September 30, 2014

Postpartum: Recovery Essentials

Postpartum Recovery Essentials.
Having a baby. Oh my. There are some THINGS we women should be talking about.

For all you new mamas (and mothers-to-be!), I compiled a list of the essential items that really helped me through the first month of recovering from labor. The weeks after giving birth were really challenging, but I thought it would be difficult only because of the lack of sleep and learning how to take care of the baby. I had gone through an un-medicated 36 hour-long labor, so you can imagine that I thought the hard part was over once the baby was actually out. I had no idea that the recovery process for my own body would be just as demanding as caring for my new babe. There are so many things people don't tell you! So I wanted to pass along the few items that really helped me overcome the physical recovery process (even though at 8 weeks postpartum, I can tell you I am definitely still recovering!) For you single gals, I don't want to scare you... but maybe you don't need to read this until you're actually pregnant and prepping for your postpartum recovery experience. This post might seem a little too-TMI for you. However, once you become a mom, there is nothing off-limits when it comes to discussing bodily functions. You sort of lose that squeamish edge once you've had a dozen people watch your naked body contort in all the most unflattering of positions to actually birth a baby.

This info is geared towards those breastfeeding mamas recovering from a vaginal delivery, though I imagine some of this would be applicable no matter what type of birth experience you have. So without further adieu...

Wear Essentials: Note: I covered some of theses items in My Hospital Bag post.
- Nursing Tanks - I have been living in these Gillian O'Malley for Target Tanks and these Motherhood Maternity Seamless Nursing Camis (also, Jessica Simpson makes this awesome version with a built-in tummy tightener.) These tanks seriously make nursing so much easier and are super comfy. Also you don't need to wear a bra with them, SCORE.

- Nursing Bras - When you do have to go out and wear normal clothes, a nursing bra is a necessity. These can get pricey, which is why I did a happy dance when I found this extremely comfy, supportive (and affordable!) Gillian O'Malley nursing bra at Target. It doesn't have any underwire, so it's comfortable enough to sleep in and the easy snaps make it suuuuuper for nursing.

- Comfy Undies - These are to wear during the few weeks after you deliver the babe while your body is healing. I got a six pack similar to this at Target. You want to get a size that would fit you during your pregnancy (so a little larger than your normal, pre-preggo self) in dark colors. Don't invest too much here, you want something you don't mind tossing if they get ruined.

- Cozy PJs - You are going to be living in your pajamas for a while after giving birth, so make sure you're comfortable! I've been rocking a steady uniform of nursing tanks, yoga pants and a gorgeously soft robe that Stevie gifted me with for Easter this year. These items have been my comfort during the first few weeks/months of nursing with Everett. When your hormones are raging during postpartum, your temperature fluctuates a lot! Be ready to shed layers and then put them right back on. Having something cozy to wear around the house has been a delight.

- Danskin Waist Trimmer Belt - This was loaned to me by my darling sister-in-law Katie, who swears this helped her get her midsection back after her first baby. I wore it interchangeably with my Bellaband during the first two weeks postpartum. I know it takes a lot of time to get your body back after a baby, and mine isn't anywhere close to what it used to be. But I like to think that making this little effort will help?

Healing & Recovery Essentials:
- Silhouette Depends - Don't cry. You won't have to wear these forever. But during the first several weeks after the baby is born, yeah. These are things I wish someone would have told me. So when you send your husband out to the store to pick up your baby's diapers, make sure he grabs a pack of your diapers too. Seriously, you've got to stop crying.

- Poise Ultimate Absorbency Pads - These pads are pretty much the most giant, super absorbent, overnight kind of pad on the market. The nurses at the hospital taught me to layer these inside the Depends. And I've never felt so sexy.

- Tucks Witch Hazel Pads - These are really cooling and comforting for the nether regions, whether you are healing up with stitches or dealing with post-labor hemorrhoids (yep, that's also a thing). Layer them in your pads, within your Depends, and you're good to go. (I'm pretty sure this method is how Stella got her groove back.) I know, you're tears are probably raging at this point. Just power through.

- Perineal Bottle - Hopefully the hospital will give you one of these. It helps clean your "down there" area when its too tender to wipe.

- Sitz Bath - Again, I'm sure your hospital will send you home with this little device, and you should do the sitz bath at least once a day for the first several weeks postpartum. It will help everything heal up just right.

- Smooth Move Tea - Bless my dear doula. She brought this tea to me a day after I got home from the hospital and it works. Helped move my digestion along, since everything slows way down after birthing a baby.

- Probiotic Supplement - I started taking this Jarro-Dophilus supplement when I was pregnant, and my midwife recommended I stay on it while I'm breastfeeding (especially since my little one has a super sensitive tummy.)

- A SHOWER - I swear by this one. Taking a shower everyday is not only good for keeping your body clean so it heals up well... but I truly think it will help you keep sane. I loved taking a shower everyday (and I still do!) even if I wasn't going anywhere and if the only person I saw all day was my little baby. A shower just makes me feel like myself again.

Breastfeeding Essentials:
- Honest Co. Nipple Balm - THIS STUFF IS GOLD. Seriously, if I can recommend any product, this is it! This balm is like magic for the nips. It's made of completely natural, food-grade ingredients so it's safe for baby.

- Lasinoh Disposable Nursing Pads - These are dumb, but you have to use them. You don't want to milk all over the place. Which totally happens. Yeah, the good times keep on rolling.

- Lasinoh Soothies Breast Pads - I was ready to raise the white flag at one point, because initially breastfeeding is just so painful. These little guys helped me power through. I couldn't believe how fast they worked! Within a day I was feeling an enormous sense of relief.

- Milkmaid Nursing Pillow - I have been SO pleased with this nursing pillow, especially after trying a few others. The design, the materials used, the shape - it's all SO perfect for nursing the baby, whether bottle feeding or breastfeeding. It has kept my back from wearing out completely, because breastfeeding can be super exhausting.

- Mothers Milk Tea - This tea promotes lactation, which is helpful when trying to build up your milk supply. I thought it would taste awful, but it doesn't! It's got a smooth, peppermint-y flavor, and I've been trying to drink it once a day just to keep my milk flowin'. Yes.

- Hylands Baby Colic Tablets - My baby has a sensitive tummy, and these tablets have really helped calm him down when he wails. I feel so so bad for him because I can feel his stomach tense up (he gets really gassy), so while I am trimming my diet down to really bland foods, I have also been giving him these homeopathic tablets to calm his tummy. They really work!

- Water - This one may seem simple, but its seriously so essential. You body is going to be flushing out fluids over the coming weeks, and its super important to re-hydrate so that you can make milk, etc. It won't be hard though - you will be waking up in the middle of the night sweating and thirsty! Keep a bottle of water with you at all times and keep filling it up throughout the day.

Other Essentials:

- HELP! - I have been overwhelmingly blessed to be surrounded by so much family during my postpartum process. Being surrounding by loved ones during this incredible experience created a safe environment for me to make mistakes, cry and slowly figure "it" out. And also, it's wondrous to have someone cook you a bit of breakfast, do a few (or in my case, ALL) loads of laundry, clean up your bathroom, and just help out in the areas where you need it! I am so indebted to my sister and mom, it's not even funny. They were lifesavers.

- Talking - I am still mentally and emotionally processing the birth of my son. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. Talking to people really, really helps. I have spent hours discussing the different aspects of the birth with my amazing husband, my mom (who is also a certified life coach, SCORE!), and my precious friend and doula, Liz. I truly believe that having a birth experience that differs from your expectations, coupled with the raging hormones, can contribute to postpartum depression. While I am still overcoming different "road blocks" in my mind, having continued support has really helped me avoid plummeting into those darker places. I am so, so grateful that they have been willing to re-hash the birth with me so that I can talk it through and gain some inner-healing.

- Meals - My darling friend Tricia organized a Meal Train using Take Them A Meal, and let me tell you what, IT WAS AMAZING. Having a schedule of folks who were willing to bless us with a meal was so incredibly helpful during those first few weeks. I still don't have the capacity or desire to cook anything, so having that meal support was another thing that I didn't have to worry about. Thank you to everyone who blessed us with such yummy food!

- Sleep - I have been especially bad about napping. But it is honestly the thing that heals you up the MOST. It's been personally hard for me to nap because my son doesn't like napping during the day (yeah, I KNOW), but anytime the baby goes down, I should be napping too. You don't get brownie points for staying awake and doing laundry. Just freakin' TAKE A NAP. Your body is craving it so badly. And you will need those power naps to get you through the day and those endless nights. Believe me.

A Few Resources: Reading through these other blog posts really encouraged me during the healing process.

Postpartum Must-Haves for Mommies

Body After Baby: What to Expect After You Deliver

Making it Through the Last Month of Pregnancy

You Can Do This!
I hope all of this helps with your recovery. It feels like an eternity when you're in the midst of it, but those little babies grow and change SO much from week to week. Believe me, your body, mind and heart will be changing and healing, too! Give yourself lots of time to recover, give yourself grace when you feel like you aren't measuring up, and let go of comparisons and expectations. Everyone heals at a different pace because everyone's birth story is unique to them. But these sweet newborn moments are fleeting - you never get the beginning back again! So soak it up!

For those who have already gone through labor and delivery, are there any tips or products that helped helped during postpartum? I'd love to hear about what worked for you. Feel free to comment below!

September 23, 2014

Life Lately.

Life lately.
A lot has been happening. All big changes. New experiences. While my son is hard-wiring for his lifetime here on Earth, I feel like I've transported to life on another planet. I'm wildly exhausted and scurried, yet I feel like I'm getting nothing done all day. I know that raising a baby is the MOST IMPORTANT thing I can do with my time right now. But it can be challenging to constantly remain positive about it when the days are endlessly long and pretty freakin' hard. And when I feel like my brain cells are being depleted and I am morphing into a mere milking, diapering, baby-holding buffoon. I used to have real world skills! I think. My emotions vacillate from over-the-moon-infatuated with my darling baby to... purely depleted and sometimes weepy. Just depends on the hour. And how much sleep I've gotten.

My life lately?

Midnight milk parties, consumed by my little babe's sleepy noises and milk-laced grins. And of course, these are the moments I so desperately want to capture, and CAN'T, because the room is so darn dark. I wish the iPhone made an infrared camera.

I keep finding colic tablets in my sheets. Am I producing them?

Re-swaddling the maverick child who un-swaddled himself, then knocked himself in the face with his puppy-hands, then cried about it. Then woke me up. Then mommy cried too.

Eating the same foods everyday because they are the most surefire way to NOT upset his tummy. 24 hours of a baby wailing because I ate garlic, yogurt or salsa just isn't fun. And it also isn't worth it.

Trying every possible comforting sound, movement, song and dance (yes, I am baby whipped and dancing like a monkey) just to give my under-stimulated, overly-bored and often-times tummy-aching child some distraction and relief. I've run out of all the good ideas. But I'll attempt all the lame ones too.

My daily mantra: "Please God, give me grace and give Everett peace. Let him know I love him so much. And get me to my 8pm glass of wine."

Don't even get me started on how often I get peed upon. I've started to think about it as the anointing of the mother/son relationship.

Now don't get me wrong. There are a ton of gorgeous moments, too.

Like when I pick him up as he's screaming and he immediately softens. Reaches up. And wraps his darling Popeye arms around my neck. And then smiles RIGHT INTO MY EYES. Cue heart melt. Oh wait. I'm crying again.

Like when I put him on his play mat and show him how to reach up and touch the rattling mobile with his hand. AND THEN HE DOES IT BY HIMSELF. I taught him something and HE LEARNED IT. Crying over here.

Like trading in my R&B Pandora stations for Baby Einstein. We jog and sing to the hokey pokey, twinkle twinkle, and thankfully, those songs that Jack Johnson did for some children's movie. Yeah, the other outdoor exercisers in the neighborhood can hear us coming. Straight from old McDonald's farm.

Like when he's just finished nursing, and he looks up at me with those sleepy-happy eyes, milk dribbling down his cheek, and just yawns (and often farts), wriggles around a bit and finally sighs himself into a deep sleep. Knowing that I met all his needs is the BEST feeling.

I think I'm becoming a mom.

September 19, 2014

A New Season at Serenbe Farms.

A New Season at Serenbe Farms.
This is a story about a couple who tried desperately to have a normal, fun day OUTSIDE THE HOUSE.

Stevie & I decided to do something extra special this past weekend and take the trek out to Serenbe Farms, one of our favorite getaways on the southside of Atlanta. Serenbe is a posh country community, made up of mostly second and third homes to tired urban dwellers. This is the place where they escape for a bit of fresh air amidst the slow southern charm. Serenbe consists of a zillion acres of woods, lakes and ponds, along with an organic farm and all the appropriate barn yard animals to match. There are hiking trails, dotted here and there with luxurious (but tasteful "country-style") homes, and a dainty little downtown. It's a very darling, and sort of daunting, kind of place. Only because it's so spookily Stepford-perfect. Every so often my entire family visits Serenbe, mostly to dine at the incredible Farmhouse restaurant (which we tend to do over the holidays), and also to watch my dad horse whisper. So it's delicious and entertaining.

We decided it was the perfect weekend to take Everett to this favored place. The weather was ripening into the perfect almost-autumn day, and we had nothing to do and nowhere to be. Ah perfection. We drove 30 minutes out to the farm, windows down, the cool breeze wafting gently through the car, and Everett sleeping, quite literally, like a baby. We got to the restaurant, hoping to be seated on the old patio, so we could enjoy the weather and have the outdoors as a baby-crying buffer, if need be. Unfortunately there were a few events going on outdoors So the hostess walked us to our table, inside. Gulp. As we followed her, people stared at our portable baby car seat, which we were doing our best to tote gracefully (ha, yeah right), along with the diaper bag, baby carrier and other infant paraphernalia. I mean, we were prepared for a day at the farm with a baby, you know? We packed all the tricks we had. I hoped we wouldn't be a nuisance to the other diners.

Thankfully, my dear boy Everett kept snoozing, so we excitedly ordered drinks and appetizers. I decided something: going to lunch is the perfect new date idea for me and Stevie, since going out to dinner is sort of not doable these days. But this! A perfectly beautiful, organically grown lunch on this divinely romantic farm? This is totally doable. We're doing it! We're having a lunch date and I even have makeup on. I mean, talk about starting to feel like a lady again.

You know where this story is going, right?

Suddenly, my baby whipped his head up and screeched with the might of an overly-crowded Sunday school nursery gang. He was UP. Again, the onlookers LOOKED. Oh geez. I could feel my face filling with hot redness. In one fell swoop, my hero of a husband scooped up my darling boy and exited the restaurant, attempting to soothe him along the way. Hm. What shall we do? What should I do? Well. I started eating Stevie's appetizer, obviously. Those fried green tomatoes are seriously prize winners. But then I decided to be the mom that apparently I am, so I grabbed my diaper bag and left the restaurant the same way I came, making sure to tell the hostess that my husband would be back to gather the rest of our items and pay the bill.

Why did I think we could do this yet? Our son is barely 8 weeks old.

Well, the experience was only slightly embarrassing. I got to the car, where Stevie was pacing with my howling progeny, and we realized that he had pooped on his adorable Polo onesie (serves me right for dressing him so pretentiously adorable). So we changed him and I climbed into the front seat to nurse him. Funny. I had never just sat in the parking lot of the Farmhouse. But it was still lovely. It really was. Birds flying overhead and butterflies prancing. My precious child finally calmed down and my precious husband brought me a boxed meal to-go. We laughed and decided to try round 2 at Serenbe.

Everett slept blissfully for the rest of the afternoon while we ate our boxed lunch outside on a bench. You know what? That fried chicken tasted just as delicious as it would have indoors. We walked around, enjoying the gorgeous greenery, marveling at the craftsmanship of the homes, and shopping just a bit. It was a perfect re-do. I keep using the word perfect, but that's because it truly felt that way. Just a simply sweet day with my two favorite boys.

// The loveliest homes in downtown Serenbe. //
// I bought a fox onesie here! To die for. //
// The Blue Eyed Daisy has the BEST chocolate chip cookies. They taste like cake. //
// I'm not gonna lie. It was a bit of an uphill battle. //
// He makes me so happy :) //
// My heart could possibly burst. //
// It's an Atlanta thing. If you haven't had King of Pops, you haven't quite lived. //
// Well, since you said it... //
Life with a newborn folks. You just kind of make your favorite old things work in a new context. And you also pack a lot of extra outfits.

September 16, 2014

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream.
It's mid-September. And yet summer lives on in the great state of Georgia. In case I haven't already mentioned it, Georgia is HOT in the summer. It's the kind of sweaty heat that thickens to a choke in your throat as you breathe, lending a sort of rainforest-y halo to the seemingly never-ending season. A constant beading of perspiration gathers on my forehead, coupled with a continuous longing for popscicles and ice cream and margaritas. Just to quench the weather. Now, I'm certainly not complaining, since I experienced a sinful amount of cold this past winter in Manhattan. However, This summer I was nine months pregnant in this sickly scorching heat, and I needed an outlet. In the form of a goooooood treat.

One of my favorite summer outings since relocating to Georgia once again has been taking little trips up to the truly delightful Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream, located in the White Provisions district of Atlanta. My bff Tricia introduced me to this lovely chain and I've been understandably obsessed ever since. Jeni's has all kinds of insanely delicious & super unique flavors, my favorites being the Brambleberry Crisp and Brown Butter Almond Brittle. In a waffle cone, of course. But Jeni's also offers a ton of yogurt and sorbet options, and you can buy by the pint to take home! Bless her. Jeni knows what a woman wants.

// The West Side. It's rising up. //
// That's one ridiculously happy preggo girl :) //
// Why is my BFF so cute?? //
// Oh, that's ice cream love. //

With summer lazily winding down, the ice cream cravings will soon turn to pumpkin pie and hot chocolate. Go get your Jeni's fix while you can still sit outside and feel the refreshment!

September 12, 2014

A Final Bumpdate.

//Top: 10 weeks, 13 weeks, 16 weeks // Middle: 17 weeks, 20 weeks, 22 weeks // Bottom: 22 weeks, 24 weeks, 31 weeks //
// Top: 26 weeks, 30 weeks, 34 weeks // Middle: 34 weeks, 35 weeks, 36 weeks // Bottom: 36 weeks, 37 weeks, 37.5 weeks //
A Final Bumpdate.
I can't believe my pregnancy journey is over. Everett has been on my mind every single day since I saw those two lines form on the test. And now? I'm fascinated looking back over these silly selfies. I'm amazed at how significantly my body changed to accommodate my sweet son. Suddenly being on the other side of this journey is so strange. One day, everything just reverses. The burgeoning belly expands until it, literally, pops, and then begins its descent back to "normal" (oh geez, what is a normal body after baby??)

Now, being in the throws of motherhood, it's easy to move on quickly from the pregnancy experience and dive headfirst into baby development. But today, I had to take a moment to reflect on the beautiful and absurd experience that is pregnancy. I'm finally able to feel truly proud of what my body created and nurtured for 9 months. And I feel an entirely new appreciation for the vocation of motherhood, and especially, my incredible mother.

What women do for their children is remarkable. It's so, so hard. And it's the most thankless kind of job. I mean, my 7-week old baby just doesn't wake up thanking me for the hard work. The diapering, feeding, cooing, singing, bouncing, and all the asinine attempts to comfort his sobbing. Perhaps one day? Yeah, I know, dream on. But it's been this experience that has caused me to go back to my own mother, thanking her profusely, finally realizing a teensy, tiny sliver of how selflessly she gave to me all those years... and how she is still doing it. Giving, advising, disciplining, helping, teaching, growing me. I feel so grateful, so incredibly indebted and a tiny bit ashamed of those past immature moments when I found myself angry with her, accused her of "not understanding". Was I so blind? I know now. I have been on her mind for my entire life, plus nine months before that.

Now I see why this motherhood thing is such a complex, all-encompassing, never-ever-ending journey. It's the deep end of the womanhood pool. It's an extension of the most challenging and life-giving experiences one can have. All my poignant milestones, those moments of victory & triumph, those challenging battles & overcoming mountains - they weren't just for my own gain. They're the foundation for my own babe to build upon. It's my responsibility to take the most powerful, strong parts of myself, lay them at the feet of my son, and simply say, "Take what's mine, go and be greater." Which is awfully hard to do, because I feel so inadequately prepared. So unready. But I'm finding that the most gracious & authentic way to approach this motherhood thing is to just. Come. Undone.

And I'm only 7 weeks in.

Now I have to go rescue my crying baby from, you guessed it, my own mother. Because she held him the entire time I processed and wrote this post this morning. GO THANK YOUR MOM TODAY. Because wow.

September 9, 2014

Dr. Bombay's Underwater Tea Party

Dr. Bombay's Underwater Tea Party.
The week I went into labor, I was feeling antsy.

I had this urge to go out and have lots of fun, because I knew that sooner or later this baby was coming and I would be home bound for a bit. But oh my. Those last few pregnant weeks were a challenge. I was huge. I was swollen. And in GEORGIA. Land of the sweltering, unforgiving humidity. Not to mention it was July. My word.

I got the fabulous idea to have one last girly hurrah and visit a much-talked-about tea parlor in the city. I dragged my mom and my sister downtown (okay, there wasn't much dragging, we all enjoy a good bout of fancifulness), and we found our way into Dr. Bombay's Underwater Tea Party. The name itself lends to all sorts of curiousness. Who's this doctor? Is he really from Bombay? And, what is meant by "underwater"?? Also, WHERE CAN I PUT MY FEET UP. Like I said, the mind can really wander.

We shuffled around the tiny shop and cheerfully breathed a sigh of relief when we found a few strewn-about chairs. We rearranged them across from each other at an indoor picnic table and were thankful we could actually sit together. This place seemed like a haven for the studious and the entrepreneurial. Everyone sitting in the shop was working on something, gaze intensely focused on their laptops. We were the only party who seemed to be there to, well, have a tea party. And so we did. Rather loudly.

We gleefully ordered the Caroline tea for two (and a few other delicacies) and split everything between the three of us. Not only were the tea, scones, quiche, brownies, CLOTTED CREAM and finger sandwiches an absolute delight, but enjoying the sweet company of these fine women absolutely capped off my final week of pregnancy. It was the perfect, priceless, princess-y kind of celebration. And while we never really got any of our questions answered (Dr. Bombay is still an underwater mystery), we did get to laugh and laugh and laugh until we just couldn't anymore. Little did I know that nine days later I would be in the throws of labor and very far removed from all that laughter and silliness. I'm thankful for this cherished memory and for discovering another gem in this familiar city.