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first time mom

Motherhood, Parenthood, Pregnancy

What I’ve Learned from my First Year of Motherhood

I always wanted to be a mom, for as long as I can remember.  Maybe it was because my mom was a mother of 4 (and she was pretty awesome at it!) or maybe it was just something built into my DNA.  If there was a baby doll, I was taking care of it; if there was a doll house, I was playing “house.”  When I was a teenager, I would daydream about my life one day: living in a cute, little house with Matthew-loud, full of love, and full of babies.

After Matthew and I had been married for about a year and a half, I started getting baby fever.  I began asking him month after month, Hey babe, do you want a baby?  Hey, don’t you think a baby would be soooo cute?!  ha!  It was pretty funny the stuff I came up with to try to convince him to want a baby.  But I patiently (okay, maybe impatiently) waited until he was ready.  And one day, he just decided he was ready, and we weren’t together at the time because he was working, and he told me in a text.  I actually love that he did because now I have this memory to keep forever.

I remember the feeling of elation and pure excitement I felt in this moment knowing we were going to grow our nest.  And 2 months later, we got those 2 pink lines!

 

When Avary came into this world, life changed in an instant.  I cried the moment they laid her on my chest.  This baby, this little person-designed by God-was nurtured by my body and came from me and my husband.  I love that Avary is a tangible representation of the love Matthew and I share.  How incredible!  She is our love wrapped up in her sweet little self.

I think motherhood has taught me more about myself than any other experience I’ve had in life.  It has shown me that I am way stronger than I ever thought I was.  Going through the tiring work of growing a human being, to the exhausting work of labor and delivery, to the long and sleepless nights with a newborn, motherhood has shown me that I have strength and endurance!

Motherhood has taught me about sacrifice.  Giving up my body again after pregnancy to commit to breastfeeding was a true sacrifice.  Becoming a stay-at-home mom, many times I have to sacrifice the things I want for the things we need.  Motherhood has transformed my way of thinking.  Instead of a self-centered way of thinking, being a mom has shown me that I can make someone else #1 and that it is okay.

Motherhood has shown me that life is messy ( ^) and imperfect and doesn’t always go they way we think it should.  That in the midst of endless days and sleepless nights, poopy diapers, constant spit-up, colic, reflux, nose-sucking, sleep training, babywearing, breastfeeding, nap-skipping, tantrum-throwing days, we can rest in the fact that our job-as “Mom”-has meaning and value beyond the ‘every day.’  We are not just “babysitting” tiny humans; we are raising world-changers!  The love, time, and attention we pour into our little ones all day long is shaping their minds.  The values we instill are shaping their hearts.  The struggle of motherhood-trying to find a spare moment to go to the bathroom alone, microwaving your coffee 3 times because it went cold before you could drink it, going Hulk-crazy on the dog for barking during naptime-that’s life.  I’ve learned that I can let the upsets confuse me, frustrate me, and derail my whole day or I can just go with the flow, laugh at the madness, and embrace the crazy mess.

I recognized the truth in the statement ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ because friends, IT DOES!  Motherhood was not meant to go at alone.  You need support.  I learned that when I tried to do everything on my own and hold myself to an unrealistic, Tumblr-type standard of perfection, I failed miserably.  And, I made myself miserable in the process.  Reach out and reach up!  Until I started reaching out to my husband, my mom, my sisters, my friends, other moms, the online community and looking to God for help and guidance, I was drowning in my role as a mother.  I’ve since learned to surround myself with a #tribe and not do this motherhood thing alone.

What I learned from my first year of motherhood is that love at first sight does exist. . .  The love that I have for my little girl is beyond anything I expected.  The moment I laid eyes on her, I felt like I knew her all my life and I loved her instantly.  She holds my heart in her hands.  I am so thankful that God entrusted her to me, that she made me a mama, and that I get to experience life with her.  She is forever my heart-changer, my mini-me, and my baby. . .

I love you, Avary Layne.

 

Motherhood, Pregnancy

DIY Pregnancy Survival Kit

A friend of mine recently told me she was pregnant, and I could not be happier for her and her husband!!  (Does anyone else feel like EVERYONE they know is pregnant right now?!  Gives me all kinds of baby fever!)  She was also telling me that she was experiencing terrible morning sickness, all day every day.  I felt so bad and wanted to do something to celebrate her pregnancy and maybe help her out with the morning sickness.

When I was pregnant with Avary, I had morning sickness but rarely ever threw up.  It was mostly constant nausea all day long (which I feel is almost worse!  I just wanted to throw up and feel better!).  Anyways, I found a couple things that helped me out a little bit, so I wanted to pass that on to my friend.  I made her a little pregnancy survival kit!

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What I included in the basket:

Premium Saltine Crackers.  Guys, I can’t even tell you how many boxes of these crackers I went through in the first trimester of my pregnancy.  I never want to another saltine cracker until the next pregnancy! (haha)  But seriously, I stashed these right next to my bed and would eat a cracker before I even sat up in bed in the morning.  I would be extremely sick in the morning if I woke up and got up on an empty stomach.  I kept these crackers with me at all times; because, sometimes when you’re pregnant, nothing sounds good, nothing tastes good, the sight of food makes you want to vomit. . . If I could just stomach a few of these crackers, it usually made me feel better.

Gatorade.  You really do lose a lot of electrolytes and other vitamins and minerals when you throw up, so I always liked to have Gatorade available.  It made me feel like I had some kind of energy put back into me when I couldn’t manage to eat much.

Ginger Ale.  I have always found ginger ale to ease my upset stomach, so I included that as well.  I definitely didn’t use this every day when I was pregnant, but if crackers and Gatorade weren’t helping, I would try this.

Tums.  I don’t know about you, but I do not like Tums!  The chalky texture just makes me want to gag, and for some reason, they just remind me of my childhood when I wasn’t feeling good (my mom must have given me too many Tums!).  When I started getting heartburn during pregnancy, I was dreading buying those colorful little chalky discs!  But then, I stumbled across the peppermint flavored Tums!  I knew I had read that peppermint flavors can help put morning sickness at bay so I decided to try those.  I don’t know what it is about this particular flavor, but they are so so much better than the original!  They are still chalky, but it is somewhat masked by the flavor.  Instead of feeling like you are eating a piece of fruit flavored chalk, it just taste like a weird kind of mint! (Much better!)

Peppermint Essential Oil.  I also added in a little bottle of peppermint essential oil since it is supposed to help relieve nausea.  I can’t say that it necessarily “helped” me, but if I was feeling nauseous, I would smell it or rub a little behind my ears.  I think it helped distract me from how I was feeling more than make the nausea go away, but hey, I tried everything!

Tea.  I added lots of tea in this pregnancy survival kit!  I personally love tea and drinking something warm always makes me feel better.  I drank Mother-to-Be tea while pregnant because it had a good blend of herbs that are good for expecting mamas.  I also gave her a little bedtime tea; because. . . well, why not?  Also, raspberry leaf tea!  If you are pregnant, look this tea up!  It is recommended that you don’t start drinking this tea until the last trimester of pregnancy, and you always want to check with your doctor or midwife before starting it, but this tea is so great!  It is a kind of uterine tonic, so it works to help strengthen your uterus making it healthy and stronger.  This, in turn, will help during labor-making contractions more effective-and during delivery-making it easier and more manageable to push.  I know everyone has a different experience, but I only pushed for 30 minutes with my first baby and attribute some of that to this tea helping strengthen my uterus!

Fiber One Bars.  Granola bars were definitely a go-to for me during pregnancy.  I always had one in my purse, in my house, by my bed, because I was bound to get hungry.  The regular chocolate chip Fiber One bars are delicious, and I made it a point to get plenty of fiber in my diet while pregnant to avoid dreaded hemorrhoids and such, and I didn’t get a single one.

Gum.  It was always helpful to have gum during pregnancy, as well.  Especially in that first trimester, having something in my mouth helped with the morning sickness feeling.  So I was always usually chewing gum, sucking on a mint or a Preggo pop.

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter.  I know lotions and stretch mark creams and oils are kind of overrated (I slathered them on all pregnancy long and still got stretch marks), but it is so important to keep your skin moisturized!  Your skin is going through the trauma of being stretched to the max, and it needs some TLC!  Palmer’s cocoa butter was just something I used as part of my daily routine.  It always made my skin feel moisturized and relieved any itching from my growing belly.

EOS lip balm.  I really don’t know why, but my lips were always dry while I was pregnant!  Anybody else?  This is just my favorite lip balm so it is part of my survival kit.  Also, during labor and delivery, you are going to want some lip balm.  It is essential!  With all the breathing and panting and moaning and screaming, your lips get dry and cracky.  This definitely comes in handy.

LUSH bath bomb.  I’m telling you the truth when I say that in my last trimester, I took a bath every single day.  My body was just so sore in that third trimester.  I also had planned on having a water birth so, as part of my nighttime routine, I would take a bath and put on my Hypnobirth and just practice relaxing and visualizing my birth.  Every now and then, I would throw in a LUSH bath bomb and just pamper myself for the night.  I haven’t had a bath since sometime during my postpartum recovery and my baby is 7 months old now.  Enjoy your baths and your bath bombs, ladies!!

What to Expect When You’re Expecting.  It is a classic and an essential.  I think every new mom reads this book either online or flipping through the pages.  While no pregnancy is cut-and-dry, it is always fun to see what is happening at different stages in pregnancy and to see how baby is developing.  I loved using their app while I was pregnant!

That is all of the stuff that I included in my DIY pregnancy survival kit.  I know I used a lot of other things, but I thought this little basket was cute and fun for an expecting mama!  What were some of YOUR essentials while pregnant?  Did you have a survival kit on hand?  Leave your comments below and help all us mamas out!

sean (1)

Baby, Favorites

4-5 Month Favorites for Baby

*This post contains affiliate links.  This means that if you choose to use these links, I may get a small commission for connecting you to the source.  I only share links to products I love and use, and that I believe will benefit you.  Thanks for supporting my little growing nest.*

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It’s time for another favorites post!  I decided to combine months 4 and 5 because not much changed between them, and the products we were using were relatively the same.  Avary did change a lot during these months, though!  I think the biggest change was that she started sitting up independently!  This definitely changed the way she played.  My little baby does not want to be a little baby, so any products and toys that allow her to play independently or be a “big girl,” she loves.

Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System, Lilla.  When we were registering for baby items when I was pregnant, I knew I wanted a travel system because of the convenience of them.  I also wanted something that was safe, good quality, but also affordable.  We love our Chicco travel system, and we purchased it in the Lilla print, which is gray with small little polka dots.  I think it is cute and definitely neutral enough to reuse for another baby.  Around 4 months, we started going on walks daily because the weather was gorgeous (not to mention Avary loves walks!), and I love love love my Chicco stroller!  It can be really windy where we live since we are by the ocean and the Chicco system is so adjustable, I can cover Avary completely with the canopies.  This is also great when she is napping!  If you’re looking for a travel system with a base, car seat and stroller–I highly recommend!

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Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder.  Avary started teething at 4 months old (crazy, I know!).  As a mama, when your baby starts teething, you really feel at a loss for how to help them!  I didn’t feel comfortable just pumping Tylenol into her-especially during the day-so I looked up some natural ways to help relieve her pain.  We had frozen teethers on hand, but she didn’t seem to like them.  I don’t think she liked holding that cold, frozen thing in her hand (poor baby!).  Nursing typically solved all problems, but while she was teething, the sucking was painful for her little gums!  I found the idea to make “breastmilk pops,” and she loved it!  All I did was freeze some breastmilk in an ice cube tray, pop it out and put it in our Munchkin fresh food feeder.  It helped to numb her gums and also gave her the comfort of mama’s milk!  The gripped ring on the feeder was large enough for her little hands to hold onto, so it was perfect. Look out for an upcoming post all about my baby teething essentials!

Baby Einstein Activity Jumper.  I couldn’t wait to try out Avary’s jumper with her!  I know a lot of babies love to bounce, and I was hoping she would, too.  Not only because it would help mama get another task or two done, but it is just so darn cute seeing a baby bounce away!!  Avary loves her Baby Einstein jumper, and it entertains her for quite some time.

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Fisher Price Shape Sorter Blocks.  Around 5 months old, we really started to notice that Avary was getting bored with her toys.  She just needed something new and a little more challenging!  We bought her this little block (super inexpensive!) and she loves it!  She obviously doesn’t know how to actually sort them-she will figure that out later-but she loves picking up the bucket and dumping them all out.  Also, we will stake them all up for her and she likes to knock them down.  These have definitely been one of her favorite toys lately.

Taggies blanket.  When we started transitioning Avary out of being swaddled (somewhere near the beginning of 4 months), we knew we wanted to replace the security of swaddling with a “lovey” item.  Someone had given us this blanket as a baby shower gift so we tried this first.  She LOVES it!  She loves having something soft to hold onto when she is falling asleep, and she loves rubbing the silky fabric tags.

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Fisher Price Smart Stages Laugh & Learn Puppy.  Avary loves this thing!  I don’t know if it is the fact that it sings (she loves music) or if it is the face (she loves toys/dolls with faces), but she laughs every single time we get it out.  It is also fun watching her try to find all the different buttons to press to play the music.

sean (1)

Favorites

3 Month Favorites for Baby

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*This post contains affiliate links.  This means that if you choose to use these links, I may get a small commission for connecting you to the source.  I only share links to products I love and use, and that I believe will benefit you.  Thanks for supporting my little growing nest.*

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It’s that time–another favorites post!  I have to admit, when Avary turned 3 months old, everything started changing!  Developmentally she was doing so much more, she was more awake and alert, and I think the biggest change was that she finally wanted to play!  My list of favorites this month features a lot of items for an active, playful baby.

Bumbo.  We started putting Avary in her Bumbo seat when she turned 3 months old.  She had great head and neck control and always wanted to be sitting up so she could see what was going on.  I put her in the Bumbo under her play gym so she could grab her toys, on the bathroom floor while I showered, while I cooked dinner, outside while we had a picnic. . . I love our Bumbo, and I’m sure I will keep using it for awhile longer!

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Infantino play gym.  I was so excited when I got to take out Avary’s Infantino play gym!  I couldn’t wait to watch her explore and enjoy her toys.  I loved this play mat because it was easy to set up, take down, and wash.  Also, I loved that it came in girly colors!  Avary would spend quite a bit of a time on this playmat batting at the toys.

Tula baby carrier.  I am a big advocate of babywearing, I just love it so much!  When Avary was a tiny newborn, I loved using my Moby wrap because she could be all snuggled up against me, and she loved falling asleep that way.  As she got to this age, she didn’t want to sleep anymore–she wanted to look around and see what was going on!  I borrowed a friend’s Tula (when I took a flight with Avary by myself) and fell in love!  So I purchased one of my own, and I couldn’t be happier!  I loved the support it provided, it never hurt my back, and Avary loved being able to see everything!  Not to mention, the come in the cutest prints!  I also purchased the newborn insert; because, without it, Avary sat too low in the carrier.  I don’t regret spending the extra money on the insert because even now at 5 months old, she is only around 14 pounds and it just provides her more support and lets her see better.

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O Ball.  At 3 months old, Avary was still working on hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, of course.  She always wanted to try to grasp and hold onto her toys.  We got her an O ball and she absolutely loved it! (still does)  The openings make it so easy for little, learning hands, and I could tell she felt so accomplished when she grabbed hold of it and could swing it around.  I actually think this toy helped develop her coordination to move on to grasping other things successfully.  I definitely recommend trying an O ball out–such an inexpensive toy that baby will love!

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Bright Starts Lots of Links.  These were another one of Avary’s favorites.  We used these links all the time to entertain her.  We would strand several of them together and hang them from her carseat and it would entertain her the whole ride!  Most of the time she would fall asleep holding onto them (too cute!).  We also would use them to extend her toys hanging from her play gym to make them more in her grasp.  What else can I say?  They are cheap and loved!

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Infantino Topsy Turvy Soft Foam Puzzle Mat.  Because we have hardwood floors, I knew I needed some kind of foam floor mat to cushion the area I was letting baby play.  These Infantino foam squares work perfect!  Avary rolls back and forth and does tummy time on them every day.  I think she likes how colorful they are, as well.

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Lamaze Classic Discovery Book.  This crinkle book is seriously one of Avary’s must-haves!  It is a soft fabric book with crinkle pages, as well as a squeaky page and a rattle page.  It has lots of different fabrics and textures on it, and it is great for little, discovering hands!  I clip it on the carseat, take it in the diaper bag, put it on the bouncer–this little book really keeps Avary interested, engaged and happy!

These are the products that I loved during Avary’s third month of life.  What did you love, mommies??

sean (1)

 

 

Uncategorized

DIY Postpartum Care Kit

DIY (3)

 

Before having Avary, I did everything I could to prepare for labor, delivery, and postpartum.  I am definitely a planner–I feel more at ease when things are prepared and planned out for me.  (Yes, I’m that girl with 20 different planners, to-do lists, checklists and journals all around the house).  I did so much research, read so many blogs, and surfed Pinterest like crazy to make sure I was ready for this baby!  In my mind, I felt that the postpartum recovery was going to be the worst part of the whole process.  It is so overlooked and under-talked about for us women!  To make it a little better, I decided I wanted to make a postpartum care kit.  I made my care kit based on things I had read online about what I would need for postpartum, as well as recommendations from friends and family.

I had a vaginal delivery, so care items may be different for those who had a c-section.

The following are just some items that might help you not dread postpartum so much, so you can relax and enjoy your baby!  I just placed them all in a basket I found at Home Goods and kept it in the bathroom so it was close by when I needed it.

  • Mesh panties.  These are great for the first couple of days after delivery!  The hospital supplies you with these, and though they are by no means attractive, they do the job and prevent you from ruining your own panties!  After my 2-day hospital stay, I used my own panties.
  • Sanitary Pads.  This is kind of a no-brainer.  You’re going to need pads.  I stocked up on an assortment of different sizes to accommodate the various postpartum bleeding.  The hospital of course gave me the humongous ones, but I only needed them the 2 days I was there and then moved on to smaller pads.  I personally did not bleed much at all, so my favorite pad for the first couple of weeks was the Always Infinity flexfoam.  It provided me just the right amount of coverage and was thin and comfortable.  After my bleeding stopped completely–around week 3–I used the U by Kotex Curves Liners and the U by Kotex Barely There Liners.  I seriously love the packaging of these and they are great, thin panty liners that make you feel secure for any postpartum leaks.
  • “Padscicles.”  If you are on Pinterest at all, you have probably seen this postpartum hack!  Padsicles are only the most cool, pain-relieving little invention!  At the hospital they give you big ice packs to help relieve pain and swelling in your lady-area, but usually you go home and have no more cool relief!  But you can make your own ice packs that are just as great, if not better.  All you need is a large, overnight pad–I used the Always Overnight Maxi Pads with flex-wings, aloe vera gel, and some all-natural, alcohol-free witch hazel.  It is very important to buy alcohol-free witch hazel or you are going to burn your lady-area that is trying to heal (ouch!)!  I purchased Thayers lavendar witch hazel.  It was the only alcohol-free one I could find at my local health foods store.  You can also find it on Amazon.  I loved these padscicles because they are obviously much thinner than the ice packs the hospital gives you and it couples your period protection with cool relief!
  • Peri bottle.  A peri bottle is going to be your best friend postpartum.  After a vaginal delivery–especially if you tore or received stitches, you are not supposed to use toilet paper and wipe the area.  Instead, the hospital will give you a peri bottle and you spray the area after using the restroom.  Spraying with warm water really helps relieve the sore area when using the restroom, and it especially helps with those dreaded bowel movements!
  • Tucks wipes & hemorrhoid cream.  Another must-have for postpartum!  Most hospitals will also supply you with Tucks wipes and hermorrhoid cream and girl, take it!!  I didn’t end up getting hemorrhoids, but the cooling witch hazel in the tucks wipes and the cream really help relieve soreness.  Just rub the cream on one of the tucks wipes, put it in your pad and you’re good to go!
  • Soothie gel breasts pads, lanolin/APNO cream & breast pads.  My last recommendation for your postpartum care kit is for any of you mamas planning on breastfeeding.  Listen, people do not tell you the pain that can come from breastfeeding–cracked nipples, bleeding nipples, sore boobs, leaky boobs, engorgement, clogged ducts. . .  If you’re breastfeeding, you are definitely going to need some breastpads.  I personally used the Medela breast pads.  You just peel the backing off, stick them in your bra, and you don’t have to worry about milk leaking all over your shirt; because, trust me, it will happen!  Many women struggle with their breasts being engorged those first couple of weeks as your milk supply tries to regulate and this can leave your breasts feeling rock hard and sore!  I found the most amazing soothie gel breast therapy pads by Lansinoh that help with so many things.  You can heat them up to help relieve mastitis or clogged ducts and heat also helps increase let-down while pumping, or you can make them cold to relieve swelling, pain and engorgement.  I used these things all the time!  Lastly, you are going to want some kind of nipple cream.  One nipple cream that helps relieve dry cracked nipples and is certified non-GMO is the Earth Mama Angel Baby natural nipple butter.  This one is actually lanolin-free for any of you mamas that don’t like the idea of baby ingesting that.  For me, I had really bad damage on what nipple and my lactation consultant wrote me a prescription for APNO cream (all-purpose nipple ointment).  Ladies, if you have a deep cut in your nipple or abrasions from incorrect latch that are preventing you from continuing to feed, GET THIS CREAM!  It seriously healed me up in 2 days, and I was back to feeding my baby.  Take care of those breasts!

Those are all my tips and recommendations for what to include in your postpartum care kit!  I loved having a basket of everything I needed ready when I got home from the hospital so we didn’t have to run to the store picking up things.  Did you make a postpartum kit?  What did you absolutely love for postpartum?  What were your must-haves?  Leave them in the comments below, I’d love to hear!