Who was I before “Mom”?

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Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and think “when did this become me?” Who is this woman with bags under her eyes, split ends, yesterday’s yoga pants, who forgot to eat breakfast but always always remembers to prep her coffee the night before? WHO is this woman that can’t remember the last time she bought clothes for herself, had a haircut, or watched a movie without stopping it 6 times? Seriously, who am I?

Having a baby changes you in ways you couldn’t possibly imagine. Physically, my body has endured all kinds of chaos and will certainly never be the same. Emotionally, I’ve learned that my needs happily come second to those of my son. My relationship with my husband has matured, my relationship with my friends and family has sometimes been strained or non-existent due to the demands of my work and home life. I very much live moment to moment. 3

I used to sit and drink tea with a book from the library. I went hiking, took pictures for fun. I played tennis (not very well), knew all the latest buzz on movies and TV. I did Jell-O shots with friends, had craft nights, and traveled to new cities on a whim.

I’m not sure I know that girl now, or even remember her.

Life has turned in to this chaotic, beautiful mess of jumping from one thing to the next. Waking early, going to work, making dinner, cleaning, giving Lucas a bath, getting ready for bed, sitting down to do more work on this super amazing blog or my photography business…

Planning, planning, planning. And lots of lists. And reminders to make lists (thanks, Siri).

I love being a mom more than I’ve ever loved anything. Ever. My son is my world, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I think about him every day, all day and most of what I do, I do so he can have a good life, with parents who love him and care for him in the best possible way.2

But how do I get back to the person I was? I’ve realized that it’s not entirely possible. The truth is, that girl is gone forever most certainly. I can retain bits and pieces, but my life has been poured from a mold that no longer exists.

Life with a baby means slowly regaining parts of you that you lose for a while. And I can tell you, the first year of having a new child is a blur. I cared very little about things other than showering and getting a warm meal. But now that I’ve adapted to my new life, I’m transforming into yet another version of myself that can be a mom and still retain parts of my old identity.

So who am I now? 

My life may not be centered around nights out and vacations and time alone with a book laying in my hammock, but I’m certainly having plenty of amazing adventures with my new little family, even if they’re sometimes just in my backyard or at a local park. I find time for me, even if it’s fleeting and infrequent. I incorporate my son into things that I used to love. We read together, hike together, listen to music and watch fun shows. And while it took time, I definitely finally feel like a new, better and blended version of my old self + my new mom self. 

So the truth? You will never be yourself again. But, you’ll be a new, better version of you. You adapt and become something so much more amazing, even if that means fewer Jell-O shots.

-Katie

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Guava Family Lotus Crib {Review}

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My son is now 14 months old. He is weighing in at 26lbs. and a very tall 34in. Meaning, he’s over the limits, or close to the limits, for most traditional pack n’ plays.

Crazy, right? While we aren’t a family that is super keen on the idea of a pack n’ play for every day use, let’s be honest… sometimes they are necessary to get the bathroom scrubbed, throw in some laundry, or just sit down for a second instead of chasing your baby/toddler around.

A pack n’ play is a safe place for your little one, and the peace of mind that comes with that makes the purchase worthwhile.

So, what was I going to do? Travel was going to be harder– many vacation spots don’t offer cribs, and we aren’t co-sleepers.

Upon Googling “large toddler pack n’ play” I stumbled upon a few options, the Guava Lotus being one of them (and the top rated, as far as I could tell.) The lower shelf of the crib sits on the floor, making it safer for those higher-weight babies/toddlers. 

Fascinated, I checked out all the facts on the website and quickly decided that this was a great option for us. IMG_1565

Purchase yours here: http://www.guavafamily.com/ 

Why?

-The travel crib is so much more than just a place to sleep. The side unzips so that my son can crawl in and out when he’s playing. Great for the beach (and you can purchase a sun shade for this,) outside camping, or just for making a fun fort in the living room (which we did.) The side zip has a zipper safety so that your little one can’t undo it.

The Lotus is light. I have some pretty bad lower back problems, so a traditional pack n’ play wasn’t cutting it for me. The Lotus is 13lbs, and easily moved around.

-Set up and tear down could not be any easier. In a matter of seconds, I can have this set up, or torn down. 

The mattress is much better than a standard pack n’ play. I found myself un-enthused with the cardboard-like structure of most, and this one is an exception. It has a nice amount of cushion while still being within safety guidelines. It also has a coating to keep it waterproof.

IMG_1544-The 360 mesh sides bring comfort in knowing that if my guy smashes his face up against the sides, he’ll be able to breath just fine.

-The mesh and guard rails easily come off if washing is necessary.

Legs have extra padding on the inside, just in case your little one falls or likes to bang their head on things (which, my son does…)

Optional accessories: sheet, quilted mattress pad, sun shade, mosquito net.

-The best part to me? This whole thing folds up in to a super portable backpack, with padded straps and all. It stores on an airplane in the overhead storage, as well. The quick design, and portability, make traveling much less daunting.

Overall, I have very few complaints. The design shows immense time in engineering, and attention to detail. It was a purchase worth making in my book.

This WILL run you a good $250, unless you can get it on sale. The accessories are not included, and are also pretty pricey. To make this mainstream, I’d like to see this running consistently at $175 with a sheet and sun shade included.IMG_1540

There is a bassinet, as well, which comes separately. Ideal for new parents that want their LO in their bedroom for the first few weeks/months.

This has been one of my favorite baby purchases so far. We enjoy traveling, and it’s nice to have a quick, safe place for my guy to hang out and snooze. We hope to use this for years to come! Thanks to Guava Family for providing a great product.

-Katie

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Lucas enjoying the Lotus as a fort…

Baby Safety

My son has become a running, climbing maniac in the last month. I kid you not (pun intended.) I baby-proof one thing, and he finds something else I need to remove from the room.

So, here are my most recent baby-proofing tips:

Corner-protectors. I thought I could live without them, until my son nearly gouged out an eyeball falling. So, the Caring Corners gel guards are now on all corners in my living room. They are incredibly easy to use, and remove. You can get them for $13-16 for an 8 pack on Amazon. The nice thing about these for us: our TV stand isn’t flat on all sides, but they still affixed to the gel protector and stayed on very well.

Baby-Keeps Latches. I actually ended up buying two packs of these, because I loved them so much. Easy to use, and remove. And best of all? You can open them with one hand (which is more practical since we often have a baby/child in the other arm.) These run $20 for 6, and each box comes with a free gift (which is a little snail stick on that keeps doors from closing on your child’s fingers. Great bonus.) You can also snag these on Amazon.

 Baby gates. I have several. One of which closes automatically. Sometimes, this is practical, but other times I just want it to stay the EFF open. So, my husband Polish-rigged it with a command strip and hook. Genius, and cheap.

Outlet covers. Obvious. Sometimes you don’t have them though, so use a band-aid as a quick fix until you can pick some up.

Munchkin Latch: I use these on my appliances, particularly my oven, which CAN fall over if the door isn’t properly secured.

Easy DIY Crib Rail Guards: Not only do I not want my little teething baby to destroy the rails of his convertible crib, I also would prefer that he not eat paint and wood chips. Perhaps that’s just me. Either way, you can find the DIY instructions here.

Wiremold: We had wires running along the walls in our living room. I thought it was all kosher, until my son started ripping them from the wall and trying to eat them. Yum. You can get cheap, easy to use wiremold, again, on Amazon.

TV Straps: If your TV is up high, no worries. Ours, however, is not. We quickly realized we needed to secure ours (we secured ours to the TV stand instead of to the wall.) TV Straps can be found here.

Safety 1st LED Nightlight, 2 CountNo Bulb Nightlight: For obvious reasons, you probably don’t want your LO crushing glass in their palms. This night light comes in a two pack, and there is no bulb that can be crushed by your tiny minion.

For those with cat trees: Secure those suckers to the wall. We have a three-story cat tree that my son recently tried to climb and pull to the floor. It’s heavy, and could really do some damage. We used furniture brackets, but you can use furniture straps just as easily.

An item to avoid? Foam molding. We used it, and it absolutely ruined the finish of our furniture. There are plenty of Pinterest solutions that will work better (like cutting pool noodles in half.)

Remember, all of these solutions are so temporary. You’ll likely have your home baby-proofed with gates and latches for about a year, sometimes a little more. Look for the affordable options!  Here are some other great DIY baby-proofing solutions!

-Katie

What you Didn’t Expect, when you were Expecting

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Here’s the truth: You can read every pregnancy/labor & delivery book out there, and there will STILL be something that surprises you or catches you off-guard. Guaranteed.

Bringing a child into the world is a mix of beautiful, unbelievable, and disgusting. So, here are just a few of the things that I wish someone would have prepared me for (not necessarily all that will happen to you, but that definitely could happen!):

  1. Nosebleeds. Most women know about the nausea, headaches, sore boobs, etc. (the more well-known side-effects of growing a human.) What people won’t tell you is that other things can also happen that are pretty out-of-the-ordinary: Nosebleeds. Floaters in your eyes. Spots and skin tags. Tailbone pain. Round-ligament pain. Tender gums (and restrictions at the dentist. Most require you to have written and signed consent from your OB before performing any procedures, including routine cleanings.)
  2. Old Wives Tales: Most aren’t true. One that is, however, is the concept of heartburn meaning your child will have hair. So, try not to take too much stock in most old-wives tales, but this one is a good one to pay attention to.
  3. You won’t have as many ultrasounds as you want. Most often, your insurance will pay for two. Unless you have an unusual circumstance around your pregnancy, you’ll likely only see your little one on the screen twice.
  4. Hunger, and Lack of Hunger: Pregnancy is often portrayed the same way, all the time. Women that have insane appetites, and binge on whatever craving they have that day. Sometimes this is true, but not always. Some women are sick for so long that the idea of food is the farthest thing from their minds. In fact, some women struggle to keep on the needed weight for pregnancy. For these women, medication is often required so that you can continue to have a healthy pregnancy.
  5. Not all testing is required. Some OBs will try to convince you that all testing is mandatory, but often this isn’t the case. Do your research and decide what is best for you. I did all the testing of my own volition, but some parents would prefer to avoid some of these tests.
  6. You may not have the same OB your entire pregnancy. I was shocked to find that most clinics have OBs on a rotation, so you may see a different doctor every time. It makes sense; doctors are busy people. But, it was important to me to have the same OB my entire pregnancy and at the birth of my child. I spent a significant amount of time trying to find a clinic that allowed this, and was thrilled when I finally did. If this is important to you, be prepared to do some digging to find the right obstetrician for you.
  7. Most doctors will not let you go past 41 weeks. Most of us want to wait for our babies to come on their own, but a great many doctors will absolutely put their foot down. Why? There are some risks, which you can read about here.
  8. When you’re ready to deliver: be prepared to be examined by 10 or more nurses, a handful of doctors, and possibly some medical students. If this isn’t what you want, make sure you talk to your hospital in advance.
  9. Labor and Delivery might not be what you expected, in a variety of ways. If you’re like me, I expected to have the cinema-style birthing experience where the actress has her water break, and baby arrives in a dramatic scene within a few hours. More often, your water will leak all day, and all through your labor, you’ll spend hours bored, in pain, eating popsicles and watching reruns of Friends.
  10. If you have an epidural, you’ll likely have a catheter at some point. Some hospitals keep them in, others just use them periodically. Most often, too much is going on for you to even care.uventet1.png
  11. Be prepared to be unprepared. You can plan for nine months how your labor is going to happen, but most often you’ll have to do what your doctor or midwife thinks is best. If this means a cesarean, episiotomy, etc., sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. And sometimes, like with my labor and delivery, things can get complicated QUICKLY. Ask your nurses and doctors to explain fully what is happening instead of tip-toeing around you. My son was both face-up, and had the umbilical cord tightly wrapped around his neck. This meant that I had a positioning specialist, internal monitors, and saline injected back into my uterus. I wish I had known more about things that can go wrong in L&D, though I think many people might want the opposite: to not know at all, and not worry about it (I’m just not that person.)
  12. enhanced-buzz-7951-1440537069-6Things like the “husband stitch” still exist. Sex after childbirth is usually fairly unpleasant the first few times for most people. This will make it worse, so ensure that you have a doctor that doesn’t practice this.
  13. Post-partum. OH post-partum. It can be a crazy ride, that’s for sure. If anything, know what to expect. Knowing now to care for yourself both physically and mentally are crucial to both your well-being and your child’s. Know the signs of post-partum depression and don’t be afraid to talk about it and ask for help. Accept help. Also, know that post-partum pain and bleeding can last a decently long time. Be prepared for it so that you aren’t trying to run to the store last-minute toting a newborn with you.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. What shocked you about your own pregnancy and labor & delivery?

-Katie

Things that Change when you Become a Parent

  1. You’ll have to eventually learn to enjoy food again. The first three months of your newborn’s life will be spent in survival mode, meaning that you will infrequently get a meal (or a shower.) Once you finally remember to eat again, you’ll eat either quickly, or your food will be cold. You forget what it’s like to just sit and enjoy a warm meal. So at some point, you have to stop eating like a savage and return to normal life… even though this really might not happen until your child(ren) are several years old.
  2. You’ll resort to things like drinking coffee in the shower. Because showers are now quick instead of the relaxing 30 minute shower you used to take… you’ll multi-task as much as possible. If you’re looking for a cup that does great in the shower, check out this Contigo cup. It’s the most bad-ass coffee chalice out there.

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    My coffee cup in my shower. I have no shame.
  3. You’ll talk about poop, at least 10 times a day. “Did the baby poop?” “How much?” “Consistency?” “How many times?” And when you finally realize how much you talk about poop, you’ll realize that life has certainly changed…
  4. 7:00 AM is sleeping in. You’re lucky if you get a few hours of consecutive sleep when your baby is little, but even after that point… sleep regressions attack when you least expect them. And when 6AM rolls around, your little exhausting human is ready for another day.
  5. You’ll constantly wonder where people’s hands have been. Most of us thought about this a lot before, but when you have a baby, you’ll constantly be asking people to wash/sanitize their hands. Let’s be honest: we don’t want gross germs getting our babies sick. Babies and toddlers are difficult enough without being sick, and sickness turns life into an almost unbearable mess. You’ll likely have 4-5 dispensers of hand sanitizer littered throughout your house, and a few more in your cars.
  6. You’ll worry about things like war, apocalypses (zombie apocalypses included), tornadoes, floods, 10x more than you ever used to. You might even have an emergency bag ready and have scenarios planned out in your head. MREs can be purchased here, apocalypse preppers.
  7. You’ll have weird numbers programmed in to your phone. Emergency babysitters, hospitals, doctors, poison control. And your phone will have a long search history on Google of things like “carseat safety” “is this amount of spit up normal?” and “how long until my baby’s crossed eyes go away?”
  8. Going somewhere must be a planned activity. Leaving the house as a family now means at least 30 minutes of prep. Diaper change, feeding, packing, making sure you have a stroller… and taking at least 5 minutes to put on those tiny, tight shoes of theirs. Impromptu Chipotle run with friends? #YeahRight
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    One of our favorites.

    You’ll probably cry, even if you’re not a crier. I quite literally cannot finish the books “Love you Forever” and “Wish” without getting choked up. You might cry when your child hits milestones, or when certain things are no longer happening anymore (breastfeeding, bottle feeding, crawling, babbling, snuggling, etc.) You’ll be sentimental about toys, clothes, a random piece of paper that your child played with for 5 minutes… Even if you’re a total minimalist, getting rid of baby things is heartbreaking sometimes.

  10. You’ll finally understand what you’re parents have been telling you all those years, that “someday we’ll understand.” We get it now. I’m sorry for rolling my eyes at you, scoffing, and/or stomping away and slamming my door. Your love for your child compares to no other kind of love, and as parents, we just want our little ones to be safe, happy, healthy, and loved.

-Katie