10 Things I Couldn’t Live Without in the First Six Months of Having a Baby

10 Things I Couldn’t Live Without in the First Six Months of Having a Baby

I remember the day I went into Buy Buy Baby and we started the registry. Billy looked at me and said “do we really need all of this crap?” I admit I was very overwhelmed. What the heck are nipple flanges, and do I need to buy them? So, with that in mind, in no particular order here are my top ten couldn’t live without items that I used the mess out of in the first six months Jo was earth side. I have also made all the pictures shoppable by just clicking on them. I know, I’m so nice.

MAM Anti-Colic Bottles

These were amazing! The little rubber gasket at the bottom allow for air to come in but not to enter the milk/formula so baby isn’t gasping for air after each time she/he swallows. This reduced Josephine’s gas by about 50%

Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit

While your baby May looks like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, this suit is perfect for the transition from swaddles to pjs. Josie sleeps like… a baby? It serves as sort of a weighted blanket, and stops babies from rolling over in their sleep as the material is pretty thick. They still have range of motion and can move arms and legs but I feel like it wears them out a bit and makes baby feel safe and snuggly.

The Boppy Lounger

Okay so the first three(ish) months of your baby’s life they’re going to be a floppy mess and they need to be supported and comfortable when not in the crib/bassinet or your arms. I relied heavily on this thing to just have her next to me on the couch (attended) while I watched TV. Please note, this was not an alternative to a bassinet and I did not use this as a place for her to sleep extended periods of time or while unattended. This was just so great when I needed my hands free and wanted to have her on the bed with me all comfy while I did laundry or watched tv etc. It was a life saver!

Velcro Swaddles

I remember laying in the hospital bed half asleep watching Billy make a pretzel out of our baby with a muslin swaddle. I wanted to badly to learn and to put her in the beautiful swaddles we had bought that were so gently crafted. But, eff it. These are so easy to use and baby gets a good tight swaddle. Mom win in my book. The muslin swaddles will make great light blankets I suppose 🤷🏼‍♀️

Vicks SpeedRead Thermometer

What’s funny about this, is I had purchased a super pricey forehead thermometer. I went to the pediatrician and they said to take the baby’s temp rectally. After trying multiple times with the forehead thermometer (which was a pain in the ass to figure out imo) I made a quick run to my local Publix to grab a rectal thermometer and this was all they had. Turns out it was THE BEST thermometer ever and I ended up leaving it in Kentucky. I tried to find a decent replacement but nothing was quite as amazing and fast as this and when you’re wrestling a baby with a LITERAL stick up their butt speed is your best friend. 10/10.

FridaBaby NailFrida SnipperClipper

For the first month I let Jo’s nails peel off, and then she grew talons she would use to scratch the back of my arm while I fed her like some sort of beast. So I used the clippers that came in a medicinal gift box I had been given, tried to clip one nail and caught her finger. She barely bled and I let her be. About 30 mins later I came over to her playing with her toys and there was little bits of blood everywhere like some sort of murder scene and she just looked up at me and laughed. She was fine, I was not. My sister recommended these and they’re amazing. The way they cut make it to where it’s nearly impossible to accidentally nip her precious little fingers and for that I’m grateful and a little less traumatized.

Gripe Water

It’s funny what you say you will and will not use when you’re pregnant. I was all “I’m exclusively breast feeding for a year, pacifiers will never be in my house, and I won’t use gripe water.” Oh what a sweet little duckling I was. When you’re exhausted at 3am because your snot goblin is shrieking from gas, you’ll pretty much do whatever you can to calm them and your sweet little rule book goes out the window. I actually didn’t buy this, someone bought it for me and I had it in the back of my cupboard. I ended up using the entire bottle in the first couple months and I’m so thankful that I did.

Angelcare Bathtub Support

I registered for a super fancy tub that you put in the tub or one the floor or wherever. It’s still under the sink and has never been used. This bad boy however was like $20 and we use it every time Jo takes a bath. We travelled with it, and it’s easy to clean. 5 stars!

Nuby Bottle Brush with Soap Dispenser

Bottles will become your best friend and your worst enemy. If you don’t plan on buying a sterilizer (we didn’t) you can simply use hot water and anti-bac soap. We did boil the nipples and smaller parts of the bottles but when it came to washing the bottles this was the absolute best. I used the heck out of it and still do. (I’ve bought multiple- I’m not gross)

Cup Holder for Stroller

You may have thought ahead and purchased a fancy pants stroller with cup holders built in. If you’re like me you didn’t even think about it and purchased one without them. My first walk with Jo, iced coffee in hand made me realize just how badly I needed this. I run with her too, and this helped keep hold of my keys, phone, and water bottle.

So there you have it! A comprehensive list of my personal necessities in the first six months of Jo’s sweet little life. ♥️

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Being an Equal Parent in an Unequal Parenting Culture.

Being an Equal Parent in an Unequal Parenting Culture.

It’s Sunday night and I have the blues. For so many reasons other than the typical “tomorrow is Monday.” I’ve been back at work for a little over a month now, right in time for climax of the Pandemic. In some ways I feel blessed because I am able to work remotely, and because I still have a job. I feel grateful that I won’t be putting Jo in daycare until she’s a couple months older, and that I know she’s at home and safe with me. But in many ways I felt guilt.

I washed her bottles tonight and boiled the nipples like I did every day, multiple times a day when I was on maternity leave. Such a simple task had me reminiscing about being home with her every day and taking her to the zoo- just her and me. I thought about how Billy has been spending more time with her, and how blessed I am to have him and how their bond has grown while we are both home. Nobody can make her laugh like her daddy.

Then I suddenly felt envy.

I felt strangely envious that this role I had known since she was born was suddenly shared with him. While I feel beyond grateful every day to not only have such an amazing partner, I feel beyond grateful that he takes his duties as a father so seriously. So why was I feeling like this? Why was I feeling like she could slip right out of my fingers and down the drain of the kitchen sink?

I’m actually really good at my job. I love it, and I work alongside an amazing team. The company I work for is really progressive, and for that I am thankful. I always knew I wanted to be a working mom. I never had the dream of being a Stay at Home Parent. While I award those who do it (really… between Maternity Leave and working remote I praise you) it was just never part of my plan. I wanted my own money, my own career, and my independence.

Through this Pandemic, Billy and I have been attached at the hip. He’s understood what it takes to stay home with her all day. How it feels at 5:00pm when you start to count down the minutes until bedtime. He’s really understood the struggle of being home all day with an infant. He’s even been getting up to feed her and letting me snooze at 4am. I know. I’m beyond blessed. So why the heck am I writing this?

All of these factors combined together in this unhealthy stew of emotions tonight. Me working, Billy understanding the SAH role, and me having less one-on-one time with her made me stupidly believe I wasn’t needed. Why?

Maybe a lot of those feelings come from my own experiences. Maybe some of those are extrinsic influences saying that I’m supposed to be ever so grateful for having a partner who is involved, as so many other mothers don’t have that. That I should be at the forefront of Josephine’s life. That because I’m the mom it’s my duty to take on this role as Alpha parent. But is having a partner who is involved a privilege? Or is it that he’s just doing what he’s supposed to be doing. Being involved.

In no way am I negating what he does as a dad. He impresses me every day. I suppose I’m just feeling as though I’m supposed to be indebted to him and other moms who maybe aren’t in the same circumstances as I am. I realize this makes me sound like a spoiled brat.

But am I spoiled? Am I a princess for having a partner who does what he is supposed to do? Billy isn’t a babysitter, he’s not an au pair, he’s a dad. A damn good one. We parent as a unit, and while this thinking may be seem to be far from progressive and traditional, I wanted to use this blog to exercise my voice as a parent. I wanted to use this blog to talk about things throughout parenthood that maybe aren’t being discussed.

I guess, in a not-so round about way what I’m so desperately trying to express is this: Do I feel as though I’m supposed to be the more important parent because I’m the mother? Is my envy stemming from some belief that I’m the boo-boo-kisser and he’s not? Is it from my own experience? Why am I supposed to feel gratitude for a role that is expected of me, but not of him?How does that thought process mold other dads mindsets, and lead them to believe they don’t have to be as involved? Why am I feeling envious of their relationship? How much of these feelings are socially constructed?

As I write this, I fear my words will sound harsh and unappreciative. That people will assume I’m someone who takes things for granted. But that’s exactly why I wanted to write it. Because maybe it’s an unpopular opinion, and an opinion that can be discussed and reshape the way we think about our parenting styles. A touchy subject that may “stir the pot” but bring to light some emotions we weren’t quite aware we felt.

Maybe I just need a good nights sleep.

Run-of-the-Mill Heat Rash or is My Baby Going to Die?

Run-of-the-Mill Heat Rash or is My Baby Going to Die?

“Turn off your flashlight you’re blinding her!”

“I HAVE TO GET A CLOSER LOOK, BILLY!”

“Dear God it’s the avocado isn’t it? It’s because I gave her avocado!”

“It’s probably nothing, Kaye.”

“YOU DON’T KNOW THAT!”

Just a snippet of what went down in our household today. Quick caveat, Billy is always really calm in situations like this – while I go into complete panic mode. Don’t think he didn’t care.

Jo got a heat rash because we live in the sweaty armpit of the universe, Florida. In all seriousness, I was really scared. A type of fear I wanted to run from. It was my job to make sure my baby was okay, safe, and healthy. It scared the hell out of me. Not to sound totally morbid, but it’s times like these that make me want to call my mom friends and ask “is it normal to think this?” Visions of the absolute worst starting whirling in my mind. I imagined waking up in the middle of the night to a baby with her throat swollen shut, with a giant rash from head to toe. I’ll say it, I imagined her dying.

It’s something I think about. I don’t know why. Is it normal? Am I awful? When I’m holding her, and rocking her to sleep, sometimes my mind goes to this dark and terrifying place and I start to cry. I hold onto her so tight and I think about what my life would be like, how I wouldn’t survive. I picture her funeral. Oh man. It’s such an awful thing to confess, I admit it. But it’s thoughts like these that made me want to write this blog in the first place. To know that I’m not alone (unless I am, then maybe have me admitted…)

Mom fear and mom guilt. The constant fear that something will go wrong, and the absolute awful gut wrenching feeling that maybe you were the one who caused it. It’s awful. It makes you question every single decision, and want to lock up your tiny human away from all evil and avocado forever. That’s it, she’s never eating anything ever again! She will play inside until she’s 30 and everything will be fine. I PROMISED myself I wouldn’t be a “helicopter mom” but it is so much easier said than done. A scraped knee is one thing, but an allergic reaction (it wasn’t one but I didn’t know that) is terrifying. It’s trial and error at this point, and I’m so afraid something might happen.

But you just have to push past it, you have to faith that the avocado gods will look down on you, pat your tiny human on the head and say “not today, little one.” You have to go into each day thinking everything will be fine because otherwise you’re going to go stir crazy. I always wanted to be the mom who let her babies run around barefoot, if they got a cut who cares…nothing a little Neosporin (sponsorship? 😂) can’t fix! It’s all about the freedom of feeling the grass beneath your feet. But what if the cut got infected? WHAT IF WE HAD TO AMPUTATE HER FOOT? Don’t go there. That’s the bad place.

Today was a little lesson for me. That 1) I have some amazing nurse friends and family, 2) I have some amazing moms I can turn to, 3) I need to chill, and 4) Josie hates the Florida heat as much as I do. ♥️

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Staying Sane During a COVID-19 Apocalypse

Staying Sane During a COVID-19 Apocalypse

It’s been 84 years….

Okay it’s been like a week BUT DEAR GOD. I feel like the first day I re-emerge from this isolation nation, I’ll have such bad vitamin D deficiency I’ll be confused for Dracula.

By now, you’ve probably gained the COVID-15 and have started rationing your toilet paper. Or, if you’re like me, you’ve created a barter system with friends for TP… “Your money’s no good here, but that Charming Ultra Soft, though.” Your kids have probably started coloring on – and driving you up your walls, and the lack of adult conversation may have you talking to the voices in your head.

So. Here’s my comprehensive survival guide for moms and dads stuck in Parenting Prison during this trying time.

🧟‍♀️ Get outside! No I don’t mean to go to your local neighborhood pool (which should be closed) I mean go for a walk. See the sun! Emerge from the darkness. Nature is so healing for your mental health! We have been going for walks every day (just around the pond in our complex) just to feel like we have gotten outside. Since gyms are closed too, this is a great way to exercise!

🧟‍♂️ Meal Prep and freeze meals! This isn’t a hurricane, the power isn’t going to go out. So stop bulk buying up the shelves, Karen! I’m sure you really need those 15 gallons of milk that expire in a week but sharing is caring! Having a plan for what you’re going to eat throughout the next few weeks will allow you to 1. Chill the F out. 2. Not have to venture back out to the grocery store. 3. Ensure that IF grocery stores close (they won’t) that you won’t have to go out and hunt a deer for survival. Relax.

🧟‍♂️ Catch up on crap you would usually daydream about doing at your work desk, but just never had the time. Laundry? Do it. Messy garage? Clean it. Alphabetize your seasonings if it makes you feel accomplished. Create a schedule for the next few months. Organize!

🧟‍♀️ Read! Bake! Create! If your little ones are starting to think that your living room is a jungle gym wrestling ring, read together. Create together. It’s not screen time, you can feel as though you’re educating them and it’s something you can do as a family. Also, the giant mess they’ll make will give you something to do later. Kidding…ish.

🧟 Pour yourself a glass of wine and take advantage of the fact that you don’t have to wash your hair or go out in public. Ever let your mind wander when you’re driving down the road like “If this kids party got rained out I could be at home in pjs right now…” NOW IS YOUR TIME. THIS TIME IS FOR YOU. Allow yourself so be a mediocre parent momentarily and let your kids watch an entire season of Bubble Guppies (is it seasons? Idk) and stay in pajamas all day long. I get this contradicts my last zombie-point but Lord help us we have so much time and so little to do inside.

🧟‍♂️ Limit the news. Stay informed, but don’t stress. Otherwise you’re going to get anxious, short of breath, and convince yourself that you have COVID-19.

🧟‍♀️ If you can, give to those less fortunate. Share the pack of toilet paper, Venmo a local business just because, tip your server 100% even if you’re just ordering to go.

🧟 Listen to the CDC over your conspiracy theorist uncle, who believes the Chinese created this virus to destroy the planet and now the only means of survival is a toilet paper bomb shelter. Stay inside. It sucks, for all of us. But is ESPECIALLY sucks for those with weakened immune systems, cancer patients, the elderly, and pregnant women. Think about others before yourself just for a moment. I know you totally paid for like this rad spring break trip Kyle, but like spring has sprung like super hard and now people are dying and you need to like totally stay inside, bro.

🧟‍♀️ Lastly, Eat (your meal prepped food) Pray (for those less fortunate) DON’T Shake the Baby (really. Don’t.)

As Long as You’re Living, Anxious I’ll be…

As Long as You’re Living, Anxious I’ll be…

I keep picturing your chunky little cheeks and sweet face staring up at me as I walk away from you and put my faith completely in the hands of strangers. Strangers I hope to one day praise and thank wholeheartedly for keeping you safe, for teaching you things, and for loving you as if you were their own. I think about the loneliness you might feel, and the fear of not knowing your surroundings. I think of all of this and it brings tears immediately to my eyes. Knowing you’re ever feeling anything but pure joy makes me feel hollow. I wonder if my decision to work and have a career is selfish, and if I could potentially be putting you in danger. I hope you understand. I hope you know that I love you, more than I ever thought I could love another being. I hope you understand that while so many parents make this decision, it’s not an easy one. Nor one I take for granted. I know all of these feelings are normal, and maybe even silly, it’s just daycare. It’s just leaving your most prized accomplishment and greatest love in the hands of a complete stranger. Nothing to fret, right?

I’ve suffered from Generalized Anxiety Disorder for most, if not all of my life. My anxiety manifests in ways that may make me seem manic, aloof, dramatic, confused, hypersensitive, overwhelmed, obsessive, compulsive, organized, exhausted, lazy, tactful, and insecure… to name a few. I suffer from panic attacks, but my biggest issue is the fear of the unknown – this is where my OCD kicks in. I have to have a plan, I have to know the road ahead of me, I cannot function in the dark. My life feels like a long dark road (you know those roads where if you broke down you know for 100% fact a zombie deer is going to jump out and eat you) and I need to have my brights on. I need to scan the next 100 yards to know if anything could possibly go wrong.

This is where I remind you that I don’t want to. I need to. I have been diagnosed with GAD and OCD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.)

Enter motherhood, the most unruly, beautiful, spontaneous, eventful thing that has ever happened to me. Suddenly not only am I responsible for this tiny little human, I have feelings for it? I really want it to be okay? I WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO GO ON WITH MY LIFE IF SOMETHING HAPPENED TO IT? Oh boy. Suddenly I’m a deer in high beams, and I can’t see a thing. I have lost control. My heart no longer belongs to me, and all that crap I tried to do to protect it over the years is worthless. It’s now out of my chest in the form of a living, breathing, little drool monster with the chubbiest cheeks.

I know I’m probably the millionth mom to have anxiety, and the millionth mom to have to go back to work. But man it’s hard. Making the choice between working and being a SAHM is NOT a choice made easily, so before we debate what I should or shouldn’t do, let me just say this: I fucking love my job. I also love my daughter. I LOVE having a career, walking into a conference room, having adult conversations that don’t include talk of babies, having my own money, and spending my own money. I hate relying on other people because, back to the control thing, I hate feeling out of control. So let’s just get that out of the way, I’m going back to work. But, none of that negates the sadness I’ll feel when I look down at my desk and her little toothless grin looks back at me. None of that makes me wonder if she will call her teachers “mama” before she says it to me. None of that takes away the anxiety I’ll feel every single day that I work, knowing that she is in the care of someone else and not me. None of that takes away the doubt, and guilt wondering if I made the right decision for my child.

I often think about mother’s who are lucky enough to be Stay at Home, and then I think to myself- I’m lucky to have my career and a break. I think more than anything, the message I want to send Jo is one of love. That we love her. That her dad and I weighed the pros and cons of both options, and both decided that the best thing for our family was for us both to invest in our careers. That was what was right for us. For me and my mental health.

There’s no such thing as a perfect household, and most of us are just out here trying to keep it together, whatever choice we make. Whether you’re a Stay at Home Mom or a Working Mom, we are all one.

In the words of Louis Armstrong…

“I hear babies crying, I watch them grow, they’ll learn much more, than I’ll ever know… and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.” (Josie’s favorite song)

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10 Tips for Traveling with a Baby

10 Tips for Traveling with a Baby

Don’t.

Just kidding.

We recently ventured to Louisville, Kentucky to visit Billy’s parents and extended family, and decided to drive the entire way there with a three month old. Here are some things we learned throughout the process:

•Pack as light as humanly possible – if you’re traveling somewhere with a Target or Walmart nearby, pack the things you can’t live without (baby, husband, toothbrush, underwear etc…) and if your budget allows, buy things that are disposable there i.e. Diapers, wipes, formula, water for bottles, baby snacks (with the exception of filling your diaper bag with enough essentials to get you through the drive/flight.)

•Locate the closest pediatrician (or hospital) and know how to get there – this may seem extreme, but Billy and I both got sick during this trip and we all know a baby with a temp can be fatal. Prepare for the worst, as daunting as that sounds.

•Let family know one advance your rules for baby holding so they can adequately prepare – nothing sucks more than having to tell close family “here’s the baby you’ve been dying to see – but you can’t hold her because you don’t have your flu shot.” If baby has a nap time, or bedtime, let people know. This also allows you to stick to routine as much as possible, people can plan around baby! Baby doesn’t plan around people, because at the end of the day (and the middle of the night) you’ll be the one up with the overstimulated screaming infant.

•Schedule some time for just you and baby – if visiting family, you’re going to be passing around baby like a hot potato. I found myself on the edge of my seat at times dying to snatch her back, trying to remind myself “chill, they don’t get to see her as much as you do.”

•If traveling abroad, check with your pediatrician before even considering booking anything – nothing would suck more than getting excited to take your little one to your homeland of Far Far Away, but having to cancel because some disease named after a beer decided to rear its ugly head last minute and sh** all over your plans.

•STICK TO THE DAMN SCHEDULE – I said it before and I’ll say it ten more times. It takes like seven days to create a routine and just as much time to break it. The only thing worse than traveling with a crabby snot monster, is returning home with one. We pat ourselves on the back when we achieve the tiniest things in parenthood (OMG SHE’S FINALLY ASLEEP AND SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT) the last thing you want to do is ruin all your hard work because Aunt Kissyouonthecheek just had to squeeze that little nugget after bedtime. (Keep in mind we stayed in the same time zone – maybe don’t go to Australia if you’re like, in the US when you’re baby is real small.)

•Relax – this is a vacation. Accept the help if it’s available. Take time for you! Go on a date night and let Grandma babysit. Have a cocktail in the middle of the day (one or two, this is a blog post about traveling with a baby – not spring break 2020.)

•The best thing we were ever gifted was a Pack and Play – if you don’t have one, go buy one right now. It’s a glorified Bassinet/Crib/Baby Jail. If you’re a single mama/dad traveling alone I highly suggest getting one of these. It’ll keep your goblin enclosed if you just need a second, and it breaks down/puts together in seconds.

•Prepare all bottles/feeding equipment prior to leaving and have a schedule for stopping to feed/nurse – if you’re formula feeding, prep all bottles beforehand (and bring a bottle brush – we had to stop in Appalachia to buy dish soap from the only gas station around…the guy behind the counter was a hardcore mouth breather… it was a lot.)

•Book your hotels way in advance – we made the mistake of booking our hotel for the drive back (we stopped half way) last minute and paid a fortune. Also, some hotels overbook and having to rearrange plans with a car full of baby crap and a baby on your arm would be a nightmare (luckily we got the second to last room.)

Despite traveling with Jo for the first time being stressful, it was such a joy to see the look on family members faces upon meeting her. She got to see where her daddy grew up, got to meet two great grandparents, and we surprised Billy’s mom (she didn’t know we were coming) for her birthday. It was a beautiful trip, sickness and all, and I can’t wait to go back. Until next time, Louisville.

Everything but the Kitchen Sink – What to Pack in your Baby, Hospital, and Dad Bags and What to Expect.

Everything but the Kitchen Sink – What to Pack in your Baby, Hospital, and Dad Bags and What to Expect.

One of my close friends sent me an email (you know who you are) outlining everything to pack in my baby bag, my hospital bag, and Dad’s bag. I have to give a ton of credit to her, because I honestly had no clue and I’m here to share the love, plus some stuff that I learned during my own labor and delivery!

Ever go to a recipe on Pinterest and there’s a giant back story about someone’s grandma’s best friend’s cousin and how they traveled across the Atlantic with the recipe? I’m not going to do that here. I was induced, 36 hours later Josie was born and I wanted McDonalds more than I wanted to breathe. The end. (If you’re genuinely interested in knowing my labor and delivery story I can write about it in another blog post.) Let’s jump right in.

MOM

You’re going to bleed. A lot. So much that you’re surprised you’re capable of bleeding so much without actually dying. So, bring the following:

•Depends Silhouette Adult Diapers- you’ll thank me later. The hospital will supply you with mesh undies and a pad the size of Uranus (heh) but that adult pull-up will feel sooo much better after your first post-partum shower.

•Shower shoes – because no amount of bleach/disinfectant can take away the thought that the woman before you may have peed all over the floor in the shower (and you cannot fault her.)

•Your own robe – nothing feels better than smelling your own laundry detergent and feeling like you again after nine months of being a host to another life.

•Dark button down PJs- The dark colors won’t stain if you bleed onto your pjs during any part of your stay, and having button down pajamas will make breastfeeding so much easier.

•Slippers – not to get too personal but Josie had to get an IV and was screaming her head off down the hallway. I quickly slipped on my slippers and ran down the hall crying like a mad woman “MOMMY’S HERE! MOMMY’S HERE!” I’d like to say I’d do the same without my own slippers but that hospital floor has seen some things…

•TARGET UNDERWEAR! The seamless kind. Like ten pairs. Black. – You never know how long you’re going to be staying (unfortunate reality) so make sure you pack enough full bottom comfy underwear that are dark in color.

• Nursing Bras (3) and Nursing Pads- Amazon has a pack of three bras (linked at end of post) that are amazing. I still wear them as sports bras sometimes or to bed because the under-boob sweat is realllllll and these are great! They come in an assortment of colors too. Nursing pads will help leaky boobs, as you never quite know when you’re milk in going to come in.

• Nursing pillow – your neck and arms will thank you when you’re not bent completely over throughout the night.

•Your own pillow – those hospital pillows can sometimes feel plastic-y. Remember, labor and delivery isn’t exactly Disney World so try to make yourself as comfortable as possible throughout the process.

•Ten foot phone charger – because labor is boring at times and Instagram isn’t.

•Your birth plan – prepare a general outline of your wishes for delivery. Also, note that some of these things might not go to plan. As long as baby is happy and healthy, having this might help to communicate your expectations throughout the process.

•A helpful birth partner – Baby Daddy/Mama or not. Doula or not. I CANNOT SAY THIS ENOUGH. Pick a person in advance to bring to the hospital (this will give them time to let work/whoever know that they will have to leave to be by your side at the drop of a hat.) One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from moms is that they didn’t feel heard during their delivery. Simply having a person who can advocate for you God forbid you can’t advocate for yourself will help things stay more toward your birth plan. I have severe GAD and a phobia of Vomiting. Having Billy be aware of the severity of both of those things allowed me to feel heard if for any reason I was getting kick back from a nurse or doctor. PLEASE NOTE – Theres a difference between feeling heard and putting yourself and your baby in danger – my advice is to always listen to your doctor in case of an emergency. Your baby’s health comes first.

•Mints/suckers – your mouth might get dry depending on what diet you’re on. Also, if you get an epidural you can’t get out of bed, and brushing your teeth in bed is not the same. Mints help with smelly breath. Your partner will thank me.

•Toiletries – Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, dry shampoo, toothpaste, face wash. Cleansing wipes (these were awesome once I couldn’t get up bc epidural.) You also might want to bring your own bath towels as the ones at the hospital can feel kind of scratchy.

• Stuff for your butt…seriously – if you deliver vaginally, and sometimes even if you don’t the hemmies are real. Witch hazel pads (Tucks) will probably be supplied to you, but in case they aren’t bring some witch hazel to dab into your pull-up. Dermoplast too. It freezes the burn. Boy, does it burn.

•Perennial bottle -this will probably be supplied to you at the hospital. BRING THIS HOME WITH YOU!

•Chapstick & Makeup – your lips with get dry from all that heavy breathing, and makeup will allow you to feel like a human again rather than a hormonal sweaty momster.

•Portable sound system (or headphones) and essential oils – I had anxiety and the calming music and oils helped me to relax enough so that when it came time to push I felt confident and calm.

✨ Helpful Hints✨ Everyone is going to want to visit you. DO NOT FEEL OBLIGATED TO LET EVERYONE IN. This is the small amount of time you will have 100% help from the nurses etc. Take it. Sleep. People can visit you at home, and if they do they should come prepared to either help or bring food. The first couple of weeks at home are no joke.

DAD

•Change of clothes – you’ll be there for a couple of days

•Toiletries

•Pillow and blanket from home – the pull-out couch and blankets aren’t exactly comfy and you never know how cold it’s going to be in the room.

•books/iPad/phone charger- something for entertainment… labor can be lengthy and boring.

•Shhhhnnnnaaaaccckss – snacks! Hospital food sucks. Also, bring change for the vending machine in case the cafe is closed when baby comes. The whole time I was pushing I kept talking about wanting a Coke. There’s nothing quite like a post-birth Coke mmmm.

That’s it. That’s pretty much all you get. K? YOU DID THIS TO US. THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU. YOU WILL ENDURE THE WRATH.

Le Bébé

•Going home digs- your freshest ‘fit for your new little Martian. Also, bring a couple pairs of socks and some NB onesies (toss in a couple of 0-3mo too in case you set a state record for chubbiest bub.) Also, depending on the season or where you’re located you might want to bring a jacket or hat.

•Swaddle and Receiving blanket – the Velcro swaddles are the best IMO. I’m a “work smarter not harder” kinda gal and couldn’t figure out how to wrap my precious bundle to save my life. Velcro FTW! Receiving blankets are great and can easily be washed. We take them any time we go anywhere in case we are in a cold restaurant or it’s windy. Light enough to carry, heavy enough to bundle le bébé up in.

•Scratch mittens – can you believe they don’t declaw beebs at the hospital? KIDDING. But, while your little poop monster may be sweet, she will scratch her eyes, and your eyes right outta that head. Okay I’m exaggerating…still pack ‘em.

•DON’T FORGET TO INSTALL THE CAR SEAT! – Kinda can’t go home without it. Do a safety run, strap le fake bébé into your car and go drifting. She if she/he stays put.

✨Helpful Hints ✨ Upon your return home you’ll probably still be in diapers and soon will be graduating to maxi pads. I found the thin, albeit very absorbent, Kotex worked best for me. Also, invest in some stool softener. The first PP poop will be equally, if not more terrifying that childbirth.

Helpful links –

Nursing bras – Women’s Full Cup Lightly Padded Wirefree Maternity Breastfeeding Nursing Bra Size L, 3PCS/Pack(Pink-Black-Beige) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01EFNPD7W/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_syftEb0V8D79A

Target Undies – https://www.target.com/p/women-s-seamless-briefs-auden-8482-black-l/-/A-54146030

Ode (not really) to Billy and Jo – A Valentine’s Tribute

Ode (not really) to Billy and Jo – A Valentine’s Tribute

Okay so this has nothing to do with the movie, the song, or the LBGTQ community…the title was simply too cute to pass up. I’m also not a musician/songwriter so please don’t try to sing what I’m about to say – it won’t be pretty. Here goes…

Writing about you is much harder than I anticipated. I find myself becoming a raisin in the bathtub (you’re putting our daughter to bed as I write this) erasing each sentence and starting over because nothing I write can quite express my truth when it comes to you. To us. To the way the corners of our mouths curled up when we turned that corner in front of South Kitchen, and thanked the heavens that we were just as cute in person as we were on our dating profiles. You just get me. In every sense. You get my idiosyncrasies. You get under my skin. You get me going. Even when we can’t seem to make the ridges of our personalities sync, we find a way to keep going. To keep working. Full steam ahead.

You hate the mornings, and God help us all if you get no sleep. You honk at people in traffic five minutes after they’ve passed you. You use a few too many curse words when you stub your toe, and don’t even get me started on how many times I’ve heard the words “Civic Type R.” I could write a damn book about that car, and the Louisville Cardinals. Or Roger Federer, for that matter. Your driving sometimes makes me nauseous, and when I was pregnant you used to push me out of the car so that the bolsters on the seats of your precious Honda S2000 wouldn’t get squished under my ass.

But, how I love you.

How I love you with our baby girl. How I love the way you love me. Even when I feel unlovable. Even when I know you need a break from it all. Not a moment goes by where I doubt it. The love you have for our family. Even when you’re pulling your hair out at 3am because Josie won’t sleep. Even when you’re pulling your hair out Monday – Sunday because I’m a pain in your ass. When I’m needy, impatient, stubborn, prideful, and anxious. There’s you, loving me in spite of all of it.

Without even asking, you change and feed her through the night so I can rest because I am with her all day. While I’m aware that it’s your duty as her dad to take on half of the responsibility, I’m also aware of how lucky she is that she has you. So many little girls don’t have that with their fathers, and the love you show not only her but also me sets the tone for who she will one day choose as a partner. A partner who will one day father her children. Okay, I can’t think about that yet…you get it.

You are gentle enough to know when you’re wrong, but strong enough to stand for what you believe in.

You are kind enough to consider others, often before you consider yourself, but smart enough to know when you’re being taken advantage of.

You are dedicated enough to work to help provide, but equally dedicated to this family and our time together.

You are approachable enough that I know Josie will never fear coming to you, but intimidating enough to know that her boyfriends will.

You are loyal enough that you’d get into dumb Facebook debates about things that you think are stupid in my honor, but courageous enough to let me, or someone else you love, know when we have been wrong or unjust.

I won’t keep you long…er, because I know you’re probably ready to put your phone down and go for a drive or tune up/polish something in your garage. But, if anything know this. Know that this Valentine’s Day I don’t take you for granted. I won’t ask for diamonds, a new bag, or a heartfelt poem written in the sky. I just want you.

Both of you.

Billy, and Jo.

I’m Still Me, You Know.

I’m Still Me, You Know.

I once was so heartbroken I decided to travel to D.C. and stay in a hostel by myself. I needed to come back to center, to be somewhere I wasn’t known. To be free to have a glass of wine at 10am, sleep until noon, and to experience something outside of the ordinary. That summer was one of the best of my life. I turned 28 surrounded by strangers, who sung to me while I danced under a spotlight and the jazz band played the Happy Birthday song. I went to a yoga class, and met two of the kindest women who invited me out for coffee after and we spoke of our heartbreaks. I talked. I listened. I was living. I was learning who I was alone and how capable I was. It was exactly what the doctor ordered. This beautiful space in time where I was able to be selfish, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I met Billy soon after, and we created a beautiful life together. Talking of nature, our past, the possibilities of a future together. We would go to concerts, go on hikes, go to expensive dinners, and weekend getaways. We would encourage each other to explore our hobbies, and to take time to invest in ourselves as well as one another. Fast forward to April 2019, when I found out I was pregnant, fast forward even more to November when Josephine came into the world. Our sweet little girl. How much my life had changed since sleeping in that hostel bed, August 2017.

I suddenly felt this overwhelming sense of guilt. A new feeling- my whole life as I knew it is ending and now it revolves around this tiny human. Our creation. Our responsibility. Gone are the days of red lipstick and sexy underwear. Gone are the days of having a mimosa with girlfriends at Sunday brunch. Gone are romantic evenings with just B. Gone is me. Such a feeling that I felt deep in my gut, am I going to have to give up myself in order to appropriately care for my child?

I say no. I say invest in yourself. I say take those thirty minutes and leave the dishes in the sink. Take one hour off from The Wiggles. Take time for your sanity. Does this mean neglecting your child? Gosh no. Does this mean all your time should be spent at the salon or mall with a cocktail in hand? No. It means reading a book you enjoy every now and then rather than a book on being the perfect parent -Junk Food Fiction as I like to call it. It means watching TV some days rather than being on a strict schedule. It means letting someone babysit so you can go to Yoga. Whatever makes you feel like you again. That first sip of red wine, the first date night, the first time I put on heels, the first time I went to the gym. It felt like winning the lottery. I feel like I’m a better mom for not completely sacrificing who I am for my child. Yes, I’m a mom. A good mom. A mom who would do anything for her daughter. A mom who recognizes that self care keeps me from going insane. But I’m not just A mom. I’m also still me, the girl who danced under a spotlight alone in D.C. on her 28th birthday.

Milk, Milk, Yellow Babe.

Milk, Milk, Yellow Babe.

Why do moms just give up trying with breastfeeding?

Isn’t breastfeeding so much cheaper?

Isn’t it healthier for the baby to breastfeed?

Don’t you think it’s a little selfish to not even try?

Does it really hurt that bad?

All questions I asked before giving birth to my daughter. All questions I asked before my daughter was bedridden for five days, around the clock laying on lights because she was jaundice. All questions I asked before my neck was so sore from leaning over to try to get her to latch after not holding her for five days. All questions I asked before my milk supply plummeted

I won’t pretend I’m not disappointed. I do feel as though the opportunity to breastfeed successfully was somewhat taken from me. But I also won’t lie when I say I hated it. I hated the way I felt. I’d pump and be angry. Angry that my SO got to sit there all normal-nippled, while I leaked into the ugliest misshapen nursing bra that I’d already washed 56 times. Angry that my back was becoming a question mark from leaning over a pump for an hour, just to get less than an ounce. Angry that I never knew how much she was getting to eat. Angry knowing that a bottle of formula would fill her hungry belly and knock her right out so I could sleep.

The reason I’m writing this is NOT to discredit breastfeeding moms. I want to make it VERY clear that moms who exclusively breast feed deserve the worlds biggest glass of guilt-free wine and 27 back rubs. Maybe toss in a chocolate bar or two. The reason I am writing this is because I was soooo naive and maybe I want to be a sounding board for moms who are sitting in their gliders and rocking chairs squeezing their boobs to death to get out one drop of breast milk. It’s okay to keep going. It’s also okay to quit.

My experience was very unique as Jo had at home light therapy for 5 days after leaving the hospital. This meant feeding her 2oz every 2 hours. From start to start. Meaning if I fed her, changed her, and took her temp at 2am she might not fall back to sleep until 3-3:15 allotting me 45 mins to fall back asleep before doing it all over again. Add in pumping to keep up my supply to match the demand and you had one zombified mama. I had no choice but to supplement. I felt defeated. I came to a point where I started to think about the kind of mom I wanted to be, one that was breastfeeding and miserable, or one that supplemented and was happy. Naturally over time my supply decreased more and more and after hours of ringing out my udders like a cow for a single drop of that liquid gold, I said f*** it. I quit. I was relieved. I could finally enjoy motherhood. I was no longer shackled by the tubes of my breast pump. I WAS FREE. Free to wear regular bras without nipple pads. Free to lay on my boobs in the night without waking up in a puddle of sticky booby juice. Free to have a glass of wine. I no longer had to squeeze my entire areola into the shape of a burger or taco to shove it into my babies mouth. Yes, I was free.

So with that being said, the next time you pass judgement to a mother who “gave up” breastfeeding remember this: In two years your snot nosed little angel is probably going to only want chicken nuggets and ice cream so shove your well-to-do “breast is best” nonsense, and let us feed our little ones how we see fit.