Posted in Favorite Things, Two Cents Worth of...

Favorite Things – When Pregnant

So you’re pregnant and all kinds of things are happening to your body. You are growing a tiny human! Kind of crazy right? I still cannot believe I was pregnant, then delivered that little nugget! My mind is still completely blown on how our bodies do that and those peanuts fit through the exit! Maybe we shouldn’t think of that part…

And it all went so damn fast, even on the most uncomfortable days, the 41 weeks blew right by me. Any who, no need to reminisce on my wonders of the body.

I wanted to give you my list of favorite things during my pregnancy that helped me survive. Sure, everyone has different things that helped them or made them feel more “normal” during the time we tend to compare ourselves to beach balls or a turtle stuck on its back when you are trying to get out of bed. Yeah, that’s the EXACT way I felt in my third trimester every morning when I went to get out of bed.

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

1. Belly band
This bad boy came in handy when my belly got big enough to begin giving me back troubles. Sure, it made me feel like an old woman with a giant support belt but I felt 100x better taking the pressure off of the weight of my stomach and the baby pulling on my back. It took some getting used to and learning how to put it on exactly right but overall I would 100% suggest this to mom’s if you have any back pains. Especially if you are still going to work until baby arrives!

2. Panty liners
If you haven’t figured it out yet, you need LOTS of these. It’s one of those unspoken things they don’t put in the books you read to prepare for pregnancy. They tell you about things happening down there to help the baby and this and that, but they don’t give you the tip of buying stock in panty liners to save your guchies from the daily grossness going on from growing that tiny human.

3. Maternity body pillow
BEST. THING. EVER. My husband was the kindest soul who bought me this right away. This pillow is shaped like a C and is the best thing to help you sleep comfortably while you provide a safe haven for that growing baby. I love to sleep on my back but while pregnant you aren’t supposed to, plus my son was laying directly on my vena cava nerve which, if I did lay on my back for any period of time, I would feel like I was going to pass out. This pillow allowed me to prop myself at a 45 degree angle to not quite lay on my side but not quite lay on my back and it was perfect. It was so comfy I would find my husband snuggled into it the second I crawled out of bed and some days even our dog would hop into it.

4. Cocoa butter lotion for Stretch Marks
You may know of a ton of different products out there that are fancy schmancy and expensive for skin care. Nothing compares to the tried and true cocoa butter for stretch marks. I even used the regular cocoa butter lotion for my scar on my cheek years ago. It works and that is why I went to the brand for my belly. I always put it on my prego-self when I would get out of the shower. I am still using this stuff 4+ months post partum too and my stretch marks are fading more and more.

5. Compression socks
Go ahead, snicker and call me a grandma. I’ve always had issues with swollen ankles and feet when flying but I never thought they would get as bad as they did when I was pregnant. These were my saving grace! Yes, in the third trimester it’s a bitch to get them on and off but if you move slowly and have someone help you take them off, it’s not so bad. They truly did help though for those long days so I wouldn’t have to come home and immediately prop them up and put ice on them. So many days I did that and I regretted not wearing the socks. Just wear the damn socks! It pays to be comfortable while you’re pregnant if you can.

6. TUMs for heartburn – Target UP & UP brand is best!
I had absolutely no idea what heartburn was prior to pregnancy and even after having my son I haven’t had a single bout of it. I remember having to ask my dad what heartburn felt like and he laughed that I had to go to him with a pregnancy question for once since obviously men can’t usually provide help there. Once I got to the end of the 2nd trimester and most of the 3rd I had it so bad it was unbearable. One night it was so bad I was laying on our wood floor because it’s cool rolling like an idiot telling Blake, “this is is. This is how I go!” He laughed and went to Rite Aid to buy me all the tums they had. I lived on those! But I will say the Target UP & UP brand was the best. They tasted better than the TUMs brand.

7. Heating pad
All the pain in my back called for more old people treatments. Heating pads are a great investment from your high school athletic days to pregnancy to just being over 30 years old and sneezing wrong. I used this sucker daily when sitting on the couch. I would tell you the muscles that were sore but when I google the image I can’t pronounce it so I’ll just tell you it was all in my middle and lower back that I had the most pain.

8. TENS unit 
This sucker was a game changer for the bad days. My friends let me borrow their’s because when we were at their house one evening they could see the pain I was in without me saying a word and she had been pregnant a year and a half before me so she knew and swore by it too. I probably sat a few times with it on longer than I was supposed to but it alleviated the pain so well that it was nice to have that break.

9. Slides sandals and Birkenstock sandals
With my swollen and puffy feet I needed comfort and no restrictions on them. I wore my slides around the house mostly because they were cushy and the extra weight I had gained made my feet just hurt. It was like a small massage wearing those. I also snagged a pair of knock-off Birkenstock sandals from Kohl’s. They were their Sonoma brand and I still wear these bad boys since I could tighten the straps after my puffy feet stretched them out. These got me through the last trimester and even at work so I didn’t have to wear fancy heels or bend over to try to put other shoes on or tie them. Comfort over style, people!!

10. Kohl’s A-glow brand of maternity clothes
I didn’t go to the mall, hell, I never go there. It is a rare occasion when I do. My go to place is Kohl’s and Amazon mainly because they ship it all to me! 😊 Either way, Kohl’s came out with a maternity line shortly before I got pregnant. It’s called A-glow. I LOVED all of their clothes and they are afforable. The best was when I did go to the store I would hit up the clearance rack and usually score a few items. Camisoles were my best find for under $2 each one day and they were the nursing tank kind with the snaps at the straps. SCORE! I grabbed probably 4 of them. All of their tops and pants were great and fit comfortably. I’ve now stored them all in a bin if I’ll need them again one day because mama is not buying maternity clothes again. The pants that have the belly band that goes up to your boobs, those are the most comfortable as that belly grows!

11. #IMomSoHard Book
My friend bought this for me for my baby shower along with many essentials! This book was great to have and enjoy through those weeks of wondering what motherhood is going to be like. These ladies bring the realistic ideas we think about to life and make it fun. I literally LOL’d at this book and I’m not one for reading. This is something to relax with rather than letting your own mind wonder into the dark holes.

A quick suggestion for a few things to try and do while pregnant too that aren’t tangible objects.

o Hip stretches
Do these daily. I believe it helped my recovery to be quicker and not be in so much pain afterwards in my hips specifically. My hips have always been an issue in my life with pains. I googled the stretches to do and I had a list of them I made myself do daily. It maybe took me 10-15 minutes tops. If nothing else, it helped stretch my lower back muscles too and alleviated that pain a little as well.

o Prenatal massages, if you’re able
They were life savers for me. I got these monthly and they saved my back so much. It was a good way to give yourself some YOU time as well which you need and should take advantage of before baby arrives. Granted, you may need to lay only on your side like I had to but if you find the right massage therapist they will work with you to accommodate!

o Walking when you can
It helps to keep your lower back loose, helps baby get in position, and it’s suggested for healthy exercise while pregnant! It’s a nice way to push yourself to get that exercise in when you’re not up for running or HIIT workouts like you used to be. It’s relaxing as well and can get you some QT with your hubby or girlfriends. Fresh air is always a mood booster!

o Pedicures
Grab a girlfriend or your mom or sister and go get a pedicure. Sadly, you won’t be able to reach your toes easily in the third trimester. Your feet will enjoy it big time. (I used to touch my toes every once in a while to prove I could still do it but it wasn’t easy!) Plus the massage chair is an added bonus!

These were my go-to’s while pregnant and I hope this maybe helped a mama-to-be or you could help one you know by sharing this with them. If you are a friend of someone who is pregnant, maybe you could gift one of the above items to them. Either the tangible ones or even the non-tangible ones as well would be a great gift to them! Hell, just invite her out for a walk so you can catch up!

Posted in Mom life, Two Cents Worth of...

The Advice You Never Asked For

This topic may touch a nerve with a few of you or it may make you say, “thank God I’m not the only one!” Either way, this is how I feel about the topic. You can choose to agree to disagree, that is yours.

Throughout my time being pregnant and as a new parent, I have grown to really dislike one thing specifically. Advice that I don’t ask for. To be more specific, unsolicited advice that someone begins to give you without any ask or want to hear it.

When I need help or want someone’s opinion, I ask and I ask who I trust for that. I don’t need coworkers I barely speak to telling me how they birthed their kid or a friend of a friend’s mom saying something about how to calm and soothe a baby they raised 30+ years ago or even how someone raised their kids and then more for whatever reason.
Great, good for you, nice job. You successfully raised your babies, now let me raise mine.

Let’s be honest though, no one does it perfect. You mess up. You try again. You call your mom or your best friend. Not a single mom has ever been perfect, except for mine! 😉

When I talk to a lot of mom friends and prego friends, we all can usually agree on this. Now some people welcome any and all advice they could ever get from this world and that’s great if you can handle it all.

I’ll be honest, it overwhelms me and gives me anxiety as if I’m not doing enough or the right thing for my child. Truly, everyone who offers it too never means any ill intentions when they speak their advice or tells you what to buy, but it seems to always step over a boundary they either don’t notice or don’t give a shit about.

The advice we hear…

It is overbearing.

They don’t back off no matter your response.

Their way is the ONLY way.

It’s too much.

You don’t want to offend anyone so you nod and agree but cringe inside wondering if this is how every single encounter with them is going to go from here on out.

Before I go any further, let me share a clip from one of my favorite TV shows, A Million Little Things. Maggie, in the pink wig, nails how we sometimes wish someone would step in for us and say how we feel to stop the overbearing advice.

Granted, this was in the hospital, but I sort of had a similar experience with the second of the two lactation consultants I met with when Dominick was born. They can be extremely helpful though, so don’t think this is an overall appearance with them! I had one superb lady who helped us out and I hope others have a good experience as well.

And we’re back…
When I would start to get the said advice and questions about what I would do as a parent, I began to back off from going places and avoid certain situations so I didn’t have to hear it. It wasn’t fun either because I would avoid seeing friends and family for the sole fact that I didn’t want the pressure of what the next “you have to do this” or “are you breastfeeding?” questions from them. And truly, I wanted to be with them, but the pressure made it feel like too much and still can at times.

You start to learn how to deflect situations and discussions though. That might be a new hidden talent we discover as moms, I’m not sure.

Guess what? No matter what you are told and suggested to do, it is YOUR child.

Whatever you do and choose is the RIGHT choice.

I’ll admit I’m guilty of doing what I am telling you I hate. I caught myself telling a prego friend of mine advice and had to stop myself. I remembered I didn’t want that when I was expecting so maybe she didn’t either. She did thank me later for all of what we discussed, but I still question if I overstepped and made her cringe inside like I had.

I can see how some people such as myself do it/did it without thinking because I love to share all I can with other moms or expecting moms, if they want to hear it or ask me about it. However, why does everyone feel like they NEED to PUSH their advice onto you?

It seems that everyone has something to place on your shoulders to think about as if you, as a mom, do not already have a million other things to already worry and think about. A few of the thoughts just in the hospital… Will our nurses be nice? Will delivery be easy or long? Will he cry right away? Can I move well enough to shower after I deliver? Will I get any sleep in the hospital? Will my baby love me and know I’m his mom? How do I know if I’m doing anything right?! Plus a thousand other thoughts in probably a matter of 2 minutes.

We already have so much to worry about, why do people want to add any more to our plate? Especially other moms who have been through this and know it’s hard. Maybe it’s been 40 years, 15 years, or even just 1 year since they have had their children so they feel like their advice is the best advice because it worked for them and their babies.
Great, good for you, nice job. You successfully raised your babies, now let me raise mine.

One of the things I remember from a good friend of mine when I spoke to her right after Dominick was born, she said, “I can tell you what worked for me and my daughter, but it may not work for you and Dominick. Maybe it will. I can give you a ton of advice but it won’t always be right because you need to figure out what works for you two.” She is dead on. It’s our story and no one else’s.

I also have another great friend who is the first person I text when I have a mom question. She is so light hearted and reassuring to me of what I can try. It is never direct and pushy. Also, I go to her to ask because I wanted and needed her advice, which I whole heartedly trust!

Here is my advice about your advice, shut up and listen.

Be there for the mom to offer help when she needs it and NOT ONLY in the first two weeks at home when that baby is born. Moms could use a hand at all times! It is not a walk in the park ever. Moms are bred to be strong, independent, and coffee thriving beasts that get shit done. That doesn’t mean we aren’t tired or want to cry. We just don’t show it… often.

So instead of giving us the what we should be doing/buying/trying advice, step up and help out by holding that baby or watching the child for an hour or sit with her one evening while she can get her shit back in order and tell her she is doing a great job raising her babies or growing that baby! We need a pat on the back and not a smack in the knees knocking us down with your stupid advice.

Next time you find yourself about to give a mom advice, stop yourself. Instead ask her, “How are YOU?!”

Kudos to a great friend for teaching me that. She will text me occasionally with only that in the text and it means so much. Let me remind you, I’m learning this all as I go, all of it. Other moms I respect and adore are teaching me along the way and they don’t even know it.

Posted in Mom life, Two Cents Worth of...

Breastfeeding, My Journey

Buckle up; I got carried away writing this one.

We all have different journeys in motherhood. One of the roads we take is how we choose to feed our babies. Whichever you choose, it is the correct choice for your babe. Here is mine & Dominick’s story.

Honestly, before I was pregnant, I never thought I would want to breastfeed. I always thought it was odd, in my own mind, and since I was formula fed, I didn’t have a desired goal to do it. Plus, was I really going to just pop out a boob and feed him anywhere? Definitely a hard no on that one. However, the more I learned and when I got pregnant the more I was willing to give it a go.

I had someone ask me if it was weird. With the thoughts I had prior to it as well, I get it and get why they may think that. It isn’t. I can’t explain it. It is something you’re just able to do and it instinctively is not weird. However, I do still think it’s weird to bust a boob out in front of others that aren’t my husband or baby. That’s a personal choice though. Others have different views on that as well.

I was a 100% formula fed baby. My husband was breastfed. I’m sure there is an even mix among all that you know. Can you look at someone and actually tell what he or she had as a newborn through their first birthday? Nope.

I wanted to share my story because everyone’s story is different and personally, the more I knew from friends, the better I felt going into this new journey. I wanted to inform myself on real life experiences rather than what I read, which we all know can lead to a dark rabbit hole and guilt. I had friends who were very successful with breastfeeding and even made it to their child’s first birthday while other moms had trouble with milk coming in or their child latching at all.

The one thing everyone needs to know it is NOT your fault if you are not able to breastfeed and go formula because you’re a rock star mom, period! Also, if you choose to not try at all and go straight to formula, you’re also a rock star mom!

A friend of mine had her pediatrician tell her, “I was breastfed and my wife had formula. We’re both doctors.” Well would you look at that?!

From day 1, my husband and I set our goals that I would attempt and try to breastfeed our son, but it would be a-okay to go to formula if it wasn’t working out for us. I also said I would only do it for 3 months because I was going back to work and did not want to pump at work. I wanted to have the mentality set that I wasn’t a failure because I couldn’t breastfeed. I already battle my own thoughts as a woman (you know this ladies). I had tried to prepare myself in case I couldn’t knowing that I was still doing all I could for my son to be a healthy little guy.

My husband was onboard entirely, which was huge because he initially wanted me to do exclusive breastfeeding since he was raised that way. He had asked me, “why do you keep bringing this up? It’s like you don’t want to do it and you’re setting yourself up to fail.” But the more we talked, he understood why I wanted to be prepared mentally and he had my back.

Snuggles after nursing are THE best

Before I had my son, I had many who had successful stories also come at me with their tips and suggestions to definitely breastfeed since it worked for them. When they would ask me if I was planning to breastfeed my response was always, “if he wants to and it works for us, we will.”

It was a honest response that not everyone liked because I had my expectations set low, but it was the truth too. I wasn’t going to force anything that wasn’t going to work and I also refused to allow the pressure from others weigh me down on this journey.

In my other blog post, you may recall, I mentioned briefly about one of the lactation consultants I met with. When Dominick was born, I had some great nurses immediately try to help me express colostrum for him. I had asked if I could meet with the lactation consultants though to get tips and help on learning this new task my son and I would be attempting to spend a lot of time doing together.

Lactation consultant number one! She was GREAT! She came into our room all bippity-boppity and cheerful. We tried to feed him while I was in the bed and then she had me move to the couch area and she joked and kept things light for us. She made me feel like we would get this down no problem and showed us pictures of how it worked. She spent a good bit of time with us and I felt confident even though milk doesn’t typically come in in the first few days.

I had later told my nurse I would love to meet with another consultant before we went home so I could ask more questions and have them check on us to see if we were doing it right. Well, here comes lactation consultant number two… stern, straightforward, drill sergeant kind of attitude, and no sense of humor.

She was attempting to “help” the baby and I get this down and one of her strategies was to forcefully hold his tiny head against my boob. He clearly didn’t want to do that, I was stressing out for a number of reasons, and Blake began to as well seeing both of us like that. Blake spoke up since he saw I was on the verge of tears and asked her to take a break. I tried my hardest to put on a straight face, but Dominick and I were both exhausted. She popped my confidence bubble that I had going for us and had I met with her first, I can almost guarantee I would have said that day, “I’m done.”

I would like to tell any mom who is planning to meet with a consultant, if you don’t like one, ask for another! They are not all the same and can be really helpful. They all mean well and want you to succeed, but their personality can be a game changer for an already stressful experience.

Moving on, we packed up our bundle of joy and headed on home and continued to try this new thing we learned. Let me tell you, we were on the right track to start. He was having plenty of wet diapers and bowel movements in the hospital so it was going as expected.

Next up, I recall the pain that came with this lovely adventure. Holy balls did it hurt some days. I got clogged ducts a day or two at the beginning and those bad boys hurt like someone put a balloon in my boob and it was about to pop, no, explode. Rule out the cabbage leaves for that too. A warm rag works just fine.

Maybe it works, I’m not sure. I was against putting a warm leafy vegetable on my boobs though. I already lost all my dignity in the hospital and my boobs were out all the time at home, I didn’t need to put the icing on the cake with random cabbage leaves everywhere.

Milk drunk baby

I did call a friend of mine for some tips which she suggested the Lanisoh Thera Pearl heat and cold packs (on my list of Favorite Things – Postpartum, coming soon). I used those every single day and I would use the warm rags to relieve the pain as well. And the tip that probably sucked the most, keep trying. I had to allow him to keep eating even when you wanted to punch a wall because the pain sucked so bad.

There was no resting to allow them to heal. And on top of it, little man didn’t have a bowel movement for the first 5 days at home. #scaredmama We were at the pediatrician 3 days in a row and I felt like I had done something wrong or wasn’t nursing him correctly.

Oh wait, time out, one of my favorite stories from the first week at home. When I had called the doctor’s office over the weekend to ask about him not pooping, they suggested supplementing formula for added fluid and to use a rectal thermometer to stimulate his bowels. Well, this was not something Blake was ready for.

He held onto our little nugget, who was only 8 lbs 7 oz, not really going anywhere and I had got the thermometer ready with Vaseline. I proceeded to put it in his little bum and Blake screamed at me, “oh my God, that’s too far!” I was extremely careful and it had not made it even an inch into his bum. Let me remind you, I had NO pelvic floor and still had on my giant pads, thankfully, because I started laughing so hard and holding my pee wasn’t an option. I started to pee my pants, literally.

I put down the thermometer and as quickly as I could had to rush to the bathroom while Blake recovered thinking I just hurt our son’s bum, who honestly had no idea we had even put that down there. But no luck that day on the bowel movement. When we did go to the pediatrician’s office and they used the bigger thermometer, I had to remind my husband to look away every time. *Men are babies about some stuff, am I right?!*

At one of our many appointments, I had asked the pediatrician what would relieve the pain on my nipples because they had yet to get used to this and our little guy was feeding quite often, as every new baby does. She suggested Aquaphor instead of the Lanisoh. GAME CHANGER! That stuff worked like a charm and made a huge difference for me. The really bad days when I cried because it hurt so bad, Blake reassured me it was okay to stop breastfeeding and switch to formula. That was really helpful to hear because he supported me knowing how hard I was trying and working to feed our son.

Any who, once we got the bowels moving again, which was only a fluke and all was a-okay in his tummy, my little one nursed well once we got the hang of it. I got through those painful days with the items mentioned above. He nursed about 40 minutes if not more at a time. That took up a lot of the day and most of my energy. No one warned me of how completely exhausting nursing is. Think about it though, your body is trying to heal itself from birthing that baby, create milk for them, and you don’t sleep.

It would feel at times like energy was slowly draining out of me like the battery icon on your phone hitting the red area and needing to be plugged in ASAP or else it would be dead. I always made sure he and I were tucked in tight and safe because I would tend to fall asleep, especially during those late night feedings. *No judging, if you are. It’s a tough go getting used to nursing a newborn!*

One tired mother

At about 3 weeks, we decided I would try to pump and allow him to have a bottle in that timeframe instead because my morale was at an all-time low feeling like a 24-hour buffet. This was a tremendous help. It allowed me a moment to breathe while allowing my husband to help as well. It was still breastmilk but having an extra set of hands be able to feed him was huge.

We had slowly transitioned to more bottles in the day while I had pumped instead. This was a 20 minute process rather than 40-60 minutes.

At 6 weeks it was 2 bottles a day. Then at 9 weeks we introduced 1 bottle of formula. The reason we started this when we did was that I had chosen that I didn’t want to pump at work having an added level of stress. We decided formula would be best once I went back to work.

We did ask our pediatrician what he suggested for formula when we made this decision. He told us , “I couldn’t tell you which kid had what type. They’re all good as long as you get milk based.” Truth is, you need to find what is best for your baby’s tummy. We did sign up and got lots of samples so we had it when we were ready to begin introducing it to him.

All of September I had only nursed him at night before bed since he was 90% formula fed now. I had a big supply in the freezer we were using as well to be sure his tummy was full since my supply was dwindling now. I had been cutting out one nursing session about every 3 weeks at a time when we would add another bottle of formula in its place. That did help relieve the pain that some experience when stopping. Except one day I had attempted to skip another feeding, not thinking it through. I laid down to watch some TV and when I got up, huge wet spots were on the front of my shirt. *face palm* Totally engorged, my boobs leaked right through my bra and shirt because I didn’t have those lovely pads on either.

So now that we got to the point of cutting back so much and him being on bottles mostly, it was about that time I was entirely done breastfeeding him. Problem was, after all that time before I was pregnant thinking I’d never want to breastfeed and even me saying I would only do this for 3 months (setting my expectations low), now I was at the end and totally afraid to let go and stop nursing him.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to breastfeed my son for 4 months. Not exclusively for that entire period and that was our choice, but the fear of stopping was because #momguilt set in and had me thinking I wasn’t going to be there for him anymore. I didn’t want to feel like he wouldn’t need me any more. What am I good for if I’m not nursing him?

See how our stupid, cruel brain can be at times? Of course he would need me. He’s an infant and what boy doesn’t need their mom?!

On October 2nd, I didn’t nurse him that night. I wrote down the date because it was much harder than I had believed it would be. It was only one time a day I was nursing him and I barely had anything left for him but it was the last time I had got to nurse him the night before. I cried a little… maybe more than once.

From May 28-October 1, I was able to nurse my son and do that for him. I also was able to ask for help to allow others to feed him formula as well and he is growing into a strong boy.

Just over 4 months. A bond was built between him and I. A bond was also built among his dad and him too because he was able to help us and support me through this. Others were able to help us as well including his grandmothers and grandpa, which I know they thoroughly enjoyed getting that special time with him. It’s all in how you, as your baby’s parents, choose to do this journey with them!

One of my favorite pics of the two of us after nursing

Remember that, it is your baby, your choices. You’re a rock star mom (or dad) no matter how they are fed!

Okay, I have to go now. I’m currently crying again.

Posted in Mom life, Two Cents Worth of...

Tips on Going Back to Work as a New Mom

I’ve been going back and forth on what I wanted my next post to be about because I have a list of topics I want to write about and lists I want to share with everyone on what I liked or did at certain periods of this mom life. Each post may go out of sequence of my timeline but I will be sure to share it all because I know someone somewhere can use them all!

I’m going to go with the most current topic I can that I’ve gone through, going back to work as a new mom. We’ll go through my 5 tips that allow me to survive at working mom life.

Top 5 Tips to survive going back to work:

  • Pick your daycare/child care option
  • Make a chart for the family
  • Meal prep for the week
  • Lay out your outfit every night
  • Ask for help

I recently went back to work September 16th and not only was I going back to work in the corporate world after having a baby it’s a brand spankin’ new job at a whole new company!

A quick backstory, I was at my last job for 4 years and chose to find a new job because my previous job was going to be gone (outsourced, not moved for anyone that may have believed that BS) at the latest by the end of 2020, if not much sooner depending on plans among the company. My goal was to find something stable sooner than later because well, it is not just Blake and myself any longer and as a new parent there is already so much uncertainty of raising this little man that having a stable job is a main priority in our life. I had lucked out and landed this new job just in time before going back to my previous job by 1 week of returning to my previous job. I had to cut maternity leave short by only a week, which was not so bad because I was fortunate enough to have just shy of 4 months off of work with him. That was a lovely and longer than normal leave that I was fortunate to have.

I am the mom who will always say I need to work and cannot be a stay at home mom and I still do say that. SAHMs kill it, I know this and witness it among some of my amazing friends, but it’s not for me. However, when you spend that much time with your little one, a BIG piece of your struggles to understand how you will trust someone you barely know to care for him or her while you go back to work. Begin “mom guilt” which we will discuss in another post. That one is a big topic any mom can relate to!

Pick your daycare/child care option

The one question I got over and over again was, “will your parents be watching Dominick?” My parents are retired and most would think that would be our go-to for money savings. However, before even having kids I’ve always stated I never wanted to put that pressure onto them. They have a life, they travel, they worked too hard for too long for me to stop them in their tracks and make them full time babysitters. Plus, no grandparent should HAVE to raise their grandkids. It should be a fun time for both grandparents and grandkids to see one another. We are fortunate enough to have my parents close enough that if I call and we need them, they are there in minutes. They are always willing to lend a hand to us and grab Dominick from daycare if we are late, but it is never a permanent situation. This was our decision as parents; others may have a different choice or not have the choice.

Let me remind you, whatever choices you make as parents, that’s yours. What I say or what others do as parents are their choices too. Some of what I am going to write here and in future posts you may not like or agree with, but that is not why I’m writing. Please remember that and know I’m only doing this to share what I’ve experienced and hope to help with ideas if I can.

We knew we would be putting Dominick in daycare as well too since both of us work full time and there are benefits to him going. Both Blake and myself were daycare kids, though his was a little different. Maybe a story for another time.

If you’re going the daycare route, start by finding all the local ones close to you that make sense for your morning commute. Be sure that you find a credible daycare that has reviews and willing to give you all the information you care to ask about. Visit them. They will give you a tour if you ask. It helps you understand where your child will be and what they will do and who they will be with. Meet the teachers. After all, that is whom they are spending most of their day with so you should like them. That was most important to me, next to costs.

Find costs. There are varying costs in the areas usually even if it’s a little, it makes a difference! Be aware, it’s not cheap. You are paying for the care of your child though and that is huge!

The place we chose is an independent daycare and not a national name. We found the national name was much more costly and though I had gone to a Kindercare growing up myself, I didn’t have the comforting feeling that I do at the one we chose. We love the teachers that are with him daily and they now have a great app that we can check on what he has done all day, how many diapers, when he ate, and they can send us pictures of him too.

So far, we have loved having our son at the daycare we chose because he is enjoying himself. If he is happy, we are happy. He has his first snotty nose, but that was inevitable and more is coming. Boogers galore! He is so loved there that all we hear about is how every teacher loves him and they all want to snuggle him since he loves to be loved. He stays busy too. We live less than 10 minutes from daycare and almost every day he is sleeping before we get home.

That was the biggest part to going back to work, in my opinion. Now I’ll touch on a few things that I did the first week that I’ve continued to do that help tremendously during the week to keep my sanity, though I’m not sure I’ll ever get back to normal sanity now being a mom.

Make a chart for the family

Remember, I said I live by lists? When I went back to work, Blake was on night shift so I was on my own the first two weeks morning and night. First thing I did was make a family chart with a list of items everyone should do each evening before the next day to prepare. Laugh at the items I have but when you’re running around in the 3 hours you have at home before you need to get to bed remembering all you need to do, this is so helpful! Plus it’s nice for when Blake and/or my mom are helping and ask what they can do, the list is already there. And you want to soak in all the snuggles from your baby that you can which will make the time to run like that maniac you are a lot shorter.

The first thing I get a reaction on usually is, “wash face, seriously!” Like I could forget that? This is here because I get so caught up in doing everything else, I’ll put myself last. I’m sure all moms can relate to putting yourself last and not caring for yourself like you had before kids. Well, this is a true reminder that I’ll go wash my face and put my lotion on. It’s a small but helpful item to make me feel like myself among the controlled chaos.

You’ll see “When was his last bath?” under Dominick’s list. Judge all you want, but first, babies don’t NEED a bath every single day and when you are go, go, go all the time, you tend to forget things and when Blake is home, we bounce back and forth who does what. We will have to ask the other, “Did you bath him last?” He tends to get a bath every other day for the sole reason that his little no-neck roll is a catch all for all the milk, drool, and every fuzzy in the whole world. *gag* Poor dude and his chunky neck.

This simple chart has helped me so much and will be an ever changing list as time goes on and we all change schedules and Dommie grows. I found the template on Word and edited it as needed.

Meal prep for the week

Next up, food. I’m surprised I didn’t list this first for you since I LOVE to eat. However, mom life slows down the choices you get to make. Meal prep for the week for yourself. I mean that in the sense of breakfast and lunches. Have them planned and made. Keep it simple. Going with my chart above, when I “pack my lunch” I can grab it from the fridge and put it in my bag each night with no thought as to what I’m having the next day and no prep work.

I’ve done breakfast items such as overnight oats, instant oatmeal, avocado toast (premade guacamole from Aldi’s) with a hardboiled egg, and even a Quest bar for a quick grab and go.

Some of my lunches have been turkey salads, soups, wraps with some sides of vegetables with hummus or apples.

Keep in mind, you want to make things that are easy and can be kept for a few days to get you through the week. It’s a huge time saver on weeknights to do this and you’ll be thankful for it.

Now for dinners, don’t let these slide by because if you do you’ll end up in the KFC and Chick-fil-A drive thru more than you wish to do but it’s quick and convenient. It also takes lots of your money and makes your insides twist a bit questioning when you will be heading to the bathroom.

The first two weeks I grabbed anything that was quick and not necessarily healthy because I was only feeding myself. I had even grabbed a pad Thai microwavable box that was expired by a month to eat quickly. I’m telling you, the first two weeks aren’t easy when you’re trying to find your groove.

Now that Blake is on daylight again, we are going to attempt the crockpot and instant pot routes. Full disclosure here, we are picky when it comes to meats because slow cooking things ruins them usually. This will be a test for us to find recipes that are not only semi-healthy but don’t overcook the meats. Our plans are to cook Monday & Wednesday and have the leftovers Tuesday and Thursday. Our Fridays we will have a little more time to be up and not as rushed so we will be happy to cook a real meal.

This is the plan and we will see how it works. I know we will hit up a take out or delivery here and there because we’re normal humans which is fine but the goal is to eat as healthy as we can when we can.

Lay out your outfit every night

Sounds simple but it is a major time saver and decision maker for the morning which you don’t have that extra time anymore for yourself. It is on my chart for the family, which includes picking out my child’s outfit as well.

Be smart and look ahead at the weather. This saves you the moment of walking outside when you let the dog out and going, “oh shit, I need to change.” You really don’t have time for that anymore and I can promise that. I still get up extra early as we settle into a routine because Dommie is unpredictable yet. He has woke up before I get in the shower at 5:15 am but then he has also had to be woken up at 6:30 am so we can have him eat and get him ready to leave by 6:50 am. Either way, we get through it together and *knock on wood* I haven’t been late to work yet!

A moment to share with you about how you don’t have time for the wardrobe changes, I had my outfit picked out for Friday and we can wear jeans at work. Well my postpartum mama bod isn’t quite back to normal and the jeans I picked out didn’t fit. I changed into 3 different pair of pants before finding ones that I was confident enough to go into public in. That was a planned morning too, but it put me 15 minutes behind now and running through the house like a maniac since I have to not only drop off Dominick at daycare but catch the T (public transit) for work to be there at a certain time.

The more you can plan, the better. Even if you’re not a planner and like living by the seat of your pants, it relieves some of the anxiety in the mornings by allowing you more time to get the chaos in order.

Ask for help

The first week will suck. I said it. Why butter it up for you? I actually cried the week prior to going back to work for a whole day. The mom guilt set it on top of the question of how will I be able to do everything? Well, you just do it. My mom always told me, it always seems like a lot and you are overwhelmed but you somehow always manage to do it and you look back going, huh, I did do it.

What, no one told you? We gain super powers when we become moms.

So we gained super powers… you aren’t able to utilize them fully without asking for help. You’re still human and humans get tired.

Do not be afraid to ask for help no matter how much you don’t want to admit you need it. *Raises hand* I’m guilty of this and believing I HAVE to do it on my own because other moms can. Lies. Everyone needs a hand because it’s life and it’s hard and it’s messy and we don’t always know how to do it all.

Even if it’s having your mom hold the baby while you get used to that new chart you made on week one. That is what I had her do on the first Tuesday because I worked late and had even less time to get our shit together for the next day so I cried on my way home. That hour she held him while I got it all together made life that much easier because Dominick was happy with Grandma while mom got our lives organized again.

Ang go for it, ask your hubby again, excluding the eye rolls, for the help you know you need from him. They are stubborn but they are your teammate and they will help. They sometimes need a kick in the rear because they think our super powers can manage the entire house but they don’t get to be free of it all by any means.

Last tip, enjoy the time at work. Work will always be work. It’s a necessary evil no matter how you do it, whether it’s at home or in an office. You deserve an identity and pride in what you do outside of being a super mom. Mom guilt sets in yes, but you have time to work and regain a little bit of yourself.

I hope these items can help you a little bit in getting your footing when you jump back into your career. It’s tough mama, but I’m here to help you! Reach out to me if you want to talk and you need to figure this out. I’ll tell you, I’m no pro but I’m surviving and it’s working so far.

Posted in Favorite Things, Two Cents Worth of...

Favorite Things – 0-3 months

This is my first real post per say and it’s all of mine and my son’s favorite day to day items we use from when he was a newborn until 3 months old. I will go back to make a list from items I loved when I was pregnant and what I had for after delivery at home to make life a little easier.

As this is my first list, I have been wanting to put this together sooner rather than later so I don’t forget to write it or forget what my favorite items are. I hope to do this through stages of my son’s life to help other moms and dads with some of the useful items out there.

Everyone always wonders what to get for moms that they will actually use or mom’s are wondering what to buy that is truly useful when that baby arrives. A lot of the items were either purchased from my mom friends for me or suggested to me by them! After all, moms do know the best items to use and what’s better than an experienced mama giving you tips on what to use or have?! (Much different from the unsolicited advice. That’s a topic for another post.)

Each item is pictured with a link to it if you click the image. Most are found on Amazon but some are Walmart or their own site. If they are on Amazon, I do have affiliate links and may earn a small commission if you purchase it. They are truly items my son and I love . There is no specific order to these but I will explain why we like them so much.

• Aden & Anais Burp Cloths
My girlfriend suggested these and bought them for me at my baby shower. They’re much bigger than your typical burp cloth and can be used as a bib as well with little buttons attached to them to clip to the baby’s neck. I have yet to use as a bib but like them mostly for their size and durability. I find myself reaching around the other burp cloths I have for these specifically and ordered more immediately after using them the first time.

• Canopy Couture Car Seat Cover
Specifically the jersey stretch kinds, they have several! The same girlfriend who got me those burp cloths bought this car seat cover for us. I have since bought a second and a few for new mama friends of mine as well! They are a really light material that stretches over any car seat carrier and they don’t take up much space in your diaper bag. I’ve used this quickly for a makeshift burp cloth or changing pad for him too. You don’t always remember the “essentials” as a new mom and have to make due with what you have! They’re nice for summer especially since they aren’t too warm for the baby but also block the sun from him.

• Tommee Tippee Pacifiers
These are Dominick’s favorites. I had not heard of them before and came across them at Wal-Mart when I was browsing one day. They were even on clearance for the 0-3 size when I found them. However, he quickly needed/wanted a bigger size so we moved to the 6-18 month ones. We have bought other brands such as Nuk & Avent but he spits them out. In the pictures, Dominick has in the smaller one. The other picture is the two different ones from Tommee Tippee. He’s currently using the top one most as it’s the bigger size!

NatureBond or Haaka Breastfeeding Manual Breast Pump
My neighbor introduced me to this, specifically the NatureBond one, and I wish I had began using it sooner while nursing! This bad boy got me well over 100 ounces of milk I would have otherwise wasted. You use it while nursing on the other side and it catches the let down milk. You do have to be cautious of your child pushing or kicking it off though. I had him bump it once and spill a lot but otherwise I’d prop it between his little legs. I froze all of what I had got in month 2 of nursing him and it’s what I am using now to wean him off from nursing. It was kind of crazy how much it would catch each feeding with him! The image below is what I have left of my stash. I had twice this much when I started to wean him off and this is at least 66 ounces yet if not more depending how much I froze in each bag.

• Baby Bumbco Clutch
One of my closest friends bought this for me as a gift. I first looked at it thinking I would never use it, however, it’s all I use now! It holds a couple of diapers and has a air tight pocket for wipes and extra space for additional items including a side zipper to put your personal items. I’ve had so many other moms ask where I got it and it’s really convenient so I don’t have to always carry his giant diaper bag especially if it’s just me out with him. And not many people realize what it is until I begin to bust out a diaper and wipes!

• Boppy Pillow
This seems like a no brainer because everyone registers for this. I do love it though! I have two because I was gifted one and my neighbor had given me hers. Having two is great. We always travel with one when we leave for the weekends and keep one on our couch. This was clutch for nursing him comfortably as well as allowing him to sit in it now especially since he would nurse for 40+ minutes! . Nursing without it was a pain in the butt when I forgot it one weekend. Dominick and me were not very comfortable. It was also ideal when he was recently sick and slept against me on the couch one night as well. (Don’t pass judgement here! You do what you have to do when your baby is sick and of course I was absolutely careful.)

• Personal Mini Fan
This is a portable fan I bought one day knowing we were going away for vacation and wanting to ensure he would be cool if we were in the sun. This little bugger has been a life saver. Our son is a sweaty beast just like mom & dad so we clip this to his stroller or carrier when we go out to be sure he is cool and not sweating his butt off. It’s also so nice because it’s rechargeable so you’re not going through tons of AAA or AA batteries to power this thing! Though you can put some in, it’s easier to recharge quickly. It lasts for a few hours too.

• Inchbug Orbit Labels
These are perfect for bottles for daycare! A friend of ours had them sent to me when he was born and I kind of stared at them not knowing when I would use them since I was exclusively breastfeeding. Now that he is 95% on formula and bottles, these are the go to for labeling for daycare. I had bought sticker labels but they’re stored for something later because why would I want to put a sticky label on his bottle that will wear off when I can use these that slip on and off easily and can be used when he moves on to sippy cups? These are great and I ordered more to have on hand when we have more items and I begin to lose things.

*Click image to go directly to their site to customize yours!* This is NOT an affiliation link

• Baby Wrap Carrier by KeaBabies
I bought this knowing I had several mama friends swear by them. It took me over a month to try it because of shear intimidation. I was scared of putting my newborn in and dropping him. Blake tried it though and he slept for hours inside of it! When I finally convinced myself to try, I watched YouTube videos and he was big enough to face out. He LOVES it! We actually use this when he gets really fussy and take him for a ride on our golf cart at the lake. He enjoys seeing everything and being a part of everything! It’s much easier than it looks once you practice a handful of times and it is very comfortable!

• Personalized Baby Blanket
Dominick was given this gift from one of his aunts and I love it so much since it is a really nice blanket but also because it’s a great keepsake for him! I have purchased several now for friends of ours with newborns as well. You can choose from several different characters on it, different colors, and personalize the texts. It is such a nice personal gift that will last and be a nice keepsake for the family!

• Swaddles (links below to the two different types)
Babies love to be swaddled. I was not good at swaddling him with a blanket at first so we bought the ones with velcrow that were great for me to use while Blake could turn him into a baby burrito using the hospital blanket. Then he went through a week long phase of no swaddles and now he’s back to enjoying it but in a swaddle blanket and I’ve mastered it as well. He can still be Houdini once in a while and bust an arm or leg out by morning. We have a handful of them and they’re nice soft, light blankets to use as well when he is done being swaddled.

o SwaddleMe with velcrow

o Muslin Swaddle Blankets

• Eddie Bauer Diaper Bag
We first saw this bag when our friends had their baby boy and loved it so of course we registered for it. It’s convenient and has tons of pockets and space for all the needs of a baby! Plus it’s more appealing than some bags you see out there. Blake is willing to carry it since it’s not super feminine, though he wouldn’t care. It’s overall great quality & we take it everywhere with us.

• Babymoov Anti-UV Tent Sun Shade
This was our favorite item on vacation for Dominick! I found this on Amazon right before we went because I wanted to be able to spend time outside but he cannot be in direct sun for long at all until 6 months when we can put sunscreen on him. This was great since it could fit his activity play mat inside of it when we were in the yard and then when we would be on our dock, he napped in it after we had him in the water. It works for up to 50+ UV which is awesome. Minus the part of me struggling to fold it because I’m just horrible at things like that, this is so convenient and will be great to use for a while for him! It even has a screen zipper for if there are bugs and the breeze can blow right through it.

• Baby Portable Changing Pad
I said I wouldn’t need one of these at first but the more we go out to dinner or even the stores I find myself grossed out by bathrooms. I was never much of a germaphobe, but once you have a kid it changes your view of how gross everything can be. Some changing tables do have the disposable paper things but we typically only find them when Blake takes him to the men’s bathroom to change him. We know that’s because there are more moms than dads taking the babies in OR dads are not as germophobic as moms. Either way this little thing is just that, small and convenient keeping your kiddo’s bum off the gross stuff!

• JJ Cole Pacifier Pod
I first saw this when my close friend suggested it and though, “I will never use that.” I was wrong! This little thing is a life saver when you misplace a binky or are on the go and think you forgot one. Ours is hooked to our diaper bookbag. It’s a guarantee my mom or Blake somehow misplace a binky when we are out, but no worries, one is safely stored and clean inside it’s tiny pouch! BOOM!

I could add more on here and probably will if I think of anything else but for right now, this is what we use on a regular basis and I find myself being asked by others where I got it. I hope you find this helpful and maybe will enjoy some of these items or purchase them for a mom you know! I’ll keep another list for his next few months if there are any new items we begin to use! Let me know what you think of them if you do buy anything I’ve listed above!