Friday, November 30, 2018

Holiday Gift Guide for Men

Raise your hand if all your Holiday shopping is done and those gifts are wrapped and ready under the tree?

I usually start my Holiday shopping mid-November and then try to have it all finished by the middle of December but undoubtedly I still find myself running around at the last minute trying to finish a few things up. Of course this year with Baby Boy making his debut, I have to have everything done before he arrives so that it is off my plate. 

Buying for men can be so hard. I feel like the men in my life are all very challenging to buy for. But, I did manage to round up a few items that are sure to please the men in your life. 

USB Keychain. I love this because most of us are lost without our devices yet its easy to get caught out and about without a charger. I think this leather embossed keychain is so pretty on its on and the lightening cable just makes it extra functional. Drop in a couple charging cubes or a power bank as a stocking stuffer and you can be sure that the man you are buying for won't be caught at 1% ever again. 

Sonos Play 1 Speaker. If you are purchasing for someone who enjoys music then they really need this speaker for their home. The sound quality is just incredible and its a gift that they can build upon if they choose by adding more pieces later on. 

Air Pod Headphones. Corey and I both have a set of these and they are great. I love them for the gym. Corey uses his for everything from running to conference calls for work. Again, the sound quality is great and its so nice to not have the wires of traditional headphones. 

Counterman Travel Set. This is a preview set for Beautycounter's new men's line and comes with a travel bag. The price point is great. Corey just recently started having any interest in skincare products but he really enjoys having a moisturizer for the dry months. It was so easy for me to switch mine and Madeline's products to safer but finding something to replace the products he was regularly using was more difficult. He has been my guinea pig for this set since it launched in October and has been very pleased. I also love that it comes with a travel bag because those are always needed and it makes a much nicer presentation for gifting. 

Tile. Corey received a Tile as a gift a couple years ago and it was such a great gift as he often sets his keys down somewhere in the house other than where he can easily find them the next day. Especially if he is traveling and he puts them down somewhere then leaves for a trip for a week! So the Tile has been really great in helping him locate them quickly without causing a big headache. 

Slippers. There is just something about a really nice pair of slippers. Most people wouldn't splurge on a nice pair for themselves yet appreciate them so much as a gift, especially in the cold winter months. Here is a much less expensive pair that have really great reviews. 

I'm always looking for suggestions for hard to buy for men so I'd love to hear your favorite gifts you've given the men in your life in the comments below. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A Change in Plans + 38 Week Bumpdate

Leave it to a man to change all of your plans at the last minute.

When I was born thirty-one years ago I was born by c-section and I’ve never had any negative feelings about them. My mom was in labor for four days, nineteen days after her due date, after two failed inductions, before finally having to have one so if anything I feel like she worked even harder to bring me into this world than I did giving birth to Madeline. 

There were times when I was pregnant with Madeline that I even hoped that a c-section would be an option for me. Mainly because I was just scared of the unknown. And even though I know thousands of women do it every single day, I was really nervous for what my vagina was about to go through.

I can’t believe I just typed that word on my blog. So, no one was more surprised than me at how upset I was when I learned at just a few days short of 38 weeks that I would have to have a c-section.

I have never really had the mindset that a traditional birth is the “right/normal” way to have a baby. I didn't have that desire to feel my baby enter the world. In fact, I was actually quite disappointed by how much I was able to still feel during my labor with Madeline after having an epidural. 

Yet, when my doctor told me I would have to have a c-section I cried. Not right away. I waited until I got home. But then I cried. I gained my composure for a little while and then cried some more. I cried about it probably a good six to ten more times over the following days. When I admitted to my girl friend, who is also pregnant, how many times I’d found myself crying over it, I cried some more. 

How emotional I felt over the whole thing really surprised me since I have never felt like I was “anti” c-section and I was pretty terrified of having to push out a baby again anyway after having a postpartum hemorrhage following my first delivery. 

One thing I have learned about being pregnant is that your emotions will get the best of you from time to time and that there will be times when you didn’t even realize you felt a certain way about something until you get to that stage of the game.

I had been having contractions on and off since about 34 weeks. I wasn’t progressing so my doctor wasn’t concerned but said this baby was head down, low, engaged, and ready to come out. I packed my bag and prepped everything I could ahead of time so I could leave for the hospital in a hurry if it seemed that this seemingly eager to come out baby boy was coming faster than Madeline.

I went to an appointment two days before I hit 37 weeks. Baby was still head down but hadn’t been moving as much as he previously had been. My OB said they slow down a lot once they get really low as they prepare for labor and his heart rate and everything looked great so no need to worry at all. 

I left that appointment and went to the dentist and Baby Boy started moving around like crazy when they started the teeth polishing. It put my mind at ease, even in the afternoon when I watched all his limbs wiggle and poke out like a tiny little alien. I felt like I got kicked in the stomach so violently that it made me sick and then he stopped squirming so rapidly and things went back to normal with little kicks here and there. I actually felt better because I felt less, um “pressure” so went on to enjoy my birthday celebration and didn’t think anything else of this until I went for my next checkup a few days later.

I casually mentioned this episode of crazy movement to my doctor just as he was finishing up my checkup and he immediately told me he wanted to do a pelvic exam just to make sure Baby was still in the correct position. Madeline was with me bouncing up and down in the chair watching Toy Story so it wasn’t really ideal timing so he promised it would be just a quick exam.

I got changed and he came right back in. Then, sure enough, he told me he could no longer feel the baby’s head at my cervix so off to have an ultrasound we went. Which showed that, at almost 38 weeks, he had decided to do a flip and was now complete breech. 

Corey and I decided not to try the version procedure to have him manually flipped because it was estimated to be only 40-50% effective for me and carried a lot of risks. I’ve been trying some things from the spinning babies website although most of them are also recommended for babies who are breech earlier on and seeing a chiropractor who specializes in the Webster Method. So far baby still hasn’t turned back and no one seems particularly hopeful that he will at this stage of pregnancy, which leaves us without a lot of options. 

I had to go ahead and schedule my c-section which is scheduled for the same day as Madeline’s first ever ballet recital. Cue even more tears. 

I have a lot of great mama friends who have been offering encouragement and advice and giving me lots of tips regarding the surgery and recovery. I’m not so much afraid of the actual procedure as I am of the recovery and being limited on what I can do - mainly lifting my big girl! 

So, that is a big change in plans for all of us. We go today for my final checkup at my OB office and will be praying Baby Boy has moved even though it still feels like there is a nice round little head right up at my ribs instead of down where it belongs!

Now, moving on to my final bumpdate of this pregnancy - 38 weeks:

Baby is the size of: a pumpkin and likely weighs almost seven pounds 

Weight gain: 30-32 pounds depending on the day 

Symptoms: lots of swelling in my fingers and feet, exhaustion, a great big belly! 

Cravings: Wine! And fruit. 

Eating lately: I haven’t been very hungry since he flipped over because I’ve got all the larger baby parts wedged against my stomach. I’m eating small meals and lots of snacks and just whatever we have available. 

Exercise: I finished exercising last week. I intended to sneak in one more class but my week ended up being busy so I just decided to call it a day and be proud that I made it through 37 weeks of exercise! 

Baby’s Movement: He is moving lots now that he has flipped over. His feet are really low so his kicks are pretty dang uncomfortable since he’s kicking a very sensitive area! But not much longer now so I’m trying to not complain about that.

Wearing: All maternity clothes and leggings with long sweaters are my favorite right now. 

Sleep: A lot better most nights but I’m also anxious so I have had a harder time falling asleep but once I get to sleep most nights I’ve gotten better quality, more restful sleep than in recent months which has been so nice! 

Stretch Marks: Not yet! Still applying my oil and belly butter 2-3 times a day. 

Belly Button: I’d say it’s half way in, half way out! Turkey timer is done! 

Highs/Lows: the high has been just knowing he will be here very soon! And spending some time getting ready for Christmas with Madeline before baby gets here. We went to see Santa and decorated  the Christmas tree as well as the other areas of our house. Then, we celebrated a great Thanksgiving with family. 

The low was obviously finding out that Baby Boy turned breech. It wasn’t a surprise I expected at the last minute and having him flip so late was a really helpless feeling because I feel like I had few choices/things to try. I know in the scheme of things it doesn’t really matter and as long as he is healthy, I won’t care how he got here six months from now. But it still feels like a big disappointment to me for right now. 

Looking forward to: Meeting our baby boy! And drinking a big glass of wine. Cheers! 

Here's a little side by side. I feel like I look pretty much the same - just swollen and worn out! Check out the final bumpdate from my first pregnancy here or read all pregnancy related posts here

Did you catch the items I’m buying for Baby #2 and my letter to Madeline for her last days as an only child? You can also see what I packed in my hospital bag in this post. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

What’s in my Hospital Bag for Baby 2

Let’s take a little moment to think back to the end of my pregnancy with Madeline, shall we? Ten days before her due date my water broke in the middle of the night (just a few days after recovering from bronchitis and a sinus infection) and I immediately had to do some very important things like paint my nails (Ha!), steam her curtains, install the car seat, and finish packing our hospital bag before heading out the door.

While I can be super Type A and organized a lot of the time, I can also be a major procrastinator at other times. I did have a lot of things completed and ready when I went into labor but this time I decided to prep a little more ahead of time, especially since when baby is on his way this time my first priority will have to be making sure Madeline is taken care of. You know, instead of making sure my nails have a fresh coat of lacquer. 

Having done this before, I also have a better idea of what I need this time around and what is not necessary. I want to have everything I need but I also don’t want to overpack because then that is just more to lug in and out of the hospital and clean and put away when I get home.

What’s in my bag for me:

Nursing pajamas. I purchased these recently and they are so soft and flattering. I've enjoyed wearing them during my pregnancy and they’re also nice enough that I won’t mind visitors seeing me, full coverage enough, yet still allow easy nursing access. I also have a three-piece pair from before Madeline’s birth and I love that they come with a robe. You can find a similar pair here.

Clothes for mama. Leggings, a nursing bra, nursing tanks, and flowy cotton cardigans are a must. I packed two of each - one set to wear in the hospital and one for the trip home. I packed my favorite maternity leggings as well as these one-size high waisted ones that I know I'll wear a ton postpartum. These nursing tanks are my favorite and I love this style nursing bra for the early days when your boobs are changing rapidly! I have one of these cardigans and think they are so great for nursing and looking covered up and put together while allowing you access when you need it. 

Shoes. I packed flip flops for the shower and slippers to wear around the room. I also threw in a pair of gripper socks in case I want them during labor and my Uggs to wear home. Your feet can swell from the fluids they give you while in the hospital so packing shoes that are forgiving is a must.

Entertainment. Don't forget to pack your phone charger with an extension cord so that it will reach your bed. Also, depending on your labor, you might have some down time so this time around I tossed in a few magazines and my tablet. I hope to sleep if the start of labor is slow this time like it was last time but I know it will be nice to have these just in case.

Toiletry bag. Since I’m really picky about my products and only use personal care items with safe ingredients, I went ahead and packed my shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, deodorant, facial cleanser, moisturizer, facial oil, a foundation sample, and a tube of mascara. For the larger items, I put a little inside travel containers and ordered this set and this set from Beautycounter's holiday line since they were the perfect size. Lip conditioner is also a must because your lips can really dry out in the hospital.  I’ll probably also toss my full makeup bag in when I go into labor but I do want to make sure I have the essentials just in case it’s chaotic and I forget. I thought I wouldn’t want my makeup when Madeline was born but I was actually so glad I had it because it felt really nice to take a few minutes for myself to freshen up while Daddy and the grandparents loved on my newborn. I also put a razor in because I loved shaving my legs for the first time without a big belly in the way the day after Madeline was born.

Depends. This is one of those things that you really don’t know you need unless a girlfriend is just brutally honest with you but I found these much more comfortable than the mesh undies the hospital provides and they thoroughly protect your clothing during those first few days. I also put Dermaplast spray and Tucks pads in my hospital bag but for my last delivery they gave me both of these items in the hospital. My been there done that tip for expectant mamas is to order these items on Amazon. Also, the hospital will provide you with some personal care items like a little squirt bottle for after you go to the restroom and some other personal care items. Bring these home with you after because you will want them for a few more days. 

Nipple Balm. This is a safer more natural alternative for sore nipples than lanolin and I was really pleased with it when I was nursing Madeline. Coconut oil is also wonderful and the bonus is that you don't have to wash it off before nursing. 

Dulcolax. I am so glad someone told me to bring this last time because some of the fluids and medicines they give you during labor can really, um, slow you down and you do not want that when your nether regions are swollen and sensitive. I started taking it as soon as I was up moving around after Madeline’s birth and had no problems thankfully. 

Essentials. The hospital gives you pretty much everything you need for baby but I packed a pack of water wipes, my Beautycounter Baby bundle since I only want to use a safe baby wash and the hospital used Johnson and Johnson last time, a little gown, and his coming home outfit. When Madeline was in the hospital she just wore the tiny little shirt they give you, the newborn hat, a diaper, and a swaddle the whole time. I tend to believe less is more when packing for baby because they will have everything they need. Why create more laundry before you even get home? 

Paci. We did not take one for Madeline and she cried for hours and hours in the hospital. Nursing didn’t help. Swaddling didn’t help. Skin to skin didn’t help. White noise and swaying didn’t help. She was pretty much just like that for several hours a day the first six weeks of her life so this time I don’t feel guilty for bringing a pacifier in case we need it. 

Muslin Blanket. These things are the best and can be used for absolutely anything from a carseat cover if you have to run an errand on the way home to a nursing cover when visitors come to the hospital to a swaddle while baby naps.

Boppy. I so enjoyed having my Boppy at the hospital after Madeline was born so I packed it again this time. It makes supporting baby while nursing so much easier and more comfortable, especially after labor. 

I also added a gift for Baby Boy to give Madeline (I chose a Cuddle + Kind doll) and you might want to include your baby book if you want baby's footprints stamped directly in the book. 

Don't forget to toss in a few things for Dad, too. Clean underwear, a pair of sweatpants, a clean t shirt and toiletry essentials (deodorant, toothbrush/toothpaste) and a few snacks and bottles of water are what I included for Corey. Corey will come home to check on Madeline at some point so I know he will get the opportunity to shower and change. 

You may also want to consider a small gift for your nurses. You will likely have at least two or three who are assigned specifically to you. I did not know before Madeline’s delivery how much those labor and delivery nurses really did and I was so thankful for them. This time I am bringing a few Starbucks gift cards. 

A final tip is to put a post-it note on top of your bag once it is packed with a bulleted list of those things you’ll want to grab at the last minute so you don’t forget essentials when you are excited and in a hurry. For me, that was my phone charger and makeup bag. 

I’m a big believer in using what they give you at the hospital (diapers, personal care for mom, etc.) because you will be billed for it anyway and it saves you from having to overpack. 

Seasoned mamas, what am I missing? 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

To Madeline, on her last days as an only child

Dear Madeline,

Tonight as I lie in bed I find myself thinking about another night almost three years ago. I awoke knowing something wasn’t quite right and realized my water had broken and you were on the way. I remember waiting on the doctor to return my message pacing back and forth in our home looking at my sleeping husband - your Daddy - while I hurried to make sure everything was ready (your room, my bag, my manicure) and realizing that our lives would change forever in just a few hours.

You have brought the most amazing changes to our lives and you fit so perfectly into our little family that it seems as if you have always been there.

You are the answer to so many prayers and you know you are our “favorite girl” and a perfect combination of myself and Daddy. You are silly and loud like Daddy but also sensitive and affectionate like me. You have Daddy’s expressions down to a tee but my coloring.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Coffee + Conversation

Happy Monday, friends.

It’s been a little quiet around here lately. I have been busy getting ready for baby boy to make his debut. Those intentions I had of not doing any more projects didn’t really pan out...but in a great way that is making me feel SO accomplished.

Today is my birthday and at the very last minute I decided to broach the subject with Corey of doing a few projects that we had been putting off, like having the downstairs trim painted, the stair risers, the bannisters, and installing crown molding in our secondary bedrooms as my “gift”. I just got it in my head that I wanted this done now and off our plate instead of in the spring as planned and once my pregnant horomones got involved we had to get moving right away. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Third Trimester Workout Routine + 36 Week Bumpdate

Today I thought I would hit two posts in one and share my workout routine for the third trimester and my thirty-six week bumpdate. This was the point with my first pregnancy where I felt like things started to change and I could tell the end of pregnancy was near. The end of my prenatal workouts are also near so it seemed an appropriate time to share an update on that too.

It was such a huge goal of mine to stay active during my pregnancy. I gained a completely acceptable amount of weight during my pregnancy with Madeline but just didn’t feel strong or healthy afterwards so my goal was to exercise appropriately the whole way through this time and try to maintain my strength and just overall health this go round. I have gained more weight this pregnancy but do really feel stronger and more physically prepared for all the changes my body is about to go through so I will call that a win.

Even though I’m including my 36 week bumpdate in this post I’m actually closer to 37 weeks and will hit that milestone tomorrow. I'm hoping to squeeze in one more barre class on Sunday and then I’m retiring my yoga pants for however long the rest of this pregnancy lasts. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

5 easy swaps to “clean up” your makeup routine

For me the decision to “clean up” my skincare routine and swap out my favorite products in favor of safer ones was an easy one. We are a very health-minded family and having a daughter, I feel a lot of responsibility setting a good example for her.

Making the switch to safer makeup was a little more difficult, though. I had a favorite blush I had been wearing for years and finding that perfect concealer or mascara can be a surprisingly personal choice. Sometimes ignorance becomes bliss in terms of our favorite makeup and it is easier to not dig into the safety of our products in favor of being able to still use those that we've grown to love. At the beginning of this year I decided to start switching out my makeup products in favor of safer choices. It has taken months to totally clear out my makeup bag and feel confident in the safety of all of the products that are in it now but I can say that I no longer cringe when Madeline reaches for my blush brush to swipe some across her own little cheek or begs for a dab of lip gloss. 

I am so happy with the swaps I’ve made and even happier that I have not had to sacrifice performance. Beautycounter is just as committed to our products working, well, beautifully as we are to them being completely safe and free of questionable ingredients. 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

One Room Challenge | Week 6 | THE REVEAL

The day is finally here! After six weeks it is One Room Challenge reveal day and I am so excited to share with you the final product of Madeline’s big girl room transformation. 

This was such a special project for me as putting this level of attention to detail in a space for her was never something I’ve been able to do before. I really can’t believe this room is real and that it will really be all hers to enjoy for many years.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

5 Goals for November

November is here and it finally does feel like fall in North Carolina. As I was drafting this post last night, I was covered in a cozy blanket, wearing an oversized sweater, and sitting in our living room with the fireplace on. I just love this time of year!

I did not accomplish everything on my October goals list unfortunately but it was a busy month. I fell short on planning a baby moon (because my doctor vetoed it!) and I did not try out any new recipes. I did a lot of cooking, though, so that’s something! 

The big project for October was Madeline’s big girl room. I’ll be giving you the full tour on Thursday and I am so excited to share! It turned out so cute and just so Madeline. 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

One Room Challenge | Week 5 | Making the Bed + Gallery Wall

Here we are at Week 5 of the One Room Challenge. Madeline's big girl room transformation is almost complete. I barely got this post ready in time and was working until the last second she was at preschool yesterday to finish up hanging things and getting photos taken. 

Her room is pretty much complete now and I can't wait to share with you the finished product next week during the reveal post. I have put so much time and thought into this space and it is one of my favorites in our home - especially since it really just seems to fit her.

I shared the painting project of Madeline’s big girl bed a couple weeks ago and today, I am sharing a little bit about her bedding and wall art.