Friday, September 23, 2016

The 4th Trimester

Being a mom is great.  I absolutely love being a parent.  This morning Clara and I sat on the couch while she smiled at me over and over and I just cried.  It's the most amazing thing I have ever done in my life. 
And I know you're waiting for the "but"  so here it comes:
But recovering from pregnancy and child birth is so hard.  Before pregnancy I was a size 1.  I didn't have a single stretch mark.  I had never weighed more than 110 lbs.  You can imagine that when I stepped on the scale at 4 weeks postpartum I was a little bit discouraged to see 138.  
I've had a lot a people say things like "I don't feel bad for you"  or "OMG you're tiny! Pregnancy didn't affect your body at all."   And really, that isn't fair for them to say.  Pregnancy takes over your body and it has made it something I don't recognize.  I try to put clothes I wore before pregnancy and I can't get my thighs in them.  I try putting on maternity clothes and I'm drowning.  It's that 4th trimester in between that causes me disappointment every morning when I get dressed. 
Now that I'm just over 5 weeks postpartum I'm going to start exercising again.  In my due date group on Facebook one of the admins started a work out challenge and it started today.  I started today with my squats.  We're using this challenge from Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans
We're also doing a planking challenge.  This one isn't exactly the same, but it's similar to what we'll be doing and it's from the same bloggers at Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans. The great thing about planks is they're great for women who are recovering from pregnancy.  It's easier on your recovering abs.
Planksgiving: Do Planks, Give Thanks w/the Sisterhood #shrinkingjeans #planksgiving #exercise #fitness

We're doing another ab challenge as well, however I'm waiting for the go-ahead from my OB before I start that one.

I'll be sharing some exercise videos on my Facebook page each week along with progress photos.  Stay tuned for more!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

8 Must-Haves For the New Mom

*This post contains affiliate links.  I use all of the products linked and I swear by them!*
When you become a mom, the world changes.  Okay, so maybe the whole world doesn't change, but a lot of things do. 

The other day I had some errands to run.  In order to run those errands I had to feed the baby till she was asleep so I could shower.  I had to dress myself.  I had to dress my baby.  I had to make sure her diaper bag had all the essentials. I had to make Corey lunch and get out the door before 12:30.  

All I wanted to eat for lunch was a teriyaki place near Walmart.  In order to go inside I'd have to take the baby out of the car, lug her inside for all of 6 minutes while I ordered and waited for my food. Then I'd have to lug her out with my food in hand, forgetting about a drink because I just didn't have enough hands for that.  

So I decided to go home and eat a bag of cookies and left over spaghetti instead.  Life as I knew it is over and a new one as begun.  But lucky for me, I've found a few things that make my life a lot easier.  

1// Munchkin Bottle Drying Rack
When I was registering for things, I didn't really think I needed a separate drying rack for bottles. When my counter was taken over by bottles and pump parts to where they wouldn't fit on my regular drying rack with the dishes.  I  bought mine last week and it has already made my kitchen cleaner.  

2// Boppy Nursing Pillow
I thought this would be a totally overrated mommy novelty.  I was promptly proven wrong.  My Boppy is a complete life saver when it comes to night time feedings or when Clara is feeling fussy and doesn't want me to put her down.  The Boppy gives my arms a rest.  

3// Pack 'n Play
These aren't new.  My mom used one when we were growing up, but they've changed a little since I was born. they have bassinets, changing tables, nappers, and the bottom comes up so you don't kill your back reaching in the pick up the baby.  I use mine literally every day during naps and I love it. 

4// Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags
This is another thing I didn't buy prior to having Clara.  I didn't know I'd need it.  But it's already been a live saver.  When I want to go out with Corey I can take some milk out of the freezer and my baby can benefit from breast milk without me being there and when I go back to work  we can continue feeding Clara breast milk.  

5// Chicco Bravo Stroller 
My stroller rocks.  I got it extremely on sale at Babies 'R' Us and had no idea what to expect, but in the last month, it's got us through 2 grocery trips, multiple walks, the State Fair, and other trips to the outside world for mommy's sanity.  It's easy to fold up and my car seat pops right onto it.  I am so glad this was the stroller I found on sale.  
6// Aquaphor Baby Diaper Rash Cream
I got this cream as a sample at my pediatricians office.  I noticed baby girls bum was a little red so I put some of this on.  It was gone literally the next day, so of course I bought more.  That sample system works...

7// Rock 'N' Play
The rock and  I love it.  Clara sleeps better in her Rock 'N Play than anywhere else.  We put it in the kitchen while we eat or in the living room when we watch TV.  It has been prefect.  

8// Delta Glider
My glider was a gift from Corey's mom.  Best. Gift. Ever. There is nothing like sitting in my glider and staring down at my beautiful baby girl.  And sometimes daddy gets to use it too.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

We Survived a Month of Parenthood

Today Clara has been in our lives for 5 weeks.  I can't believe how fast the time is going.  We are so in love with our baby girl.  

Clara loves to make sleepy smiles at mom and dad. 

She enjoys staying up late and sleeping in late just like daddy and all the other newborns in the world.  
She hardly cries.  In fact, I think that mommy cries more than Clara does.  Being a mom has made me overly emotional.  I'll just look at her a little too long and tears fall.  

She likes to yawn and stretch and curl up on mom's chest to sleep, however I think her favorite pastime is pooping.  She seems to do that the most often. 

I can't wait till she gets bigger and reacts to Corey blowing raspberries on her belly or smiles back at us when we make silly faces, but I also want her to stay this tiny cuddly baby for her entire life. 

So far being a mom is a little rough, but it's also the best thing ever.  I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Reality of Breast Feeding

**This post contains affiliate links.  I have linked only products that I currently use and swear by!**

Being a mom is hard. 

I absolutely love it with all my heart.  My baby completely lights up my life.  Every time I see her little face and her little feet and I hear her cry out when she's hungry I feel overwhelmed with emotion and happiness.
Before I was a mom myself, I learned a whole lot about motherhood from other mothers.  From mothers on the internet, from my own mom, from my Facebook group of moms, and from all the other moms in my life.  It was very helpful and when my baby came I felt prepared to be a mom. 
But there is so much more to being a mom that just loving your baby unconditionally. That part is easy.  Diapers?  Easy.  Running on quite a lot less sleep?  Piece of cake.  Breast feeding?  Hardest thing I've done other than actually giving birth to my baby. 

There are lots of things you read about and learn before having a baby, but nothing could have prepared me or the challenges that breast feeding has presented me with.  I don't think people really openly talk about how hard it can be to just...feed your child. 
1.  The Guilt.
I don't need to go into detail, but my little Clara had an extremely difficult time latching.  In the hospital I wanted to just burst into tears because I was having so much trouble just feeding my baby. I felt like a failure and I'd only just became a mother.  I felt guilty because feeding my baby should be natural, right?  We ended up having to use a Medela Nipple Shield   Now she latches great and we've been pretty successful with breast feeding. 

2.  The Pain.
I swear no one tells you about these things before you have a baby.  They don't tell you that having a baby at your breast sort of feels like fire instead of a baby.  I recommend Palmers Nursing Butter to relieve the pain.

3.  The Leaking. 
Have you ever woken up on the couch in a little puddle of milk? I use Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads and also LilyPadz Reusable Nursing Pads.  They do a pretty good job of preventing leakage serious embarrassment throughout the day. 

4.  The Pumping. 
There's a science to pumping.  Which pump to use, ( I use Ameda Purely Yours) when to pump, how to increase supply, when to freeze your milk, how long the milk can stay out, where to store it in the freezer, manual pump or electric.  Waking up in the middle of the night to pump because I can't sleep.  Image result for breast pump ameda
5.  The Weight Gain.
People say that breast feeding helps you lose weight.  Nope.  It does burn a ton of calories and it does help your uterus contract and get smaller, but it doesn't cause weight loss.  It makes you really hungry and really thirsty.  I think I have more cravings now than I did my whole pregnancy!

My advice.
Choosing to feed with formula or breast milk is a personal decision.  
+ Think about it.  No one can make that decision for you.  
+Make realistic goals.  My current breast feeding goal is at least 6 months.  That's my goal because I want to get her through flu season.  Ultimately I'd like to do it for her entire first year, but that may not be possible with work and the Army.
+ Don't be so hard on yourself.  I'm not kidding, breast feeding isn't easy! It may be for some, but you should be prepared for challenges.  You aren't alone, you aren't a failure, and there is no shame in not breast feeding your baby.  
+Don't get discouraged.
They say the first month is the hardest.  You'll probably go through lots of ups and downs throughout your breast feeding experience.  Don't quit when the going gets tough!


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Baby Clara's Nursery

Setting up Clara's nursery was probably one of the more difficult tasks we had to accomplish in preparation for her arrival.  I attribute this to my inability to pull the trigger on purchases.  I looked at rugs at Target for probably 2 months before I bought a rug to put in front of our door.  I have to take my mom with me to get me to actually buy the things that I need.  On the bright side, I don't have an impulse buying problem!
Anyway, once I finally made a decision on the crib things started to come together.  I shopped around and ultimately decided that I wanted a gray crib and I wanted Clara's nursery theme to be hot air balloons, as I said in my post about prepping for baby, this theme as really hard to find things for.  
I found a crib on which was honestly really convenient.  On Wayfair, all the big stuff ships free.  I have HGTV to thank for that information.  
The next challenge was the dresser.  I had an extremely hard time with this.  I had something specific in mind, and I just wasn't finding it, or I was and it was at Pottery Barn for $699.98.  No thanks.  I was mostly shopping second hand for these.  Lucky for me, my mom was also shopping second hand for them.  
She found one that someone had locally for $100 so I decided to go for it.  I didn't like the color and I wanted it to match the rest of the nursery, so it ended up my first furniture transformation project as well. 
I used paint designed for furniture re-finishing and contact paper from the one-spot at target.  I also replaced all the drawer knobs and I left off the cupboard door to make life easier.  It was a challenge, but I really enjoyed turning it into something I really liked.  The hardest part was definitely putting that contact paper in the clear plastic windows. It probably took loner than the whole dresser.  

I was also lucky enough to find matching cloth drawers and a laundry basket. The cloth drawers are filled with diapers and there's an unreal wipes supply on those shelves.  I also have diaper genie refills and the first aid kit.  I had the square shelves in my living room, but when Corey moved in, we moved some things around and put the square shelf in the babies room. On the shelf is a lambs and ivy lamp (on sale! It cost me $5 at Babies 'R' Us) and we also used the favors from the shower to decorate.

In the corner there is a cloth shelf filled with blankets, swaddles, burp cloths and other odds and ends that needed a place in the nursery. We were also lucky enough to find the cute hot air balloon crib set at Target along with the mobile. 

The chair was a pipe dream that I put on my registry NEVER expecting someone would actually get it for me.  Well Corey's parents surprised me and got it as our shower gift.  I cried when I found out I was so excited.  The cart is an IKEA purchase.  it has about 100 burp cloths and bibs in it. 

The adorable pictures on the wall were a gift from my friend in my unit.  She has a friend who does water colors, so she had her paint those custom prints.  I'm completely in love with them.  

While I was in the hospital with the baby, my sister and cousin went to my house and made sure that everything was organized as best as possible, cleaned my house and put diapers and wipes in every room but the kitchen. Setting up the nursery was probably one of the hardest parts of preparing for baby, but I'm really happy with how it turned out. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Call Me Mom

Clara's entrance into the world was a relatively dramatic one.

It all started on Monday after my 39 week doctor's appointment.  The doctor checked my cervix and it hadn't changed much since the visit a week prior.  She stripped my membrane and we started talking about induction.  Apparently that's just standard procedure, but I felt so defeated.  I was getting so tired of being pregnant.  My back was hurting, I wasn't sleeping, and I had heart burn that would not rest. 

A few hours later, I started having painful contractions. Being a first time mom, I was unsure if they were the real thing or if I was just irritated by the membrane stripping, so I mostly ignored them.  

The next day, they were much worse, but I still wasn't really sure what to do.  I spent some time with my mom and had Taco Tuesday with my family, all the while randomly clutching my contracting belly.  We had a really great night, but I was starting to feel extremely miserable.  My mom suggested we go to the hospital to get checked out, and I was definitely on board. 

When we got there, they hooked me up to all the machines and checked my cervix.  No change since my appointment Monday.  An hour or so later, they checked again and, of course, no change.  They sent me home and told me to come back if my contractions got closer together. 

A few hours later, I was in misery.  I was pacing around our living room every time a contraction hit.  I did everything the internet suggested to ease the pain, but nothing as working.  Eventually I couldn't take it anymore.  Around 2:30 am I called the hospital and spoke to the on-call doctor.  She recommended that I get my "cute little uterus to the hospital"  because it sounded like I was in labor.    
 I woke up Corey, made sure we had our bags and our phone chargers, and we headed out the door for the hospital. Sure enough, once we got there, they checked my cervix and I had dilated to a 3+.  They admitted me and the count down to meet Clara had officially begun.  

I got the epidural very shortly after I was admitted.  I had a little bit of anxiety about getting a needle in my spine, but it wasn't a big deal at ALL.  Getting the epidural made my labor experience so much better than if I'd waited.  The whole morning and afternoon I was smiling, welcoming visitors and in a great mood. 

They started me on Pitocin to help move things along.  Epidurals can slow down the process so Pitocin is how they help labor progress.  Luckily with the epidural, I was able to get some sleep.  Giving birth is hard work, so I'm really glad I was able to take advantage of the chance to sleep. 

After a little while, my cervix was checked and it was discovered that the baby was face up.  When babies are face up it makes it difficult for labor to progress. In an attempt to flip her around, they put this little green ball thing between my legs and had me roll over every 30 minutes or so. 
Looking at this picture I am so glad that Corey went to get a haircut instead of coming to Taco Tuesday.  

A few hours later, they opted to put in an internal monitor to see how strong the contractions were.  When they put in this monitor, Clara's heart rate dropped.  I could tell that my doctor and the nurses were worried.  More nurses started coming in the room and they were paging the anesthesiologist.  They put an oxygen mask on me and started getting me ready to move.  I honestly wasn't sure what was going on.  All I knew was that I needed to stay calm.  

I got stabbed in the arm with a shot meant to stop my contractions and I completely lost it.  My doctor as doing her best to calm me down, but I couldn't stop crying.  I wasn't even really sure what I was scared of, I think it was just that all the medical staff was swirling around me and making me panic. 

They ran me to the operating room, walked me through the C-Section risks and I felt Corey grab my hand.  I couldn't see him, but it was nice to know he was there.  My doctor was yelling at all the staff in the operating room letting them know that we weren't ready to deliver my baby.  They waited about 15 minutes and Clara's heart rate came right back up.  It was a terrifying 30 or so minutes in our lives, but luckily we were able to avoid a C-section and our baby was okay. 

Because they had to stop my contractions, it was like starting from square one.  My cervix was dilated to a 4 and we had to wait until I had 2 hours of "adequate" contractions. 

This didn't happen until around 8:30.  The nurse (third one of my labor experience)  checked me and told me "would you believe me if I told you you're at a 10 and ready to push?"

I didn't believe her and I was terrified.  After everything that had happened, I had basically prepared myself to have a C-Section and was NOT ready to push.  Of course, though, I got myself together and was able to push when the time came. 

I pushed for about 30-45 minutes and then my sweet baby was laying on my chest all covered in goo. I could hardly even believe it was happening.  After 9 of the longest months of my life, my baby was finally here. Please excuse my double chin...

Our first Family Photo

Daddy holding Clara for the first time. 

Labor was hard.  Giving birth is the hardest thing I've done in this life so far, but as I type this and look at my little girl sleeping in her bassinet beside me, I know I'd do it all over again to have her in my life. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What to Bring When The Baby is On the Way

**This post contains Affiliate links to quality products that can be purchased on Amazon**

Packing the bag for the hospital is an important part of having a baby.  Some people back up their hospital bags months before their baby is due to arrive.   I, being the picture of preparedness that I am, packed my bags a few days before Clara made her appearance. 

There are tons of things on Pinterest that tell you what you should pack for your (hopefully) short stay at the hospital.  I probably looked at a more than 20 little graphics saying what was essential for each member of the family.  I also talked to my family that had recently had babies at the same hospital, and eventually came up with a few things to stick in our bags. 

First things first:  Baby Clara's Diaper Bag

 From everything I've read, people tend to regret bringing way too many things with them to the hospital.  We figured we would already be overwhelmed with all of the new things that come with being a new parent.  We didn't need a whole mess of things getting in our way.  

For Corey and I:

When I was thinking about what to pack for the two of us, I started with a huge list.  The more I looked at he list, though, the less I wanted to take all of those things. We live close enough to the hospital that Corey could go home to clean up and change clothes, so what we brought for him was pretty minimal.

Form my stay at the hospital, I ended up really only using  a few of these things in the picture.  It was honestly sort of difficult to do anything but lay in bed.  There were people in and out of the room, we were working on breast feeding (this is a post in and of its self...), signing paper work, and figuring out how to be parents. I swear even eating was a challenge because we were so busy.   

My Advice For Packing Your Bags:

1:  Contact the the hospital and see what they provide for you. 
The hospital I delivered in provided me with everything I needed for my recovery to include awesome mesh undies.  They also had diapers, wipes, and receiving blankets. When you know what will be provided, you can make a decision on what additional comforts you want.  

2:  Be aware that dad gets nothing. 
In general, dad is not provided with many comforts.  They'll give him a pillow and a blanket, but you and baby are the patient.  Bring him a change of clothes and something to help him sleep comfortably.

3:  You'll want to have something to wear besides your hospital gown.
I was very grateful to have bought a nice nursing night gown and robe.  We were having a really hard time with breast feeding and it was very helpful to be wearing something nursing friendly.  It was also nice to be able to walk around the halls and not worry about my bum peaking out. 

4:  Don't forget your phone chargers!
You're probably going to take a thousand pictures and you'll have to let everyone know that your baby has arrived.  You don't want to have to worry about your dead phone.  Also, don't leave them in the birthing suit or the maternity floor! They collect a lot of phone chargers. 

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