Friday, June 20, 2014

New Mommy Survival Kit

So, now that I'm attempting to get back to blogging, I'm going to try and do some posts on the things that I learned in the early days of having a newborn.

Nothing can really prepare you for what it will be like when you come home from the hospital with a new baby.  Whether you are breast or bottle feeding, you are doing so around the clock.  If you are like I was, and have to throw pumping into that mix, then you will have scarcely a minute not devoted to the feeding or changing of your sweet bundle.  In those first few weeks, these were the items I found most essential to getting through each day.




Dry shampoo.  This was my best friend in the beginning.  I did make sure to find time to shower each day, and I was lucky enough that Ramona actually gave me the 15 or 20 minutes each day to do so.  However, while standing in the shower I would realize that I simply didn't always have the energy to go through the effort of lathering, washing, rinsing, conditioning, and then combing my hair.  I developed a routine of washing my hair every other day, and using dry shampoo on the in between day.  It seems like such a small thing, but it really made the whole day so much easier.



Leggings.  Prior to having a baby I was firmly in the "leggings are not pants" camp.  Now, as long as they aren't see through when you bend over, I fully understand and support wearing leggings as pants.  In those first few weeks they are amazing.  They have an elastic waist, which is great to accommodate your changing body.  They are comfortable, probably the most essential aspect.  You can dress them up with a cute long shirt and boots or flats if you find the motivation and energy to step out of the house, or you can toss on a comfy t-shirt and lounge while you tend your babe.
If you are pumping, and/or using bottles, then you need to do regular cleaning and sterilization.  I was introduced to these steam sterilizing bags through the NICU.  These are so easy, wash the parts toss them in the bag with some water and put in the microwave for 2 minutes.  Granted, as easy as this is you will likely feel too overwhelmed to even accomplish this task yourself, so enlist your partner with this task, it will help him/her feel useful.




Hydration is essential in the early weeks.  Especially if you are breast feeding or pumping.  You will actually discover that as soon as you start feeding or pumping, an intense feeling of thirst will suddenly come over you.  This is apparently a regular response to nursing, so be prepared and keep a water bottle or full glass of water next to you at all times.

The first weeks are hectic and exhausting, and you will likely look back a few months later to discover it's all a blur in your memory.  Every baby is different, so it's impossible to completely prepare ahead of time, but I think you will find these tips are likely to be helpful no matter what your new baby is like.

Do you have any other essential tips for new mothers?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cha-cha-cha-changes!

Oh me, oh my!  It has been an extremely long time since my last post, almost a year in fact!  A lot has happened since my last post.  I ended up experiencing a difficult pregnancy, almost delivering 11 weeks early, but thankfully in the end only delivering 6 weeks early.  Luckily my little girl is a strong trooper and only spent 9 days in the NICU.  Granted, those were the longest 9 days of my life.

Born 6 weeks early at 4lbs 7oz
Adjusting to life as a mom hasn't been easy.  I love my baby more than I can possibly express and being her mom is the most rewarding thing I've ever done.  However, I'm exhausted, and learning how to balance work and baby while maintaining my sanity hasn't been easy.  I'm still working everyday to find the right balance.

Her first week home
I've also been struggling with post partum depression since I returned to work.  While I am realizing I'm really one of those moms that does need work to fulfill myself, being away from my daughter hasn't been an easy adjustment for me.  I miss her during the day, and returning to work had a severely negative impact on my ability to breastfeed and even produce breast milk with pumping.  We made it 4 months feeding her only breast milk, and now at almost 7 months my ability to produce anything is really tapering off.  This was hard to accept at first, buying that first can of formula was a very emotional experience, but I now realize that my girl is growing and thriving and so it's ok that she is primarily formula fed now.

1 month old, also Christmas Eve
And, as if having a baby weren't change enough, my husband and I have decided that in the best interest of our family, it is time for us to pack up and move across the country to a city that we feel will provide Ramona with the most positive environment for growing up.  This is still in the works, so no full details yet, but each day we are getting closer to a definite moving date, a definite job situation, and a definite living situation.

4 Months Old
So yes, there have been numerous changes in the past year.  I miss this blog oh so much, and I really can't promise how frequently I will be able to post in the future, but I do hope to continue some posts.  Depending on how today goes there may even be a few additional posts coming (I'm currently taking care a sick baby in need of lots of sleep).  For those of you who have continued to come to this blog, thank you!  I know it can be frustrating when you find a blog you enjoy, and then suddenly the posts just stop coming.

6 Months Old

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Fear & Hope




So if you don't know me, well you missed my announcement that I have a little jellybean on the way!!!  It's so exciting, and will lead to lots of DIY posts as I put together the nursery, as well as mommyhood posts (sorry, it can't be avoided).  Blogging has clearly not been a priority, and the best I can promise at this point is sporadic posts, but there will be posts!

One of the reasons blogging has been such a low priority is that my first trimester was really hard.  When I say that a lot of people assume I mean that I had horrible morning sickness, a la Duchess Catharine, but no, it was much more terrifying than that.  My first trimester was full of fear.  I'm hoping that by sharing my experience I can help support and encourage other first time mothers experiencing similar complications, and to provide hope that things can still be ok despite how bad they might look at the moment.

My husband and I were so excited when we found out, albeit a little surprised due to a false negative test a few days earlier.  We were also cautious, that's just how we are, but overall we really assumed things would be great with no issues.  I am healthy, I exercise, eat well, I'm not yet at advanced maternal age, on the outside one would assume I would have a textbook, easy pregnancy.

Well, a few days in I experienced some light spotting.  It was disconcerting, but I already knew that some spotting is common, my bigger concern was whether it would be a sign of more things to come.  I called my doctor's office the next day and they said it sounded within a safe and normal range, but if it increased to call back.  Things went great for about a week, and then on a Sunday, Mother's Day to be exact, I experienced even more spotting that just didn't stop all day. The on-call doctor told me to call my doctor's office in the morning, which I did and my doctor told me to come in the afternoon for a quick check (the spotting had not stopped yet). 

At the office I received my first ultrasound, which showed things to be looking good, yay!  Although I was measuring behind their estimate so another ultrasound was scheduled for the following week.  The next week we went in, spotting had continued throughout, and more good news, the baby was growing on track compared to the previous scan with a heartbeat!  My doctor located an area that he believed the spotting to be coming from, and indicated that it was not impacting the baby, more good news!  At this point he informed me that he no longer does OB care and I would need to find an OB for the rest of the pregnancy.

After 2 1/2 weeks of continuous spotting, it finally stopped.  This was a huge relief for me, I figured everything would be great now.  I had my first OB appointment scheduled in 3 weeks, so all seemed to be back on track and going well again.  A week later I was at work, I got up and went to the bathroom and discovered a lot of blood and I noticed I has having minor cramps.  Visibly shaking I told my boss I needed to call my doctor and leave.  She was wonderful and found a private place for me to call my doctor and started trying to call a cab to come pick me up.  One the most frustrating parts of this particular experience was that I didn't know which doctor to call, my GYN doesn't do OB, and I hadn't seen my OB yet.  So I called my GYN's office first, well at 8 weeks they would no longer see me, end of story.  So I called my OB's office and spoke with the nurse triage line.  I explained that my GYN's office wouldn't see me, but that I hadn't actually seen my OB yet, so I was told to go to the ER.

I got into a cab and my husband met me at the ER where he already had my check-in process started.  Once at the ER I began to pass small clots as well.  I will be honest, at this point I truly believed it was all over and my hope was starting to fade.  It was a very long 6 hours total in the ER, but the early news was actually looking promising, the part that took so long was waiting for the ultrasound that would be able to detect if there was still a heartbeat.  Finally we reached that moment, and my husband and I both held our breath, at first we could see  the baby, but we didn't see the flicker of a heart beating, and then a few seconds later it was there!  I have never felt more relief and happiness in my entire life, I started bawling right then there and the tech had to ask me to calm down so I could stay still for the rest of the scan.  When I left the ER the diagnosis I received was a threatened abortion, and the bleeding was coming from around the placenta.  The doctors informed me that statistically the odds at miscarriage at that point with the bleeding were 50/50, although all of my results were very encouraging.  This was tough news to swallow, but my husband and I left feeling very hopeful and knowing we've got a tough little jellybean growing.

I continued spotting after that incident for several days, but eventually it stopped.  A week and a half after my ER visit I had my first appointment with my OB.  It went great, we could actually see arms and legs and the little one even swam around for us, beyond amazing.  I was given the news that everything looked really good and I could start resuming normal activities, at this point I had been on exercise restriction for about 5 weeks.  We were both so excited and felt so much relief, unfortunately it was short lived.

Just 2 hours after getting home from my OB appointment, as we were deciding what special thing we wanted to do celebrate the great news, I again went to the bathroom only discover lots of blood and large clots.  The first though in my head was "This can't be happening," we had JUST seen a healthy wiggly baby a few hours earlier.  Of course it was just late enough that the doctor's office was closed, so we had to call for the on-call doctor.  Unfortunately, for some reason the on-call doctor never returned the call, luckily we have a wonderful friend who is an OB who happily talked to us on the phone and explained what we needed to watch for for the rest of the night to determine if the ER was necessary, and otherwise we could wait and call the office in the morning.  So we ended up waiting until the morning.

I called the office immediately when their phone lines opened and was told to come in right away and they would do a scan for me.  I'll be honest, I was less concerned that we were losing at this point because of the previous scan, I was more worried about what kept causing these incidents.  The scan again showed a healthy baby, and this time the tech did a thorough search and discovered 3 sub-chorionic hemorrhages.  These were explained to me as bleeding that occurs between the placenta and the uterus.  The doctor explained that there is nothing that can prevent these from occurring (and nothing I did that caused them), and there is no way to treat them, the only cure is time.  I was told to try and take things easy and that my first trimester screening would also be an opportunity to reevaluate the bleeding, but to call back if another incident occurred.

I had two more incidents before my first tri screening, but luckily the hemorrhages have now completely healed, and I have been incident free for the longest stretch since 5 weeks into the pregnancy (I'm 15 now).  I am now able to begin exercising once again and I finally feel like I can fully enjoy this pregnancy and be safely excited about everything yet to come.

My first trimester was full of fears, but my husband really helped me hold onto hope which got me through the worst days.  Going through so much so early on helped us both develop a deep attachment to this baby very quickly.  The experience also put a lot of things into a whole new perspective for me.  There are so many things that I normally can get stressed or upset about day to day, but none of those things can hold a candle to the importance of having a healthy baby, and facing the fear that you may be losing that baby just shows you how trivial all of those other "important" things are.

My goal for the rest of this pregnancy is to try and be present in each moment, and to cherish each experience as much as possible.  I feel like I owe that to myself, my husband, my baby, and especially to everyone out there who has had a similar experience and maybe didn't have the happy outcome I have.  I am lucky, and I know this and I appreciate it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

"Might I have bit of Earth"

One of my favorite childhood books is The Secret Garden.  As I was recently rereading it (it's still as good at 29 as it was at 10) I kept thinking about how much I wish I could have a place to grow some plants of my own.  I unfortunately do not have any outdoor space, no balcony, no outdoor window sills, nada.  I have looked into community gardens in my area, and well, the waitlists are years long.  So for the past several years I just haven't had any plants, but I am determined to change this in the new apartment.  While my outdoor space situation won't be changing, I have come to the opinion that I just don't care, I can still grow some things indoors.  In past apartments I have managed to grow some potted herbs, and I really love being able to just pick some fresh basil or rosemary as I cook.  And while my track record with basil is less than stellar, I always end up accidentally letting it flower thus killing the plant, it is actually cheaper to buy a whole new basil plant than it is to buy just a few leaves at the store. So I am currently brainstorming some ways to grow a few plants by the window, without completely blocking the light or making a jungle in that area.  Here are some images that have my mind thinking.


Vegetable Garden Tips
Image via

I love how there are several plants here, but it doesn't look wild.  I also adore the rustic style of the table.

Home: Eleven Creative Indoor Gardens
Image via

What indoor garden would be complete without succulents?  I really like the use of unique planters here and the colors of the succulents chosen.
 
Indoor garden
Image via

So this little indoor garden is using Ikea step-stools, so creative!  It's clean, simple, and has a bit of rustic vibe. Plus, these stools are real wood so they can be restained!



Image via


I really want to be able to grow my own food, sadly without an outdoor area it is very difficult to do.  This fact doesn't stop me from dreaming about it, though. Who knows, maybe if I have success with some herbs and small flowering plants I might just attempt some vegetables in doors.

I promise to share what I decide to do once I'm moved and have my "bit of Earth" started.

Do you have an indoor container garden?  What do you grow, do you have any tips to share?




Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Transitions

Hi everyone! I know, I know, it's been almost an entire month since the last post. Life has been insanely hectic, and I will be honest it's not going to slow down much in the coming weeks. Some good news is that my photography business has had a tremendous start. The support and encouragement from everyone has been more than I could have dreamed of. I've also already surpassed my super low ball goal for the first year, so things can only go up from here. As a result my free time is currently full of sessions and editing, not much time for blogging. In addition, I don't have many new projects to share right now because my apartment is full of moving boxes! Yup, my husband and I are moving into a new apartment soon!

Now we're not cool enough to be buying something, and we're not moving across country or anything, in fact we're only moving 5 floors, but we will have a bigger space! So for now DIYing is on hold, HOWEVER this means I will soon have a whole new space to decorate! I fully intend to get back on the DIY train after the move which will hopefully get me back on the blogging train.

I don't want to make promises I can't keep, so all I will say is that the blog isn't dead, but posting will be sporadic for a little longer. I will also add that with all of the transitions happening in my life, professionally and living space wise, the tone of the blog might shift a little. I'm in a much more DIY, artsy, decorating frame of mind these days so don't be surprised to see more content along those lines when I do post. Thank you for those who continue to read and bare with me while I learn to juggle so many things. And here are a few iPhone photos to share some things I've been up to over the last month (and yes, some formatting is wonky here, but that's blogger sometimes).



Getting some inspiration and brainstorming ideas for some upcoming photo sessions with a cute new notebook from Paper Source


I might be 29 years old, but I still love to dye Easter eggs



 



After some brainstorming I finally figured out some packaging and branding for the photography business. 




My new favorite magazine, Click, check it out








Editing some lovely, sweet newborn photos



Continuing my knitting and crochet hobbies when time permits


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wednesday Perk - Hair Raising

I am generally a product loyalist.  This means that when I find something that works I stick with it until it no longer works for me, which is usually many years.  As  result I don't have experience with many different brands so I'm not great at comparing.  However I figured I should start giving reviews of the brands and products I do love.  I'm actually going to start with a new discovery.  I get samples through Birchbox (check it out if you haven't heard of it), and having very fine, limp hair I have been looking for a product to help add body and volume for years, with little success.  This past month my Birchbox included a sample of Ojon Volume Advance Thickening Spray, and oh my I am in LOVE!

Ojon Volume Advance Thickening Spray
This is the first product I have ever found that actually adds volume and body to my hair, without too much build-up or weighing it down.  Because my hair is so thin and fine it gets weighed down very easily.  Other volumizing or thickening products leave my hair either greasy and dirty looking, or sticky, and they never actually give my hair any lift.  With this, all I do is spray a few spritzes all over my hair just before blow drying, and then I dry and style as usual.  It gives my hair a little extra body and bounce that I just don't have naturally.  It's a natural amount of volume, we're not talking Adele hair here, but it is definitely a difference.  I've already ordered a full size bottle, I love it that much.  If you have fine, thin hair like I do, I recommend giving this spray a try, I doubt you'll regret it.

What's your favorite volumizer?  Do you have any other recommendations to try?


Monday, March 4, 2013

Monday Moodlifter - To A Tee!

I do love pretty clothes, and I enjoy dressing up for work during the week.  However, come the weekend I have to admit that my basic look consists of t-shirts and jeans.  I do add various accessories like cardigans, fun earrings, or sometimes a long necklace, but in general I stick with my comfortable cotton uniform.  This time of year, with spring oh so close, is when I like to stock up on new, basic tees in fun colors.  So here are the styles and colors i'm looking for this year.



Loft Sunwashed Tee

Some of my favorite tees come from Loft.  They are inexpensive, wear well, and come in so many colors.  I love this pinkish red color in the sunwashed v-neck style.  It's bright and cheery.

Loft Sunwashed Tee

See, I told you the Loft tees are my favorite.  And yes, this is simply the exact same tee as above in a different color.  I really like this green and it's a color my current collection is lacking.

GAP Rugby Stripe Roll-Sleeve Tee

 While I do like bright solid colors, I also love a good stripe.  This rugby stripe tee with the yellow and grey is perfect.

J.Crew Vintage Cotton Tee
There is something about a bright yellow shirt, be it a tee or a sweater.  I don't think I could ever wear a shirt this color and not be happy, it just brightens up a room in fun way.

Loft Linen Tee
Bright colors are obviously my favorite, however I do appreciate a softer look as well.  This pale pink in a linen material is feminine without being too little girlish.

What's your favorite basic outfit?  Are you a t-shirt and jeans girl like myself, or do you prefer to dress up or down a little more?