Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cutest Baby Contest!

We Belly Mamas are so excited to announce our first-ever cutest baby contest!

The winner gets a FREE one-hour photo session with the amazing Lindsey Orton of Lindsey Orton Photography! She covers the Utah County and Salt Lake area.

It's simple. Just send ONE photo {any photo} of your cutie {1 year old old or younger} to bellymamas (at) gmail dot com with the following info:
  • Child's name:
  • Child's age:
  • Submitter name and e-mail address:
  • Parent's names:
  • Short description of photo

Feel free to comment here with questions. We may have left something out in our excitement to see your cute babies.  

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Hunt for Nursing Bras

Good nursing bras are hard to find. Sure, you can grab one at Target or Walmart that will get the job done, but I've found that they generally lose their shape, wear out quickly, give you little or no shape or support, and aren't that comfortable.

That's why I love Bravado Bras. Yes, the best ones are more pricey than I normally pay for underwear, but so worth it if you are a nursing mom.

This Mama Rocks is giving one away!

Anyone love their nursing bra? I'd love to hear about more good options.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Where do you find cute Maternity clothes?

When I first got pregnant, I freaked out a bit and thought that I needed clothes NOW. I bought maternity clothes that fit me prior to really getting any sort of belly. I clothed the "belly gut that doesn't have a good preggo belly shape" you know what I mean?? I was not stylish at all, and stretched out way too many clothes as my belly grew. And boy, it grew. and grew...and grew...

I found that at the end of my pregnancy, all I wanted to wear was leggings and big shirts. But, I really didn't have anything for the in-between era. I'd say, 5-8 months. Do not get me started with month 9. I was a beached whale on our couch. The Hanes pack of 5 v-necks and my maternity Old Navy yoga pants were a daily sight in our house. My husband still loathes those pants. I...may or may night still sleep in them some nights :-) Just too comfy! (don't tell Stacy or Clinton!!)

I think the best advice I can give to a new mom is to buy the basics.
1. Jeans
2. Tees
3. Dresses
and of course, accessories jazz up ANY plain, already worn 2-3 times this week, nothing fits...Accessories solve ANY problem with a drab outfit.

1. You need to get a great pair of jeans. I suggest getting two pairs. If you can manage, you can rubber band your button shut for awhile. Use this tutorial to make your own bella-band. When I was pregnant, I just wore longer tanks to cover my rubber band job, but this tutorial teaches you how to make one yourself! Definitely on my first-to-do's when I get pregnant again!

I bought my favorite pair of jeans from The Gap. I am a firm believer in their jeans. I bought a demi-panel pair and an adjustable waist pair. Both were fabulous. The quality and price are outstanding. You can't go wrong with anything Gap.

If you don't want to spend that much, Old Navy, Target, and Motherhood Maternity offer great jeans too. I just recommend trying them on because your body can change so much during pregnancy. And getting jeans a size bigger at the beginning isn't a bad idea either!

2. You know what's great and exciting? Forever 21 came out with a Maternity line. Unfortunately, most stores do not carry them so you have to order on-line. The quality probably won't last through multiple pregnancies, but for 9 months! Perfect!! I love their basic tees.

All under $10!!!

And how about these fun tops. All under $20!

okay okay. You can tell I just LOVE that F21 came out with Maternity clothes!

I found this awesome website called Flybelly Maternity! Cute and hip shirts for under $25! They have a bunch of other great trendy clothes for cheap too. I've never ordered from them, but if you do, let us know how you like it!

3. Dresses. Fabulous during the summer. Fabulous during the winter. Add tight or leggings, a sweater, good accessories and you can wear the same dress for multiple pregnancies if they fall at different times during the seasons!

of course some Gap dresses...

(only $17.99 right now at!)

So elegant and slimming!

Love a great jean skirt. 
Love this!

Your goal making any smart Maternity purchases, is to really be practical. I try not to spend much at all on maternity clothes. If you know you're early expecting, look for on sale items throughout the year. It might be hard at your first pregnancy to think, I will NEVER get that big. Truuuuust me. I did not at ALL think it was possible for my 5 foot 4 frame to gain 40 pounds. I wish I had gotten my clothes for later in my pregnancy. It is so important to still feel good about your image and self esteem. You are amazing because you are creating and carrying a life, YOUR baby, but on the down side, your body is changing so frequently and sometimes it is hard to still feel like yourself when you are morphing at a outstanding rate!. A new maternity outfit always made me feel sexier and more like me!!


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Goat Milk Stuff" Soap Review

So in all fairness, I’ve never been much of a soap person. I prefer not to use the icky grainy greenish stuff that costs about 30 cents a bar, but other than that, I’m not too picky. However, after using Goat Milk Stuff’s soap—I might have taken a step closer to becoming a soap person. 
            First of all, it looks super cool. It comes it its own cloth drawstring baggie with the logo printed onto it. The soap itself isn’t molded into a nice neat little form, but is a marbled, rippled bar that makes you think of old-fashioned claw-feet bathtubs and water heated on the stove.
The first bar I tried was was the Black Raspberry. It smells absolutely heavenly—and not in a sickeningly sweet, cloying way (like a cheap candle, you know what I mean). It smells fresh and doesn’t get old or wear off. My entire bathroom smells like someone cooked a raspberry pie in there (however weird that sounds, it’s a great!). The Oatmeal, Milk and Honey scent soap was every bit as sweet and fresh smelling.
Now on to actual bath usage—winters here are kind of a nasty, dry-out-your-skin affair, but not nearly as much with this soap. It totally didn’t dry out my skin and actually left it feeling much better than pre-shower. It has lasted quite a while (even with my husband hogging it) and doesn’t leave yucky crusty gunk in the soap dish for some reason (maybe because it’s completely natural? Even the color of it is made without dyes or synthetic colors.)
Anyway, I’m glad these soaps last so long, and when I run out I’m definitely going back for more. Check out the web site at and see for yourself (they’ve got some intriguing holiday soaps up for grabs), and there’s some cute pictures of goats also. So long, Ivory . . . 


Thursday, October 14, 2010

How to Respond to (Stupid) Things People Say

Nothing seems to inspire the output of advice and well-meaning comments that pregnancy and new babies do. And let’s face it. Some of the advice and the comments will probably make you want to swing your belly like a wrecking ball and say, “Yup, big as an elephant!” as the less-than-innocent commenter flies through the air. But . . . it’s probably better to use words. So here are some ideas:

1. For the unintentionally rude comment (e.g., Wow your ankles look huge!”), I sometimes just smiled and said “Thanks!” or “Thanks for the feedback.”

2. Choose to be amused instead of annoyed. This isn’t always easy, but it can be done.

3. If you don’t know the commenter, you can always pretend not to speak _______ (insert your native language. Probably English, since you’re reading this).

4. If you’re dealing with unsolicited advice (especially delivery horror stories or “proven methods to calm a colicky baby” stories, changing the subject (doggedly, if necessary) will usually do the trick. With these types of comments, you usually know the person, so you’ve gotta be a little more careful here. I usually found that it was more painless to say, “So, tell me about your new job,” or something, than to say, “Actually, Aunt Bertha, my pediatrician says . . .”).

Ok, now for a couple that I really find amusing but you probably shouldn’t actually use (under most circumstances anyway . . . J)

1. For pregnancy-related hugeness comments, try responding with, “I’m not pregnant.”

2. And my all time favorite . . . Resort to third-grade tactics. It’s a surefire response no matter what the comment. If someone says “Your baby needs a hat,” you simply respond, “No you need a hat.” And so forth.

But seriously. Whatever it is you say or don’t say, let the experience make you a more empathetic mom/friend in thinking twice before judging another belly mama. Like it or not, we’ve all likely been on the “well-meaning but exasperating advice” end of things.

Monday, October 11, 2010

make your own: finger puppets!

i am all about fun, easy, and inexpensive craft ideas.
especially crafts that my little guy can enjoy.

that probably explains my recent obsession with felt. who would have guessed that a sheet of felt could offer endless possibilities for crafts--and for only about ten cents a sheet!

lately, i have been on a finger puppet kick. since i have already made some farm animals, and need a horse to add to the collection, that's what this tutorial will be:

{my pre-made finger puppet pig, cow, and chicken}

the best thing about this project is you don't need a sewing machine!
here is the line-up of what you will need:

{a needle, glue gun, thick thread, scissors, and light and dark brown felt}

i already had the felt pre-cut, but the size of the finger puppets are approx. 1-1/2" wide x 3" tall. i just rounded the tops to create the look i was going for.
the ears are just small triangles--you can make them as big or as small as you want.
and the actual head of the horse, again, was something i just eyeballed. i wish i knew how to make a printable pattern for you. but the pictures below show the face pretty up-close and personal so i think you should be able to do it. if you have any questions at all, let me know!

once everything is cut out and glued into place, you are ready to start stitching! {is glued a word??} this is my favorite part. the stitch is actually really easy, so don't run away if you aren't a sewer.

if you are new to the blanket stitch like i was, check out this great tutorial by future girl.
and then, just go to town on your horse! stitch around the entire edge of the horse, starting inside the finger puppet to hide your knot. at the end of the stitch, i just make a double knot, and then cut as close to the knot as possible to hide it all.

a word of warning: when gluing on the mane + ears, make sure you glue on the back side of each piece. i forgot to do that with the horsie, and because of that i was unable to do the blanket stitch on the front. i continued the stitch on the back, but now the horse isn't as uniform as the pig. just remember that when you are making your own! :)

and here is the finished product! our little barn is now complete.
{if you are interested in making a barn as well, check out the link below to handmade by jill. her quiet book is inspiring!}

you aren't limited to animals with finger puppets, either! i made these little historical finger puppets for a project i had in school. they took a little more time {especially since i decided to get so intricate on some of them...} but i was very pleased with how they turned out! if you need further directions on how to make people, feel free to email me:

{beethoven, leonardo da vinci, king louis VI, shakespeare, martin luther, and queen elizabeth}

if finger puppets aren't exactly your thing, but you are still interested in playing around with felt, check out these sites. i can almost guarantee that you will find something to satisfy your little one {or you!}:

adorable felt food + quiet book: homemade by jill
butterfly mobile: bugs and fishes

what other fun, inexpensive crafts have you made for your little ones??
i'd LOVE to hear!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

take time for yourself.

it's important that as a mama you remember to take time for yourself.
whether it's a moment of meditation,
a solo trip to the store,
or just doing something you love.

make a wish, dream big, start a new hobby, take a deep breath,
embrace motherhood, embrace your spirit, and remember to take time for you.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Halloween Ideas for your Baby

I love Halloween. When I was little, I spent months brainstorming my costume with my mom and almost always ended up switching it last minute. Typical, right?

Halloween has a different meaning for me now that I have my own family. Last Halloween, I was in labor for 15 hours with my sweet daughter. My doctor delivered my newborn baby while wearing a Halloween tie, and all of my nurses had on orange scrubs or spider web tee-shirts. I bought a cute Halloween outfit for her to wear home, and she ended up being bigger than newborn sizes. We couldn’t even put it over her head!! I was very disappointed (but happy she was a chunky healthy baby)! I knew from that day, Halloween would always be exciting for us. Hopefully, not as gory as last year. I promised myself not to be that kind of mom that dressed her 5 year old in a Nordstroms Gift Box. –ahem ahem Thanks Mom!-

Here are some great ideas for this year for your newborn to toddler child. Thankfully, most of these ideas range from 0-3 months all the way to 5T! I know some of you can spurge a bit on costumes. And some even sew and create your own. (email us those ideas!).

All under $25.00

If I knew about these newborn ideas, I would have brought home our baby from the hospital wearing one of these! Perfect for newborn-3-6 months.

Penguin, Cat, Lion                                                           Pumpkin, boy and girl skeleton

The best family costume that I've seen:

The best advice I can give you is to be creative and ask around! Every Halloween party that my husband and I have been to we are the most "decked" out. After getting over the initial shock of being the only one with full face paint and costumes, everyone said that they wished they dressed up too! So, don't be that awkward family not dressed up. You have a month to get your costumes together! Email us your pictures and we'll post them up after Halloween!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Having Trouble Sleeping?

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I use to be the deepest of deep sleepers. I could sleep anywhere- on the floor, in movie theaters (husband hated that one), through a fire alarm (probably not so good). It wasn't until after giving birth to Jayne that I started suffering severe insomnia. It would take me 2 hours or longer to fall asleep at night. I was waking up every couple hours throughout the night as wide awake as could be while my baby was snoozing the night away in her crib. I was exhausted during the day. My doctor reassured me that it was likely just anxiety or stress of having a new baby. I found this somewhat hard to believe because although it was definitely a new adjustment having this baby in my life, I wouldn't have said I felt very stressed or anxious about it. I had a lot of help around the house from my husband and was lucky to have a pretty easy going baby. Regardless, I didn't question the docs advice and tried every trick in the book to help calm my body and mind before bed: hot showers, stretching, yoga, sleep medicine, meditation, lavender oil, adjusting my diet- and nothing was working. It wasn't until I started doing some serious research on insomnia and possible side effects that I figured out a thing or two (or three or four). I thought I would share it with you in hopes it might help any of you out there who may be struggling with the same thing.

There are many factors that could be affecting your nights sleep. It may even be a combination of a few. Common reasons are stress, anxiety, or depression. But did you know insomnia can also be a side effect from birth control or even breastfeeding?!  It wasn't until I started researching and thinking back to when my insomnia started that I realized I wasn't sleeping because of a combination of my birth control (I was on the Depo Shot) and breastfeeding. The hormones from both were giving me the side effects of sleep insomnia. Lack of sleep was also contributing to stress and anxiety, two extra factors that were inhibiting my sleep- like one really bad cycle. It was a total nightmare! As a result I switched birth control (no more birth control hormones for me!) and weaned my daughter off breastfeeding and switched to a bottle. As soon as I did those things I started sleeping better and better. Now I am able to sleep through the night again, and the stress of that nightmare is behind me. 

Don't lose hope if you are struggling with sleep after having a baby. Do your research, meet with a doctor, and get it resolved. 

There are not many things worse than missing out on a good nights sleep. Get those much needed zzzzzzzzz and start sleeping like a baby again! (well, a baby that sleeps through the night anyway, right?)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Homemade baby food 101

You make your own baby food? Really? Isn't it so much easier to just buy the jars at the store? I don't have that much time.

I got comments like these all the time from friends and/or family members when it was discovered that I make my son's baby food. To be honest, I thought some of the same things: that I didn't have the time and that it would be much too difficult. I had a great homemade baby food mentor who showed me otherwise.

First off, I'll tell you my reasons for wanting to make my child's baby food:

1) Making your own baby food is SO much cheaper. By like 1/2! The first month of making baby food, I did a little price comparison and I would have spent double buying the jars (or plastic tins now). That is reason enough to sign me up!

2) Homemade baby food is healthier. You know exactly what the ingredients are and you never add things that end in "acid" or "concentrate".

Now, here a few things to know about making your own baby food. The 411, if you will.
  • The whole process is cook (steaming or roasting), puree, then freeze. You have to cook most foods to soften them up enough to puree them. I just use my steamer that came with my pan or I roast (mainly vegetables) them in the oven.

  • A food processor is ideal for pureeing, but I use my blender that's attached to my Bosch and it has worked wonderfully. All you have to do is add a little water (or leftover cooking liquid if you've used a steamer) and puree away. Just add liquid until it is a nice yogurt consistency.

  • Once pureed, all you do is pour into your containers and put in the freezer. I found that ice cube trays (I loved the silicone ones!) are the easiest and cheapest. Once frozen, pop into labeled freezer bags and you're done.

Easy enough, right?

Besides the money saving, one of my favorite parts has been being able to be creative and come up with different concoctions. I was lucky enough to have my husband (who happens to be a fabulous cook) right along side me pureeing away. He enjoyed making the baby food just as much as I did, and loved cooking up combinations for our babe. Obviously, easy things to make are bananas, sweet potatoes, or squash. But some of my son's favorites were blueberries & pears, applesauce with cinnamon and raisins, cauliflower gratin (cauliflower, tomato and cheese), and sweet potatoes & broccoli. The possibilities are pretty much endless :)

As far as the time commitment? Honestly, I only spent a couple hours every few weeks. Most of that time was just waiting for food to steam or cool down. And that is making enough food to sustain my eat-as-much-as-a-horse son! Surprising even to me, it does not take much time at all.

To go from the frozen ice cubes of food to the table, I would simply put how ever many cubes I wanted in a small ziploc bag and thaw in hot water for a few minutes. If I was really good and on top of things, I would set out the baggies for the whole day the night before to thaw. But we all know that didn't happen very often. Personally, I didn't like the idea of nuking all of my babe's nutrients out, so I stayed clear of the microwave. However, if you don't have any microwave nuking fears, then it can make it that much easier for you!

Now that my son's almost done with the babyfood days, I will say that I actually enjoyed the whole process and without any question will be making babyfood for the rest of my children!

Any of you make your own babyfood? Any tips that you'd like to share?

I have A TON of babyfood "recipes" that I'd be happy to forward along, so feel free to send us an email ( if you want them!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Who's Your Daddy: Creating a Parenting Partnership that Works

Before I had my baby, I envisioned myself as a capable, independent mom who would do her “job” and let my husband do his jobs. Sort of a separate but equal kind of thing. I looked down a little bit on moms who, when said husband came home from a long day at work, immediately handed him a poopy, crying baby. (If you’ve read my other posts, you may be coming to realize that I was way too judgmental of moms. Good thing I am one now and eat my words—and thoughts—all the time, huh? J )

Anyway, that perspective was a tad unenlightened to say the least (with a few caveats anyway), and I’m grateful my husband didn’t share the same view. He’s been a huge help from day one. It helps me with the work and responsibilities a baby brings, and maybe even more important, it makes me feel like he understands how difficult being a mom is sometimes, since he’s willing to step up to the plate even after he’s had a long day at work or school. So, moving right along, here’s a few things we’ve learned along the way/learned from watching others about making the parenting partnership work:

• One of the things I initially found so frustrating about motherhood was that the job never ends, especially in those first few months when baby is waking up round the clock. During those months I daydreamed about having a job that would let me clock out and go home, to spend my evening in peace, recharge, and prepare for the next day. Sharing responsibilities in the evening keeps you from getting burned out. For the first few months especially, we made it a point of having some out-of-the-house errand I could do—by myself—once my husband got home. I know running an errand seems like a little thing, but it was so nice to have a minute to myself. As Luke got older, and when my husband’s schedule allowed for it, we stepped this up a bit. Now I take a class once a week for about an hour and volunteer once a week for a couple hours, while the boys have some Daddy-son time.

• One of the things I’ve had to keep myself in check with is expecting my husband to take over completely once he gets home for the day. Sharing the load is crucial to a healthy partnership, but sometimes I selfishly decide that I’m the only one who’s had a long day, and now I deserve a break (some guys have this same attitude about coming home from their job).

• Don’t get into “whose job is harder” arguments. Nobody ever wins these, and it just makes both of you feel bad/like your contribution isn’t valued. However, I have found it very helpful to talk to my hubby about why being a mom is hard sometimes/what I feel like I need the most help with. Don’t keep your frustrations and concerns in—but do remember that how you voice them is crucial.

• On the same note, it also helps me to hear about my husband’s day/what he’s working on/what he’s got on his plate and his concerns, etc. Sometimes it feels like he gets to go off and “have fun” while I stay home with Mr. Poopypants (no offense, Luke). It helps to have a reminder that this isn’t the case.

• Take the lead in getting in the habit of thanking one another for help/showing appreciation, even for things that seem routine. Maybe it’s part of your routine that your husband usually gives baby a bath each night. Thank him for doing it anyway.

• Try not to stress about it if Daddy doesn’t do everything exactly “right” when he’s on baby duty. Just be grateful he’s on baby duty J Critiquing him for not strapping the diaper on just right is a surefire way to discourage him from wanting to change it. It’s a given he’s not going to do things the way you do them, but try not to stress out about it. You’ll all be just fine.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

preparing for life with two.

when we found out we were pregnant with our second baby,
i was so excited i jumped up and down in the bathroom,

but then moments later i felt overwhelmed and very, very nervous.

how was i going to care for not one, but two little people?

would preslee (my daughter) think i loved her less when the baby came?
how was i going to nurse the new baby and give enough love and attention to preslee at the same time?

what if they both woke up in the night at the same time?

these questions ran through my mind for the full nine months.
the day before i had my sweet jonah boy i cried for preslee.
her world was about to be rocked and i felt so worried.

but then he was born.
and it was so amazing to see her staring at his little face and poking his little nose.
she liked him, well at least she was impartial to him:)

and things fell into place.
not every moment was, nor has been, smooth.
but they are brother and sister and their love runs deep,
even at their young ages.

so what can be done to prepare for two?
i would say:

*talk to your child, at their level, a lot about the baby that will be joining your family.

*buy them a baby doll and teach them how to be soft and gentle.

*plan to involve your child in most everything once the baby comes. if you make them feel important and helpful with the baby they will be more apt to enjoy, rather than resent, the time and attention the baby needs.

*realize that there will be moments where two are crying at the same time, where you just wish you had one more hand, where you will be overwhelmed, where adjusting will take time...
those things are normal and to be expected.

and also, realize that you are giving your oldest child a lifelong friend,
you are teaching them that they aren't the only person on the planet to love,
you are giving them a lifelong gift.

shortly after i had my jonah,
i wrote this post about life with two:)
what has helped you prepare for life with two?
love, tam

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pregnancy Battle Wounds: How to Avoid Them

Stretch Marks: It's true — these nasties are primarily hereditary. But you can decrease your chances of getting them (or at least make you feel like you are) by smothering those stretch-mark-prone areas (thighs, tummy, boobs) with intensely moisturizing lotion throughout your entire pregnancy and beyond. I used Palmer's cocoa butter and it worked for me. Plus, it was on the cheaper end of body butters.

Extra Weight: It's hard to get to the gym — let alone out of the house sometimes. I have always been an excersizer, but after becoming a mom, my motivation tanked big time. I had to give myself something to work towards or else there was no way I was going to run three miles after getting four hours of sleep. So, I signed myself up for a half marathon. It was scary. I have never done one before (it is this Saturday!) But it really made all the differerence in getting me out on a run.

If you are still pregnant, you gotta exercise if your pregnancy permits (most do). That will help you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight more than anything else.

{Click here for more on excersizing while pregnant}

Tummy Flab: Even with lots of exercise, this can remain a problem area. So, you have to eat well. I know, I know. After nine months of no feta, you want to go crazy. Start with something simple — reduce the amount of processed foods you eat and turn to whole foods instead. Another easy way to eat healthier is to not buy the bad stuff in the first place. If I have a package of oreos in my cupboard or ice cream in the freezer, you better believe I will finish them off in no time — especially when I am home a lot and often too tired to make a real lunch. In addition to diet, core exercises will help a lot. Try Pilates!

{Read Karlee's awesome post here for more on how to lose the baby weight.}

Loss of Libido: This is more common than you may think. While you're pregnant, hormones can take you a number of directions. You may "in the mood" more often than ever, or you may find that your oversized belly makes alone time a little harder to enjoy. If you're become a mom and have been given the green light after your recovery period, you may be lacking libido because of a number of factors: lingering hormones from pregnancy and breastfeeding that can lower libido and lubrication, discomfort with your post-baby body, sleep deprivation and emotional fulfillment from your little one. Whatever the reason — if you're feeling less inclined to hop into bed with your guy, don't stress. It's normal. But do something about it — there are things you can do to get back in the mood. You can talk to your doctor for helpful tips.

{Check out this post for more on post-baby marriage.}


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bringing Baby Home

So you survived labor and delivery and have a tiny new roommate to show for it. Now what? It might sound like a silly question, but I know I’m not alone when I say that my apprehension level rose a few degrees as I prepared to leave the hospital and bring my new bean home. It meant that the “call nurse” button was going away, along with the night nursery, along with the endless supply of whatever it was I needed at the moment to help care for this little person with innumerable needs and only one way to communicate them all (Since I had a C-section I had a little more time in the hospital to get comfortable with this life) I learned a lot over the next few days, such as:

1. The ride home from the hospital was UBER stressful. Partly because I’d never been in the car with a baby this young (let alone MY baby) and partly because my whacked-out hormones kept me convinced that tragedy was going to befall my new baby any second. I was really quite shocked when we pulled up to our house without having been involved in a collision. Know that it gets better, if the ride home stresses you out too.

2. We stocked up on diapers too much. Don’t go out and buy several jumbo packs of the newborn diapers. First of all, your baby (like mine) might be on the verge of outgrowing them the second he’s born. And babies often grow surprisingly quickly in those first few months, so what fits today might not fit very well in a month.

3. Take the baby books you’ve read and the advice you’ve received (and will continue to receive constantly) with a grain of salt. You’re not failing as a parent if your baby isn’t responding to the “proven methods to calm colic,” and you’re not doing something wrong if he or she cries quite a bit that first couple months (2 to 3 hours a day is considered normal, unfortunately, but it does pass). Don’t hyperventilate about it if your baby isn’t on a set schedule by three days old either. Everything takes time, and it’s a whole new world for the both of you.

4. Remember that you don’t need all that much to bring a baby home. Mostly, baby needs you, some diapers (the hospital will give you plenty to get started on), and a safe place to sleep. If you weren’t quite prepared with every little thing, it’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with accumulating supplies as you need them, and it’s nice to have an excuse get out of the house.

5. Go on a date with your husband while someone you trust watches the baby, after you’ve been home a few days. You might not be feeling super hot, but go out anyway, if only for an hour or so. You can get cabin fever without even realizing it that first little while especially.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010


"Spanking" By Norman Rockwell
   I was one of those first time moms-to-be that read everything under the sun in preparation for life with a baby. I was pretty well-read on techniques to help my baby nap like a champ and sleep through the night. I knew all about the most recommended baths, lotions, diaper rash ointments, mattresses, bottles, teething remedies ... you name it. I learned the early signs of colic, jaundice, fever and allergies.
   And while I think a lot of that reading helped (my baby does nap like a champ and I'm convinced I have the best baby bath around) it took me a few months to learn that the best thing I can do for my baby is trust my own instincts instead of looking to books, google searches and even pediatricians and well-meaning friends and family members for answers.
   I felt a huge wave of relief when I finally decided to make decisions based on what I thought instead of checking with the "experts" or experienced parents who think they have the answers. Babies have unique needs, preferences and personalities, and for the most part, there are no general fix-its that work for every baby. Sometimes it can be frustrating to share a problem with someone and they say, "Oh just do this and it will work out." Sometimes it just doesn't. Don't get me wrong — suggestions and advice from others has helped me immensely, and I will continue to ask for it from time to time. I just wish I had been prepared from the dawn of new-motherhood for how much of it would come my way and how much of it I would have to discard.
   So, all you fellow research/Google-everything new moms out there, give the mouse a rest, put the book down and trust yourself. You'll connect more with your baby and be more in tune with his or her needs that way.


Monday, July 12, 2010

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Birth Day

My husband and I were so excited when we found out we were pregnant with our first baby on the first day of spring. I had an easy, joyful pregnancy, so I hoped the labor and delivery would be the same. Although that wasn't exactly the case, I still think of my daughter's birth day as the best day of my life.

It all started on Monday, Nov. 30th, at 10:30 p.m.

After almost a week of pre-labor contractions that were keeping me up at night, things started getting a little more intense. My contractions were four to five minutes apart and lasted close to a minute long. I labored on my own for a couple hours, using the relaxation techniques I learned in my Hypnobabies classes and breathed through each contraction until I felt like I needed a little extra help to make it through them. I woke up my husband around midnight and he applied pressure to my back and talked me through the contractions.

Around 3 a.m., we decided it was time to call my doula, Melissa. I was thinking this was probably "it," but couldn't quite wrap my mind around it — especially since I was so worried about the contractions just going on for days like they had been. Melissa came over and worked her magic. She helped me through each contraction by applying pressure to just the right spot on my back, sometimes on my hips, and by helping me try lots of different positions to ease the intensity of each contraction. She brought her essential oils (lavender, orange and lemon) and put them in my candle warmer to permeate the air with their calming/energizing smells.

I was already tired at this point from not sleeping much the past week, so I tried to take a little nap. I wasn't really able to take a real nap, but I did doze off for the few minutes in between contractions. When the sun came up, I put on my upbeat music mix. Melissa recommended making a few different playlists for my labor day, so I did. Studies have shown that women who listen to music during labor report feeling less pain.

Melissa made some omelets and fruit salad for breakfast, then we went on a walk. It was such a perfect day outside. Perfect, but pretty hilarious for the standers-by to see a bundled up, exhausted pregnant lady randomly collapse into her husband's arms every few minutes while another lady pressed on her back. We sure got some funny looks, but I didn't really care at this point. The walk actually made my contractions a little easier for some reason. We went back home and had some lunch, I went through more contractions in different positions, (my birthing ball was my best friend during labor!) and the contractions were getting more intense. At 6 p.m., after 19 and 1/2 hours of laboring at home, we all thought it was time to go to the hospital.

And the drama sets in ...

We drove to the hospital in rush hour traffic, and any mother will agree that having contractions in the car is not optimal. We made it to the hospital and I got checked in the triage room. I was completely effaced and dilated at a 3+, but they wouldn't admit me until I was a solid 4. The midwife on call suggested I go walk around Target or something. Love the midwife, hated her suggestion. I could barely stand up at this point! We decided to walk the halls of the hospital for two hours and get checked again. Still a 3+. The midwife gave us 3 options: go home, hang out in the triage room until I could be admitted, or take a shot of morphine so I could get some sleep. But the problem with the morphine, she said, was that it may or may not work for me. It could work for 20 minutes, or up to 6 hours.

Everyone left to give us privacy to think our options over. It was really a moment of despair for my husband and I. We did not want to go home. Not because we were too anxious for our baby girl to come — we knew she was already on her way. The desperation was that I was completely exhausted physically and emotionally. I really didn't know if I could continue. Also, I had always wanted an unmedicated birth, but if things kept going how they were, I knew I wouldn't be able to handle it. The tears came. My sweet husband, who told me later how worried he was about me despite the reassuring smile on his face, asked me what I wanted to do. Then he said one of the most heartfelt, pleading prayers I have ever heard.

Then I told him I wanted that morphine.

It was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Who knew a shot in the butt would ever be an answer to my prayer? The morphine started working immediately. We decided to go to my mom's house because her beds are so comfortable. When we got there, my husband basically carried me to the bed and I zonked out for four hours. Bliss. When it wore off, I woke up at 2:30 a.m. and the contractions picked right up where they left off. I called for my husband and he sent in Melanie, a doula-in-training/angel from heaven who came to help while Melissa went home and rested. Melanie was incredible. So sweet and motherly. She helped me through the contractions for a couple of hours and Melissa came back. I labored at home until 8:30 a.m., when my sister brought her chubby little baby Kate to show me the end product I was going towards — it was good motivation.

When I started feeling slight urges to push during contractions, we thought it would be a good idea to head to the hospital again, crossing our fingers that I was far enough along this time.

We hit rush hour traffic again. When we finally got to the hospital and went into the triage room, I heard some serious screaming and moaning down the hall. I tried to convince myself it was just a fussy kid that sounded like a woman in labor. Then the nurse said, "Oh, that lady is doing an unmedicated birth — thus the screams!" I hoped I wouldn't be screaming like that because it sounded just plain painful. When the nurse checked me, I was dilated 8 centimeters — and I was SO happy.

I was admitted to a room, got into the tub, and things moved really quickly. I was at a 9 1/2 then a 10 in under 2 hours. I was surprised at how little I cared about privacy at this point. Yes, I brought a modest little sports bra to wear in the tub, but it stayed in the bag. I figured the delivery staff had seen plenty of nakedness. The only thing I cared about was remaining calm during my contractions and getting my baby out! The pushing urges started getting stronger, so I went to the bed and got into a side-lying position, and started seriously pushing. I was excited to be at the pushing stage because I knew I was so close to the end and would meet our baby girl so soon. It was nice to get kind of a break from contractions and do something "more productive." I compare the pushing to when you are violently ill with the stomach flu and your whole body tenses up as you can't help but throw up. I didn't feel any nausea or anything ... but the urge to push was really strong and draining. The midwife didn't do any coaching — she just let me push when I felt like I wanted to, which I liked.

The midwife asked me if I wanted her to break my water. But I remembered seeing the hook they use to break water in my Hypnobabies class — it looks like an extra long knitting needle. The thought of having that thing inside me was anything but pleasant. But the thought of speeding things along was tempting. Before I had a chance to answer my midwife, another pushing urge came and my water broke like a balloon. Everyone said they heard it! I just felt it.

Now it was time to get down to business. I had my husband put on my upbeat music mix. I was just pushing along when everyone excitedly said they could see my baby's head. My mom said, "She has dark curly hair just like you had!" That little sneak peek gave me some extra motivation to push. I got her head out, and then the rest of her body slipped out like a jellyfish — all to the tune of Weezer's "Holiday."

The first thing I said when my baby came out was "I did it!" I felt SO relieved. And ecstatic — both that my baby girl was here and that I actually made it through the undmedicated childbirth I had wanted so badly. My midwife handed my new daughter to me right away. I tore a little and bled a lot, so there were stitches and shots to be reckoned with, but they didn't phase me much because I felt like I could do anything at that point. I was completely awake and energized the entire day. The fact that the little brown-haired baby I was finally holding in my arms was mine and that my body knew how to get her here on its was an absolute miracle.

One thing I learned that day is that I can do anything. And when it comes to giving birth, women are so much stronger than they give themselves credit for.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

beck's arrival

The day before Beck was born (two weeks before my due date), I started noticing that the swelling in my huge cankles wasn't going down, like it normally did, when I put my feet up. I remembered reading somewhere that this could be a symptom of pre-clampsia, so I had one of the Physical Therapists at my work take my blood pressure for me. Sure enough, reading said high. I had him take it several times throughout the morning and it just kept on getting higher and higher. My BP had stayed well below normal my entire pregnancy so I called my nurse, just in case. She wanted me to come in that afternoon so they could check things out.

Deep down I think I knew that this was the end- that the Dr. was going say that it was safer to have my baby now than keep him in there with threats of pre-clampsia looming. But I was in total denial, and even told my husband he didn't need to come to the Dr. with me, it was "no big deal."

Luckily, my husband insisted, and even went home to get our hospital bags before he met me at the Dr. Good thing he did, because when my BP continued to skyrocket, I was told I was having my baby and was admitted right then!

Since I wasn't dilated or effaced at all, they started me on a pill to "soften" things up a bit the entire night. At 6 a.m. they got the pitocin going and at 8 a.m. my water was broken. This (in conjunction with upping the pitocin) produced some intense contractions, and by 10 a.m., I was begging for the anesthesiologist. The epidural was wonderful! For me, it was perfect because I could still feel the contractions, it just didn't hurt. Glorious!

{Insert 6 long, boring hours of absolutely nothing}

I was checked every hour, and every time I would get my hopes up just to be disappointed with a "Still at a 2." I was having frequent, strong contractions, but my body was not making any progress. One time I even got a "Well I'll give you a 2+", but I'm pretty sure he just wanted to make me feel good. At 3:30, the Dr. came in to up the pitocin one last time and said that if I didn't start to progress, we were going to have to start talking C-section (Beck's heart rate was showing signs of distress with some of the contractions). I did not want to go the C-section route, so I was praying my little heart out.

At 4:00 p.m., I started to feel some major pressure. I honestly felt like I had to poo and was terrified because the thought of having a bowl movement during birth was mortifying to me. The pressure got worse and worse with each contraction and so I mentioned something to my nurse when she came in to check on me. She said, "oh good, maybe your starting to progress now." During the couple contractions that she was there, I suddenly had the involuntary urge to push. I knew she probably thought I was a "crazy, first time mom," but I asked her if she could check me because I really thought I needed to push. She (almost reluctantly) agreed and we were all shocked when she yelled out, "Oh my gosh, your a 10, and his head is right there!" Yep, I went from a 2 to a 10 in half an hour!

She called the Dr. right down, did a couple practice pushes with me, I pushed a couple times once the Dr. arrived, and little Beck was born!

There are honestly no words to describe my emotions as he was placed on my chest for the first time. My breath was literally taken away as I looked at this perfect, tiny, little boy that was mine. All mine.

Monday, June 28, 2010

jayne's birth story in a nutshell

i'm going to share it the same way i wrote it the day it happened 
(with some slight modifications since my mind was a tad fuzzy at the time...)

2:30 am. contractions woke me up. not painful but consistent.
4:00 am. heading to hospital (contractions already 2 1/2 min. apart)
6:00 am. Steve helping relieve some pressure during contractions (still feeling pretty good). On constant monitoring as jayne's heart rate is dropping occasionally (they tell me this is not good), my contractions are very close together, and I'm only at a 2 1/2 (yikes).
8am.-10:15am. ONE MAJOR BLUR. My water breaks and things get really intense. Some periods of no break in between contractions. Getting nervous as jayne's heart is being monitored and still having drops. Have to lie on my side in the hospital bed for rest of time to get best possible heart rate for her- and to avoid c-section. At this point I am having very intense contractions 1 min. apart and some back to back double. Steve and my mom were the best team ever, coaching me and being so supportive as I start to have transition like contractions- however, I am still only at a 5 1/2. At this point I am pretty much scared I'm going to die (not really, but really).
THUS, I opted for an epidural. The anesthesiologist was amazing. I was really scared and nervous about getting the epidural because I was worried it would slow down my progression and that I would end up having to get a c-section since jayne's little heart wasn't doing its very best.  However, I was also having incredibly strong contractions at such a relatively early stage in the game and was finding it too difficult to stay in one position while trying to manage each contraction.  The last thing I wanted was a c-section (which they said i would likely have if jayne's heart rate did not improve). Thankfully, the epidural couldn't have gone any better. I started progressing much faster as I was relaxed and could stay on my side in comfort (its hard to stay in one position without medication, as it feels more comfortable to move or walk around). It was such a relief to be totally comfortable and just let my body do its work, and it was even more of a relief to see my body progressing and jayne's heart rate doing better and better as time went by.

1:30pm. My doctor checks me and baby is at a plus 2.  Its time to push (YAY!)
2:10pm. Begin pushing. 
2:36pm. Our sweet little jayne is born!

Nothing has ever compared to the miracle we experienced with Jayne's birth. I know we were being looked down upon from above and that everything worked out properly and the way it was suppose to. Everyone's prayers and love on our behalf were felt and answered. The feeling we had seeing Jayne for the first time truly testified of God. 

Birth is such an incredible miracle. 

 Holding Jayne for the first time was the best feeling I have ever had in my life.