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Family, Pregnancy

Baby Hofmeyer #2 is a….

January 9, 2017


GIRL! We are shocked (both of us thought it was a boy) and really, really excited to welcome another little lady into our growing family. I get all teary eyed thinking about Ainsley having a sister to share so many wonderful memories with in the years to come. Although she doesn’t quite understand yet, I keep assuring her that this is the best news of her little life. She keeps running around the house saying, “Baby Margaret!” (all you Daniel Tiger watching moms will appreciate that…)

Since I’ve gone 22 weeks without much of a real pregnancy update, I thought it was high time I did a little mid-pregnancy update for those of you who are curious. I have looked back at my updates from Ainsley’s pregnancy a handful of times and always like comparing this pregnancy to her pregnancy. I really wish I had done more frequent updates this time around.

HOW FAR ALONG? 22 weeks 1 day

FEELING: Lots of kicks! I started feeling pretty consistent kicks around 20 weeks, with a few occasional kicks around 18 or 19 weeks. I really thought I would feel kicks sooner the second time around, but that wasn’t the case. These days little lady is moving all the time.

As for me, I’m feeling pretty good! I’ve been generally sicker this pregnancy than with Ainsley and I’m convinced I’m never really going to feel truly “great” this time around. While I can’t say I’m consistently nauseous these days, it still hits me from time to time and I still have a hard time finding foods that really sound good to eat.

Thanks to consistent workouts, I’m feeling more in shape this time around and more like myself than I think I did with Ainsley, but the pesky groin pain I experienced with my last pregnancy is beginning to bother me again. Regular trips to the chiropractor and lots of stretching will hopefully get me through the rest of this pregnancy relatively comfortably.

WEIGHT GAIN: I gained 10 pounds during the first trimester alone, but the weight gain really slowed down after that. As of 21 weeks, I was up 15 pounds.

CRAVING: Nothing, really! Food generally doesn’t sound good or bad to me right now, and my appetite has slowed down significantly from the first trimester. I still really love orange juice, specifically mixed with sparkling water, apple cider vinegar and stevia. I really can’t stand sugar this time around, and every time I eat something sugary it makes me feel ill, so I’ve been steering clear as much as possible.

DOING: Work on the nursery! Well, just starting to plan for the nursery, really, but the room is cleared out and we have moved Ainsley’s dresser into the baby’s room since Ainsley doesn’t need it anymore. We’ve ordered a crib and have a rug and that’s about it so far.

We’re also renovating the basement and moving my office in to the basement since this baby is taking over my former office, so I’ll have a new dedicated space to work downstairs, which I’m super excited about!



An Ainsley Update

January 29, 2016


I realized I talk about motherhood in a general sense quite frequently, but I rarely talk about Ainsley specifically. As she grows and becomes her own little person, I’ve been thinking a lot about her privacy and how much or little to share online. There is a delicate balance to strike, that’s for certain, but I am so thankful for each and every one of you who prayed for her and want you to share in the JOY that she brings to our lives.

I’m sure that all parents say this, but Ainsley is a very special baby. There is no other way to say it, but this kid radiates joy wherever she goes. Her personality is bright, fearless and bursting with energy. She is go-go-go all the time and getting a photo of her sitting still took at least 50 tries. How did I get her to smile in that photo above? I roared in her face like a lion. Ha! She loves loud, rough and rambunctious play, like going “way back” (aka upside down), being on dad’s shoulders, bouncing with dad on the bed and flying around the room Superman-style.

The last couple months she has shown a lot of interest in balls – tennis balls, basketballs, Pippa’s toy balls, etc. Joe already has high hopes she will be an athlete, but her no-so-athletic mother is trying to temper his hopes and enthusiasm in case she gets her mom’s genes.

We read to her constantly, and she’s developing a pretty good attention span most of the time. She’s babbling a lot these days, but I don’t think she really understands what she is saying. She says “dada” and “mama” a lot and her new word/sound is “nuh” which she says all the time. I’ll walk around the house with her, talking to her as we go, and she just responds with “nuh” again and again. Let’s hope this isn’t a precursor to “no!” She also does a lot of loud, happy yelling, which is sometimes funny and other times not so funny, like when we are out in public.

Ainsley still wakes up once in the early morning hours, around 4 or 5 am. She used to take a bottle and go back to sleep, but the last few weeks we’ve just been giving her a little water. I’m not sure why she does this little wake-up, since she is obviously not hungry, but our new routine is a little bit of water in a sippy or bottle, then she rolls over and lays her head on my chest with her eyes open. She just lays there, soaking in the cuddles, until I set her back down and she goes right back to sleep. It’s really really precious. And dare I say I sort of love our little pre-dawn routine? She isn’t a very cuddly baby, so I’ll take my cuddles when I can get them.

When she turns 1 year old next month (what? where did the time go?) we will have to have a scan of her spine and a follow-up optometry appointment as a routine part of her pediatric follow-up for some of the issues she was born with. We have no real reason to believe that it will be anything but good news, but I’ll be happy to have those tests done with and in the past as soon as possible. Prayers for a smooth process and good results would be appreciated!

Lastly, I feel like I need to say a giant “THANK YOU” to all of you out there reading who have followed this story of ours, prayed for our baby, cared for our family and encouraged us (particularly me!) along the way. I’ve met so many people this last year who have told me they’ve prayed for us and our sweet baby, and it brings me to tears every single time. I look at Ainsley and thank God for the gift that she is, and the sheer miracle of her presence. We’re humbled and thankful daily, and blessed to be able to share her and her updates with you all. #sappymom


Family, Pregnancy

Baby Sleep Contraptions: A Comprehensive Review

August 26, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 8.40.45 AM

Alternately titled: I spent way too much on swaddles and sleep products so you don’t have to. 

There were so many times during the first three or four months of Ainsley’s life when I would have paid almost anything for a good night of sleep. We bought a lot (and I mean, a lot!) of different sleep “contraptions” that promised a great night of sleep for our infant. Some were super successful and others were a total flop. While I have to preface this by saying that every baby is unique and what works for my baby might not work for yours, I wanted to put together a full list of the sleep products we tried and what did and did not work. Let’s dive into the full list, shall we?

1. HALO SleepSack Micro-Fleece Swaddle ($18.44)
The Good
This was our favorite sleep product for the first couple months of Ainsley’s life. Our hospital gave these out to each baby born there, and we kept coming back to this swaddle when other sleep products just didn’t work. It was easy to use and made the swaddle process very seamless. Plus, Ainsley slept really well when swaddled in the HALO.
The Bad
We bought a size up in this swaddle from Target when Ainsley grew too big to use the one from the hospital. I noticed that the cotton/fleece that they used in the Target version (same brand, just made for Target) was noticeably cheaper and more flimsy, making it hard to get a good, tight swaddle. I would recommend buying a higher quality one, like the Mico-Fleece version available on Amazon or those available at Pottery Barn.
Overall Score: 9/10

2. Woombie Original Baby Swaddle ($28)
The Good
It made me feel safe putting Ainsley in this. With other swaddles I was constantly worried about the material inching up over her mouth in the middle of the night, but there is no way it would/could happen with the Woombie. Also, it’s fool-proof and easy to zip your baby in and not worry about correct positioning.
The Bad
For us, the Woombie just didn’t work. Ainsley liked to have her arms free to move a little bit more, and this was super restrictive. We only used it for about a week before we jumped ship. Probably good for a baby who loves a really snug swaddle.
Overall Score: 5/10

3. Swaddle Up by Love to Dream ($29.02)
The Good
Like the Woombie, this swaddle made me feel super secure knowing there was no way Ainsley was going to get any fabric in her face, no matter how much she moved and wiggled in the night. It was easy to use (just zip it up!) and Ainsley couldn’t get her arms out. Also, since Ainsley had an affinity for sleeping with her hands by her face, she loved the design of the swaddle, which zips with baby’s hands up by the face. That way, she could soothe herself in the night by sucking on her hands in the Swaddle Up.
The Bad
Nothing! We really loved this product. It was a short time period that we used it (which is why I’m giving it the lower score) but I thought it worked great.
Overall Score: 7/10

4. Mom’s On Call Swaddle Blanket ($22.95) (not pictured)
The Good
The swaddle seemed to be made of quality material and was super soft. 
The Bad

After reading the Mom’s On Call Book and buying their products, I have to say that I’m less than impressed with their entire system. Although I do think I mastered their swaddle method (with their over-priced piece of flannel) it didn’t feel super safe to me, especially with a baby that loved to move and squirm in the middle of the night. There were a couple times when I came into Ainsley’s room only to find her with a bunch of loose swaddle material around her in the crib, which made me super nervous. Additionally, I disliked the tone of the book and their over-promising. They claim that if you get the swaddle method right, your baby will sleep through the night. If your baby doesn’t sleep through the night? You’re probably swaddling wrong. Call me crazy, but anyone who has had a baby that’s less than textbook knows it’s not that simple.
Overall Score: 3/10

5. Merino Kids Organic Cotton Sleep Sack ($119.00)*
The Good
I truly can’t say enough good things about this sleep sack! This is the sleep sack we are currently using with Ainsley now that she can roll both ways and no longer needs to be swaddled at night. It keeps her warm, and I think it also helps her sleep well since she feels cozier and more secure. The cotton is super high quality and the snaps in the arm holes give your baby room to grow into the sleep sack over time.
The Bad
It’s a bit on the pricier side, but knowing Ainsley will be able to use it for many, many months to come really puts the price into perspective. A lot of the other sleep products we purchased had a very small weight or size range, meaning we didn’t get much use out of them. But this one can be used for kiddos up to 2 years old.
Overall Score: 10/10

6. Ergobaby Sleep Tight Swaddler ($44.93)
The Good
I don’t have anything good to say about this swaddle. I had high hopes for the Ergo branded swaddle, but alas I was disappointed.
The Bad
The package makes the way to use this product look so simple! But if you can get your baby to sit still the way they show in the pictures in order to get the correct positioning to use this swaddle, then you are a better mom than I am! I couldn’t figure this one out at all and found the whole process annoying. We didn’t even use it for a single night. Total fail!
Overall Score: 0/10

7. Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit ($39.95)
The Good
We love Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit! Ainsley used this for a couple months (months 3 and 4) while she transitioned out of the swaddle. Once she started rolling over, we transitioned her into the sleep sack for safety. This was a great transition item because your baby feels secure and movement is more restricted than in a sleep sack, but gives them a bit more freedom than a swaddle. Since Ainsley sucks her thumb, she loved being able to bring her hands to her mouth.
The Bad
We had a few mishaps when Ainsley would pee through her diaper as she started sleeping longer stretches. It takes quite a while to wash and thoroughly dry the suit.
Overall Score: 9/10

8. Aden and Anais Easy Swaddle ($19.95)
The Good
The material is soft and breathable, and I found this swaddle much easier to use than the swaddle blankets.
The Bad
I didn’t think the material and the structure of the swaddle was secure and tight enough to really get a good, firm swaddle needed to help baby sleep.
Overall Score: 5/10

Aden and Anais Swaddle Blankets 4 pack (49.95)
The Good
These blankets are great for everything! I use them for Ainsley to play on, to cover changing tables, to wipe up spit or messes and cover the stroller on walks.
The Bad:
Unfortunately, they aren’t great swaddles, in my opinion. I found re-swaddling my baby in the middle of the night hard enough with the “easy swaddles” and trying to do the traditional swaddle method in the middle of the night? Practically impossible for this sleep-deprived mom. Additionally, I thought the material was a little flimsy to get a good, tight swaddle.
Overall Score: 9/10 for general utility, 4/10 for sleep
Note: Not many people know this, but you can almost ALWAYS find these blankets in a 4-pack in the baby/kids section at Homegoods for about $20, which is so much cheaper than other retailers. Be on the lookout!

*The Merino Kids team sent me a free sleep sack to review. Opinions are my own. In fact, I purchased another one after they sent me the free one because I loved it so much and wanted a back-up!
**Affiliate links used as appropriate. 

Family, Pregnancy

When It’s Not “Love at First Sight”

July 8, 2015

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Photo by Gina Zeidler 

As we were preparing for Ainsley’s arrival I heard a lot of people talk about the amazing “love at first sight” that you feel when your little one is born. People went on and on about how the minute you become a mom you are instantly changed and overwhelmed with all the feelings. Me? I was a little skeptical and more than a little worried about the whole thing. You see, when someone tells me that I’m going to feel a certain way there is a degree of stress and pressure to feel those same feelings. And if you don’t what does that mean?

Here’s the thing that people don’t tell you: You might not experience overwhelming love at first sight. I know I certainly didn’t. I loved Ainsley from the moment I saw her: she was our long-awaited and much-anticipated miracle baby, for goodness sake! But I was also exhausted, clueless, overwhelmed and navigating a whole new world with a baby I hardly knew. I didn’t know anything about her personality or her likes and dislikes and I wasn’t confident in my skills as a mother in the least, because no amount of babysitting can ever prepare you for being a mom.

I was deeply committed to being her momma, in awe of her presence and her cute little features, thankful beyond words for her presence in our life and grateful for her safe and healthy delivery. But I felt so guilty about not having the emotional love response that others had told me I would have. I carried that guilt around with me like a dirty little secret that wasn’t appropriate to disclose.

The other night while on vacation, Joe and I were laying in bed after Ainsley went to sleep just chatting on and on about how much we loved her and how much FUN she has started becoming in the last month or so. Now that she is 4 months old, she is smiling, babbling to herself, giggling and responding to us in new ways everyday. She grabs the puppy’s tail and makes funny faces to things, her eyes light up when we sing to her and she tries her best to sing along. She’s becoming a real person with real likes, dislikes and personality traits. And over the past couple months I’ve started to fall deeply in love with who she is as a unique individual, beyond the fact that she is our baby.

I told Joe, “I think I’ve always loved her, but now I really understand what that all-consuming love for her is about!” Sounds horrible, right? I mean, you’re “supposed” to love your baby that way from day 1. But with all the sleepless nights, hazy days, raging hormones, baby (and mommy!) tears, and so many unknowns, I found it sort of difficult to really make that connection. And now that things have settled into a routine and we’re getting to know our little person? Gosh, it just keeps getting better and better!

So if you’re a new mom or soon-to-be mom or even thinking about having kids in the future, I want to encourage you. You don’t have to feel any certain way at any certain time. Maybe you’ll experience that great “love at first sight” moment like some people do, or maybe, like me, it will take you a little longer. Whatever your journey, there really is no “right” way to do things or a set of benchmarks that you need to reach and different moments in your development as a mom. Just like your baby reaches developmental milestones at different times, moms reach those moments at different times, too!


Pregnancy, Uncategorized

Hey, first time momma. This post is for you.

March 18, 2015

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.