Surviving the Newborn Stage

Motherhood

Bringing our first child home from the hospital was probably the most exciting and nerve-wracking feeling I’ve ever felt. And now that she is 4.5 months old, I can actually say: WE DID IT. We survived. And it was harder than anyone ever told me it would be!

Not much will make it feel easy perse, but I do have some trips that might help out if you feel like you’re drowning in helplessness!

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1. People will offer help. SAY YES

You know how you normally decline help in effort to be polite? Don’t do that! Having a baby is hard in so many ways and good people that understand that want to help you. We had neighbors dropping off take out, friends taking our dog out while we were in the hospital, and of course people bringing an endless supply of diapers. It was SO nice to not have to worry about those sort of things while I was healing and bonding with our new baby. 10/10 would recommend!

2. Take turns being on baby duty

I feel like I will get some criticism for this because a lot of people believe the mom should do everything for the baby (*eye roll*). However, this worked wonders for me and Q. London would not sleep AT ALL at night for the first month and saying it was exhausting is a major understatement. We came up with a plan to split the night in half: he would stay up from 12am-4am and I would be up with her from 4am-8am. This way we would at least get 4 hours of sleep a night. Of course this only works if you are pumping or formula feeding, but I am all for giving dad some breastmilk in a bottle and giving him the chance to bond too!

3. Keep notes with any important information

I’m not sure if this applies to everyone, but our babe had some eating issues in the beginning. Every time we visited the pediatrician, we were given a ton of new information and tips on what we should try/not try. It was overwhelming trying to remember everything. I started a note on my phone and eventually put it up on the fridge, that way I didn’t have the added pressure of memorizing everything. Learning how to take care of a new baby was enough and I didn’t need the extra work.

4. Find joy in the little accomplishments

If you’re anything like me, you’re gonna want to be a natural at being a parent and expect everything to come easily. It most likely won’t (and if it does, I envy you). Don’t try to tackle on too much in one day. I remember the first time I took London out of the house by myself. I literally just walked down the street to the grocery store. But I felt so accomplished and so much more confident in my new role. So take pride in those little moments and trust that soon enough, you’ll be nursing on a plane, pumping the other side, and eating lunch all at the same time (true story. lol)

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At the end of the day, you’re going to find out what works for you and your family, despite all of the advice people will try to give you. Just smile and nod so that they can end their rant about why you should use one brand over another and keep doing you! xx

 

Raising Her.

Motherhood

 

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During my pregnancy, I read anything and everything I could get my hands on about taking care of a baby. How to change a diaper. How to recognize their different cries. How to breastfeed. The list went on. Just before we moved to Texas, Q’s pastor prayed over our family. One of the things he told us was that whatever we do and prioritize, London will learn to do the same. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized I wasn’t just physically raising a child. I was going to have to spiritually raise her as well. I wouldn’t just be taking care of her body and needs of the flesh, but I’d be caring for her heart just the same. Whatever decisions we made as parents were going to shape her personality and determine the impact our daughter would have on others for the rest of her life. (Woah.)

That made me take a look at myself and analyze my choices and priorities. I can listen to songs that make references to drugs and crude language, because I know my stance and a song won’t sway my opinion. I never saw it as a problem if I skipped a day of church every once in a while because I grew up going to church every Sunday. I have a close relationship with God, so missing one day wouldn’t change that. But she didn’t have the upbringing I did. If I listen to those songs now, it’ll normalize those things for her as she grows up. If I attend church casually now, she’ll be attending church casually later. I started to realize that I needed to be what I want her to become.

I’ve said it before, I believe our children belong to God. We are just given the job of bringing them up. I kind of compare it to taking in a foster child. They are temporarily in our care and will eventually be reunited with their parents. I looked up the definition of foster and it read:

foster

VERB

[WITH OBJECT]

  • 1
    Encourage the development of (something, especially something desirable)

 

Our job is to foster a love of Christ in our children. Foster a love of people. Foster a sense of self-worth. So that they will thrive and bring glory to God until the day they come face to face with him.

Having this perspective has changed everything about the way I view parenting.  It’s a much bigger job than I realized initially. And while I’ll never be a perfect parent, I want to do better than just buying her fun toys and dressing her in cute outfits (even though I do love those things). On days when it’s hard, I can ask God to help me do the job he’s called me to do. And as important as it is to learn about how to swaddle a baby, it’s more important to be an example of the person I want her to grow to be.

 

5 Things That Happen When You Become a Parent

Motherhood

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Just like with pregnancy, there are a lot of changes that happen when you become a parent that no one really prepares you for. You leave the hospital with a tiny human and quickly realize your world is now completely about them. But there’s more. 

1. You’re now a “mom driver”.

B6B192AD-0895-4CC9-977F-9F02872F200C.gifEvery other car on the freeway becomes your enemy and you purposely drive in front of the worst ones so they can see your “baby on board” sticker. 

 

2. “Sleeping in” is waking up anytime after 5am.

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Even on nights when you’re baby-free, your body just isn’t used to sleeping until noon anymore.

 

3. Your kid is usually dressed better than you.

6119D10C-840F-4140-8EDE-B021482A86FA.gifThere just isn’t enough time in the mornings for both of us to look our best, so I take one for the team.

 

4. You talk about your kids nonstop.

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Every conversation starts with “we’re new parents” or “do you have kids?”

 

5. Going out just isn’t the same anymore.

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You get a babysitter and decide to take on the town, but quickly realize that you’d much rather be at home, snuggled with your little one, singing the itsy bitsy spider 99,000 times. And I guess that’s parenthood 🤷🏽‍♀️

Our Birth Story: 6/15/2018

Motherhood

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If you follow along here, first of all, THANK YOU! Second of all, you’ve probably been wondering where the third trimester bumpdate went and why I have been MIA for a while. Well, surprise! Our little girl decided to join us early, so I never even got the chance to post my last update! We have been taking some time away from technology and social media to enjoy our daughter and adjust to the parent life. And boy oh boy, do I have some stuff to say about that adjustment, but that’s for another post!

In this post, I wanted to share about our birth story. It was nothing like I had planned or envisioned, but I know that it was exactly how God had ordained in His plan. As usual, skip to the end if you want to avoid some TMI-type details.

On Wednesday, June 13, I went to the bathroom and noticed that I had lost my mucous plug (gross, I know). I didn’t freak out, since I had read that it could still be weeks before you go into labor once losing your plug. So I came back to the living room to continue binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy with Quinton and non-chalantly shared the news. He freaked out and asked if we should be driving to the hospital! I laughed and reassured him that we probably weren’t going into labor “anytime soon”.

On Thursday, June 14, I woke up and noticed my underwear was wet. I wasn’t sure if this was another weird pregnancy symptom, or if it could maybe possibly be my water?! We decided to get checked at the hospital after consulting with the 24-hour nurse line. Per Q’s decision, we did not bring the hospital bag, because now he was convinced we weren’t having this baby, lol.

After waiting in triage for over an hour, I was told my water had broken, I was 3cm dilated, and I was having contractions 4-5 minutes apart. All of this was a surprise to me, because I was hardly feeling any pain! I waited 8 hours before getting the epidural, which I was so grateful for by that point.

Around 5:30 AM on June 15th, it was time to push. Within 20 minutes of pushing, London was born. Unfortunately, she had aspirated some fluid during the delivery and had to be sent to NICU before we had even gotten to hold her. While she was rushed out of the room, the doctors pumped me full of medications, due to losing more blood than expected. They “massaged” my uterus, to help it contract, but it felt nothing like a massage. I’m pretty sure that pain was worse than the birth itself! While I’m so eternally grateful for the doctors who provided her care, it was not at all what I had imagined for our first few days of being parents. Due to baby girl staying in the NICU, we weren’t able to hold her for the first 24 hours. I wasn’t able to do skin-to-skin or to breastfeed. Everything I had requested on my birth plan was denied to me. While I completely understood the situation, it didn’t make it easier to experience and I had to spend some time learning to accept  it all.

London was finally able to come home five days after her birth. It was the happiest and most nerve-wrecking feeling to bring her home after having around the clock care for so long! The days that followed were a challenge, but I was happy to be able to take it on with my husband by my side. Through everything that went wrong, he was such a source of support and strength. I now feel like there isn’t much we can’t get through together.

 

Happy Mother’s Day

Motherhood

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I won’t lie. Growing up, Mother’s Day was just an excuse to get to go out for lunch after church and give my mom an extra hug or two. As I got older, it became another holiday where I had to buy yet another gift. Fast forward to today, and I think I finally understand and appreciate the privilege it is to celebrate this day.

I was in church last weekend when the pastor asked all of the moms to raise their hand to acknowledge them. I didn’t raise my hand because I thought, “do people even consider me a mom yet?” Instantly, my husband leaned over and (loudly) whispered, “why didn’t you raise your hand?!” I laughed it off, but he was right. I’ve had one person refer to me as a “mom-to-be” during this pregnancy, and I must admit, I’m not fond of the term. I am a mom. Even though this girl still has a few weeks to cook in there, I’ve already taken on the role of being her mother. I’ve gone through hours of training during my childbirth & breastfeeding classes, I’ve had to make big decisions regarding her well-being, I’ve had to make sacrifices and put her before myself – things a mother does for her child.

So this Mother’s Day is for me.

It’s also for the mothers with children in heaven. For the women who are trying to conceive. For the women who only got the chance to know their child’s heartbeat. For the women who may not “officially” be mothers, but raised children as if they were their own.

Mother’s Day belongs to you too.

I hope that you feel that and believe it as much as I do. And I hope you are celebrated today and everyday, because you are remarkable. Happy Mother’s Day, mommas.

 

My Tips for Planning a Wedding (while pregnant!)

Motherhood

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As soon as Q proposed, I immediately starting searching the internet for tips on how to plan a wedding, budgeting, and doing it while pregnant. I had found out that we were expecting a baby Winston just a few weeks before his proposal! I read tons of articles and took many notes, and now that we’ve officially made it through (woo!), I wanted to share some advice from my own experience. Read on if you’re planning a wedding on a budget, with a short time limit, or carrying your own little bundle of joy:

 

1. There’s no such thing as “too early” when it comes to planning

It was important for me that Q and I officially say our “I do”s before our baby was born. So the first thing we did was create a timeline with all the major dates: engagement party, invitations sent, ceremony, etc. We gave ourselves 4 months of planning- crazy, I know. BUT, the best thing we did was get started on the planning right away. I mean literally, right away. Since I was in Florida already the weekend he proposed, we went ahead and went straight to the venue and put our deposit down. We also got started on rentals and flowers. It might sound crazy, but we (mostly I) knew what we wanted and it was a relief to have so much done within the first month! Plus, most vendors will allow you to make changes to your order up to two weeks before the wedding date. It’s better to get in your order and adjust along the way, if needed.

2. Accept any and all help

This one is especially for the expectant brides! People will offer to help you. Don’t give the usual “Oh, it’s okay. We’ve got it” response that we’re accustomed to using. Take the help! For us, it was my mother. She was our event planner/decorator/caterer all in one. Working full time and from another state made it hard to be hands-on when it came to the wedding. So we would come up with ideas together and she would help to make sure they were executed the way I wanted. This was extremely helpful on those days that just getting out of bed was difficult (hello, first trimester).

3. Cut costs where you can

As a little girl, I always dreamt of my wedding, but I never dreamt of how much money it actually costs to make all of those magical moments happen! I was shocked to find out how quickly money goes when you’re actually planning one of these things. Our goal was to stick to a budget of $6,000, but we did end up going over by a bit. However, we would’ve spent much more than that if I didn’t figure out this tip early on.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that when I have my mind set on something, I am committed to it and won’t have it any other way. I had to adjust a little when it came to wedding planning. It turns out flowers are WAY more expensive than I knew and with the way I’d envisioned my big day, the flowers alone were going to take up half of the budget! So we ended up improvising by doing some fresh flowers (bouquets, boutonnieres) mixed with artificial flowers (flowers for altar, decorations, etc). The greatest thing is that it was more affordable, but also no one even noticed the difference! Figure out what you need to splurge on (*cough*my dress), and what areas you’re willing to bend a little.

4. Make an itinerary…and accept that people will still have questions.

I am a planner and I write absolutely everything down. I love to-do lists. The whole works. Having a schedule for the day of your wedding printed out is super helpful! Not just for you, but for everyone involved. I found a cute template online and used it to outline the events leading up to the wedding, as well as the actual wedding day. I printed out several copies, texted it to the bridal party, had it available in hotel rooms, etc. I STILL had people texting me with questions about times or addresses, but it was nice to be able to send them a screenshot instead of typing out an address over and over. My MOH even suggested having the groomsmen save it as their wallpaper on their phone! Not to say that guys forget details more often, but it was true in this case 😉

5. Forget about trying to make everything perfect and remember to enjoy your party!

These days, we spend so much time trying to make a picture look instagram-worthy, or copy an idea we found on pinterest. No shade, cause I definitely did a lot of that. But when the day came, I had to remind myself that this is probably one of the few times in my life that ALL of my friends and family (both new and old) will be together in one place to celebrate. I needed to pause and enjoy it! It’s totally okay to smize in a picture because you’re feeling like Beyonce, but then let yourself be silly and natural in a few too. For our exit, I thought it would probably look best if I was carrying my bouquet as we walked out. But I hadn’t had any dessert yet and we ordered my favorite cupcakes. I was not leaving that reception without that cupcake. So I ditched the flowers and walked out with my love in one hand and fudge cupcake in the other. It was a great decision.

 

However you do things, know that it will be the best day of your life because of the love. Not the outfits, not the food, not the music. I’m including some pictures from our big day because I can’t stop looking at them!

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Bumpdate: Second Trimester

Motherhood

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I found out that it’s true what they say. The second trimester is indeed the “honeymoon” stage of the pregnancy. Physically, I didn’t have many symptoms at all. Some minor dizziness and hilarious moments we’ll attribute to pregnancy brain. But emotionally, I was all over the place. The mood swings from the first trimester continued and possibly multiplied. This could also be due to the fact that I was in the midst of planning a wedding and figuring out a move, but that’s a separate blog post to come later!

I was all over the place emotionally because I was going back and forth between feeling happy and fortunate to be pregnant with every kick and roll I felt, and feeling embarrassed by the many stares and remarks from others about my size. I know I’ve touched on this here before, but to reiterate, being pregnant is hard! Growing a human is hard! The world needs to cut pregnant women some slack. There is so much pressure to look good, have a perfect basketball-shaped belly, and be a “fit mom”, even before you’ve delivered your child. I can’t tell you how many people made comments about how I look like I’m “about to pop”, and I have to awkwardly respond that I still have 2.5 months to go! It definitely took a toll on me for a little there. By 25 weeks, I had already gained about 20 pounds. It wasn’t at all what I imagined when I pictured being pregnant, but I’ve accepted it. I’ve accepted the stretch marks, the chunky cheeks, and the fact that I’ll have my work cut out for me when I get back into the gym this fall. And that’s okay! Because at least for right now, I can continue enjoying feeling my little girl tumble around my tummy (and an extra donut with sprinkles!)

5 Tips for Healthyish Eating During Pregnancy

Motherhood

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Healthyish. 

I am probably the first person to admit that I’m not the healthy one when it comes to eating. During the first trimester, I rationalized my excuses by saying I was “too nauseous” to worry about eating my vegetables and “any food is better than no food!” But by the second trimester, I read that the baby begins to take in amniotic fluid and can taste just about everything mom is tasting. That definitely made me feel guilty about all the pizza and fries I’d been pigging out on! I knew I wanted to eat healthier, but being the picky eater I am, I didn’t have a clue where to start. So I talked to my doctor who helped me come up with some tips that I’m sharing with you all:

1. Pack a Lunch

I’m ashamed to admit that I eat fast food way more than I should- probably three times a week. I’m on the road often for work, so it’s convenient to go through a drive-thru and order some chicken nuggets for lunch. I don’t think I even need to explain why that isn’t the best option. Instead, I’ve opted to pack my lunch at least three times a week. This has helped soooo much in regards to making healthier choices. Since I don’t have much junk food at home, I’m pretty much forced to pack something good for me and little one, which is definitely a win!

2. Stay Hydrated

One of the things I hear almost daily (from everyone I talk to) is a reminder to drink water. Not only does it help with those obnoxious headaches and preventing stretch marks, but it helps curb some of those cravings you get at random times of the day. In addition to delivering nutrients to your baby, which is pretty important.

3. Start off with Desserts

I don’t mean like, for breakfast. But if you’re going to indulge in some sweets, doing so earlier in the day can be beneficial. This is because your body continues to be active for the remainder of the day, giving it the chance to burn off excess sugars you may have consumed. Whatever isn’t burned when your metabolism slows down by the time you go to sleep will be stored as fats. Take that for motivation!

4. Get your 30 minutes of Exercise

My primary goal in eating healthier is to make sure my child is getting the vitamins and nutrients she needs. But if I’m being honest, I also want to stay away from eating junk food 24/7 because I dread gaining too much weight during pregnancy. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, of course. On these days, I make sure I carve out enough time after work to do 30 minutes of cardio. It might not erase all of the bad eating I did during the day, but it definitely helps.

5. Find Healthier Alternatives to your Favorite Foods

For me, this is pizza! I can go without a lot, but I can’t resist a good slice of cheese pizza from Pizza Hut. And when I have pizza, I always want soda. I just feel like you can’t have one without the other, but that’s a totally different topic. One fix for me has been making healthier versions of these foods at home. Buying some dough and low-fat toppings for home is much better than buying processed, greasy food (as good as it tastes) from a chain restaurant. For soda alternatives, check out the Ice Sparkling Water flavors!

Skinnytaste is a website I found a while back that has plenty of healthier versions of my favorite comfort foods. Check them out!

 

I hope this info helps some of you out as much as it’s helped me. Cheers to healthier eating!

 

 

10 Pregnancy Symptoms I Never Expected

Motherhood

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Maybe it’s because I wasn’t well-versed in the pregnancy/parenthood/baby universe, but I can definitely admit that I was NOT prepared for the (mostly gross) symptoms I would encounter throughout the course of pregnancy. Thankfully, the internet exists and I could verify that these were in fact “normal”, or I’d probably be convinced I was carrying a baby alien…

*Don’t read on if you’re squeamish*

1. Constipation

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It’s gross, I warned you. But this had to be number one, because it was the most unexpected and the most annoying of all the symptoms.

2. Bloating/Gas

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By the end of the day, your baby bump has grown 2x the size, depending on what you’ve had to eat. And by the morning, it’ll be back to it’s normal size! And then there’s the uncontrollable passing of gas. On the bright side, you’ll never feel more comfortable around your partner than during this time!

3. Insecurities

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If you’re anything like me, you’re under the impression that you’re supposed to be glowing and having an adorable round bump you love to show off on instagram. The reality is, there will be days you hate the way you look and change your outfit 8 times before leaving the house. It’s not easy to see your body change so drastically in such a short time, but in the end, it’s worth it for the health of your little one.

4. Headaches

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Some days you wake up with a headache that sticks around for 48 hours, and some days it’s brought on by the annoying moments in life you no longer have the patience for. (See below)

5. Mood Swings

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Okay. This one I had actually heard of, but for some reason, thought I would be immune to. It’s not a myth. There were days I cried because someone I hadn’t spoken to in 10 years couldn’t make it to my wedding. Followed by days I would get irritated at my fiance for not replying to my texts fast enough while he was at work. *shrug*

6. Breast Changes

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They grow. They hurt really bad. They grow some more. Your nipples change colors. They might even start to leak.

You’ll probably hate them, then love them, then hate them again. It’s part of that body-changing process.

7. Cramps

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This was definitely the one thing I thought I would get to do without for 9 months, since you know, no period. Duh. Not true, though. Your uterus stretching to the size of a melon makes for some crampy times. Sigh.

8. Food Aversions

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I’d heard of food cravings, but didn’t know food aversions were a possibility! Luckily, I didn’t have too much of this. The only thing I haven’t been able to stand so far is Chinese take-out. Probably for the best, since I’m trying to eat somewhat “healthy”.

9. Dry, Itchy Skin

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Okay this one has been HORRIBLE. Your boobs and belly itch SO much. And scratching causes stretch marks. So you’re just supposed to put coconut oil on and hope for the best. WHERE IS THE PREGNANCY GLOW.

10. Tickling Feeling of Movement

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You won’t notice it at first, but in time, you realize that thing that feels like your stomach doing backflips is actually your baby. It’s a weird sensation and I didn’t expect it to tickle. But I did come to love it and I’ll gladly endure all of the bad symptoms to keep experiencing this one.

Bumpdate: First Trimester

Motherhood

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If you’re reading this, it’s because I made it through one of the darkest and scariest times of a woman’s life-the first trimester. (Dun dun duuuuun). Let me take you back to the moment I found out I was pregnant. I had been on birth control for 6+ years and my fiancé and I were not planning to start a family for at least another 2 years.  So to say I was “surprised” is an understatement. I went through the typical stages post-peeing on a stick time: shock at those two life-altering lines, panic of how I’m going to have a baby and plan a wedding at the same time, and then the inevitable excitement of becoming a “mommy”. All of this followed by rapid google searching, since of course, I realized I had no idea what I was doing. The google searching ended up being a HORRIBLE idea. I read story to story of miscarriages, MISSED miscarriages, blighted ovums (WHAT), etc. By the end of the day, I was convinced something terrible was going to happen to my baby.

It’s a scary thing to be growing a tiny human inside of you not be able to peek in and make sure little one is doing okay. I was forced to breathe, stay positive, remind myself to trust my body, and most importantly- stay off baby forums. I remember thinking “how can I care about something so much, that I didn’t even realize I wanted more than a few weeks ago?” Needless to say, I was relieved when I hit the glorious 12 week mark. Of course, the worrying didn’t completely stop then, but it was a milestone I was happy to cross, as the chances of something going wrong decreased significantly. For the most part, 12 weeks also marked the end of the less-than-enjoyable symptoms that come along with pregnancy: nausea, fatigue, constipation, etc. I finally felt that I could relax and start to enjoy the wonders of pregnancy, as I entered what people refer to as the “honeymoon” stage- the second trimester.