On Postpartum Bodies + My PP Exercise Plan


I think it's wonderful that these days there are so many positive messages about the postpartum body. I totally agree that we should be proud of our bodies for carrying and birthing a child, and we shouldn't be too hard on ourselves about recovery and feeling pressure to immediately bounce back into shape.

But I think we can all agree that it's one thing to say you are going to be proud of your postpartum body and entirely another to try on your shorts and not be even close to able to button them. I can tell myself I'm only a few days or a couple of weeks or months pp, but I don't think there's anyone out there who isn't at least just a little discouraged to find that they can't immediately put away their maternity clothes after coming home from the hospital. Although maybe we should all lobby for pants with elastic waists anyway, am I right?

It's a weird place to be, because on one hand it's so amazing the way God made our bodies to grow a human. Our organs shift and expand and contract to make room for that tiny speck on the ultrasound screen, which has its own heartbeat and fingernails and a brain and a tongue and tiny eyelashes, for crying out loud. It's a privilege and a blessing to be able to carry a child.

My skin stretched and stretched, and then the baby comes out and of course there's going to be stomach flab. My hips shifted, and so why wouldn't my pants fit differently? I know this in my head, but it's still hard to look four months pregnant and have the scale tell you that after it's all said and done, you're up five, ten, fifteen, twenty pounds from what you were before you got pregnant.

It's good to be proud of our bodies for doing this amazing thing, but I think it's okay to feel frustrated that our clothes fit differently. They may never (probably won't) fit the same way ever again, and it's okay to feel sad to say goodbye our pre-baby bodies. But we also need to be sure and give ourselves grace. We need to not just say that we are okay with our postpartum body and actually believe it.

And we need to be patient.

I'm very much looking forward to getting back in the habit of working out and exercising, but I am going to take a different approach to it this time than I did after R. The main thing I'm going to do is be more patient. The day I received the okay from my doctor to start running again, I laced up my shoes. Over the following weeks, I tried to continue to push myself to get back into shape, and looking back I feel that personally for me, I wish I would have taken more time to ease into it more slowly. Again, that's just me.

This is obvious but worth repeating: you cannot compare your recovery timeline to anyone else's. We all have different body types, different genetics, different ways of carrying a child, different delivery stories, different ability and time and desire to exercise. You do you and forget about anyone else.

I am not a personal trainer or a coach, so the following is not advice, and of course you should listen to your own body (and your doctor) and decide what is comfortable for you, but here are a few things on my postpartum exercise plan this time around:

-Run 1-3 miles only, focusing on getting faster and stronger at that short distance.
Last time, I tried to add miles too quickly, and this time I want to focus on increasing my speed and endurance for a short distance. I am going to sign up for the OKC half marathon, which is in April, but I won't start training for it or running longer distances until I've spent quality time with the introductory miles.

-Do exercises focusing on healing diastasis recti (abdominal separation). 
Thankfully, I only have 1-2 fingers of separation, so it's not bad, but I really want to work on specific exercises to target this area of my body and avoid the things that will make it worse. I didn't do this at all with R, and I probably did some harm to myself with planks and things that I should have waited longer to add back into my routine.

-Do more weights/strength training
I am more of a cardio person than a weight person, but I want to build back muscle that was lost while I was pregnant, and I'd like to incorporate more strength training into my routine this time. 

-Remember that something is better than nothing.
I tend to expect the best out of myself, and when it comes to exercise I often feel like if I don't have time or energy to do a long workout or go for a long run, it's not even worth it to do anything at all. But every little bit helps, and something is always better than nothing. Even if it's slow, even if it isn't very long. I want to keep this in mind and not be so hard on myself and expect to be able to consistently fit long workouts into my schedule, because realistically that isn't going to happen any time soon.

Those are a few thoughts I've had recently, and I'm interested to hear your thoughts about this topic, whether you are newly postpartum, have been in the past, or will be in the future!

Related: Postpartum Weight and Recovery after R

What plans do you have for your postpartum recovery? Do you find it hard not to compare your timeline to those of other moms? What tips or advice do you have to share for good exercises or workouts to do to get back into shape after having a baby?

Things I've Been Doing (Instead of Blogging)


When R was about a month old, I wrote a post about the hierarchy of needs vs. wants and the things that I choose to spend my limited amount of free time on when I can get it. (You can find that post along with all my posts on motherhood in a handy list here.) 

Fast-forward two years, and I find myself facing the hierarchy struggle once again, only this time it's with even less free time than I had before. (Example: I tried to start this post once already and R decided to go on a nap strike and cry for a half hour, and then just as soon as I got her to sleep, J had a giant poop explosion! I think they planned it.)

You may have noticed that I haven't been blogging as much lately, although I did have a few sponsored/review posts that I needed to get done, so thanks for sticking with me. The truth is, although I have a lot of ideas, I find myself with less time to write and many days lately less desire to choose blogging as the thing I do when I do have a free moment. I do still love blogging and don't plan on quitting or anything, but it just might be a lot less regular for a while. 

I thought I would share a few things I've been doing lately instead of blogging, in no particular order...

Taking walks
See: photo above. I bought that double stroller back in March. It was a garage sale find, so I was pretty excited about snagging it for a cool $40 considering I looked this stroller up and it sells for a couple hundred dollars online. But it's large and somewhat hard to push, and I feel a bit like a drunk person weaving all over the road. It's a workout for sure! I recently started taking R and J on a morning walk before it gets unbearably hot. We go for 30-40 minutes, and I come back drenched in sweat and I don't hate it. I feel lame calling it exercise, but every little bit helps, right?

Making Turkey Sandwiches
I am utterly obsessed with cold turkey sandwiches right now. Forget pregnancy cravings, I have taken this to a new level. When my mom was here the week after I had J, she made me a turkey sandwich, and I don't know what kind of voodoo grandma crack she put in it, but I have craved one every single day for the last four weeks. I've made multiple trips to the store solely to buy lunch meat and swiss cheese. Our fridge may be bare, but at least I can make my sandwiches.

Not Working
Being on maternity leave is the best thing ever. I mean, I know that's probably obvious, but I'm just saying. Being at home with two little kids is challenging and sometimes frustrating, but there are so many things I'm just totally loving right now. I love having a slow morning where I don't have to rush out to get to the office on time while dealing with rush-hour traffic. I love being able to take afternoon naps on my couch. I love spending so much time with R, and I do not miss the feeling of missing her. I love being able to get out for a walk or run to the store in the middle of day instead of after work when everyone else is there. I'm so thankful to have 8 weeks off instead of only 6, and I'm trying my best to not let the cloud of my return to work hover too dark over this sweet time. Maternity leave forever amen.

The Road to Paradise came in the mail from Blogging for Books just before I went on maternity leave. I'm not reading a lot, but I have been enjoying taking a few quiet moments to dive into a book. It's the perfect book for me right now because it's pretty cheesy and predictable, but it's fun too and something easy to pick up throughout the day when I have a second. Brings me back to my Christian historical romance roots. I used to read that genre alllllll the time.

I'm enjoying the strong female lead character, the mysterious park ranger, and the fact that the setting is unique--it takes place in a US national park! While like I said, I found this rather predictable and at times pretty cheesy, I do recommend this book to anyone who loves the Christian historical romance genre for a light, fun read.

Is post-partum nesting a thing? I have been feeling the desire to clean and organize everything lately! I want to go through my closet and get rid of clothes and organize the bath towels and buy storage bins for the random stuff in the closet in the extra bedroom. I don't even know.

I am making a photo book for J's first three months of life just like I did with R, and I have been trying to keep up with uploading and editing photos so I don't get too overwhelmed. It blows my mind that I am working on week FIVE right now! I have also gotten J's baby book up to date with photos and stats and printed off some photos to hang around the house.

Taking Naps
After I had R, I really don't remember taking too many naps, but I am killing the nap game this time. Every single night after R goes to bed, I feed J and then hand him off to Jordan so I can head to bed. I get an hour or two of sleep before he wakes up to eat, and it has been a game changer for me as I head into the midnight hours. I also usually take a nap in the afternoon if I can get both kids to sleep at the same time. Although right now they are both napping and I'm writing this, so you are welcome ;) But seriously, if I could give a new mom any piece of advice, I would tell her to nap. It really has helped me not feel so much like a total zombie person. Just do it.

Snuggling Babies
Last but certainly not least, when I'm not blogging or taking walks or doing dishes or editing photos, I am snuggling my baby boy. It's so cliche to say, but I really do appreciate so much more this time the fact that this is just a short stage of life. Even at 3:00 in the morning, I sometimes find myself wanting to just keep snuggling him instead of trying to put him down.

On that note, someone is crying, so I'm going to sign off. When I'm not blogging I am also keeping two other humans alive. Ha! Thanks for reading and for all the lovely comments you've been leaving me even though I haven't been as great about responding. I promise I read every one and will try to be better about responding in a timely fashion again soon.

J's Birth Story, Part 2


When I left off in Part 1, it was 1:15 am on Sunday, June 18, and we had just been admitted to labor & delivery. I was 5cm dilated. They wheeled me down to a room and got me hooked up to a monitor and started an IV for fluids.

My entire experience with the nursing staff from start to finish was amazing, but my one complaint is the night-shift nurse who put the IV in my arm. She put it in my left arm first, and it was fine until I had to go to the bathroom. I took it with me, but when I got back apparently I'd bumped it or something because it wasn't working anymore. She pushed and pulled and moved it all around to try and get it going again, and it was not pleasant. She kept apologizing, and I was trying to be nice about it, but inside I was like, Get your crap together, lady. 

Finally she gave up and took it out of my left arm and moved it over to my right. She had an issue getting it in correctly on that side and it hurt even worse than it did on my left arm! I ended up rocking a sweet bruise for a full week and a half after we left the hospital.

It's impossible to not want to compare one experience to the next, and both Jordan and I found ourselves constantly saying, "Last time with R...." I don't know if it was obnoxious to the nursing staff, but I can tell you that I was getting annoyed with myself.

It's not that we expected things to go exactly the same way it did with R, but that's the only thing we knew. When I was pregnant with R, we never attended any classes. No breastfeeding class, no hospital tour, no birthing class. I was just too overwhelmed by it all to do any of that, and as a result I fully admit that I was not very well informed about the process of labor or any of breathing techniques that are supposed to help you relax during contractions. One thing I remember vividly from my labor with R is the nurses telling me not to yell in a high-pitched tone but to try to breathe through contractions and use lower tones to save energy and help me relax.

I had all of that in the back of my mind already, and then Torrie left a comment on my 39-week bump update post about natural birth and the way the muscles of the uterus contract and why relaxing does help contractions to not be as painful. I read it the day before I went into labor, and it honestly couldn't have been better timing.

After they got me all hooked up (and my IV in the right spot), there was nothing else to do but lie on the bed and have contractions. They were increasingly painful and lasting for a full minute or more at a time. I tried as hard as I could to focus on relaxing through each contraction, taking giant deep breaths in and out. I really wanted to do a better job with it this time than I did with R.

Another difference was that I had brought my iPod and headphones. I have always (secretly) scoffed at the idea of a birthing playlist. I couldn't imagine wanting any music or anything else going on while I was in labor (I've heard of people watching TV and I'm like how????), but I wondered if playing some music this time would help me focus.

In the last few months of pregnancy, I would take daily walks around the courtyard at my office, and I would bring my phone and play David Crowder's "All Creatures of Our God and King" out loud and on repeat for the entirety of my walk. I didn't make an official birthing playlist, but at the hospital I played my worship playlist, which included the David Crowder song and a few other favorites that I played on repeat during most of my labor.

The first few hours at the hospital went quickly, and I was shocked when Jordan told me it was nearly 3:00. They checked me, and I was sad to hear that I was only barely at a 6. I dilated quickly with R, so I was hopeful that would be the case this time, but apparently not.

The next couple of hours dragged on. My parents and sister arrived around 4:00 (I think) and came in briefly to say hi. At some point the resident who worked with my doctor came in to ask me if I wanted an epidural. The contractions were painful, but I felt like I was handling them okay thanks to my focus on breathing, so I still said I'd wait and see. He gave me a thumbs up and said, "Right on," and told me that I could only get one before 8cm and it would take thirty minutes or so, so to let them know asap if I decided to go that route. 

Around 5:00 am, the nurse asked me if I was interested in having any pain medication given to me in my IV. I said yes, and they got me going on Stadol. It made me super loopy and sleepy for about an hour. I remember continuing to feel contractions, but the pain was largely dulled and I got a little rest, which was nice.

According to Jordan, the medicine made me do weird things like continue to ask him to give me ice when I already had ice in my mouth. I also started panicking at one point because I couldn't move my hands and my nose itched. Jordan offered to itch my nose for me, but he wasn't getting the right spot and I was getting mad at him, so he held my hand and moved it around my nose so I could scratch it myself. I wonder if Beyonce is as glamorous during labor as I am.

After an hour or so, I came out of the fog and could feel everything again. I continued to breathe through contractions while listening to my music and focusing on relaxing as much as I could. The whole time I was in labor, I barely made any sound at all except for loud breaths in and out. The nurse shift change came, and our new nurse, Emily, introduced herself. She was so amazing and the absolute perfect person to be by my side during labor! (Side note: I need to mention here that Jordan is sweet and kind and encouraging, but apparently that means nothing to me because just like when I was in labor at home, I still didn't want him touching me or talking to me at all so he felt mostly useless. Every time he would say something encouraging, I would growl, "Don't talk to me" and glare at him. I'm just so nice!)

At 7:30, my contractions were about 5 minutes apart but not getting any closer, and my water still hadn't broken. They told me they were going to start me on pitocin to see if they couldn't get my labor moving along. I remember feeling really upset and kept saying, "Is this like being induced? I'm being induced, aren't I? I don't want to be induced." 

There was also a discussion about whether or not to break my water, but they decided to wait it out a bit longer and see if it would break on its own.

The pitocin worked some labor magic, because Emily checked me around 7:45 and said I was dilated to an 8.5 and my cervix was "paper thin" (her words). I was suuuuper excited to hear that because I was over it and wanted the baby to get the hecksauce out already. I also remember being shocked I was dilated that much because although the contractions were very painful by this point, they weren't completely killing me like I remember they had been with R at this stage. Emily said that was likely because my water was still in tact, which was cushioning the contractions somewhat.

She said that she could feel the baby's head down, but he wasn't "engaged in my pelvis" and was wiggling all over the place. She asked me if I felt okay to do a few different positions to try and get the baby to move down. This was mildly exciting to me because I never did anything fancy with R except lie on the bed and occasionally roll from side to side.

Emily had me move into a squat position on the edge of the bed to try and get him to force down. Imagine doing a very low, deep squat; that's what I was doing, which was surprisingly not as uncomfortable as you might think.

Next she had me turn around and get on my knees facing the wall. They put the bed up, almost vertical, and I drapped my upper body over the back of the bed and kind of hung there, all while continuing to have contractions. I'm not exactly sure how long I was in either of those positions or what happened over the next hour, but just before 9:00 am my doctor came in and said that she thought they should go ahead and break my water.

"It's going to get intense, and I know it feels strange to ask to be in more pain than you are now," she said, "but I think you'll have this baby pretty quickly once we go ahead and do it."

I felt really nervous (understatement), but I said okay. She reached down and I heard a "pop" and felt a warm gush of fluid. It was 9:04 am. As soon as the doctor broke my water, she said, "Oh that's what the problem is." Apparently J, just like his big sister, was sunny side up, which is why dilation was taking so long and why my water hadn't broken. I was shocked. Darn kids.

As soon as my doctor broke my water, I started completely freaking out. I had been doing so well relaxing and focusing, but I was already in a lot of pain, and I knew breaking my water would lead to even more pain (plus hi, the baby was going to come out of me), and mentally I lost it. I started crying and saying, "No, I can't do it. I can't. I'm scared. I can't do this."

Emily had already commented multiple times on how impressed she was with my control and how focused I was, especially considering I was nearly 10 cm dilated. She could tell I was going into panic mode, and she turned to me and said sternly, "Amanda, you have got to pull yourself together right now. This is all mental and you have got to refocus. You can do this."

I've written before about how running a marathon is similar to having a baby, but the biggest difference I think (other than the obvious differences) is that when I'm running a race, I know exactly where the finish line is. Mentally it helps me to know exactly how much longer, how much farther, I have until I can stop. It makes those middle miles where I feel like I'll never get to the end bearable because I can feel tangible progress when I put one foot in front of the other.

When I'm in labor, I know that there is a finish line, but I have no idea where it is or how much longer I have until I get there. It's physically exhausting, but it's very mental too, because you just don't know if you will have to keep going at 100% for hours or minutes or seconds. The finish line feels almost like a mirage that keeps moving farther away as soon as you can see it.

It was such a helpful reminder for Emily to tell me that it was now a mental battle and that I needed to refocus. I knew she was right, and after just a few contractions I was able to regain my focus, stop crying, and continue my deep breathing. Like, the most giant breaths I've ever taken in my life were happening.

Emily had me try two different positions to try and get the baby to flip over so he was facedown. First she got me on all fours on the bed and told me to relax my back. When a contraction came, I was supposed to sink down into it and wiggle my hips back and forth. It felt awkward, and it took a few contractions to get the hang of it, but I was trying my best to follow directions.

I did that for a bit, and then she had me lie on my left side with the peanut ball between my legs. I lay almost flat on my side with my left arm stretched out above my head. These contractions were so much more intense than any I had been feeling previously. The best I can describe it is like an increasing band of pressure and pain tightening around my entire body every few minutes.

At this point all quiet breathing was out the window and I was groaning and yelling. Emily told me later that she thought it was hilarious that instead of actually saying any curse words, I just shouted the word, "Curses!" a bunch.

After just a few contractions lying on my side with the peanut ball, I felt an increasing urge to push. Then all of the sudden I felt the urge to push. Emily had run out to go to the bathroom, and my doctor wasn't there either (long story short, there were a couple of women having babies all at pretty much the same time, so it was a bit hectic). 

I yelled at Jordan to go get someone, and he said, "Well the doctor will be right back..." and I was like, "YOU GO GET SOMEONE RIGHT NOW."

I was literally yelling, "Help! Help!" when the doctor came in. She didn't even check me; she just looked and said, "Um, yeah okay the baby is coming right now." With R, I remember feeling the urge to push and them telling me that I still wasn't all the way dilated and I had to wait (worst thing ever), so I was surprised when the doctor said he was actually coming right then.

All of the sudden there were bright lights and five or six other people standing near my feet trying to get mats under my bottom and my legs in the air. My doctor actually wasn't even in a gown yet and had to call someone to come take her place for a minute while she got dressed.

They told me to push whenever I felt like I wanted to. While I pushed, I could hear someone counting to ten, and then I went right back into pushing for another ten count. Emily was standing on my left side, and she kept saying, "Get mad, mama," which sounds funny to me now, but at the time I found it to be a helpful visual. 

The sensation of pushing totally came back to me, and that probably helped the process because I remembered what it felt like and what I was supposed to do. I liked being able to push when I wanted to instead of waiting on contractions.

My legs were shaking so badly that they had to get someone else to help hold them. Even Jordan got in on the action this time and was holding my right leg. At one point I remember Jordan saying, "Amanda, I can see his head!" which was really cool and helped me know that it was only a matter of time. The nurses were all excited that he had red hair. 

I never once opened my eyes when I was pushing with R, but this time I did open them twice between pushes, and it was a little surreal and kind of felt like a scene from a movie with the lights and the people in blue scrubs gathered around.

They asked me if I could hold onto the backs of my legs to help with the final pushes (something I remember doing with R as well), but I initially didn't have any strength to move. A few pushes later, I was able to grab hold of both of my legs, and the doctor said, "Okay, he's coming. Give it all you have."

I started pushing at 9:24 and had J at 9:28.

He did come out facing the correct way, so I guess all those weird positions helped, and thankfully they did not have to use the vacuum like they did with R.

They put him on my chest, Jordan cut the cord, and I just couldn't believe Baby J was finally here! Emily grabbed my phone and started taking pictures. I was once again flooded with an intense feeling of relief that it was over and the baby was out. Praise the Lord.

A friend asked me recently which labor was more painful--R's or J's--and at first I wasn't sure how to answer that. But after thinking about it, I decided that R's labor was more painful during and J's was definitely more painful after.

With R they numbed me down there and I don't remember feeling them stitching me up, but  because of where I tore, even the numbing didn't help this time, and I felt everythingMy doctor kept apologizing and tried multiple times to numb it, but it just wasn't working.

The first twenty minutes of J's life were not a lovely bonding moment. I was holding him to my chest with my left arm while I held onto Jordan's hand with my right and gripped it tighter than I did while I was pushing. A few times Jordan told me to be careful that I wasn't squishing J. The whole thing was honestly worse than my labor, and Emily told me later that if she had known that would have happened, she would have recommended an epidural just based on the pain it caused to stitch me up.

Thankfully the torture ended eventually, and they turned off the bright overhead lights and left the three of us alone in the delivery room for a bit before we were moved to our recovery room. My parents and sister came in after a little while to say hi and meet J.
We feel so blessed and are so thankful for a healthy baby and a wonderful doctor and team of nurses who helped us bring our son into the world. There aren't words to describe the relief and joy and love and awe that you feel when you finally meet your baby for the first time. It truly is a miracle and an experience I'll never forget.

J's Custom Foil Birth Announcement from Minted


I am so excited to be able to partner with Minted to share J's birth announcement with you guys! Minted is always my first choice for cards, and I am just totally in love with the announcement I made for J that we sent out in the mail to friends and family last week. Of course I wanted to wait a few days before sharing on the blog to make sure the surprise wasn't ruined!

Minted recently launched a brand-new line of custom foil birth announcements where you can add luxe hand-pressed gold, silver, or rose gold foil to any text! They are beautiful and definitely take your announcement to the next level. I mean is this not too cute?

Normally it takes me forever to decide my card design because Minted has such unique options that I can never narrow it down to just one favorite. But this time I fell in love with the very first design I tried with J's photo. It's pretty simple, but I love it. However, this design was a contender, and I think this or this would be so sweet for a little girl.
Now before anyone emails me panicking because I didn't put a box over his name, this is intentional because I want to show you the gorgeous script font in this foil print! But he will remain J on the blog, and I will block out his name in any future photos and posts. I do sincerely appreciate the emails I've gotten from those of you who have caught me when I accidentally shared a photo showing R's full name. Jordan and I decided it would be okay to share just this once :)

As always, Minted's cards are high-quality cardstock that I prefer to the photo paper used by many online shops. I also love how easy their cards are to customize exactly how you want, with text boxes that move, a number of font options, and the ability to "favorite" multiple designs so you can compare and choose which you like the best.

But my favorite feature of Minted's cards is the free address printing! Just input your addresses and they will print the envelopes completely free! This makes it so easy for me because I have all my addresses saved, so when I ordered these birth announcements, all I had to do was select the addresses I wanted, update any that were out of date, and I was done except for adding stamps!

I honestly love Minted and would have ordered cards from them whether or not I partnered with them for a blog post. Their new foil options are lovely and worth checking out if you have a special occasion like a baby announcement or a wedding invitation.

*I received J's birth announcements for free from Minted in exchange for an honest review. All photos and opinions are mine.

p.s. Birth Story Part 2 is coming Monday! I will finish it up this weekend, I promise. 
Read Part 1 if you need to catch up.

2 Under 2


*This post is about having two kids under two. I also want to write a post about motherhood the second time around, which is a related but entirely different topic of its own. Just one of the many post ideas I have floating around my brain that I'd like to hopefully find time to write about!

A few days after J was born, Jordan looked at me and said, "So.... we have 2 under 2. That's, like, a thing."

I was like, "Um, yeah... this has just now occurred to you?" I don't know how he hadn't done the math on the age gap between our kids until after the second was born, but whatever.

The first two nights after bringing J home from the hospital, R woke up crying in the night every time J woke up crying. At one point Jordan said he was literally standing in the middle of hallway unsure if he was hearing crying coming from the left or the right. The next morning we looked at each other and said, "This is going to be a problem." Thankfully, as R has gotten used to J, she only wakes up occasionally now, and sometimes she sleeps straight through the night.

It took her a few days to get the hang of phrases like "soft touches" and "be gentle" and "don't push on his head" and "don't yell in his ear." She was really intense at first with him, but she is so gentle and sweet now. She loves to give him kisses, and the first thing she does in the morning after waking up is run out into the living room looking for "Bee Bee J."

When she sees him lying on a blanket on the floor, she runs over and lays down next to him and pats his stomach and kisses his head. And I die a little. It's every bit as adorable as I thought it would be, and so far she has proven me right in not feeling anxiety during my pregnancy about how she would transition to her role as big sister. 

She always wants to be helpful, bringing diapers and clothes for J and burp cloths for me, and throughout the day she will randomly grab the boppy pillow, climb up on the couch, and hold out her hands and ask to hold him.

All of that is so, so good.

But it has also been a challenge in many ways. Having one newborn is exhausting and stressful, so I don't at all want to sound like people who "only" have one baby to take care of don't have their hands full, but having a newborn and a toddler running around is just totally nuts, and I kind of wonder how I ever felt like I was tired when I had just R to take care of. (More on that in my post about motherhood the second time around, because there is something to be said for being used to operating on less sleep!)

There have been multiple times when both kids are crying at the same time for different reasons, and I can only help one at a time, so I have to choose the more urgent need, and the other just has to deal with it for five minutes. And breastfeeding? Something I never thought about until now, but what am I supposed to do with R while I'm nursing J? She either tries to climb on us and I get scared she will squash his head, or she is carrying the stool around to climb up on the bathroom counter and squeeze the toothpaste all over the place, and I am mostly helpless to do anything about it. What's worked so far is to lock the three of us in her room while I nurse so at least she is contained to destroying only one area of the house at a time.

There's also the sleeping thing. I've been mostly successful at getting them to nap at the same time in the middle of the day, which means a nap for mama, but that's really only because J is still in that newborn slumberland where he sleeps 90% of the time. I know the day is coming where I can't take daily afternoon naps, and I'm already sad about it.

I know a lot of it has to do with her age and not necessarily J's arrival, but I feel like I'm constantly telling R no. No, don't climb in the bassinet. No, don't pull all of the burb rags out of that drawer. No, don't steal J's paci. No, don't poke his head when he's sleeping. I don't at all want J to be associated with negativity, but she has to learn boundaries. Except she's at an age now where telling her no equals a giant meltdown, so that's loads of fun.

There has definitely been a learning curve, and we are only just beginning to figure out how best to parent our bright, inquisitive, hilarious, strong-willed firstborn while also learning more every day about our sweet baby boy. 

It's hard, no doubt, but I am also aware that these are some of the best days, and I can honestly say I'm enjoying this stage of motherhood, tiring and sometimes frustrating though it is at times. 

I'm thankful J is here healthy and happy, and I am excited to see their sibling relationship grow over the coming months and years. I pray we can nurture their friendship and parent them well and be good stewards of the lives God has given us to raise for however long we have them.



Today is my birthday! 

I'm 31, which means I am solidly in the thirties and officially an age my younger self would consider old. But as much as I absolutely loved my twenties, I'm excited for all that this decade has to offer. I mean just look at my crew up there. Feeling blessed today, friends.

I realized just a few days ago that I had R one month after I turned 29, and I had J one month before I turned 31, which means I had babies at 29 and 30! No baby on the life plan for 31, though ;) I am looking forward to spending this next year raising my two sweet babies with my wonderful husband. Of course, I have no idea what life holds for me tomorrow (or even later today), but I'm feeling optimistic and excited about the coming year.

For my birthday present I requested the we buy patio chairs and we take a family outing to go blackberry picking at a local farm. I hope you all have a fabulous day today and a happy start to the week! I'll see you back here tomorrow with a post all about life with 2 under 2!

DockATot: Multi-functional Baby Lounger


*I received a DockATot Deluxe in exchange for an honest review. All photos and opinions are my own.

I first heard about this thing called a DockATot while reading another blogger's list of baby registry items a few months ago. The difficult thing about buying stuff for babies is that you can't totally be sure what they are going to like or not like until you use it with them.

My first thought about the DockATot upon checking out their website was that it looked really neat, but also it was kind of expensive, and I was skeptical about how much use we would get out of it.

DockATot is made in Europe and designed in Sweden and is a multi-functional baby lounger and co-sleeper. The Deluxe model fits infants 0-8 months, and there is also a Grand model for babies/toddlers 9-36 months (supposedly great for assisting with the crib-to-bed transition). The idea behind it is that babies feel safer and calmer in a smaller environment, much like a mother's womb. DockATot's hypoallergenic fabric creates a soft place for babies to lie without needing buckles and straps to hold them in place. If you are interested in reading more about safety, go here.

J is now almost three weeks old (how????) and we have gotten so much use of out of the DockATot already! He sleeps in it, naps in it, and we put him in it to "sun" him during the day because he's been a bit jaundice. He really does seem to be living his best baby life passed out in the Dock.
One of the best things about it is how portable it is. We do have a bassinet, but the DockATot is so easy and lightweight to grab by the side handle and carry from room to room wherever we need J to be. There are different options for patterns and colors of the covers, although I do think most of them seemed rather "girly" to me, but I got this pattern and like it a lot. If J were a girl, I probably would have chosen this one.

If you have been considering the DockATot but aren't sure whether it's worth the cost, I can honestly say that I came into this review skeptical, but we have been loving it so far. It's well made, light, easy to transport, and seems comfortable for J. Also, in case you were wondering, the cover can be removed for washing. 

I can't claim this is a magical sleep aid that will have your baby sleeping through the night or anything like that, but I do think it is calming for J to have a smaller sleep/lounging environment, and we have used it daily since we came home. If you co-sleep, I think this would be even more useful!
If I can answer any other questions about this product, please feel free to ask! I know that it's important to spend money wisely when considering baby purchases. For how much we've already used this just in a few weeks, I would recommend it and don't think you would be disappointed if you got it!

***Guys, I have so many thoughts and things I want to share and so not enough time or brainpower to write anything down. Naps are giving me life right now, and that doesn't leave a lot of time for blogging. But I am almost finished with Part 2 of J's birth story, so hopefully I won't keep you waiting too much longer for that one! If you have any specific topic ideas that you'd like me to write about, feel free to comment below or email me!

J's Birth Story, Part 1


After writing my 39-week update on Friday where I shared that I felt mentally prepared to go up until my due date with Baby Bum, I woke up around 7am on Saturday, June 17, with mild contractions and feeling crampy. Maybe I jinxed myself.

R woke up soon after, and I made us breakfast and we had a lazy morning while I continued to have contractions. They weren't necessarily painful, but they were uncomfortable, and I just didn't feel well in general all morning. When Jordan woke up I told him that I wasn't feeling very good and that I was having some mild contractions. I downloaded a contraction timer app because last time with R I literally wrote down the time of contractions on a piece of paper for thirteen hours, and it was super annoying. I swore that this time I would join the twenty-first century and find an app for that.

My contractions were very inconsistent and not close together, anywhere from fifteen to twenty minutes apart, and I honestly wasn't sure whether or not I was having real or fake labor. I literally Googled "what is the difference between real and fake labor" and then I got mad at myself because hi, I've done this before. Shouldn't I know what a real contraction feels like? But I think mostly my problem was that I was in denial. After nine months spent anticipating the arrival of J, the idea that I could be meeting him very soon was freaking me out. Plus I wasn't leaking fluid or having any symptoms other than a crampy feeling similar to being on my period, so I thought it was possibly just intense Braxton Hicks.

Nevertheless, I thought it might be a good idea to pack a hospital bag. Even if it wasn't the real deal, I was 39 weeks pregnant and would need it at some point.

Jordan, meanwhile, was convinced I was in labor and wouldn't stop following me around asking me questions about how I was feeling. I suppose you think that sounds nice, but really it was just extremely annoying. In retrospect, that right there should have been a sign that I was, in fact, in labor because both times I've been in labor, with R and now with J, I am extremely irritable and don't want to be talked to or touched by anyone. Basically what I'm saying is that I'm super fun to be around.

I had planned on attending a surprise birthday party that one of my coworkers was throwing her husband, and even though I wasn't feeling awesome, I decided to leave R with Jordan and drive downtown to the party. Jordan was annoying me anyway, and I didn't feel like sitting at home timing contractions that may or may not be the real thing. (Denial, party for one.) 

I went to the party and then ran a few errands on the way home. One of them was swinging by Target to return a few baby items and buy a wedding gift for friends of ours, which is hilarious to me now because I also went to Target the day I was in labor with R.

From the time I left our house at 11:30 to the time I got home around 2:30, I didn't have any contractions and felt mostly normal, minus a faint feeling of nausea that might have been due to the copious amount of BBQ I consumed at the birthday party.

I mentioned in my 39-week update that Jordan was hoping I would go into labor and have the baby on a weekend, so he was sad to learn that my contractions had all but stopped. When I got home, R was just waking up from her nap, so I got her a snack, and I noticed that my contractions had started again. They still weren't very close together, but they were definitely more uncomfortable than the ones from that morning. Jordan took over helping with R while I laid on the couch feeling grouchy and more and more uncomfortable.

At one point Jordan's mom came over to see R and say hi, and as soon as I heard Jordan open the door to let her inside, I marched right past her and back to our bedroom without saying anything. I later found out that my MIL called my mom to tell her that she should talk to me about going to the hospital because she was well aware of my irritability from my labor with R.

As the evening progressed, my contractions went from uncomfortable to mildly painful and got closer together until they were consistently 10 minutes apart and lasting for 45-60 seconds. I had laid down to go to sleep and woke up every 10 minutes when another contraction came. By this point I was conflicted about what to do. Clearly my contractions weren't 3-5 minutes apart like all the books tell you, and I did not want to go to the hospital only to be sent home like what happened with R. (Slightly embarrassing with Kid #1 but just plain ridiculous with Kid #2.) 

But I had now been having contractions for seventeen hours (minus the 3 hours in the middle of the day where they had stopped) that were increasingly more and more painful, and I was definitely not going to be able to sleep in the state I was in.

At midnight nearly on the dot, I went back to our bedroom (I had started sleeping on the couch because it was more comfortable to me than our bed) and told Jordan we should go to the hospital. He called his parents to come over and stay with R, and I thought they would take a while, but they were at our house within ten minutes. Clearly my MIL had seen this coming.

I still wasn't convinced they weren't going to just send us back home, but we put the infant car seat in the backseat and grabbed our bags and headed downtown. Once we got to the hospital, they got me hooked up to a monitor and a nurse came in to check me. It felt like she barely reached her hand down before she immediately said, "Well, you're at 5cm and you have a bulging bag of waters. Let's get you admitted."

Jordan immediately texted our parents to tell them this was the real deal. I seriously cannot believe that for both of my babies my parents have made the three-hour drive to Oklahoma in the middle of the night! We were both a little shocked because we had been at the hospital for just about fifteen minutes at this point. With R we stayed in the room being monitored for a good hour and a half at least before they said I should be admitted.

I looked at the nurse and said, "You're not serious! We're staying?!" and she chuckled and said, "You seem irritated about that." All I could say was, "I'm just so surprised!"

Clearly I was feeling extremely calm about it.

They asked me if I wanted an epidural, and I told them I wanted to see how things went but no for now. I got in a wheelchair, and they took me down to L&D to get settled into the room where we would (hopefully) soon be meeting our son!

It was 1:15 am on Sunday, June 18.

Part 2 coming soon.

*Read R's birth story part 1 / part 2