February Pop Sugar Must Have Box Review

I’ve been a fan of subscription boxes since they came out. I love getting mail and when I started to get more bills than fun mail, I decided to try out subscription boxes. I started with BirchBox, which sends beauty samples, and then moved on to Julep when I rediscovered my high school love of nail polish. I stayed with Julep ($20 monthly) for two years, and then moved on to Ipsy ($10 monthly), though ultimately I left Ipsy rather quickly because I wasn’t thrilled with the samples I’d been getting. I had coveted the PopSugar MustHave Box from afar, but felt that $40 was too much a month per subscription box. I mean, that’s my whole gym budget! When I scored a generous Visa giftcard for Christmas, I decided instead of buying diapers or groceries that I would actually treat myself.

Lo and behold, a three month PopSugar must have subscription was mine. I started in December and have received my last subscription for February, but I will renew because it is AWESOME. Let’s take a look at what I got for February, shall we?

Here's the box all pristine and lovely.

Here’s the box all pristine and lovely.

Coconut Body Lotion, Athletic Socks, and $20 Giftcard = $43 value

Coconut Body Lotion, Athletic Socks, and $20 Giftcard = $43 value

FoodStirs Sugar Cookie Mix with Sprinkles and Cookie Cutter: $12 value

FoodStirs Sugar Cookie Mix with Sprinkles and Cookie Cutter: $12 value

$29 Sparkly Pave Endless Arrow Heart Ring

$29 Sparkly Pave Endless Arrow Heart Ring

CleanseBalm

Beauty Counter Cleansing Balm with Cloth and Spatula, $50

Tray

Hello Beautiful Trinket Tray, $14

Tilo 100% Modal Scarf, $125

Tilo 100% Modal Scarf, $125

So if you were counting, the value of this box is $273. Whaaaaaat?! Awesome. I love everything that came in this month’s box except for the coconut body lotion, but that’s just a personal preference because I’m not much of a lotion girl. My favorite thing is the scarf because it’s so soft and the print is adorable year ’round. The trinket tray is also handy, and who’s not going to like a glitzy ring?

I think what I like about this box is that it sums up the experience of going treasure hunting at my favorite store, TJ Maxx. It’s packed with things you don’t really *need*, but the kinds of things that make you smile and swoon just a little bit. While I don’t know if I can justify staying a member of this box forever when I have things like diapers to buy, I plan to stay on a bit longer. I’ve so far loved all three boxes I have received, and the occasional item that I don’t love, I pass on to a friend who will. Win win.

Want to know more? Look at the boxes I received in December and January, thanks to the people at My Subscription Addiction. If you decide you want to subscribe, use my referral link, because I’ll earn points and you’ll earn good karma. Happy Tuesday! <3

My personal experience with mental illness: when panic attacks

Mental illness. Two simple words so loaded with meaning. “She’s mental,” we said in high school, to describe someone who’s crazy. And illness, of course, meaning a sickness that takes over the body. When I think of mental illness, I think of the white jacketed men with butterfly nets and strait-jackets, of overblown images of someone in the throes of unmanaged schizophrenia. In reality, mental illness has a much more normal looking presence in many people’s lives, including my own.  In the past few years, mental illness has been showing up more and more in the media. When Robin Williams took his life, the nightmare of depression made headlines, having successfully stolen America’s favorite funny man. Now, his wife claims it wasn’t depression that took Robin Williams, but Parkinson’s. No matter the reason Robin Williams took his life, his death, for a moment, caused a glimmer of hope in a hurricane of sadness. In his passing, Robin held up a candle for everybody suffering with mental illness.

I have a personal history with mental illness, and though it’s big and scary to write something like this on the Internet, I’m quite open about it in person, so it’s time to share my story here. I have an anxiety disorder. Nowadays, people jokingly say they had a panic attack, meaning they got really worried when their boss called them into a meeting, or they lost their keys. Their fleeting few moments of stress is what pop-culture calls a panic attack, when in reality, a panic attack is a terrifying misfiring of the neurons and stress hormones in your brain. Have you ever had a real panic attack? If you have, I’m quite certain you don’t use that term for a mildly stressful situation. I was always a worried teen, fretting about getting in trouble or crashing the car. I had to be forced to learn how to drive because I had no interest in operating a giant machine capable of death, thank you very much. I felt stressed out a lot in high school but figured it was just my own pressure on myself to get good grades and be a “good kid”. Add a heaping dose of perfectionism and adolescent angst and you’ve got a recipe for panic.

WhenPanicAttacks

When I moved to Southern California for college, I rode my bike to class one day. I made it to class a few minutes late and rushed to the back of the room where there was only one seat left. I ran into the seat, embarrassed I was late, and sat down. Suddenly, I started to feel warm and dizzy, and began to lose my breath. The room started to spin and I felt like I was going to pass out. Every time I took a breath, I felt like a fish out of water gasping for air. I had an overwhelming urge to get out of the room, so I quickly fled. I sat in the bathroom for 15 minutes, sure that I was dying, embarrassed for having made a big show. I eventually pulled myself together and went back into class, where I apologized to the teacher afterwards, saying I thought I was going to throw up. I honestly thought I had maybe overheated on my bike ride or that my allergies were just acting up. It wasn’t until a few years later with repeated episodes like this that I finally read about symptoms of a panic attack and went “That’s ME! That’s what’s happening to me!”.  How did I know it was panic? Because every single attack was hallmarked by the uncontrollable urge to escape the situation I was in; a classic “fight or flight” reaction.

 

In 2013, I realized I was sick of my panic attacks interfering with my life. They’d hit me fast and hard, sometimes out of nowhere. I’d be in a meeting at work and have the familiar “can’t breathe” sensation, so I’d chug water or furiously scribble notes, trying to distract myself from thinking I’d soon pass out. I even had a panic attack one time while I was getting a massage. It was at this point that I decided I needed help. I went to a therapist, and found that I was indeed suffering from panic attacks, mixed in with a nice dose of generalized anxiety, which is categorized as irrational fear or worry about everyday situations. I worry about big, traumatic things like people I love dying, and less about stuff like “Does this person like me?”, but sometimes, I can’t get my brain to stop swirling with overwhelming scenarios.  Flash forward three years, and while I still get the occasional panic attack, I know how to manage them, and because of this, they show up less frequently. I have treated myself both with medication and without, have read countless books, and have all kinds of strategies for soothing an oncoming attack or a barrage of yucky “What if?” questions.

For years, I hid this diagnosis from my family and friends, ashamed that I couldn’t just pull myself together or get over it, convinced I was weak and crazy. Well-meaning but uneducated people would tell me to just “relax”, as if smelling a sprig of Lavender would magically unbundle the tense knots of adrenaline in my brain . Guess what? If you have anxiety, and I mean REAL ANXIETY, essential oils are not going to snap you out of it. Just like they can’t cure cancer.

Why am I talking about this today? Because a three-star Michelin chef took his life. Because at my post-partum checkup last month, my OB never thought to ask how I was feeling, even though I’m high risk for postpartum depression or anxiety because I have a preexisting mental health condition. (I feel great, thankfully, but I’m angry that I wasn’t even asked, when science has now proven that PPD is strongly linked to dramatic hormonal shifts.) Because three of my closest female friends struggle with depression and are ashamed to seek help because they’re embarrassed. Because I just read that two high school girls in Plano, Texas killed themselves an hour apart, each of them secretly struggling with depression and anxiety. People who knew them quoted that they didn’t “seem depressed” at all. A few times when I have confided in people about my panic disorder, they tell me I seem “so calm”. I’m fortunate that I’m able to manage my disorder enough to live a normal life, but we never know what somebody is going through until we walk a mile in their shoes. We all know somebody who took their life because they couldn’t or didn’t seek help. It’s time to change that.

I’m sharing this because when I was first diagnosed, I didn’t know anyone else who had panic attacks. The more I opened up, the more I found how many people experienced the same things I did. In addition, it was bloggers who made me feel less ashamed about getting treatment. In the spirit of passing it on, if sharing my story encourages just one person to get help for something they’re struggling with, then it’s worth it.

We need to talk about mental health the way we talk about physical health. I am not broken. My body is not broken. It’s just different, a little overcharged, and that’s okay. The important thing is that I keep trying, that I continually work on my mental health the way we work on our physical health by going to the gym or eating well. I go to therapy twice a month, even if I feel great, because I know that my brain is just like any other muscle in my body, and it too needs to be worked. There is nothing to be ashamed of, and even though it feels like I’m screaming to the world that I’m “screwed up”, what I’m really doing is joining the ranks of millions of men and women who suffer silently with an anxiety disorder, depression, or some other mental illness that affects them in many, many ways.

Please, please, please — if you are struggling with your mental health, get help. It’s hard to admit to yourself that you need some support, but it’s worth it. You are not broken. You are not crazy. You are worth the time and effort to feel better, and one day, you will.

Alyssa’s Top 5 New Mom Baby Registry Must Haves – Part 2

NewMomMustHaves

Hi everyone! I got some good feedback on Part 1 of this post, so I wanted to continue on with some valuable things that have gotten us through month two. Pass this on to your pregger friends, or keep it in mind for when you’re combing through somebody’s baby registry. Some of it isn’t cute but it is necessary!

  1. Rock N’ Play

Magical, this is. Magical! It’s like a baby sized hammock with a soft pillow and it vibrates. You can rock it with your foot, or if you’re industrious and want to shower, you can pull it into the bathroom. Holly naps like gangbusters in this thing, and it’s lightweight enough that you can move it around the house easily. It’s also been our travel item of choice, because once you arrive at your destination, it’s a great mini crib for the kiddo. I’ll definitely be buying this for friends that register for it!

2. Mustela Shampoo

Holly was blessed with my sensitive skin, (note my sarcasm) so we’ve been through many baby washes trying to find out that doesn’t dry out her velvety epidermis. We received a sample of this in our hospital goodie bag, and while it’s pricey ($16 for a big bottle), it’s worth it. It has a strong scent that I personally like, but one Amazon reviewer said it smells like a “grandmother’s perfume”. This shampoo and skin care line is made for babies prone to excezema, with dry skin, or cradle cap. Works great for us!

3. Chicco KeyFit 30

When I was registering, I was panicked about what kind of car seat to get. All of the reviews I read just made my decision more confusing, so I turned to my mommy friend Lindsay, who suggested the Chicco KeyFit 30. This thing is incredibly easy to install and literally clicks in with two loud snaps. It’s secure, snug, and comes in cute prints. It’s also the number one rated car seat in America, and it earned even more points after a friend and I met for a mommy date and she wanted to re-install the base. We were able to figure out via just the diagram on the seat. Easy to assemble and protects your most precious cargo? Boom. Sold.

4) Burt’s Bees Bibs

We have lots and lots of bibs, because we have a baby who spills lots and lots of milk out of her mouth when she takes a bottle. These bibs are easy to put over the baby’s head, made of super snuggly, absorbent cotton, and have a terry backing. I always reach for these when I’m looking for a bib. Hint: I found a pack at TJ Maxx for $7.99, so you can find them reduced in discount stores.

5) Little Remedies Gripe Water

This isn’t cute, but heavens to bitsy is it useful. You know how sometimes you’re just in a bad mood? And you’re a big fat grump? Well, babies get like that too. Gripe water is like a holistic feel better serum, made with ginger and fennel, that soothes colic, crying, and hiccups. Whenever Holly gets the grumpalumpies, we give her a dose of Gripe Water, and usually, whatever ails her is soothed a few minutes later. Miracle stuff!

That’s all have this time around. What am I missing? Share your new baby or parent must haves!

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Holly’s Birth Story

Hi y’all! I wrote this a week after I gave birth and while it’s deeply personal, I’ve shared it with close friends. They have encouraged me to blog it and after some deliberation I decided I wanted to share it here with you. As a warning, if descriptions of pain, female bodily functions, or the F word offend you, move along, pardner. Enjoy!

On Sunday, November 8, I was in a rotten mood. People kept calling me and texting me and Facebook messaging me to check in, and while I know intentions are always good, when you’re 39+3 days pregnant, you just want to be like “LEAVE ME ALONE, NO, THE BABY IS NOT HERE YET, YOU WILL KNOW WHEN SHE IS.” Also not helpful? People’s “advice” on how to get the baby to come. Guess what? She’ll arrive when she wants to. I slept in until 11 am that day, and then after I had breakfast, I was so exhausted I napped from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Matt and I putzed around the house, and then because I was feeling stir-crazy, I asked if he’d take me to Nordstrom Rack because there was an additional 25% off clearance sale and we had gift cards from Christmas last year. We went to Nordstrom Rack where I bought some random stuff I didn’t really need; a headband, some hair ties, and some new Haviana flip flops. We got home and I was feeling crummy so I headed to bed around 10:30 p.m.  I woke up at 12 a.m. and felt worse, so I wondered if I was hungry and ate three pineapple spears. Pineapple induces labor, you know! I guess in my case I can say it worked.

I was up more than usual to pee that night because the pressure on my bladder was insane. I think I woke up like four times to pee, and I felt restless, unable to sleep well because I was antsy. Little did I know my time was quickly approaching! At 6:00 a.m. I was awakened by strong cramping. I lazily stayed in bed another 15 minutes until I had another painful cramp. I decided to get up to use the bathroom and once I sat up I immediately felt a gush, then another one, then another one. I cautiously debated – was this pee or did my water break? Pregnant women don’t always have the best bladder control. I shifted in bed a bit and decided this was not pee, and softly said to my sleeping husband, “Guess what Matthew? We’re having a baby.”

I headed into the bathroom where I confirmed it was definitely not pee, and then I got into the shower. I shaved my legs (and noted that one of my legs was shaking uncontrollably), took a nice time exfoliating my face, and let the hot water massage my back. When I got out of the shower I decided on wearing my hair in pigtail braids, and I remember asking Matt if I had time to remove my nail polish (I wasn’t happy with the manicure I had given myself a few days earlier. Ha!). He said probably not and I went to get dressed. I had my “last meal” of Special K Red Berries (my fav cereal!)and a protein drink (you can’t eat during labor just in case you need an emergency C-Section). About an hour after my water started to break, we got into the car and headed to the hospital. We had a garbage bag and old towel set down in the seat. Matt dropped me off in front and I stood and waited at the check in desk, feeling remarkably calm and excited. Even the volunteers were like “You’re so calm!”  Matt brought in the suitcases and we headed up to Labor and Delivery.

I got into my ugly green gown and got into bed. The nurse, Michelle, was a lovely woman from Pittsburgh. They took my blood pressures and no big surprise, they were running high (148/90). Because I was Group B Strep Positive, I knew I would need two four hour sets of antibiotics intravenously before delivery, so my IV was set up and the fluids started going. I don’t really mind needles, so getting the IV placed was honestly no big deal. The worst part was having to shepherd the damn IV stand to the bathroom each time I needed to pee. I asked the nurse when I’d get checked for progress, and she said because my water had broken, they try and refrain from checking because bacteria can be introduced to the womb. My doctor instructed that they start me on Pitocin to help me dilate.  Matt made the calls to the family to let them know to be on their way because hook or by crook, Holly was coming!

The first four hours of Pitocin were a breeze. I was having contractions about 10 minutes apart, and while they weren’t comfortable, I could breathe through them. Michelle told me that I’d know when true labor begun because the contractions would become much more uncomfortable. All of a sudden my contractions felt like they went from bearable to “Holy fuck what the fuck is that pain in my body?!”, and I was asking Matt to squeeze my hand to help me count through them.  I remember our nurse coming in, seeing Matt and I together and saying, “Oh yes, labor has begun.” I swigged one more small cranberry juice (Matt was leery but consented to me doing it), and I asked if he’d let me cheat and eat something (he said no). At this point I asked for the epidural and they turned off the Pitocin until it was placed. My birth plan all along had basically been one word: drugs. I’m an advocate of better living through chemistry, and while I respect those who choose to have an un-medicated birth, that was not my desire at all. The anesthesiologist came in about 20 minutes later and I remember them asking Matt to come sit in front of me, because several husbands had recently passed out from seeing the needle placed in the spine. I sat on the edge of the bed, had numbing agent put in my spine, felt gentle pressure and fiddling, and that was it. I think I was so relieved the Pitocin was turned off that a snake could have sunk its fangs into my cheek and I would have been like, “Ok, cool, that doesn’t hurt.”

The epidural took about 15 minutes to kick in, and while initially I had some anxiety that I wouldn’t be able to feel my legs, I was quite delighted when a warm, toasty sensation spread through my lower body. I could still very much wiggle my toes and feet. They placed a catheter in me, which again, was not enjoyable, but fine, and then they turned the Pitocin back on and left the room so Matt and I could relax. We dimmed the lights and turned on the Smoke Fairies, some very calming folk music. I remember saying several times that an epidural was a joyous thing.  I honestly had the relaxed sensation of sitting by a fireplace loving the cozy feelings in my lower body. I tried to sleep but couldn’t with all of the hospital noises, so I just vegged out in my bed, chatting with Matt and the nurses. I had no desire at all to be on my cell phone or social media and was quite enjoying my little cocoon of solitude.

Cozy and toasty and drugged up in the hospital bed.

Cozy and toasty and drugged up in the hospital bed.

At about 3:00 p.m. they checked my progress (I was shocked how fast the day was going), and my cervix had dilated to a 5.  They pumped up the Pitocin, and I remember pressing my “quick hit” of pain relief on the epidural a few more times as the contractions grew closer and closer together. The weird thing about contractions on the epidural is at this point they were more pressure than pain. I had some nausea, so I was given Zofran, which is an anti-emetic that they give to chemotherapy patients.

Around 7:00 p.m., my parents arrived. I remember asking them to get me a baked potato when they came back later in the night to meet Holly, because at this point after 14 hours of labor with no food or drink, I was damn hungry, and some carbs with butter sounded AMAZING! The good doctor came in, juiced up my epidural again, and five minutes later; I felt intense nausea and threw up three times all over myself and my hospital gown. I remember feeling instant relief and then thinking, wow, this must be some bad nausea since I’m on prescription anti-nausea med and still upchucked! Now I remember that nausea means labor is very close, since that’s the transitional phase of labor. My parents decided to head out at this point and they went back to our house, where my Dad apparently slept on our couch and my mom anxiously tried to watch TV.

At 8:00 I was fully dilated and it was time to push! I got lucky because my night nurse was Jami, an awesome chick I had met at one of my non-stress tests and really liked. Jami showed me how to count through the contractions – one deep breath in, then hold it for a count of 10, and do that three times.  I remember at that point I was feeling really tired and hungry, and pissed that I had to essentially do the most physical thing I’d ever done with no fuel in my body (even harder than walking 60 miles in one weekend!). I begged Matt to sneak me some sips of his Coke in-between pushing and the nurse leaving the room, and he did, bless his heart.  After about an hour of pushing, I was in a lot of pain again, and they asked the anesthesiologist to come back and juice up my epidural again. I had started to feel a sharp sensation in my left butt cheek and lower leg, so I was paranoid it was wearing off – which apparently cannot happen, just labor pain becomes more severe so you need a higher dose of drugs.

I pushed for another hour and at this point the fatigue was really starting to wear me down. According to Matt, I was very calm through out my labor, and only let out a good “Fuck!” once. I remember feeling very lazy and wanting to cut down the number of pushes per contraction to two instead of three, and almost proposed it to the nurse, but I knew that might delay my progress. The nurse brought over a mirror so I could see Holly’s head, and that was really cool to know she was right there!

After two hours of pushing, the doctor was called in, and they started bringing in a table with tools on it. I knew I had to be getting close. At this point it was 11 p.m., and I was starting to get really grumpy and irritated that my 6:00 a.m. start of labor was still not over. The contractions were about every minute now, and while the Doctor chatted with the nurse about Dancing with the Stars, I kept breathing through the contractions and pushing. I remember feeling slightly annoyed that, HELLO, I WAS TRYING TO HAVE A BABY, and you’re talking about normal life stuff?! Of course now this just goes to show how delivering a baby is just another day’s work for doctors, because they’re chillin’ while women are squeezing watermelons out of lemons in their faces. It was around two hours and 30 minutes of pushing that I told the doctor I wanted a C-Section because I couldn’t do it anymore. Her response? “You’re the only one who can do it, because I can’t push the baby back up inside of you!” I accepted this fate and wearily continued pushing.

I knew at this point that it was do or die (no, not literally) and I needed to muster up every ounce of strength I had in my exhausted body to get this baby out. My forehead was covered in sweat, and I could feel my legs trembling with each push. I would bear down and the last three seconds of a push, I tried to imagine my legs pushing the stirrups off the bed as hard as I could. I was groaning pretty heavily at this point and had reached an ultimate focus and concentration. Finally, I felt the baby’s head push through me, lower, and as the doctor, Jami and Matt cheered me on and encouraged me, I heard the doctor say excitedly “That’s it! That’s it! That’s it! KEEP GOING!”

I pushed with all my might, quite sure that I would push off the lower half of my body, and in one beautiful, miraculous instant, I felt Holly slide out. “Look down!”, the doctor excitedly shouted, and then I saw my wrinkled, cheesy, tiny baby being held up towards me – a miracle of an infant that listened to my heart beat for nine long months.

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They pulled my gown down, placed her on my chest, and I burst into tears, exclaiming that she was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. People had told me there would be no feeling like seeing and meeting your baby for the first time, and they were right. Even though I had never seen her, I felt like I knew her. Holly suckled at my breast for a few moments and then as the nurse listened to her heart, they whisked her away to the warmer. The pediatrician and NICU staff on call rushed in, and all of a sudden, she had an oxygen mask on, and a tube placed down her lungs to clear her throat. I was being stitched internally and suddenly I had no interest in anything going on with me – I only wanted to make sure my baby was ok. After about ten agonizing minutes, Holly’s heartbeat stabilized and she was breathing normally, back to her rosy pink color. The doctors think the long labor, epidural, and three hours of pushing shell-shocked her in the womb, and when she came out to bright lights and noises, she essentially passed out.

I had also requested to see my placenta, and as expected, I was horrified at how big and nasty it was, but also impressed that my body grew that thing that grew my baby. (We have a picture of it for the curious souls. I left it out of here as a courtesy. You’re welcome.)

After all this, Matt and I got to spend a blissful hour with our new baby, holding her, loving her, and being amazed that two people created such an innocent, miraculous, beautiful little being. Happy birthday, Holly!

 

Alyssa’s 5 New Mom Must Haves For First Weeks With Baby

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Photo by LynnetteJoyPhotography.com

Having a baby is super fun, because not only are you obviously excited about the joy of having your little one earthside, you get to stroll the aisles of stores with impossibly itty bitty versions of human clothes, like little socks that make you turn into a giggling, cooing, baby-like version of yourself. We were incredibly blessed to have several baby showers, and we received TONS of stuff that has made our arrival into parenthood just a bit easier. However! As massive life changes are, you can never be 100% prepared, and we found our Amazon account burgeoning with frantic middle of the night purchases (thank you, same day shipping.) As I have several friends due to deliver in the next few months, I wanted to share some things that got us through the first few weeks and are still going strong after month one. This could be helpful as well if you’re picking out baby shower gifts, etc. In full disclosure these are affiliate links, so if you happen to click or buy something, I’ll make a few pennies and go buy myself a Porsche. Or not. 😉

  1.  The Breast Friend Nursing Pillow

Breastfeeding has been tough. I naively didn’t do much research on the subject, assuming once baby arrived she’d open her mouth and milk would flow freely. Not so much, especially when you have a few hormonal disorders that make milk production challenging. This pillow was recommended to me by my friend who’s also a new mom, and it is WORTH EVERY PENNY. It clips around your waist, essentially providing a table top for baby to rest on that’s perfectly aligned with your chestal region. We even use it when bottle-feeding, and Dad likes to use it too. It comes in all kinds of cute colors and designs and has a machine washable cover because babies and boobies are messy.

2. Motherlove More Milk Special Blend

As I mentioned, my PCOS and thyroid conditions mean the dairy fairy isn’t visiting as often as I would like. I am meeting regularly with a lactation consultant, and she started me on this herbal blend to help make more milk. It works! It tastes yucky, so dilute it with a shot glass of cranberry juice (fun to shoot in front of unsuspecting visitors who look on horrified, wondering if new motherhood really IS going as well as you say), or you can order the pill version. There’s all kinds of things you can try to help you make more milk like Mother’s Milk Tea or Lactation Cookies, but this stuff does a pretty good job and is quick n’ easy.

3. Aden and Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets

Before I was initiated into the cult of motherhood, I scoffed at the price tag on these. Sure, I thought, they’re soft and trendy and have cute prints, but what’s the big deal? Well, here’s the big deal. They honestly get softer with every wash, and once you’ve mastered the art of the swaddle, you’ll learn that it’s an ancient magical technique that turns your wriggling, screaming baby into a marshmallow of soft contentedness. We have eight of these and they’re in constant rotation of use in our house, as the material stretches enough to not squeeze baby like a boa constrictor, but it keeps them wrapped up like cooing little mummies. LOVE them – 1,400 awesome Amazon reviews don’t lie.

4) Bath Sponge

We had several bathing contraptions for the bambina, ranging from a fancy sling with multiple upright positions to a miniature bath tub, to a spongy ring with a built in pillow and straps. Well, every single one of those has been ixnayed in favor of a plain old sponge, baby sized. For a mere $7, you can stick this thing in the sink or bring it into the bath tub with you and baby. It’s just cushy enough to hold up their little bums, but light enough for you to float them gently down the river of your bathtub in your hands like a raft.  You can get these at any baby store (ours is actually whale shaped and was $6 from Buy Buy Baby). I’m sure we’ll use the fancy bathing contraptions when she’s bigger, but for now, the sponge is the way to go.

5) Gowns

I have learned in the short month I’ve been a parent that onesies with snaps are the devil when it’s 3:00 a.m. and you’re trying to dress a screaming baby. It’s all about zippers down one leg, or even better, the baby gown. We had two of these on hand and in the first week of Holly’s life, ordered four more. These are super easy to put baby in, and to just pull up to change diapers. They also have the rollover cuff so if you have a baby scissorhands, they can’t scratch their darling little face (we have a baby scissorhands.) Worth it. Get a few! Also, who doesn’t look darling in a miniature night gown?

So that’s that! Honorable mentions go to Gas Drops and Gripe Water for fussiness, the Munchkin Latch bottle (doesn’t leak nearly as much as others and helps our girl switch easily between bottle and breast),  connecting rings for baby hands to grasp, the Baby Bjorn WE Carrier (she’s in it and nuzzled against me as I type!), and the Simple Wishes L-Plus Hands Free Pumping Bra.

Looking for other recommendations and insight? These two bloggers helped me out a lot on my pregnancy journey: KJPugs and What I Run Into. Every baby and parent is different, but I hope this helps some of you out as my fellow bloggers helped me!

Till next time — got any must haves to share with me? Let me know in the comments!

 

She’s here! A bundle of joy

Hello everyone!

I am back and overjoyed to announce the arrival of our daughter Holly on 11/9/15 at 11:45 p.m. Holly weighed 7 pounds, 5 ounces and was 19.5 inches tall. It was a long 17-hour labor but there were no complications and both Holly, me, and her daddy are happy and healthy!

40weeks

I plan to take it easy on the blogging front for my maternity leave through January but I may pop in here and there with some random ideas (for instance, some of my friends have requested a top 5 things you need in the first few weeks with baby. That sounds fun!).

I hope you all have a holly jolly holiday season <3

 

 

Week 38 Bumpdate

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How far along? 38 + 3
Baby’s Size: A ukelele or large bundle of Swiss chard
Weight Gain: 20 pounds, give or take. I can’t say I’m surprised given that my appetite is that of an Olympic athlete lately… and we know baby girl is a cool seven pounds six ounces! 🙂 I’m trying not to stress about it, but I don’t love seeing the numbers point north… however, I haven’t been able to do much activity and I’m definitely enjoying giving in to my cravings. As someone who’s pretty much always on a diet, it’s been a refreshing change to live my life going, yes, you know what? I WILL have that thing I’m craving. I know this time is coming to a close so I’m enjoying it now while I can (and while my belly gets too full to do any major damage!).
Maternity clothes? Yes indeed! Anything non maternity has my belly popping out.
Best moment this week: Matt and I have been enjoying our last few weekends as just Matt and Alyssa, and we’ve made it a point to go eat at some of our favorite restaurants. We had a date where we went to the Local Peasant, an awesome bar and gastropub, and then out to see Steve Jobs (my review? eh). We also had Thai food at a friend’s house. I don’t have a ton of energy these days so when I do get out and about it’s always a good time! Also, seeing little girl on ultrasound again for our final growth scan, and having triple confirmation that she’s right on track and doing great. We even got to see that she has a little bit of hair (all that heartburn isn’t in vain).

My mom also took some awesome maternity photos of us and I love them!

lynnette joy photography petaluma photographer maternity portraits

Photo by Lynnette Joy Photography

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It’s also been fun to be obviously pregnant and see random strangers smile at my belly or say nice things. I think because I’m rubenesque, it took awhile for people to decide if I was pregnant or just… erm… fluffier, so now that I have a legit baby bump, the public is more responsive about me being with child. This is a double edged sword of course, because I don’t love the “Is it twins?” comment or the “You’re ready to pop! You’re huge!”,  but the other day a little old British lady said “Aren’t you just lovely! Hang in there, dear!”. It was very comforting and kind.

Miss anything?

  • Sleeping on my stomach. I’m not going to take this bullet point off  this list ever. (Yup. Keeping this one on the list.)
  • Not being in pain. My pelvis feels a lot better thanks to Chiropractic care, but this week I got diagnosed with pregnancy gout (wtf?!) in my toe. This is a weird one to me because it’s a flare up that most people who eat dark organ meats get and I definitely don’t do that… and I eat very little meat in general! My OB said she’s never had a patient get it before, so as usual there’s me doin’ pregnancy my own weird way… I’m also just achy and swollen and my lower back is definitely feeling the strain of carrying around our bambina, and when your toe is searing hot/swollen, that adds another layer of discomfort.
  • I actually miss exercise still!
  • Not being a ticking time bomb. Family gets really excited when I call, thinking that I’m going to tell them I’m in labor.. and then I burst their bubble and am like “No… just a regular phone call”. Haha. Every time I see my neighbors they’re also like “Oh… you’re still pregnant?” Yes, yes, I am. I can tell too that people are starting to do the vague text like “Oh hey, how are things?!”. Comes with the territory!

Movement: Like crazy! Sometimes I feel like she’s kicking trying to figure out if she can bust out of my belly. She also dislikes going to the twice-weekly non-stress tests we have to do, because she kicked the monitor off my belly again this week. Love my little rebelista.
Food cravings:  Let’s see: I craved Mexican food today, so I got my favorite beef enchiladas with a fried egg on top from Los Toros. I also craved street tacos (just asada, tomatillo salsa, cilantro, and onion) from our favorite taco truck, chocolate milk, gummy bears, and salad.
Anything making you queasy or sick: Nope. Amazing! Life is much better without barfing.
Gender:  Girl!
Labor signs: I definitely feel like I’m brewing and getting closer. We’ll see what doc says next week!
Symptoms: Back pain, gout in my toe, nasal congestion, achy, crabby, but sleeping like a champ.
Happy or moody most of the time: I’m crabby because I don’t feel good, and poor Matt has been so patient and calm with me with all my moaning. I have a pretty high pain tolerance but that doesn’t mean I don’t crab about it, haha. However, the excitement level for this little lady to get here is getting pretty insane — I can’t wait to see her cute little belly and stroke her head and hold her in my arms!

However, despite being a cranky crab, I feel happy and mentally as “ready” as one can be. Pregnancy has been a rough ride for me but I’m grateful I’ve had the chance to experience it, and so happy our little bee has made it to full-term.

Shirts by my sister - click the link for her Etsy store!

Shirts by my sister – click the link for her Etsy store!

Looking forward to:

  • having a baby!
  • Also, Thanksgiving and Christmas will have a whole new perspective with a bambina in our lives. I bought her a personalized stocking and I pretty much die of cuteness every time I see it.
  • Using this adorable room. Here’s a sneak peek- I love the way our nursery came out! (And yes, baby girl’s name starts with an H. A lot of people know her name already, but I’ll wait to share a photo on the blog to reveal her full name.) I made that hanging H and feel pretty proud for channeling some craftiness. 12170644_10101489987445316_1771524049_n

Okay folks, I’m outta here! Will this be my last bumpdate? Who knows?! Hope you all are doing well!

 

Week 35 Bumpdate

It’s almost tiiiiiime! I have less than 4 weeks to go! (Assuming baby girl is on time, because come Nov. 13 she will receive a legally binding eviction notice!)

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How far along? 35 + 3
Baby’s Size: A large lop-earred rabbit or large bunch of carrots from leafy stems to carrot bottom.
Weight Gain: I appear to be one of those people who doesn’t gain, doesn’t gain, doesn’t gain… and then BOOM! Weight gain! I’m going between 12-18 pounds gained at this point depending on time of day and how much I’ve been eating. Baby girl now packs on at least 1/2 pound per week. While the weight gain freaks me out, my OB has assured me it’s normal and she’s not concerned.
Maternity clothes? The only thing I can wear!
Best moment this week: I am now doing twice weekly non-stress tests as a precaution because I have what’s called white coat hypertension – when my blood pressure gets taken at the doctor, it’s always high. Even just 15-20 mins later it usually comes down substantially. However, because of my weight, PCOS, and the fact that I’m having low blood pressure episodes, I’m a higher risk for developing pre-eclampsia. Twice a week I go to Labor and Delivery to have babe’s heart rate and activity monitored and my BP. The first NST, I was a  nervous wreck and my BP’s were predictably high. The second one on Thursday was awesome, because not only did my little girl prove her strength by kicking the monitor off my belly, but my blood pressures were picture perfect. That made me feel a lot more confident about hopefully making it through the remaining weeks of gestation a-okay. It’s also neat to talk to all the L&D nurses and get to know them, knowing that several of them will be helping bring baby girl into the world in just a few short weeks.

Feeling happy at Labor and Delivery with excellent blood pressures and a wiggly baby

Feeling happy at Labor and Delivery with excellent blood pressures and a wiggly baby

Honorary mention to another best moment being my first chiropractic adjustment. I’ve been having pretty intense pelvic girdle pain (in your last few weeks of pregnancy, hormones loosen the joints of pelvis, hips, and groin), and a visit with a highly recommended on Yelp doc meant after several pops and cracks later, my pelvis, which had popped completely out of alignment (yuck), was back in, and I could walk like a 30-year-old instead of a 90-year-old. I go back this week and am so grateful there’s relief, because not being able to walk definitely sucks. Add it to the list of things pregnancy makes me grateful for: mobility.

Another honorary mention goes to a brunch my local coworkers took me to on Friday. I work with really incredible people, and it was so sweet of them to get together and shower me and baby girl with a little love. Since we all work remote we don’t get to see each other often, so when we do it’s always lots of fun catching up. With some other coworkers, they all pitched in on a giftcard which will be hugely helpful for us in the coming weeks. I was so lucky to be showered with so much love all around this pregnancy! Our baby girl has pretty much everything she needs, and we’re so grateful for that.

Miss anything?

  • Sleeping on my stomach. I’m not going to take this bullet point off  this list ever.
  • Still going outside. The past few days have been record breaking heat for Southern California and yesterday clocked in at 104 degrees where I live. I’m not asking for much, weather gods, I just want to be able to take a walk without feeling like an egg melting on a Hibachi. We’re still expecting mid-90s to high 80s by the end of the week. I signed up for a Fall baby, not a hellacious heat Summer baby. Next pregnancy I’m moving to Antarctica.
  • Exercise. I can’t ride my Pedego anymore because of the pelvic joint pain (bummer), and the heat. I am looking forward to walking outside with the baby and once I’m cleared by doc, getting back into shape.

Movement: Some days she’s wild, some days she’s lazy.
Food cravings:  Grapes continue to be a thing, and this week, I craved vegetable tempura, street tacos, and apples. I want to eat all the things all the time! I also craved split pea soup which I made in the crockpot, and then I made Knedlicky and Zeli, which is a Czech dish of saurkraut, potatoes, dumplings, and pork. Deeeeeelish!
Anything making you queasy or sick: No. It is glorious!
Gender:  Girl!
Labor signs: Nope.
Symptoms: Pelvic girdle pain, back pain, the waddle, and being hot. I’m actually sleeping pretty darn good.
Happy or moody most of the time: Happy. I am feeling so much better than I did in my second trimester (again – weird….) And while the physical aches of the third tri are rough, I’m so excited to meet baby! However, I am getting sick of people’s comments about my size (I’m either “huge and ready to pop”, or “too small” for 9 months pregnant.) I don’t think it’s fair that at a time when a woman’s body is clearly changing drastically, it gives people a free pass to comment with all of their observations. Hint: Telling a woman she looks huge is NEVER a compliment.
Looking forward to: Cooler weather, seeing my parents this weekend and hopefully doing maternity portraits (if it’s cool enough), continuing to check off the days until she’s here, and finishing our nursery. We’ve gotten so much done and now it’s the fun phase of decorative accents, which I love doing. I’ve been trolling TJ Maxx for treasures and hope to share photos in the next week or so.

32 Week Baby Bump Date

32 weeks?! What? Who? How? That’s kind of how I’ve been feeling lately, except I feel VERY pregnant. Like, no joke. Like, I’ve been pregnant forever. I was cooking dinner tonight and I snuck a sip of Matt’s wine and I swear the sky opened up and the angels sang… and then the pregnancy gods decided to punish me, because I went for another little sip and it went down the wrong pipe, and I spent the next ten minutes sputtering as I sheepishly continued to dice zucchini. No wine for you, prego.

I’ve been quiet on blogs and social media because #tired. And, as most of you know, I work in social media and while I absolutely adore what I do, honestly, sometimes my eyes just want a break from screen time in the evenings and weekends. But, I have lots to tell you, so let the 32 week bump date commence!

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How far along? 32 +5 which means I’m just two days away from 33 weeks. Hot diggity.
Baby’s Size: A naked tailed armadillo, Florida pomelo, or head of lettuce, depending on which app you go by. Pretty sure none of those things are the same size… so baby is about four pounds and 19 inches.
Weight Gain: Well, it finally caught up with me. At my last appointment I had put on 6 pounds and got a bit of the eyebrow raise from my OB. However, I’ve been cleaning up my act the past few weeks and am thrilled to be able to eat again without vomiting, so I’ll take it. That’s 6 pounds at 32 weeks. I’ll take it!
Maternity clothes? All day every day. If it doesn’t have stretch to it, it’s not anywhere on me.
Best moment this week: We’re in full on nesting mode after having baby showers, and I am continually humbled and grateful for how freakin’ generous our friends and family are. We have so. much. stuff. and it’s overflowing in our humble abode. This weekend we’re hoping to finally set up our crib and baby dresser, and once that’s up, it’s time for the fun stuff (DECOR!). One of my friends also gave birth last week , and a fellow blogger friend also had her baby (Welcome to the world, sweet William and Delaney!).

Miss anything?

  • Sleeping on my stomach. I’m not going to take this bullet point off  this list ever.
  • Being able to get up or flop on the couch with abandon. When you have a massive, bulbous abdomen, you totally move slower, more deliberately, and more painfully.
  • Wine. Salami. The ability to pop an Excedrin (or two) when you have a wicked headache. Pants with buttons. Uninterrupted sleep. Getting out of the bathtub without feeling like I need a complex system of levers and pulleys to hoist me out.
  • Going outside. It’s consistently been in the hundreds here and my OB asked me to stay indoors because of my blood pressure (more about that in next bullet).
  • Not worrying about baby’s health as much. My blood pressure is a weird devil, and I’ve been having low blood pressure episodes which make me dizzy. In the past I’ve had high blood pressure, but never needed medication or anything like that. Well, my OB decided at my last appointment because of my track record this pregnancy (even though my blood pressure was great!) that she wanted me to do twice-weekly non-stress tests at 34 weeks. Regardless of them being called “non-stress tests”, of course I stressed out, thinking “WHYYYYYYY? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!”. It means my OB is conservative, as she said, and it’s just two more chances each week to make sure mommy and baby are healthy. But man. Pregnancy. All the feels.

Movement: This girl is hilarious and definitely knows when the kitty is lying on me or when live music is playing. We captured a video of the little lady moving her leg to Matt playing the guitar and I thought it was sooo cool. I mean.. that’s a frickin baby leg, in my belly. Crazy!
Food cravings:  Grapes, as usual, milk, as usual, and tonight I had to have a homemade veggie primavera pasta.
Anything making you queasy or sick: This week the smell of black beans made me feel gaggy, and then walking by the fish section in the market (as usual) turned my stomach. But! I have not thrown up in over two weeks… great success in my book!
Gender:  Girl!
Labor signs: Uh, I hope none, though some of the lower back pain and achiness this week makes me paranoid.
Symptoms: Less nausea (praise God or Allah or Flying Spaghetti Monster), lower back pain, cramping, wanting to eat ALL THE THINGS, hot all the time.
Happy or moody most of the time: Other than being a cranky crabby patty because I feel icky, mostly happy. Getting so excited to meet the little lady. I was in Sears the other day and got ridiculously excited thinking about taking her shopping!
Looking forward to: Finalizing our day care plans for February (you have to do it crazy early here), finalizing our pediatrician (another thing you have to do before birth!), getting the nursery set up and washing and putting away adorable baby clothes like the onesie below, celebrating hubby’s birthday.

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So that’s it, everyone! Hope life has been treating you well 🙂

Week 29 Bump Date

Hold the phone… see that? 29 weeks?! I’m one away from 30! *dance* Can’t believe I’m already a few weeks into my third trimester!

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How far along? 29.5 weeks. Holla!
Baby’s Size: A Barbie Car (ha!) or a Pineapple – one of my favorite fruits!
Weight Gain: 0. My appetite is slowly coming back to normal as the nausea calms down (praise the lord), but I’m learning I need to eat small amounts often to keep the gag reflex away.
Maternity clothes? All day every day. I’m pretty sure I’ve “popped”. What do you think?
Best moment this week:  I went up to Northern California where my sister, mom, and best friend threw me an amazing, intimate baby shower! It felt nice to have a change of scenery and celebrate Baby Curran with family, and my sis, mom, and bestie really put their heart and soul into planning an affair I’d love. So grateful!

We also got to check on our gal at the perinatologist last week, and she’s measuring perfectly and we even got a 3D shot of her cute little face. It’s always a relief to “see” the baby and know all is well.

Miss anything?

  • Sleeping on my stomach
  • Being able to eat a lot. I know this sounds dumb, but I ate a whole Chipotle veggie burrito bowl last week and regretted it for many moons as I just don’t have “room” in my belly anymore, so it was an uncomfortable few hours as I digested and felt like a python that had eaten an antelope.
  • Not being achy! The lower back pain has intensified as I pop out.
  • My pre-pregnancy brain. I’m definitely more forgetful and have to write tons of lists.

Movement: All the time!
Food cravings:  I haven’t indulged in this one yet, but pop tarts. I always love cereal, fruit, and greek yogurt. I haven’t craved anything super weird though, yet.
Anything making you queasy or sick: Strong smells, and I’m most susceptible to the yuckiness immediately after I wake up. Grocery shopping and walking past the fish section was not pleasant last week. The heat continues to be a challenge here in the valley as I can’t be outside for long before I start feeling gross.
Gender:  Girl!
Labor signs: None. Please stay that way.
Symptoms: Nausea, lower back aches, heartburn, insomnia, super tired, reduced appetite, feeling like a turtle on its back
Happy or moody most of the time: Not barfing daily means I’m perking up! I’d still like more energy but I’ll take what I can get 🙂
Looking forward to: hitting 30 weeks (holy crap) and starting to sift through all the stuff we’ve acquired for baby. It’s time to start setting up the nursery! We also start our baby care classes this week. It will be fun to be diapering dolls and stuff with the hubby, knowing that in just a little while we’ll be diapering on a real, live baby. Wow!

That’s all, folks. Catch ya next time!