Sunday, December 14, 2014

How to Survive the First Days Home with Baby

I cried on the way home from the hospital when we brought both Kayne and Rayna home. I wasn't sure I was qualified to be taking care of this completely reliant human and dress them and change them and feed them...every single day. I cried because I wanted to take all the L&D nurses home with me. Everything was taken care of at the hospital and they were so sweet to me. And it's hard to imagine that you may not see your doctor, the person who has seen you almost every single week and held your hand every step of the way, ever again. It's a strange feeling, but I know other moms understand what I'm talking about.

It's been six years since I took home a baby and all the emotions and familiar thoughts came back to me full force. Bringing home a baby is the most emotional time in a woman's life, and it can be extremely isolating and emotional. Not only that, but your hormones go from an all-time high level down to zero fairly quickly, sucking moms into a roller coaster of emotions. When your child is figuring out how not to sleep, it can compound the problem tenfold.

Those first few weeks home are such a raw, tender time in a mother's life and need to be navigated delicately, but with every shred of strength that a mother can muster. That being said, here I'll share my best advice from my experience for surviving the first few weeks:

1. Attend a mommy group right away. My hospital held a weekly group for new moms, and those ladies all had the same look on their faces as I did. We could ugly cry in each other's company and show up unshaven and puked on in with our babies and feel like we'd been pulled into a warm hug. As a bonus, my group was run by a lactation consultant who freely gave breastfeeding advice, empathy, and even free goodies like milk storage bags. This group was a lifesaver, especially after my first child, when I felt more clueless and isolated than I'd ever felt in my life. You may not feel like you want to go, that the effort to get the baby ready is profound, but trust me, you'll be glad you went!

2. Take people up on their offers to help. Make a short list of things that you can tell family the next time they ask to help. Ask them to do the dishes, cooking, cleaning or grocery shopping. Prepping snacks or freezer meals, picking your older children up from school, or mowing your lawn are excellent tasks for those who reach out when you and your partner are feeling like zombies. Offering to hold the the baby while you do those tasks just isn't quite the same, so be ready with your list of orders.

3. Carve out adult time. This could be 5 minutes on the phone with your best friend or a quick coffee with your mom. Getting out and having just a few moments of "normal" time can be quite anchoring, even when you have to bring baby along. Stay in contact with your friends rather than go into hiding. It may feel extremely forced, but it gives you a sense of autonomy that can help keep you sane. It will be so worth it and it will give you the courage to do more and more with baby in tow.

I met a friend for lunch. Rayna slept right through. Since
she was still asleep, I stayed and read some personal
training material while I was there.

Date night with Hubster!

4. Remind yourself over and over again that the first two weeks are the hardest. It gets sooooo much easier from there. During the first two weeks (and maybe a little longer), the baby doesn't know day from night and you're just getting used to this astronomical life adjustment. It does get easier, it does get easier, it does get easier. I wish I could wrap my arms around every new mom and tell her that it will all be ok when it feels like you're not strong enough. But the third week, at least for me, seems to be the golden number when some of the early struggles begin to fade.

5. Get outside. If the weather outside is decent during your maternity leave, make an effort to get outside, even if it's just in the backyard or on the porch. Taking stroller walks was one of the most rejuvenating things I ever did with Kayne. As an added bonus, the outdoors were magic for my son. He'd be inconsolable for hours inside and then be completely fine the instant we walked outside. Not only that, I always felt so good after moving and getting out of the house.

Here we bundled up the baby in a stroller and took a short 
hike through beautiful marshes.

6. Make time for some yoga or other mind/body practice. As soon as the doctor gave me the ok to exercise after having Kayne, I hid away every Saturday morning for an hour-long yoga session that made me feel so different before and after. Like magic, I felt grounded and peaceful and much more capable of tending to my son. I would encourage new moms to take this gentle, revitalizing approach to your recovery routine. I was pretty hardcore before I had him, so it was nice to slow down and get a little "me time" that made me feel like a better mom.

7. Join an online mommy group. Facebook groups with your birth month are golden. People will answer your questions within minutes and offer support and kind words (usually) and reassure you that they're going through exactly the same things. You can even throw the wackiest question out there and probably get some great feedback. Nothing is off limits, believe me! You may even find a new mommy in your area to meet up with. I actually did!

8. Create little rituals with your baby: I adored Kayne's bedtime ritual when he was just days old. We'd head upstairs to bed around 7:30, nurse, watch a little TV, turn out all the lights and just rest. With Rayna we usually do a bath (every other day) followed by a lavender oil massage. Then, I wrap her up in a swaddle blanket, turn on the white noise machine and we very quietly transition into bedtime. In the mornings, I always pull the bassinet or bouncy seat into the bathroom for a shower. Babies love the shower sound and momma doesn't have to face the world feeling like a greaser:) With both my babies, we had some specific routines that made me feel better and eventually helped get us into a good groove and helped them adjust to life in the non-womb world.

9. Let go of your to-do list Right now, you need to make space for the unexpected, because everything is unexpected. And don't worry about work and chores. Let them go for awhile. Your sole job right now is taking care of that beautiful little human. Don't allow other pressures to deter you from that. I'm crazy type-A who always has a list of goals and dreams and can't stand a dirty house, but in the big picture, my family IS my hopes and dreams and home. And the newborn stage goes by so fast, you have to fully immerse yourself in that and nothing else before you miss it. This is the time to step back from the outside pressures and focus on the ones inside your arms. You can still build your dream home business someday, but for today, just live for that precious little baby. It will take a huge weight off your shoulders.

10. Figure out the magic touch for your baby: Arm yourself with all the baby arsenal that typically soothes them: a rocking chair, rock and play, bouncy seat, swing, white noise machine (or app), and swaddling blanket. Find what works for your bambino right away (and try again later because it could change) and it will save you so many tears!!! By trial and error, we found that both of our babies slept better in the crib in their own room. You might find a pack and play or your own bed is where your baby sleeps best. Rayna loves to be swaddled and sleeps by the sound of crickets every night. One of our nurses told us that the white noise machine and swaddle blanket were the two things she always recommends to new moms, and they happened to be the two things that worked best for Rayna.

11. Give babywearing a try: Wearing your baby in a wrap might just offer you some shred of normalcy, not to mention the bonding opportunity the wrap affords you. Wraps sometimes allow you to get a load of laundry folded, since they leave your arms free. They're really great for taking the baby out places. We took Kayne to the children's museum and I "wore" Rayna around. She loved it and there was no way we would've navigated that place with a stroller. In their first days, babies often love sleeping in that warm little nest. I guess babywearing is a huge thing. Like a mommy movement. And there are heaps of babywearing groups on Facebook for support. I've seen lots of wrap DIYs on the likes of Pinterest. There are even babywearing workouts if you want to be crazy like that:)


12. Read this beautiful article that speaks all the perfect words for this space in time.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Fresh Start Fitness Challenge

It's never too early to get a jump-start on your New Year's resolutions. Here's a call for participants for a challenge group that I'm starting up on January 1. If you're interested, leave a comment or email me and I will get in touch!



I’m looking for 5 people who are tired of looking back year after year, wishing their bodies would change and riding the weight loss roller coaster. Or maybe you’re like me and tend to hit plateaus that last…years! This year, we do it differently. This year, we lock arms on Jan 1 and forge into the New Year with renewed dedication, as a team!

The New Year is the PERFECT time to make healthy changes. It takes just 21 days to form a new habit, so we’ll spend those crucial first 3 weeks of 2015 together to set you up for a fit, successful new year. It’s only 21 days!

I myself need to lose some baby weight and I’d like to support you through whatever challenges you! From meal planning to motivation to workout support, let me give you my complete attention, guidance and support. The added bonus is that I’m a certified personal trainer and sports nutrition specialist in training, and I will be coaching you through the whole thing. I’m ready to change my life and I can’t wait to help you too!

You’ll be able to pick your challenge of choice from several rewarding options. And you can do any one of them at home! And make sure to get back to me quickly, because there are only 5 slots available and the clock to join is ticking.

If this interests you, Comment below and I’ll get in touch with you.

Together, let’s make 2015 your BEST year ever!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Baby's first Christmas Presents

I participate in a few online mommy groups and one question that continually pops up is, what are you going to buy your baby for Christmas? It is a stumper since baby likely won't remember it anyway and doesn't need much at this age. However, there are a few items that I think make great gifts for tiny humans.

Kayne and I made a trip to Hobby Lobby this past week in search of something of the handmade nature. We came across wooden building blocks and a fun family activity was born.

Kayne and I got to work painting the blocks in our own signature styles. Our hope is that one day these blocks will get some good life with kid architecture and that Rayna appreciates the thoughtfulness and love that went into making them.





Soon after that, we went in search of a special box to put the blocks in. Which led us to find some matching artwork for her room, including a wall hanging with the lyrics to one of the songs I always sing to her. You are my sunshine. So, now we have a fun little cohesive look for her room, whimsical peaches, blues, arrows and chevron. Not too overtly girly or juvenile as I'm not a fan of princesses and frill. (This may be a gift that's more for me than her, but I couldn't justify the full expense unless it was a gift either way).



A few other ideas I have....Every year, I've purchased coin sets from the current year from the US Mint for Kayne. I plan to do the same for Rayna. This is a gift that they won't appreciate until they're older, but I think it makes a neat yearly present. Savings bonds, other handmade items like quilts, a special Build A Bear from the family, and personalized piggy banks and other treasures also come to mind.

What are some other good Christmas gifts for babies?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Maternity Leave Favorites

What I love most about maternity leave, of course, is adding a new family member to love. It's crazy how a person that's been rolling around in your belly takes human form. At first they're a complete stranger, but slowly morph into the person that you know and love most.

But there are other parts of maternity leave that are most special. I crave sundown, a time when we all nestle in, wearing pj's, catch up on new episodes of Big Bang Theory and old Christmas favorites, and eat dinner together. We have a great nurturing bedtime routine, with baths, lavender massages, swaddling, stories and quiet music. I just love that time with them.

Hot chocolate, popcorn and Wizard of Oz




I'm also beyond blessed to have a little girl that's pretty easy to please. She loves to watch me work out in the mornings and listen to the shower. See that? I'm actually able to work out and shower, a few luxuries I know I cannot take for granted since it know many mom's don't get the opportunity to do one of those things, let alone both.

She's content watching me do TurboFire


I'm also blessed with a pretty good sleeper. With such a content baby, I'm able to work on some projects that I didn't get to with a 40hr workweek. Like this plaid quilt for my little boy. Whenever the baby is content in her bouncy chair, I've been able to stitch a row or two. My hope is that it will be near completion when I go back to work. After all, tis the season for cozy blankets.



When Rayna fell asleep in her car seat the other day, I stuck around at the coffee shop to catch up on some reading for my personal training ceu's. I love our snuggle time, but I also enjoy those few moments when I can sneak away and work on something I'm passionate about.




It's all too difficult to think about returning to work in one short week, but I'm surely enjoying this little routine we have going here and these precious moments with our littlest family member.



Friday, October 31, 2014

Rayna's Infant Photos

Boy am I one lucky girl. This beautiful baby is all mine and she's beautiful.

I tried to do a photoshoot at home and it just wasn't working out. And when I say it wasn't working out, it was really a disaster. There was sheet soiling and a screaming baby and bad lighting and everything else. Ugh. I try, but I just don't have the gift. I was in a panic because I thought we should really have some infant photos and time was running out for the new baby sleepy phase. It was kind of a dream to have cheesecloth wrapped around my baby and immortalized in digital form. Plus, I had bought this really rad snail photo prop and didn't want it to go to waste.

We took baby in for a photo session and came away with these gorgeous pictures. I might be biased, but she sure is special!












Getting this last picture was an art form! The photographer had her camera all perched and ready, Hubster was holding up the sheet in the background, and I took the nook out of her mouth. We had about 2 seconds to get the shot, and our photographer got it!!!! I'm so glad we decided to go with a professional, because I never would've gotten pictures anywhere near these.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Introducing a New Family Member

Introducing...

Rayna Elizabeth
8lbs 14oz, 21 inches
Born September 30 at 5:30pm


Here's Rayna's Story:

Rayna was due on September 23rd, but we went right past that date, as I was half expecting but half hoping against. On Thursday September 25th, the doctor had us come in to do a non-stress test to make sure that we were ok going past the 40 week mark. A non-stress test just means being hooked up to the heart rate/contraction monitor for 20 minutes and analyzing the results.

They hooked me up and we waited 20 minutes. The doctor came back in and said he didn't really like what he was seeing, so he wanted us to be monitored for another 20 minutes, and he warned us that we might possibly be induced that night. Hubster and I looked at each other like "holy ...!" The first 20 minutes, I was lying on my back (which a pregnant woman isn't supposed to be doing). The second 20 minutes, they put me on my side. The results of that test came back totally fine, just due to that simple adjustment. We were good to go into the 41st week.

With Peanut, I was 11 days late, but this time the doctor told us that we didn't have to wait that long. We could pick a day the following week to be induced. After discussing, we chose Tuesday since my doctor was on call that day and it just seemed like a good day (and still in September!)

We arrived at the hospital at 7:30 on Thursday, looking scared (I had this intense irrational fear that I would die in childbirth) yet ready to get the show on the road. Our wonderful nurse (I LOVE L&D nurses!) hooked me up to Pitocin right away. I've never had an IV before, so that was new. Since I was hooked up, I wasn't able to walk around or bounce on a yoga ball like I was able to with Peanut. The contractions started, but they were boring, dare I say. Up until noon, not much was bothering me and not much was happening. At noon though, since the baby was dropping a little, the doctor was able to break my water. Then stuff started to get real, and I realized that this was going to happen no matter what. They wouldn't be sending me home. Up until around 3:00, the contractions were bearable, but then they started to hit hard. I was only dilated to about a 3 thinking I had a looooong way to go, wondering if I should get an epidural.


Well, I ended up only getting a shot of Nubain in my IV, which took the edge off of about 3 contractions and made me feel dizzy and drunk for a short time. After that, they checked me and I was at a 5. About an hour later, the contractions were getting absolutely unbearable, and I said if I was still only at a 5, I was going to need an epidural. Well, too late, I was already at a 7/8 and in transition. My entire body was trembling and everything was really intense.

On a side note, since I was holding steady at a 5 for awhile, Hubster went out to order a pizza. He thought since I was only "halfway there," he had plenty of time. Once I hit transition, which happened much faster than he anticipated, he was nowhere to be found. The nurse went out to try and flag him down and almost had to page him. We will be laughing for years to come about the dang pizza. It was delivered early too, so he had to run out right after delivery to pay the man. Everyone was waiting on him to weigh the baby because we wanted to get that snippet on tape. He was so preoccupied with the dang pizza! With Peanut, our story will always be about how Hubster turned on Jaws while I was in active labor and the blood and gore almost made me throw up. Turn that channel!


Do you see the sausage Papa John's in the background?


Baby came after only 3 contractions. I've never screamed so loud in my life! I don't remember making any noise with my son, but this big girl was the real deal and she seemed to be stretched up into my ribs, so it didn't feel like I could even bend. Hubster was afraid to be in on all the action, so they gave him the oxygen mask and had him place it on my mouth between contractions because apparently I was out of breath. Go figure.

Our precious baby was laid on my chest and I kissed her among all the oh my gods and hi baby-s. She was/is perfect. The biggest surprise of all was her full head of reddish hair. I didn't expect any of my babies to have hair, let alone a color different from all three of our heads.


I just loved our stay at the hospital. All the L&D nurses are amazing. I just loved our doctor and all the help everyone gave us. Everyone from the lactation consultant to the pediatricians were so warm and helpful.

The first few days (weeks?) home were pretty emotional. Just like I did with my son, I cried on the way home from the hospital. First, this huge responsibility and life-changer was about to go home with us and we were leaving behind all the wonderful people and help at the hospital to do this completely on our own. Also, it was crazy trying to process the whole beautiful baby-meeting process and then realize you'd probably never see your doctor again, the person that had been beside you this whole time, let alone the wonderful nurses.

Then, the next few days, I had some intense anxiety flare-ups, I would just lay in bed terrified for no reason. That, coupled with lack of sleep, made me quite uncomfortable, to say the least. Thankfully, after my hormones evened out and they baby figured out night from day, I have been feeling soooo much better.

Now, we're home and getting into some sort of routine. Peanut loves his sister and we just adore our daughter. I get to spend 9 weeks home with her and I'm trying to soak up as much of it as I can. Just thinking about going back to work makes me teary-eyed, knowing this will likely be my last baby, my last maternity leave, my last chance to bond completely with a newborn. Rayna is a champ at nursing and we're just over here getting to know each other better. I can't believe she's all ours!!!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Gift Guide for Second Time Moms

Several weeks ago, I was spoiled with a baby shower for baby #2. I wasn't expecting a second shower, but my mom and sister sweetly put one together for me since this baby is a different gender AND came 6 years after my first (many things have expired or have been pruned from the attic). To double up on the surprise, the ladies at work also threw me a surprise baby shower. I was thrilled! I didn't have a registry made at all since these were surprises, which got me to thinking about how to buy for a second-time mom who may not have a registry.

After the first baby, moms typically have all the big stuff they need and know exactly what is necessary and what is superfluous. I hung onto all my furniture like our baby swing, bassinet, pack and play, crib and other big ticket items. Toys are probably already an issue in every momma's house, so it may not be advisable to go that route either. So, this gift-buying business could be tricky in some cases. However, from what I've been gifted and brainstormed, I've come up with some great solutions in case you ever find yourself buying for a seasoned mommy.

Aside from cash (always a winner), here are some great gift ideas for the second or third+ time mom:

1. Updated car seat. Depending on how many years are between children and how safety standards have changed, it may be wise to get a new car seat. Make sure you know which kind mom wants by asking or checking her registry first. This is typically a pretty personal choice. My mom offered to purchase our car seat as her gift to us, she just had us pick it out and she paid for it. Score!

2. Baby book. By baby book, I mean some way to record all the baby news and milestones in a non-complex way. I did this for a friend the DIY way. I made her one book with the supplies to write her daughter a letter every year until she's 18. The other was a milestone capture book. There are great school year baby books too that record all the major details of each school grade, with a folder to stash the most memorable projects. These are amazing gifts and are needed for each individual child. And of course, a fresh new scrapbook is something many moms can really appreciate. Here's the one I was given (already stuffed with some memorabilia from the party):


I also really love this gift from my co-workers.
It has a slot for pictures for each month of baby's first year.


3. Updated extras. New bottle nipples, bibs, crib sheets and burp cloths are great gifts for any baby. Baby #1 may have "soiled" all of hers or these items may have just plain worn out between pregnancies. Fresh ones are sometimes necessary, and really, you can't have too many burp cloths.

4. Breastfeeding supplies. If you know what momma uses or has requested, this is a great option. Nursing pads, milk storage bags, and other similar supplies are always in demand.

5. Photo gift card. Popular sites like Shutterfly and Snapfish offer gift cards for prints and photo gifts. Pictures will still be a huge part of baby #2's life.

6. Similar to the above, paying for an infant photo session is an excellent choice. Every child will have her own set of baby pictures, so this gift is very practical.

7. Handmade gifts: sewn quilts, hand-knit baby blankets, cross-stitched artwork, painted pictures and other personal gifts are some of the most treasured gifts a woman could ever have. I think handmade gifts are the best, no matter what occasion. We still have a hand-knit blanket and sweater set that Hubster's aunt made for Peanut that we plan to reuse with Baby Girl and then keep forever. Peanut also has a beautiful quilt from his late great-grandma that will also be kept forever.

8. Etsy gift card: even if you don't have a creative bone in your body, someone on this website does! And chances are mom already has her eye on special baby items. I know I do! Photo props, headbands, clothes, blankets, nursery prints and everything you can think of is on Etsy, with a personal handmade touch. Even better, if you can get a hold of mom's Wishlist, you can buy right from there.

9. When in doubt, buy diapers and wipes. I would suggest buying size 2 and up. Babies are typically out of size 1 so quickly, it doesn't pay to have more than a handful. I would be one perfectly happy momma if everyone showed up at my shower with diapers!

10. Freezer meals. This is another winner! Bringing family dinners or stocking her freezer with quick crockpot meals will save her sanity once baby arrives. You may want to check about dietary restrictions and allergies beforehand though so nobody gets sick and the food doesn't go to waste.

11. Birthstone jewelry. Having family birthstones set into a bracelet, ring or necklace is beyond thoughtful. This may be tricky though with due dates that straddle the month mark. The birth month could change if baby decides to come earlier or later than anticipated. You could go with a family charm bracelet and offer to bring that last charm after baby arrives. Here's a birthstone bracelet from when Peanut was born. It was part of a necklace/earring/bracelet set. We'll have to come up with a clever way to add Baby Girl's own stone to the mix.



12. Mommy relaxation. Massages and spa kits for mom are amazing gifts no matter which number of child she's on, especially for the momma who has everything. Pamper her. You may even find her some luxurious slippers for the delivery room, a beautiful nursing scarf or a meditation CD (hypnobirthing anyone?). This type of gift will never go unwanted.

13. Free babysitting services. Sometimes the old "redeem this coupon..." trick is just what mom always wanted. Offering date night gift cards on top of that makes you a bona fide hero. It's tricky to leave the house when there's a new baby, so taking all the logistical details out of it for mom is very thoughtful.

14. New Clothes. If baby #2 is the same gender as baby #1, mom might already have a pile of clothes saved up. However, it's always nice for younger kids to have a few of their own clothes instead of only hand-me-downs. If I were buying, I would go with clothing in larger sizes, maybe 6-12 months and up since babies absolutely fly through the smaller clothes.

15. Hand/footprint kit: This is another item that is special to each child. Find a clay or ink kit so mom can record the teeniness of those precious little appendages before they're only memories.

16. Engraved treasures: We have an engraved Noah's Ark piggy bank for Peanut that I'm sure he'll keep forever. There are some really amazing baby gifts that you can pick out from places like Things Remembered. One memorable gift at a baby shower I went to was an engraved blue pin that the baby could wear for her baptism and later at her wedding (something old, something blue). Ah-mazing!



17. Write her a story: There are some amazing websites, such as Blurb, that if you have some artistic talent, would make crazy cool gifts. Writing and illustrating your very own story for the child, and then having it professionally printed, is such a neat idea. A lady at work wrote a story for each of her grandchildren one Christmas and had them printed, and I'm still so smitten with this idea.

18. Baby prayer book/cross: By far one of my favorite gifts was this beautiful prayer card set. The purpose is to pray over your child as they're sleeping. I just find this idea so touching. My mom also purchased Baby Girl her own cross for her bedroom. Peanut has one too, over his door. And Hubster and I were given a hand-carved cross from his pastor as a wedding gift. These are truly treasures and great reminders about what truly matters.





19. Savings Bonds: My mom has always done this for several of my cousins on their birthdays. One of these cousins in particular lives far away and the family is very financially secure (i.e. already has everything/hard to buy for), so this gift is both really practical and really beneficial down the road for the child. I love this idea and plan to steal the idea next time I need a gift like that.


I hope this list helps you the next time you're invited to a shower for moms that already have kids. It may also help you form a registry if you're a second-time mom being spoiled with a baby shower you weren't expecting. I love finding ways to give meaningfully to people that I love, so I'm always trying to keep these sort of ideas in the back of my head. Happy hunting!

I'll leave you with a few peeks from my baby shower. Perfect weather. Perfect company.