First Birthday Letter To My Second Daughter

First Birthday Letter To My Second Daughter

 

My daughter is now almost 2 years old, but I wanted to share the write up I did for her first birthday. Enjoy! 

Happy 1st birthday baby girl! This past year was filled with so much chaos, but in the most joyous way. It doesn’t even seem possible that you are already a year old. You grew so much faster than I ever imagined you would.  

You are incredibly smart, maybe even a bit too smart. You hit every milestone way ahead of time and I am so proud of you for it. I do wish you would have slowed down some so I could savor the tiny baby phase a little longer. Time is certainly fleeting.

Your first word was “mama” -Woohoo! But you didn’t stop there. You also love saying “dada”, “baba”, “let’s go”, “uhh ohh”, “no”, “wa-wa” and “oww”. You say “hi” and “bye” while waving your hands. You also love clapping your hands together and saying “yay”, which I must admit is the most adorable thing ever.  

On top of being a smarty pants, you are stunningly beautiful. You have the most gorgeous crystal blue eyes I have ever seen in my life. And that smile of yours can melt even the coldest of hearts. Every person who sees you stops and admires you. However, the most beautiful trait about you is your personality that you illuminate to the world. 

If there was an award for the most easy-going baby, you would win it without a doubt. You go with the flow in nearly every situation…except getting into your car seat; you HATE that thing. Aside that, you play independently when I’m busy or helping your sister, eat everything that is put in front of you and go to bed every night without a fuss. Did I mention you had 0 sleep regressions? – Que the victory trumpets! You made the transition from 1 to 2 children a breeze and I can’t thank you enough for that.

There is no question that your favorite person in the world is your sister. You LOVE your sister. All day long you follow her around and emulate everything she does. You both play so well together and have an incredible bond that makes my heart burst with joy. She is crazy about you too. I am over-the-moon excited to watch your relationship grow.

The old saying about having a second child is true: Your time will split but the love will double. I love everything about you. I love how excited you get when your favorite songs come on. I love how you smile at the world without being asked. I love how when you are finished eating you blow raspberries at me and turn your head away. Even though I wish you would cuddle with me more often, I love that you are always on the move and discovering the world around you. 

It has been amazing to experience the baby phase all over again with you, but it’s also bittersweet because all your firsts are our family’s lasts. Even though I’m saddened, I’m looking forward to this new chapter with you and watching you grow. You are becoming such a beautiful person inside and out. You are so unique and I am incredibly proud to be your Mommy.

p.s. We did it again Joe! I think we mastered keeping babies alive. Thank you for being such an incredible father to our girls and riding on this crazy parenting train with me. 

 

How To Financially Prepare For The Holidays

How To Financially Prepare For The Holidays

The holidays are a time of year where people come together to enjoy time with their family and loved ones. The problem that a lot of people have is balancing the need to give their loved ones everything that they want and not starting off the new year drowning in debt. Fortunately, there are things that you can do that will help you financially prepare for the holidays, helping you achieve the balance of giving the perfect gifts while being easy on your budget.

Think about Your Budget

One of the first things that you need to do is decide on a budget of what you are willing to spend on gifts. It can be a good idea for you to start by creating a list of anyone that you plan on buying gifts for. This should be a detailed list that will include assigning a specific dollar amount for each of the people on your list. Are you traveling to go back home to family? You will also want to plan for other things like travel expenses, including plane tickets, gas for your car, and a hotel.

By creating this list, you are going to be able to know exactly what you need to spend so that you know how much money you need to save for the holidays. You may be tempting to go over your budget that you have set for the perfect gift, but by going over budget for one person, you may end up having to sacrifice a gift for another. Or, even worse, you will risk going well over your budget by overspending on everyone. Stick to your budget to avoid going into debt because of the holidays.

Save Money Aside from Spending

In general, you should be doing whatever you can to save money across all aspects of your life. Simple changes in your daily life can have a significant impact on your spending, allowing you to save more money in the long run. For instance, say you spend $3 dollars on your daily coffee. If you only have one cup of coffee every day, you are spending nearly $1,100 every year. If you have 2 coffees every day, you are doubling that. By making changes like making your own coffee every day, you can save a fortune.

Figure out ways to save yourself money by cutting extra expenses that you don’t need. You don’t need to have takeout every night. You don’t need to go on spending sprees every time that you come up with extra money. When the holidays are coming, you need to scrimp on whatever you can to ensure that you have more money come the holidays. With your budget in mind, you will know exactly how much you need to save. However, you can save more than that and you may either have more money to spend on your presents or you can just pocket these savings for other things like some type of emergency.

There are some simple things that you can do to save money throughout the year in preparation for the holidays, including:

  • Doing a No-Spend month, where you only spend money on the necessities.
  • Cut something, like your daily coffee. This will help you save money all year round, not just at the holidays.
  • Pause/Cancel recurring subscriptions, especially looking out for ones that you don’t actually use. These are small changes that help offset spending.

Get a Second Seasonal Job

During the busy holiday seasons, many places hire for seasonal work allowing them to get the staff that they need for their busiest times. This also gives you an opportunity to make some extra cash come the holidays. This could be hard to accomplish, depending on your work schedule but you may find something that works within your busy schedule.

If a traditional job like this doesn’t work, you can find numerous other side hustles that you can do to earn money this time of year. Can you make something that you can sell that would make for great decorations for the holidays or great gifts? Do you have a special talent for wrapping presents or shopping for gifts? These are things that people are willing to spend on around the holidays. You may even find something that you can do all year round that will help you keep some extra money in your pocket on a schedule that works for you.

Coupons, Rebates, and Rewards

It’s not just about how much money you save; it’s also about finding ways to maximize the money that you have saved. Maybe you have cashback rewards on your credit card that you can use to spend on gifts. Maybe you have saved up points from shopping sites that you can use to save money on presents. Using websites that give you rebates or points back for buying online can help you to save money and gain points to use for the next holiday season. There are also plenty of apps that you can get on your phone to help with your holiday savings.

There are also coupons that you can use. For instance, if you buy items at Target, you can use their app to load coupons onto one barcode/account that you can use to save money. Take advantage of sales that offer you a free gift card but be sure that you aren’t buying something that you wouldn’t be buying anyways. The same applies to coupons. You won’t save money if you buy things just because you have a coupon. You want to make sure that you are taking advantage of sales, coupons, and other perks only if you are already buying or will need to buy those items.

Find Cheaper Gifts

You may have had an idea in mind of what you want to buy your loved one, but you may not like the price when you get into buying these gifts. In those cases, it can be important for you to know how to adjust your plant to purchase cheaper gifts. Just because you spend less on the gift, that doesn’t mean that the gift is any less meaningful.

You may even find an even better gift for your loved ones at a price that you can better afford. Maybe you can even make them something nice. If not, you need to find some type of sacrifice. Instead of buying a brand new holiday dress, you could always borrow one or buy a dress from a thrift store.

Start the Process Early!

Instead of waiting until the holiday season is approaching, maybe you should start this process a lot earlier. This can not only give you more time to save but it will also help you ultimately save some money. For example, if you wait until the last minute you are going to spend more on your travel expenses. By planning your trip earlier, you can take advantage of great sales.

When you start the process early, you can get more time to gather coupons, watching the prices of your gifts rise and fall, and save more money that will allow you to purchase exactly what you want. You can even create a bank account that was made specifically for your holiday savings, allowing you to keep your holiday savings separate from your regular bank account.

Lastly, one of the best benefits of starting the shopping and savings process earlier is that you get to ensure that you get the best gift possible without worrying about them being out of stock. Have a feeling that the toy your kid wants is going to be the biggest toy of the season? Buy it as soon as you can to ensure that you get the perfect gift before the holiday crave hits.

Sales are Your Best Friend

One of the other advantages of starting the buying process early is that you have the ability to take advantage of various sales throughout the year. A lot of people dedicate their time to going out on Black Friday. This isn’t the only time that you can get great sales, which is great since you can avoid the insanity of the rush on Black Friday.

There are plenty of great sales that take place throughout the year that can allow you to save money on whatever gifts you are buying. Does your kid want a cool pair of shoes? Pick them up during the back to school sales. Hit up clearance racks and even tag sales or thrift stores to see if there are new items that your loved ones are going to love. Taking advantage of sales throughout the years will ensure that you get the best price for the items as well as help you avoid the last minute rush closer to the holidays.

Use Cash Only

The problem with credit cards is that people just whip out their credit cards without considering other things like how much they are spending. It can be very easy to lose track of your spending. This can end up leading to troubles like growing debt. But this is a problem that you can avoid by sticking to whatever physical cash you have on hand. Before you go to the store, pull out the money that you are willing to spend on shopping during that trip. This will force you to stick to the cash that you have on hand, avoiding the temptation of overspending. This is where having a list and budget can be extremely beneficial to you.

Gift Exchanges

Another great option is to do a gift exchange rather than just giving everyone gifts. See if your family members are willing to participate in a gift exchange, so that you will spend money on only one person rather than buying small gifts for everyone. This not only helps you to save money, but it helps you to get the money you need to buy the perfect and meaningful gift for the family member that you are buying for.

You can also try a fun game like doing a “white elephant gift exchange” or “Yankee Swap”. These are both games where you bring a single gift to the event and these gifts are exchanged throughout the game. In both of these scenarios, you are able to cap the amount that people can spend on the gifts so that you can ensure that you will save money during this process.

If you are taking this approach, it can be a good idea to let everyone know far in advance that this is the plan. This will increase the likelihood that everyone will participate, which will make this a more successful venture.

Create a List and Stick to It

Are you doing the Black Friday adventure? Whether you are participating during this annual Christmas shopping event or shopping at some other sale, a good idea would be to create a list of what you are buying and how much you are willing to spend on it before you go. However, you need to remember that it’s not only important to create this list but you also need to be sure that you stick to this list.

A big mistake that people make is that they just start buying things that look like they are a great deal. These may be items that you don’t need or your loved ones won’t want as a gift, actually causing you to waste money rather than save it. For this reason, it is important to remember your list and stick to it, unless you were fortunate enough to save extra money that gives you a better buffer on what you are able to spend during your shopping trip.

Set Aside Money for Charity

The holidays aren’t just about what gifts you can buy your loved ones; it’s also about taking this time to gift back to the community. During the holiday seasons, a lot of the charities are doing a rush to raise money or get items so that they can help the community. This includes food drives and drives to give coats and winter gear to people in need. It can be a good idea to ensure that as part of your savings plan, you set aside money that you can give back to these important charities that do such great work.

What’s great about donating money to these charities is that you may even get a tax break for your donation. If you are able to donate more than $250 to a charity, you will want to ask for some official statement that will verify your donation. This can help prove your donation for tax purposes, especially if you get audited.

Don’t Plan a Massive Meal

Holidays are the time of year where you want to get together with all of your friends and family. Feeding all of these people can get expensive, which is why you should consider hosting a potluck dinner instead. This will help you save a fortune on hosting a holiday event, since everyone who is attending will be expected to bring something to eat for everyone. Again, this is something that is best to plan ahead for so that you can make sure everyone is on board with this plan.

This does take some careful planning so that you don’t end up with 10 pies or potato salads. You can create a simple spreadsheet where you can keep track of the food items that you need for the event as well as what people have already signed up to bring. You could also make it easier for yourself and assign “tasks” for everyone. For instance, if you know someone that makes a killer dessert, have them bring a dessert. There are also websites that you can create food lists on and send invites to people, where they can sign up on the website to see what they are bringing. This will help you keep track of what food to expect and what you need to make to compensate for missing items on the list.

After Season Clearance

Did you use all of your wrapping paper over the holidays? Did some of your decorations fail to make it through the holiday? Stores start trying to get rid of their holiday inventory after the holidays are over, which is something that you can take advantage of. This will give you a great chance to save money in preparation of the upcoming holiday season. You can walk away with some great steals on items that you will need for the next holiday season, saving you money when it comes time to shopping for items.

People tend to get overwhelmed at the holidays, spending money and unknowingly racking up credit card bills. By using these tips to save yourself money, you are going to be able to give your loved ones a great holiday without going further into debt. You may be surprised just how much some of these little changes can make to your pocket.

How to Get Pregnant Quickly 101

How to Get Pregnant Quickly 101


I remember when my husband and I decided to start trying for our first baby.  I was over the mood excited and I couldn’t wait to see those double lines appear on that pregnancy test. If you know me by now, I am the most impatient person on the planet. I immediately started researching how I could conceive quickly. I looked at every fertility site I could get my hands on and soaked in all the information I could get.

It took 5 months of trying before I finally conceived my first daughter.  The second time around I was much more educated on fertility and ended up conceiving the very first month of trying.  I’d like to think that these methods helped with this result, but I’m sure there was some luck involved.

Please keep in mind that this will not work for everyone trying to conceive. These methods can boost your chances of getting pregnant, but not guarantee it.

Alrighty, here we go!

 

Get off Birth Control

First and foremost, get off birth control (if you are on it). Depending on the type of birth control you are on, it could take a few months before your body is ready for baby making.  If you are like me and got an IUD, you can start trying for a baby shortly after you take that sucker out.   

Related posts

Track Your Cycle

Tracking your cycle is probably the most important part of knowing when your fertile window is. You cannot get pregnant if you are not ovulating.  Knowing your cycle will help you pinpoint when you ovulate so you can maximize your chances of getting pregnant.

When I started tracking, I would count my cycle days. In a perfect world, ovulation occurs about 14 days after your first day of your period.  This is based on a typical 28-day cycle.  However, my typical cycle length was 30-32 days long, and ovulation occurs 18-20 days after.  Knowing this, I knew that to max my chances of getting pregnant I should be having sex on cycle days 16-21.  To verify the accuracy of my tracking and ovulation days, I did some other methods to backup that information such as:

  • Purchasing an Ovulation Test. Ovulation tests tell you if you are ovulating or not.  My favorite one is the Clearblue Advanced Digital Ovulation Test. This one comes 10 per pack, which is great because you will probably need to use more than one to pinpoint ovulation.
  • Take Your Temperature. Get a good oral thermometer, like the Basal Body Thermometer. All you have to do is take your temperature every morning before you get out of bed and write down what your temperature is.  You will notice that in the first half of your cycle your temperature will be lower, but after you ovulate your temperature will spike up a degree or so. The rise in temperature is from the releasing of extra progesterone in your body after ovulation. Once you see that spike, you know you ovulated the day before.  This is good to see what your pattern looks like and find out when your typical ovulation days are so you can prepare for the next time. To help with temperature tracking, I used an app called Fertility Friend.  This one was by far my favorite fertility app to use when I was trying to conceive.

 

 

  • Track your Mucus. Gross, I know, but when tracking your cycle your cervical mucus plays a very important role. Just before ovulation, your mucus will become more clear and watery.  This is nature’s way of helping the sperm survive and swim to the egg.  After you ovulate, your mucus will change to a “creamier” texture, almost resembling lotion.  Keeping track of these changes can help pinpoint when your fertile window is to optimize your chances of getting pregnant.

Healthy Diet 

Make sure you are taking care of yourself and putting your health first.  Your body is going to be the home to another human for 9 months, so eating right and preparing your body for what it is about to endure is critical. On top of that, a healthy, well balanced diet can make you more fertile. Eating foods rich in antioxidants can help improve fertility for both men and women. Good sources for this are fruits, veggies, nuts and grains.

While we are still on the diet and health topic, try to stay away from:

— Soda: Both diet and regular soda have been linked to lower fertility.

— Trans Fats: Trans fats have been associated with an increased risk of ovulatory infertility. A study from Harvard School of Public Health found that women who ate trans fats had more ovulation-related fertility problems than women who avoided it.

— Alcohol: Alcohol depletes your body of vitamin B and can decrease your ovarian reserve, which can contribute to infertility.

— Mercury: Cut back on high-mercury fish while trying for a baby. Mercury can build up stores in your body, which could harm the development of your  baby’s nervous system when you do get pregnant.

Take Supplements

I’m a big fan of getting most, if not all, your nutrients through food, but if you think you need a supplement boost, some good solutions are:

— Prenatal Vitamins: I took Vitafusion Prenatal Gummy VitaminsThese were my favorite because they tasted good and gave me everything I needed to prepare for a new resident in my body. I took them all the way through breastfeeding.  

–Vitex: If you have irregular periods, tracking your cycle can be a nightmare. Nature’s Way Vitex is a natural herb that helps women regulate their menstrual and hormonal balance, making it easier to track your cycles to optimize conception.

FertilAid for Women: This supplement supports overall reproductive health. It’s packed with antioxidants and vitamins that support fertility.  This also supports cycle regulation just like Vitex. 

Have Sex!

Probably the most fun (and important) part of trying to conceive! Once you learn how to track your cycle and figured out roughly when your fertile window is, the next step is to get them swimmers to the egg! Try having sex a few days before ovulation and a couple days after (in case you ovulate sooner or later than usual that month). Having sex every day during your fertile window is ideal, but every other day works too since sperm can live inside you up to 5 days.

As for position tips, to get deeper penetration (sperm closer to the cervix) try missionary or even doggy style. “Woman on top” is fine too, but gravity tends to work against you in those positions. Once the deed is done, to make sure you give those swimmers enough time to do their thing, lay in bed with your hips arched up for a for a few minutes.

 

Don’t Stress!

Did you know that if you’re stressed, it can actually hinder your chances of conceiving?  Stress negatively influences your fertility because it can disturb your hormone balances that control normal ovulation cycles. Studies have shown that the more stressed a woman is, the longer it takes her to get pregnant.

A few ways to de-stress are:

— Exercising: Exercising is one of the best stress relievers. Physical activity produces endorphins (the feel-good hormones). Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers, improve sleep and reduce stress.

— Breathe Deeply: Another de-stress and anxiety remedy that produces endorphins.

— Take a bath: Taking a bath with some nice candles and music is incredibly stress relieving.

— Be Social: Get out of the house and enjoy other people’s company.  Being social and feeling connected is important for reducing stress. Socializing can decrease anxiety and make you feel more confident in handling stresses in your life.   

Seek Medical Assistance  

Unfortunately, there are women who will still have a harder time getting pregnant, even after trying everything they could do.  Statistics say that 1 out of every 10 couples will experience infertility. If you go a year with no luck, or if you are age 35 and older, it’s time to consult your doctor to see what the next steps should be.

 

55 Essential Baby Supplies – A Complete List!

55 Essential Baby Supplies

First time mom and not sure where to start with preparation? I gotcha covered! Here is a big ol’ list of baby supplies you will need for when your bundle of joy makes their grand entrance into the world. 

Bassinet – If you plan on co-sleeping, I would still strongly suggest you get a bassinet for nap times. They are not super comfortable or the baby, but it did the job well for the first couple months.   

Bassinet Sheets – Babies spit up a lot, so have at least 2 of these sheets on hand.

Crib – Again, I would suggest getting a crib even if you plan on co-sleeping.  Mainly the kind of crib that turns into a toddler bedSo even if you don’t use the crib, you will be set for a toddler bed down the road.

Crib Mattress – Now unfortunately most cribs do not come with the mattress. So make sure that is on your list as well.  A good baby mattress is around $100.  Firm is not exactly super comfortable, but it is said to be the safest for babies. Keep that in mind when you go shopping.

Crib Bumpers – I found this one out the hard way.  Once my baby went into her crib she kept getting her legs stuck in between the crib rails.  I prefer the thinner ones since thick ones are more dangerous (suffocation warnings).

Fitted Crib Sheets – You will want at least 2 fitted sheets because babies tend to spit up a lot.  While one is in the wash you don’t have to wait to make the bed again. 

Bottles – Bottles bottles bottles! My favorite brand is the Philips Avent Anti-colic Baby Bottles. You will need them especially if you are formula feeding, but even if you plan on breastfeeding you will want them if you are pumping and storing milk.

Bottle Nipples – So in addition to the bottles, you will want to get nipples for 3M and 6M+ on hand for when your baby gets to those ages.  When you buy the bottles, they tend to come with the newborn nipples, but not the rest. 

Bottle Cleaners – Cleaning bottles with bottle cleaners is WAY easier than using a regular sponge. You will need to get a few of them because they will wear out after a couple months, but totally worth having.  Best kind I ever got was the OXO Tot Bottle Brush.

Formula – I breastfed the first few months, but I had a can of formula just in case breastfeeding didn’t work out.

Carseat – You are probably thinking, “well duhh!”, but it’s certainly something that should be a high priority.  Most hospitals won’t even let you leave with your baby until they see him/her in the car seat. 

Stroller – If you have a baby during the nicer months of the year, going for walks during maternity leave is a nice way to bond with your new baby and get some exercise in! However, you should get a stroller regardless of birth season because you will most likely need one for the next few years to come. I personally got the BOB Revolution Jogging Stroller and I am in love with it, even after owning it for the last 3 years.

Changing Pad – You can live without this one but it is nice to have a sole changing spot. The Summer Infant Contoured Changing Pad fits perfectly on the top of the dresser i mentioned above.

Changing Pad Covers – With the changing pad you will also need changing pad coversGet at least 2 so when one gets poop on it (which it will) you can have a spare on hand.

Dresser – Babies DO NOT need a dresser, but this was a way for me to organize all her clothes. The dresser I got was the Storkcraft Avalon dresser because it had a changing table on the top. Plus, it matched the convertible crib perfectly!

Baby Hats – Babies tend to be cold because well, little body fat and they are not used to the cooler air outside of the womb.  People lose body heat out of the feet and head the most, so hats are essential for babies.  Plus they are adorable!

Clothes! – This is probably the first thing on your mind because newborn baby clothes are so darn cute! Unfortunately, babies grow out of these really fast, so don’t go too crazy on the newborn size. Focus more on getting the 0-3M sizes; they will last longer. Consider getting some 3M clothing as well if you feel like preparing a little further out.

Baby Detergent – All this clothing talk brings me to my next baby essential. Baby Detergent! Newborn baby skin is very sensitive, so sometimes washing their clothes with regular detergent could irritate their skin.

Baby Monitor – Definitely a must have, especially when you move the baby into a crib at night.  I got the HD Display Video Baby Monitor. Worth every dime.

Diaper Bag – Diaper bags will become your new purse! (half joking).  But seriously, get a nice diaper bag that you can hold everything you need. 

Diapers and Wipes – Again, “well duhh!”, but this is far too much of an essential to not put on this list. Newborn and Size 1 diapers you should keep in bulk stock along with a bulk stock of wipes. I can almost guarantee you will go through it all pretty fast.

Diaper Rash Cream – Some babies are more prone to diaper rashes than others.  My first got them often whereas my second has yet to have even one.  Keep some Desitin on hand right from the start just in case a rash pops up out of nowhere.  Nothing worse than seeing your baby in pain. 

Diaper Trash Bin – Because diapers STINK. Seriously, get some kind of trash with a lid or those trash bins designed for diapersYour nose will thank you.

Disposable Diaper Trash Bags – Similar to the trash bin, if you are traveling you should keep disposable diaper trash bags on hand.  They smell good and a great dirty diaper holder until you are able to throw it away.  Babies poop A LOT, so be prepared for that when you have to change a poopy diaper on the side of the road.

Swaddles – Both of my girls HATED being swaddled, so my swaddle purchase was null and void, but I would still recommend getting a couple.  You can always re-sell or donate them, which is what I did. 

Burp Cloths – If you want to save your clothes from spit up after feedings, get some burp cloths. They are not super expensive but they are super necessary. 

Blankets – I got a good handful of blankets that I used when snuggling with my little bub, but just make sure to keep them out of the bassinet and/or crib until they are older.

Baby Towels and Washcloths– You don’t really need this because you can just use the towels and washcloths you already own, but I liked the cute little hooded towels designed for babies.  The baby washcloths are softer on the skin as well. 

Baby Hair Brush – Many babies come out bald, but even the baldest of bald babies grow hair eventually. If your baby is like mine, it will come out with a full head of hair. Having a baby hair brush on hand is essential for both scenarios.  They are soft and perfect for that baby thin hair.

Baby Shampoo/Body Wash – I don’t have much to say on this one other than you gotta keep them babies clean! I usually get Johnson and Johnson 2-in-one.

Baby Lotion – Baby skin is very sensitive and can dry out easy.  Make sure to get a good lotion for them to put on after a bath or whenever they need it.

Baby bathtub – We all know babies can’t sit up on their own, so I suggest getting a baby bathtub to wash them in. I used it for the first 9-10 months before my girls were ready for the regular tub (with supervision of course).

Baby Ear Cleaners – Babies get ear wax just like we do.  Baby ear cleaners are thicker on the ends for ear safety. It prevents the ear cleaners from going too far into the baby’s ears.

Baby Nail ClippersBaby nail clippers are a must because those little nails grow fast!  It’s much easier to cut baby nails with smaller clippers. 

Baby Toothbrush and Paste – Babies generally do not have teeth for the first few months, but they can still get bad breath.  You can use water and a cloth if you desire to clean your baby’s gums, but I used a rubber finger toothbrush and paste twice a day. No stinky breath for my babies!

Baby Orajel Another option for a teething baby.  You never know when it will start so being prepared is a must for this. 

Teething Rings – Teething is a rough time for babies.  It hurts and can be very uncomfortable.  I suggest having some teething rings on hand before your baby arrives because you never really know when they will start teething. Every baby is different, so be prepared!

Pacifiers – My first baby loved pacifiers.  She always had one up until she was just over a year old.  My second hated them.  So I won buying them the first time around but wasted money the second time around.  Either way, have a couple on hand in case you have a binky lover on your hands.

Nose Sucker – Nose suckers are a lifesaver when your baby is sick.  They will probably hate it, but it’s very helpful in clearing their airways.  I will say that I never paid a dime for a nose sucker.  The hospital supplied them for me after both births and I took them home when I left. If you don’t get that luxury, the best ones on the market are the Medline Sterile Bulb.

Toy Storage Bin – This is not a dire need before the baby comes, but I liked the idea of having one on hand for when she started to collect toys. 

Baby Swing – Again, first baby loved her swing but the second hated it. I got one for $100, but there are cheaper ones out there, like the Graco Simple Sway Baby Swing.

Pack and Play – A Baby Trend Trend-E Pack and Play and it is totally worth it if your child doesn’t mind being contained. 

Monthly Belly Stickers – Again, not a dire need, but if you are corny like me I took monthly pictures of my babies during their first year with belly stickers. Quick links: For a Girl and for a Boy.

Walker Don’t need this right away, but get it in preparation for when your baby starts becoming mobile.

Activity Mat – These are good to set the baby down on. They generally entertain babies with the toys overhead. In addition, the mat was nice to keep the floor clean from baby spit up. 

Exersaucer– Not a need right away, but I suggest getting one before or shortly after your baby is born.  My kids loved it and it was also a good way to contain them so you can do something else with both hands for once.  **Life Hack: If your baby can’t touch the ground yet, but pillows under them to sit on.   

Mama Time!

After you give birth, there are some must haves that you will need for yourself as well.  Please note that some of these things below are just for breastfeeding mothers.

Breast Pump – I got my Medela Breast Pump for FREE through my insurance.  Many insurance companies supply these, so check with your insurance to find out what you are able to get.

Milk Storage Bags (if pumping) – If you plan on pumping, have some milk storage bags on hand so you can pump and store milk for later.  This is also super helpful for storing if you are pumping at work. 

Nursing Pads (for leaking) – Never thought you would have to wear pads in your bra huh?  This is more for breastfeeding mothers, but even if you are not breastfeeding you may leak some for a bit.

Bottle Cooler – Great for traveling and keeping bottles cool. It keeps the bottles nice and cold until we can put them back into a fridge. 

Lactation Aids (tea and cookies) – Getting your milk supply up is a main priority if you are breastfeeding.  I personally used Mother’s Milk Tea. I highly recommend tea or lactation cookies to boost your supply. 

Nipple Cream – Breastfeeding mothers only.  Breastfeeding can be painful and cause nipple sores.  Nipple cream can help relieve that pain. 

Nipple Shields – There came a point when my nipple sores got so bad I ended up using a nipple shield for breastfeeding.  I planned to use it until the sores were healed but my baby got so used to the plastic that I just continued to use the shield the rest of my breastfeeding journey.  Some say it can reduce supply, but I never had that issue.

Nursing bras – Get yourself a good nursing braRegular bras will be way too uncomfortable, especially if you are engorged. Trust me, your boobs will thank you. 

Pads – You are going to bleed for a while after you give birth.  The hospital will give you some free pads, but make sure you have some in stock at home for when the freebies run out.  If you are brave enough for tampons go for it, but I stayed away from those until I was fully healed down there.

Whelp, there you have it. It’s no secret that babies are expensive. To help with cost I suggest throw a baby shower. I received SO many diapers at my baby shower that I didn’t have to buy any for 3 months. In the long run just do what you are able to do for you and your baby. No one is going to dock you if your crib is brand new or not. Happy baby prepping!

19 Perfect Baby Shower Gift Ideas

19 Perfect Baby Shower Gift Ideas

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that you are reading those post because you were invited to a baby shower and have no idea what to give as a present.  Or maybe you do know, but just want to find better ideas than the clique (blankets, binkies, cute outfits, etc.).  Don’t disregard those though; they come in handy for new moms and dads. However, if you want to stand out and/or give a gift that is super awesome, here are some great ideas.

Prenatal Massage

Yes, it is a baby shower, but Mom still needs pampering too. Coming from experience, I would have died of happiness if someone got this for me at my baby shower!

Diapers & Wipes

Yes, this is clique, but these things are expensive and that baby is going to need A LOT of both.  If you go this route, go with sizes 1-2 diapers

Baby Bathtub + Accessories

Not too expensive, but a newborn need for sure! If you want to be creative, you can fill the bathtub with bath stuff like baby shampoo, baby towels, lotion, baby toothbrush, hairbrush, baby ear cleaners, diaper cream, etc. 

Nightlight

Newborns tend to sleep in the same room as the parent(s) for a while, but when/if the time comes that the baby graduates to their own crib, a nightlight is a cute room addition.  Plus, it will help Mom/Dad with middle of the night navigation when the baby cries.

Stroller and/or Car Seat

I got this combo at my baby shower and I was extremely thankful. Strollers and car seats are not cheap, but they are a need.  If you get this as a gift be prepared for a lot of thank yous and hugs.

Professional Newborn Photoshoot

I would have LOVED to get this as a gift.  Newborn shoots are pretty expensive though.  I paid $500 for mine, but the pictures are phenomenal and I would do it all over again without question.  If you don’t want to spend that much then that is totally fine, but it would be a very meaningful and sentimental gift for the family.

Formula (if not breastfeeding)

If mommy-to-be is not planning on breastfeeding, then get a big can of formula as a gift (or part of a gift). Formula is expensive and typically a baby will go through a big can a week. It will be extremely helpful to cut that cost down by getting some for the baby. FYI: Ask what kind they want to use first before buying. 

Gift Cards

Go ahead and say this is a copout gift.  But seriously, gift cards are great.  Just make sure it’s a gift card to some place actually useful, like Target or Walmart.  You can also get one of those prepaid Visa cards that can be used almost anywhere. 

3D/4D Ultrasound

I did this for both my pregnancies and it was such a great experience to get a first glimpse at their perfect little faces.  The best time to get these done it between 24 and 34 weeks, so you can either wait until the baby shower or give your gift early. (Recommend giving it early). Just for the record, I paid $120 each time I got one of these done. It was worth every dime.

Baby Clothes

I would advise to stay away from this gift idea because other people at the baby shower are probably going to get clothes (mostly because those are the most fun things to shop for). BUT if you insist on getting an outfit, stay away from the newborn sizes.  Go with a 3M or 6M size.

Pedicure for Mom

This is another gift I WISH I got at my baby shower.  This is a great idea, considering pregnant mothers tend to have sore and/or swollen feet towards the end of pregnancy. 

Baby Monitor

Again, not very cheap if you get a good one, but they are a need for sure.  If you go this route, get one with the camera screen.

Swaddles

Tons of newborns love being swaddled, so this is a nice gift if you are assuming that the baby will like that kind of thing. However, both of my kids hated being swaddled, so I had to give all mine away.  Either way, it’s a nice gesture, but just be warned it may never be used.

Diaper Bin

One of the first lessons I learned being a new mom is that I needed a diaper bin if I wanted to save my nose from the horrible stench of baby poo. Putting the dirty diapers in plastic bags and throwing them in the normal trashcan was not enough to cover that odor. A diaper bin is super useful and I can guarantee they will be thanking you for it.

Diaper Bag

So this one is tricky, because most parents like to pick out their own diaper bag (I know I did). But it is something they are going to need to leave the house with a baby.  Best bet for this one is to ask them to pick out a diaper bag on their own and that you will pay for it.  That way they get what they want and it’s still a gift from you. 

“Lazy Man” Gift Basket

If you really have no idea what to get or have no time, Amazon will have you covered!  Just search for “baby shower gift baskets”, and voila! You got yourself an awesome gift that will be delivered to your doorstep. To save you a searching endeavor, my favorite gift basket for a boy is the New Baby Boy Gift Basket and Simply Baby Girl Necessities for a girl.

Memory Book

Clique to the max, but it is a nice gift to give and receive.  Sentimental stuff always pull on heartstrings. Pearhead First 5 Years Chevron Baby Memory Book is by far the best one.

Belly Stickers

I loved doing those monthly baby pictures with the belly stickers!  It’s corny and may embarrass your kid when they are older, but it is cool to see your baby grow each month during that first year.  Quick links: Girl Stickers and Boy Stickers.

Hand Sanitizer

Cheap, but oh so necessary.  Add this item to whatever else you plan on getting as a “cherry on top of the cake”.

There are so many other things you can get as a baby shower gift. Bibs, toys, books, burp cloths, etc.  If I were to ever have any more kids in the future, the list above is what I would have on my baby shower registry for sure, emphasis on the prenatal massage!

17 Diaper Bag Essentials

17 Diaper Bag Essentials

 

It’s no secret that when you become a mom you pretty much take the entire house with you when you leave to go anywhere.  It seems like a lot of things to take with you, but you will become a pro at it in no time, I promise. 

First and foremost, you are going to need a diaper bag.  It is the most essential thing you can get when you have a baby and/or a toddler.  I happen to have 2 diaper bags that I lug with me, one for my baby and the other for my toddler, because….well….they both need different stuff. I purchased the RUVALINO Large Diaper Tote and it is by far the best and most stylish diaper bag I could find. If you open my handy dandy diaper bags you will find: 

1. Diapers of course! For my baby that is.I usually pack at least 12-15 diapers for an 8 hour period. I never use them all, but it’s better to have more than not enough. To save some money on diapers, I recommend buying them in bulk.

2. Baby Wipes.  Even if you have a totally potty trained toddler, you should still carry baby wipes, or some kind of cleaning wipes. 

3. Portable Changing pad (for baby). I have been in situations where there wasn’t a changing table around and I ended up using my sweater to lay her down on instead. Avoid those “what do I do now” scenarios with a portable changing padJust for the record, some diaper bags come with a portable changing pad as part of the package deal. 

4. Disposable Diaper Bags.  No trash nearby? No problem! I use disposable diaper bags all the time, even at home to keep dirty diaper smells contained. Not only do the help contain dirty diaper smells when you don’t have a trash nearby, they are also good to use for dirty clothes.   Toddlers can have “accidents”, so if I am out of the home I would put her wet clothes in the nicely scented bag and grab the change of clothes I packed for her.  Which leads me to my next essential item.

5. Change of clothes! I can’t tell you how many times my kids get dirty in some form or another. So for both my girls I have 2 sets of spare clothes, JUST IN CASE.

6. Bottles or Sippy Cups. If formula feeding, formula is only good for an hour after it’s made. So what I did was fill my Avent bottles up with water and then add the formula afterwards when my baby was hungry. This kept the formula bottles fresh. BUT if you are like me, I exclusively pumped for the first 3 months. Luckily, expressed milk lasts longer in room temperature. Ideally it should be used within 4 to 5 hours, but you could extend that time up to about 8 hours.  I never went anywhere that long with my baby, so it was never an issue staying in that timeframe. I don’t really need to explain what to put in sippy cups, right? Okay, moving on. 

7. Snacks! Make sure you bring snacks. I pack snacks for both my girls, age appropriate options of course. This is probably the most important thing to your kid, so DO NOT FORGET IT.  It doesn’t matter if you are leaving the house for 10 hours or 10 minutes. Always bring a snack or 2, or 3. 

8. Lotion. Not much to say on this one, but I pack this because my girls tend to get dry skin in the winter months.  I use Aveeno eczema cream and it works like a charm.

9. Sun screen.  Definitely an essential during the summer months.  Kids love playing outside and the last thing you want is for them to get burnt. They may hate putting it on, or at least my kids do, but it’s very much worth it. They will thank you someday for not having skin cancer.

10. Travel Tissues. Because boogers, right?  That is all.

11. Toys/Comfort Toys. My kids both have a blanket and a stuffed bear they bring everywhere. Heaven forbid we forget the take those with us.  I also pack another toy or toys for entertainment, depending on where we are going and how long.

12. Band-Aids. Kids are klutzy little humans.  It’s a good idea to have Band-Aids on hand for those “boo-boos” that can’t be healed with your kiss. 

13. Diaper Rash Cream.  You know, to sooth that little baby butt if it needs soothing! Keep some cream on hand just in case you got a little red bum to take care of.

14. Burp cloths. I’m almost positive you would rather your baby’s spit up to be on a burp cloth than down the back of your shirt, right? If you choose to disregard this one, make sure you bring a change of clothes for yourself too.

15. Bibs. Babies are messy eaters. Bibs will help catch the fallen food, but I can’t guarantee it will catch all of it. You have been warned.

16. Hand SanitizerThis is something I use mostly for myself to kill those pesky germs because I am handling my kids all the time.  So no, not a diaper bag essential, but definitely a purse/car essential!

17.. Medicine. I pack Baby Tylenol, toddler cold medicine and Baby OrajelFor the record, the baby orajel can be a lifesaver for a cranky teething baby. If you are bringing your kid(s) to a daycare make sure the daycare provider has a license to distribute medication.

This does look like a lot of things, and as you go through the motions you will probably come up with a few more items that you will want to keep handy.  Like a breast pump and nursing pads for example, which I most definitely needed the first 3 months. Anyways, I hope this list helps you get the ball rolling at the very least.  Happy diaper bag prepping!  

The Art of Potty Training – Tips and Tricks

 The Art of Potty Training – Tips & Tricks

 

 

If you have a toddler who is more than capable of using the potty, but too stubborn to comply, then you have come to the right place. Potty training is as much of a blessing at it is a curse. Having a hard headed toddler sure does make potty training a super ultra-hard CHORE.  She knows what she has to do, she gets the concept, but she just would not go because I was the one telling her to do it.  After tons of attempts and tons of failures, we have finally gotten to a point where she is about 90% potty trained. Hallelujah!  It has been a power struggle, but we are making ground.  Here is a list of things that I have tried and what did/didn’t work for us.  

DID NOT WORK

Pull Ups – They work the same way as a diaper.  It is only convenient for the parent so they can pull them up and down easier.  It gives no incentive for the child to use the potty.  My daughter figured this out quick, so needless to say we only tried this for a few days before calling it a bust.

Forcing – This just makes kids retaliate, especially if they are as stubborn as my daughter. It makes for a very negative experience and that is something you should avoid all together.  I mean, how would you like it if someone was forcing you to do something you didn’t want to do?  You would probably be pretty pissed off.

Starting Too Soon – I thought I would start before 2 years old because I know of other kids who have been fully potty trained by that age.  Even though those kids might have been ready, mine wasn’t and I should have waited before trying to introduce that to her.  All kids are different, so wait until yours is ready.  Some signs include:

  • Pulling at their diaper
  • Hiding to go pee or poop
  • Showing interest in other people using the potty
  • Waking up in the morning with dry diapers
  • Telling you they are going in their diaper or
    that they have to go

Playful Potty – I bought a cute little training potty.  It was green with little eyeballs on the front.  My daughter did not want anything to do with it.  It actually freaked her out more than anything. We still have it, but it is currently collecting dust in a storage closet until I get the motivation to get rid of it.

Not Being Consistent – This one is entirely my fault. I would try potty training and when something didn’t work I would just give up for months at a time before trying something else.  I wasn’t consistent and I’m sure it confused my daughter because one minute I’m telling her we need to use the potty, and the next I’m telling her just to use her diaper and it was fine.

Sticker Charts – I thought this one would be a no brainer because of how successful other parents have been with it.  Basically, if your kid goes potty they get a sticker, or some kind of present.  Mine did not care about this at all.  She would want the sticker, but if I told her she had to use the potty first to get it, she dismissed it all together and played with something else.  Stubborn to the max.

WHAT WORKED (for us)

Start When They Are Ready –  As listed above, when your kid is showing the signs of being ready, that is when you should start your potty training journey. This makes all the difference than starting too soon. 

Cold Turkey – This worked way better than pull ups.  It took about 2 weeks of accidents, but she finally got the reality of “if I pee in my pants, I will get wet and uncomfortable”.  This one was hard to be consistent with because all I wanted to do was not clean up pee and poop every day for 2 weeks, but I held my ground and it turned out to be worth it in the end. 

Realistic Toy potty – The playful potty didn’t work, so I ended up buying the My Size Potty, which is much more realistic looking than the last one I purchased.  It actually looked like a potty and it even makes flushing noises!  My daughter loves this one and she primarily goes on it instead of the regular potty with the seat cover. 

Make It A Positive Experience – The more positive you make this experience the better.  Every time my daughter goes on the potty I tell her how proud I am of her and we give each other a high five. My daughter is also obsessed with school busses, so whenever she goes on the potty I tell her she is a big girl now and can ride a school bus. She gets over the moon excited about that. Positive reinforcement works wonders!

Keep Asking & Reminding – Frequently ask if they have to go potty. I would dillegenty ask my daughter every hour or so if she needed to use the potty. 9 out of 10 times she would tell me no, but after seeing her down water earlier makes my mommy senses tingle. Sometimes I let it slide and then ask again a bit later, but other times I tell her that we need to try anyways and we go.  Usually she will go, even if it’s just a little bit.  A lot of the times my daughter is playing and doesn’t want to stop what she is doing, which is why I like to break her away from it every so often to avoid accidents. 

Consistency! – Consistency is key.  No matter what route you choose, make sure you are consistent with it.  Don’t try going cold turkey one day and then put them in a pull up the next. It will just confuse the heck out of them. If something is not working then of course switch it up, but if something is working make sure you are following through with it.  

Please remember that every child is different.  What works for one may not work for another. The biggest thing you should take away from this is no matter what you do, be consistent and only start training when your child is ready.  The rest is trial and error.   No matter how frustrating it can be to potty train, I can promise you that your child will get there at their own pace.  Be patient, be positive and be consistent.

10 Ways Relationships Change When You Become Parents

10 Ways Relationships Change When You Become Parents

 

Relationships tend to suffer once children come along and my husband and I are not immune from that statement. Our relationship changed drastically after we became parents and I was nowhere near prepared for it. Why did the man I was so deeply in love with turn into someone I was always angry at? My entire pregnancy I was preparing for the arrival of our daughter that I neglected to prepare for the changes my husband and I would go through. I was naive to think things would be exactly the same. There were times where I was wondering if we were even going to make it. But in the end we did and we came out stronger than ever.  It just took some work and a mutual desire to grow together during this new chapter of our lives.

So onto the meat and potatoes, here are some ways relationships change after you become parents. Hopefully it can somewhat prepare you for what is to come. 

Related posts:

Scheduled Sex

Say goodbye to spontaneous sex. If you don’t schedule it (at least for me) then it will never happen. We love each other very much, but sleep is more of a priority at this point.  After working our day jobs and then coming home to the kids, by the time they go to bed we are ready for bed ourselves. It’s not exactly as exciting as it used to be, but for now this is what we have to do.  To put some light on it, scheduled sex is way better than no sex!

Parenting Styles

Luckily for me and my husband, we are on the same page with parenting styles. But for many couples parenting styles clash. Maybe dad says no to something but mom says yes, or vice versa.  This could not only confuse your child but cause pretty large arguments between you and your spouse.  Get on the same page and parent together.  Having this talk and setting rules before the baby comes would be the most beneficial.

Date Nights

Date nights have now become far and few in between. If we neglect to schedule a date night then we could go months without going out or doing anything together. One thing that has helped us is we started to schedule a couple date nights a month and we stick to it. It’s so easy to forget about something like that but it is so important to stay connected and be reminded that you are more than just Mommy and Daddy.

Lack Of Sleep

I will be the first to admit that only sleeping for 4-5 hours a night made me a super grumpy person and my husband was always the one to feel the wrath from that. Lack of sleep makes even the most patient person edgy. People tend to be less grateful when they aren’t getting enough sleep.  The best advice I can give here is try to prioritize sleep as much as you can. Give yourself a bedtime and make sure to share the nightly baby duty with your spouse so you both can get as much rest as you can.  Everything is better when you are rested.

Communication

I think one of the key things in having a successful relationship is communication. But once you have kids it can be very difficult to have meaningful conversations. Typically a conversation will start and stop a million times because one of the kids needs us. This leads back to the importance of having date nights. Funny part is that when we actually are able to communicate uninterrupted it’s usually about our kids. I guess we’re just a little obsessed with them.  

Household Chores

There have always been chores, but now it seems like chores take 10 times longer to complete than before. Dishes, laundry, trash. I used to have no problem keeping up with it all.  Now that I have little humans who take up 99% of my time, it can be easy to fall behind on that stuff.  Best advice?  Set some ground rules on who takes care of what.  You do the laundry and your spouse does the dishes. You vacuum and they take out the trash.  If you split the chores it won’t feel so overwhelming.  Remember, you guys are a team.

Money Matters

Money matters more than you thought. Money is a huge relationship stressor and is often overwhelming. Bottom line? KIDS COST A LOT OF MONEY. The cost of raising a child from birth to age 17 is $233,610 according to 2015 statistics.  My poor wallet. Worst part about money stresses?  I take my anxiety and frustration out on my husband. Thankfully we are now in a spot where we are more financially stable, but we still have to be careful.  We don’t buy the name brand clothing or all organic baby food.  We had to cut back on things in order to accommodate our larger family.  Everyone’s financial situation is different, so do what is best for your family and cut back where you need to.  Trust me, you can live without a Loui Vuitton purse.

Lovers or Co-Workers?

At times, parenting feels a lot like co-workers. Your job is taking care of kids and maintaining a household.  You both tag team the chores and the baby
duties and at the end of the day you give each other a high five and fall asleep, just to do it all over again. Between all the appointments and planning and cleaning and parenting, you may forget to stop for a moment and give your spouse a loving hug or kiss. It is so easy to get caught up in the routine that you forget to love your spouse in the process.  You guys need each now more than ever.  Don’t forget why you guys decided to do this journey together in the first place.  

You Might Hate Each Other

Sometimes, you might hate each other. Sometimes you will feel like your way is the best way and that everything your spouse is doing is wrong. You will bicker at each other and occasionally criticize their actions.   If you find yourself “hating” your spouse, try to remember why you chose to start a family with them to begin with. Remember the love you shared and realize that you both are trying as hard as you can. Give each other the benefit of the doubt and don’t sweat the small stuff.

You Will Grow Stronger

During all the chaos and messes and sleep deprivation, you will grow from this together.  You will see your spouse morph into a parent and it will be so beautiful and heartwarming.  You will see a side of them you never known existed and you couldn’t imagine doing this journey with anyone else. Though it is beautiful, it will be hard.  Some days you will get on each other’s last nerves and some days you will wish you had more time together.  But just remember that these days are numbered and sooner than you think you will have all the time in the world again. If you are both willing to put in the work towards your relationship, you will grow stronger than you could have ever imagined.  

Having children really is the ultimate test on relationships. You have to work together in ways you never had to before. It can be quite the adjustment and unfortunately many couples can’t withstand this hard phase and ultimately end up in divorce. But if you both are in it for the long haul you should have nothing to worry about. Just make sure to sneak kisses and hugs when you can, be kind to each other and grow with each other during this parenting journey. Remember that you are both in this together. You are a team. Someday your child(ren) will be grown and you will have each other all to yourselves again and ready to take on the next chapter of life hand in hand.

11 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Deciding to Have Another Child

 11 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Deciding to Have Another Child

 

Once upon a time, you endured pregnancy, gave birth and had a beautiful little baby.  You are exhausted and seem to be on a ferris wheel that never ends. Diapers, bottles, spit up, crying, more diapers.  Then one day it happens.  Your little baby turns one and is officially not a baby anymore.  You start to miss that baby stage and all that comes with it. That’s when your ovaries kick back into high gear. You think to yourself “I want another one!”

The decision to have my second child was A LOT harder to make than my first.  The first time was easy because I knew I wanted to be a mother. The second time I had a much better understanding of what I was in for. I had to decide if I really wanted to go through it all over again. My brain and my instincts were at war with each other. It was a struggle between:

Brain: “It’s a big responsibility. Let’s think about this.”

Instincts: “LET’S HAVE A BABY RIGHT NOW!”

My brain was trying to rationalize my reasons to add another child while everything else in my entire being wanted another baby. Good job Mother Nature! I of course ended up having a second child, but it was decided after months of consideration and getting to the core root of why I wanted another one, not just because my instincts said yes.  Brain: 1, Instincts: 0.

Deciding on having baby #2 shouldn’t be taken lightly. Here are some questions to consider before pulling the trigger.

Are you financially able to care for another baby? 

Children cost a lot of money, as I’m sure you already know since you have a little bub already. Statistics say the cost to raise a child is around $233,610 from birth to age 17. Are you prepared to double that number?

Are you thinking past the baby stage?

Babies don’t stay babies forever. Are you thinking beyond the baby stage? Are you prepared to raise another toddler, teenager? If you want another baby for the sake of having a baby, then that is not a good reason to have another one.  

Are you only doing it to try for a boy/girl?

If you are considering having another child merely to try for a specific sex, then you should really reevaluate your decision. There is no harm in wanting a boy or a girl, but it shouldn’t be your sole reason for wanting another child.

Do you feel like something is missing?

This was a big question for me. Before my second child came along, I always felt like something was missing; in pictures, at the dinner table, on family vacations.  It was an itch I couldn’t scratch.  Now that my second daughter is here, I feel complete. She was exactly what our family needed. Ask yourself this question and
see where your heart takes you.  Are you completely happy and satisfied with one child, you do you feel like there is something missing?

What is the main reason you want another child?

If your answer is because you want another kid, well I suppose that’s fine.  For me, the main reason is because I wanted raise another person to be kind and to leave the world a little better than they found it.  Will that happen? I have no idea. All I can do is try my best and hope that I am able to guide them in the right direction to be good and do good.  

Are you doing it for the playmate?

One of the perks of having 2 kids is that they can play with each other. They will both have someone to grow up with and experience life together as siblings.  But again, this shouldn’t be the only reason to have another child.  You never know if they will get along or if your toddler will adjust well to sharing Mommy and Daddy.  They may even grow up and never speak to each other again, which is what happened between me and my sister.  Yes, having a sibling to grow up with is great but it shouldn’t be your main reason to pull the trigger.

Is your family pressuring you?

My first daughter was only 2 weeks old when my Grandmother asked me when the second one was coming. It seemed like there was a lot more pressure to have a second kid than having the first one.  It can be hard to stay true to yourself, especially if you are a people pleaser, but don’t base your decision on what others want.  You are the one who will have the responsibility of taking care of another child, not them.  The decision should be between you and your spouse only.

Is it just your hormones talking?

Remember stepping back and rationally thinking vs letting your hormones run wild? Make sure you are really thinking this through and not just doing it because Mother Nature wired you this way.  I know, seeing a baby in a store makes my ovaries pulsate too, but don’t make impulsive moves and think things through first.

How will you feel if you DON’T have another one?

This was another big question I had when I was considering another child.  Would I regret not having another one when I’m older?  Would I look back and wish that I could redo it?  In the end the answer I came up with was yes, I would regret it.  This is of course another decision you have to make for yourself, and it is not easy. Think into the future and picture your life years from now. Do you see yourself with 1 kid or 2?   

Are you ready to do it all over again?

Do you really want to endure pregnancy and birth again? All those middle of the night feedings and never ending diaper changes? Trying to calm a crying baby while chasing a toddler around all day? Is your heart prepared to have double the love?  It can and WILL get hectic, but one thing for certain is that this is a crazy ride that I love to be on.  So ask yourself, do you want to do it all over again?  

Can you accommodate another child?

Making room for a baby is no joke. Those little bubs come with lots of accessories, sold separately unfortunately. Does your house have enough bedrooms for 2 kids? Can your vehicle fit 2 strollers? Growing up I came from a family of 5 and we all lived in a small mobile home. I’m proof that it is possible to squeeze everyone in a small space, but an ideal situation would be for everyone to have breathing room and to live comfortably.   

At the end of the day, having a second child is all up to you.  It is a lifelong decision that only you can make. For me personally, I was terrified of having to start all over again, but my pros outweighed my cons. I am very glad I had my second daughter.  I couldn’t imagine life without her and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. 

10 Ways Your Body Changes AFTER Pregnancy

10 Ways Your Body Changes After Pregnancy

Your body goes through tremendous changes when you get pregnant. But what about afterwards?  I don’t intend to scare you, but here are some of the typical postpartum changes that happen to your body.

Hair

Remember how thick and luscious your hair got during pregnancy?  Well that is all about to fall out. Don’t be alarmed when clumps of hair start coming out a few weeks after delivery. All those raging hormones from pregnancy are gone and now your body has to compensate for it by losing the extra hair.  You will not go bald though, I promise.

Skin

Good news here is if you had acne during pregnancy, it should start so clear up after delivery. Bad news
is some moms may develop a red rash around their mouth and chin area.  You could also develop dry skin (I did).  Don’t worry though, these things should go away within a few weeks. 

Breasts

The breast changes were a hard one for me to get over. Before kids, I had perky, firm breasts.  After kids, they turned into deflated balloons.  It took some time (like 3 years) to accept that my breasts will never be the same as they before.  It helped to remind myself that it is perfectly normal and okay to have these changes. Just for the record, if you truly cannot get over the changes, you can always get a breast augmentation.  Just be prepared to spend a pretty penny for that surgery (7-9k).

Vaginal/Pelvic Pain

This one should be obvious if you just got done pushing a 6-8 pounder out of there.  Jokes aside, this one really does hurt for a
bit after birth. You will be tender, especially if you had to get stitches.  If you are breastfeeding, you may experience vaginal dryness as well. If you are like me, you may experience what is called Postpartum Pelvic Girdle Pain (PPGP).  This is when a gap forms between your pelvic bones and stretches the ligaments, usually caused if the baby’s head is pushing down a certain way during birth. My doctor told me that the pain from this can last anywhere from 3-8 months. I ofcourse got the longer sentence on this one (pain went away at 8 months). If this is something you are concerned about, make sure to talk to your doctor.

Emotional

Postpartum emotional changes was something I read about often, but I didn’t know how hard it would hit me once I was holding a tiny baby in my arms.  I’m pretty sure I went through every emotion in the book, more so with my first baby than my second.  I found myself being in extreme bliss, joy and happiness to being completely overwhelmed, angry, sad and terrified all in one.  I had what I thought were the baby blues, but it turns out it was full-blown postpartum depression (both times).  I won’t get into the details of my own experience with postpartum depression in this post, but I will say if you feel like you may have this PLEASE reach out for help. 

Getting back on track, just know you will feel everything. Sad to happy and everything in-between. I promise that you are not going crazy.  You are mom trying to adjust to this HUGE life change.  Your body is also trying to regulate itself to being a solo resident again.  Give yourself time, love and patience. You will get through it.

Stomach

Oh the stomach. The problem area for many women even before having kids.  Your stomach just went through tremendous
changes in the last 9 months (give or take). 

  • If you just gave birth, changes are you can still feel your enlarged uterus just above your pelvic bone.  This should go back to normal size in about 6 weeks.
  • In addition, the linea nigra (random brown line in the middle of your belly) will still be there, but should fade over time. 
  • You cannot forget about the stretch marks. If you didn’t get those you are one of the lucky ones! A cool thing about the stretch marks is they will also fade over time and/or get lighter in color. You can also use H-Stretch Marks Formula to help with this. It worked wonders for me!
  • A strange change that may or may not happen is called diastasis recti.  This is when the adnominal muscles that usually meet in the center of your stomach separate from the pressure of your humungo uterus when you were pregnant. You may see a bulge in the middle of your stomach from this. Your doctor will be able to give you the proper direction to take if you have this postpartum “side effect”.
  • This one is obvious, but if you are the 1 out of 3 moms who deliver via C-section, you will have a cesarean scar just above your pelvic bone.   Wear it proudly!
  • Last point I will make is your skin.  Your skin will be lose in your mid-section and chances are this will not go away.  Typically, this isn’t even noticeable unless you are activity pulling at your skin to see how far it will stretch out now. 

I will say your stomach will never be exactly as it was before, but if you do some abdominal exercises,it will help tone up that area overtime. No matter what though, self-acceptance is the key. Be proud of what that
stomach of yours just created!

Incontinence

Yep, this is a thing.  Now that your baby isn’t putting pressure on your bladder anymore, you are probably going pee less often. However, you may find that you “leak” here and there after coughing or sneezing.  The muscles around your bladder have been weakened, which make it hard to control the flow. It will probably take 3-6 months (or longer) to regain bladder control, but to help speed up the process, try doing Kegels (3 sets of 30 a day).  In the meantime, get used to sneezing and coughing while crossing your legs.

Energy levels

This one is a bit odd considering you will be (or already are) sleep deprived taking care of your new baby all day and night, but many women say they have increased energy levels in the first 4-6 weeks after giving birth. For me personally, I felt more energized than ever, even though I was running on 3-4 hours of sleep every night. I’m going to guess it had something to do with my heighten senses and fear/excitement of being a new mom.

Sweating

You may experience night sweats after giving birth. The reason is because your body does not need all the extra fluids it was hoarding before when you were pregnant. A way for your body it release it is through perspiration. This won’t last too long, but it can be annoying.

Back pain

Your back is going to be taking the brunt of your body weight for a while until your adnominal muscles get back up to par again. Because you will be putting the extra weight on your back, you might have some back pain. Don’t worry too much. This side effect usually goes away in about 6 weeks after birth as your abdomen strengthens up again.

As you can see, there are many body changes that happen postpartum. They may sound bad or terrifying, but it is nothing that you can’t handle with a little bit of patience and self-love. From physical to mental, embrace those changes as you enter a new chapter of your life. Your body went through amazing transformation and it’s all just proof that you participated in the miracle of life.