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Trust me, new momma, it gets better.

August 28, 2017

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I got a text last night from a friend who had just had her first baby last week.
“Tell me it gets better! This is harder than I thought it would be.”

I got a phone call two weeks ago from a friend who just had her first baby.
“I just don’t know what to do! This is kicking my butt.”

I got a Voxer from a new mom friend.
“Will I ever have time to myself again? Am I selfish for asking that? Will my husband and I ever get time together again?”

So, mom friends near and far, here is what I want to say to you: Yes, it gets better. SO much better.

Chances are you’re feeling a little physically beat up and worn down. You’re squishier than ever before, and every time you feed your baby you get the pleasure of admiring that squishy stomach. You probably feel the urge to say things like, “I’m so thankful for this body that birthed a baby and is capable of so much!” Because that’s what you’re supposed to say and how you’re supposed to feel, but it’s OK to want your old body back and wonder if you’ll ever feel like yourself again. It will take some work, but your hips will eventually narrow again and you’ll be able to do more than walk around the block without having to sit down to rest.

You WILL sleep again. It may not feel like it right now, but that sweet little baby who loves to sleep during the day and wants to party all night will get their days and nights figured out. Your first 5-hour stretch of consecutive sleep postpartum will make you feel like a new woman and bring a whole new level of mental clarity to your parenting. Until then, there is coffee and water. When you’re tired, just drink more water. I promise it works wonders.

Your crazy, wacky emotions will level off. If you feel on top of the world one minute and in the lowest valley the next, that’s totally normal. Take care of yourself, talk out all the feelings with your friends and family, don’t be afraid to share how you are honestly doing. Keep a close eye on those emotions in case it’s something more serious, but realize that for the first six to eight weeks there are many versions of “normal” for a postpartum momma.

If there is a new momma group in your city it will be the best thing you can do for yourself. Being surrounded by others who are in the weeds as much as you are will be immensely comforting. You’ll take turns having horrible weeks, talking about how hard things are, what an adjustment it is, etc. If you don’t have a momma group that meets in person, find an online community of other postpartum moms. The internet is a wonderful thing in this case. (If you’re in the Minneapolis area, the Amma New Momma class was the best thing I did for my postpartum self!)

Memorize the phrase “fussiness peaks at 6 to 8 weeks” and repeat it over and over. Babies get progressively fussy up until 6 to 8 weeks and then the fussiness tends to slowly decrease after that. I’ll be the first to tell you that my mentality during the first two months is total survival mode. I have no shame admitting that I usually wish away the first six to eight weeks. Life gets immensely sunnier for everyone after the first two months.

Don’t spend those early weeks and months pretending to feel something you don’t feel. When friends ask how you are doing, it’s totally okay (and necessary) to admit that things are hard. When friends ask how they can be of help, be honest. If that’s just someone to hold a baby while you take a nap and shower or to come over and talk so you don’t feel so isolated. Let others love on you while you’re pouring yourself out to your new baby.

Remember that it’s okay not to love every stage. That you can love your baby and miss your old life at the same time. Motherhood is beautiful AND it’s an earth-shattering adjustment. It will rock your world, and in those early weeks “rock your world” won’t feel like a positive thing. Will it get better? Yes! I’m not sure if motherhood actually gets any easier, but you will grow, your capacity will increase, and things will feel easier.

Madison

 

 

 

Family

On Growing + Changing

August 25, 2017

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For most of my life I’ve been an only child. Yes, I have sisters (a half-sister and step-sister if you’re into to labels, which we are not) but they grew up a thousand miles away from me for most of my childhood and theirs. So, practically speaking, I’m an only child. I didn’t have to share my toys on the regular, I got my mom’s undivided attention, and I lived in a house that was quiet and peaceful.

Growing up I remember heading over to my friend Sarah’s house, enamored by the buzz and bustle of a house that was home to six family members including four sisters. It was wonderfully strange to me, an entirely different experience than my own house, and I loved being there, in the mix of all that was going on.

When asked to describe myself I say I’m an extroverted introvert. Quiet time to decompress is essential. Work-at-home days when I hardly talk to anyone don’t really bother me, I crave a little peace and solitude at the end of a busy day, and too much time with large groups drains me. Sure, I can have the conversations and mingle with the best of them, but at the end of the day I just crave a little slice of quiet.

This spring, as we welcomed our second baby into our home, I realized that the most difficult, jarring part for me was the loss of quiet, of order and organization, of everything in its place. With one kid, it’s possible to keep some semblance of your previous pre-kid life. You can stay on top of the toys, the mess, the noise. It’s possible to do the painting project and clean it up with undivided attention, to read books quietly on the couch, to bake together without interruption. But two is a different thing all together.

With two, your attention is divided, and your toddler a little less supervised. Staying on top of those peanut butter or paint-covered hands? Nearly impossible. Toddler coloring all over their hands and face while you make a bottle? Probable. Mud-covered boots traipsing through your living room? Sure. Spit-up on the baby? You better believe it.

I’m not going to lie and say that it hasn’t driven me absolutely crazy. It has! My neat, orderly, put-together home that I worked so hard to maintain was thrown into chaos when we made the transition to two and for the first two months I spent a ridiculous amount of time chasing my tail trying to stay on top of it all. And I was exhausted. Running after each mess, hastily tossing toys back where they belong, wiping faces and mouths, chasing my tail around and around.

My new world was louder, busier and messier than it had ever been. The introvert inside me bristled against the chaos. And then, something shifted. Over the weeks I’ve grown more accustomed to the loud, the mess, the fact that my house will never be as put together or clean as I want it to be. Sure, I still strive for some level of cleanliness and order, but I’m learning to be okay with lower standards, learning to delight in the chaos that two brings, more willing to roll with the punches.

And now, three months into this life with two kids thing, I find myself saying and thinking things like, “I hope we can have a large family!” and, “I pray God blesses us with four kids!” and, “I love the chaos!” While I’m not sure that we really will have four kids and I certainly still welcome the solitude of a hot, quiet bath at the end of the day, I’m finding that my heart is changing. That I’m handing over my need for order and structure every day in favor of days well-spent, full of cuddles, creativity and learning.

Motherhood is changing me, growing me, molding me in ways I never thought possible, and I’m better because of it.

Family, Pregnancy

Mind and Body After Baby (the second time around) // 3 Months

August 22, 2017

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I’m back today to talk about mind and body after baby #2 at the three month mark! Collins is actually closer to four months than three months at this point, but that’s close enough, right? The last post I did about the postpartum recovery period was 3-6 weeks, and a LOT has changed since then.
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Mind Update ::

Let me say first that now, looking back, I can see that I was trying really hard to pull myself together during the first two months after Collins was born. Almost daily I felt as if I was floundering, stumbling, pushing through the haze day-in and day-out. I’m sure that from the outside looking in it seemed as if I had things fairly pulled together, but it was more of a struggle than I anticipated.

I remember going on multiple runs during the first few months after Collins was born, feet hitting the pavement and sun beating down on me, thinking “I’m running to hold on to my sanity and mental health.” And while that may sound dramatic, those first few months I really did feel as if I was walking on eggshells, afraid that I was perilously close to postpartum depression.

During those first two months, I thought about my postpartum experience with Ainsley and remembered feeling nearly the exact same. Emotional, easily stressed, edgy, prone to crying over the smallest things. I think part of that is normal, and some of it was probably a bit more extreme than what others experience. I waffled back and forth, back and forth about weaning and did some ridiculous pumping semi-weaned thing for a couple weeks while I tried to get up the courage to just switch entirely to formula. For some reason I felt weirdly emotional about the idea of weaning. And then I remember that with Ainsley, within a week of weaning, I started to feel like myself again. The clouds and fog lifted and everything about motherhood seemed more manageable. I was able to delight in my daughter more than ever before and wasn’t nearly as edgy.

So, with the encouragement of my amazing husband, I made the full switch to formula. And the same thing happened. I felt like myself again, life became more manageable, and I was able to delight in and enjoy Collins more than before. And while this is certainly NOT meant to be a debate about breast vs. formula, for me it was a wonderful decision and gave me a lot of freedom and mental clarity.
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Body/Fitness Update ::

As you probably already know if you’ve read my previous posts about my recovery, I’ve been exercising since about 3 weeks postpartum, returning to more vigorous exercise around 5/6 weeks. At this point, I’ve resumed all my regular workouts and activities and have been really surprised and how much my fitness level was able to be maintained while pregnant and how quickly my endurance returned to normal. This has nothing to do with weight, pant size, etc. I’m just talking fitness level and general ability. All that to say, working out during your pregnancy does make a huge difference in your recovery after!

As far as weight goes, I really have no idea how much I weigh right now. We don’t have a scale and I haven’t been to the doctor since my 6-week postpartum check-up, so I’m clueless until the next time I go to the doctor. I’ve been lifting more/heavier weight so I’m feeling like I have more muscle than I did before I got pregnant. I can tell you that while many of my favorite pre-baby clothing items fit again, my high-waisted jeans and a few pairs of shorts definitely do NOT fit right quite yet, so I’m giving myself grace and time to get back to where I want to be in that regard.

I have been running 3 or 4 miles on the weekend and doing workouts on Beachbody on Demand 4 to 5 of the other days of the week. Right now I’m working my way through my second round of the new program Shift Shop, which is a combination of cardio and strength training videos, and it’s been great for keeping me motivated and engaged. Since the weather is really nice here, we’ve also been taking the big double stroller on long walks as a little bit of “bonus exercise.”

Just the other day, I told Joe how STRONG I feel right now in my body. Am I in the best shape I’ve ever been? Not quite! Am I the skinniest? Heck no! But I feel fit, strong and able and that’s the biggest blessing I could ask for as a busy mom of two little girls.

So that’s that! My update on my postpartum experience the second time around at the 3-month mark. I’m hoping to do another update closer to 6 months, then again and 9 months and 1 year!

Madison

Family, Fashion

The 5-Minute Face // My Makeup Routine

August 18, 2017

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Happy Friday, friends! I’ve been thinking a lot about the things that I want to devote my time to as the school year rolls around. I know that many people make resolutions around the first of the year, but I really appreciate back-to-school goal setting and planning. Something about the school year starting feels like a great time for a re-set.

All that to say, I’m hoping to spend more time here at Espresso & Cream. I love this little corner of the internet and no matter how many times I think about letting the blog fall by the wayside when life gets busy, I keep coming back here because I love writing, content creation and all that goes along with blogging.

Today I’m talking about my super quick and easy 5-Minute Face routine. As a busy mom, I’m always looking for ways to streamline getting ready in the morning. Usually I’m trying to keep a baby happy in the bouncer next to me while talking with my toddler and making sure she doesn’t launch herself off our bed while I put myself together for the day.

So basically my time is valuable and limited and an elaborate makeup routine does NOT fit my life. So what’s a work-at-home mom to do? Enter the 5-Minute Face: a collection of products from Beautycounter designed to help you look put together in a flash.

Beautycounter has a really amazing interactive tool on their site that walks you through color matching your products and the bundle of 6 products is available at a really great reduced price. The collection includes:

Tint Skin Hydrating Foundation // Linen
Touchup Skin Concealer Pen // Fair
Brow Pencil // Medium
Blush Duo // Whisper & Tawny
Mascara // Volumizing
Lip Gloss // Fig (I forgot to put it on!)

The interactive process on the site is really fun to play around with and I found the color-matching to be pretty much spot on with what I typically like to wear! You can find your own 5-Minute Face routine on Beautycounter’s website.

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BONUS: Through the end of the day today (Friday, August 18) when you purchase a 5-Minute Face kit you will get a FREE Retractable Complexion Coverage Brush to apply your foundation. I love this brush and think you will, too!

Family, Pregnancy

Thoughtful {Unique} Baby Gifts

August 2, 2017

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Let’s talk baby gifts, shall we? I want to be a better gift giver, and slowly but surely I’m learning how to be thanks to my mom friends who are great gift-givers themselves. A few of my close friends come to mind, the ones who always have the most unique, pretty and fun gift ideas. Not necessarily extravagant, per se, just spot-on and thoughtful. After having a second baby, and having a ton of friends and family having babies, gift giving has been on my mind. Here are a few of my favorite gifts for babies and new-moms. Not necessarily must-have products but gifts mom will be happy to receive.

1. Comfy Clothes or Gift Card
This is my #1 gift for a new mom. Because chances are she isn’t about to spend money on clothes when her body is in such a time of transition, but a few new items of clothing do wonders for the self-esteem when you’re in such a strange time with your body and living in sweat pants and t-shirts and workout gear. Gift cards to Old Navy have been a go-to for me because you can get a lot of bang for your buck, as well as cute mom-focused t-shirts from The Be Brand, my new favorite mom-gear shop online.

2. Solly Baby Swaddles
I’ve been given these and gifted these quite a few times in the last couple months. I LOVE how soft and stretchy they are – so much better than the muslin swaddles that everyone gifts. They work as burp cloths, swaddles, blankets, sun shades, etc. They are so super soft and stretchy and something I wouldn’t have splurged on for myself but SO appreciate being gifted.

3. A Box of Bows Subscription 
We LOVE A Little Lady Shop hair bows in our house for the girls and they have a cute little “Box of Bows” monthly subscription that you can gift. How fun, right? I love gifting the bow subscription to new girl mommas, especially if its their first girl!

4. Unique Art
I realize that art is really personal, but I think that gifting a print from a place like Minted is so super sweet and thoughtful if you know what baby’s room looks like and mom’s personal style.

5. Baby Play Mat 
I love this Polar Bear Baby Play Mat from Land of Nod. I was gifted something similar from Pottery Barn when Ainsley was born. It was totally something I would never have purchased on my own but I love that it’s designed for baby yet looks cute in your home. Win-win, right?

6. The Gift of Time
When you have a new baby, everyone says “If you need anything, let me know!” But that is so open-ended and most people I know are hesitant to reach out and actually take you up on the offer. I would suggest being more specific, gifting a card along with some time slots that work for you to stop by and help. Saying “I have Tuesday mornings from 9-11:30 available and would love to gift two mornings of my time to you to help out around the house.” or “I would love to take your toddler off your hands for three mornings in the next couple months as a gift to you. Monday or Wednesday mornings work for me!” is the kind of specificity that most moms need to take you up on your offer.

7. The Gift of a Clean Home
When Collins was born, my Beautycounter team gifted me a clean house! Okay, they pre-paid the gal who cleans our house for 9 cleaning sessions. What a luxury! A dirty house stresses me out to no end, so having a clean house during a time of transition and chaos was the most wonderful gift I could have been given.

8. Food Gift Cards
People tend to bring meals during the first two or three weeks after baby is born, but really, I found that I needed the meals and help more as baby girl got older and fussier. The first two weeks were total bliss. Collins slept all the time, she was very easygoing and chill, and life was good. And then the third week rolled around and she woke up, got fussier and gassier, and was generally just a bit more difficult for a few weeks. I felt totally overwhelmed and those that brought meals a little later were much appreciated! That said, gift cards would have been equally welcome!