2022

I kept my goals for 2021 simple. With a baby due in February, I knew it wasn't going to be a year of doing all the things. Honestly, my goal was to survive with two babies.
 
Now that 2022 is here, I can say...that goal was enough. While we did survive, I surely don't feel like I did much thriving.
 
 
The last couple months of 2021 were extremely challenging, and I wasn't feeling the most optimistic for this new year or feeling inspired to make new goals. So clearly, the photo above is not the best illustration of my new year mood, ha. 
 
I joke to myself that my goal for the year is to live one step above surviving. But now that we're a couple weeks into January, I feel like I'm starting to get out of the darkness a little, and I feel ready to take on a few things that have been calling me lately.
 
  • Prioritize my own hobbies. I'm on my second attempt at following a 12 week postpartum exercise plan, and I'm doing much better at sticking to it this time around. It's definitely helping to keep me moving and get a little of my strength back. I also really want to recommit to blogging and writing things that are not work press releases. It's what I've been missing most the past few years, and I feel so out of practice. 
  • Upgrade my style. Most of my clothes have been in my closet for many years now, and frankly, a lot of them don't fit right now. I've had to buy some new clothes in the past year, especially for work, and it's making me want to upgrade and lean into my new status as a mid-30s working mom. But dressed in secondhand chic, of course.
  • Related: Actually sell my growing pile of clothes on Poshmark. Here's the thing. I love making a sale on Poshmark. I love cleaning out my closet and finding clothes to sell on Poshmark. What I don't love? Taking the time to list my clothes on Poshmark. This year, I need to just commit and take the pictures and write the listings. I won't make any money if I don't list anything!
  • Donate items to resale or thrift shops or charities without driving around with them in my car for months. I mean, I know we all do it. But I really want to be more productive and less lazy about giving our old things a new life.
  • Be a good example and teach my girls how to care for the planet and our resources. They certainly learn by watching me. I always say my love for environmentalism started in grade school with the book 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth. I recently found a copy of that book on my office shelf, and it was like a gentle nudge to use it to start teaching Ariana. Plus, after a few years of being less involved in my community, I'd like to start getting back into the swing of things. 
 
Maybe it's a lofty list, but it's something to aspire to!


Giving Back During the Holidays

Now that Ariana is 3, the holiday season is extra special. Last year, she started to understand the concept of gifts, and was so excited for Santa Claus to pass. This year will be even more fun for her, especially with having her little sister around.

I'm having a lot of fun finding ways to make the holiday season special and magical for her. We've got photos with Santa coming up very quickly, and we're looking forward to putting up our tree right after Thanksgiving.

 

 

I recently came up with the idea of starting a tradition of doing something to give back or help others during the holiday season. This way, we can teach Ariana (and Sophia in the next few years) that Christmas is more than just presents. I'd like to find something we can do each year that is also more than just donating money - something that we can physically get involved in that's family friendly.

If you have a tradition like this in your family, what is your favorite way to give back or be of service? Let me hear it in the comments!

My Breastfeeding Journey, Part 2

During World Breastfeeding Week, I'm honoring that my second breastfeeding journey has come to an end. 
 
I went into this newborn/infant phase reminding myself to be graceful toward the breastfeeding journey. I wrote this blog post near the end of that phase with Ariana, when she was around 9 months old. I was looking forward to putting less pressure on myself, and I told myself I didn't have to feel guilty if we supplemented with formula.


 

Even with those reminders, I still held out hope that my supply would be better this time around.
 
It wasn't. 
 
Sophia is just over 5 months old, and my supply is done. 
 
I remember pumping after going back to work the first time around. I remember trying furiously to pump (and wash pump parts) three times a day. I remember bringing my pump when we had to travel for the day. I remember stressing about making arrangements to pump during a class I took and having to take extra break time for it. 
 
I told myself this time, I wasn't going to stress as much about pumping. It's not like it's pleasant anyway. And I didn't want to spend hundreds of extra dollars on lactation supplements that really never helped. 
 

 

 

I also gave myself a threshold for pump production, and when I hit it, I would call it off. I hit that threshold last week, when I barely pumped an ounce in a session. Even knowing that it was going to happen soon, I cried a little while putting the milk away, knowing that it was time to call it. 
 

 

I looked at my stats the other day comparing my pump sessions for Ariana vs. Sophia. I had way fewer pumping sessions and WAY fewer ounces overall.
 
It's okay to both mourn the end of this phase and feel okay choosing the alternative. But I don't want to feel discouraged - it's not a failure.
 
We've supplemented Sophia's feedings with formula since she was a newborn, and she is growing, strong, happy and healthy. I've got a small supply of frozen pumped milk, but for the most part, Sophia will be formula fed until she turns one. 

 

 

 

While grateful for the ability to use formula, I am also forever annoyed at how much formula costs and how much waste it creates. (So much plastic and so many little scoopers!)
 
If you are struggling to breastfeed for any reason, first of all, know that you are not alone. And second of all, you don't have to feel guilty using formula. You are not "less than." As long as your baby is fed, your baby is doing great. 


 

If you are able to breastfeed for over a year, I am in awe of your dedication (and your supply). 
 
And it's so true what they say - no matter if your baby is breast or bottle fed, they will grow up to be a toddler who just wants to eat junk food and dirt.

Life with my second baby

In the four months that our baby, Sophia, has been with us, she has proven to be the biggest joy. She has truly been the sweetest and cuddliest baby since day one. I always say she is the calm among our chaos. When life gets crazy at home, Sophia is almost always the one just hanging out. She, of course, has her moments, but part of the beauty of her being the second baby is that I can handle them a little better.

 

 

I spent much of my pregnancy dealing with anxiety. Beyond the obvious pandemic stress, there were just so many things taking a toll on me. I was constantly worried that something would go wrong with the pregnancy, and it felt like a more intense pregnancy in general, while we were dealing more with toddlerhood, navigating a home improvement project, living through hurricane season and an election, and just dealing with general adulthood.

I remember the day last November when I realized I hadn’t been simply enjoying the journey up until that point (which was approaching my third trimester) and I felt so guilty. I felt like it was unfair to my baby that I was spending so much time worrying. In that moment, she started kicking and it was like she was reminding me to be more present. (Side note, it's perfectly okay if you don't enjoy every moment of pregnancy. That is natural! Unnecessary guilt is one of the things I struggle with.)

The final trimester was filled with more contentment, but also with more physical discomfort. And the final week of my pregnancy was spent riding out a historic ice storm. Although I wanted to go into labor on my own without being induced, I was terrified that I would go into labor while the roads were covered in ice and we either wouldn't be able to make it to the hospital, or our parents wouldn't be able to come watch Ariana.

For as much as I struggled through my pregnancy, I had a relatively smooth labor and delivery experience. It was the kind of experience I really hoped to have, even though we ended up inducing again. Labor went much quicker, and the delivery was safe and less stressful. We were even able to go home after one night in the hospital!

I was grateful to spend 12 weeks at home with Sophia, with part of that being a WFH scenario. Although I struggled with postpartum depression during that time, I cherished getting to spend my days with only her. She was my little errand partner, neighborhood walk companion and meeting buddy. Now that I'm back in the office and back to more of a normal routine, I feel like more myself again. But at the same time, I miss being close to my baby all day.

I hate that, now, I only have a couple hours each evening with the girls, and that I have to split my attention between them. By nature, toddlers are very intensive and just require so much attention. I hate that sometimes I can only hold Sophia when I feed her and put her to bed. I miss those daytime naps in a quiet house, just me and her.


I relish when Sophia sleeps so peacefully in my arms. I try to always take advantage of the time when she falls asleep for the night while I'm holding her, and I just soak up the snuggles. She reminds me that I’m still her safe space and that my arms are her favorite place to be. At four months, she's strong enough to hold herself up, but she still loves to nuzzle against my shoulder and put her hand on my arm or shoulder. And it's my favorite feeling. 

But, sometimes I feel as if I put too much pressure on myself to not miss any moment because it'll be the last of something. That I have to hold her as much as possible because she'll never be this small again. I try to remember something my therapist repeats often: it's okay to mourn the loss of the past while still being excited for the future to come.



I saw this post from Motherly recently and it really hit the nail on the head of the guilt I feel sometimes about not being able to spend as much one-on-one time with Sophia anymore.



 

Life with two kids is only just beginning, but it's already teaching me so much. And one thing I know for sure is how happy I am that Sophia is part of our family. Her smile and her newfound giggles just melt me.

My Hospital Bag Packing List

(Updated March 29, 2021. Scroll down to see which items I actually used from my hospital bag!)

 

Preparing for my first child meant that I was putting together my hospital bag packing list over the course of a couple months, and I started actually packing a solid month and a half before my due date. (I think I have already established that I'm pretty Type A!) I had my carry-on size rolling suitcase organized and ready to go.


Thinking back, I feel like I packed a lot of things I ended up not using, and when it was time to come home, I crammed a lot of the hospital supplies in my suitcase. (Also, after five days in the hospital, we definitely needed the rolling cart to haul all our stuff down to the car...things accumulated quickly, especially with my husband making trips back and forth to the house.)

 


 

After reading a blog post from The Lafayette Mom, I realized I should start working on my hospital bag packing list for this time around. The list Amanda wrote out was very helpful in giving me ideas for practical items I wouldn't have thought to pack otherwise. I've tried to pare down what I will bring, and focus on what I remember actually using or needing during my last stay. However, my plan of bringing a smaller duffel bag didn't pan out, and I'm back to the same rolling suitcase I used two and a half years ago.


 

Because Ariana stayed in NICU for her first two days, I started pumping while in the hospital and accumulated quite a collection of pump supplies. When she was around a month old, I discovered the Haakaa pump and wished I'd had one from the beginning. I kept it in storage and cleaned and sterilized it recently, plus I received a brand new second one as a gift. (This is how much I love this item.) My new one comes with a lid, so that's the one I ended up packing in my bag. Ready to nurse smarter and waste less milk from the get-go!


My reusable coffee mug, water cup and straw are coming along again with the intention to reduce some waste in our hospital room. I purposely packed a huge cup for water to help ensure I drink enough. 


One thing to note: my bag and packing list covers me and the baby. Last time, I kept on my husband for weeks to pack his bag, and I think he finally shoved a few things in a backpack a few days before our scheduled induction. This time around, he packs when he packs. :)


Update!

It's been almost six weeks since I had my baby, and I'm finally getting around to updating my packing list to share what I actually used. I still overpacked, but our hospital stay was much different from our first time around. Instead of unexpectedly being in the hospital for five days, we ended up only being there for one night. Because we were able to go home a night sooner than we expected, I didn't need a lot of things I would have used otherwise (for example, I ended up not taking a shower in the hospital, so I didn't need my shampoo and conditioner.) 


I've bolded all of the items I used at some point in our stay (approximately 10 hours in our labor and delivery room and about 24 hours in our recovery room). Hopefully this may help if you are prepping your own hospital bag!


My 2021 hospital bag packing list

  • Onesies, nightgowns, mittens, pacifier and going-home outfit for Bébé (We used one nightgown and she wore a onesie home, rather than the special onesie pictured above that was way too big for her.)
  • Swaddle sleep sack (we borrowed one from the hospital for Ariana but it was huge, so this time I wanted to bring our own in the newborn size.) (VERY glad I brought this!)
  • Button down pajamas, robe, slippers, grippy socks (I only used one nightgown after changing out of the hospital gown. The slippers were one of my most-used items! Bring some with a hard sole that can be easily disinfected after you leave.)
  • Nursing bra/tank top and nursing pads
  • Outfit for me to wear home (I wore the same pants home that I wore to the hospital, but wore a different shirt. It was not what I would call an "outfit", ha.)
  • Extra masks and a mask chain (I'm relieved that I don't have to labor in a mask, but we will need to wear them when anyone comes into our labor/delivery and recovery rooms, so the mask chain will be handy.) (I actually only needed to use the mask when going into the hospital, being transferred to our recovery room, and on the wheelchair ride down to the car. I never took the mask chain out of my case.)
  • Toiletries for me (shampoo/conditioner, toothbrush/toothpaste, contact lens solution/case, facial wipes, lotion, makeup)
  • Chapstick (I absolutely bought a tube just to pack in my bag.) (I used the one that I always have in my purse, but I DID use it a lot - so make sure you have at least one tube. I kept mine on my tray table during labor!)
  • Postnatal vitamins
  • Haakaa pump and small pump bottles to store any extra milk (cleaned and sterilized)
  • Sound machine (if you don't already have one, save a white noise playlist or download an app on your phone. I've also downloaded my favorite sleep music track from Headspace.) (I used my phone!)
  • Small Bluetooth speaker and charger (not a necessity, but I love to have music playing and I did make a Spotify mix for labor.) (Loved having the speaker and listening to my playlist. I had it going during delivery but couldn't tell you which song was playing when my baby was born!)
  • Stainless steel coffee mug with lid, water cup with lid and straw (The hospital gave me a large reusable cup that I used for water and Powerade. I am actually still using my hospital cup at home to help make sure I drink enough water.)
  • Phone charger and extension cord

 

Things on my packing list the first time around that I'm not bringing this time

  • Flat iron and blow dryer
  • Boppy pillow
  • My own pump (I think we did bring it last time, but used one of the hospital's pumps instead.)
  • Our own blankets (I did bring my own pillow last time and was glad for it, but I'm not sure I'll bother with it this time.)
  • Snacks (This time, I'll probably just send my husband out on snack runs, or that'll be something I throw in the car last-minute.) (After I published this blog post, my husband told me he wanted to make sure we packed snacks, so we had a separate bag for them. We didn't eat a lot of the snacks, but it was nice to have.)
  • Birth plan (I'd already spoken with my doctor about the major things, and like everyone says, things don't go according to plan. The piece of paper never left my suitcase, ha.)
  • Framed photos for the room
  • DSLR camera (Another thing we did use, but that I'm not bothering with this time. I may still change my mind though!)


With just a couple remaining items that I'm still using every day, the hospital bag is packed and ready to go whenever Bébé is!

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