View More: by Gina Zeidler

I’m so very sorry that posting has been so sporadic lately. I really should have just anticipated that I was going to need a full month of blog maternity leave to adjust to life with a newborn and life as a family of three. Of course, I though I was going to get so much more done than I’ve actually accomplished, despite what I had heard from veteran mommas who have much more wisdom about this parenthood thing that I have.

Although I don’t claim to be an expert, in fact I’m very far from it, I do have the benefit of perspective being in the thick of the new momma days and have a few things I thought I would jot down for all you out there who are thinking about pregnancy or are currently expecting your first baby.

1. Read all the books you feel comfortable reading, but don’t feel bad when you don’t remember anything you read in the first few days at home. I felt SO prepared before Ainsley arrived, having read parenting and sleep books galore, but when you’re awake in the middle of the night with a newborn that has their days and nights mixed up, it seems so much more real than the theoretical scenarios you read about. It’s okay, there will be time to go back and read later, and the books will all make more sense when you have a few weeks under your belt, anyway.

2. There really is no time like the present, so do your best to be in the moment rather than living for the next. Joe and I are constantly battling this only three weeks in! I find myself thinking about when Ainsley is a bit older and sleeps longer stretches, but then Joe gently reminds me that we should cherish this stage and not wish for the next because when she is a little older she won’t sleep on our chests with her little frog legs curled under her body and baby cuddles will be harder to come by. Keep reminding yourself that no stage lasts forever, even if it feels like forever at the time.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! The nurses in our hospital preached the importance of not sending your baby off to the newborn nursery because of the value of bonding with your baby by rooming in with them. Thankfully some of my veteran mom friends told me differently! Take advantage of the help while you have it, sleep as much as you can so you go home well-rested and ready for the first wonderful-difficult days at home. And when your mom volunteers to care for your baby in the middle of the night while you go back to bed, take her up on that offer, too. You’re not a “bad mom” for letting others love on and care for your baby. You’re human.

4. Be an advocate for your baby, but check the worrying (and Dr. Google) at the door. I heard that once your baby was in the world the worry wouldn’t subside, it would only increase, and boy is that true! I’ve found myself worried over baby sniffles, poop color and tummy fussiness more than I ever thought possible. Since you are your baby’s momma and probably see and know more about them than anyone else, it’s your job to advocate for them when you notice something seems off, but know when to draw the line. Steer clear of Google and call your pediatrician when you really need a question answered. (I’m preaching to myself with this one!)

5. It doesn’t matter how (or what) you feed your baby nearly as much as people will lead you to believe. Breastfeeding, bottle feeding breast milk, formula feeding or a combination of both – the choices are numerous and the opinions are plentiful and passionate. I always thought I would breastfeed, only to find out that for a number of reasons (that’s another post for another time) the best solution for us was to bottle feed breast milk and exclusively pump. For the first few days after making that decision I agonized about the choice and felt guilty sharing that choice with others. But I soon came to the realization that even the best laid plans don’t always work out the way you want them to and that’s more than okay.

6. The first few days and weeks at home are tough. I know everyone will be asking you about how things are going and how your baby is sleeping and how you’re feeling. You might feel pressure to have it all together and say that things are just wonderful and you love being a mom, and that might be true. But if you’re feeling exhausted and mourning a bit of your old life with your husband and crying in the parking lot of Target 4 days postpartum, that’s okay, too. It’s possible to love your new life AND mourn your old life.

7. Find a support group of other new moms to walk with you on this road. I have a handful of momma friends who have newborns around the same age as Ainsley and have also joined a new momma/first-time mom class that meets at our local parenting center for six weeks. It’s SO helpful to connect with other women who are burning the midnight oil with feedings and baby fussiness and just knowing that there are others in your exact same stage of life helps tremendously. Because sometimes in the middle of the night when you’re up with a fussy baby it can feel incredibly lonely and you could probably use the reminder that it’s not just you navigating these unfamiliar waters.

8. Don’t try on your pre-pregnancy jeans 2 weeks postpartum. Just don’t. Give yourself and your body a little more time.

9. And speaking of bodies, remember that although you’re probably eager to get back into shape and start looking like your old self as soon as possible, your primary responsibility right now is to feed and nourish your baby and to take care of yourself. So focus on filling your body with nourishing foods, plenty of water and as much good stuff as possible. The weight will come off in time, or so I’m told.

10. Take a little time to yourself every single day. Nap while your baby naps, read a magazine for 20 minutes, let your hubby bond with your little one when he gets home from work so you can take a walk outside or a soak in the tub. Shower, wash your hair and put on makeup. Whatever makes you feel like your old self is SO important for your mental well-being, so do whatever it takes to make time for something like that daily.


Heritage Reserve Naval Oranges

A number of weeks ago, before Ainsley arrived, the sweet people over at Heritage Reserve Naval Oranges offered to send me a case of their oranges for review. Joe loves oranges, so he was as excited as could be, but I was a little hesitant. You see, I’m not really a fan of oranges. There, I said it! It’s not that I mind them, but I rarely sit down and eat an orange for a snack because I always find the flesh a little tough and unappealing. Clementines on the other hand? I could eat five or six at a time!

Despite my hesitation I agreed to sample the oranges, and they couldn’t have arrived at a better time. They showed up at our doorstep a few days before Ainsley was born while we were battling horrible colds and we were eager for the extra dose of vitamin C. Honestly, I didn’t expect to be as blown away by these oranges as I was, but they are truly amazing. Since the team sent us a box of 72 oranges, we gave them away to everyone who visited us in the weeks following Ainsley’s arrival and everyone who tried them had the same reaction.

The flavor of these oranges is incredible and the flesh is soft and tender, almost like a giant clementine. I think it may have something to do with the age and quality of the trees? The trees they are grown on are anywhere between 50 and 112 years old. Dare I say these oranges were my version of citrus fruit heaven? They’re only available from February through April, and for you Twin Cities residents, word on the street is that they’re available at Cub Foods right now, so look out for them when you’re at the grocery store!

Orange Berry Smoothie (1) | Espresso and Cream

We’ve been working our way through our giant supply, finding ways to incorporate the oranges into meals and snacks. Joe has even taken to making smoothies with them in our Vitamix! I thought I would share with you our favorite combination as of late. Since Ainsley arrived, smoothies like this one have been a staple in my diet because I’m able to get a bunch of nutrition into a single meal.

Berry-Orange Smoothie with Heritage Reserve Oranges
Recipe type: Smoothie
Serves: 1
  • ½ cup milk or non-dairy milk of choice
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries (I like the antioxidant blend from Target)
  • 1 Heritage Reserve Naval Orange, peeled
  • 3 to 4 ice cubes
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend on medium high speed until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes to really break up the flesh from the oranges. Serve immediately.


Lavazza Post 2
One of my favorite blog series of all time is a series on Bon Appetit called “My Morning Routine” where celebrities and Bon Appetit editors talk about how they start each morning. I’m not sure why I find the column so fascinating, but it gets my attention time and time again. Does anyone else love hearing how people start their days?

I’m partnering this year with Lavazza, one of my favorite coffee companies, to promote some of their amazing coffee products. I’ve loved Lavazza since we traveled to Italy in 2013 and drank our fair share of their coffee and espresso. It was everywhere! I know some women are quick to give up coffee during their pregnancies, but I just couldn’t stand to give up my beloved morning cup of coffee and my afternoon cup of decaf. I took a little time before Ainsley arrived to write down what my morning routine looked like pre-baby and had planned on posting this before she arrived, but since our little lady arrived early, I never got it posted pre-baby. As you can imagine, my morning routine has changed quite a bit since Ainsley arrived; I’m not sure I even have a morning routine right now! But here’s a look at my pre-baby mornings.

I head straight for my coffee the minute I get out of bed. My method of coffee preparation takes different forms. We have a Keurig 2.0 that I’m partial to because of the convenience factor and the fact that I can make different coffee for myself and Joe. But on mornings when I want to make a really wonderful cup of coffee I gravitate to using my stovetop espresso pot or French press with some quality dark roast or espresso roast coffee grounds. Lately, I’ve been using the Lavazza Perfetto Espresso Roast coffee and it’s divine. My coffee has to be super dark and strong because I like to add a little whole milk or 1/2 and 1/2 without losing that good, strong coffee flavor. On the weekends when I have a bit more time I’ll use my Nespresso milk frother and make a cafe au lait.

I’ve never been someone who can wait very long after I wake up to eat breakfast. It’s probably the reason I’ve always hated brunch! I usually wake up first thing in the morning absolutely starving, so I waste no time preparing breakfast for myself and Joe. Joe’s pretty easy to please as far as breakfast goes and will eat whatever I make. If he had strong preferences, I would probably tell him he was on his own! (I’m only sort of kidding…)

Breakfast has to be something healthy and balanced or I find that my whole day is thrown off and I tend to make bad food choices the rest of the day, although I have to admit that pregnancy has thrown my appetite off a bit this entire 40 weeks. Oatmeal is usually my favorite and I typically make it with some chia seeds or a little ground flax thrown in for good measure. I used to be a fan of stevia in my oatmeal, but once I got pregnant I started to think more about what I was putting in my body and switched over to using plain old brown sugar with a bit of almond or peanut butter for protein. Sometimes I’ll mix things up and make eggs and whole wheat toast or my current favorite, a mixed berry smoothie made with a little orange juice, milk, ice and frozen berries.

Joe and I have always had a bit of a habit of waking up earlier than we really need to in order to give ourselves a little bit of time to wake up, watch the news, talk about our mornings and do our devotionals. It’s amazing what an impact an extra half an hour in the morning can have on the entire day! I feel like that extra time gives us the opportunity to talk and make sure we’re on the same page about what we have going on. Sometimes sleep takes priority and we opt to hit the snooze button a few times rather than wake up early, but that’s rare.

My extra half an hour in the morning also creates a little time for me to pack a lunch for Joe. Once again, he’s not picky (thank goodness!) so the standard is kept pretty low. We eat a lot of leftovers for lunch since it’s just the two of us eating dinner each night. Otherwise it’s a rotation of sandwiches with yogurt, fruit and some sort of raw veggie like carrots.

My work schedule lately has, admittedly, taken on a bit of a different routine. Instead of rushing off to work, I’ve been settling down to some time in front of my laptop, responding to e-mails and brainstorming new ideas for the blog and working on freelance projects that I have in the pipeline. Usually about halfway through the morning I’ll help myself to another cup of coffee, this time decaf. For me coffee is only partially about the caffeine and almost entirely about the taste!

Lavazza Post 4

Lavazza Post 3

Lavazza isn’t just supplying me with plenty of coffee to stay warm; they want to supply you with coffee as well! Below are a few ways to enter to win a $20 Lavazza gift card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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I should start by saying that I went into labor with very few expectations or ideas of how I wanted things to do. I didn’t write a birth plan, was undecided on how I felt about pain medication and was sure that I would have a very long labor since my mom had a very long labor with me. In short, my expectations of labor were low and I fully expected it to be miserable and long, and I was a little bit terrified of the whole concept in the weeks leading up to Ainsley’s birth.

On Tuesday, February 24th, I went in for my weekly doctor’s appointment with my OB to check on progress. I was just over 39 weeks pregnant and was showing great progress (3 cm and 80% effaced) so my doctor suggested stripping my membranes in hopes of moving things along. The procedure was short and slightly uncomfortable but not painful; she said we would know within 48 hours if it had any impact on inducing labor. At this point I was getting very uncomfortable being pregnant, as I’m sure is very normal for anyone that far along. Ainsley had been hanging out really low my entire pregnancy, and I was feeling that extra weight as the days ticked by.

That afternoon after work Joe suggested we go to the gym and get a good, hard workout in to move things along. I don’t know why I put lifting on the back burner for much of my pregnancy, but getting a good, hard (by pregnancy standards – I didn’t do any heavy lifting or anything that I thought would be unsafe) workout felt amazing. We did lots of squats, lunges and leg press, which I have to imagine helped things out. By the time we got home I had started to notice what I thought were minor contractions; they were short and spaced 8 to 10 minutes apart or more so I didn’t think much of them and we continued on with our plans for the night, making dinner and getting ready for one of my girlfriends to come over for a bit.

By the time my friend Kristin arrived around 8 the contractions were consistent and strong enough to prompt Joe and I to download a contraction timer on his phone to record what I was experiencing. They weren’t overly painful but they were coming 5 to 6 minutes apart and lasting for about 30 seconds. At this point I started to think that this might be the real deal, but I was so afraid of going to the hospital in the middle of the night only to be sent home with false labor that I wanted to hold off as long as possible.

At 9:15 Joe and I were watching a recorded episode of Downton Abbey and the contractions were starting to last much longer, around a minute in length. They were still bearable but left me feeling like a trip to the hospital was inevitable. Since I was convinced, as I mentioned, that my labor was going to be 36 hours long, I became increasingly worried about Joe getting a good night of sleep. (What?!) I didn’t want him sleep-deprived for 48 hours so I suggested he go to the guest bedroom and sleep while I labored at home for as long as I could. I told him my goal was to make it until 3:15 before going to the hospital so he could get a solid 6 hours of sleep. Looking back, I think I might be the nicest in-labor wife ever? Or maybe just a little delusional.

I attempted to sleep on the couch in between contractions to preserve as much energy as possible, but after about 2 hours it proved to be quite impossible to sleep. My contractions were now anywhere between 50 seconds and 1 minute and 20 seconds in length and coming about 4 to 5 minutes apart. I’ll admit that I was totally unprepared for just how painful and consuming contractions would be and was quickly becoming eager to get to the hospital for an epidural, no longer undecided about wanting pain medication. I walked around the house, leaned over the couch, rolled from side to side, willing to try anything to get through each contraction and make it to my 3:15 goal.

When 3:15 finally arrived my contractions were still lasting around a minute or more and coming 3 minutes apart. I woke Joe up and informed him that we needed to get ready and go to the hospital NOW because the pain was quickly becoming unbearable. Somehow, during all of this, I was still worried that this was false labor. I remember being on my hands and knees in pain during a contraction and saying to Joe, “If this is false labor, I don’t even want to know what real labor is like!” Along with, “Give me ALL the pain medicine!” It should also be noted that I had some pretty grand ideas about showering and blow-drying my hair when labor began so I could look cute, put-together and fresh, but of course I spent so much time thinking that it was false labor that by the time I knew it was real labor the idea of getting in the shower and doing my hair was an impossible task.

photo (72)

We arrived at the hospital around 3:45 and when they checked my cervix I was dilated to a 6 and 100% effaced. I was so thankful that I had progressed that much and wouldn’t be sent home but would instead be admitted to have our baby! All attempts at walking from the assessment room to our labor and delivery room were quite difficult and I found myself on my hands and knees between each contraction.

When I got into the hospital bed I immediately ordered the epidural, totally decided at this point that I needed something to help get me through the hours to come. We were informed by the nurses on duty that the anesthesiologist who was on call that morning was the most-requested doctor in the hospital for giving epidurals, and boy can I see why! I don’t have any other experiences to compare it to, but I think I had a pretty great experience. My epidural was amazing; I could feel my feed and move my legs slightly, but I didn’t feel a single contraction. Joe brought his own pillow and blanket (thank you to the person who suggested doing so!) and we both drifted off into sleep for a solid two hours from 6 to 8 am.

The greatest gift of the entire labor and delivery process was the fact that my doctor was assigned to my hospital that day to handle labor and delivery needs and had no other patients in active labor. As you can imagine, we’ve grown quite fond of our doctor since she has been down this crazy road with us over the last 2 years and having her deliver our baby felt so special. She was around so much more than I expected, checking on us frequently, talking with us for extended periods of time and putting me at total ease. She was even around for over an hour of the time we spent pushing, chatting with us between each contraction. Around 10 am she checked me and I was fully dilated and Ainsley had dropped even lower, around a +2 station. We were officially ready to push!

Although Ainsley was low and ready to come into the world, I felt like it took me a bit of time to get the hang of pushing. Once again, my epidural blew me away because I was still able to feel the urge to push but didn’t feel any of the pain associated with each contraction. Joe was such a huge support, holding on to one of my legs while our amazing nurse held on to the other. Some people have asked how Joe did during labor, and quite honestly he was a total champ. Having grown up on the farm, he’s helped with plenty of animal births, and although I don’t like the idea of human birth being compared to birthing a baby calf, there really are a lot of similarities! Thankfully the ins and outs of labor didn’t phase him one bit; in fact at one point Joe was holding both my legs and counting for me while I pushed when the nurse was busy hanging another bag of IV fluids and our doctor was out of the room.

I pushed for 2 hours total; about an hour in I secretly started to wonder if we were making any progress and if Ainsley would ever arrive, but the encouragement of our nurse, Joe and our doctor helped keep me focused and prevented me from becoming discouraged. It was, without a doubt, a physically exhausting process pushing for that long. I was so thankful that we had the opportunity to nap earlier that morning and that I was relatively well-rested and had conserved energy for this part of the delivery process. About 20 minutes before Ainsley was born my doctor suggested doing an episiotomy. She said that it would help prevent a tear that looked like it would be much worse and would get Ainsley here a little quicker. At that point, 1 hour and 40 minutes of pushing in, I was in compete support of her suggestion. Anything to move the process along was good in my book!

About 20 minutes later our little peanut came into the world, crying the most beautiful, loud and forceful cry I could have hoped for. The first thing I noticed was her full head of dark hair and how beautiful her little body was. I still have that image of the first time I saw her burned on my mind; it’s something I hope I never forget. All through this pregnancy I have battled fear and doubt and worried about her health and well-being. Seeing our healthy little girl laying on my chest, so perfect and healthy and wide-eyed left me completely in awe of our creator and the miracle of life and of His provision for our little family of three.

We kept Ainsley on my chest for about 30 minutes after she was born. Joe cut the cord and I marveled at that 2-vessel cord that had caused us so much fear and concern throughout the pregnancy, monitoring her every few weeks and checking on her growth and development. After about 30 minutes I was ready to have her cleaned off, she was weighed and measured and promptly returned to us to cuddle. We marveled at her in the way that only new parents can marvel at their baby, looking at her face for signs of Joe’s features and my own. I was so thankful they waited to put the antibiotic ointment in her eyes because the first hour she was awake, wide-eyed and checking out the world, was so special.

And that’s it! Her birth was so uneventful and beautiful that I found myself nostalgic for labor yesterday as we celebrated her 1-week birthday. That’s certainly not something I ever thought I would say, but the process was so pleasant, beautiful and miraculous that I can’t help but want to do it all over again!

Welcome to the world, Ainsley Moriah! We’re so thankful God chose us to be your parents.


Ainsley Announcement 1
It is with the greatest joy that Joe and I want to introduce you to Ainsley Moriah Hofmeyer! Our little miracle baby joined us a little less than a week ago, on February 25th, weighing 7 lbs. 1 oz. and every bit as perfect and wonderful as I could have hoped or imagined. We are smitten with this little beauty and are having the best time getting to know her personality and quirks. Admittedly, we have a lot to learn about this whole parenthood thing! Thankfully Ainsley doesn’t have any other parents to compare us to.

I’ve had a lot of time over the past week to think about Ainsley, her story and her miraculous journey to join our family. It’s amazing that a person so tiny can already have such a big story to tell of God’s grace, provision and healing touch. If I think about it too long, I’m brought to my knees, humbled to hold this little baby and in awe of our creator. When I think about how close we were to her not being here I shudder. I couldn’t be more thankful to be her momma and I there is no way that I can thank each and every one of you who prayed for her and for us enough. I’m entirely convinced that you are a huge part of the reason she is here today.


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