Feb 1, 2018

Tea Time





I see these "Coffee Break" blog posts a lot and while I love the idea, I actually don't drink too much coffee.

I'll give you a moment while you pick your jaw up off the floor.

I do drink tea though, so let's make a virtual pot of Earl Gray and catch up.

Motherhood

It certainly has its fair share of ups and downs, but each day, I feel more and more confident in my role as a mom and I can honestly say that there is no better or more rewarding job in the world. When your baby is born, you immediately feel this overwhelming amount of joy and love, but let me tell you...it grows exponentially the more you get to know them. I'm pretty sure by the time she's 18, my heart my burst into two because it cannot handle it. I was telling a new mom friend that it's not really even love...it's like a whole different emotion/feeling you've never felt before; love to the nth degree.

N is now six months old and doing great! She's sitting up, eating solids like a champ, and babbling day and night. We are working on sign language, reading a ton of books, and taking almost daily walks. From an outsider, our days probably look pretty mundane, but what a joy and privilege it is to get to spend these leisurely moments with her. I am doing my best to soak them in and not take a single day for granted.

We are obviously still learning as parents and once you think you have things figured out, you are hit with another curve ball. Recently, she has been fighting her bottles. It's been a battle to say the least. Some days I could only get her to take 24 ounces and even then, it was a struggle. But, this weekend, I had a light bulb moment and immediately fled to Target to get some faster flow nipples. Night and day, people. Night and day. She's now getting closer to 30 ounces a day and is no longer frustrated when I feed her. I felt so bad that I didn't think of this before.  Her weight gain continues to be slow and steady, but her pediatrician says she looks perfect and is sticking to her 10th percentile weight curve. Our Half Pint is still only about 13 pounds and 12 ounces.

Sleep is going well and I'm afraid to talk about it and jinx it! She sleeps from 7:30pm - 6:30am and wakes up once around 9:30pm for her dreamfeed. She may stir a bit throughout the night, but a "shhh" here and there seems to get her right back to sleep. She's now doing this thing where she rolls onto her stomach at night and scares the life out of me. Her doctor she'll be fine, but just to keep an eye on her during the first few hours she's asleep. So I do wake up at various points of the night to check on her or roll her back. Luckily she does whine when she rolls on her stomach, so it wakes me up. I wonder when I will stop worrying about her when she's sleeping? 3 years old? 10 years old? 18?

Self Care / Health

I'm trying to do better regarding self care. During her first few months of life, I totally put self care on the back burner and told myself I'd think about it later. Well, it's later now and I need to get into a routine of some sort for exercise. We walk a lot, so I will count that as cardio and I'm hoping to get in an at home yoga session here and there. Her naps have been unpredictable and short the past few weeks, but we are working on a schedule and hoping they become a bit more predictable so I can squeeze in a 20 minute session.

When I was pregnant, I cut out all diet sodas (I used to have a Diet Coke about once a week and it was my faaaavorite) and I'm happy to say that I've continued this postpartum. Brandon did the same and we now fill our diet soda void with tea (me) and coffee (him). I note this only because I'm extremely proud of myself and a bit shocked that I really don't want that junk anymore!

I recently signed up for a produce box from Imperfect Produce to incorporate more veggies in our meals. Now that N is eating solids (I purée almost all of her food, which is so much fun!) and we plan to start finger foods soon, I really want to get into the habit of making sure our meals are well-rounded and full of plants. Having her health has a motivator makes it so much easier to cook this way and I find that the time I spend in the kitchen a few nights a week to be such a joy. Sometimes I bring her with me and pretend I'm a cooking show host. She's not terribly impressed, but I have fun.

Some recipes favorites (though looking at this list, I do need to add more veggies!):

No Bean Turkey and Sweet Potato Chili - so easy and delicious!
Mom's Homemade Spaghetti Sauce - let's just say I won't buy jarred sauce again
Weeknight Skillet Meal Cheeseburger Macaroni - my husband's favorite meal ever
Creamy Chicken Pasta - I add shredded chicken from the Instant Pot

Books

One way I've been focusing on self care is getting back into reading! Well, reading that doesn't involved parenting books. I recently started Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder. You guys know I'm utterly obsessed with the Little House books (I mean, who dresses their daughter like LIW for Halloween?) and have been since I was a child. This autobiography is absolutely fascinating to me. It pieces together all of the stories in the LH series and is almost like a behind-the-scenes look at what really happened. So far, it doesn't paint a bad picture of their life (I was so worried that it would ruin the fictional characters for me - I'm looking at you, Pa), but things definitely were different than how she portrayed her childhood in the books. Of course, this makes sense because they were written for children. It's a slow read as almost every single line of her biography has a half page annotation, but I am devouring every word or it. Highly recommend to all LIW fans.

Also note that if you have a young child, the new LH picture books are adorable!

One and Done?

At my six week check up (which feels ages ago), my OB asked about our plans for more kids and I almost fell off the exam table. Now that the hormones have settled down, I am able think a bit more clearly about that. I think we want another baby, but if for some reason, we don't or could not, our family feels complete. On the other hand, we both are well aware of the advantages of N having a sibling, both from my experience of having siblings and Brandon's experience not having them. The timing of it is the big question mark. I have plenty of friends in the camp of "sooner rather than later, keep them close" and others who make three-four years apart look a lot more appealing. Also, I'm 34, so yeah...what are your thoughts on the sibling age gap?

Postpartum Body / Clothing

I'm hovering about 3-4 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight, which feels great! I am no hurry to ditch those pounds and I feel pretty confident in my postpartum body. In fact, I'm extremely proud of my body and appreciate that it carried and sustained an almost 42 week pregnancy.

However, nothing rips my self confidence in half more than jean shopping. Being 4'11" does not help matters as finding pants previously was never a walk in the park. I've ordered so many pairs of jeans in the past few weeks that I can actually pull them out of the bag and take one look before I know if they will work or not. It's a new skill I've developed. I do have one special pair of jeans I got from Nordstrom a few years back, though they don't carry them anymore (why???). They are the Vigoss Jagger Skinny jean, but I refer to them as my Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants jean because they seem to fit me no matter what my weight is at. They are magical and umm, are size 25, which is not a size I've ever come close to wearing in any other pants. Magical, I tell you.  I live in leggings and yoga crops all day and while that's fine (I'm not really into fashion), I would like some nicer pants to add to the rotation.

And oh yeah. Bras. I never liked underwire and after months of nursing bras and bralettes, I'm pretty sure I hate all normal bras, wired or not. Confession: I wear these bralettes every single day and I think I might just get the pack of beige ones and call it a win.

...

This post was thrown together over the course of probably six nap times (I told you they were short), so forgive me for anything that doesn't quite make sense. I still think I'm entitled to blaming my mom brain on things like this.

But that's definitely enough about me. Tell me about you! Sibling age gap thoughts? Favorite plant-filled recipes? Magic jeans you swear by? 


Jan 2, 2018

Air Travel with a Baby: Four Things I'd Do Again and One I Won't


Happy New Year! Christmas came and went so quickly this year and I'll be the first to admit while I love the holidays, I am always ready for a fresh start come January 1st. Having a baby over the Christmas is the best thing ever. We loved continuing our traditions with her and starting a few new ones. But what was the most exciting, was that N was going to go meet our families in Virginia, thus her first cross-country flight. Oh my.

M and N

I made a huge packing list weeks ahead of time and shipped essentials via Amazon to my family's home in Virginia. Even still, it was pretty scary and I had some anxiety about the whole trip. But, it went really really well! N surprised us with how easy she is to travel with. Truly, we couldn't have asked for a better little travel buddy (though ask us again when she's a toddler). We said that she was the easy part - carting her stuff was the hardest. Here are a few things we'd absolutely do again with air travel and one major thing we won't.

What I'd do again, no questions asked:

1. TSA Precheck.

Absolutely 100% worth it. Do not hesitate. Just do this. A couple weeks before our flight, Brandon and I both applied for TSA Precheck. It is $85/person, lasts for five years, and obviously, your baby gets to be toted along for free. We considered Global Entry, which includes Precheck, but we don't have plans of taking her out of the country anytime soon. Anyway, I highly highly recommend this. With the stroller, the carseat, the baby, and all of our carry-on items, I really don't know how we could have juggled having to remove our shoes, laptop, toiletries, etc. Lifesaver.

2. Using a carrier. 

I purchased the Lillebaby All Seasons carrier on Black Friday for an insane deal ($70 and then down to $50 with my Nordstrom Notes, originally was $140) and it was a must-have for our travel. We ended up using N's stroller to cart all of the stuff we were bringing, so it was easier to just strap her on me and especially crucial during the boarding process. She also slept like a champ in it from the time we got off the plane, all the way through baggage claim and then while we waited for Brandon to get the car. This carrier has a neck support panel that I love, so she's nice and secure in there when I'm bouncing around gathering bags and pushing the luggage cart.

3. Consider buying her a seat (for long flights).

Okay, so we didn't technically buy N a seat, but we lucked out with an empty row to ourselves on the flight back. Even though we didn't have the carseat, it was still amazing to have an extra place for toys, blankets, the carrier, etc. I hear you can ask the gate agent to see if your row is empty and thus take on your carseat, which I wish we would have done. They also may move you to an empty row with three seats if you aren't already, I think they tend to do this for passengers with lap infants. For short flights we take in the future, we'll probably refrain from buying her a seat (until she's 2, obviously), but since it was a cross country flight, I think it would have been worth the cost. The family beside us brought on their carseat and enjoyed a few naps and movies while their baby slept in it. A carseat would have been much more comfortable for N too. She took some catnaps in my arms, but I could tell she wasn't super comfy. Those little legs are getting long!

4. Take care of myself. 

Sounds silly, but it needs to be mentioned. We were both a bit anxious for the first flight out and forgot to eat breakfast and lunch. By the time we landed, got our luggage, got the rental car, etc., we were both exhausted, hungry, and had pounding headaches. Remember that in order for you to take the best care of your baby, you need to take care of yourself (the whole oxygen mask thing). On our second flight, I made sure that I had enough snacks and water for Brandon and I and it made a world of difference in how I felt and how I was able to respond to N's needs.

The one thing we regret and totally will NOT do again:

N Vista


Bring our full sized stroller. 

Here's where we went wrong. I asked a few friends for advice regarding N's stroller. Should we get a smaller one or use her Uppababy Vista (which I do love and use every single day at home)? All said to definitely take the Vista and order the travel bags to go with it (we also ordered the travel bag for the Mesa carseat). The travel bags come with insurance so that if your stroller or carseat are damaged at gate check, Uppababy will replace them for free. [Side note: I've read you should never check your stroller or carseat as they can easily be damaged, which is especially bad for your carseat, as you may not know and it won't be as safe. Gate checking both is usually free and means less man handling for the items.]

I also had to buy two adapters so that we could make it into a double stroller and attach both the toddler seat and the carseat as we rolled through the airport - friends said this would be worth it, so you don't have to carry the heavy carseat. For the travel bags and adapters, I spent $240. Umm, yeah. But, "You won't regret having your big stroller", they said. So I gulped and purchased these items.

And no offense friends, but you were wrong.

It was just way too much. For starters, it wouldn't fit through the security conveyor belt, so that took extra time. It barely fit in the back of our rental SUV (a Jeep Compass) and while the Mesa was easy to get into the bag at the gate, the Vista required a good 5-10 minutes of taking the stroller apart and meticulous folding, which we then had to undo once we landed. All of the other parents were whisking their kids away in their simple strollers and here was Brandon on the floor in the terminal putting together our stroller again while N was crying and I was trying to calm her. It was a pain in the rear. Not to mention, the stroller is huge, heavy, and since it was around 15 degrees out every day we were there, we really didn't use it much, aside from a few restaurants. For $240 I could have gone with my first instinct and bought a Baby Jogger City Mini (one friend's recommendation with its one hand folder and lighter weight) and avoided all of these headaches. And umm, would have had another stroller to add to my fleet! Needless to say, we will not be taking this stroller on our next flight.

Live and learn. Anyone want to buy a Vista travel bag? Ha.

Also thought I'd mention some products that really helped make travel a lot smoother:

Tommee Tippee Travel Bottle Warmer and Food Warmer - We had a coffee shop fill this with hot water once we passed security and used it to make N's bottles. We then used half hot water and half room temp bottled water for the perfect bottle temp. I also loved this for warming bottles when we were using breastmilk, which was why I bought it to begin with. The water stays hot for at least six hours.

N Lotus Family Travel Crib

Lotus Family Travel Crib - I purchased this on Amazon and had it shipped to my mom's. We have the Nuna Sena playard at home and while I love it as N's main place to sleep right now, it's not all that easy to travel with. The Lotus is. It's incredible. So easy to set up, take down, and imagine this...a playard that actually fits in its bag. Also, this crib is a MUST if you are short like me. You can unzip the side of it and place the baby down that way instead of from the top.

Dock a Tot - CRUCIAL. We visited a lot of friends and families during our stay and were at their homes all day sometimes. Having the Dock a Tot to lay N down in for naps was the best thing ever. I'm so glad we decided to stuff it into my giant suitcase on a whim (don't waste your money on their travel bag, just take it apart and put in your suitcase - it really didn't take up that much room). She took great (supervised) naps in this and I loved knowing she was comfortable in an unfamiliar house.

Antibacterial Wipes - I used a Huggies brand I found in the Target travel section, but you can use whatever you like. I know you cannot kill all the germs you are exposed to when traveling, but I felt a bit better after wiping down the airplane tray, arm rests, changing tables, etc. We are so lucky that N didn't catch a cold on our trip, which was one of my biggest fears.

Pacifier Clips - N doesn't get a pacifier unless she's ready for a nap or bedtime, but we made an exception for the plane. While I knew I couldn't keep her pacifier squeaky clean the whole time, making sure it didn't drop on the nasty airplane floor indeed helped. I also bought some pacifier cleaning wipes.

Ziplock Bags - I threw some gallon and small Ziplocks in my diaper bag, which came in handy for dirty bottles and bibs.

N IAD Sunset

And that's that. While there were times that I looked at Brandon and said, "We are moving within road trip distance of our family", we couldn't have asked for a better trip. Most importantly, we were able to introduce N to our families and that made it all worth it. I gained a lot of confidence as a mom on this trip and learned a lot about how resilient and easy-going this sweet girl of ours is. Santa is totally getting her a pony next year :)


Nov 30, 2017

Cultivating the Parenting Muscle


While I knew it was coming sooner rather than later, my frozen milk supply ran out. My baby got her last drop of breastmilk just a few days after her four month birthday. All of those feelings of failure that breastfeeding didn't work for us came rushing back me and unlike last time...I had the power to stop them.

It sounds silly, but whenever I feel particularly vulnerable or anxious as a new mom, I think of this quote by Erica Chidi Cohen:

Be gentle on yourself while you cultivate your parenting muscle, and make room for mistakes. No two mothers are going to move through this journey the same way, and that’s a good thing, because your baby needs that special magic that only you can bring.

Isn't that beautiful? Before N was born, I had all of these preconceived ideas of what kind of mom I'd be. Those plans did not include a c-section, formula feeding at four months old (or at all, actually), pureed food at five months and it definitely didn't include co-sleeping here and there when she needed it. Then I met her. And I had throw all of those ideas out the window because they were not right for her and our journey led us through obstacles I couldn't predict. That's okay. I had to course correct along the way; that's the magic that we bring as parents.

Armed with this quote and the confidence I build each day as a mother, I am developing a thick skin in regards to all of the opinions, advice, and shaming parents can receive. While I have been blessed to be surrounded by the most supportive friends and family, I know not others are so lucky.

For instance, I innocently searched a few blogs for inspiration or tips on starting solids and making baby food, since I know that's not too far in the future for us. Seems like a neutral topic, right? No.

Oh gosh no.

I had no idea that some mothers were so passionate about feeding. The general gist, based on the comments from one innocent blogger's post were, and I paraphrase: You should only do "Baby Led Weaning" (aka, feeding your baby finger foods) or your baby will not like vegetables or fruit for the rest of his life and become malnourished. You should avoid jarred baby food because that stuff is ridden with BPA and your baby will die. You should not make your own purees because your baby will never learn to how feed himself. You should always wait until your baby is six months old, because no baby is ready for food before that and I don't care what your medically trained doctor says. Don't trust doctors. Doctors are evil. 

I had to look away from the train wreck. Why are there so many opinions? So much judgement? Isn't being a parent hard enough? Shouldn't we be bonding over these things instead of throwing stones?

Don't get me started on the comments regarding Whitney Port's Youtube Channel (it's beautiful and you should watch it) about breastfeeding struggles and sleep training. She was actually told, "If you care about breastfeeding at all (and you should), then you'd quit your job to stay at home and feed your baby. You are a spoiled Millennial." Who thinks like this?! Who are these women?

We took N to her doctor's appointment yesterday and the waiting room is shared with a few other practices, not just pediatricians. A lady sat near us and overheard me telling N that I was so sorry that she had to get shots today. She perked up and said, "You know, you really should be reading what is in vaccinations. The doctor won't tell you. Look it up. I didn't vaccinate my daughter and she's fine....I wish I had a home birth. I couldn't afford it. Did you have one?"

I looked at Brandon with my jaw dropped. Those choices may have worked for her and her daughter (though I don't agree with them), but is it really necessary to state your opinions on a complete stranger? I just don't get it you guys.

I have no idea what this post is really about, but I wanted to share that quote and hope that if you are ever questioning your abilities to make decisions for your child, you go back to it. There are a million ways to parent and as long as your baby is loved, fed, and safe, then you are doing it right. If you can get rid of all the noise out there (all the noise, noise, noise!), you will find out that you DO have the answers. A book isn't going to give them to you (though if one will, it's this one - my favorite). The stranger on the Internet isn't going to give them to you. Even your best friend isn't going to give you the right answer because YOU are your child's parent and you know what path you need to take. Be confident in those decisions. You are going to be fine and so is your baby.

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