Monday, April 25, 2016

My Newborn Must-Haves

My sweet little girl has been in our lives for 3 1/2 weeks now and each day brings on new challenges, discoveries, joys, accomplishments, fears and doubts.  I'm far from having it figured out, but I can see each day getting just a bit easier. 

Before Lyla was born, I searched and read just about every "must have" list on Pinterest to make sure my husband and I were completely prepared with anything we might need to make life easier when she arrived. Some of these items have proven to be useful, but similarly we haven't had much use for some suggestions as well.  Every baby is different and I think the items that are most helpful will vary with each child.  

Below I've listed out the items that have been essential in "surviving" the past 3 weeks with our little one. Maybe you'll find a few things that will be helpful for your family!

My Newborn Must Haves

Halo Sleep Sack or any other swaddle sack
    • While I was pregnant, I had heard RAVE reviews of the expensive Aden and Anais muslin swaddle blankets, so of course I stocked up on them. I have 8 adorable patterns and just to be well-rounded in the swaddle department, my husband and I stole  took home about 4 of the blankets from the hospital in case we felt those worked better. I showed him how to swaddle a baby (which he quickly mastered, by the way), but when Lyla showed up, I soon realized three things. 
      1. I am an awful swaddler when it comes to a real life baby. It was a lot easier on the champagne bottle we practiced on.
      2. Those Aden and Anais swaddles are entirely too huge for my tiny 6 1/2 pound newborn. There was just way too much fabric! (We still use them often as light blankets since the weather is getting warm)
      3. Even if we got a tight swaddle, our little Houdini always managed to eventually wiggle her hands out.

      • Enter the Halo Sleep Sack.  The velcro makes it easy to keep her arms tight by her side to avoid her startle reflex waking her up. Ever since we started using this at night, she sleeps great! We quickly bought another one for backup in case of massive middle-of-the-night spit ups. 

     Gripe Water!
      • We are about to buy stock in this magical juice! It's an all natural supplement that contains Ginger and Fennel and is a miracle worker when it comes to relieving hiccups and gas pains.  The hiccup remedy is our main reason for using it.  Lyla has had hiccups several times a day since she was still in the womb.  Sometimes they're not too bad and will go away on their own, but a few times a week she gets those really deep ones that are noticably uncomfortable.  She LOVES this stuff as well. It's sweet and whenever we start to give it to her, she immediately stops crying to suck up the goodness.  It's very fast-acting as well.  I've now purchased the nighttime version (which we can't start until she is a month old) that contains chamomile. 
    Fisher Price Rock N Play
      • I've heard a lot about new moms not remembering the last time they took a shower or if they brushed their teeth that day. Luckily, Lyla's best time of day is in the morning so the Rock N Play is what I put her in while I'm getting ready. It's extremely portable and compact, making it perfect for keeping in our bathroom. At least for now, she is always very content and the white noise from the bathroom fan keeps her calm as well. Even if you don't purchase the Rock N Play, I highly recommend getting some sort of portable piece to keep in your bathroom.

    Quick Zip Crib Sheets
      • This is probably my favorite baby item that I accidentally stumbled upon while browsing Amazon. It's truly genius! Babies spit up, have blow outs, pee through diapers (luckily the spit up is our only major issue at this stage), and often these can happen in the middle of the night.  At 2 a.m. (or 2 p.m. if I'm honest), the last thing I want to do is wrangle a fitted crib sheet out and have to practically remove the whole mattress to replace it with a clean one. These sheets make it SO easy to change. You just unzip it around the top edge and replace.  VOILA! It's amazing!! I found these on both Amazon and
    Mini Fridge
      • Where we live, our bedroom and Lyla's room (she has slept in her crib in her room since Day 1) are upstairs and our kitchen is downstairs. I often have to pump a tiny bit before I feed her in the middle of the night. This is due to several reasons including her going longer between feeds at night which means I become very full. This can make it difficult for her to latch. I pump just enough to make it easier on her (and relieve a little pressure myself) and by the next morning, I often have enough expressed milk for half a bottle later on so I want to make sure I save the liquid gold! To avoid having to walk all around the house in the middle of the night, I simply store the milk each time in the mini fridge in our room.  The next morning, I take it downstairs and freeze it for later use. We also keep it stocked with water because I often get very thirsty while nursing. 
    Manual Hand Pump
      • This goes along with the item above, but my Medela electric pump has so many parts and is kind of loud. I don't want to have to spend a bunch of time getting the whole thing situated and then waking up my husband when I'm just doing a quick 1 minute pump session at 2 and 5 a.m. Instead, I use my Medela manual hand pump. It's so fast (might be faster for me because I have an overactive let down so the milk comes out in no time), makes practically no noise and doesn't require an outlet, tubing or a giant machine. This is also something good to have on hand in the diaper bag in case you have to pump while you're out and something goes wrong with your electric pump. 
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    Thursday, March 10, 2016

    Late Pregnancy Complaints

    3 weeks from tomorrow is my due date. Last weekend, I decided I am officially OVER being pregnant. I've been blessed with a very easy pregnancy, but now it just hurts. All the time.

    Laundry hurts, sitting too long hurts, most sleeping positions hurt, walking hurts. I have to pee every single time I stand up, I'm currently using a fan and a heating pad at the same time, my pregnancy pillow and I have a very love/hate relationship, nothing in my house is as clean as I'd like it to be yet I don't have the physical ability anymore to fix that, I have exactly 3 work-appropriate outfits that fit...and I use the term "work-appropriate" very very loosely.

    3 weeks sounds like an extremely long time. Some days I feel just fine, some days (like today) I'm just achy enough to be uncomfortable the entire day, and some days are like last Sunday where I could hardly move and needed help from my husband getting out of the car, putting the wash into the dryer and making the bed.

    Thank you for your time.Pin It

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

    Closing In

    Hey folks! I'm quickly closing in on the 1-more-month milestone of this pregnancy and there is such an array of emotions and thoughts running through my mind when I think about the stage I'm at and what is about to happen.

    On Friday, I will be 35 weeks. That is a mere 2 weeks from full term and 5 weeks from my due date. This past Saturday I had the most amazing baby shower and in a couple of days I am having my shower at work. After that, T and I will be cashing in those registry completion discounts and purchasing all of the things we still need for baby (thank God for tax refund season). This, to me, makes it very real.

    The feelings I have toward having my baby girl are much like how I felt before we got married. It's something I've wanted my entire life and something I have been looking forward to and planning like a crazy person since the moment I found out I was pregnant (okay...since before I found out, honestly), but now that the big event is right around the corner, my little brain cannot FATHOM it actually happening. It just seems like this dream out there floating around and I can't comprehend the experience truly coming to fruition. I'm going to GIVE BIRTH? I'm going to experience THAT pain? I'm going to have a CHILD??? WHAT? My own human being tethered to me for the rest of my life. THE REST OF MY LIFE????? I'm going to finally understand that feeling of overwhelming, unconditional, life-fulfilling love that I've heard so much about. I am going to be one of those people who says things like, "sorry, I can't...I have to go pick my daughter up."  or "I need to leave early today, my daughter has a game."

    Yesterday, I was sitting in on a wellness class during work and the lady speaking asked how many people have children.  Half of the room raised their hands. I didn't even think twice about it and kept mine down.  Then all of a sudden I said "well....kind of. I guess I should start getting used to raising my hand for this type of question."

    Along with the disbelief, another emotion I'm experiencing is anxiety of labor and delivery (and recovery).  Don't get that confused with thinking I'm scared. I'm truly not scared because I know I can and will get through it just like so many women do every single day since the beginning of human life. My anxiety, however, comes from having a Type A personality and always wanting to be in control. I'm a planner. I plan everything! Aside from bread and chocolate, spreadsheets and lists are my best friends, so when I admit to myself that there isn't a single human being on this planet who can tell me how my labor and delivery will go, I feel nervous of the unknown. It is true that each woman experiences her own unique birth story and I so badly just want to know what mine will be like so I can feel prepared. It is not a matter of being distrustful of the professionals who will be helping me, I just want to embody the Boy Scout motto.

    What I've been doing to help ease some of these emotions is reading up on various women's birth stories. By hearing all of the different experience others have had, I feel like I gain some sort of understanding of all the different things that COULD happen...knowing they won't all happen to me. This way, if I'm told the cord is wrapped around her neck and I need a C-section or I'm in labor for 37 hours or I'm a week late and have to be put on pitocin or I can't pee afterwards because I'm so swollen or I rip (ugh) all the way back to where the sun don't shine...I'll be able to say "okay...I've heard this can happen. It'll be alright." It's all about feeling educated on the possibilities but not being naive enough to think I have any sort of TRUE control over how my own story unfolds.

    So there you have it...the very wordy and complex working on my brain at nearly 35 weeks pregnant.
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    Tuesday, December 29, 2015

    Crying, Peeing and Lots of Lists

    This week, my daughter decided to take up Kick Boxing. I didn't know there was a 24-hour gym inside of my womb, but you learn something new every day. Oh man, she is movin' and groovin' lately. It used to be two very distinct times of the day but now it's much more constant. I think she is preparing me for 3 months from now because every time I lay down to nap or go to sleep for the night, she takes the opportunity to strike up a dance party. Must take after her momma.

    This week I have been focusing on lists. I'm a list maker to the core. It helps me feel a little more in control when I physically write down and organize everything that needs to be accomplished in a certain amount of time. Before my wedding you should have seen my Google Drive page. LIST OVERLOAD broken down by week, month and responsible party. With only 3 months to go (oy heart just stopped), it's time to figure out everything that needs to get done before this wee one turns our lives upside down.

    This little girl is already being spoiled by her Mae Mae and Papa. Her clothing haul from Christmas was insane. I may have had my first hormone-induced sobbing session while opening a box of teeny tiny onesies and itty bitty socks and bows on Christmas morning. Oh my, they were just so little and cute that the next thing I know, I was crying and squealing all over the place. I think I freaked out my brother with that one. My husband was just shaking his head, ha!

    With the help of Pinterest, I've compiled my list of things to pack in my hospital bag as well as her own. I've also made a list of the various tasks to complete over the next couple of months such as furniture to order, paperwork to compile, classes to schedule and miscellaneous items to be purchased (giant underwear and pads, anyone?).

    I'm still feeling good with few symptoms, although bending over is becoming increasingly difficult. Also, stretch marks have reared their ugly head, but so far I haven't gotten any on my stomach...just the girls. Awesome. I continue to oil up twice a day, but genetics are genetics, friends. My belly button is creeping closer and closer to the surface, but we still maintain an "inny" for the time being. I've been having some sporadic pain in my right knee cap. I think it may have to do with the extra weight I'm carrying and how I didn't do much fitness prep before getting pregnant, despite my husband warning me to. Other than that, it's just a little pain in my hips or lower back when sleeping and every-so-often when I sneeze I get a cramp low in my stomach. Oh and I pee. That happens a lot now too when I sneeze...haha!! This one makes my husband laugh. It makes me feel old. I now understand why my mom always had panty liners in her bathroom.

    Till next time, folks!Pin It

    Tuesday, December 1, 2015

    What We Learned About Our Daughter

    In the world of first pregnancies, yesterday was exciting in more ways than one.  It started with a late 20-week ultrasound/anatomy scan of our daughter (I say late because I'm actually 22 1/2 weeks along at this point) and this was the first time we have had the opportunity to "see" her since she was just a wee 8-week-old blob.

    As the ultrasound technician moved goo around my belly and a baby suddenly appeared on the screen next to me, I was internally oo'ing and aww'ing at her cute little nose while my husband was silently using his previous anatomy T.A. knowledge to pretend he is a doctor and completed his own examination of her heart and brain (he makes me giggle).

    While we were both happy to hear all her teeny organs are developed and seem to be functioning normally, we also learned two things about our first-born:

    1. She is a petite little thing. Though her weight is average for this stage of baby-dom, her frame is only in the 29th percentile, making it obvious she is my child (as if her physically growing from nothing inside of my body wasn't clue enough). My family, particularly my Dad's side, are all small people. At a mere 5'4", I tower over my grandma and most, if not all, of my aunts. We're a compact little group. Fun size. She still has time for a growth spurt and we'll be checking her again around 30-32 weeks.

    2. She is already quite the stubborn child...just like both her momma and daddy...and her Papa and Uncle, if we're talking family traits. In an effort to get a typical profile shot of her, the tech and I tried everything. I was shaking my hips around to get her to move and the tech was rubbing/poking the heck out of her.  The moment she would turn her head, the tech would try to snap the picture but failed every time because little girl immediately turned  her head back to where she had it. She was saying "excuse me...I'm quite comfortable in this position, so your pictures will have to wait, Mom."

    So we got what we could and I've been staring at her pictures just about every hour on the hour, plus every time I open my phone as she is now the star of my lock screen.

    The other reason yesterday was so exciting was because I felt my first legitimate punch in my stomach. I've been feeling flutters up near my belly button for a couple of weeks now, but this was different.  First, it was down by where her head and arm were at earlier that day during the ultrasound.  It wasn't a flutter, but felt more like a big muscle spasm. At first I thought it was just that, but then when it kept happening, I put my hand on my belly and actually FELT it from the outside. It was NUTS! The weirdest, coolest, weirdest feeling ever. The more it happened, the more weirded-out I got...probably because it couldn't control it at all and never knew when it was coming. I screamed a lot and called a lot of people. :)

    4 months from today is her due date and I know it will fly by!Pin It

    Saturday, November 7, 2015

    Holiday Gift Guide 2015 - Your Leading Men

    Let's take a momentary break from the pregnancy talk to focus on one of my favorite topics in the entire world...CHRISTMAS! More specifically, Christmas presents! I know, I know, gifts are not the "reason for the season," but as someone who acknowledges that "gift-giving" is my love language by an overwhelming margin, I can't help but become giddy during this time of the year when I can express my love for the people in my life by putting a lot of thought into the gifts I get them.

    Each year, I spend January - October compiling a running list in my phone of gift ideas for various family members and friends.  Come November, I have many options and decide what I want to actually purchase.  I've also been known to start picking up gifts in Spring and Summer if a good sale presents itself (Mother's Day is a great time to find things for the women in your life).

    Now, my downfall is that I almost always go over my budget because I keep finding things for these loved-ones (I'm looking at you, Mom) and just can't help myself.  I think about how excited they will be to receive this or that and how they would never buy these things for themselves and I inevitably end up at the register. I am going to write out a quick Holiday Gift Guide, starting with the fellas, while I sit here on a Saturday morning, listening to the Christmas Pop station on Spotify and sip my vanilla iced coffee while I burn my "Tis the Season" candle from White Barn. Mmmmmm! Let's begin:

    The Men In Your Life (Husbands, Boyfriends, Brothers, Dads)

    This is the toughest category for me.  My husband is not one to "want' for much.  He is a very simple person who doesn't need much in life to be happy.  His list is one I make sure to keep up-to-date throughout the year.  My Dad has everything he could want and has always been tough to buy for (how many ties does a man need?) and my brother just has expensive taste as he is a tech junkie. 

    1. Garment Bag:  My husband rarely wears a suit, so he keeps all of his fancy clothes in a cheap hanging cover he received when he bought the suit.  From traveling to various weddings and other events, it has torn up.  This would be a wonderful piece of luggage that you can find in all price ranges the he probably wouldn't think to buy for himself. 
    TravelPro® Maxlite® 3 Garment Bag in Black
    2. The Art of Shaving: Do any of your men have facial hair?  Treat them to some luxury products to keep everything in tip-top shape! The Art of Shaving is a brand my fellas particularly enjoy.  There are various scents to choose from and you can get anything from a travel kit to some of the most splurge-worthy blade handles I've seen. 
    Sandalwood Starter Kit

    3. THE SPLURGE ITEM --- Yeti Cooler: Do you really want to spoil your favorite guy? If you've got the budget to spend it, what guy wouldn't love a Yeti cooler?  They're all the rage, especially in the South, but it's not something many people could warrant spending $250-$500 for. They keep the cold in so well and are very sturdy.
    4.  Drinking with the Saints: A Sinner's Guide to a Holy Happy Hour: As someone who was raised Catholic and spent most of my childhood in the Catholic school system, this one I couldn't help but giggle at. There are drink recommendations for each day of the year, coinciding with the liturgical cycle and feast days for the Saints.  


    5. Liquid Luxuries Cologne Sampler Set : If the man you are buying for enjoys cologne but you're not sure exactly which one to get him, this is a wonderful gift that allows him to sample 15 different designer scents and then redeem an included Sephora voucher for a FULL-SIZED cologne of one of the featured scents at no extra cost. The samples and voucher come in a nice black bag that can double as a toiletry  bag once he is finished sniff-testing. 

    6. Uncle John's Bathroom Readers: This would be a fun stocking stuffer or gift for someone on a budget. Men are notorious for spending a curious amount of time in the bathroom. I've given a few of these books (there are SO many of them covering all kinds of topics) as a fun present to keep them entertained whilst sitting around "in the John," as my Papa would say. 

    7. TRX Home Training Kit: This is something my husband, who is an exercise physiologist and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, actually bought for the both of us a couple years ago. It's been great for days when we want to get a quick workout in but don't feel like leaving the house.  TRX is an amazing workout that can be used for full body and it takes up no room at all! You just hang it from a door and anyone at any level can use it, because it's all about suspension and using your own body weight to train.  You just adjust your body's position to make the moves easier or harder. 
    8. The Gentlemen's Box: This is a great twist on the classic neck-tie gift, especially for those men who enjoy fashion.  For $25/month, they receive a subscription box that will include 4-6 items from grooming products to socks, pocket squares,ties, etc... and each month's box also comes with the latest issue of GQ Magazine.  I really love this idea, and they have a link on their website to purchase a certain a mount of months as a gift. 

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    Monday, October 12, 2015

    15 weeks and bored...

    As of right now, I'm 15 1/2 weeks pregnant. We're having a LITTLE GIRL! We've decided to keep her name (which is undecided as of now) secret until she is born...mostly to avoid unwanted opinions, which we've already been getting.

    Although I've still got a long way to go, I must say that this pregnancy so far has been extremely uneventful...and kind of boring. Now I'm definitely not complaining, rather observing.

    I can't say I've had any real "pregnancy cravings," and I already mentioned in a previous post that I was never sick during my first trimester, nor was I excessively exhausted.

    All I can say is really happening is I'm gaining weight like a champ. I ordered 4 maternity items from Zulily today because I'm finding it increasingly difficult to figure out what to wear to work.  I don't really want to purchase maternity work pants and I only have a few dresses that would work.  In a few weeks, I hope it will be cool enough to rock leggings and sweaters for the rest of my time.

    I bought this for a football game we have at the beginning of Dec. Throw on some leggings and boots and I'm READY!

    I won't be able to close my peacoat later this winter, so I wanted to grab this one while it was on sale. I like to imagine Olivia Pope would wear this if she was preggo.

    This can be used for work easily, plus I think I'll be able to wear it after I give birth before I fit into my normal clothes again

    I mean, I just want to cuddle up with this forever. Do they make a non-maternity version??

    Anyways, there is my update for now. Till next time...
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