Family, Pregnancy

Formula Feeding // Your Questions Answered

September 14, 2017

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The number of questions I’ve gotten on Instagram about formula feeding have been too many to count. It appears that when you talk openly and honestly about your decision to stop breastfeeding and switching to formula, people send their questions in large quantities. I’m so thankful to be able to help moms who are struggling with the decision, wanting to know it’s OK to formula feed, and help squash any of the mom guilt associated with formula feeding these days.

As most of you know, I had a tumultuous feeding journey with Ainsley and wrote this post about the topic. The second time around, I was really reluctant to breast feed at all and wrote another post on the topic when I was feeling very conflicted about making the switch.

The Decision to Wean // 

Soon after writing that post, I decided to bite the bullet and wean. I wanted to wean, I knew it was the best decision for me emotionally and for our entire family, and yet I continued to waffle between pumping and formula feeding – deciding to wean one minute and then changing my mind the next. Ultimately, what drove my decision to wean was the following:

  1. Breastfeeding made me feel crazy. I don’t say that lightly, it really did do a number on me emotionally, and I remembered how once I weaned with Ainsley it was as if the sun started shining again and I felt like myself. I wanted to feel that way this time around.
  2. I am a modest person, and I didn’t see myself getting comfortable with public feedings. Maybe over time I would have gotten more comfortable with feeding in public, but to me, it felt daunting always wondering when/where I would be when Collins needed to eat. Would I be able to find privacy? Should I just stay at home around all feeding times? What would I wear that could accommodate feeding in public?
  3. I didn’t want to. This sounds incredibly selfish and I struggled with that the most. Shouldn’t I be willing to sacrifice everything for my baby? Yes. And no. I remembered all the effort that went into getting pregnant with Collins. The acupuncture appointments, doctor’s visits, preceding miscarriage, 30 weeks of shots in my booty, pills and supplements. I came to peace with the fact that I had sacrificed my body for over a year and that it was OK to draw the line somewhere, to regain some piece of myself in my own body.
  4. I had a living, breathing example of how you can feed a child formula and they can thrive. Having the perspective of having done this before really helped give me the freedom and confidence to wean.

So that’s that! I don’t feel the need to justify my decision to anyone, but for the sake of this post I wanted to explain. Because a lot of the posts you read on the topic are from women who can’t breastfeed – who struggle with supply issues or who have children who aren’t gaining weight or won’t latch – and go through every effort to make it work but physically it just isn’t working. And that’s not my story. Maybe it’s not yours. And I want you to know that it’s okay to stop breastfeeding even when everything is going really well.

Some of you asked me to address the stigma of formula feeding and how I deal with that. The short answer? I don’t! In today’s “breast is best” culture there is significant stigma around formula feeding and I can’t see why people feel the need to justify their choice not to breastfeed, but for me I just didn’t let that worry seep into my mind. The day I made the decision to wean I felt SO much freedom and peace knowing I made the right decision for myself and my entire family, and that was enough to override the thoughts and/or judgements of anyone else.

Making a Formula Choice // 

One of the questions that’s been asked most often is what formula we are using. I wish I could say that, in true crunchy fashion, we are using the best, most expensive, most organic option around. But we aren’t. I aimed to make a decision based both on quality, price, and convenience. We are using Similac Pro Sensitive for Collins and she has done really well with it! I went with the sensitive formula as a precaution since she had a sensitive tummy during the first few weeks she was breastfeeding and I didn’t want to rock the boat, though I’m sure she would do just fine on the regular formula.

I’ve heard awesome things about the Holle brand of formula out of Europe (like many things, they are ahead of the health and wellness curve here) but price, ease of getting it at my local Target, etc. really kept me from going that route.

We use these bottles. And this article is helpful as a guide for how much to feed your formula fed baby. I’m not sure if this is true, but if Collins is consistently draining her bottles at every feeding for a couple days, then that’s when I increase how much she is taking at each feed. I do try and track how much she eats in any given day make sure she isn’t eating too much or too little but generally I let hunger be the guide.

Comfort Nursing, Tummy Troubles and More //

Everyone has different opinions about baby feeding schedules, and while we do follow a pretty nice little schedule, during the early weeks and months Collins did like to nurse for comfort. I was worried how we would get through the fussy hours of the evening if comfort nursing wasn’t an option. Introducing a pacifier was a really easy way around that. I would cuddle Collins close and hold a paci in when she wanted to be comforted and it worked like a charm – and I didn’t have to be a human pacifier which was an even greater benefit.

I did some reading on the topic of cluster feeding, and some experts have indicated that cluster feeding can actually make stomach issues worse in fussy newborns and babies because it overstimulates their digestive system, causing more gas, which causes more fussiness, which causes more comfort nursing. Basically a cycle that never ends!

I had an oversupply issue and overactive letdown, which really compounded the tummy issues Collins was having. Almost as soon as we switched over to bottles, Collins was happier and less fussy, and I was a lot less stressed out. I spent a lot of unnecessary time thinking about my diet, if that was causing tummy issues, what I was eating or not eating, etc. I don’t think any of that was to blame for Collins’s tummy troubles early on, but having the control of formula rather than the variable of breast milk was a relief.

Scheduled Eating //

Some of you asked about schedules vs. feeding on demand. Whether we formula fed or breast fed, we didn’t really do much “on demand” feeding and followed a 3-hour schedule from the start with both girls. Now that Collins is a bit older we’re stretching to 3 1/2 to 4 hours between feeds. We have found that our girls, and our whole family, really thrives on a predictable schedule. Do I get upset or out of shape if things don’t go perfect? I try not to! And trust me we have our days, but following “eat, play, sleep” a la Babywise really helps me to know that she is getting full feeds when she is awake an alert and if she is fussy outside of her feeds then I can problem solve other causes. This is one area where I don’t see much difference between breast or bottle, especially if you are following and eat-play-sleep routine and encouraging full feeds.

Bottle Warmers, Specialty Items, Etc. //

In our house, we avoid all specialty things that would get our girls accustomed to something we can’t recreate on the go, which means no bottle warmers or water warmed to the perfect temperature or baby wipe warmers, etc. I can’t imagine taking a road trip and having a baby that required her milk be warm. How does that even work?! I’m sure there are plenty of moms who make it work, but we just got both girls used to room temp or slightly cold water for their bottles from the start and they’ve taken it that way ever since!

And Finally…

YOU know what is best for you and your family, momma. Deep down in your mom gut, you know. If that’s breastfeeding until your child is two, then go, momma, go! And if you decide not to breastfeed at all, that’s more than OK, too. As moms I genuinely believe that we are all just trying to make the best decisions for our families, and because we are all unique individuals what is right is also going to vary greatly. I hope that we can continue to build one another up rather than tear each other down.

Family, Fashion

Let’s talk safer skincare (and why it matters)

September 11, 2017

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Friends, if you follow me over on Instagram, chances are you’ve seen snippets of my recent trip to Santa Monica with Beautycounter. I’ve worked with Beautycounter for nearly two years and over that time the issue of safer skincare choices has become something I’m increasingly passionate about. We evaluate our diets with precision, reading labels and books about how what we eat impacts our health, workout on the regular and take vitamins. But if we don’t take the time to evaluate what we’re putting on our bodies, we are selling ourselves and our families short.

So, let’s state some facts to get this little party started.

  1. Your skin is your body’s largest organ.
  2. What you put on your skin is absorbed into your body and can have negative implications on your health. Don’t believe me? Just Google “dermal absorption” and do some reading. It’s how things like nicotine patches and birth control patches work. The medicine is absorbed through your skin into your body. The same is true for your skincare and makeup and the chemicals they contain.
  3. The cumulative effect of that repeated exposure from dozens of products is HUGE. Is a little bit of a toxic ingredient in your makeup going to kill you or cause serious diseases? Probably not. But think about how much makeup, body lotion, body wash and shampoo you use on your body over the course of a year, a decade, your lifetime.
  4. The personal care and cosmetics industries in our country are the wild, wild west. They are extremely un-regulated/under-regulated, especially in comparison with other industries in the US and with the personal care regulations of other countries. You can read more here and here.

Now do you see why I’ve become so passionate about safer skincare and makeup? Not because makeup has ultimate importance – it doesn’t – but because if I’m going to take all the effort to live a healthier life, I’m selling myself short if I don’t examine what’s going ON my body, and so are you!

I don’t say any of this to scare people into making a change, but to educate. For years, I didn’t think twice about the $2 lip gloss I was using or the cheap drugstore face wash. The cheaper the better! I naively assumed that what I was using was safe and regulated if it appeared on store shelves, which is not at all true. The more I researched after I started having fertility issues (and later, when I was pregnant) I realized how little I knew or understood about my skincare and makeup.

But even after I learned more about skincare and the importance of what we put on our bodies, I was weary to make changes to my routine. Why? Because I didn’t know where to start. I could read and understand a food ingredient label with the best of them, but ask me to break down ingredients in my trusty face wash and I was a deer in the headlights.

I didn’t have time or interest in making my own beauty products. I felt overwhelmed with all the information I didn’t know. At the end of the day, I just didn’t know where to start, so I didn’t start at all.

“The honest truth is, the world doesn’t need another beauty brand. What we need is safer products and for families to be healthier.” – Gregg Renfew, Beautycounter Founder and CEO 

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And then someone (a blog reader!) told me about Beautycounter, and it changed my life, my skin, and my family’s health. What first attracted me to Beautycounter was their mission. Getting safer products into the hands of everyone. And, let’s be real, the fact that they did some of that overwhelming work of screening ingredients for me, banning 1,500 ingredients (!!) from their products as part of something called the Never List. Add into the mix the fact that their products are pretty, high performing and felt like I would find in a department store and I was totally sold.

Over the last two years I’ve learned more and more about safe skincare and cosmetics, and the more I learn the more I’m thankful to have partnered with Beautycounter. After a weekend away, I can say for certain that this company and the people behind it are the real deal.

So, you might where I was at two years ago, sold on the concept that you should clean up your skincare but not sure where to start. Overwhelmed with the options. May I make some recommendations?

Skincare // I have normal/slightly sensitive skin that can be combination in the colder months. I love this face wash, and this do-it-all wonder cream (which will be back in stock very soon!), and this eye cream that makes me look less tired, which is saying something for a new mom. 😉

Makeup // I’m a minimalist, but even a minimalist can get excited about this makeup. I rely heavily on this tinted moisturizer, concealer in a handy little pen applicator, this blush in whisper and tawny, and a really awesome mascara.

Friends, knowledge really is power. I know there are snarky articles on Facebook about safer sunscreens, and decision fatigue because making healthy lifestyle choices are hard and numerous, and when is enough enough, right? But Beautycounter has made this big change SO easy. I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing anything – in fact I love these products more than what I was using before.

When we know better, we can do better, and to me that’s the most empowering thing!

Madison

Fashion

Mom Wardrobe 2.0 // Capsule Edition

September 5, 2017

capsuleimageI’ve been going through a little bit of what you might call a “style crisis” lately. Maybe other moms out there can relate? When your body is growing, changing, shrinking, expanding, it’s really hard to find a style that works and stick with it. While I don’t follow a strict capsule wardrobe, I have a very curated wardrobe that is free of excess and things I don’t absolutely love.

A few readers messaged me, asking if I would be willing to share what my must-have items are in my wardrobe. So here you have it! While my style is still growing and changing, this is a list of my favorite basics to build a foundation of a great closet.

Although there are some pricier items listed below, quality absolutely trumps quantity in my opinion. And if you love a brand or store, I would highly recommend looking on ThredUp! I’ve found a lot of my favorite Anthropologie brands for a steal on the site for much less than what I would pay in store – some of the items even have their original tags!

Madewell 9″ High Rise Skinny Jeans 
These jeans feel like a warm hug. I don’t know any other way to describe them. I love wearing them and the high rise is a mom’s best friend. So good for getting down on the floor and playing with your kids!

Casual + Pretty “Everyday Dresses” 
I think my definition of “everyday dress” is probably a little fancier than others, but I love a good, flowy dress for looking put-together yet able to play with my kids at a moment’s notice. This Trimmed Peasant Dress from Anthropologie caught my eye, as well as anything from Sonnet James. I have this Softspun T-Shirt Dress from Gap that is on regular rotation. Bonus for dresses that can be dressed up or down with the right shoes and accessories.

Comfortable, Substantial Layering Tanks 
When you are postpartum, or if your stomach doesn’t resemble a washboard, I think that layering tanks that are a little looser and made of a more substantial material are a must. I love this stripe softspun scoop neck tank from Gap.

Structured Crew Sweatshirts 
I love these crew sweatshirts from Everlane. I wear them with jeans, with athletic shorts, with jean shorts, etc. They are both casual and put together all at once and wear well. My tip? Size up!

Peep-Toe Booties 
I have a flat pair of peep-toe booties (a similar style shown here) and I wear them all. the. time. They are comfortable and work great for the fall transition.

Comfortable Joggers for Lounging 
I love the Gap Modal Joggers. I have them in two colors and can’t recommend them enough! Great for looking put together when running errands with the kids.

Classic, Comfy Sweaters 
Everlane is also my go-to for sweaters. I love this style, as well as this chunky, oversize one.

Utility Jacket 
I have a favorite and well-worn utility jacket from Banana Republic that I got on a sale rack four years ago and have worn so many times. This one looks promising, as does this one.

Tunic and Peasant-Style Blouses
I’m a huge fan of tunic-style tops and peasant-style blouses. This one from Anthro caught my eye and is similar to one I have in my closet, as well as this top.

Family

Espresso and Cream Home // Master Bedroom + Bathroom

August 30, 2017

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What has become incredibly clear to me while taking photos of our home is that I’m really bad at taking photos of our home. Home photos are not the same as food photos! BUT I’ve gotten a lot of requests for a house tour. I’ve been meaning to blog our home for the longest time, not because I think it’s something amazing (and certainly not because it’s “complete”) but it’s been so much fun to take an older home (1973 to be exact) and give it new life.

The details of our home still need to be fine tuned and fleshed out, but we’ve come a long way! All the floors needed to be replaced when we moved in, the house was almost 70% covered in wallpaper (and not the good, modern kind) and the bathroom had carpet. We painted the entire house – ceilings and all – tore down walls, re-worked the layout, etc. Basically a lot changed in our house from the day we moved in nearly two years ago today. It’s been SO fun, and exhausting, and rewarding.

The biggest change we made in terms of layout was turning one very large bathroom into two smaller bathrooms. (See the original bathroom here) The entire main floor only had one full bathroom and a small powder bath near the kitchen. Since there are three bedrooms on the main floor, we knew we wanted to turn the one large bathroom into two bathrooms if possible, including a master suite. So we worked with a designer to put together a floor plan that gave us one full bathroom (with tub/shower) and one 3/4 bath (with just a shower) – one of which is accessible via the hallway shared with the bedrooms and the other which is only accessible through our bedroom.

Ideally we would have had two full baths, but our space didn’t allow for that. We made the decision to put the full bathroom in our master suite since I take a bath every night. Although, in retrospect, that might have been a mistake. Joe really dislikes our swinging glass 1/2 shower “door” in the master because it doesn’t feel like a true shower to him, so he ends up showering almost exclusively in our other bathroom with the walk-in shower. And I use our master bath and shower almost exclusively. All that to say, there are things that we would have done differently if we could go back, but the shower door is very aesthetically pleasing, even if it’s not 100% as functional as it could or should be. But we are overall really pleased with how things turned out and I’m thrilled to have a master bathroom/suite!

Our master bedroom is on the smaller side as far as masters go (our bed is a queen, for reference) but older houses rarely have bedrooms that are as large as newer homes, and for now we’re just dealing with that fact. I would love to have a king bed someday! We had an older rug under our bed for a time, but it was in bad shape so we opted to drop the rug all together until we find a rug we love. Joe has also been requesting reading lights above the bed so he can read after I go to bed.

So there you have it! Our master suite. Not nearly as complete as I would like it to be, but we are working on tweaking all the details over time. The bathroom is pretty much finished, but we would really like to make the bedroom feel a bit more finished in the next year!

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Resources //
Bedroom: Duvet (West Elm, no longer available) | Similar Rattan Side Tables | vintage storage trunk | full length mirror from Holland House Interiors  | similar gold West Elm throw | West Elm sheets |  Wall Color: Benjamin Moore Ballet White | Trim Color: Benjamin Moore White Dove 

Bathroom: custom made vanity from Verhoef Custom Woodworking | Restoration Hardware knobs and pulls | custom made shiplap from Joel Jongerius Construction | Kohler shower and faucet fixtures | Pottery Barn Kensignton Pivot Mirror | Shiplap Paint Color: Benjamin Moore White Dove | Countertop: Cambria “Ella” | Custom made shelves from Verhoef Custom Woodworking | Flooring: Discontinued

Family

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