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It’s Okay to Cry

The one who falls and gets up is so much stronger than the one who never fell. -La La Anthony

In difficult circumstances – like the ones my family is dealing with now – I am strong. I am strong for my children. I am strong for my husband. I take it all in… the fear, the unknown, the medical jargon. I try to understand every bit of it. I process it and spread the information. I ask for prayers. I get complimented for handling everything so well.

But that is not easy and it’s not always.

At 6am on Saturday morning I lost it. I had only slept for a couple of interrupted hours. I was tired, exhausted, drained, stressed. Jameson was refusing to eat. He was upset and crying. I was upset and crying. The stress was weighing on me. The sleep deprivation was weighing on me. The seriousness of the situation was weighing on me. I talked to my mom on the phone and let it all out. She called reinforcements to help settle me down and keep me calm.

At 3pm on Tuesday afternoon I lost it. I sat at our kitchen table after being home the night before for a shower and to go to my postpartum check-up. I just stared off into space as my eyes teared up. My mom brought me a plate of potato casserole – my first home-cooked meal in four days. My eyes got too full and the tears started streaming down my face. I think at one point I was crying because I was crying. It is so hard, because it felt wrong to be at home, but then I felt guilty for feeling that… like I am neglecting Jameson when I am at home, but neglecting Hazel when I am at the hospital. It is so hard, because Hazel is not allowed at the hospital, only two people can be in Jameson’s room at a time, and only one parent can spend the night. It can be lonely and overwhelming. It is so hard, because it seems like Jameson is getting better only to learn a day later that he needs more help. It is so hard, because I keep receiving ‘explanation of benefit’ letters, but no actual bills, and we are living off a salary and a half due to maternity leave. It is so hard, because I have a buried fear of losing another baby. It is just so hard.

I know there is light at the end of this tunnel, but it’s ok to breakdown, to cry, to lose it. It helps release stress and clear your mind. What matters is that you get back up and you keep moving forward. You don’t have to have it all together all the time. Humble yourself, ask for help, accept help, be honest about your feelings, pray.

Motherhood, Pregnancy

Respect the Registry

One of my biggest pet peeves in the social realm of my life is when people ignore a registry. Whether it be for a baby shower or a wedding. Registries are important and are meant to help in the gift-giving process. They literally give you a road map to exactly what the person needs for their new baby or their new married life. People don’t create registries to be annoying or to inconvenience you, but instead to aid you (and themselves), so there is less returning of stuff they already have, don’t want, or isn’t their style.

Many people put a lot of time and effort into creating their registry. For first babies, there is a lot of stuff out there. You are bombarded with brands and gear that you aren’t sure if you need or not. You read list after list and article after article to figure out what you want and need and then from there you read review after review to find out which item is best for your needs, lifestyle, and budget.

With subsequent babies, many parents already have a good idea of what they need and want. They know what gear will be handed down from their first child – high chairs, swings, cribs, etc. They know what brands they like – Pampers Pure diapers, Enfamil formula, etc. They’ve already done this and succeeded enough to have another child, so their registry will consist of items they know for sure they will use and love.

Also, be sure to mark on the registry what you purchased, so other guests will not buy the same thing. [You’d think this was common sense, but for our wedding, we received three of the same comforter.] If you choose not to consult the registry because of budget reasons, most registries have a range of options that accommodate all types of budgets. [Emphasis on “most” because I did get invited to a wedding once where I could basically only afford a spoon – it was ridiculous.]

Now I’m not trying to tell you how to shop or be a good gift giver, but for the love of goodness consult the registry. If you are a oh I just love baby clothes person then look at the registry to see if clothes are on there (most of the time they won’t be), but if they are get an outfit the parent has said they want or get a practical item off the registry and throw in an outfit or two. If you are a oh I’m a mom and I know exactly what they need person, I urge you to respect what they think they need and share your advice/opinion if asked. If you are a oh I just love walking down every aisle and grabbing the cutest and neatest stuff person I encourage you to look at their registry and pick the cutest and neatest stuff off of it.

If you are set on ignoring the registry, you typically can’t go wrong with diapers. Some parents have brand preferences for diapers (I do!), so just provide the receipt, so they can exchange for a different brand or size if need be. Providing the receipt is always a good idea in case the item is defective or if they receive multiples of an item. Gift cards and board books are good “ignore the registry” gifts as well.

All I’m trying to say is that your friends will be tremendously grateful to you for getting items they truly needed and wanted and helping them get started on their new life right off the bat!

Pregnancy

My 4 Pregnancy Must-Haves

As a pretty easy-going pregnant woman, I wanted to share my four simple pregnancy must-haves with you. When you first find out you’re pregnant, you want to make sure you are prepared, so you end up on a Google or Pinterest rabbit hole of lists upon lists of stuff you just have to have to have a successful pregnancy. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be super complicated… and this is coming from the girl who bought pickles in preparation for cravings that I just never had.

Now I just want to reiterate the easy-going part. Don’t hate me, but I have yet to get morning sickness, nausea, or cravings. So my list is simple, because my pregnancies have been simple. I won’t recommend any item that I haven’t actually used, tried, and found helpful. So with that being said, my list doesn’t have anything to help those awful pregnancy symptoms that I have not had to deal with. If you are dealing with those things, I think my list can be a great starting point for general pregnancy and I hope you find it something on here helpful!

Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter

This lotion/cream has been amazing through both of my pregnancies so far. With Hazel, I tried a few different stretch mark keep-away creams before finding the Burt’s Bees option and it is by far my favorite. It feels like lotion – not too thick, not too gooey, not too greasy – and absorbs really easily. Others I tried, I felt so gross afterward that I didn’t even want to put on a shirt, because it would stick to me as would everything else. This is NOT like that. I feel like it works best applying it right after a shower or bath. You can even use it on your breasts, butt, and thighs… really anywhere you could get a stretch mark. With my previous pregnancy, I used it through the second and third trimester and have no stretch marks. This pregnancy, I have used it since the first trimester, so fingers crossed I get the same results.

Multiple Pillows

I am not typically a lot of pillows person or a fluffy pillow person. PrePregnancy I sleep with one ridiculously flat pillow. When I got pregnant the first time everyone was telling me I needed to get a pregnancy pillow. I looked them up and contemplated for a long time and decided not to get one and to see how long I could sleep comfortably with what I had. I like sleeping near my husband too and many of those pregnancy pillows make it hard for two to sleep comfortably in bed together. So I start out with my usual sleeping arrangement and as my pregnancy progresses and belly gets larger, I just add a pillow. Around the second trimester when I can no longer sleep on my stomach, I add a pillow between my knees and one extra pillow under my head. Then as the heartburn worsens, I just add a pillow behind my head and adjust the angle at which I’m sleeping. Otherwise, I don’t need anything fancy.

Tums

Heartburn is one of my number one pregnancy symptoms. It hit me hard the first time and it is hitting me even harder this time. Tums has been my saving grace. Last time, I had to go into the office, so I kept some in my purse and by my bed. This time I’m working from home, so I just have a ginormous bottle next to my bed. So far during this pregnancy, I have only had heartburn at night, so I pop two Tums right before I lay down and then through the night depending on how uncomfortable I am. This stuff helps me so much that as soon as I run out, I am already planning my trip to the store to replenish my stash. I cannot recommend having some Tums on hand during your pregnancy.

Comfy Shoes

Finding a pair of shoes that don’t kill my feet or make them swell up like sausages has been a bit of a challenge. With my first pregnancy my feet grew a bit, so most of my shoes didn’t fit after the second trimester. I ended up wearing these knock-off Birkenstock sandals from Marshalls every single day all day to the point where the soles literally detached. This time my slip on Birks have not been doing me any favors and my Adidas tennis shoes have been my go-to. I cannot stress enough how much wearing comfortable shoes can change your whole demeanor during pregnancy especially at the end of a long day. I wear those tennis shoes a lot and often times look super dorky, but I just don’t care.

Okay, so that’s it. Just four things I use pretty much all through my pregnancies. Obviously there are days that I need a massage or a heating pad or some Tylenol, but these are my four tried and true must-haves that help my pregnancies from beginning to end. 🙂

Motherhood

Don’t Rain on Other People’s Kids

Not to toot my own horn, but Hazel is advanced. It’s not just my opinion, but we’ve been told by both our pediatrician and midwife that Hazel has advanced speech and motor skills. I have no idea whether it has something to do with us as parents or if Hazel is just special. We were told at Hazel’s 12 month checkup by our pediatrician, “if you have other kids, don’t expect them to be like her.” At not even 2 years old, Hazel speaks very clearly and can say a few complete sentences. It’s not normal, but we are proud of her!

I say all that, because we were at a birthday party the other day and some of the other parents there were complimenting Hazel on her speech and behavior; inquiring about how old she was. As a parent, it makes you feel good when other people notice your kid and say nice things about them. What wasn’t cool was another parent there hearing these compliments and inserting her own children into the scenario, claiming that her son spoke like that when he was her age (now 5) and her daughter does now (just under 2.5) in order to make the compliments seem like nothing.

As parents we should always be building each other up. It’s kind to compliment another person’s child when you notice them doing something well or positive or whatever. It’s also kind to compliment other parents when you see their kid doing something well or positive or seeing the parent do something well. Parenting is hard and exhausting and you often feel like you aren’t doing a good enough job or your kid doesn’t measure up… lots of insecurities accompany parenthood. All I can say is let other parents have their moment. If someone is complimenting their kids and not yours, just let them; your turn will come. Don’t cut in to make it about your kids.

Don’t bring the rain, but instead add to the sunshine.

Motherhood

The Truth About Baby Clothes

This may seem like an odd subject for a blog post, but I’m mainly writing this for soon-to-be mamas or mamas currently overwhelmed by baby clothes.

Who knew such adorable pieces of cloth could cause one to become overwhelmed or stressed? Not me! I used to think the more the merrier when it came to baby clothes, but since having a baby, I have changed my tune. The truth is: the actual amount of clothes one baby needs is entirely up to the mom and certain truths about your lifestyle as well as your personal thoughts and feelings.

Before we get into those lifestyle truths and personal thoughts and feelings, let’s talk about the inevitable…

People Will Buy You Clothes

Baby clothes are just so cute that friends and family just cannot help but pick out a few outfits to give to you. If you have a shower just double that amount. If you have shopaholic parents triple that amount. The amount of clothes one receives for a first child is a lot.

People Will Offer You Hand-Me-Downs

If you have friends and/or family that have just recently had children or “finished” having children, you will more than likely get a few hand-me-down offers. It can be seen as rude or snooty to decline these offers, so sometimes you get stuck with a lot more clothes than you expected.

Ok, so now that it is clear that you will no doubt receive a lot of clothes one way or the other, let’s talk about some feelings this can stir up (and every feeling is valid!).

You Can Feel Excited

When the clothes start rolling in – especially during the baby shower – you’ll probably be really excited. It’s absolutely exciting to see all of these adorable outfits that your little baby is going to sport once they are here. Not to mention excited that you are stocked up and your little one won’t be going without.

You Can Feel Grateful

Obviously at the baby shower you feel super grateful that all of these people thought of you and your little babe. That they took the time to shop for you and come to your party. That they were so generous. That it is money you don’t have to spend.

You Can Feel Overwhelmed

But it’s also okay to feel overwhelmed by the volume you might receive. It’s okay to be overwhelmed that your parents seem to show up with new clothes every couple of weeks. It’s okay to be overwhelmed if you don’t have enough storage space for all of the clothes that you have.

You Can Feel Disappointed

Lastly, it’s okay to feel disappointed that you received so many clothes that there really isn’t much of a point for you to go shopping. It’s okay to feel disappointed that the clothes you received aren’t really your style, but since you are so grateful, you keep them and let your baby wear them anyway.

My Truth: I have dealt with everything I mentioned above. The sheer volume I received through my shower and hand-me-downs was great. I was so excited and grateful until I sat down to sort it all and that’s when I started feeling overwhelmed. Hazel is 19 months old and I still struggle with being so grateful and yet so overwhelmed and disappointed. I am blessed with a mother who loves to shop for my daughter and who has the means to do so regularly. I am grateful for her, but at the same time sometimes I get so frustrated, because I buy her a few outfits that I really like and I can afford, but I feel like she barely gets to wear them, because I have so many outfits to circle through to make sure everything gets worn. It’s a battle! I also get overwhelmed on where to store them when she outgrows them. She’s not even two and I have four storage bins filled in her closet and slowly, but surely running out of room. Honestly, I have accepted my feelings and I’m trying to express how I feel and what I need/want more clearly this time around.

Ok, so now onto lifestyle truths and personal thoughts/feelings to consider when deciding how much your baby really needs…

How Often Do You Do Laundry?

This is a big one for me when I think about how many outfits my kid needs. If you do laundry once a week or more, then I would say your kid does not need very much. This is the ideal situation if you are interested in capsule wardrobes for kids. When it comes to babies, you might find yourself doing laundry more frequently due to blowouts and spit up, but I felt like that stage ended pretty quickly. Personally, I do my kid’s laundry about every other week. I try to keep that in mind when figuring how many pairs of pajamas she needs and roughly how many outfits she needs. I don’t necessarily want her to wear the same exact thing every week, but I try and go for options that can be mixed and matched with a few dresses thrown in. | As I said above, my mom loves to shop for Hazel, so I am working on getting the volume of items she has downsized.

How Much Money Do You Have to Spend? Do You Care About Quality?

I feel like these two go together – money and quality. Right now, ethically made clothing is all the rage. Don’t take that the wrong way, I am for ethically made clothing, but I cannot always afford it – especially for my child. Children grow incredibly fast – I am blessed to have a kid that grows slower than most, so she wears her clothes longer, but even still, she goes up a size every three to four months… that can really add up. Children are messy! When they are newborn, it’s blowouts and spit up. When they are crawling, it’s just the wearing out of clothes from dragging them on the floor all day. When they are walking+, it’s falling down, spilling food, playing outside, dirt… so for me, I don’t like to spend a lot on what my child wears, because a) I know she is going to outgrow it in a month or two and b) I don’t want to be worried about it getting ruined.

How Much Storage Space Do You Have?

Having a place to keep all of the clothes you have is super important. When we first brought Hazel home, we were in an apartment and only had a dresser for her. Then when we moved into our house, we had a small closet plus the dresser. For the first 12 months, every drawer was jammed full of clothes. I didn’t hang much up, because it was so overwhelming. Slowly, as she outgrew things, the amount of clothes dwindled. Now I have more of a system and both my husband and I know where items are which has really helped. When buying clothes, keep in the back of your head where you will put them. Putting together and closet/dresser system before shopping can be really helpful, so you don’t get home with so much that you can’t fit it anywhere.

Will You Be Keeping These Clothes for Future Kids?

This goes alongside storage space. If you are planning to have more kids and want to save the clothes you already have, be aware of the space you have – either in your kid’s closet, in your attic, in your basement, or in your garage. I didn’t think this one through very well – we have a small attic and full garage, so the old clothes are stuffed in bins in the bottom of her closet, but there is about to be no more space and that just isn’t ideal as she grows.

Are You OK If Clothes Go Unworn?

One of the biggest issues I have experienced with having so many clothes is that many of the items either I bought or my mom bought, have gone unworn. I’m not sure if it bothers my mom – but it really bothers me. If I am going to spend money on an outfit, I want to make sure she wears it multiple times – I want to get my money’s worth out of it. The problem I had with having everything shoved into the drawers, is that certain pieces would get shoved to the bottom and as I did laundry, the clean clothes would get placed on top, ultimately forgetting about all other options buried underneath. Then I would find it and it would no longer fit. Very frustrating. Now that she’s older and the amount of clothes has decreased, I hang all tops, onesies, dresses, and overalls up, so that I can keep track of what’s being worn and what isn’t.

So in the end the amount of clothing that your kid needs is entirely up to you! Everyone has different preferences and needs to fit their lifestyle. This is just my two sense on what I wish I had known and what I have learned over the past year and a half. Also, if you are super picky about some of the things options above, I would mention it to your friends and family or on your shower invite or on your registry. Being honest and forward will save you a lot of time and frustration, but also save them time and money. Best of luck!