Whole30: Surviving Week 1

Last Monday, G and I dove head first into the Whole30 Program. (Let’s not talk about how Sunday, I ate ALL THE CHEESE… I mean, I had to get it out of the fridge, right?).  I’m not going to bore you with a million recipes because that’s what Pinterest is for. But I thought it might be helpful to share some of my survival tips.  I am 7 days into this thing, so obviously I’m a pro at this point. [Kidding – not even really sure I know what I’m doing]. But if I can do it, I think just about anyone can.

First, let’s talk about why we are doing it.  I’ve talked before about my desire to get healthier.  I’ve got a toddler to keep up with and – in all honesty – I want to feel good about the way I look.  I want to set healthy examples for my child so that making the healthy choice will be the natural one for him. G is at a point where he wants to lose some weight as well and he’s got some willpower like nothing I’ve ever seen. Several friends and coworkers have done the Whole30 program recently and it seemed like a tough but good plan for us to kick off a healthier routine… and it was NOT based on deprivation, special shakes or drinks, and weird supplements, which was big for us.

Second, let’s talk about the hardest parts.  For me, that was dedicating the time and energy to meal prepping and coming up with snack options.  The solution to this was to just keep it simple.  Pinterest is full of fancy, complicated and deliciously photographed recipes that require 25+ ingredients only found at Trader Joe’s.  That is so NOT necessary.  A lean meat with some roasted veggies will do you just fine. And who has time to slice and bake 600 sweet potatoes to make like 5 servings of sweet potato chips? Not me, that’s for sure.  So here are some things I did that made things much easier than I anticipated.

  1.  I got some high quality food storage tupperware. I’ve always just grabbed a stack of the basically disposable stuff at the grocery store but I knew that for this kind of meal prep, that wasn’t going to cut it. I love the Rubbermaid Brilliance 14-piece set.  The tops snap on and keep raw items fresh and cooked items from geting mushy.  They stack nicely too!fridge shot
  2. I set aside time before the week started to prep meals.  Even if there wasn’t much I could cook ahead of time, I at least chopped up vegetables, marinated meat and got everything as prepared as I possible could to make weeknight cooking easy and quick.
  3. I cooked extra servings at each dinner.  I’m not much of a salad person – not because I don’t like salads – but mostly because I just always want a “hot” meal… maybe it’s a Southern thing? The best way to keep from burning out on salads was to just make extra servings at dinner so we could enjoy leftovers for lunch the next day. Sometimes I’d even make enough to last us two dinners and a lunch. Cooking every night can be hard when there’s a tiny human trying his damndest to destroy your kitchen so being able to just heat something up is like having an night off!
  4.  I kept fresh fruit everywhere! On the kitchen island and in the fridge.  As soon as I got home from the grocery store, I washed and chopped my fruit, tossed together and kept in tupperware at eye level in the fridge for a go-to snack.  I also bagged up individual servings to grab when we left for work. (NOTE: you’re gonna need alot of ziploc bags). Farmers markets and local farm stands are a great way to keep from dropping Benjamins on fruits and veggies.  I’m always amazed how much more expensive it is to shop healthy! Support your local farmers and save yourself some money. If you’re local to Birmingham, I love J & S Produce farm stand at Trinity Methodist Church in Homewood. They are in the parking lot every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning.fruit
  5. Guacamole has become my best friend.  Sure, I’d love to make it fresh each time but ain’t nobody got time for that. Sabra makes a smallish/medium-sized tub perfect for sharing and snack-sized portions as well.  I’ve been throwing it on salads, dipping carrots (seasoned with chili power and lime juice) in it. Any way you can add avocado to a meal, you’re gauranteed to stay fuller longer and it’s a great source of healthy fat.guac
  6. Portion out and package your snacks so eating on-the-go isn’t a disaster.  It’s those moments when you’re out running errands and hunger hits you that are the most dangerous while doing Whole30.  There is almost no compliant quick fix from the convenient store and eating out is pretty difficult. (We’ve eaten out once so far and there was basically one option on the menu that we could have). Grabbing a bag of carrots or almonds that is premeasured so you don’t binge in one of those Snickers hunger moments can totally save your day.almonds
  7. I stopped stereotyping my food.  Eggs aren’t just for breakfast. Grilled chicken isn’t just for lunch or dinner. Eat what you want (that’s compliant) when you want it.  This morning, I had roasted vegetables for breakfast. And I’ll be having a hard-boiled egg with my lunch. The notion that certain foods are for certain meal-times can really box you in and leave you with not enough options… especially when the fridge is getting bare and you haven’t made your next grocery run.
  8. Be confident that you have the willpower to do this.  It really isn’t that hard. You just have to want it bad enough. Want to give you body a boost, rid it of the stuff that shouldn’t be there and reap the rewards.  You’re not really supposed to weigh on this program but I am.  And the scale is moving in the right direction. That may not be your reason for doing this program, but it sure is a nice perk!

So, if you’ve been on the fence about tring Whole30, I say do it! What’s the worst thing that can happen?  You cheat? You fail? You probably would still be eating and treating your body better than you did before. And there’s nothing wrong with that! Let me know if you decide to try it. I want to hear all about it!

Note: Whole30 website has some awesome resources here.

Scroll down for additoinal essentials, tips and suggestions:

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Basic girls’ guide to a weekend in Birmingham

I had so much fun this weekend, I just had to share. For a few years now, the Birmingham I once knew has slowly become unrecognizable… in a good way. I’ve always loved living here but now this little big city has really become the best version of itself. There’s almost always something going on and new restaurants or bars to try.  And with so many kid-friendly options, it’s easy to still feel hip after having babies!

Warning: the weekend itinerary below is about as basic and it can get. And that’s how I like it. So if you’re cool with being a basic chick, here’s what to do with your Saturday in Birmingham.

Not picture: Copious amounts of coffee. So basic.

8:15am – Hit the gym with girlfriends for a good workout before eating your weight in James Beard award-winning dinners…. and also wine.

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11:30am – Brunch so hard at Rowe’s Service Station with baby in tow (sorry not sorry for all the scrambled eggs on the floor!)

 

1:30pm – Drop baby and husband and home for a nap and do a little retail therapy. Didn’t snap any pics but hit two of  the favorites: At Home Furnishings and Stock & Trade Design Co.

3:00pm – Go home. Chill. Snuggle with adorable tiny humans… becuase you’re too old for all these activities and vokda before 7pm. Also, open wine.

7:30pm – Get cute but not too cute. Force husband to take your photo while you wait for your Uber. Pro tip: Take photo in your formal living (aka – the only room in your house not taken over by baby toys and sippy cups).IMG_3277

8:00pm – Drink all the champs and eat all the escargot at Chez Fon Fon. Start to wonder if you should have gone somewhere else because you come here all the time and then decide absolutely not because Chez Fon Fon is the next best thing to heaven on earth.

10:30pm – Hit the newest hipster hangout The Atomic  for a DELICIOUS cocktail and feel super cool because two of your buds are featured on the wall. (What’s up Randall and Rashid!)IMG_3283

11:15pm – GO HOME. Because you’re old and you turn into a pumpkin a midnight. And, also, you’re responsible and are already thinking ahead about losing an hour of sleep due to daylight savings time and maybe panicking a little becuase you’re heard it turns children into little tiny devils and you’re not sure what kind of monster your 10 month old might be in the morning.

5:45am – Wake up to tiny monster cackling in his crib and breathe a sigh of relief because it turns out he’s still really adorable and all he wants are a diaper change and some snuggles.

And then do a little jig because you managed to be both cool and responsible in one weekend while soaking in some good quality time with some pretty awesome ladies.

 

I am a very, very messy person

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Total honesty here. Being tidy just does NOT come naturally to me. I am was always the girl who had to spend couple of hours cleaning and picking up before we had guests… god forbid, overnight guests. I go all out in so many other aspects of life, I guess when it came to the end of the day, I just never wanted to deal with whatever mess I may have created. And I never thought it bothered me.

(In my defense, my house was rarely ever DIRTY… just unkempt.  And sometimes, not even that to the naked eye… because I’d probably just stuffed everything in a closet somewhere.)

But then I had a child. And being messy was just no longer an option for so many reasons. Now, there were 90 million bottles and bottle brushes and bottle parts and formula cans to add to my stuff. Now there were bouncers and swings and walkers and boppies on the floor. Now there was a baby crawling on a rug that may or may not be covered in pup hair. JK – I became OCD with the floors one III started crawling… but you catch my drift.

(Disclaimer: I have help with the housekeeping. Between working and parenting and general adulting, it’s just something I need. But sometimes I found that she was just having to clean around my clutter.)

So the time came and I had to do it. I had to become a more organized and tidy person. I had to take control of my procrastination and my lazy tendencies and hunker down. And I’m so, so grateful I did.

Here’s How:

  1. I did some research.  This may sound silly to many of you who pick up and put away and organize with ease. But, for me, I really needed to learn how to create and maintain these new habits. And I’m a nerd. So I wanted to research how to set my neat and tidy priorities and then tackle them. (This so reminds me of how Gidget decided to learn to surf by reading a book thus winning the heart of Moondoggy. If you have no idea, what I’m talking about… that should accurately illustrate my nerdiness.). My favorite resource for this was Allie Casazza. While I will never be a minimalist, her tips still proved to be invaluable.
  2. I evaluated my time. This is a huge thing that Allie focuses on in her blog. I always blamed ignoring a lot of household chores on not having time but – in reality – that was a LIE. I literally plotted out my typical day. What I spent my time on. And while there wasn’t a lot of “white space” on my daily calendar between baby and work, there was enough. And there were inefficiencies I could tighten up.
  3. I tackled a few big things first. Before I really started implementing this stuff in my every day life, I tackled a few big projects. One was my closet. I have a huge closet. Bigger than I’d like to admit. Full of clothes that I love… and full of clothes that I hate.  I took an entire Sunday (put G on daddy duty) and went through every single thing.  I purged, then organized. I cannot even describe the sense of relief I felt after. And, I can’t life. I freaking love walking into that closet now.
  4. I let the big stuff trickle down. Once my closet was organized, I took on the laundry room. A smaller task but still one that needed a lot of attention. I figured out what I spend the most time laundering and why. I made that more efficient. I organized our hampers. I got smaller hampers so it would be impossible to let things back up because they’d have nowhere to go.
  5. I fit it in my every day. Allie talks a lot about something she calls rhythms. Basically creating certain habits throughout the day, every day. I’m not quite there yet (and may not ever be) but I’ve found myself doing some of these things unknowingly. I take 2 minutes in the morning after getting ready to throw in one load of laundry. And heading upstairs right when I get home to toss it in the dryer. That may be the only productive household thing I need to do that day and I just made it a part of my routine that I hardly even think about. And pretty soon, without even thinking about it, I just starting putting things away when I was done with them. Some days, I would even shock myself.

 

Here’s Why:

  1.  It was an underlying stresser.  Remember earlier I said I didn’t think any of this bothered me? Well, apparently it did. It just added so much unnecessary stress. And once, the mess or clutter started to disappear, I started to notice how much happier of a person I was. I recently forgot we were having overnight guests for a weekend and my husband reminded me the night before.  My reaction… “Oh yeah…ok.” No panic to pick up, no stress about the condition of the upstairs of the house. That was NOT the me I knew even just a few months ago.
  2. My environment was affecting me. Take my closet, for example. It was such a messy disaster full of so many things that I didn’t wear. I ended up where the same 7-8 things repeatedly. And I just wasn’t into.  That is NOT like me. I LOVE clothes. I love fashion and design and it’s always been a major way of expressing myself. But that was fading. Since I took control of my closet, I’m actually wearing things I love again. Putting things together that make me feel great… some of which I forgot I even owned. When my closet was a mess, I was beginning to look like a mess. And if I didn’t like my outfit, I was putting less effort into my hair and makeup.  I was becoming my environment. Now, that’s a good thing.
  3. I have time for the things I want to do. My spending my time more efficiently when it came to keeping up the house, I discovered I could actually spend more than an hour doing what I wanted during the weeknight. I could spend time with III and G. I could watch TV, read a book, go to the gym. It was liberating. And I now no longer have to spend long chunks of time on the weekends mass-cleaning my house. Some days, I even have to come up with something to do!

If I’m being honest, I’m not sure why I’m sharing all of this here. I guess I’m just really proud of myself. I decided that, instead of a resolution for 2017, I would just pick a word and try to live by that word for the year in anything I did. I picked the word “improve” because I could use a little of that in so many aspects of my life. I want to improve my health, my household, my mind.  I want to improve as a wife and a mom and a daughter and a sister and a friend.  And by implementing the things I’ve talked about here, I’m able to focus my time and energy on those things. And that’s something worth being proud of.

(Another disclaimer: I’m still not and may never be a completely tidy person. My office at work is a disaster. My email inbox would make some of you cringe. But, hey, one thing at a time, right?)

What I learned during 7 months of baby reflux

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After a somewhat complicated delivery and extra week spent in the CCN with III, I was SO relieved to come home.  I had struggled with breastfeeding during the 11 days we were in the hospital but I blamed it on us both being on antibiotics and him being connected to IVs and monitors for 7+ days.  I assumed once we got home, relaxed and found a rhythm that things would fall into place.  But that just was not in the cards for us.  I continued having a difficult time producing. I ate ALL the oatmeal, was taking up to 9 fenugreek tablets a day, baking lactation cookies and even drinking some digusting green flavor Gatorade that somebody told somebody told me helped with production.

It was my mother who finally convinced me to just let it go. God bless her!  I was legitimately overwhelmed and Tripp was starving.  Even when he wasn’t starving, he was screaming. Let me say here that I totally understand the benefits of a mother’s breastmilk but there’s also a benefit to having a fed baby and a mom who doesn’t feel like she’s losing her mind. All of that to say, this is not meant to be a breastfeeding post.

Once we were on formula, things normalized a bit but III was still unsatisfied – even unhappy – after feedings.  His reactions to mealtime began to worsen until he basically refused to eat altogether. We were on the cusp on heading to the ER for IV fluids when our pediatrician finally conceded to the idea that he might have acid reflux. We moved to a gentler formula and were prescribe Zantac. That was at 6 weeks old. Over the course of the next 6 months, we saw numerous specialists and increased dosages little by little as III gained weight until he was at the max dosage for an infant. Because he was gaining weight, doctors didn’t seem to be too concerned with the “inconvenience” of a baby that fought and screamed at every feeding.  I remember one particularly bad night calculating how many HUNDREDS of bottles we had left until he hit the magical 6 month date where most babies stop having reflux issues.

That date came and went and we still needed meds. Because of all the tests that were required of III during this process, we discovered a chronic health issue that has the potential to be far more serious than the reflux we were dealing with.  (That is a post for another time). So, in a way, I am grateful for our reflux experience… although that’s hard to admit when I think of the worst of it.  But I learned a few things along the way that might be helpful for some desparate new mom our there googling the heck out of baby reflux hoping to find some answers.

  1. YOU know YOUR own baby. Well-meaning friends and family may unintentionally play down what you are dealing with in an attempt to comfort you or make you feel like nothing is wrong. I can’t tell you how many times others suggested that maybe he was “just a fussy baby” or had colic. I’m a smart person. Common sense can tell me that if my baby is seemingly normal at all times OTHER that feeding times, our issue is definitely feeding-related.
  2. Find a pediatrician YOU TRUST. And I don’t mean trust as in your think they’re a nice and honest person. Most are… there aren’t alot of evil pediatricians out there. But find a pediatrician you have confidence in. Many tend to not worry too much if you child is gaining weight (which mine was…becase I was basically force feeding him). Acid reflux in infants is extremely overdiagnosed so they will often avoid the diagnosis or attempt to let things “take care of themselves.” I resented our first pediatrician for not listening to me or taking my concerns seriously and then when she finally conceded to a reflux diagnosis, she seemed very overwhelmed and uneducated as to why things were not improving.  I had ZERO confidence that she could help me keep my son healthy (especially after a later and unrelated diagnosis). So…I consulted other moms and found one I trusted. And we love him.
  3. Don’t compare your baby to others.  This can be said about alot of things when it comes to parenting… parents tend to compare their children to others based on their size (what’s the obsession with having “big” babies these days???), the timing of their milestones, how quickly they hold their bottles… the list goes on. In the same vein, your baby’s reflux and someone else’s will likely not be the same. Tripp’s reflux lasted months longer that most babies whose moms I’d spoken to and I got so discouraged. And then one day, it stopped. All that desparation and concern that something else was wrong with him was gone. I had done so much unnecessary worrying.
  4. Rely on other moms. Someone else is going through the same thing. I had mom friends that hooked me up with others that they knew had gone through similar situations.  I texted my best friend and III’s godmother an ungodly amount of times throughout our “battle” with reflux. I had a million questions and sometimes just frustrations that needed venting and I would have been much worse off without them.

Here’s the things about acid reflux in infants… it’s not life-threatening (unless you’re in a failure to thrive situation).  But it’s more than just an inconvenience.  I used to feel so guilty about feeling sorry for myself when there were so many mom and babies out there fighting much more difficult battles.  But you know what? No matter the source, it’s terrifying to watch your baby be in pain. It’s gut wrenching to feel like you have no power to help them. And you’re ALLOWED to feel that way.

Here are some specifics about our reflux diagnosis in case you are interested:

  • Diagnosed at 6 weeks, prescribed Zantac
  • Hospitalized at 3.5 months for refusing to feed for 2 days
  • Dosage eventually increased to 1.5 ml 3 times per day
  • Sought chiropractic care at 8 months
  • Stopped usage of meds at 8.5 months
  • Reflux free

I’m not interested in getting into a debate or feeling judged about our decisions to seek chiropractic care but I will share this with you (and you’re welcome to contact me directly if you’d like to discuss further). Around 5 months old, III was coming home with constant run of the mill daycare colds.  Every kid in class had the same cold but III was being sent home because he was vomiting.  Think about that for a minute… consistent (and massive) vomiting with EVERY SINGLE COLD. The average child gets upwards of 10 colds in their first year of life. Our assumption was that the reflux was causing this reaction… either way, one puke and you’re outta daycare for a full 24 hrs…. imagine what that was doing to my paid time off at work.

I’d been advised by many to at least look into chirorpractic care. After speaking to others and doing my own independent research, we decided to take III in to Homewood Friends and Family Chiropractic (PS – they do NOT pop and crack babies so let’s please not go there).  It was the chiropractor that suggested that perhaps it wasn’t III’s reflux but his reflux meds that were causing the vomiting. You see, Zantac is the type of reflux drug that neutralizes stomach acid.  At that point, the only thing III’s body had to digest was breastmilk, formula and watered down fruit purees. Imagine if he was constantly draining (because babies don’t have sinuses) and his stomach acid was not acidic enough to break down that mucus. (I know… this is all very gross). So after just two sessions, we decided to take him completely off the Zantac. Since that day, III has been reflux (and cold-related) vomit free.

I’m not here to recommend chiropractic care as an acid reflux solution for ALL infants. I’m certainly not qualified to do that. You should BY ALL MEANS find a pediatrician you are confident in and trust the diagnosis and prescribed care they give your child. I do fully believe that Zantac was the right solution at the time it was subscribed and that it helped to decrease the symptoms of III’s reflux… until it became the problem. That’s where chiropractic care came in for us.

With their help, we are lucky to be out of the reflux storm now. At 9 months, Tripp is eating, drinking and sleeping like a “normal” baby (whatever that really means).  I personally found motherhood as a whole to be quite overwhelming and dealing with this only made things more difficult for our family. BUT I am a better mom because of it. In just a few months, I went from the new mom that panicked about everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) to a mom and wife who can actually enjoy the fun parts of motherhood.  Who can handle a cold or virus like a normal person without a total meltdown. Who can intentionally time with her family. We are lucky.  And my hope is that you will be too.

 

Preparing for Baby: 3 not so obvious things to get done around the house during your 3rd trimester

Full discolure: I didn’t actually do all of these things before III came home… some of them I did and some I just wished I had done.  There are tons of “preparing for baby” posts out there and I found that they mostly say all the same things… and to be honest, they’re kind of obvious. You don’t want to bring baby home to a messy or dirty house.  So yes, put things away and wipe down, vaccuum and disinfect your little pregnant hearts out.

But there were a few really unique tips I got and things I realized would have been better to tackle before I got home.  For example, I was going to totally purge, sort and organize my master closet as my “maternity leave project.” LOLZ, right? You know what your maternity leave project is? Tending to a newborn’s every need…. and just about nothing else. Maybe a few naps…. a shower here and there.  Unless someone has the world’s chillest baby, there will be no massive organizational undertakings happening in what little time a working mom gets to stay home with their super cute tiny human.  Which leads me to my first and probably most obvious tip…

  1.  Closets: You will quickly find that baby’s come with more stuff than you can possibly imagine someone that tiny could need. Unless you plan on running 2-3 loads of laundry a day, you’re going to need multiple of everything… like 8-10 sets of PJs in each size, at least 4-5 baby bath towels, 8 million bibs and burp cloths, and the list goes on…. We put III in the bedroom closest to ours which also happens to be the smallest bedroom with the smallest closet. Luckily it has its own bathroom with a linen closet where I can store bath-related items, massive boxes of diapers and wipes, blankets, etc.  But with all the things that come along with baby (and the need to declutter and put things away for the time being – ESPECIALLY when they become mobile and obsessed with putting things in their mouth), I found a need for organized space where I could put things away for short and long periods of time. So, the one thing I didn’t do before coming home with III that I wished I had was organization all of our closets.  Having mine and G’s personal closets tidy would have just been one less thing to stress about but especially things like the downstairs general throw things in/coat closet and guest bedroom closets that keep out of season clothes or a tub of decorative items that have now become “hazardous.” Now after 7 months, I’ve gotten them almost to where I’d like them but my time to handle them comes in 1.5 hour nap increments… handling it before delivery would have been much easier and efficient (although I’m not sure I would have been able to bend over at that point.)
  2. Rugs: This was a really helpful tip we got from a single Dad friend of ours… and I would have NEVER thought of it until it became a problem. Our downstairs den/keeping room is where spend 80+% of our free time at home.  I’ve always had jute, seagrass or natural fiber rugs in rooms like these because – first of all – I love them and – secondly – they hold up really well in high-traffic areas. When he and his little one were staying with us for a weekend, he pointed out that we’d probably want to change it out for something softer; that it would definitely tear up the baby’s knees and hands when he started crawling or even rolling/scooting around.  Well, duh! Why didn’t I think of that?  We had a huge Persian rug in our master that was perfect so we just switched them out and now at 7.5 months, I’m so glad we did!  Note: Some natural fiber rugs are softer and this may not be necessary or you can always go with a puzzle floor mat in some areas to be a little more gentle on the baby (we just ordered this to cover the hardwoods in his little play corner of the room).
  3. Kitchen Cabinets or Pantry:  Babies eat… often.Your newborn may be taking anywhere from 9-12 bottles a day. If you’re not breastfeeding, that means A LOT of bottles and A LOT of formula – whether it comes in jugs, pouches or canisters. Flash foward 6 months and now you’re adding baby food into the mix. It only makes sense to go ahead and clear some space either in your pantry or in a kitchen cabinet that can be dedicated to all things feeding-related.  Unless you want to be constantly hand-washing or running the dishwasher for only a top shelf’s worth of a load, you’ll want plenty of bottles to get you through the day.  And even when the babe starts daycare, you don’t want to be in a panicked rush in the morning because you forgot to turn on last night’s dishes.  I’d suggest no less than 12 bottles. That way, if half of them are in the dishwasher or dirty, you’ve still got plenty to get you through. Personally, we keep bottles in a cabinet close to the sink and dishwaser, and III has basically an entire shelf of baskets in the pantry dedicated to his baby food pouches and formula jugs.  Again, just not something you think too much about until your kitchen counters are a disaster and nothing is in the right place. I was lucky enough to get and follow this advice ahead of time.

For those first time moms who have been spoken to for months like you don’t know anything..I won’t bore you with the obvious things like general cleaning (maybe even hiring someone to come in and do a deep clean for you the week before delivery), pet hair eliminating , etc.  I think you’re all probably smart enough to figure that stuff out.  Hope this was helpful!!  I’ll leave you with a pic of III’s nursery (the last time it was clean…. before he was born.)

tripps-nursery

6 apps for surviving pregnancy and infancy

DISCLAIMER: If having a baby and raising a child was the easiest and most natural thing you’ve ever done, don’t bother reading this post. And, also, check yourself in as an exhibit in the Smithsonian.

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Ok, real talk here. Being pregnant ain’t easy… especially the first time. If you’re lucky, you just feel a little “off.” If you’re normal, you puke for like a quarter of a year, then you outgrow your pants. Then you’re always hot.  Then you’re cold. Then you think you have to pee but you’re really not sure. Then you go out to dinner and someone is like “can you eat that” and you seriously have no freaking clue.  Eventually, you are basically immobile and you know that you’ll get through it as long as there are chips and salsa in the kitchen and someone is around to drive you to the hospital at go time.

Then you have a baby. Like you birth a tiny human. You knew he was growing inside you. You knew he was going to be here eventually but now it’s ACTUALLY happening. And now you feel even more clueless. It’s true – there’s a maternal instinct that just shows up. Somehow you aren’t nervous holding him the way you’ve always been with your friends’ babies. And when he cries, somehow you know it’s because he’s hungry. And then he cries again and you know, this time, it’s because he needs a diaper change. I have no idea where that instinct comes from. God, I guess.

But for every instinct you have, there are about a million things you don’t know. How much should he eat? How long should he be awake? How long should he sleep? Is this red spot normal? Should his poop be this color or that color? How the HELL am I supposed to cut his fingernails? Or know when it’s time to feed him solid foods?

Don’t get me wrong. For every panic-stricken or stressful moment, there are a million sweet snuggles, smiles and giggles. You’ll look at your baby and see your partner in his face. He’ll do some funny thing with this hands that you used to do as a baby. And you will melt. A million times, you’ll melt.

But, seriously, you’ll have a lot questions.

Good news. It’s 2016. And technology is here to save us all.

Having a baby? There’s an app for that. Actually, there are hundreds, maybe thousands.

Here are the ones that saved me.

  1. Glow Nurture – Having suffered a miscarriage, this time around I knew I wanted to pay a little more attention to my body. This app has a cycle and symptoms tracker, forums, and great insights into what’s happening to your body and your baby, week by week. Half the time, this app answered my questions before I even knew I had them.

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2. Contraction Timer – This app is pretty self explanatory. When you start having contractions, you start the timer. When it stops, you stop the timer. Once they are a certain length and time apart, the app will let you know it’s time to get your bags and head to the hospital. I ended up being induced on my due date but I had a few bouts of contractions in the weeks leading up to then and this app was helpful to keep me calm.

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3. Glow Baby – I can’t say enough about the family of Glow apps. It’s like your best friend who is just like you had a baby and then dumped all of her knowledge into an app so you wouldn’t have to figure it all out on you own. When you first come home from the hospital (or birthing center, or super organic natural sulfur springs birthing spa, or wherever you’ve been for the past hopefully 3-4 days… in my case ELEVEN… but more on that later), you’re going to have to keep track of a lot of sh*t.  Literally. You’ll need to log your baby’s freaking poops… and pees… and food intake… maybe even sleep. To say the least, it can be overwhelming to keep up with all of this. But the Glow Baby app makes it so simple. You can even just set the timer when you baby goes down for a nap and stop it when they wake so you don’t have to remember what time it was when they fell asleep. It will tally up baby’s formula intake (if you bottle feed) so you can see when you baby is starting to eat more and you should, in turn, offer more. Like, how would someone who’s never had a baby know these things?! Where is the freaking manual for this thing!?! My favorite part about this app is the forums. You can post questions, polls, comments with moms who had babies the same month as you.  There are so many of us thinking “is this normal?” and now we are all in one place… assuring each other that yes, sometimes poop is yellow. It just is. And, no, we don’t know why.

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4. Sound Sleeper  – WHITE NOISE is essential during infancy. It’s soothing to a baby when they are tiny and it helps block out noise around them when they are older. I would say it is without a doubt my number ONE sleep tip (but we are just now going on week 2 of sleeping through the night so I’m no sleep expert). III had a white noise machine in his nursery but this app was great when we were napping in the living room when he was itty bitty or on the go, in the car running errands, or on long trips. My husband and I tried a few white noise apps but this was one of the only ones that offered multiple sound options and didn’t turn off automatically when you needed to open another app and it was running.  So go ahead and juice up that battery… you’re gonna need it!

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5. Wonder Weeks – After we’d been home a few weeks, I had this exact conversation with my friend Caroline.

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“How is III?”

“Oh, he’s great… so precious and sweet…. Actually, he’s so pissed off lately and just yells at me all the time.”

“Growth spurt. Download the Wonder Weeks app.”

Then I downloaded it, and parenting was like the easiest thing in the world. Ok, not really BUT it did get a lot easier because I had a week by week guide that explained III’s ever-changing temperament. Why is my baby clingy this week when last week he didn’t want to be held at all. Why is he screaming in the mornings when he is usually at his happiest? It’s because he’s… wait for it…. developing. Not the answer you were looking for? Turns out babies are learning new things (whether it’s obvious or not) on the reg. And sometimes, these cognitive and physical developments are taxing on them…. particularly their mood. This app prepares you for weeks or spans of weeks (seriously some of them are 5 weeks long… PASS ME THE WINE!) when your child is learning, developing and may be demonstrating a different demeanor than his norm. Ok, great, there’s science behind his fussiness, but WHAT DO I DOOOOOOO? Well, it has that covered too. Tips like “your baby may want to feed more often than usual this week” or “your baby may be more independent (i.e. too cool to snuggle with you) this week.” It all goes back to the question I ask myself on a daily basis… is this normal? And thanks to Wonder Weeks, we can all be assured that, yes, yes it is.

6. Cozi Family Planner App – Shout out to my best friend Magen at Mayfair on the Square Children’s Clothier for introducing me to this app. This isn’t necessarily a baby-related app but having a baby is what led me to need it. Before III, G and I kept a relatively clean (but not always tidy) house, ate at home a couple nights a week but kept a pretty busy and flexible calendar… with most of our engagements of the voluntary and social nature. It was easy to play almost every day by ear – discussing what we were doing that night as we both headed out the door for work. Now that we had aced survived the newborn phase, I went back to work and III started daycare, and life suddenly needed a lot more planning. I’ve become the person who plans what I’m wearing the next day before I go to bed. I shower at night to make my mornings as efficient as possible. I plan our meals before the week begins or things just SPIRAL OUT OF CONTROL. And I don’t “do” out of control very well. Poor G can attest to that. So as a mom with a full time career with a husband who owns his own (very quickly growing) business, I needed to GET. IT. TOGETHER.  G and I needed to understand and agree on who handles what and when. The Cozi app is perfect for this. You can share a family calendar but assign events to certain individuals (event the pets!). You can build to do lists and assign them to each other, set reminders for things like trash day, schedule things like who is picking the baby up so the other one can hit the gym or happy hour or work late. You can even load in your recipes, make grocery lists out of the ingredients and assign them to days of the week so everyone in the family can see what we’re having for dinner tonight. Time stops for a little while when you have a baby. Cozi is for when it starts back again. And it’s a lifesaver.

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So… a lot has happened since we last spoke

Like, alot. Mainly, I had a baby. No big deal.

Turns out that last post from our August beach trip… well, let’s just say that’s the last time I’ve had tequila.

Shortly after we returned from our vacation, I found out I was pregnant – exciting and scary news. And not just scary because “OMG, we are having a baby and am I mature enough to raise a child? Am I selfless enough to put them before myself? Can I actually become a morning person?”  It was scary because I had been in this exact spot before. Just earlier that year… and I didn’t have a baby.

Miscarriage is a horrible, horrible thing.  Learning that you are pregnant, immediately falling in love with and simultaneously fearing your baby, imagining what the holidays will be like with a sweet newborn for the entire family to spoil.  And then finding out that that isn’t going to happen.

It seems as though people are sharing their experiences with miscarriage more freely now than in years past but I was shocked at the number of friends (and I mean CLOSE friends) and acquaintances that had experienced this before…. and I’d had no idea. Even strangers to me who heard through mutual friends were reaching out. And to be honest, I’m not sure I reacted to them all in the best way. Knowing that this had happened to someone else before didn’t exactly make me feel better. How awful for them. And, still, how awful for me. I got flowers that I never sent thank you notes for.  We got meals and the best I could do was a thank you text.  I can’t even go into how difficult it must have been for my husband… who had equally suffered a loss but was having to deal with my grief in addition to his own.

Some days I was fine. Other days, a load of dishes would put me over the edge. Some days I could talk about it and other days, I just needed to pretend it hadn’t happened.  Even now, almost two years later, it’s an emotional thing to think about. I guess it always will be. And I don’t do well with uncomfortable emotions.

But here I am. Mom to an incredibly adorable 5 month old. A sweet, precious, tiny human who wouldn’t be here if my life had gone any differently. I don’t really know why I’m telling this story to the internet (I’m not even sure anyone is reading this) but if my experience is true to the norm, there are so many others out there going through the same thing who might need just a little bit of hope…hope that this doesn’t define you. That is doesn’t mean you will never be a mother. That is something you will survive.  And this is what hope looks like.

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