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babies

Family

Breathing Room

August 2, 2018


Two weeks ago we put the finishing touches on our backyard patio. Our back yard has been, for lack of a better word, a hot hot mess for the last three years. The highlight was last summer when our already gross and muggy backyard got in-ground wasps that prevented us from going outside for a couple weeks. Yes, I said hot mess didn’t I? We dug it all up and put in a huge backyard patio this summer. Now that our girls are getting a bit more independent and our backyard is put back together, this has been the first season we have really been able to enjoy large chunks of time outside the way I’ve always imagined we would when we first purchased our house.

I snapped a picture of myself, sitting on our outdoor couch and READING A BOOK while my girls played in the playhouse because I wanted – no needed – to document that this day had come. I’ve waited 15 months for our girls to be able to truly play together like this and it’s finally happening. Sure, I’m breaking up fights and squabbles and re-distributing toys every five minutes but there are true, uninterrupted pockets of time that the girls are enjoying the benefit of a sibling relationship and I can catch a minute or two for myself in the course of the day.

The last couple months I fee as if we have finally entered into a new, easier, more enjoyable stage with the girls. Prior to that, I felt like we were in a really difficult stage because Collins wasn’t walking well yet, but was into all the things, crawling everywhere, frustrated she couldn’t walk like Ainsley. I felt as if we continued to try doing fun things only to leave the park or the zoo or the outing totally frustrated by the fact that in theory we were supposed to be having fun but I was feeling frustrated more than anything. And, as with every stage with kids, I reminded myself that if you’re feeling stuck in a not particularly fun stage, just hang around long enough and that, too, will change in the blink of an eye.

The last 15 months have been absolutely crazy with two girls, a rapidly growing business, social and personal commitments and more. I’ll be the first to admit that I probably pushed myself too hard this last year. Thinking back to those days with a two-week-old baby in the Rock and Play next to me while I worked in my office? Well, I don’t regret that one bit, but I also look back and can practically remember how TIRED I felt for months on end. About six months into life with two kids we started to find a rhythm that was more enjoyable and manageable than it had been before; we started to see the sun shining a little more with the flexibility and adaptability that a slightly older baby and older toddler provide.

But it wasn’t until a couple weeks ago that I really felt my body take a big sigh of relief, letting go of tension and exhaustion that I didn’t even know I was carrying with me. As I watched my girls play and giggle in that playhouse, as I let the sun shine on my face and relax while they played, I realized how very tiring the first year with two was for me and how much happier I am to be in this stage right now with these two little girls.

Now that Collins is 15 months old I’ve gotten a good handful of questions about whether/if we plan to have more kids. And I always give the same answer: We hope to some day, but for now I’m just enjoying this stage, this phase, where life feels easier, and more manageable and I have a little bit more breathing room to soak up this stage we are in.

Madison

Family, Pregnancy

Motherhood Year 1

January 6, 2016

MadisonAinsley_1

Ainsley isn’t quite a year old (just a month and a half to go!) but I’m already starting to think about the first year of motherhood as I plan for her first birthday party. Yes, we’re throwing a big birthday bash for our 1-year-old, yet another thing I said I would never do. (God’s teaching me a LOT about using the phrase “never”)

I’ve been making a list of the top pieces of advice I would pass along to a mom during her first year of motherhood. Here are the tidbits from others that I found helpful, and a few things I wish I could go back and tell myself.

1. It will be hard. 
I didn’t want to hear this when I was pregnant, but it’s true. Motherhood is all sorts of hard, from the physical and emotional exhaustion to learning how to juggle and balance and find a new normal for you, your marriage and your new life as a family. It’s hard, but it’s the most rewarding kind of hard and I wouldn’t trade my new normal for my old life for anything.

2. Trust your momma gut. 
Don’t trust Dr. Google or any advice on a mommy message board. In fact, don’t read those at all! But if you feel like something is off, trust your gut and demand answers. If your doctor doesn’t make you feel comfortable or makes you feel stupid for asking too many questions find a different doctor. Don’t be an alarmist, but realize that you know your baby better than anyone else.

3. Don’t cut your hair. 
Okay, this one is a little bit on the lighter side, but it’s great advice I got from my blog-buddy Natalie. I posted a question on Instagram a few months after having Ainsley about chopping my hair, and she strongly discouraged it, enough that I decided to hold off. I’m so glad I did! If you like your long hair, give it time. You’ll eventually have time to wash, dry and style your hair. Trust me! Unless, of course, you like your hair short. Then do whatever you darn well please. 😉

4. Join a new mom group. 
If at all possible, find a group of other new moms to meet with during those first few months. Since we were still living in Minneapolis, the options were plentiful. I joined a group through Amma that met for 8 weeks and was made up of all first-time moms. The nurse-led class was casual, super friendly for babies and the relationships I’ve developed with those women have continued even after the class ended. They are still the first people I go to to ask questions about our babies and their development. There’s something so comforting about having a tribe of women who are all in the hazy, messy and exhausting first few months together.

5. Don’t compare your baby to other babies. 
It’s easy to start comparing your baby to other babies from the moment they enter this world. How fast they are gaining weight and how quickly they are hitting milestones and how cute they are, etc. Just don’t do it. Babies develop differently, and unless your pediatrician flags something to watch, chances are your child is doing just fine.

6.  Get out often during those early weeks and months. 
I had a few friends tell me that it would never be easier to get out and about than when your baby was really little. And I thought they were full of it at the time! But now that I have a squirmy little almost-toddler on my hands I know what they were talking about. When you have a very little baby that sleeps in a carseat and doesn’t require toys, food or other forms of entertainment going out to eat or to coffee with friends is SO easy, so take advantage of it as often as possible! These days taking Ainsley out to eat is a lot messier and much more work. 😉

7. Soak up each stage.
It’s not always possible to soak up the baby stage. In fact, sometimes it’s almost impossible, but as much as possible savor those moments. They are fleeting, just like the sleepless nights and extra pounds of baby weight. Before you know it, you’ll be planning a first birthday party and crying in the corner as you look back at photos of your tiny, bitty baby wondering where the last year went. (Guilty!)

8. Don’t nap when the baby naps. 
Everyone told me to sleep when the baby sleeps, but you guys? The last thing I wanted to do when Ainsley was sleeping was to take a nap. I wanted to take a hot shower and blow dry my hair and get in an at-home workout or just sit mindlessly on the couch and drink a HOT cup of coffee. Although I was tired and craving sleep, I was craving time to myself even more. Maybe you’ll be the same way, too?

9. Say yes to flexible schedules. 
I love a good schedule, and so does my baby. Some people may tell you that schedules are crazy and they don’t work, but I loved my Babywise book and a schedule made Ainsley predictable and easy to understand and it made our lives a whole lot less stressful this year. That said, I’m a member of a Babywise group on Facebook and I almost had to quit at one point because it was nauseating how rigid some people can be about schedules. I think that creating a schedule during those first few months really helped create the grounds for us being able to be more flexible down the road. Travel happens. Life happens. Be flexible within reason.

10. Find a form of exercise that works for you. 
It’s so easy to put exercise on the back burner with a little one, and undoubtedly it takes so much more effort to get a workout in once your baby arrives. But trust me when I say that you should absolutely make time for workouts. It was critical for my mental health and getting back in shape made me a better, more active and involved mom. Chances are the workouts that worked for you pre-baby will look a little different post-baby – the key is finding something that works with your new life. When the weather is nice, Joe and I will go on runs with Ainsley in the jogging stroller, but these days I’ve traded in my gym membership for at-home workouts. Quick, easy and done in 30 minutes? Anyone can find time for that!

Anything you other mommas would add or take away from this list?
Madison

Family

My Must-Have Baby Products (Birth-4 Months)

July 10, 2015

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I think I should preface this entire post by saying that baby products are a really personal thing, and by really personal I mean that it’s really personal for your baby. What works for Ainsley might not work for another little one. Heck, I’ve wasted enough money in the last four months by buying the wrong baby products that were a total flop with my baby boss.

That said, I was super interested during pregnancy in what baby products were worth it and what products could be passed on. We have a small-ish house with limited storage space and no extra room for baby products that we don’t need. That said, here are the products we can’t live without!

1. Gummygoods Night Light in RED $27
I’m so thankful someone told me about this product! The first month of Ainsley’s life I would turn on her overhead light on the lowest setting (we have a dimmer) but even on that low setting, it would wake both of us up, making it difficult to get back to sleep.

The red light in this Gummygoods Night Light is less disruptive to sleep patterns and melatonin production than regular blue/white light. It’s been a total lifesaver when it comes to middle of the night feedings and diaper changes and travels well, too. I’m going to start buying these for my new momma friends as baby gifts!

2. Keekaroo Peanut Changer $99
This changing pad is more expensive than the traditional cloth-covered changing pads, but worth every single penny. I’m not sure how people use any other type! It’s made of a soft and squishy material that’s comfortable for baby, easy to wipe down (no changing pad covers needed!) and helps prevent bacterial growth. I LOVE it so much and so do Joe and Ainsley. I can’t tell you how many times Ainsley’s peed on the changer or I’ve gotten poop on it, and it’s such a timesaver to be able to use a baby wipe to clean messes up and move on with our day.

3. Solly Baby Wrap in Natural & Grey Stripe $65
As far as baby carriers go, this is a must-have for those first few months. It’s soft, stretchy and unbelievably comfortable for mom and baby; it’s great to have some additional hands-free time while your newborn naps in the wrap or wants to be close while you need to get things done around the house. Plus, it’s smaller than other carriers like the Ergo, so I never go anywhere without it tucked in my purse in case I need to soothe a fussy baby by putting her in the carrier. It also doubles as a car-seat cover, a burp rag, etc.

Now that Ainsley is getting a little bigger, she actually likes the Ergo 360 a little more. But those first few months it was all about the Solly Baby Wrap.

4. Coach Baby Bag $398
Okay, this is NOT a necessity, but hear me out: Years ago while I was in college I asked for the Coach Diaper Bag for Christmas because it happened to make a great school bag with all the pockets and straps. Now, six years later, I still have the same bag and have started to use it for it’s intended purpose – as a diaper bag! I guess my argument here is this: Buying quality is almost always worth it. I’ve gotten a ton of use out of a single bag, and now I’m using it for it’s intended purpose. It still looks great, holds up well and has tons of pockets. Plus, I feel a little more put-together with a diaper bag that looks more like a purse than a diaper bag. This isn’t the exact model I have, but it’s the newest version.

5. Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Bag Dispenser and Refill Bags $8
I’m so glad I was turned on to these bags! I have the dispenser and bags in my purse at all times for diaper changes on the go and have found them invaluable for holding in the stink. Plus, it’s much more polite to throw away a dirty diaper wrapped in a stink-sealing bag that won’t make the room smell after you leave.

6. Leachco Podster Infant Lounger $47
Ainsley used this little baby lounger pillow all the time during the first few months of life. She would nap in it during the day while sitting in the sunshine (my attempt and helping her get her days and nights figured out) and it was a great, comfortable way to set her down when I needed to get something done. I can’t recommend it enough! Now that she is a bit bigger she doesn’t use it quite as much, but it expands as your baby grows to get more use out of the pillow.

7. Rock and Play Sleeper $58
All the moms I talked to before having Ainsley mentioned this product, and I know why! During the first couple months Ainsley slept in her Rock and Play a LOT at night while we were working on making the transition to the crib. We put her Rock and Play in her nursery so she got used to sleeping there while also feeling snug and secure and she napped it the Rock and Play a lot as well. Around 8 weeks we made the full-time transition to the crib, but I’m not sure I would have survived those newborn days without this!

8. Aden and Anais Burpy Bibs $22 for two
These are the best burp rags out there and they double as bibs with the snaps that they’re equipped with. The material is soft and absorbent and they’re large enough to clean up big messes. They’re a bit of a splurge, so I would suggest adding them to your registry!

9. Simethicone Infant Gas Drops $7
Our pediatrician recommended using simethicone for infant gas when I was worried about Ainsley’s tummy and all the gas that she was having. When your baby is crying in the middle of the night because of tummy distress, you’ll be glad you have something to give them. I started giving Ainsley a little before bed every night during a particularly fussy period of time and it seemed to help a lot! Now that her stomach and digestive system has matured, I rarely use the drops.

And, equally important, the things we purchased that I think you could do without:
1. Pack and Play: Everyone told me this was a necessity, but we disagree! We purchased a Pack and Play with the bassinet attachment and it lasted about a month in our bedroom before we packed it up and put it away. My mom owns a Pack and Play and my mother-in-law does, too, as does my family in Idaho, so we haven’t had a reason to take it with us yet! Maybe in the future we will need it, but I would hold off on buying one until you know you’ll need it!
2. Sleep contraptions: I’m going to do a whole post on this in the next couple weeks because in the last four months we’ve purchased ALL THE SWADDLES AND SLEEP PRODUCTS you can imagine. I recently loaned them out to a friend who is about to have a baby because I couldn’t imagine another person having to spend all that money just to figure out what products you baby likes and dislikes. We ended up loving two products: The Halo Sleep Swaddle (which we were given at the hospital) and Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit, but it varies so much from baby to baby that I would advise borrowing from friends if at all possible!
3. Bottles: You need these, sure, but don’t go out and buy a bunch of bottles before your baby arrives. Like sleep contraptions, bottles vary greatly and what your baby likes and doesn’t like will surprise you. We lucked out and happened to buy bottles that Ainsley loved, but we tried others after the fact and realized that she had definite preferences. Once again, borrow a few from friends to figure out what your baby likes or buy one of a few different brands before you commit to a whole set!

Madison