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Family, Pregnancy

Emotionally Challenging Pregnancies

June 17, 2019

I’ve had this post brewing in my head for quite some time, but finding the words to write about something so joyful yet so challenging has felt nearly impossible. How do you find the words to write about something that feels so real, yet so self-indulgent at the same time?

As a momma who has walked through miscarriage three times, I know as well as most what it means to long for a big, round belly. Each time I’ve been pregnant, I’ve counted down the days to various milestones. Twelve weeks – out of the first trimester when the risk of miscarriage drops dramatically. Twenty three weeks – when baby is considered viable outside the womb. Thirty weeks – a baby born after thirty weeks generally has the same long-term outcomes for health as babies born at full-term. There is a certain holding of the breath that happens in each pregnancy after experiencing the loss of a baby, and my heart knows this well.

And while I’ve been overwhelmingly thankful for this baby, and every baby God has blessed us with, one side effect of experiencing loss is feeling horrible every time you aren’t eternally grateful for every aspect of pregnancy. I mean, what kind of person complains about something they’ve longed so deeply for?

Yet here I am, writing about my emotionally challenging pregnancy. Because when I quit powering through and really sit with my emotions, I’m faced with the reality that it’s been incredibly difficult for me this time around.

As was the case with my other two pregnancies, the first trimester brought with it a certain sense of melancholy and exhaustion. It was a familiar feeling, triggered by extreme nausea and fear about the what-ifs ahead. I knew enough about my previous two full-term pregnancies to know that after the nausea and exhaustion subsided I would likely come out of the emotional fog, too. And then, instead of 12 or 13 weeks of nausea, I found myself sick through the first 21 weeks, much longer than I had experienced with the girls, with the magical second trimester burst of energy nowhere to be found

Extended nausea gave way to both a 20-week anatomy ultrasound scare, followed by increased muscle reactions to the progesterone injections I take throughout pregnancy, which led to physical therapy and chiropractic. All the while, feeling a strange mix of exhaustion, sadness and irritability, made worse by everything listed above.

In the back of my mind, since the day we found out about this baby’s August due date, I’ve felt fearful. The transition to two kiddos was NOT an easy one for me, and while I look back at those early days with two kids fondly now, I still distinctly remember how stretched and maxed out I felt much of the first three months of Collins’s life. Knowing we will be adding another sweet baby to the mix, at the very beginning of football season (my husband is an assistant HS football coach on top of his regular work schedule) while entering a busy season for my own work has left me with so may fears about my own capacities.

My mind has taken every uncertainty, every day where I feel totally exhausted managing just two kiddos, every sleep-disrupted night as we’ve transitioned the girls into a shared room and jumped five steps ahead to, “How in the world will I do this with a newborn in the mix, too?!”

My body has felt tired, my heart has felt fearful, and I’ve never been more keenly aware of my own human limitations. Any of my other momma friends feel me?

So, with all that said, what steps have we tangibly taken to manage the challenges of this pregnancies and the uncertainties of the next few months?

Joe and I have talked about August and beyond a LOT. And we continue to talk about it as I need to process the uncertainties and what-ifs. We’ve had a lot of great conversations about family priorities and how we will communicate needs once baby boy arrives and check-ins on how I’m doing with our crazy schedule.

I’m starting therapy. I really dislike the fact that I even gave a second thought to writing this, but there is still such a stigma about therapy and getting professional help, isn’t there? But Joe and I are both huge advocates of the value therapy can play to getting + keeping people in a healthy place emotionally. The only reason I put off therapy for so long was not having a great option I felt was a good match with what I was looking for. With a personal referral and the ability to see the right people remotely, I feel much more confident in who I’ve found and having a resource going forward.

I‘m accepting help. That means our beloved childcare provider starting back up right after baby is born, and asking my mom to help do evening kiddo duty with me one night a week, and being willing to tell Joe if I feel that it’s all just too much on my plate. (I’m still working on that last part…)

We’re setting the bar low. Low expectations for the first few months, and low standards for things like meals and schedules. If my kiddos and husband have to live on Jimmy Johns, cereal, and PB&J for the first two months of this baby’s life, that’s totally fine. And if I need to get my house cleaned every week to keep up, I’m going to accept that, too. Settling the bar low has always helped me in avoiding disappointment or unrealistic expectations about situations or circumstances.

And in the end, what gives me the most comfort is knowing that my strength and ability to parent these three little people does not come from ME at all, but from HE who has the power to create and sustain life. We are so thankful for the gift of this sweet baby boy and remembering where my true source of strength comes from gives me the peace each day to know that each day is one God ordained and will get us through.


Family, Pregnancy

New Baby Items

June 13, 2019

Snuggle Me Organic Newborn Lounger
Full disclaimer: This product isn’t designed for evening sleep, but I found having a newborn lounger of some type was great for daytime napping around the house. We used a different newborn lounger last time, but it was pink and covered in hearts so we upgraded this time around to something more appropriate for baby boy.

Owlet Smart Baby Sock
I thought about buying this smart sock monitor for Collins last time around, but at the time the only version was the first generation Owlet and I read a lot of reviews about glitches associated with the sock. This time around, the sock has been reworked in the second generation model AND the Owlet was FSA eligible so it was a no-brainer for the added peace of mind during those early months.

Not entirely sure why we have both a Dock a Tot and a Snuggle Me Organic, but we do. Call it nesting the third time around?! It seems to me that one OR the other would be more than sufficient, but here we are with both! Baby boy is going to have options I guess!

DermaFrida Silicone Baby Brush
A friend gifted this to us and I thought it was such a sweet and useful gift! Collins had terrible cradle cap that we were always working on, so I’m excited to have this on hand to keep baby boy’s scalp healthy and cradle cap free.

Windi by Fridababy
Since I have a fast letdown and oversupply, I know that my babies tend to struggle with gas in the early days. I wished I had this with Collins, who had such an irritable tummy the first month, to help relieve gas and stomach discomfort. Such a silly looking yet practical baby item, right?!

Vava Night Light
I did a lot of scouring of the internet to see what came most highly recommended for night lights good for middle of the night feedings. I decided on this light because it has multiple brightness options and can be easily turned on and off/dimmed with the touch of your hand.

True & Co. Seamless Convertible Bra (as a nursing bra)
I’ve been on the hunt for great nursing bras since I never found any I loved the first two times around. And while this is technically NOT a nursing bra, the front hooks make it super nursing friendly while also being something that is comfortable to wear and doesn’t feel frumpy. I LOVE True & Co. bras so much! (click HERE for $25 off your first True & Co. order!)

HALO Microfleece Swaddle
This isn’t a new product for us, but it’s been one of our favorite swaddles with both girls so we bought a new one since our old one was looking pretty grimy and gross.

SwaddleMe Original Swaddles
These are a new purchase for me but I loved how easy they look to get baby in and out and secure baby in a good, tight swaddle. They are more lightweight than the HALO microfleece swaddles so I’m excited to use them in August when baby is born.


Family, Pregnancy

My Thoughts On: Not Taking Maternity Leave

June 5, 2019

I’ve listened recently to a few podcasts from fellow mommas who work for themselves talking about maternity leave and setting yourself up to check out when a new baby enters your family. When I worked a traditional 40 hour/week job before Ainsley was born, I took a traditional maternity leave that entailed checking out completely from all work responsibilities for 12 weeks. It was lovely, and going back to work full-time after Ainsley was born was soul-crushing for me at best. Those first few weeks I felt so sad, isolated and sick to my stomach leaving my baby while I worked.

But! When I transitioned to work from home life and running my own businesses the concept of a maternity leave leading up to Collins’s birth looked a little different than when I had Ainsley. The first being, I didn’t really WANT to take a maternity leave, and in fact I didn’t actually take much more than a week off work (sort of) when she was born. Before you jump all over me telling me to let myself cherish the newborn stage, let’s chat through why I decided (very thoughtfully) to make that choice with Collins and why I’m planning to do the same this time around…

First things first, when you work for yourself maternity leave can look very different than when you have a traditional office job. Would I take a maternity leave if I worked a traditional 9 to 5? YES! A thousand times over and probably try to extend it to four months if I could. But the benefit of working for yourself and working on your terms is that baby gets to go with me when I work. So Ainsley spent a lot of time with our babysitter during the first two months after Collins was born, and Collins came with me to my office, where she mainly slept in a bassinet next to me and I did what I could in my sleep-induced haze to keep my business moving forward. Second, having childcare for Ainsley allowed me to spend more concentrated time with Collins. Sure, I was technically “working” but I allowed myself plenty of grace during those months to nap on my office couch with baby Collins if I needed to, and took plenty of time to respond to messages with a sleeping baby on my chest, so it wasn’t all terribly hard or grueling work I was doing.

Second, I tend to have a really hard time with the newborn stage. I wish it wasn’t the case, but it’s hard for me and I’m finally coming around to admitting that. Having the structure of at least some amount of work and focus to my days has been tremendously helpful for my mental state as I go through the transition to having a new baby in our family and increased demands on my time and energy. It may seem strange that adding one MORE thing to my plate (work) helps me feel less overwhelmed but it does! Add to that list things like running, working out, blogging, etc. and it all helps me feel like myself when I tend to feel anything but normal. Yes, welcoming a new baby into your family is a tremendously special experience and something I’m SO excited about, but it’s okay to not want to spend three straight months living in newborn-land without things like work, working out, and traditional structure. Do what works for you and what will make you feel the most like yourself.

Finally, I touched on this a bit above, but having childcare lined up and forgoing a traditional maternity leave actually allows me MORE time to enjoy a newborn, in my opinion. Although I may work and get things done while baby sleeps, there is also a lot of time to rest. Physical rest is hard to come by when you have other kiddos at home, so sitting at a computer and using my brain vs. feeling physically pushed while I’m recovering is wonderful for me, for baby, and for the girls who will get out and about more than they would with me and their new baby brother. Joe is going to be really busy in the late summer/fall with work projects, football coaching, etc. so it honestly makes me feel SO much better about our transition to three knowing I will have the additional support of our very beloved childcare provider.

So, I hope the novel encourages you to tune out the noise about what you should or shouldn’t do, and pave a maternity leave path that works for YOU and your family. There truly is no right way to do maternity leave!



Breastfeeding Round 3

May 29, 2019

I’m writing this post while 30 weeks pregnant and before baby’s arrival because I’ve gotten a few questions about my plans once baby boy arrives and if I plan to breastfeed. Maybe it’s a personal question for some, but since I’ve blogged about our journey with both Ainsley and Collins, it is something I’m happy to talk about.

Breastfeeding has been a topic that has been really tough for me. I can see/understand the value that it has for baby and have made an effort to give both our girls a great start with breastmilk both times. As Joe has reminded me, even a couple weeks is better than nothing, and so I’ve made very modest goals both with Ainsley and Collins and given myself the grace to switch to formula after that point if it was what was best for me + our family as a whole.

And that’s what I want to make sure is clear first and foremost: While on paper breastmilk is certainly and undoubtedly the best nutritional choice for baby, as I’ve gone down this path I’ve realized that rarely is the decision of what is “best for baby” as clear as what is nutritionally superior on paper. It’s my main issue with the catchy “breast is best” slogan, because it doesn’t capture the complexity of what goes into being best for baby. Those other factors being:

1. Mom’s mental health and well-being. I personally have found breastfeeding to cause a lot of mental anguish and don’t feel emotionally “normal” until I wean.

2. The family as a whole. Closely tied to what is mentioned above, but each new baby is part of our family unit and it’s important that whatever decision I made in regards to breastfeeding or not takes into account what will allow me to be the best and most emotionally stable and available mom to everyone in our family, not just baby.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking/praying about what decision or posture would be best and healthiest to have toward this baby’s arrival. I’ve gone between wanting not to breastfeed at all, to wanting to fully commit to giving it an earnest try for the long haul. Instead of falling into one extreme or other other, I’ve settled on the following:

My hope is to set a small and modest goal of six weeks to start. Enough to get baby on a good start nutritionally and for me to get my feet under me a bit in terms of finding a groove that (hopefully) works for us. In my heart, I would love to experience what I haven’t experienced prior – which is a more successful long-term breastfeeding experience than I did with both girls. Not knowing if this will be our last baby or not, I find myself not wanting to have any regrets that I didn’t give breastfeeding a real, earnest try before deciding it wasn’t for me.

So, my hope is that I can make it to six months as a best-case scenario, but I’m taking the entire thing with a VERY open hand and very open mind that there is so much more to being a great momma and giving this baby my best than simply breastfeeding any self-imposed amount of time. And if I’m six weeks in and it doesn’t work for us, giving myself a lot of grace to move forward with formula and without a second thought!



Traveling // La Playa Beach and Golf Resort – Naples, FL

May 24, 2019

We just returned from the most wonderful four days in Naples, Florida, where we stayed at La Playa Beach & Golf Resort and took in some much-needed SUN as well as rest and relaxation. In light of our need to cancel our trip to Iceland for Ainsley’s ear surgery we decided to squeeze in a really quick four day vacation while we could. Our days as a family of four are seeming more and more numbered, and with the girls at such relatively easy ages for travel, we wanted to take advantage while we could!

We picked Naples, Florida, because we knew we wanted to park ourselves at a beach and enjoy some sunshine. And once we settled on the beach + sunshine we decided to head to Naples to see Joe’s sister, Amber, and her family while we were there!

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the years traveling and going to the beach is that staying right ON the beach is worth every penny you pay. Especially when you’re traveling with young kiddos (who frequently need snacks + potty breaks + etc.) and not being within driving distance (aka we didn’t travel with things like beach chairs, towels, a cooler, etc.) being on the beach made our trip so fun and relaxing.

La Playa Beach & Golf Resort came recommended by a friend who is from the area and I’m SO glad we decided to stay there. While this isn’t sponsored in any way and we paid a hefty price tag for our stay there, I had to rave about the resort and share a few details about our experience since I got a lot of questions on Instagram about where we stayed!

As I mentioned, the price tag was hefty (even more so because we stayed on a ground-floor Lanai suite that walked straight out onto a patio that was just feet from the beach) but the amenities and convenience made it worth it. We stayed for three nights and four days, the perfect amount of time to feel recharged and refreshed yet ready to head back home.

Some of our favorite perks of the hotel:
1. Each day they have complimentary chair/umbrella/beach towel service and someone from the resort will set up as many chairs, tables and umbrellas as you need. This was awesome since, as I mentioned, we didn’t travel with any of our beach gear.

2. Beachside drink/food service was available each day as well. We didn’t eat our meals out at the beach (the girls were ready for a lunch break and nap time each day) but having the option was really nice.

3. FIVE swimming pools! Although pre-kids I wouldn’t have said this was necessary when you go to the beach, having the pools available was great. We spent most mornings at the beach, then came inside and cleaned up for lunch/nap time. Joe and I read on the patio while the girls napped, then we headed to the pool for the afternoon. It was amazing how quickly our days flew by with this schedule.

4. Great on-site restaurants. We enjoyed a lovely outdoor breakfast each morning, and since there weren’t a ton of families with kiddos there, we enjoyed having the restaurant nearly to ourselves at 7:30 am when our kids were already awake and ready to eat!

5. Friendly and Helpful Staff. While I can’t say the resort was “kid focused” by any means, it was definitely still kid-friendly. The staff welcomed the girls with their own little backpacks filled with a coloring book and a stuffed animal turtle, and they were all so friendly to the girls. The Pack and Play was already set up in our room when we arrived (why is this such a perk to me?! But it is! Mainly because I’ve had so many times where I have a kiddo ready for a nap and it takes a dozen calls to get a crib to the room) and there were small fridges in the room and really effective blackout shades (great for mid-day naps and keeping milk cold in the fridge).

Aside from the resort itself, we didn’t do a whole lot aside from going between the beach and the pool and back to the beach. It was so so recharging to travel with the girls at these ages and really take it slow/easy without much of an agenda for our time in Naples. We also managed to travel SUPER light this time around by doing the following:

1. We packed entirely in carry-on suitcases this time. Joe and I each took a carry-on and we each put the stuff needed for one of the girls in our respective suitcases. Since Collins is now potty trained and only needs diapers at night, it was nice to not take up half a suitcase with diapers. The hotel provided a pack and play, we bought beach toys at Target when we arrived, we rented car seats from our car rental service (Hertz) and only took a small umbrella stroller.

2. Ainsley was allowed to pack a backpack of things she wanted to take, including some toys and games for the plane, snacks, stuffed animals, etc. Joe and I also each took one backpack and that was it! It was SO nice not to be loaded down with stuff, and when we ended up delayed in the St. Louis airport for nearly even hours it was really nice to have all of our stuff with us both for travel plan changes AND to keep everyone clothed/happy/occupied while we waited.

One Last Note:

Joe and I talked multiple times over our trip about how GOOD it was to be reminded of the value of taking our girls outside of their comfort zone and making it a priority to travel with them at young ages. Even at the ages of 2 and 4 they are both experienced fliers and generally good travelers. BUT! That doesn’t mean that we don’t have our fair share of times when we wonder if it’s all worth it. Because the meltdowns happen, and the effort it takes to travel with little people is REAL. It’s work for us as parents, but it’s something we are committed to because we see the value in exposing the girls to new places, things and testing their flexibility muscles.

Even over the course of our short trip, I saw how much growth had happened in terms of them getting better about sitting still through restaurant meals. And on the flight home when faced with a seven hour delay in the St. Louis airport, a tornado warning that forced us to seek shelter in the bathroom for an hour, and getting home at 2 am, they were so flexible and adaptable. Much more than I had given them credit for previously.

So take the trips, make the memories, and know that your little ones will be better off because of it! 🙂