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    Lifestyle

    Bumpdate | Luke’s Birth Story

    It’s hard to believe that Luke’s already been in our lives for nearly two months now! I’ve been fairly quiet online these last few weeks as our family has adjusted to our newest addition, but wanted to take the chance now that we’re somewhat (but not really) getting the hang of life with a baby to share his birth story! If there’s one thing that’s really helped us through the sleep deprivation and near constant uncertainty of the last several weeks, it’s been our community — our families and friends have been so supportive and helpful, and none of that would have been possible if we hadn’t shared this special time with them. From flying in for 2 week stays or even just a quick dinner, to bringing us regular meals and coffee, we (and definitely I) would be in a very different place (read: losing my mind) as a new parent without everyone.

    My due date was October 6th, and I don’t think I had any thoughts or expectations about whether Luke would be early, on-time, or late. Turns out, he was a week late, which apparently is pretty normal for first pregnancies. For the most part, I think I took him being late better than anyone else — I was pretty clear on the fact that my life would be very, very different once he arrived, so I figured the best thing to do was to be really present during that last week, rather than wasting my time by freaking out about when I’d go into labor.

    On the Thursday before he was born, I woke up at 3am with what felt like really strong menstrual cramps. I hadn’t had any Braxton Hicks contractions so I didn’t know if this was that, or if I was experiencing the early stages of real labor, so I just sort of waited it out for a bit. I got up and walked around our apartment, tried to find more comfortable sleeping positions in bed, and when it became increasingly clear due to their regularity that this was the real thing, I woke Nate up. Continue reading

    Lifestyle

    Bumpdate | What I packed (and over-packed) in my hospital bag

    While for the most part I didn’t really do tons of research on most aspects of my pregnancy (that came as a shock, but it was more a self-preservation thing; I just didn’t want to overwhelm or freak myself out with all the baby things), one of the few areas I did read up a lot on was the hospital bag. I’ve never spent a night in the hospital before, and I’ve obv never had a baby, so who knew what I needed?

    Answer: the internet knew what I needed.

    So after combing through a few blogs and asking for a few opinions, I finally decided on the things that would go in our bag. Some of these were useful and I’m super thankful we brought them along; others, we definitely didn’t need.

    And I’ll just preface this all by saying I’m a chronic over-packer to begin with, so there’s that.

    For Mama + Labor

    Hospital registration paperwork | Our hospital let us pre-register online, so I didn’t actually worry about this. Just remember to bring your insurance card and photo ID and such. Verdict: Necessary.

    Pillow and non-white pillow case | We were told ahead of time (and saw on our tour) that hospital pillows are not comfortable, and that it may make me feel more relaxed to have something that feels/smells like home, so we brought the pillows we usually sleep with. Make sure to bring one for dad too if he’ll be sleeping at the hospital with you! The non-white pillow cases were to avoid mixing them up with the hospital’s pillows when we left. Verdict: Glad we brought these (esp the pillow cases), though a few of the hospital pillows weren’t all that bad.  

    Labor/Delivery gown | This is essentially a hospital gown-like outfit that has access points in case medical staff need to administer an epidural, etc., and is also easy to nurse in. While a regular hospital gown is definitely an option, I went and got a gown from this Etsy shop. When it came and I tried it on, I decided that I wanted to live in it for the rest of my life. Verdict: Loved using this during the many hours of my labor, and it was definitely useful when being given an epidural.  But didn’t get any use of out of in the hospital after Luke was born since it was covered in, you know…stuff. But since we got home, it’s been one of my favorite things to wear since it doesn’t aggravate my c-section at all.

    Nightgown or comfy PJs / Robe or cardigan / Going home outfit | I brought 2 outfits to hang out in while recovering that either had buttons or pull-down fronts for easy nursing, and were easy to use the bathroom in. One was a simple nightgown from Target, the other was a button-up oversized tank and some super soft drawstring shorts. I also brought a huge oversized sweater in case it got cold and stuck my robe in my bag at the last minute in case I needed it to wander the hospital halls in the throes of labor (told you I’m an over-packer). For my going home outfit, I brought my comfiest pair of maternity sweats and an oversized tee. Verdict: I ended up staying in hospital gowns during recovery since I delivered via c-section and it was way easier for myself and hospital staff that way. Also, because I had planned/hoped for a vaginal delivery, I hadn’t thought too much about where the elastic waist of my going home outfit would hit, and I really wish I had. Instead, I borrowed Nate’s sweatpants, which allowed me to pull the elastic band WAY up above the incision. Didn’t use the robe I stuffed in there at the last minute at all.

    Slippers (flip-flops) | Our hospital room had a shower, and I knew before going in that I’d be in there at some point. If showers or baths are a comfort measure for you too and your hospital has one or the other, bring flip-flops to wear. They’re also great for walking around the hospital during labor, or getting up to go to the bathroom. Verdict: Necessary.

    Nursing sleep bra / Comfy underwear | I brought one of my Motherhood Maternity Nursing Wrap Sleep Bras with me mostly for the way home. In terms of underwear, a friend of mine had sent me an extra package of disposable underwear she brought home from the hospital that she never used after the birth of her son, so I packed those along with a pair of maternity underwear too (which I wish I’d found so much sooner because they. are. amazing.). Verdict: I used the hospital’s disposable underwear since, again, c-section and mine hit right where the incision was whereas their’s pulls way up. I saved the extras my friend had sent me for home. The nursing sleep bra was useful for heading home.

    Nursing pads / Nipple salve | I packed 6 (yes, six) disposable Lansinoh nursing pads. I don’t know why I thought I’d need that many, but there you go. I also packed an all-natural Hawaiian nipple salve to help soothe breastfeeding pain, and will do a whole ‘nother post on Hawaiian products for mama’s soon! Verdict: The nipple salve wasn’t necessary for me in those first few days, but I did use 2 (not SIX) nursing pads for the ride home.

    Toiletries | These mostly consisted of deodorant (important!), facial cleansing wipes, my hair brush and some hair bands, lip balm (my lips are always really chapped), contact lens supplies and glasses, my toothbrush, tooth paste, and heavy flow overnight pads. Verdict: The lip balm was my most-used toiletry item, though I also used my toothbrush, tooth paste, contact lens supplies, glasses, facial wipes and deodorant. The hospital provided pads to use, so I just used theirs. I don’t think I brushed my hair for a full week after Luke was born.

    Comfort measures / Focal point | We brought a few things that we knew ahead of time would help me to feel more at ease during labor + delivery, like some essential oils and a diffuser that one of my closest friends gifted us, Hawaiian lavender lotion for massaging my legs/feet, my favorite body wash, and twinkle lights to make the room feel cozier. We also brought a turtle stuffed animal, which my mother got for me to use as a focal point. Verdict: The only things I really used where the stuffed animal, the essential oils diffuser, and the winkle lights. I honestly just forget we had even brought anything else, and would have been too exhausted to organize my thoughts around actually using them even if I had remembered. And let’s face it, I wasn’t really going to take a shower during — or right after — delivery.

    Music + Speakers / Extension cord | I made a labor + delivery playlist with a bunch of soothing songs on it, and we brought our portable speakers to play it. We also brought an extension cord so we knew we could plug things in from anywhere. Verdict: Definitely used this!

    Cell phones + chargers | Obviously. Verdict: Obviously.

    For Dad

    Hanging out / PJs | Since Nate would be staying with me the entire time I was in the hospital, we made sure to pack enough clothes for him — a pair of sweats, 2 tees, a hoodie and beanie, etc. Verdict: Nate ended up using everything he packed, and even under-packed since the c-section meant we needed to stay an extra few days. So be prepared for anything!

    Swim shorts / Slippers (flip-flops) | Again, this is if, like ours, your hospital has an in-room shower or tub and you think you may want to be in it. Our hospital doesn’t allow mama’s to be in the shower unsupervised while in labor, so we brought Nate some swim shorts and flip-flops so we could get in there with me. Verdict: He didn’t need the swim shorts since we got a room with a jetted tub and he was able to just sit on the side of it rather than having to get in it with me. But the flip-flops were useful.

    Toiletries | Same as what I brought except, you know, the man version. Verdict: All useful.

    Snacks | We packed some snacks for both Nate and I so that he didn’t have to keep running to the vending machine, downstairs to the cafeteria (which we heard from hospital staff was not great), or down the block to Whole Foods. Super easy stuff like trail mix, granola bars, pre-popped popcorn, etc. Verdict: We packed more snacks than we needed since our friends and family that visited while I was recovering all brought us food. But it was good to have just in case.

    Laptop + charger | Our hospital had wifi available and we knew that ahead of time, so we brought the laptop so that we could send out the obligatory “We had a baby!” email. Also, we loaded it up with TV shows and movies to watch during postpartum recovery. Verdict: We never opened the laptop. Why did we think we’d watch TV? We slept.

    Camera + battery | We knew we wanted photos, so we brought a fully-charged camera with us. Verdict: Nate took tons of photos when visitors came to cuddle Luke, but during delivery he mainly used his cell phone for pictures.

    For Baby

    Car seat | They won’t let you leave the hospital without your car seat properly installed. We installed ours (we have an Uppababy Mesa) about a week before our due date (just in case) and had it checked out for free at AAA. Verdict: Necessary.

    Snap shirt | We packed 1-2 snap shirts for baby boy to wear during postpartum recovery. Verdict: Didn’t use them at all. While in the hospital, Luke lived in a diaper, swaddle, mittens, and a beanie that the hospital provided.

    Diapers + Wipes | In case I didn’t make it clear, I AM AN OVER-PACKER. I packed like, 6 diapers and a package of wipes, even though I knew the hospital would have diapers and I’d probably just end up using warm water instead of wipes during those first newborn hours. Verdict: We ended up using the hospital diapers and wipes so we could save ours for when they weren’t free anymore.

    Swaddle | I packed 1 swaddle. Verdict: We used the swaddle to wrap him in for going home.

    Going home outfit | We brought a footed, long-sleeved onesie and a beanie. Verdict: Used it and loved it.

    Lifestyle

    What I’m Reading and Recommendations

    If I were stranded on a desert island, the three things I’d undoubtedly bring with me are: Nate (to keep me sane), my brother-in-law (to get us off the island or, at the very least, help Nate keep me alive), and my Nook. That last one is super obvious to almost everyone that knows me.

    I get asked fairly often what I’m reading, and if I have any recommendations — usually by friends who are looking either for a romance/erotica or personal development read, which tend to be my most often read genres. I find the combination of the two to be amusing, but it sort of makes sense if you think about it: romance and erotica novels explore our deepest human relationships, mostly with others; personal development books explore our deepest human relationship — the relationship we have with ourselves. Put the two together, and you get a pretty well rounded library.

    But I also read a fair amount of other books, and thought it would be cool to offer a list of my most recommended books across several genres, romance/erotica and personal development included, in case any of you were interested. Continue reading

    Lifestyle

    Bumpdate | 39 weeks

    How has the pregnancy gone so far? I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: I’ve really enjoyed (and have been very lucky throughout) this entire pregnancy. And overall, things are still smooth sailing with one exception. Last week, I took a minor spill (because the change in my center of gravity has made me clumsy af) on the sidewalk, hit mostly hands and knees but did bump my belly a bit. Cried profusely because it was scary, my hands ached like a bitch, and my toe was bleeding. Called Nate and cried some more because what if I had caused some real damage? What if it wasn’t just a scraped knee and a bleeding toe? What if, what if, what if? Then really started sobbing when I felt Baby Boy being his normal mobile self. Continue reading

    Wellness

    My 5 go-to self-care practices

    If there’s one thing I know pretty well, it’s the struggle to practice self-care. I mean, it’s taken some long, hard hours of reflection and brainstorming to even come up with self-care practices for myself, let alone actually regularly practice them. This has been something I’ve focused a lot on this year as part of my theme of getting back to what’s Essential — happiness, health, and a simple but well-lived life…all things that — surprise! — a self-care practice can support.

    But it’ll only work if it’s actually things you want to do. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Then ohmygod why was this so hard for me to do?

    I think part of the challenge was that for so long I tried to make other people’s self-care practices my own — things I’d read in books, recommendations I’d gotten from courses, or the typical suggestions that often float around the life coaching/coachee world. But the truth is not all self-care practices are a one-size fits all, so they won’t feel like self-care practices to you. And guess what? If they don’t, that’s totally okay. Just move on to the next! Sometimes you can tell right away — usually because the thought of doing it feels about as exciting watching paint dry…there’s no feeling of “Yeah, that needs to happen like, yesterday.” And then sometimes the self-care suggestions you read about may sound appealing after all, so you give it a try. But for some reason, using it just doesn’t feel natural. You don’t think of doing it in those moments when you probably need it the most, so they instead become this thing that you’re not doing right, that you’re failing at, and that must mean the whole self-care thing is a giant bag of crap altogether, right?

    Here’s the thing: the easiest self-care practice you can create starts by taking the activities you already love, the ones that really refresh + replenish you and don’t just feel like more commitments to check off your to-do list (that last one’s huge), and building a go-to list around those.

    So here’s my own list of self-care practices that I use on those days/weeks I’m feeling either a little blah and a whole lotta run down.

    Continue reading