Love is Grand

posted on: Monday, February 16

That it is. It is hard to explain but when you have a baby your heart becomes SO full. It's a little overwhelming, actually. Kind of like the scene in The Grinch where his heart grew three sizes that day. That is exactly what happens. Your heart miraculously grows and it just doesn't stop. It really is a wonderful thing. So with that and a clear yearning for Spring to get here already, I leave you with the above print - now available in the Etsy Shop. I hope you had a grand Valentine's Day!

On Breastfeeding

posted on: Tuesday, January 27

The best thing about breastfeeding, you ask? Those eyes! I could drown in them... and I do. So much of my days are now consumed by those gorgeous baby blues. We'll just stare at one another for what feels like hours and I often wonder what she's thinking as we share those moments. I never want to forget this sweet, sweet time I have with her. Because, I know it is fleeting. I would be a big fat liar if I stopped here. For as many of those moments that I love, there were (and sometimes still are) moments that will eventually float to the back of my brain and be forgotten with time. This, I believe, happens for a reason. Otherwise, women would never choose to breastfeed again. I think one of the hardest parts of becoming a new mother is the lack of hearing about what it is like in the first few weeks that baby arrives. Generally, when I spoke with friends about motherhood, our conversations would be all about pregnancy and birth and the amazing little human that we now tend to. Then it would wander off into coos and the oooohhhss and aaaahhhhs we dote on our precious little ones. Rarely would difficult times be mentioned. Perhaps for lack of time during our conversations or maybe just because it is simply more fun to talk about the good times. In a world of perfectly posed pictures and well-edited instagrams, real can seem well — not real. Am I rambling? Perhaps. 

So, let's get down to it. Breastfeeding is really really hard! Now I completely understand why so many women choose formula over breastfeeding. I can't even tell you how many times I broke down in the first few weeks crying to my husband that I just can't do it anymore. I'm lucky that I have a kick-*ss hubby. We talked about it before Sydney arrived and I told my husband that no matter what, I wanted him to support me and not tell me that I should just give up and switch to formula. And that is what he did. He held me when I cried and told me I was doing an amazing job and told me that whatever I wanted to do would be ok. That my friends may just be the key to sticking it out. Getting a proper latch is also key. It took me some time to really get it right. And I read soooo many things. Books, blogs, baby sites, la leech league (highly recommended). I watched videos and pretty much obsessed over how much milk she was getting and was I doing it right? All on very little sleep, of course. But, as much advice as you'll get (or find on the inter web)  I'm not really sure you can avoid the physical pain that comes with the start of breastfeeding. It HURTS! I'm wincing just thinking about it. Your nipples need time to get used to feeding. Babies have a strong little suck in them and if you make it through without cracked and bleeding nipples then you are a lucky duck! Lanolin and gel pads will be your life saver!! Also, these. Beyond the physical pain, in the beginning I found breastfeeding to be really lonely and I felt trapped by it. I was lucky because my husband or Mom were with me most of the time but, because you are feeding on demand, it still felt like I could never escape. I used to call my breastfeeding pillow my pillow prison. Even if I wanted to run to the store, I couldn't because she would be due to feed again. It was hard. But, as with most things, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The trick to breastfeeding, you ask? Time. It gets better with time. And, every baby is different. Sydney is a dream when it comes to breastfeeding while some babies just won't take the breast. I think regardless of your experience you just have to remind yourself that it is your life and your baby and you need to stand behind whatever decisions you make and be happy with them. Lastly, I would highly highly recommend visiting with a lactation consultant. They will come to you and they'll help with whatever issues you may be having. This was a turning point for me because it reassured me that everything was ok. There will always be ups and downs but you and your baby will find that rhythm and the next thing you know you'll be staring into one another's eyes and drinking it all in. Pun intended. Insert heart eyes here because it really is special.

New Baby Essentials

posted on: Wednesday, January 21

Ok, folks! We've been at this for a couple of months now and I've got some thoughts on baby gear. I remember searching the web looking for those must-have items and there is a ton of advice out there... both good and bad. So I figure why not add my own unsolicited advice to this crazy inter web for whatever its worth. And, with all of my mama-to-be friends out there asking me the same questions I figure let's just do a roundup of the items I've actually found useful. These items aren't just cute things to fill the nursery... they're things we use every day — can't live without em' kinda things. And... they're not expensive. I once found a recommendation for a $200 night light. I kid you not. WHO needs to spend $200 on a night light? No one, that's who! So, here you go...

Pictured above: 
1. Solly Baby Wrap for toting your little one around. We LOVE ours!
2. Boppy newborn lounger Sydney loves hanging in her lounger and it gives mom a break when her back starts to ache!
3. Crane cool mist humidifier a must-have for dry winters, especially when you live on the east coast.
4. Newborn gift set outfit from Kickee Pants - you'll need an outfit to bring baby home in and kickee pants is the way to go. They're SOOO soft and they stretch and grow with baby! Sydney still fits in her newborn size at over two months. Get a onesie with pants (not a layette) so you can easily put baby in the car seat and buckle them in. A little on the pricier side but worth it since they last so long.
5. A wipes warmer! Yes, you need this. Wipes get cold and nothing feels better on your little one's bottom than warm wipes, especially in the middle of the night when you're trying not to wake them up during a change.
6. Honest company diapers and wipes bundle. We searched and compared and the bundle works great for us and is the right price! We also love the diaper cream, organic healing balm, and soothing bottom wash which smells sooooo good! And the bonus is that it arrives at your door every month!
7. Ergo Baby swaddle. A great swaddle for newborns. Super easy to use, especially when you're sleep deprived at 3am!
8. Diaper genie elite. No explanation needed, right?!

Also, if you are breastfeeding I highly recommend the my breast friend pillow. The name kills me but it is a back-saver, I swear! And, a great recommendation we got from our lactation consultant — introduce a bottle when they're a few weeks old for one feeding a day (have Daddy feed at night while Mama pumps) and use the playtex nurser bottles with the drop in liners. As she explained to us, this way they get used to a bottle early and the liners allow you to squeeze the air out while feeding. Less burping. We love the playtex breast like nipples (slow flow!) Sydney choked with the other nipples that we tried (and we tried a bunch) and this one worked the best for us. We use a medela breastmilk freezer bottle to squeeze the air out of the playtex nurser. It fits in the bottom perfectly! 

So, there you have it. Useful baby stuff! The men in your live will thank you for being so practical. I think my husband is rubbing off on me!

Our Birth Story: Sydney Sienna

posted on: Tuesday, January 13

You guys! She's here! Where to begin? Firstly I will just say that becoming a parent is simply THE most amazing thing you can imagine. I will pre-empt this post by saying that all those posts you see with beautiful Mamas holding their babes with hair combed, makeup done, looking just like they did before they became pregnant...NOT me, folks. I was quite the opposite and once that IV went in I started retaining water and blowing up like the girl in Willy Wonka who turned into a blueberry. So, that being said, I've carefully cropped my water logged self out of most of these pics. Done and done!

Onto our birth story... it was a Sunday night and baby girl was kicking her little feet in my belly like I've never felt before. She wouldn't stop moving and I was exhausted after spending ample time on my hands and knees trying to relieve the pressure. Brian was watching the football game and I was lying in bed when I felt a strange tug or pull in my belly. I jolted up and tried to explain what I had felt to Brian. He asked if he thought it was my water breaking but nothing else was happening. So I got ready for bed and was out like a light. I awoke around 4am to go to the bathroom and climbed back in bed when I felt another tug but much stronger. Then I felt it. Warm gushes and in bed nonetheless! I quickly woke Brian and told him my water broke. He sprinted to the bathroom to get me a towel and I waddled in and then we just sat there perplexed. We hadn't really prepared for my water breaking. Everyone we talked to said not to worry about it because less than 10% of women's waters break. Well there we were. We called our Doctor and they wanted us to aim to be at the hospital by around 8am, which meant we'd be in rush hour traffic heading into Boston. I hopped in the shower and miraculously got the urge to shave my legs, ya know cause all those nurses and doctors care so much. I wasn't having contractions yet so somehow this seemed like a good decision at the time. Brian ran around grabbing our bags and items for the hospital just like you'd picture it. Zooming in and out of each room while I sat and talked to my Mom. I was getting anxious because I wasn't feeling baby girl move and there was meconium in the water. I kept trying to remind myself of what I had read in all the books and all I could think of was the phrase 'meconium happens'. Just before we got in the car I felt one little kick but the quiet was unusual for our active baby. I called her my booper because of all the kicking she did. So we quickened out pace and got on our way. It was raining really hard and this only added to the traffic so an hour and a half later we made it to the hospital.

I was less anxious at the hospital since I knew we were at the best place we could be and I felt another set of kicks in the car. They admit us and hooked up monitors to measure the baby's heartbeat and my contractions which had just started. The Doctor told us we were staying put and that they wanted to start me on pitocin. I wasn't happy about it since I wanted to see how long I could go naturally and knew this would make it more difficult, but ultimately all I cared was that baby girl was safe and doing well. We were brought into our delivery room and got all set up and our doula joined us. We decided to get a doula so that we could have someone to help guide us through the delivery and our options. It was amazing having her there to answer any little question that came up! I spent the next hours laboring on a yoga ball breathing through contractions as they came with Brian hydrating and feeding me in between. I munched on peanut butter filled pretzels and at one point became ravenous. I requested Brian's parents bring us a chicken burrito for after the delivery from my favorite burrito joint which they obliged to. I also requested a grilled cheese sandwich which I didn't eat at all when push came to shove. I was handling labor fairly well but still wasn't fully dilated so I continued to labor on that blessed yoga ball for hours. I tried changing positions a couple of times but it wasn't any good and it kept setting the monitors off. Baby's heart rate had been fluctuating so they were sensitive to any movement.

At around 4pm the contractions kicked into high gear. My breathing shifted from controlled breaths to deep animal-like moans to tears and clenching. The contractions were becoming too powerful and I could no longer work through them but instead found myself fighting to hold on until they were over. Brian supported me through every single step mentally and physically. He rubbed my back and counted with me and held me up - literally - as I navigated through labor and each contraction. Watching my husband support me this way gave me the strength I needed to get through and made my heart swell ten times! Despite our best efforts I knew it was time to get some help. I had been laboring for 6 hours and finally moaned that I needed an epidural. We talked through our options between contractions and decided first to try laughing gas before moving to the epidural. The unfortunate part was that I requested it right during the nursing shift change. Despite the nursing staff being simply amazing, it took almost a half an hour for them to get it to me and the pain was becoming simply unbearable. They finally hooked it all up and I used a mask to breathe in the gas during each contraction. The nitrous oxide is supposed to relieve the pain as you breathe it in but it simply wasn't working for me. In fact, it made my breathing more difficult and I ended up focusing on the pain even more. Three contractions later and it was time for the epidural.

Brian and our doula got me through the next wave of contractions as I waited for the anesthesia team to prepare. I honestly don't recall them coming in except that I had to get off the ball and onto the bed which I wasn't happy about. I barely stood up and another contraction hit. I flung myself over Brian with a big bear hug and he held me through each contraction as I made my way to the bed for the epidural. I think I had about three more contractions during them administering the epidural and then it finally began to kick in. I slowly felt the pain ease with each contraction and slowly felt more in control. The numbness finally took over except for one little spot in my lower right abdomen that just wasn't taking for some reason. I struggled with this little spot for about 30 or so minutes before it really began to fade and then I slept. It was the best feeling in the world to be able to sleep and rest my body. It was around 7pm now and my body was beginning to exhaust. As I slept Brian went downstairs to see our family who had arrived and were in the waiting area. I slept for an hour and a half when I awoke to a flurry in the room.

The baby's heart rate had dropped drastically and the nurses came running in. This is where I will say thank goodness for our doula! As nurses ran around she let Brian and I know that this was ok, and that she thought this was a good thing. In fact, she thought it was time to have this baby and she was right! The Doctor was in the room within minutes and she checked my progress. Fully dilated and it was time to push! I cried when I received the news. I was just SO ready at this point to meet our little girl! Brian held me and I received the best pep talk from our Doctor I could have asked for. She was short and sweet and told me I had 30 minutes to get this baby out. She said I would have to push like my life depended on it and that I was going to 'poop this baby out' which made me laugh. I told everyone I didn't know if I could push at all. I couldn't feel anything with the epidural and I felt completely blind. How was I supposed to push or even know how I was pushing if I couldn't feel anything. The Doctor reassured me that they would guide me through everything and that I just had to try as hard as I could. So we started.

Brian and our doula held one leg as a nurse held my other and with each contraction Brian counted down from ten, three times. I was instructed to take a deep breath before each push, count down to ten and take another deep breath. I would do this three times in a row through each contraction and then would wait for the next one to come. A got ready for the first contraction and when it was time I bore down hard! Brian counted me through and I pushed with all my might not knowing what would happen, if anything at all. As I pushed everyone cheered me on with astonishment as they began to see her head with the first push! I guess it was working. I felt like a champion — a tired champion but I was just so excited that it was working! In between contractions I had oxygen and got little pep talks from my amazing husband. I pushed through two more contractions and her head crowned. Brian and I got to reach down and feel the top of her head. I'll never forget how soft and warm and squishy it was. It was so motivating to see that little head and know I was moments from seeing my girl! I prepared for the next contraction and the Doctor said that this would have to be the biggest push I would do. As we all waited for the next contraction I was fully prepared and ready to push. I was full of adrenaline and the sheer excitement at seeing her... finally. As I took a breath and got ready to push the Doctor yelled STOP, don't push! I stopped perplexed and I heard Brian say she's coming Rach! Everyone in the room watched as our baby girl slowly came right out, no push needed. The contraction did all the work and suddenly she was here!

She was placed immediately on my chest and I laughed and cried all at the same time as I held her warm and wet body against mine. Sydney Sienna was here and she is ours and the love that poured out of me in that moment simply can't be described. I was overwhelmed with emotion and almost couldn't believe that she was here. As she got cleaned up and measured and weighed she waved to us from the scale. Everyone laughed and I looked up at Brian who was holding me and we cried together at the sheer amazingness of what had just happened. Within moments she was back on my chest all wrapped up and cozy. I delivered the placenta without pushing as well only minutes later. And just like that, the flurry of people who had entered the room left and our doula helped me breastfeed my baby girl for the first time. Sydney latched right on without hesitation and she nursed for almost 45 minutes! We stared at her in awe the entire time. She is simply perfection in every single way. Our families got to come up and meet her and you could see the love pour out of them at the sight of her. I've never felt so much love in one room before.

After our families left we were brought to the room we would stay in for the next few days. And then there were three. It was just Sydney, Brian, and I. We nursed, we kissed and we napped and we held each other. Perfection in every way and the most amazing experience. You spend so much time during your pregnancy thinking about this moment but until you are in it, you just can't quite understand. I get teary eyed just writing this post! As my blog has slowed down I do hope to write when I get moments here and there because now there is a little girl to document things for. I'm going to wrap this up for now cause this little babe who is sleeping on my chest is going to wake up any minute now. I love you Sydney!

On Pregnancy

posted on: Thursday, October 30

Being pregnant is weird. And amazing. And it blows my mind every day that there is a little itty bitty human inside of me that we MADE! All this being said, I feel like there is a lot that they don't tell you before you get pregnant. Or, non-pregnant people just don't pay attention? Or we just didn't pay attention. But, we have a lot of friends who have had babies and there is some stuff that no one ever talked about. 

So for anyone who may be interested, here are some things I've learned about being pregnant that I wish I had known: Patience is key. 9 months is a loooong time folks. And, when you're roasting a little chicken in there you pay veeerrry close attention to the weeks as they pass by. I am not a majorly patient person so this is hard for me. I just wanna meet this little babe already! Heartburn is no joke. If you think you know what heartburn feels like, I promise YOU DO NOT know until you are pregnant what real heartburn is. Zantac is all I have to say! Women's bodies are seriously amazing! You never really know how you will show. I remember claiming I was showing early on and let's just be real, I wasn't. Once the bump came and was obvious, I was SO excited. Then it just kept coming. And then people were like OH you've popped. Then people were like oh it looks like there's a basketball in there. Then people were like wow, are you having twins ha ha ha. NO. No I'm not having twins. And, please, people — don't talk if you are going to imply that a pregnant woman is really showing now and WOW, you still have that long to go? Just don't. On this same notion, do you know how squished all those organs get. This chart blows my mind! High five women. We rule! What cravings? Maybe some people get cravings but that seems to be the number one question people ask and it gets old. And, just you wait until one more person asks you about pickles and ice cream. You'll want to smack them in the face. Not everyone craves pickles people! Baby kicks are THE best. And nudges, and hiccups, and all of that. My favorite thing about being pregnant is feeling the baby move. The best is when I'm spooning the hubby in the middle of the night and the baby kicks and HE feels it on his back and wakes up. LOVE IT! Babies are strong. On that same note, when baby gets big, those kicks are like WOW. Stop you in your tracks, yikes! Still pretty awesome, though. Doctor google is evil. We already know this but when you're pregnant, google is your biggest enemy. Call your Doctor. That's what they're there for. Birth plan? I can't even tell you how many people go nuts about this. What's your birth plan? I've read SO many stories about women who made big plans for birth and then were devastated when it didn't go according to plan. It's really made me think a lot about it and we've done our best to really educate ourselves about every option out there. In the end, I don't know what will happen, but our "plan" is to be flexible and informed. I hope that as a Mama I'm not disappointed in any way with the birth. For now I'm going into it knowing that we've surrounded ourselves with people we trust and that we're making the best decisions we can and that is the plan. I don't know how some women work out and do yoga and run and are really physically active up until the end. Seriously, kudos to those women because I'm exhausted after walking a mile! Or even a half mile. The third trimester is hard. I don't feel like myself anymore and its really difficult to do normal things, like sit on a toilet or sleep! So, be warned! Pregnancy brain is real. I forget LOTS of stuff. Unless it has to do with baby ;) I feel plain dumb sometimes. Again, not like myself. Can't wait for that to go away! Your skin and hair will be amazing. And then it'll all go away and your hair will fall out and it won't be amazing anymore. NEVER cut your hair when pregnant. Ok, you can cut it but don't chop it off. You'll regret it. I did! Biggest pregnancy regret ever. Grow while you can little hairs, grow! Nesting is real. And it feels awesome to prepare for this little one. So people, get out of the way and let a lady nest! Being pregnant is weird. It just is. Your body does crazy things. You will have the oddest conversations with your husband/partner. You will push boundaries and ask them to do things or look at things, or google things and it will be hilarious. And I'm convinced that if you can keep on laughing at the craziness of it all, you will be ok. And, in the end — this baby is going to rock your weird world more than anything else ever. Ahhh I can't wait!!!!! Counting down the days!

And, yes we got preggy pics taken because you are lucky if you are pregnant in your life maybe once or twice. You just never know and this was something we wanted to document and I'm SO happy we did. Kudos and huge thanks to our amazing photographer, Mikhail!