Monday, July 24, 2017

Breastfeeding Essentials with Bravado Designs

I've gotten lots of questions from pregnant and nursing friends regarding what I wear to nurse in and what things have helped me as I've breastfed Henrik the last seven months. I figured the easiest way to share what has worked best for me is through a post devoted to nursing!

Before I get started, keep in mind though that what works best for me, may not work for you. I got tons of advice on nursing bras, clothes, tanks, etc. from friends before having Henrik and some things have worked better for us than others. It's all trial and error, really! As is 99% percent of parenting. Anyway these are just some ideas :)

So first and foremost, it's important for you guys to know that I choose to not nurse in public if I can help it (this obviously means I have much more flexibility in what I wear). I have ZERO problems with other women nursing in public, really truly. I love it when others breastfeed while out and about, I'm just not comfortable or confident enough to do it myself. Especially in the early months when Henrik required a lot of hands-on help from me to nurse. Nursing in the beginning was stressful enough as is so doing it in public added even more stress that I just didn't want to deal with if I didn't have to. Now it's a lot easier, so we could probably do it if necessary (and have a few times).

Whenever we travel, in particular, I try to make sure I wear something that is easy to nurse in should something happen and nursing is the only way to feed him. This generally means a loose shirt that is easy to pull up and high-waisted pants or leggings that provide more coverage. Dresses with buttons also work great. I'm always sure to have our Covered Goods nursing cover with us too for emergency nursing situations.

But what I have found to work best for us is to just feed him right before leaving the house and then bringing pumped milk along with us in a bottle if I know we'll be out long enough that he'll get hungry again. He's also now eating solid foods so that gives us some more flexibility with what he can eat while we are away from home.

So when we are home, I prefer to just take off my entire outfit (or at least just my top if I'm wearing comfy leggings or sweats) and nurse him in my underwear and/or robe. I like to be as comfortable as possible since I often end up holding Henrik for a while after he eats and dozes off.  And since I'm just in our house, I don't have to worry about being put-together. It makes my life a lot simpler if I am not planning my days' clothes entirely around nursing. I totally recognize not everyone's lifestyle allows them to do that, so I'm just enjoying it while I can! It'll be harder to only nurse at home or my parents' house when we (hopefully) have more kids.

Bravado Designs was kind enough to send me some awesome nursing bras and tanks for me to try and I was super impressed! They sent me some that pull to the side and the clip-down variety. I've tried both kinds and I think I prefer the clip-down bras and tanks. I have a hard time getting the pull kind to stay out of the way, but I have lots of friends who like that kind better so just try both and see what you like!

I think my favorite item they sent me was the Nursing Cami (get it here!). It's plenty long so there's lots of coverage and it's nice and tight without being uncomfortable (it has a very slimming and smoothing effect haha). It's also really soft and provides ample support with ZERO wires! Plus the straps are convertible so they can be criss-cross, if that's your style. It could easily be worn out and about layered or just as loungewear to bed. You can tell that all of their products are made of really high-quality material and will hold up really well with all the use that nursing bras/tanks inevitably get. I'm definitely going to be getting more of their camis. These would be especially great for when you're in the hospital because you don't need a top or anything over it!

They also sent me the Ballet Bra (get it here!), which is ideal for sleeping. It offers light support and adjustable straps. Plus it's also super soft and comfortable! And then the Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra (get it here!) is also great because it has removable foam inserts depending on your shape and fit preference and it includes a "conversion kit" to turn it into a regular bra when you're done breastfeeding. How handy is that??

What also really like about Bravado is that they provide VERY easy instructions on how to measure yourself to ensure that you get just the right size. I followed the step-by-step guide and everything fits perfectly! I would definitely recommend any of their products. You can learn more about their line of nursing items and purchase them on their website here!

Other items that have been helpful to me for nursing:

Boppy (get it here): Loooooove ours. Makes nursing much more comfortable for both of us. And we got this cute cover for it!

Lansinoh Nursing Pads (get them here): Helps protect my bras from the inevitable milk leakage.

Medela Harmony Pump (get it here): I've tried an electric pump and this hand pump and the hand pump wins by a landslide. I love that it doesn't have to be plugged into an outlet so I can pump easily in the car or wherever we may be. Much easier to clean too! And soooooooooooo much cheaper.

Robe: I have a toooon of robes but I think my favorite one for nursing is a black one from Nordstrom that is sadly sold out. BUT this one is nearly identical! And on sale. The dark color hides stains well, it's very soft and lightweight, and nice and long so I feel covered/cozy.

MAM Pacifiers (get them here): After Henrik is done nursing, I can pop this in his mouth seamlessly and it soothes him to sleep so I don't have to be the human pacifier.

Nightgowns: I wear one of these to bed every night (I have several and will probably be buying more). They are RIDICULOUSLY soft and pull down easily for nursing access in the middle of the night. You can wear any bra of your choice underneath easily or no bra, depending on what you're comfortable with.

I know that not everyone who wants to breastfeed gets to so I feel very fortunate that Henrik and I have been able to with relatively few issues. We definitely have had our hard weeks and frustrating moments, but now it is overall much easier for both of us and for that I am really grateful. But of course, fed is best! So never feel guilty about how you feed your baby <3 Whatever you do, you'll get no judgment from me and I hope from no one else!

Of course if you have any other specific questions, just let me know! I'd be happy to help answer :)

This post was sponsored by Bravado Designs. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Hoping: Henrik sleeps better tonight than he did last night. He's going through a growth spurt (it's always something) and it's taken a toll on all of us.
But: I've been pretty productive today so I'm feeling good! Ish.
Wishing: I had a McFlurry.
Days Until Christmas: 154!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Mr. Bingley's Sleepover

A few weeks ago, Chris was about to leave for a five day work trip and I was stressin'. It was the longest trip he was going on since Henrik had been born. I have anxiety issues so I was unsure of how I would handle him being gone for so long. What worried me the most was nights by myself. I knew I could probably handle dealing with Henrik's middle-of-the-night needs, but I did not like the idea of being alone. In my house. At night. That totally freaked me out. In the past, whenever Chris was getting home late, I would just stay up because I was too scared to turn out all the lights and go to sleep by myself. Any little sound I heard terrified me and I was so nervous someone would break into our house and murder me in my sleep or something (our neighborhood is v safe, btw. I'm just a scaredy cat).

I contemplated moving Henrik and myself into my parents' house for the week and just sleeping there, but deep down I knew Henrik would do better in his home environment and it would be a big hassle to pack up ALLLLLLL of our gear and get settled at their house.

My mom and I talked and talked about a solution and finally decided that we would have our shared cat, Mr. Bingley, stay at my house (he lives at my parents'). This seemed like the perfect solution since Bingley looooooves to sleep next to my mom and is generally a good companion. I knew he would distract me from my fears and make me feel not so alone.

I bought a litter box and some fish toys filled with catnip as a welcome gift and my mom brought him over the first night Chris was gone. He freaked out at first, but my mom stayed for a bit to get him acclimated. He quickly realized that I was there and the familiar faces made him feel right at home. It took him about ten minutes of looking concerned before he laid down on the couch with my mom.

V relaxed.

Once I got Henrik to sleep, my mom left and it was just the Bing & I. I started my bedtime routine and Bangles (one of Mr. Bingley's nicknames) had a GREAT time exploring my house. He followed me into the closet room while I took some outfit photos for Instagram and loved discovering all the nooks and crannies (and shoes).

'splorin the fun closet room. 

While I was taking out my contacts and brushing my teeth, Bingley hopped into my bathtub, stared at himself in the mirror, and rubbed up against me. He seemed quite at home and I was relieved that he wasn't distressed about his new surroundings.

He loves bathrooms. 

He followed me around as I locked all the doors and turned out the lights. The only one that was left on was the one in our bedroom all the way down the hall. He could see the light and sprinted ahead of me down the hall and immediately hopped up onto the bed.

Getting comfy. 

Oh hello.

Here's how the rest of the night went down:

11:30 In bed, about to go to sleep. Bingley is snuggled up near me. "This is going great!" I naively think.

So innocent. So pure. So deceiving.

I want Bingley to be quiet so he doesn't wake up Henrik so I immediately try to shush and get him lay back down next to me. Which he refuses to do. Instead he kneads my hair and walks all over me. I notice kitty litter by my head. I fall back asleep and presumably so does Bangles.

4:00 AM: MEOOOWWWW!!!!!! WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UUUUUUPPPPPPPPPPP. I tell Bingley to be quiet, which only seems to add fuel to his fire. He plays with his new fish toy by my bed. Loudly. Which I did not think was possible (it's not a loud toy). He walks on my headboard. He headbutts my face with vigor. I am covered in cat drool and fur. He tries to get comfy but just  meows. And starts doing who knows what in my bedroom (there's a lot of clanging). I cannot sleep.

4:45 AM: Henrik is awake and hungry. Bingley follows me into the nursery. He then proceeds to try to take down Henrik's name banner, get in his bassinet, scratch at the wicker basket, knock over a stack of books, knock over a lamp, climb the walls, etc. Then he jumps mightily into Henrik's closet and dumps everything in there, hops onto the changing table and licks some lotion off a bottle and smacks his lips and shakes his head for a while because apparently the lotion taste isn't to his liking, walks on Henrik while he's nursing, sits on Henrik, and meows at Henrik. All of this commotion prevents Henrik from falling back asleep (can't imagine why?) so I kick Bingley out of the nursery. The door is not sound proof and his meows are very loud so this is a pointless gesture. Henrik still can't sleep. So I let him back in.

5:45 AM: Try putting Henrik back in his bassinet and he appears to be asleep. Bingley follows me back to bed.

6:00 AM: Henrik has woken up again. Bingley helpfully trots over to the nursery door before me and rubs his head against it as if to say "Aha look! I found the source of the crying! I am such a good cat." Bingley meows while I try to get Henrik settled and is a general nuisance, but not as big of a nuisance as he was before. I get Henrik to sleep and back in the bassinet. I text my mom and half-jokingly ask her how soon she can come retrieve the cat. I go back to bed.

Bingley starts meowing. Again. Loudly. Bangs around my room for a bit then leaves. It's quiet and idk what the heck he is doing in my house but I don't care because he's not meowing in my face anymore.

He eventually comes back and tries to sleep on my chest.

I kick him off.

He mysteriously disappears again but then at 6:30 comes back to meow at me.

I determine my fatal flaw in the past has been to respond to the meows, which only seems to excite him and make him more determined to hang out with me because if I'm awake, that apparently means I am ready to play and give him my undivided attention.

So I play dead.

He walks all over me, meows some more, plays with his fish, sits on my bookcase and shoves his head through the blinds of my window so he can see the great outdoors. He eventually settles down.

Shortly after 7 AM, my mom texts and says she is awake and can come pick up Bingley (BLESS HER).

I look down at the foot of my bed where Bingley is laying. He doesn't realize I'm awake and yet there he lays, meowing. Just for the fun of it.

We get out of bed and eagerly watch out the window for my mom's arrival (one of us more excited than the other).

She arrives and I pass Bingley to her and discover after she has left that in Bingley's final farewell, he left a poopy streak on my  pajamas.

I then notice that all of the blinds in our family room are all tangled and a banner we have hung in our kitchen is on the floor. Henrik's door is also more open than I left it (I recall hearing Bingley meowing in the distance while I was asleep so I'm pretty sure he went in there to meow at Henrik at some point).

Misaligned blinds: Evidence of Bingley's middle-of-the-night adventures.

I change my pajamas and go back to bed and sleep much better.

I love Bingley, but decided I would rather sleep scared and alone in my house than have to deal with him again. He did not return for the subsequent nights.

Also for those keeping count, Henrik only woke me up really once whereas Bangles woke me up at least six times.

Friday, June 30, 2017

My Job Today

It's pretty late, Henrik is sound asleep, and I should be taking advantage of this opportunity to go to bed and get some much needed rest, but here I am. Typing away my feelings. It's therapeutic though so I suppose that makes it worth sacrificing sleep. And if it ends up helping at least one other mom out there, it'll definitely be worth it.

Picture because I like him.

A few months ago, I was really struggling. Henrik wasn't a newborn anymore and was suddenly much more difficult. Chris and I were having a hard time "figuring him out", for lack of a better phrase. We were trying to get to know him and his needs better (still are) and felt like we weren't providing what he needed very consistently because we didn't know what the heck we were doing (still don't sometimes). He wasn't being super difficult or anything, we were just still in the trial and error phase of playing around with sleep/eating schedules and learning his cues.

This was making me feel very overwhelmed because literally all my time and energy was going into trying to make this baby happy. There were so many non-baby things that were piling up and it was starting to give me a lot of stress and anxiety. I had thank you notes to write, blogging obligations, cleaning, laundry, errands, emails, and a million other things that I didn't seem to ever have the time for. As soon as I would get Henrik to sleep, I had to use that time to shower or make dinner or go to bed. And his naps during the day were too short to really fit in anything else. I didn't see how I could possibly get any other things done.

I told my mom about my stress and how I wished I could just have two days of no baby interruptions to get these tasks finally off my to-do list. Obviously two days was not feasible, but my parents offered to watch Henrik for an evening so Chris and I could each get a few tasks done. We picked a night and finished several projects that had been hanging over our heads and it felt great.

When I went to pick up Henrik, my mom and I ended up chatting for a bit. She said that years ago, one of her friends had teenage kids and then a baby. She was likewise very overwhelmed with all of her different obligations and finally had to say to herself that today, her job was to be a mom and that was all that mattered. She just kept repeating that phrase and it helped her keep her priorities straight and not get worked up when something on her to-do list took weeks to finally get crossed off.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, that has become my new mantra and it has made a HUGE difference.

"Today, my job is to be a mom."

I repeat that sentence to myself many times throughout the day and it is a wonderful reminder of what I should be focused on. It helps me stay in the moment and just concentrate on Henrik and being a good mom to him and providing for his needs. Getting other things done right away just doesn't matter as much.

(Of course, like with any parenting related advice, this must be used in moderation. I still make sure I am providing for my own needs as well as my husband's. It's all about balance.)

This mantra has helped me take off a lot of the self-inflicted pressure I was struggling with. I realized it didn't matter if that pile of laundry didn't get folded today, or if my bathroom wasn't as clean as I'd like it to be, or if I didn't answer that email right away. What matters is focusing on Henrik and being the best mom to him that I can be. Spending time smiling and playing with him on the floor is more important than running that errand. Holding and nursing him to sleep when he's upset is a better use of my time than doing the dishes. Singing and dancing with him matters more than cleaning out my car.

I know these days with just him are fleeting. Someday, we'll have another kid (I hope) and my attention and efforts will be divided again. It will be great, but different and challenging in other ways. I want to make sure I make the most of my time with him now even if it means other things temporarily take a backseat (like taking outfit photos for the blog haha).

Now that I have learned to relax more and not put any more pressure on myself than necessary, I have been much happier and less overwhelmed. I'm a more patient mom and wife (although definitely not perfect).

Don't get me wrong, though. There are still hard days and I get overwhelmed from time to time. But I just try to repeat my mantra and work through those feelings of stress and let things go. It's gotten a lot better the last few months and I'm really grateful for that. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to stay at home with Henrik and be his mom.

That's my new job. And I love it. 

Happy that: Henrik went to sleep easily tonight. 
And that: It's a holiday weekend!
Looking forward to: Spending time with my family. 
Days Until Christmas: 178

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Graphic Floral Dress

Picking up cats in heels is hard ok. 

Shop the Look 

Dress: Alexis's Shop Stevie Shop (get it here, also love this and this) // Necklace: J. Crew Factory (get it here) // Purse: Tory Burch (similar here) // Heels: Saks off 5th (similar here) // Denim Trench: Who What Wear x Target (similar here

You guys know I love a good floral print (I would be embarrassed to tell you how many floral print dresses I have in my closet). So I simply couldn't resist this graphic floral print dress when I saw it! I mean it's just too gorgeous. AND STRETCHY. Double win.

I was planning on wearing it to church a few weeks ago just on its own but realized as I was looking at my jackets in my closet that this denim trench paired perfectly with it! I often forget to look at my jackets when putting together an outfit so I was really glad I spotted it before I left! Of course, the dress looks pretty fabulous just on its own but I think the jacket really helps pull the whole look together. Plus our church building can get kind of cold so the jacket helped in that department as well. 

One of the hardest adjustments to motherhood has definitely been the clothes I wear. I know I know it sounds dumb but hear me out. Prior to becoming a mom, I worked in two different offices so I always enjoyed putting together nice, professional-looking outfits for work and more casual outfits for going out. I felt like I had plenty of opportunities to wear cute outfits and that made me happy. When I'd get home from work, I'd change into my more comfy clothes while making dinner and doing stuff around the house. But now, my life is MUCH different so my wardrobe needs are much different. 

Henrik likes to stay up late and wake up late so I consequently also wake up later in the morning. I generally change from my pajamas straight into my gym clothes for my workouts. Once I'm home, sometimes it's hours before I get in and out of the shower, cleaned up, and ready for real clothes (babies like to distract you from doing these things). But by then, it's sometimes 4 pm and I have no plans to leave the house for the rest of the day so it feels pointless to change into a real outfit. More often than not, I end up in a robe (current status), a lounge dress, sweatpants, etc. Plus when I'm home and Henrik gets hungry, I like to be able to just take off whatever I'm wearing and nurse him and be comfortable. Changing in and out of pants/nice tops just isn't very practical for that. 

This means that on days when I have errands to run (grocery store, bank, Farmer's Market, etc.), I get REALLY excited to put together an actual outfit and wear it! Even if it's just for a few hours. But of course, this only happens a few times a week and I'm never in those clothes for very long. It's definitely kind of depressing to me. I look in my closet at all these great clothes and it actually makes me super sad that I don't get the opportunity to wear them as much as I'd like. 

I'm really hoping this is just a phase and that once Henrik is a little older and not eating/needing a nap every two hours during the day that we'll be able to get out more and do things together (thus necessitating real outfits for me). But even then, my wardrobe needs will be quite different from life pre-baby. I've been buying pieces that are comfy, easy to get on and off, no-fuss/low maintenance, and visually interesting enough that they don't need a ton of accessories. Of course, washable and flexible are important too since I'm always on the floor playing with Henrik. 

It's a process, but I'm figuring it out and trying to just accept and be happy with my life right now. I know this young baby phase is fleeting and will be gone before I'm ready so I'm trying my best to soak it up and enjoy it! Even if it means I don't put on real clothes all day ;) He's the best and I wouldn't change things with him for the world. 

As always, thank you for stopping by!!

About: To start making dinner! Trying out this recipe. Super simple dinners have been our jam lately. 
Confused: As to why Henrik has been napping like all afternoon?? Highly unusual but I'll take it. 
Loving: This beautiful weather we've been having! 70 degrees and sunny is the best, in my opinion. 
Days Until Christmas: 202!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Travels with Hunky: Tranquilo Mat

As many of you know, we took Henrik on two trips in two weeks when he was a little over 4 months old. I've gotten a lot of questions about how we prepared for our trips, how they went, what worked/didn't, etc. so I've decided to do a series called "Travels with Hunky" where I will talk about different products that helped us on our trips. I'll also do a general post in a few weeks where I'll discuss our overall strategy and organization for the trips (fully recognizing that I am NOT a baby travel expert haha but I'm more than happy to share what worked for us to help other mamas out there!).

First up! The Tranquilo Mat! I first saw this product featured on Shark Tank and was instantly intrigued. Portable, effective, soothing, what more could you want in a baby product? They offered to send me one for free to try and I was SO pleased with it!

To start, we used it at home a few times to get Henrik familiar with it. We would put it on his play pad and let him lay on it while he batted at his toys. We also put it in his bassinet and had him nap on it (the vibrations and noise it made was very soothing). Right away we could tell he really liked it and kept him from being fussy.

Using it at home on his play pad. 

Then came our trips! It rolls up nicely so it was easy to pack in my suitcase (would definitely fit rolled up in a diaper bag) and didn't take up much room at all (VERY important when packing for an extra person!).

While in Florida and NYC, we used it in our hotel rooms and at my grandparents' house to give Henrik a sense of familiarity and distract him when he was upset. The vibrations would instantly calm Henrik down and keep him happy in his new environments. Whenever we kicked up the vibration mode he would giggle and it was adorable. We also put it in his pack and play during naps and used the 60-minute shut-off function (super handy). The slight motion and sound definitely helped him fall asleep in his unfamiliar settings.

Happily playing on it at my grandparents' house!

The mat is sooooooo easy to use (just two buttons) and has long-lasting battery power (we accidentally left it on all night in our family room and we still haven't had to change the batteries). Like I mentioned earlier, it's super easy to pack up and take with you, making it ideal for travel. We will definitely be taking the Tranquilo mat on our future vacations! We continue to use it at home too on his play pad. He loves the motion and sound so much! This product is definitely a win. I'd recommend it, especially if you will be doing a lot of travel when your baby is young. It's a great way to give your baby a sense of comfort and familiarity when not at home.

If you have any questions about the Tranquilo Mat, please let me know! I'd be happy to answer them :) You can learn more about this amazing product on their website here and purchase either size here!

Hunky loves his Tranquilo Mat and so do we!

This post was brought to you by Tranquilo. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Velvet Dress

Shop the Look
Dress: Shein (c/o, get the exact one here) // Necklace: J. Crew Factory (exact one here) // Purse: Coach (similar here) // Shoes: Target (similar here)

So I am super behind on blogging (quelle surprise), but hopefully the fabulousness of this dress will make up for it! I love that it's velvet/stretchy and a wrap so it's very forgiving and flattering on all body types. Plus the dark blue tone is absolutely gorgeous (not to mention a great backdrop for Bingley's orange fur). It totally reminds me of Kate Middleton in this dress! And we all know how much I love her. The price on this dress can't be beat either ($17!!!).

Feeling: Hungry.
About: To go to a friend's graduation party!
Happy: That it's almost my birthday!!!!
Days Until Christmas: 214!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Erin Condren LifePlanner

As a newly minted (mostly) stay-at-home-mom, you would think my life would be simpler in some ways than it was a few months ago. At least, I expected it to. I figured I'd just be home most days doing stuff around the house, taking care of Henrik, going to the gym, running by the grocery store, and that would be about it.

But of course, this has not been the case.

There is SO much to keep track of! Henrik's doctor's appointments, my doctor's appointments (I've had many with my recent health issues), meal planning, church assignments, blogging obligations, trips, family weddings, etc. etc.

My LifePlanner has been a serious life-saver for me. I thought my "pregnancy brain" would go away post-baby but it appears that "mom brain" is also a real thing and I find myself being quite forgetful these days too. Writing everything down in my planner has made a huge difference. It helps me keep track of when appointments are, dates that things are due, what's for dinner, and so much more.
I can write out what chores I need to do around the house each day so I don't feel overwhelmed. Sometimes I think I need to just do it all in one day but of course, that is not realistic. Picking one or two tasks (clean the bathroom, sweep the floors) to do a day is much more manageable and has helped me from getting too stressed or having expectations for myself that I simply cannot achieve.

These LifePlanners from Erin Condren are seriously SO great! You can customize them so they are the exact layout you want (I am super picky about this) plus they are gorgeous! You can even get them personalized (like I did). I also got some corresponding stationery and return address labels. I'm in love. I really might order some more matching items from their website. The quality is very high and you can tell that their whole company is very detail-oriented. Nothing has been overlooked in their planners. It's really helped me stay organized and because my planner is so pretty, I get excited to use it! Who wouldn't be excited to use items that are as beautiful as these? I feel so creative when I use them and like each day is a party or celebration of sorts. It's so fun!!

If you're interested in buying a planner or any other organizational item, be sure to check out Erin Condren's website here! They have some great deals going on and you can pick up some wonderful organizational tools that fit you and your lifestyle.

This post was sponsored by Erin Condren. All opinions are my own.

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