Browsing Tag

pregnancy

Encouragement, Motherhood

Struggling With Anxiety as a Mom

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I remember the first time I had an anxiety attack.  I was around 35 weeks pregnant and working as a teacher at a child development center.  I was in the infant room that day.  As the day was winding down and there were only 2 babies left, I sat on the floor with another teacher.  I remember becoming hotter and hotter, like a wave of heat hit me.  I was burning up and it was making me feel nauseous.  I asked the other teacher if I could go to the restroom.  I walked down the hall, into the restroom and locked the door.  I looked down at myself and my skin was bright pink, my stomach was in a knot.  I went to the sink and splashed some water on my face and looked up at my reflection in the mirror.  Right at the base of my neck, I could physically see my pulse pounding.  I put my fingers there and felt my heartbeat racing.  As I did so, I began feeling my heart beating violently.  I tried to breathe deeply to help it slow down.  As I tried to form purposeful breaths, I felt like my chest was being crushed and my airways closing in.  I couldn’t take a deep breath.  I was beginning to panic.  What is wrong with me?  Am I going to pass out?  Am I having a heart attack?  Am I about to die?  My mind was racing and my body was in overdrive.  I knew something wasn’t right and I was scared.  I left the bathroom and started down the hallway when my director saw me.  She had one look at me and yelled for me to come sit down.  She asked me what was going on and I started bawling.  Tears streaming down my face, I told her it was hard to breathe, that my heart was racing and wouldn’t slow down, and that I didn’t know what was wrong with me.  She got me water and sat in front of me talking to me and getting me to calm down.  I slowly started feeling a little better.  She wanted me to go to the doctor, but I just wanted to go home.  When I got home (earlier than I should have been), Matt was confused because it wasn’t my normal time.  I walk in the door with tears still pouring down my face.  In a worried voice he ran up to me and asked what was wrong.  I couldn’t talk and so he just hugged me.  I’m pretty sure he was about to go grab the hospital bags and put me in the car because he assumed the baby was coming!  After the incident was over and upon doing some research, I realized that I had experienced an anxiety attack.  I don’t know if it was the stress of working, being in college full-time, and being largely pregnant, but apparently I just couldn’t deal.  I went on maternity leave 2 weeks after that.  It was my first and only anxiety attack while I was pregnant.

JD Middleton Photography

JD Middleton Photography

After Avary was born, I was blissfully happy.  I was on cloud-9.  I felt like life couldn’t get any sweeter.  Even though I had to have an induction and her birth didn’t go as I had “planned”-you can read my birth story, here-every moment of labor, delivery, and taking our baby home felt like perfection.  I was on a high!  I had just had a vaginal birth, pushed my 1st baby out in 15 minutes, and those endorphins had me feeling like a super hero!  You mamas know what I mean!

The days and weeks following Avary’s birth were nothing short of incredible.  So when I went in for my 6 weeks postpartum appointment, and they had me fill out that questionnaire about how I was feeling-if I had any negative thoughts about myself or my baby, if I was feeling hopeless/anxious/depressed, etc.-I found it so odd!  Of course I didn’t feel any of those things, I thought.  Everything is perfect!  I handed in my questionnaire, and they didn’t ask me a single question about it.  Looking back, they didn’t even discuss postpartum depression/anxiety (PPD/PPA) with me at all.  And so I thought everything would be fine, and I no longer had to think about PPD again.  Fast forward several months and things began to change. . .

For me, around the time Avary was 5-6 months old, things began changing.  It felt like my hormones were on a rollercoaster ride.  My body was still trying to adjust to no longer housing a human being, my baby was well out of the “newborn phase” and changing dramatically, my family was 1,000 miles away, my husband had a job that took him from home on a regular basis. . .I began experiencing anxiety.  I’ve talked about in a previous post how I have always been and a somewhat anxious/fearful person, but this was on a level I had never known.  The anxiety made me feel like bad things were imminent. Like, what if we get in a car accident on the way to the grocery store, what if Avary’s cough is really some deadly disease, maybe my breastmilk is terrible and not good enough, maybe I am a terrible mom, what if someone breaks into the house and tries to steal Avary. . .  I was experiencing irrational fears and anxiety and it was affecting my mood.

The truth is, more women than you might think struggle with postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression.  Postpartumprogress.org estimates that close to 20% of mothers experience mood or anxiety disorders-that is nearly 1.3 million women annually.  When I was having my anxious thoughts, I didn’t understand what was wrong with me.  I kept trying to just “snap out of it” and stop worrying. . . Until I did research into PPA did I realize that this wasn’t a problem I just developed on my own, but one that was affected by pregnancy and postpartum.  PPA and PPD can occur up to a year after birth, not just a few days or weeks.  I’m not an expert on this topic, just sharing my personal experience, but if you need help, seek help!  I wish there was more follow-up care for mothers after birth so that so many women wouldn’t suffer in silence and confusion.

My anxiety was mild compared to what so many face and has begun correcting itself, but every woman is different and every experience with postpartum anxiety or depression is different.  Do not be afraid to talk to your doctor and get help!  It is nothing to be ashamed of.  And do your research!  While most all new mamas experience some degree of “baby blues,” anxiety and depression should be taken seriously.  Reach out to your spouse, your friends, your family, anyone you need to so you can get the support you need.  For me personally, it did wonders for me to talk through what I was feeling.

I write this post to tell you that you are not alone in your feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression.  It happens.  But you don’t have to be alone in your struggle and their IS help and support.

Also, I hope you never forget that in the midst of your most anxious days, when you in are in the thick of your fears, when stress seems like it will crush your spirit, you have a God to turn to.  You have a Father that wants to give you freedom over fear and power over anxiety.  Never underestimate how much He cares for you.

all-your-anxities

Let’s break the “taboo” that postpartum depression and anxiety has surrounding it, and share our stories.  Let’s encourage fellow mamas to get help.  And let’s support one another on this crazy, rewarding venture called motherhood.

sean-1

 

 

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!

IMG_9524

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)

Uncategorized

The Birth of Avary Layne

 

Here it is.  The story of how our baby girl Avary Layne made her way into this world. She is hands-down my greatest accomplishment and my biggest joy.

To give a little background, I was 22 years old when my husband and I found out I was pregnant. Having just celebrated 2 years of marriage, we were so excited to be adding a baby to our little family! I had such an amazing pregnancy! Despite the nausea at the beginning and the fatigue and swelling at the end, I had little to complain about. I remember entering week 39 of pregnancy and feeling like it was NEVER going to end. I thought for sure Avary was going to stay inside me forever.

That week, I had my routine prenatal appointment. My husband, Matthew, was there with me–something that did not always happen because of his work schedule. I sat there on the little table with the stupid crinkly paper as the nurse put the blood pressure cuff on to take my blood pressure. I waited. After the cuff released its pressure, I looked up at the nurse, whose face seemed rather concerned. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me that my blood pressure was rather high and that the doctor was going to have to check it. I really thought nothing of it and waited for the doctor to come in. As soon as she came in, she took my pressure again. It was still high. She also went on to tell me that my urine sample came back with elevated levels of protein in it. She explained that high levels of protein in my urine coupled with hypertension could signal preeclampsia–a disorder that, left untreated, could mean a stroke for me and serious complications for the baby. She told me that she wasn’t trying to scare me, but that they have to take this very seriously and told me to go to the hospital right away so they could monitor me and the baby. In her opinion, she thought they would most likely induce me. After she left the room, I just looked at Matt and started crying. I was so confused! There I was, 39 weeks and 5 days pregnant, having had a completely healthy pregnancy up until this point, being told that I had this serious, life-threatening complication. I was definitely in shock. Matt reassured me that everything was going to be okay, and I calmed myself down. This was not a part of my “plan,” though. I had wanted to have a natural, unmedicated, water birth, and I was just told I would most likely have to have an induction.

Matt was supposed to go back to work after the appointment, but he called and explained what was going on. We drove home to get our hospital bags just in case we did have to stay, and then headed off to the hospital. When we arrived, they put me on a fetal monitor, took my blood pressure several times, did some blood work, and collected more urine. After a couple of hours of monitoring and tests, they told me that all my organs were functioning fine, the baby sounded great, and my blood pressure had gone down some. There was still protein in my urine, so they sent me home to do a 24 hr urine analysis. If you don’t know what that is, basically, they give you this huge orange jug and a plastic urine catch and you have to collect your urine for a whole 24 hr period. I was then supposed to return it to the hospital the next day. This was on Friday, January 22nd. Leaving the hospital, I felt like everything was okay. They hadn’t mentioned anything else about induction and they sent me home so I assumed that was a good sign.

Once we got home, Matt had to go back to work. I really didn’t want him to leave me after the stress of the day, but he had to. I also didn’t want him to leave because they were forecasting us to get a blizzard the very next day when I was supposed to return my urine to the hospital (which was a good 40 minutes away). Matt promised he would come home and get me and drive me to the hospital. Super pregnant lady + huge blizzard= not a good idea. So Saturday (the 23rd) comes and we get hit HARD with this crazy snow! Matt finally makes it home and tells me that the roads are horrible and that he really doesn’t think it is safe to drive all the way to the hospital. I call the hospital and explain my situation and how I cannot make it to drop off my urine. The midwife on-call did not seem very happy with this and explained that “my tests did not come back perfect” and something was still going on. She strongly urged me to watch out for any symptoms like headache, vision changes, elevated blood pressure, swelling, etc., as these could be signs of preeclampsia that could become a stroke or other complications. She told me to monitor my blood pressure, as well. When I got off the phone, I was scared out of my mind! At the hospital the day before, they had made me feel as if everything was okay and then this midwife made me feel like I might die! There was nothing we could do though because there was no way to safely get to the hospital in the weather we were having. Matt tried to keep me calm, but I was feeling very uneasy, nervous, and afraid for our little baby. That night, I contacted anyone I could think of to see if I could borrow a blood pressure cuff. No one had one. So the next morning–Sunday–Matt took me to CVS so I could check my blood pressure on one of those machines. My blood pressure was 151/90! I looked at Matt with a horrified look on my face and told him we had to get to the hospital. I called the hospital in the car and they told me to come in. We swung by the house and grabbed our bags and all the baby stuff–AGAIN–and headed to the hospital. At this point, I knew something was wrong and that they were going to induce me. . . I didn’t care about my “plan,” I just wanted our baby to get here safely. I didn’t know what to expect, though, because I hadn’t read much about induction at all.

After arriving at the hospital and running much of the same tests they did on Friday, they told me they were going to induce me. They explained that since I was now 40 weeks pregnant, the baby was big enough and healthy enough, and it was safer for her to get here than to be inside me any longer. They explained that the only way to resolve preeclampsia was to deliver.

So on Sunday, January 24th around 4pm, they began the induction process. They opted to begin by giving me Cytotec, an oral pill that was to be taken in 3 hour increments that helped to soften and dilate the cervix. Before they began the process, I was only 1 cm dilated. After they gave me a pill, I had to spend 1 hour in the hospital bed on a fetal monitor and a blood pressure cuff so they could monitor me and the baby’s reaction to the drug. They explained that they could give up to 7 of these pills and if this did not help induce labor, they would have to move on to different medical/drug options. So, I received a pill at 4pm, 7pm, 10pm (Sunday), 1 am (Monday), 4am, 7am. . . By this point on Monday, I was feeling contractions. In the morning, they weren’t very strong and were still coming inconsistently, but it was progress!

As the afternoon rolled around, my contractions started coming more consistently–about every 5-7 minutes. They started getting more uncomfortable so I began doing my relaxation techniques and different techniques to try to get comfortable. Since I had planned on having a natural birth, I was listening to my hypnobirth and labor music, I labored on the birthing ball, I labored in the shower. . . I will tell you that, for me, the shower REALLY helped my labor pain. My hospital had those removable shower heads and I just pointed it at my back or my abdomen when a contraction came on and it helped get through the discomfort. The birthing ball was also an amazing pain relief for me, but NOT sitting on it! Sitting on it seemed to intensify my contractions because it opens up your pelvis. I did do it just to help move her down, but I liked bending over at the waist and leaning on top of the ball and swaying my hips back and forth during contractions. That helped alleviate some of the pain.

Even though I was induced, my hospital allowed me to walk around and labor how I wanted to. They would routinely have me get in bed to monitor the baby and my blood pressure, however. As afternoon became early evening, my contractions were coming exactly every 5 minutes and were strong. I had talked to my doctor earlier in the day and she had said I could still do my water birth, but she recommended I don’t get in the tub until my contractions were very close together. While I was being monitored in the bed, they informed me that my blood pressure was going up again. This was a huge concern because at the time the induction started, they had also been giving me blood pressure medication. My doctor came in and told me I had to stay in the bed lying on my left side for the remainder of my labor. That was the only way to keep my blood pressure down and make sure the baby was okay. I cried. Laying in that stupid bed and trying to make it through contractions is near impossible! It was SO incredibly painful to lay there because the position only intensified my pain and there was no relief. After enduring this for an hour or two, I was screaming and crying every time a contraction came. At one point, Matt started crying because he hated seeing me in so much pain. Finally I told Matthew and my mom that I wanted the epidural. The epidural was not in my plan, but neither was being stuck in the bed for my whole labor. I knew pushing was so far off, and I didn’t feel like I could make it in this kind of pain until that point. I told my doctor and she thought it was a good idea. She told me that she knew it wasn’t in my birth plan, but the epidural would actually help lower my blood pressure (the pain of labor was also elevating it) and it would allow me to finally sleep and get some rest before pushing.

I was pretty nervous about getting the epidural because there are so many horror stories, but my nurses kept assuring me that the anesthesiologist was wonderful. They prepped me and the room and told us that he preferred no one else be in the room with me, so when he came in, Matthew left the room. Some new nurse came in with him, and I did NOT like her. I was expecting her to coach me through what I was supposed to do and be encouraging, but she was not. She barely said anything to me! There I am in the heart of labor, having crazy contractions, sitting cross-legged on a horribly uncomfortable hospital bed, with my back arched like a cat, waiting to get stuck with a huge needle and the nurse said nothing! The anesthesiologist began pushing on my spine–which is fine and normal–but he was taking a long time doing this, which I found odd. I asked him if everything was okay and he said yes. I then feel him stick the needle in. It really doesn’t hurt, but for me, it was the most disgusting feeling! When he stuck it in, I felt him wiggling it around which was making me feel sick. Then he started pressing on my back again and preceded to ask me which side of my spine I felt the needle on. Honestly, I was trying to not pay attention and I told him I didn’t know. I really couldn’t tell, all I could feel were my contractions! Then, I feel him take the needle out and I’m thinking I’m almost done when he sticks me again with the needle! I literally yelled, “What are you doing??” He didn’t reply and neither did the nurse. He did the stupid wiggling thing again, and at that point, I felt like I was going to pass out. I told the nurse in front of me and she literally said, “You’re fine.” I said, “NO, I’m really going to pass out. I’m getting sick. I’m. . . I’m. ..” My speech began slurring, I couldn’t hold my head up, my eyes wouldn’t stay open, and everything was going black. I’ve never passed out before but I thought that is what was happening or that maybe I was just dying. That’s what it felt like. I was crying for the nurse to help me and she was like, “Just breathe.” and began slapping me in the face! Legit, slapping. I then felt the anesthesiologist stick me for a THIRD time with the needle and I screamed, “What are you doing?! I want you to stop! What is wrong?” He then finally told me that I had a slight curve in my spine and he had trouble getting it in the right spot. I was so mad, tired, sick by the time it was over, and I was scared that I was going to end up paralyzed or that the epidural wouldn’t even work. When Matt came back in the room, he knew something was wrong. I explained it to him while crying, and he felt really bad for having left the room. It took a while for the epidural to kick in and actually make my legs numb, but when it did, I could not feel my legs AT ALL. When the nurses had to move me, I kept trying to help, and my legs were doing nothing (haha). I don’t know if it is a side effect of the epidural or if my body could just finally relax, but I got soooo sleepy. I couldn’t keep my eyes open even when I tried. I got some good sleep overnight.

After realizing how numb my legs were, I was afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to push because I couldn’t feel anything. They give you this button with your epidural where you can increase the dosage if you need more pain relief. By early morning, I stopped pressing the button altogether because I wanted some feeling back in my legs for pushing. As the morning wore on, I could feel the epidural’s strength wearing off. I could feel my legs better and I could feel my contractions again. They came and checked me that morning around 7 or so and I was 8 cm dilated. It wouldn’t be long! They told me to call them in when I felt like I absolutely had to push. Around 9:40 AM on Tuesday, January 26th., I felt so much pressure and knew I needed to start pushing! My doctor came in, as well as a visiting doctor, my nurse, and a nurse for the baby. My husband and my mom were also in the room. When they went to check me, they looked and they said, “Wow, her head is right there! I need to get my gear on!” Once they were ready, I started pushing. My mom, Matt, and my nurse helped hold my legs. As I was pushing, they were all saying, “Faith, she has your hair! She has dark, curly hair and there is so much of it!” I was so excited because I had hoped she would have hair. I asked if they could get a mirror so I could see. They wheeled in a big mirror and I saw her head full of hair. I felt like crying, I was so excited! Being able to watch in the mirror gave me so much motivation! Matt was so encouraging to me and so excited throughout the whole pushing process. He even touched her head! After a couple pushes, her head was so close to crowning. Everyone kept encouraging me, and I knew I could do it! Once her head crowned then came out, her body came out so quickly! I got to help catch her.

I immediately started crying when I saw my baby girl. She came out, eyes wide open, staring at me and her daddy. It seemed like she hardly blinked, she wanted to take it all in. She barely cried at all. She just stared at me. Everyone says you can’t describe the feeling you get when you meet your baby for the first time, and they are right, you can’t. It’s euphoric. Exhilarating. Empowering. Emotional. Overwhelming. Waiting to meet this little person you’ve had inside you for 40 weeks, then finally getting to meet them. . . There is nothing like it. The love is instantaneous. I was in awe that this was my baby, that me and Matt made her, and that my body just delivered her. She was and is perfect.  When I think back to the way Avary came into the world-quiet, interested, mellow-it is exactly how her personality is.

In a lot of ways my birth was traumatic: developing preeclampsia, dealing with a 3 foot blizzard when I had to get to the hospital, getting suddenly induced, having a horrible epidural experience. . .  Months after having Avary, my mom told me that at one point during my labor, my blood pressure got as high as 190.  I was on the brink of something really scary.  And I’m surprised my doctors didn’t end up doing a c-section.  But I am so so thankful that God watched over Avary and I and saw us through that delivery.  Would I do it again?  In a heartbeat!

 

Uncategorized

Newborn Essentials

Newborn Essentials (2)

Newborn Essentials (4)

*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.*

Before having Avary, I watched so many YouTube videos and read so many blogs trying to figure out what I would need for my baby girl when we brought her home.  What can I say, I like to be prepared!  And let’s be real, buying baby stuff is oh so fun!  So I decided to compile a list of my own essentials for the newborn phase.  These are just the things that I found myself using quite a bit in those first couple of weeks.  Check back on the blog, because I will be doing a series of Favorites each month for what I am loving for Avary!

Bringing home a new baby can be a little overwhelming, but these products made my life so much easier!

Boppy pillow.  A boppy pillow was definitely one of my must-haves for the newborn phase!  Since I breastfed Avary, the boppy really did come in handy for nursing sessions to help prop her up so she was more on my level to latch her.  Also, when Avary was really little, she didn’t like to lay down flat so I would use the boppy for naptimes.  I know this isn’t recommended, but it worked for us and helped her feel safe and enclosed.  Now that she is older, the boppy is great for tummy time, as well as around her body when she is sitting up.  Definitely a necessity for me!  You can find the adorable cover shown in the picture on Etsy at Iviebaby.

Gripe water.  I don’t know if this is common for all babies, but Avary was so gassy as a newborn.  She hiccuped all the time and had a gassy belly, too.  The Mommy’s Bliss gripe water worked like magic!  If she got hiccups, I could just give her a squirt of that and they would be gone.  I also loved that it was safe, natural, and made of organic products.

Skip Hop diaper bag.  Probably one of my favorite newborn essentials was my diaper bag!  When I was looking for one, I knew I wanted one that was attractive, stylish and didn’t “look” like a diaper bag.  I love the Skip Hop products and when I saw their Chelsea downtown chic satchel in black, I had to have it.  It is made of a sturdy, wipeable material with faux leather and gold accents.  Honestly, it looks like a high-end bag.  I can fit everything I need for Avary and me in all the compartments, while not being big and bulky.

Aden + Anais swaddle blankets.  I originally purchased these organic swaddle blankets thinking I was actually going to swaddle Avary up in them, but I could never quite get the swaddling thing down!  Instead, I found these to be great for using as burp rags–because you can fold them several times over and they are thick, soft, and absorbent.  I also love using these for covering Avary up if we go on a walk in the stroller but it is still hot out.  The muslin is so breathable that I know she won’t get hot but it still blocks the sun and wind from hitting her.  These blankets have also become one of Avary’s favorite comfort items.  I don’t know if it is the feel of them, but she loves holding onto them when she gets sleepy.

Soothie pacifiers.  I was definitely that parent who said, “I am not giving my baby a pacifier for at least the whole first month of her life!”  But then, as we were getting ready to leave the hospital, Avary just kept crying and crying and rooting around–even though I had just been breastfeeding her.  I knew she just wanted to suck on something, and I felt terrible letting her cry the whole way home.  So I stuck a pacifier in her mouth and she was so happy!  She is not a big fan of her pacifier now, and only takes it right when she is falling asleep and then spits it out.

Halo sleep sacks.  As I said above, I never really got the hang of swaddling the baby with blankets, so we ended up using the Halo sleep sacks.  The newborn size sacks fit until she was about 3 months old.  I loved that her little legs were covered and the velrco made it so easy to get a perfect fit!  Avary loved being swaddled, but we just transitioned her to being unswaddled since she was rolling over.  Now, we still use the Halo sacks as her blanket and just keep her arms out.  I definitely think Avary feels safe and comfortable in her sleep sacks, and it signals bedtime.

Arm’s Reach Mini co-sleeper.  Mamas, I cannot tell you how much of a life-saver, sleep-giver, sanity-saver this co-sleeper was!  Before I had Avary, I researched pack n plays, bassinets, and co-sleepers to figure out what I would want her to sleep in when she was in our room.  I loved the idea of the Arm’s reach because it attaches securely right next to your bed and it keeps the baby right on your level so you can see them.  It made me feel like she was right next to me in the bed, but was safe in her own space.  Also, I got so much more sleep having her right there; I didn’t have to get out of bed, I just could reach over, pick her up, nurse her, and fall right back asleep.  LOVE LOVE LOVE our co-sleeper!

Moses basket.  When Avary was in that newborn phase where she slept nearly all day long, I wanted something I could put her in and move around the house with me.  I didn’t want to mess with moving vibrating seats or swings, so I would swaddle her up and lay her in her Moses basket.  It was the perfect mobile sleeping station, and she just looked oh so cute swaddled up in a basket!  The beautiful basket pictured is from Plum + Sparrow, a company that is part of the Fair Trade Federation, who gives back to the Africans who make these baskets (link is above, EIGHT).

Moby wrap.  Ever wonder how mamas can wash dishes, do laundry, vacuum, or get anything done around the house with a newborn??  They babywear!  I am a big advocate of babywearing; I love it, Avary loves it, and I think it is great for her development!  In those early days, I had Avary in the Moby wrap at least 10 times a day.  I loved cuddling her and snuggling her, but sometimes my arms would get tired or I needed to get something done, so I wrapped her up in the Moby and she would fall fast asleep.  Trust me, Mamas, you definitely want some kind of wrap, sling, or carrier for your little newborn–it will give you so much more freedom, and you can keep your babe close!

These were my essentials for when Avary was a newborn.  I know this list is subjective, and it just depends on your baby, but I hope it helps you new, expecting mamas when you are trying to figure out what you need.  Leave a comment below letting everyone know what your favorite newborn essentials were!

 

 

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!