Labor: The Bloody Truth

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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.

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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.

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 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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

My First Pregnancy

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Hi There!

Before too much time passes and my mind shifts to all things baby, I wanted to share a few things from my first pregnancy with our son, Tommy!

I will first say that I feel fortunate to have had a fairly easy first experience with pregnancy. Other than a week or two of mild morning sickness during weeks 7-9 and some serious acne (thank you hormones), I felt pretty great throughout and was able to continue exercising and maintain my normal work and life routines. That said, I won’t go as far to say that I wasn’t absolutely exhausted by the time the end of the third trimester rolled around but by that time there was light at the end of the tunnel!

 

COMFORT IS KEY!
When it came to maternity fashion, I prioritized comfort over all things! Since I work from home, I kept to a fairly simple maternity wardrobe of leggings and loose sweaters in the fall and winter months. I found that my Madewell cardigans which typically run large were perfect for my growing belly and I also sized up in my favorite Lululemon Wunder Under Tights & Crops and wore those throughout my entire pregnancy (I loved how they came up a bit higher but weren’t a complete full panel – they have also been amazing for the first couple of months after baby!) A few of my other favorite places to find maternity clothes were AsosTarget, Gap (their GapFittops were my favorite, so soft!) and Pea in the Pod.  

STARTING THE DAY OFF RIGHT
I’ve always loved breakfast and I honestly can’t remember a time that I have ever skipped the meal, but when I got pregnant my breakfast cravings went from grabbing something quick to…egg sandwiches; literally EVERY morning. I think that having a more substantial breakfast really helped me feel better throughout the day energy wise. I have Celiac Disease so grabbing a bagel on the go hasn’t really been an option for me for the past 10 or so years. Right around the time I found out I was pregnant, I discovered theseamazing gluten free everything bagel things and I’m pretty sure I’ve had at least one every day since! I got a set of these silicone egg ringsvoila, I was whipping up baked egg sandwiches in no time!

MY ROUTINE, SIMPLIFIED.
I was a bit overwhelmed by all of the rules of what you are and aren’t allowed to use. My best advice for the rules is to avoid google and just ask your doctor. There is so much information out there and sometimes it is hard to decipher what sources are valid but the nurses and doctors will be able to put your mind at ease with anything you aren’t sure of.

When it came to skincare products, I actually found that pregnancy helped me simplify my daily routine. I had been playing around with all kind of different brands of lotions and serums but I hadn’t found anything that I loved. Right around when I hit the 9-week mark my skin developed a mind of its own and I began getting cystic acne all over my face. As anyone who has experienced having bad breakouts can attest to, you become desperate for anything that could possibly work. Of course, many of these solutions are the same ones that are not allowed when you’re pregnant. I tried every natural remedy that I could find but to no avail. Eventually, I decided to take a step back and simplify my routine. I started using the Beauty Counter products and have been using them ever since. I can’t say for sure if it was the products themselves or the fact that my hormones had leveled out a bit mid-way through my second trimester but my skin began feeling like mine again and I loved that I was using a product line that I knew was safe for my skin but also for my little one growing inside me! I would highly recommend the charcoal cleansing bar, cleansing balm, and the rejuvenating night cream as my personal favorites thus far!  

…so there’s just a few of my personal takeaways from this time around. It is unbelievable how quickly you can forget those months and the crazy side effects of being pregnant when your little one finally arrives!

 

Xo

Kristen B.

 

Maternity Fashion

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Hello hello!  

I am so happy to be back and writing for the Bundle of Joy blog, this time about something that I am thinking a lot about these days.... maternity fashion!

Full disclosure - I am by no means an expert in this arena. As this is my first time dressing a bump I am still very much learning (and making some mistakes) as I go. But for the rest of you first timers out there, maybe you can learn a thing or two, or at least what not to do, from me :)

I’m now in my 18th week of pregnancy and am officially no longer able to wear my old pants. For a while I did the old hair tie around the button and through the loop of my jeans trick… it’s effective but... definitely not the most attractive option in the world. Thanks to a very sweet friend, I was upgraded to the “Instant Button” , which is essentially the same concept just using elastic made to look like the top of your jeans. Effective and attractive. These were a great solution for that awkward stage where you’re not quite big enough for maternity clothes, but your old clothes definitely aren’t comfortable anymore. My sister-in-law, who is also expecting, swears by the Belly Band. I have yet to purchase one for myself but hear only good, comfy things about it!

During the day I work as a floral designer so, fortunately, I am able to keep it pretty casual most of the time. This usually means sneakers, leggings and a loose tunic, which was basically my work wardrobe pre-pregnancy as well. The one thing I did invest in early on (out of necessity) was a new bra. I went up several sizes and even my old sports bras weren’t going to cut it, fit or comfort wise. I got two great bras from Uniqlo - no underwire but still totally supportive and very soft. Highly recommend!

Other stores I have purchased maternity clothing from so far include Old Navy (super affordable leggings and tank dresses), the Gap (I found a really pretty floral wrap dress there that I love!), H&M (I got a pair of white jeans that are super soft and fit well, I did NOT however realize how hot full panel pants make you so… I won’t be wearing them as far into the summer as I had hoped), and I also did a Stitch Fix box of maternity clothes. I didn’t keep everything, but I got a great striped dress and wrap cardigan that will double as a nursing cover so it was still a success in my book!

Now that it’s getting warmer, I’ve been wearing a ton more dresses. I love that they aren’t tight in the belly area at all (I do not miss my high waisted jeans!) and I’ve been able to wear a lot of dresses from my pre-pregnancy wardrobe as well, which I hope to do for as long as I can. I’m trying to mostly buy things I can wear both now and after delivery, so I forsee lots of loose and flowy maxi dresses in my future for this summer!

I think my biggest piece of advice so far would be to just go ahead and put your comfort above style. We had a few weddings to attend this Spring and I did not realize just how much of a toll the added weight would take on my feet in heels. Skip the heels, ladies! Unless (like me) you really want to wear them,  in which case go for it - just be sure to bring along bandaids. I was seriously blistered within MINUTES of leaving the hotel! Ouch!

Anyway, as I’m still very much learning and figuring out how to navigate bump style, I’d love to hear from other moms about what has worked for you. Where were your favorite places to find maternity clothes? What do you know now that you wish you knew then?

 

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you have a great week!

Xoxo



 

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!

 

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Becoming a Mom of Two

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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  


 

Meet Kristen.

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Hi There!

I am honored to be a part of the Bundle of Joy Community and to be joining this incredible group of moms in sharing our stories and learning from one another!

First, a little bit about me…

My name is Kristen Beilein and I am very new to the title of “mom,” just about 8 weeks to be exact. As those of you with children can relate to, having our son Tommy has truly changed our world in the most amazing ways possible. On the other hand, I’d be lying if I didn’t say the past two months have been a bit of a whirlwind (hence my late intro post, apologies!)

My husband, Patrick, and I live in Syracuse, NY where we met four years ago. We fell in love quickly and starting a family was always a large part of how we envisioned our future together. We got married last June and while we weren’t sure how long it may take us to grow our family, we were delighted (and yes, a bit surprised) when it happened very quickly! There are certain moments that you can remember so vividly and telling Patrick our news is one of those for me. I will never forget the smile on his face and the love in his eyes when I told him that he was going to be a dad.

I was born here in Upstate, NY but I haven’t always lived in the freezing cold. I enjoyed four amazing years at the University of North Carolina where I played lacrosse for the Tar Heels alongside my best friend and older sister, Kelly. After college, I moved to NYC where I worked in Merchandising for Ralph Lauren. After about a year and a half, I realized I was in search of a new challenge and moved out West for a job with Nike at their World Headquarters in Oregon. I fell in love with the charming city of Portland; everything from the local farmers markets to my girlfriends who made 6am runs together the best part of the day. I learned so much about myself during those years as I grew my career in Product Development and Brand Marketing, but the one thing I missed dearly and knew I could never duplicate in Oregon was family.

Fast forward to 2014. I moved back to Upstate, NY and pursued a personal goal of working for myself. I started a consulting business where I could focus more of my time on the work that I loved and while it’s hard to believe that it’s been over 3 years since this new beginning, so many wonderful things have happened since taking that leap…engaged, married, and now blessed with our baby boy. We are incredibly fortunate to have two amazing families and I feel very lucky to be living just miles from my mom and siblings here in Syracuse. It is a dream to be able to call my sister up and meet her for coffee or take our kids to the playground together and see her two little ones love on their new cousin Tommy. We coach our High School lacrosse team together which has been such a fun adventure and brings back the best memories of playing the sport that we loved together. Patrick is a college basketball coach which will likely take our little family on a journey of living in different places but for right now Syracuse is home, and we love that.

Being a first-time mom has been the most rewarding, intimidating, tiring and overall the most incredible experience of my life. Patrick and I often find ourselves staring at his little face (he started smiling last week and it is the most amazing thing, ever). I am definitely a ‘planner’ by nature but if there is anything that pregnancy and motherhood have already taught me, it is to embrace the beauty of uncertainty.In full disclosure, I don’t even know exactly what going back to work will look like for me in these next few months but for now, I am soaking up every minute with our little guy and we will figure that out as we go.

I look forward to sharing more about my experiences as a first-time mom and learning from you all. I have already had many ‘rookie’ moments and am about to embark on a flight to Tampa with the little guy in t-minus 12 hours so I will have lots to report back on about flying with an infant (prayers please!)

Thanks so much for letting me introduce myself and I can’t wait to grow this community together!

 

xo,

Kristen

 

New! Our Royal Bundle!

royal bundle

It's no surprise that we've got the Royal Fever over here-- I mean, first the announcement that Kate Middleton and Prince William were expecting and then the Royal Engagement!! Well we are so happy that Prince Louis is happy and healthy and that the Royal Wedding is just hours away!

We've introduced our Limited Edition Royal Bundle so that you can send some joy and excitement to friends who love the Royal family as much as we do!

Shop it here!

Meet Corinne.

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Hi everyone! My name is Corinne Plafker. I am 29 years old and live in Burlingame, California, a town just about 15 minutes from San Francisco, with my husband, Jake, my beautiful 6-month old baby girl, Maddison, and fur-baby, Nash.

I was born and raised in San Francisco, graduated from San Francisco State University, started my career in event planning in San Francisco, a true city girl, can’t you tell? Little did I know what was in store for me on this crazy journey called life...

In college I met my best friend, Liz, who introduced me to her cousin, Jake. We went on a camping trip to Lake Don Pedro for Memorial Day Weekend 2008 and that's when sparks flew. Jake and I kept in contact for years as friends, but about five years ago we went on our official first date and the rest is history.

Jake was working on finding his career path which drastically shifted from Physical Therapy to Cardiac Pulmonary Perfusion. With this switch meant searching for a school. We had two options: Nashville, Tennessee or Charleston, South Carolina. We visited Charleston for his first interview and took a road trip down to Nashville for his second. On the drive to Nashville, I may have gotten a little ahead of myself and excited about starting this new life together so I started to search for puppies (yes, crazy, I know!). It was love at first Ebay Pet Classifieds ad- the stuffed animal look-a-like puppy! For hours we went back and forth about this insane idea about getting a puppy on a cross-country trip, but in the end went home with our fur-baby, Nash (for Nashville). This story has a slight resemblance of our relationship. Happy wife, happy life, right? Jake was first accepted into Nashville and then into Charleston. This surfer boy couldn't imagine life without a beach, so Charleston it was. Needles to say, this true city girl followed her heart for love to the South!

Three months before moving, Jake popped the question. We decided to have a long engagement so that we could enjoy our new city, apartment, fur-baby, and not stress about the details of wedding planning.  The move was bittersweet; sad to leave everything I had ever known, but desperate for a new adventure. I packed up boxes of my exorbitant amount of clothes, left my job as a wedding planner, said goodbye to family and friends and we hit the road! Shortly after arriving in Charleston, we were able to get settled. I finally found a job back in wedding planning and spent a lot of time networking to meet new friends. The change was hard at first, but was a distant memory once it just became our normal life. Yes, driving away from our apartment complex seeing alligators in the morning was never quite normal, but friendships grew, work became routine, and we were happy with our new Southern life.

After the first year of school, Jake learned he would be traveling to various hospitals within the country for rotations which meant we would spend the next 8 months apart. Back home to San Francisco Nash and I went and spent many nights on FaceTime and exchanged nonstop handwritten letters. I decided to start my own wedding planning business and dabble into a new career path- recruiting. After accepting a position at UCSF, Jake moved back home and we moved into an apartment in Burlingame, California to start our new journey.  Finally, on September 3, 2016 we got married at a winery in Los Gatos, California.

Six months after getting married, we found out we were going to have a baby! Overwhelmed with joy, panic, and all of the emotions you could possibly imagine we shared the news with close family and friends. We were both convinced we were having a boy- we went through all the old wives tales to see what certain cravings meant, checked the Chinese calendar, took gender prediction tests, we did it all! After so much anticipation, we finally found out we were having a baby GIRL! We were both ecstatic. I tried to take control of my shopping addiction and not go too crazy with the adorable baby clothes in Baby Gap which is in walking distance from our apartment (dangerous, right?).

I feel so blessed because I have to say, pregnancy for me was a breeze. I didn’t have morning sickness, I was craving things like cold fresh-squeezed orange juice and fruit loops. The worst part about my pregnancy was the new disgust I had for Mexican food- even the smell of walking into a Mexican restaurant would make me queasy. What was once my favorite food, now made me sick- literally. The months passed by, and I just grew and grew… not only my stomach, but my calves and ankles. I remember one night wanting to walk downtown (or should I say waddle) to dinner, it was cold so I wanted to put on my Ugg boots. I couldn’t get them on, Jake came to help me pull them up and then i just got stuck, so he had to pull them off, with force, which led me to kicking him in the face. The same went for my Nikes, they wouldn’t even tie anymore. I kept telling myself it was only a few more weeks. Finally it was November 2, 2017, the day I had been waiting for, Maddison’s due date, but that date came and went. This baby girl was not ready to come out! I was so unbelievably uncomfortable at this point. I couldn’t sleep, I was popping tums like they were tic-tacs, I cleaned our baseboards daily, I was more than ready to meet this baby, but she wasn’t ready to meet us.

To Kaiser we went, at 41 and ½ weeks pregnant it was time to get induced! We packed the car with our hospital bags, pillows, snacks, both so overcome with emotions we barely even said a word to each other on our drive. We checked in to the hospital, they checked heart rates and to see how dilated I was (or wasn’t!). Because I was only half a centimeter dilated, they gave me a dose of misoprostol and sent me home. We had to go back the next day for another dose of medicine and had to repeat this process one last time since I would be admitted for the next dose. Sunday was the day we had the second dose of medicine, so we decided to make the best of it and went on a date. As we’re walking, I started to get contractions. Jake pulls out his app on his phone to time everything but we still weren’t close. We came home, I sat on my pilates ball bouncing away and finishing any last cleaning I could. Around 11pm I woke Jake up (yes, he was trying to nap to make sure he was well-rested for the hospital) because my contractions had gotten more painful and closer together. He called Kaiser, we repacked the car, and headed in. After five minutes of getting to the hospital, my water broke!

I always thought when your water breaks, it means you’re very close to having a baby… I guess you learn a lot more once you’re actually pregnant and going through labor, because that was false! Sixteen hours, two shots of fentanyl, and an epidural later we welcomed our beautiful baby into this world. She was and is absolute perfection.

I will say that since the beginning of pregnancy I was most worried about the days and weeks post-labor and that worry was validated immediately. Jake and I hit a new level of vulnerability and comfort those two nights in the hospital. We had no idea how life would change, how to really care for a brand new baby, how sleep would be, but we rolled out of the hospital and back home and instinct took over!

This journey is just beginning. Maddison just turned six months old and time sure has flown by! We had our struggles with breastfeeding, a lengthy recovery from labor, sleepless nights, constant Google searches, a career shift, a new outlook on alone time, but it has all been worth it. The most exciting part has been watching this brand-new baby change every single day- hearing her make a new noise, watching her react, seeing her smile or laugh, developing a personality. The lack of sleep, mom-brain, and rare showers are quickly forgotten when this baby girl gives me a smile! I cannot wait to share more about my journey post pregnancy and watching Maddison grow with a network of other moms!

 

Xo,

Corinne

 

 

Meet Sarah L.

sarah- bundle blog

Hi there,

I am so excited to be a part of the Bundle of Joy Community!

My name is Sarah Lawrence. I am 26 years old. My hubby and I have been together going on 8 years now. We have two boys, 4 and 2. We live in Florida.

I have been blessed to be a stay at home mom going on 2 years now. I have always wanted to be a stay at home mom for as long as I can remember. I was actually homeschooled until I was in 5th grade.

Life with boys has its challenges but man they have so much love in their hearts for their momma.

A couple things I have learned/learning still is 1. to slow down and enjoy all the small moments. Man, my kids have grown up so fast. I mean my oldest is almost in kindergarten. This one is hard for me because I am the one that always has to be somewhere on time. I rush around and miss so much important things. So it’s my goal this year to not rush. And 2. find a Mom tribe. Last year I met some amazing moms. We are all raising the same age kids and going through the same stages. It’s so awesome to have some Mom adult time every now and then.

I am looking forward to sharing life as a mom of two boys with you all soon!