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Personal Thoughts on Weaning

Rayna is my last baby. Everything she learns is the last “first” I’ll get. Her first steps, her first word, her first wave bye-bye are the last firsts our family will get to experience, making them absolutely delightful and incredibly bittersweet at the same time. It’s a weird feeling knowing the next baby we’ll have in our family will be our grandchildren, so many years from now. I try not to think about that.

This month, Rayna completely weaned. We have only been doing nighttime feedings since she turned one because I wasn’t ready to let go completely, but these past few weeks, Rayna was ready to let me go completely. The last few times I nursed her were a little more forced than I would’ve liked, so it was time. She doesn’t reach for a drink or eagerly cuddle up anymore. My good ole pump that saw me through two kids is long gone. I’ve gone through the last of our storage bags. I feel a little like I’m deserted on the side of the road…

At the same time, I am very proud that we made it this long, that we had a relatively successful journey that many women aren’t able to or don’t get to experience. But this letting go is hard…

See, nursing is a war. It takes profound persistence and pain, extensive google searches and middle-of-the night questions in mommy nursing groups. It takes complete unwavering dedication from just one partner. It takes excruciating pain going into it for the first couple weeks. It takes tons of reading and preparation and research. It takes working around pumping schedules at work and disappointment when someone steals your time slot in the pumping room. It takes memorizing dozens of rules about the where’s, when’s and how long’s of milk storage. It takes constant worry about how much baby is getting, if we have enough stored, if she’s drinking enough while I’m gone, if she’ll even take bottles, and on and on. It takes being the only one getting up in the night for feedings. It takes puddled shirts and let-downs in the middle of Walmart. It takes shopping for a new upper body wardrobe to suit the endowment. It takes nights of getting soaked and more pain. It takes not going away from home for more than two hours at a time for awhile. Rayna and I, we fought like bandits with bloody knuckles to get to this point, so it makes my heart bleed again to have to let it go.

Nursing offers the opportunity to stare into that beautiful face every few hours, every single day. It offers healing touch and the beautiful companionship of unconditional love. It offers nurturing and relationship building. It creates indestructible bonds of trust. It fine tunes a mother’s instinct and intuition. If offers wisdom about and complete immersion in the life of another person. It gives you those sweet moments of sleeping babies in your arms. Not to mention reveling in all the wonderful benefits of that milky medicine. (I was even able to contribute 278 ounces to the nourishment of another baby when my freezer got too full!)

If you study the science of breast milk, it truly is one of life’s miracles. The content of milk alone is enough evidence for me of God’s existence. It changes as baby’s needs change. It pumps out antibodies when it senses baby getting sick. It produces more fat when baby needs to grow. It just automatically produces exactly what baby needs with complete and utter perfection. And I won’t get to experience or appreciate this again.

This week, right now even, there have been tears. There have been heavy-laden sighs. There has been one incremental move away from my daughter’s dependency on me. It’s been much harder than it was with my son since I know this time I won’t get to do this again. I wasn’t ready for this…

The phrase “they get big so fast” is so overused and yet no one can stop saying it or ever will because of the heavy truth and continual astonishment behind it. They really do grow so fast…

An Alice in Wonderland Tea First Birthday Party

I love Alice in Wonderland. I’ve loved Alice in Wonderland since before loving it was cool, haha. That was one of the only kids’ movies we owned growing up (we would rather have rented), so I saw it upwards of 50 times, no joke. So, when I was trying to decide on a theme for my daughter’s first birthday, it was only natural that an Alice themed tea party would strike me as appropriate.

The cutest, most appropriate, invitations ever!
I added little AIW details like the party time: 3pm, don’t be late for this very important date.
And the event: a very merry unbirthday to you and a happy first birthday to Rayna.

I tried not to go all out though and stress myself out. I wanted it to be about celebrating my little girl, not an over-the-top obligation. Kayne’s first birthday party didn’t even have a theme, and I’m not sure they’re completely necessary. But I guess I was strung along by all the other mommas in my mommy groups that had set themes and picture-worthy decorations. You know how that goes… We wanted to keep it simple. Hubster and I definitely committed to easy food. The crockpot, some veggie trays and grape skewers were very easy food choices that took the pressure off.

Idea from here
I found some “drink me” labels to try
We really did serve tea too and set out a beautiful teacup collection from my mom.

Clean cup, clean cup, move dooooown!

For some reason, my mom also had some tea party themed balloons in her party stash which couldn’t have been more perfect. This pic isn’t the greatest, but we used the balloons, a doily bunting banner and a few hand-drawn (by my sister) Alice pictures for decorations. I forgot to get a picture of it up close, but I made a sign at the center bottom there that had arrows pointing “this way,” “that way,” “wrong way,” “tea party” inspired by this Pinterest post.

I found the most adorable Alice dress from an Etsy shop for the pretty lady, although I’m not sure the 12 month size was accurate. She sure made an adorable Alice. And the most adorable card from the seller certainly made up for it.

We couldn’t find a tea party or Alice in Wonderland cake at the grocery stores we tried, so we settled on a generic princess cake, that even came with a complimentary smash cake.
And smash it she did!
This kid was totally asking for it, lol. Like literally, “throw cake in my face, momma” asking for it.

All in all, Rayna did pretty well for all the noise and ruckus in our house. I loved it! Our house was filled with our closest family and friends. Especially ones I hadn’t seen in a long time. I love having a full house! It had to be overstimulating for the baby, but she hung in there and begged us to open her new toys in her own baby way: by bringing them to us and whine-crying to get her point across. So darling!

We had a fabulous time ringing in this milestone day with our pretty little daughter (it’s still weird for me to say “daughter.” I have a daughter!). She’s finally one! She finally has a number!
I’d like to thank all my friends and family that were able to make it. You know who you are! We couldn’t have made Rayna’s day so special without you. These precious moments will be captured in her memory book forever and we’re so glad you were a part of it!

Happy birthday Rayna!

Baby’s First Birthday

Oh my goodness, I know no other mother has said this before, but how did an entire year go by already?

This girl has brought more joy to our lives than I could ever have imagined. I never felt the desire to be a stay-at-home mom until she came along. I cried almost every day thinking about returning to work and begged Hubster to take a different position so that I could stay home, but it just isn’t in the cards for us. I just had such enjoyment spending those first 9 weeks of her life with her. I so enjoyed reading her books, cuddling up with her for naps, taking her for walks, and letting her watch me sew and work on projects from her bouncy seat. I was at a different place in my life when her brother was born and I didn’t have those same desires, although it cut me deep to leave him every day.

This girl was a champion sleeper right from the beginning (she’s regressed a bit recently, which is odd), and for that we have been so blessed. She has been such an easy baby. She only cried when she was tired or hungry, never for no reason.

She surprised us with her shocks of bright red hair when she was born. I didn’t think she would be born with any hair at all. And the fact that she did and it was RED just blew me away.

She is a very active, curious, smart child. Forget toys! She wants to investigate nooks, crannies, books and…well…everything. She is also a huge garbage picker. I mean, I know babies like to stick everything in their mouths, but this girl will find the tiniest hair on the carpet or piece of dust on a windowsill and try to taste it. And she literally loves to pick out of every garbage can in the house.

This girl also skipped right over pureed baby food and went straight to table food. She would literally have NOTHING to do with purees or baby cereal. I even made some pea and squash purees from scratch for her that may never be used. She wants what we’re eating. So, we started her on soft things, but she pretty much eats what we eat already.

She is a water baby, loving baths and sticking her own head underwater. She’s super funny, like the times she puts clothes on her head and crawls around laughing. Or when she clunks heads on purpose or blows raspberries on momma’s belly. She is a huge daddy’s girl and she especially loves her Auntie Jenny and her daddy’s friend David.

She beat her brother with not only hair and birth weight, but also teeth. She has had four for months where her brother cut his first on his first birthday.

I love the place she is at now. She understands many things and she rushes to meet me when I get home. She waves and gives hugs. She’s easy to make laugh. She has quite a personality, even though she can’t really talk yet. And she always gets her way. If baby ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy.

Her nicknames have been Raynaliscious, Rayna Pants, Dolly, Miss Thing and currently, Booga. She is also the prettiest girl in the world:)

Her brother made me a mother. And she is the one who completed our family. They both have such a special place in our family and lives. I am so elated that I get to have both a boy and a girl. I can’t wait until she’s a little older and we can do girl stuff together. We’ll probably get our nails done together by the time she’s 3, haha. I just looooooooove this little girl and thank God for sending her to me.

Happy Birthday Booga!

Baby’s First Pumpkin Patch

Seeing as Rayna was fresh out of the baby factory last year, we never made it to any of our normal pumpkin patches. It somehow seemed like an unfinished fall without a hay ride and a glass of cider. This year, it was perfect because she was so interactive with the animals. Her face lights up and she has this high-pitched screech sound she makes when she sees animals. She tried to pet the baby chicks like she pets our big moose of a dog.

My workplace is amazing. They sponsor a day for their employees every year to check out Mulberry Lanes Farm. Rayna’s due date was the exact date that the trip fell on last year, so we obviously didn’t RSVP.

Mulberry Lanes offers hay rides, horse rides, and a bunch of petting zoo stuff. You can try to catch a chicken or a turkey. You can feed the goats and hang out in the pig pen. We always spend way too much time in the little cage where they keep the kittens.

Momma, you didn’t save me any coffee!
Dunkin Donuts has the best.
Our favorite spot
No, you can’t bring one home
After you’re done petting all the animals, each person gets to choose a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch to take home. 

My cabbage patch kid

And my cool kid

The weather was absolutely perfect for this trip. The kids were wearing flannel and I was in long sleeves and we got a bit hot, but it was a perfect day. See you next year Mulberry Lanes!

Monarch Butterfly Migration

We had a magical day last weekend at the Butterfly Gardens in Appleton, WI. A friend suggested that place after I told her that we missed the big beautiful migration that happened in Stephen’s Point.

Baby caterpillar

It just so happened on that weekend, they were also participating in the Monarch Migration. Each family was given a monarch. We got to tag our own monarch and release it outside. They check each butterfly for OE and identify it as male or female. We got a female. The cool thing about tagging is that if any other nature centers that participate on their way to Mexico find your butterfly, they will give you a personal call or email. 

My mom and sister also came along, so we both had butterflies to release.
We took our envelope with our butterfly outside to their butterfly gardens. They have an amazing field of butterfly-attracting flowers with a mowed path in the shape of a butterfly. There’s a lookout tower over the field, which is where we bade farewell to our flying beauties. It was a neat moment.
Next, we explored the trails and looked at more butterflies in the wild. It was about 95 degrees and humid, but we didn’t care.

After the trails, we headed inside to the butterfly house. They have a greenhouse-like house where you can go inside with hundreds of butterflies. They give you a Q-tip dipped in Gatorade so you can try to catch them. It was so cool to have the butterflies right in your hands. We spent a lot of time out in that house.
My nephew Amadeus was complaining about not being able to catch anything. When he finally did get one on his Q-tip, he actually caught two of them! They were “cuddling.”
There was also a little pond with turtles and frogs. 
We happened to find a few butterfly wings from some dead monarchs (they only live about 6 weeks). I’m hoping to figure out how to make something neat out of them. The boys want something too, so I’m trying to figure out what to make with them that won’t be too girly.

Turns out Kayne’s first science unit in school will be about butterflies. I have a feeling he might be ahead of the game:)
I really loved our day with the butterflies. It’s such an amazing memory.

Wild Rose Camping Trip

A few weeks ago, we went on a family camping trip. Yep, 10-month-old baby and all. Admittedly, I was pretty worried about how Rayna would sleep, but we had taken a short test camping trip earlier in the summer. I was thinking that that trip would be a good primer for a longer trip. And it sorta was. Rayna slept awful the first night but did pretty well the next few nights. We scrapped the travel bassinet though and put a bunch of padding on the floor between the two back beds and put up a baby gate as a makeshift crib for her. It worked perfectly, even for naps!
Anyhow, on to the trip. We stayed at a campground in Wild Rose, WI called Camp Luwisomo. It’s a Lutheran campground where one side has huge buildings and halls for retreats and the other side has a public campground. I wish more people knew about this place because it’s absolutely beautiful and absolutely affordable! But there was no one there.

We ended up with the entire campground to ourselves except one other family behind us that we befriended. We’re thinking they were Mennonites and we loved getting to know them. We shared S’mores around a campfire and lots of chats. And the kids played with each other every day.
Each day we did a small little something with lots of rest and taking casual drives in between. One day we went into town and visited the fish hatchery. Sadly, it has diminished since we were last there several years ago, but it was still fun to buy feed for a quarter and watch them feed.
This is the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen!
Funny enough, I have an image of him exactly like this from the same place, 5 years ago:
And one more for good effect

Anyhow…
Another day we went into town and played miniature golf and had ice cream:
Hubster and I tied for first place!
Our campground also offered a cute little miniature golf course that we tried too.
Another day we went into town to dinner and found a cute hiking path. They even had fresh spring water that we filled our water bottles with.
While on the trail, I made one fabulous #pinchbouquet
This was another diner nearby…so which is it?
And finally, on the last day, before we packed up to go, Kayne got to go on his very first horse ride. The campground offers guided rides for kids his age and he was so enthralled!
We brought some carrots for the horses

They also had free-range goats that were pretty friendly.

First signs of fall in August?

And just for fun, here’s a picture of an electric chair, I kid you not, they had on display in a thrift store in Wild Rose. Even though I knew it wasn’t even remotely in operation, I still sat at the very edge of the chair, not touching any part of it. It gave me the creeps.

Once we got home, we found this little hitchhiker on my Tone It Up Fit, Fierce Fab book.
This simple little trip was exactly what we needed as a family. Every night of the trip, we curled up and watched movies together. We took the days as casually as anyone ever could. We didn’t spend very much money either, so that didn’t weigh on anyone’s mind. It was just another perfect trip!

Quick Note

Hey guys, you might notice that I’m finally back here on the blog. Yay!!! I feel like a small explanation for my absence is in order, but I’m not ready to disclose the full details yet, so be patient with me:) I recently had a huge setback in my personal life, namely a whole bunch of circumstances surrounding some postpartum OCD/depression issues that I’ve been having. Without going into too much detail, I’ll just say that I could only take life one hour at a time and could muster motivation for nothing beyond the basic necessities. I needed this break.

Thankfully, I have a great team of doctors who all know what’s going on now and have me on the right track. As much as I didn’t want to be on medication while breastfeeding, it is not an option for me. The medication is probably saving my life right now. I realize there is a whole messy mire of stigma attached to mental health issues and I’m ready to help destroy that. It’s real people. It’s as real as diabetes and should be treated as such.

Anyhow, soapbox moment aside, I am well on my way into recovery. Things are much more manageable and much less anxiety-ridden now and I’ve noticed a lot of myself coming back, my passions, my list-making frenzies, my type A “get it done” attitude. And along with that is a renewed thirst for writing and sharing in this space. I already have several posts lined up for the next few days and plenty more in the works or rattling around in my brain. So let’s have a toast, shall we? Here’s to a regular, healthy blogging schedule and a grounded healthy me. Cheers!

***By the way, I am usually an open book, but this condition has me a bit reserved about sharing here. But, if you want to chat more, feel free to email me privately. Because of my experience, I now have a desire to help and support other people with postpartum issues.

Tone it Up and Workout Tips During Pregnancy

Tone it up Prenatal Workout. How to work out with Tone it Up when you're pregnant

 

I’m a huge fan of Tone it Up, it’s no surprise. I talk about them frequently on here. But once I became pregnant, I sort of started to ignore the workouts and motivation that K&K provide religiously. I just kind of shied away from anything that wasn’t pregnancy-specific. There really aren’t any Tone It Up prenatal workouts. And let’s face it, their workouts are geared toward young, single or newly married women looking for a beach body. Preggos/moms aren’t really their target market:)

Tone it up prenatal workout

However, during pregnancy I started to miss Tone it Up and I realized I could still incorporate a lot of their workouts into my prenatal routine, with some modifications.

Here are a few general pregnancy exercise guidelines (but always, always ALWAYS talk to your doctor first):

 

  1. Avoid lying flat on your back or tummy, especially after the second trimester. You may still be able to do booty bridges and things like that while propped up on a pile of pillows, but if anything feels uncomfortable, stop.
  2. Don’t go too intense. I enjoyed taking my workouts down a notch during pregnancy. If your doctor recommends it, you can continue with the types of workouts you were doing before becoming pregnant. However, huffing and puffing isn’t always safe. It’s usually recommended that you keep your intensity at a level where you can still speak conversationally. And you also don’t want to be working on gains during this tender period.
  3. Twisty positions are kind of hard to manage in later stages of pregnancy and could potentially be dangerous. You may want to avoid them or modify them as necessary.
  4. Don’t get up/down really fast: blood pressure drops and blood flow changes can really mess with a pregnant woman. Moves like surfboard jumps and burpees are not recommended.
  5. Jumping around: not only would this be super uncomfortable, but it can be unsafe. Moves that are jumpy or have the potential to cause you to fall are not advisable.
  6. Don’t stretch too far: the hormone relaxin can really mess with a pregnant woman’s body and stretching too far is definitely a danger. Be careful to stretch only to the point where you just feel it and be careful not to go too deep because it’s much easier to pull something.
  7. Balance is tricky. During pregnancy, a woman’s balance is compromised. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean she shouldn’t do any balance moves at all, but she should be extra cautious, knowing her equilibrium might be off.
  8. Different goals. Most pregnant women are not working on their beach bodies or running endurance races. We’re preparing for labor, trying not to gain over the recommended pregnancy weight, trying to feel better/have more energy, and preparing to bounce back after baby. That being said, the workout needs to be tailored to those goals.
  9. Getting too hot can be dangerous for a pregnant woman. Now, our bodies are super efficient at regulating temperatures and keeping baby safe, but getting too hot is still a concern. Bikram yoga and running on a 104 degree day are probably not in the cards. Drink lots and lots and lots of water and stay cool, mommas.
  10. Preventing diastasis recti: Anything that pushes the stomach out rather than pulls it in is probably not a good idea at this point. Pushing out the abs (as during crunches) can actually increase that gap in the abs, so you need to be careful with ab moves.

With these recommendations in mind, and after a talk with my doctor, I was able to sift through the Tone it Up workouts to find some that were both tolerable and safe for me.

 

A Few of my Tone it Up Prenatal Workout Favorites:

Arms: there’s not much need to modify with arm exercises, and your tummy doesn’t interfere too much with them. Here are my top arm picks:

Legs:

Total Body

Now, I wasn’t able to follow the TIU nutrition plan at all when I was pregnant. Pregnancy threw off all my food habits from the beginning, when morning sickness made only Culver’s mashed potatoes and Pop Tarts tolerable. I wasn’t able to meal prep because thinking about preparing food nauseated me and grossed me out big time. Later in pregnancy though, I was able to maintain a relatively healthy diet, but it definitely wasn’t all clean and Hubster had to prepare most of our dinners (which turned into leftover lunches the next day). I was totally ok with that and enjoyed the break, but I sure did miss some of the recipes from the plan!

Aside from TIU workouts, I also have a few workouts other workouts that I recommend for expecting mommas:

Weekend Highlights: Home Shopping and Lotsa Babies

The first thing I did Saturday morning, after feeding the kidlets of course, was Kenpo X from P90X. I had the cutest little workout partner who did pretty much the whole thing with me. And by “whole thing,” I mean the whole 30 minutes that my DVD actually played. There’s a glitch in my DVD that sends it back to the beginning after 30 minutes. And here I was ready to pound out an hour! Oh darn.

This weekend, Hubster wasn’t feeling well. At. All. I’m pretty sure we’re at the point that we should see a doctor. But you know boys… Anywho, we did make a quick trip to peek at a house on Saturday. It was the perfect house, in the perfect location, with the perfect garage/workspace and everything. It was on 7 acres with a wooded area and a creek. I mean, the stuff of dreams (well, mine at least). If it sounds too good to be true…. As the realtor put it, the foundation “needed some attention” Once that TLC (read: all new foundation) was taken care of, we’d be too far over our budget. And that wasn’t even counting fixing the cracks in the walls from when the house had shifted.

But the realtor also had another listing for us to peek at, so it was good that we went. We were in full-on house hunting mode earlier in my pregnancy, and now that Rayna is past the crazy newborn stage, we’re back at looking again. On our way home, we swung in to visit some family that lived close by so they could see Rayna, you know, before she heads off to college.

Sunday, I volunteered in the nursery at my church. I was wondering how it would go with taking care of other babies AND my own. Let’s just say I actually broke a sweat. I was serving with a 14-ish year old girl and at one point, there were 7 babies in the room, 3 of which can’t even sit up yet. AND it was during the Packer playoff game, so I was very surprised! I finally tried Rayna out in an exersaucer. She’s still a wee bit small, but it was adorable. She needed a pillow under her feet. But at one point, all the babies surrounded her and they were all playing with the toys on it.

Check out this adorable upcycled outfit from our neighbor friends.
I love ruffle butts!

After church, we picked up Hubster and hit up the Chinese buffet. As if I needed this temptation after a whole week of hardcore training and eating clean. Well, at least they had some tasty healthy options so I didn’t completely blow my progress. But I did have a little bit of the peanut butter chicken and some stuffed mushrooms.

Sunday prep day also happened. I’m currently working my way through P90X in this amazing Challenge Group that me and 4 other coaches are leading. I’ve already noticed some changes in my body after only 6 days and can’t wait to see what happens by month’s end. Anyway, I will be doing a post mid-week about how I meal prep, so you can see exactly what I’m eating to keep me on track. And I’ll also be doing a review of how P90X and our Challenge Group is going soon.

Later in the evening, my parents came over to soak up some of that delicious baby love. It was nice to just have a laid-back weekend with visits with family and time together.

What did you do this weekend?

How to Survive the First Days Home with Baby

I cried on the way home from the hospital when we brought both Kayne and Rayna home. I wasn’t sure I was qualified to be taking care of this completely reliant human and dress them and change them and feed them…every single day. I cried because I wanted to take all the L&D nurses home with me. Everything was taken care of at the hospital and they were so sweet to me. And it’s hard to imagine that you may not see your doctor, the person who has seen you almost every single week and held your hand every step of the way, ever again. It’s a strange feeling, but I know other moms understand what I’m talking about.

It’s been six years since I took home a baby and all the emotions and familiar thoughts came back to me full force. Bringing home a baby is the most emotional time in a woman’s life, and it can be extremely isolating and emotional. Not only that, but your hormones go from an all-time high level down to zero fairly quickly, sucking moms into a roller coaster of emotions. When your child is figuring out how not to sleep, it can compound the problem tenfold.

Those first few weeks home are such a raw, tender time in a mother’s life and need to be navigated delicately, but with every shred of strength that a mother can muster. That being said, here I’ll share my best advice from my experience for surviving the first few weeks:

1. Attend a mommy group right away. My hospital held a weekly group for new moms, and those ladies all had the same look on their faces as I did. We could ugly cry in each other’s company and show up unshaven and puked on in with our babies and feel like we’d been pulled into a warm hug. As a bonus, my group was run by a lactation consultant who freely gave breastfeeding advice, empathy, and even free goodies like milk storage bags. This group was a lifesaver, especially after my first child, when I felt more clueless and isolated than I’d ever felt in my life. You may not feel like you want to go, that the effort to get the baby ready is profound, but trust me, you’ll be glad you went!

2. Take people up on their offers to help. Make a short list of things that you can tell family the next time they ask to help. Ask them to do the dishes, cooking, cleaning or grocery shopping. Prepping snacks or freezer meals, picking your older children up from school, or mowing your lawn are excellent tasks for those who reach out when you and your partner are feeling like zombies. Offering to hold the the baby while you do those tasks just isn’t quite the same, so be ready with your list of orders.

3. Carve out adult time. This could be 5 minutes on the phone with your best friend or a quick coffee with your mom. Getting out and having just a few moments of “normal” time can be quite anchoring, even when you have to bring baby along. Stay in contact with your friends rather than go into hiding. It may feel extremely forced, but it gives you a sense of autonomy that can help keep you sane. It will be so worth it and it will give you the courage to do more and more with baby in tow.

I met a friend for lunch. Rayna slept right through. Since
she was still asleep, I stayed and read some personal
training material while I was there.
Date night with Hubster!

4. Remind yourself over and over again that the first two weeks are the hardest. It gets sooooo much easier from there. During the first two weeks (and maybe a little longer), the baby doesn’t know day from night and you’re just getting used to this astronomical life adjustment. It does get easier, it does get easier, it does get easier. I wish I could wrap my arms around every new mom and tell her that it will all be ok when it feels like you’re not strong enough. But the third week, at least for me, seems to be the golden number when some of the early struggles begin to fade.

5. Get outside. If the weather outside is decent during your maternity leave, make an effort to get outside, even if it’s just in the backyard or on the porch. Taking stroller walks was one of the most rejuvenating things I ever did with Kayne. As an added bonus, the outdoors were magic for my son. He’d be inconsolable for hours inside and then be completely fine the instant we walked outside. Not only that, I always felt so good after moving and getting out of the house.

Here we bundled up the baby in a stroller and took a short 
hike through beautiful marshes.

6. Make time for some yoga or other mind/body practice. As soon as the doctor gave me the ok to exercise after having Kayne, I hid away every Saturday morning for an hour-long yoga session that made me feel so different before and after. Like magic, I felt grounded and peaceful and much more capable of tending to my son. I would encourage new moms to take this gentle, revitalizing approach to your recovery routine. I was pretty hardcore before I had him, so it was nice to slow down and get a little “me time” that made me feel like a better mom.

7. Join an online mommy group. Facebook groups with your birth month are golden. People will answer your questions within minutes and offer support and kind words (usually) and reassure you that they’re going through exactly the same things. You can even throw the wackiest question out there and probably get some great feedback. Nothing is off limits, believe me! You may even find a new mommy in your area to meet up with. I actually did!

8. Create little rituals with your baby: I adored Kayne’s bedtime ritual when he was just days old. We’d head upstairs to bed around 7:30, nurse, watch a little TV, turn out all the lights and just rest. With Rayna we usually do a bath (every other day) followed by a lavender oil massage. Then, I wrap her up in a swaddle blanket, turn on the white noise machine and we very quietly transition into bedtime. In the mornings, I always pull the bassinet or bouncy seat into the bathroom for a shower. Babies love the shower sound and momma doesn’t have to face the world feeling like a greaser:) With both my babies, we had some specific routines that made me feel better and eventually helped get us into a good groove and helped them adjust to life in the non-womb world.

9. Let go of your to-do list Right now, you need to make space for the unexpected, because everything is unexpected. And don’t worry about work and chores. Let them go for awhile. Your sole job right now is taking care of that beautiful little human. Don’t allow other pressures to deter you from that. I’m crazy type-A who always has a list of goals and dreams and can’t stand a dirty house, but in the big picture, my family IS my hopes and dreams and home. And the newborn stage goes by so fast, you have to fully immerse yourself in that and nothing else before you miss it. This is the time to step back from the outside pressures and focus on the ones inside your arms. You can still build your dream home business someday, but for today, just live for that precious little baby. It will take a huge weight off your shoulders.

10. Figure out the magic touch for your baby: Arm yourself with all the baby arsenal that typically soothes them: a rocking chair, rock and play, bouncy seat, swing, white noise machine (or app), and swaddling blanket. Find what works for your bambino right away (and try again later because it could change) and it will save you so many tears!!! By trial and error, we found that both of our babies slept better in the crib in their own room. You might find a pack and play or your own bed is where your baby sleeps best. Rayna loves to be swaddled and sleeps by the sound of crickets every night. One of our nurses told us that the white noise machine and swaddle blanket were the two things she always recommends to new moms, and they happened to be the two things that worked best for Rayna.

11. Give babywearing a try: Wearing your baby in a wrap might just offer you some shred of normalcy, not to mention the bonding opportunity the wrap affords you. Wraps sometimes allow you to get a load of laundry folded, since they leave your arms free. They’re really great for taking the baby out places. We took Kayne to the children’s museum and I “wore” Rayna around. She loved it and there was no way we would’ve navigated that place with a stroller. In their first days, babies often love sleeping in that warm little nest. I guess babywearing is a huge thing. Like a mommy movement. And there are heaps of babywearing groups on Facebook for support. I’ve seen lots of wrap DIYs on the likes of Pinterest. There are even babywearing workouts if you want to be crazy like that:)

12. Read this beautiful article that speaks all the perfect words for this space in time.