travel. The plastic coated tray section is easily wiped down and can be used not only for feeding but also as an on-the-go playstation. Ellie has used this since she was five months old and we actually used it yesterday when we took her to get ice cream. It goes with us quite literally everywhere (on vacation, out to dinner, to Grandma’s house) and is such a terrific product, especially since the market doesn’t really offer anything quite like it.

I hope that this post was helpful but want to end with this thought: borrow! Borrow any and all baby items that you can, to try things out and see what works for you and your little one. Then invest in items that you feel will get a lot of use and hold up well through multiple children.

If you have any other items that you have loved for your family, please, please, please share them in the comments below!

 

ashley-caroline-photography-2

Becoming a Mom of Two

sara k-mom of two

Hi again everyone! Thrilled to be back for my second Bundle Moms blog post! As you may have read in my “About Me” post, I am expecting my second baby in early October. Well, we recently found out the gender and we’re so excited to share we’re having another girl! I am still sort of processing because I was convinced it was a boy! When the ultrasound tech told us, I yelled, “WHAT?! NO WAY!” and then a couple tears of joy rolled down my face. I was shocked and happy at the same time. I love having a daughter so I’m thrilled to have another one. Also, my relationship with my sister is so special, so I’m excited for the bond that my daughters will hopefully have.

Finding out the gender has definitely made me more excited about the pregnancy. I remember feeling this way the first time too - it just feels more real! This milestone also signifies being halfway through the pregnancy, which brings on contrasting feelings of “I feel like I’ve been pregnant forever,” to “OMG we’re already halfway there!” The first part always feels longer because you likely don’t feel well and you might be keeping your happy news a secret, and the second half seems to fly by! Looking at the busy summer months ahead I’m sure October 2 will be here before we know it! Although, my guess is she will make her grand entrance in late September :)

Everything is different this time around… from the pregnancy itself to the way I’m feeling about bringing another baby into our lives, to what our daily life looks like now. The first time around I would describe my mental state as excited and slightly overwhelmed by what taking care of a newborn would actually be like. This time I feel much less nervous about the newborn parenting stuff, but instead overwhelmed about having two young children to care for. Especially since our first born, Dylan is approaching two years old and is exhibiting some qualities that fall under that “terrible two’s” phrase. Although at her core she’s a super sweet, fun girl, she can be very challenging at times and the thought of dealing with her and a newborn at the same time is definitely daunting. I know it won’t be easy, but the good will outweigh the bad and it will all be worth it.

Since I’ve been through it once before, I have an idea of what I’m looking forward to and what I’m not. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the breastfeeding experience, so I’m not looking forward to that, but I do believe in the benefits of it so I’m more than willing to make the sacrifice again. And I think it goes without saying, but I’m not looking forward to the midnight feedings and diaper changes and interrupted sleep, but I am looking forward to all the baby snuggles it comes with. Even though Dylan is only two (but she’s big for her age), she seems like such a big kid now, and I’m looking forward to holding a tiny, cuddly, sleepy baby in my arms. When I look back on that time with Dylan, some things were harder and some things were easier. They sleep more frequently and aren’t mobile so there’s no chasing them around and keeping them out of trouble, but they also require so much and when you can’t figure out why they’re crying it can be exhausting. Like I mentioned in my first post, there are just different challenges and joys at each stage, and I’m so curious about what it will be like to navigate all the challenges and joys of two children at two different stages. I know some days I’ll feel defeated and some days I’ll feel like Super Mom. Bring it on!

I’m definitely looking forward to maternity leave more this time. I think the first time I was overwhelmed at being a brand new mom and sometimes forgot to enjoy the time. This time since I know more of what to expect, I hope to really cherish the time because it’s so special. Dylan will be in all-day preschool by then which I think will be great for all of us, especially through the transition. I think Dylan will love and thrive in her new routine with new friends, and John and I will get to focus the majority of the day on the new baby and then enjoy time together as a family in the evenings and on weekends. I’m also excited because John will be home while I’m on maternity leave this time. Last time he had a different job and was in the office every day. Now that he’s self-employed, he will be home with us! I’m sure it will be challenging for him to focus on work and the baby, but I’m going into it with the mindset that I’m the primary caregiver and his priority during the day is work unless I really need help. It will just be nice to have him around so I’m not lonely!

Something I feel really great about is the fact that I’ll be taking 6 months off work for maternity leave, and when I go back John will continue to take care of baby #2 for probably another 6 months before we send her to daycare, and once we do, we know we’ll take her to the same place Dylan goes to now which we love. Already knowing where both kids will be all day at that point is really comforting, and as a bonus, they are just a few blocks away from each other.  

There are some other logistics on my mind as we get further along with this pregnancy, including figuring out how to arrange the kids room (we only have two bedrooms in our house so they will share) going through the storage bins of Dylan’s baby clothes and stuff to decide what we need and what we can part with, and potty training Dylan before baby #2 gets here. We have a busy summer ahead so sometimes as the days and weeks are flying by, one of these things pops into my head and I have a moment of panic thinking about how we need to take care of them, but I know they’ll happen when they’re meant to.

Overall I’m super excited about having another baby and (almost) everything that comes with it. I can’t wait to see Dylan become a big sister and to watch them interact and grow together. I realize we’re very fortunate to be able to grow our family and have two healthy children. I look forward to sharing more updates with all of you soon!

 

Sara  


 

Pumping products we love!

simple-wishes-handsfree

Here are some of the products we love for pumping!

Simple Wishes Signature Handsfree Pumping Bra: So we really recommend this for moms who are returning to work. It can be so hard to pump at work when you have a million things to do. Allowing yourself to set up your pump and be hands-free really helps give you a few minutes to massage your breasts, relax, and even send an email or two. We don't recommend that! But it sometimes is necessary at work.

Milkies No Break, No Leak Storage Bags and Milkies Fairhaven Milkies Freeze: We discovered Milkies company at ABC Expo where we go to discover new companies and products. We completely fell in love with their entire line of products and we can't say enough good things about them. They are two moms who created breastfeeding products after having their children. We loved their milk storage bags because they have on the bags temperature and storage guidelines!!!! OMG! How fabulous is that! SO genius! No more standing at the fridge guessing about temperature!

Medela Quick-Clean Micro-Steam Bags: Lordy, these are our favorite things that we discovered. Simply throw all of your bottles and pump parts in the bag and toss in the microwave to sterilize everything. 

 

New mom tips: self-care.

Who better to give advice on self-care than new moms! We asked some friends to share their tips. 

If you’re overwhelmed it’s ok to put the baby in their crib and go to another room, drink a glass of water or something non-alcoholic and take a breather. Baby will be fine. Also, put the bouncy seat near the shower or bathtub and take a nice relaxing bath/shower. Washing your hair does wonders if you’re feeling less than awesome
-Cassandra

 

Ask someone to set a meal train for you. Buy quick healthy snacks.
-Erika

 

For me, setting little personal priorities helped me feel less overwhelmed. For example, I always drank my coffee while hot and made sure I got a hot bath when I needed to destress at night after putting the kiddo down. I also ordered Forage, which I don't think exists anymore. Cooking myself gorgeous meals (I only started this 3 months postpartum) at night that only took 20 mins was amazing. And, I love yoga and have been practicing for years, so I made sure I could get 1-2 in per week in the evenings.
-Rachel

 

This is an area that I am actively trying to get better at. A few things I did when I first had my daughter was to schedule a massage a few weeks after she was born to force myself to get out and do something for myself. The bouncer/swing near the shower is another great piece of advice. Making an agreement with your partner/SO to let each other have one free night out each week to do something outside of the house (and sticking to it) is another work in progress.
-Christina

 

Let hubby have autonomy! They can’t do more if we don’t let them. Example: husband takes first couple shifts of night time feeding so Mom can sleep a solid 4-6 hours without waking up to feed/nurse.
-Mandy

 

Important tips for pumping.

pumping.jpg

If you're breastfeeding and are going to be away from your baby for more than two hours, it is important to pump so that your baby can still get breastmilk, but also so you can keep your milk supply up. Pumping allows your body to release the milk, just like a feeding, and signals your body to make more milk. Whatever you take out, your body will make.

Wash your hands. It seems like a no-brainer but so many moms forget to wash their hands before pumping. It's important to keep everything sterile.

Use clean, dry equipment every time you pump. Equipment should be washed with hot, soapy water and air dried after each use. If you are pumping frequently and several times a day, you can put all of your pump parts in a sealed Ziploc bag and put in the refrigerator.

Aim for 10 to 15 minutes of pumping time. You don't want to pump too long because you can damage your milk ducts. When double pumping (pumping both breasts at the same time), pump for 10 to 15 minutes. When pumping one breast at a time, pump for 10 minutes each.

Babies can get more milk than a breast pump. It can be super frustrating to pump for 10 or 15 minutes and only see an ounce in the bottle. The truth is that what you express is not reflective of how much milk you have and is not even close to how much milk your baby is consuming. Babies can always get out more milk than a breast pump. It can be stressful, but you might just need to adjust your suction or try pumping at another time of day.

A stud a dud. Each woman has one breast, a "stud" that expresses more milk than the other one, "dud". Don't worry, your dud is not really a dud, but it can sure feel that way. Just know that when double pumping you will get different amounts and not to stress or to think that something is wrong.

 

Reflecting on your birthing experience.

birth-story-bundle-of-joy

Congratulations on your little one! How exciting! Can you believe that you are now a parent? What we find remarkable at The Bundle of Joy community is how unique each and every woman's labor experience is. 

We truly believe that it is helpful, therapeutic, and necessary to reflect on your birth experience. It is important to try and resolve any questions about what and why something things might have happened in the birth and to begin the process of closure, especially while it is fresh in your mind.

We recommend writing out your story in a journal and, if you feel comfortable, sharing with family and friends. Allowing yourself to reflect allows you to express your emotions and work towards closure and focusing on your new baby. Often times, labor goes differently than we imagined or hoped for. Sharing your birthing story allows you to see it in a new way.

Grab a journal or just write yourself an email. While it can be relaxing to hand-write it out, sometimes it is easier to type as your thoughts flow quickly.