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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.

Madison

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.

DockATot
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.

Madison

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!

Madison

Fashion, Pregnancy

First 20 Weeks Pregnancy Clothing Favorites

February 27, 2019

Lounge Wear
GapFit Seamless Low Support Plunge Sports Bra // These are THE best bras. They are comfortable enough to sleep in, wear around the house and for low impact exercise. I can totally see myself using these for nursing bras, too, down the road.

Gap Vintage Soft Maternity Pullover Sweatshirt // So comfortable/cute and doesn’t look like maternity. I’ve been wearing this for weeks now!

Gap Pure Body Modal Joggers // I’ve owned these for years and LOVE them pregnant and not pregnant. Just bought two more pairs because my older pairs were getting worn out.

The Be Brand Sweatshirts // Love these sweatshirts and long sleeved shirts for super comfy lounge wear that’s cute enough to wear out and about.

Work Wear
I’ve bought a bunch of dresses recently from H&M for Beautycounter functions and been really impressed with their cut and fit! I haven’t been getting maternity items, just gravitating toward looser styles. I have this dress in black and a dress in leopard that I can’t find on the site anymore and I love them both.

I also think I’ll be making more purchases from Carly Jean Los Angeles because their flowy styles are perfect for pregnancy and postpartum recovery. I just got the Stella Half Sleeve Dress in black and will probably buy another dress or two in a similar style for being majorly pregnant in the summer months. I also got the Addison Jumpsuit and a few of their awesome tunic tops.

Swimsuit
I have never owned a proper maternity swimsuit while pregnant because my babies were born in February and May. I never really needed to wear one while pregnant – barring a few trips to the indoor pool – so I just made do with what I had.

Knowing I’m not due until August 10th, I thought it was a good idea to get my hands on a maternity suit for the summer. I found THIS ONE from Gap and I can’t tell you how much I love it. I have the black version and it fits well and is super comfy!

Other Suggestions
I have been a Rent the Runway Unlimited member for a handful of months because I had a bunch of Q1 work travel on the calendar and wanted to make sure I had the right outfits. It’s an economical and eco friendly way to shop for items that you might only wear once. Rather than buying said items, you can pay a monthly subscription and simply “check out” four items at a time, returning them whenever you want for another four items. It’s been especially helpful during this transition time when I don’t really want to invest in nicer pieces in sizes that won’t fit down the road.

Jeans
For a full round-up of the jeans I have loved this pregnancy, reference THIS POST.

Family, Pregnancy

Mind and Body After Baby // 9 Month Update (the second time around)

February 6, 2018

swimsuit top / similar style/same brand swimsuit bottoms / collins’s suit

Well, we are here! Nearly to the point where Collins has been out in the world as long as she was in my tummy. I can’t believe that she is already so big and so far into her first year of life. The second baby’s life goes even faster than the first and I am, as always, equal parts delighted and dismayed seeing this little kiddo of mine grow and change. It’s so sweet, it’s so sad, it’s bittersweet. But truly, it’s a JOY to see this little girl grow and the best part is seeing her develop a relationship with her sister and start to play together.

So, nine months feels like a big milestone in the postpartum journey. Or at least it has for me. It tends to be the point where I feel like it’s reasonable to want to look and feel like yourself again, to have given your body time to heal and adjust and to begin to really regain your former strength, fitness and sense of self to some degree. That’s not to say that things are totally back to “normal” (hello, saggy tummy skin!) but what is normal anyway?

Mind After Baby / 9 Months
Mentally I’m in a really great place right now. I still have my moments of insecurity and issues with body confidence, but I’ve been working hard to safeguard and protect my mind from those assaults and, as Ainsley has gotten older, I’ve been VERY careful about what I say around her as it relates to my body during this postpartum journey since she is getting old enough to understand what I’m saying and how I relate to my body. She is frequently by my side during workouts and we talk a lot about exercising to make our bodies STRONG and capable and healthy, not skinny, thin, look good, etc.

I’ve said this from the beginning, but working out for me in this postpartum phase has been critical to helping me have enough physical energy to be a good mom day in and day out. I’m so thankful for the ability and gift of being able to move my body and of what my body has done in the last three years (two babies, two postpartum journeys, etc.) and that has given me a newfound respect and admiration for my physical body that I didn’t have before kids.

Body After Baby / 9 Months
When I look back at the last 9 months, what I see is a lot of really hard work. Hard mental work – learning to pray for patience, grace, forgiveness. Hard physical work – sleep deprivation, carrying toddlers and babies (sometimes simultaneously), challenging physical workouts day in and day out to get back to my pre-baby fitness level. But like all things that are difficult, it’s incredibly gratifying, too. Did I want to fit back into my jeans? Absolutely. But really, I just wanted to be able to feel like myself again, to set a good example for my girls about what self-care and dedication looks like, and to be able to be in a place where I could give my best self to my family. And I know that when I feel mentally and physically fit, I’m a better wife and mom, and everyone in our family benefits from that.

Now, 9 months into this journey, I think I would say that I’m moving out of recovery mode and into fitness maintenance and growth mode. Though I definitely am still paying careful attention to rebuilding proper core and pelvic floor strength, both of which I think are very overlooked as part of the recovery process.

Because I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what workouts I’m doing or have done these last 9 months, I have to give a huge shout-out to Beachbody on Demand, which has been a saving grace during this time. I don’t so any of the eating plans associated with the workouts, because like I’ve said before, I’ve gotten to a good place knowing what works for my body intuitively, but the workouts have my heart forever and ever. Early in the postpartum journey I did 21 Day Fix, later moving into T25 and 21 Day Fix Extreme and now I’m 22 days into the 80 Day Obsession, which I’m LOVING. The workouts are longer than I typically do, but they have really pushed me and have been incredibly fun. Joe and I also try to do Crossfit together a couple Saturdays per month – he goes to Crossfit four days during the weekday but I just go with him as a drop-in occasionally.

My best advice if you’re feeling out of the loop of exercise postpartum is to start somewhere small. Go on long walks with the baby in a stroller, do a short high intensity workout (there are lots of good free options online) or even 15 minutes of strength training with some weights at home. Give you body time to heal appropriately and ease back into things. It’s easy to think that 15 minutes doesn’t make a difference but a little exercise is better than nothing and your body will thank you.

Supplements and MoreĀ 
A few other helpful links to share with you as it relates to supplements postpartum, in case you want to know!

Smoothies // I rotate between Vegan Vanilla Shakeology and Vega Protein & Greens for at least one smoothie per day. When life is busy, making a smoothie is really just the best way to pack in a bunch of nutrition quickly.

Supplements // I have continued to take my Garden of Life Once Daily Prenatal and also take the Garden of Life Women’s Probiotic. I LOVE Garden of Life products and can’t speak highly enough about the company and the quality of their supplements. We also take the Kids Probiotic for Ainsley and she gets so excited to take it each day! I also take the Plexus BioCleanse product, which I think was tremendously helpful in the postpartum period to promote regularity and reduce some of the gas and bloating that can happen while your hormones adjust and recalibrate.

Madison