Haruhonpo Big Zipper Backpack Review: Mama’s New Diaper Bag

When I saw my friend Chris review a Haruhonpo Backpack and Toddler Backpack, I knew I wanted to try one out, too. Picking a diaper bag was a challenge for me, as I’m a one purse all year kind of gal. (Lots of gals swap out purses depending on seasons. I find one and love it until it’s tattered and frayed, like my current Marc Jacobs that I’ve had for… wait for it… five years.) I initially chose and received a Skip Hop Duo Signature Diaper Bag, and while it’s fine, it just didn’t feel right. I’m really into multiple pouches to hold items, and I love different pockets and zippered sections. This bag was a little more stiff than I’d like, but like I said, I’m super picky about bags, and the Skip Hop just wasn’t cutting it for me, but at the time I couldn’t justify going for a spendy Kate Spade or Coach diaper bag. (Which in hindsight was kind of silly, because I’ll hunt down my perfect purse and splurge, if I know I’ll use it for years — and let’s face it, my diaper bag is basically my new purse.)

I eventually stumbled upon a Kipling Diaper Bag marked down for $36 (Score!) and this became my default bag. The fabric is much slouchier and there’s several pockets and zipped sections, perfect for all my neurotic stockpiling which becomes highly necessary for the care and transport of a tiny human. I thought I had a pretty good fit for my new diaper bag until I received my Haruhonpo backpack. I chose this gorgeous print called Water Paint, which is feminine and springy with lots of coral pink accents.Haru Water Paint

Before I received it, I thought it looked nice, but wasn’t expecting what I got. Holy features, batman. In addition to being super luxe, soft, and LIGHT, there’s about ten millions hidden features jammed inside this soft pack. To list a few, we’re talking about an insulated section that will keep your lunch cool, two removable matching pouches, a total of 13 compartments, a key fob, chest strap, ultra-lined back straps, water bottle pockets, and a key fob. It’s also this slick fabric that wipes clean super easily and is fairly stain resistant — very important when you’re carting a baby around.

Back of the Big  Zipper Backpack - Note the secret zip compartment and plush straps.

Back of the Big Zipper Backpack – Note the secret zip compartment and plush straps.

We had a Mexican vacation coming up (spoiler alert: it was awesome), and we took this bag to Mexico for one primary reason: I knew I’d be doing a lot of babywearing in Mexico, and last time I tried to have Holly in the carrier and my diaper bag on my shoulder? Disaster. Hauling a 17 pound kiddo on your chest and a packed diaper bag on your arm is a pain in the you know what. So I knew a backpack would be ideal while baby wearing — making excellent use of my bod’s real estate for ultimate functionality. This bag truly was a win for us, and the size was just big enough to store all of my Bumkins Travel Pouches, blankets, toys, and formula. Matt even wore the backpack throughout the trip and didn’t even seem bothered by the girly print, noting its cushy comfort. (Pssst – I wrote a blog post about flights with babies here, where I list a couple other favorites.)

This backpack went international -- to Mexico! Loving my Haruhonpo Water Paint Backpack.

This backpack went international — to Mexico! Loving my Haruhonpo Water Paint Backpack. Photo by LynnetteJoyPhotgraphy.com. 

You can even score a matching mini backpack for your kiddo — and while the water paint print isn’t available yet for littles (I hope it will be in a year or so!), there are lots of other adorable Mommy n’ Me prints, like the chocolate sweetheart that Chris and her gal got, or the denim yellow dot that I almost got.

Matching Mommy and Me Backpacks by Haruhonpo

Matching Mommy and Me Backpacks by Haruhonpo

If you’re in the market for a super functional and cute baby bag, consider Haruhonpo. They also make travel bags, tote bags, and different kinds of backpacks. The Big Zipper Backpack retails for $135, which is a good price considering how multi-functional the bag is. This is pretty much the Birkin of backpacks, people. If you’re interested in having your own Haru’ one day, “Like” their Facebook page. They ran a 25% off sale on Mother’s Day, which is a great savings on a great bag. Hip hip hooray for Haru!

(PS word nerds will be interested to know that Haru means Spring in Japan. Perfect for these light and cheerful bags.)

Disclosure: I received a complimentary backpack in exchange for my honest review. There are also a few affiliate links scattered in here which means I might make 3c if you click on them. 🙂

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.

AlyssaHollyBirth

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!

 

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 🙂

Bun in the Oven Update: Week 15

Howdy! I’m still on the fence about if I’m going to blog my pregnancy, because while part of me likes the idea of documenting it all, the other part of me goes “Eh, does anyone care?” We’ll see! (Pssst… if you do want to read about it, let me know. Remember, I always assume my dad and one person in Alaska reads my blog and that’s pretty much it… so if you’re out there, say hello!) I do have a pregnancy journal I’m using to document week by week, when I remember. (AND, it forces me to put a pen to paper. Handwriting… a miraculous thing!)

But, I figured I’d share today in case anybody is interested.

PROGRESSPANEL

How far along? 15 weeks, 6 days – 16 weeks tomorrow! Now that I’m “out” time is going much faster, thank goodness. Those first few weeks in hiding were agony.
Baby’s Size: A delicious California Avocado
Weight Gain: Zero. Woohoo! (Disclaimer: my OB is totally fine with this! Because of my pre-pregnancy weight, it’s not necessary for me to gain more than 15 pounds during this pregnancy.)
Maternity clothes? I just broke down and bought a bunch of shirts at Motherhood last weekend, and I have a pair of capris and jeans I got from Penney’s. While I still fit in all of my other clothes, I can feel things shifting. Despite not gaining any weight and not really looking like I’ve popped (in my opinion – maybe in the last picture I look like I ate a large burrito), I can feel my body changing, shape-wise.
Best moment this week: Our neighbor is so sweet and dropped off a TON of baby stuff for us to have. Her seven month old has outgrown his bassinet and vibrating chair and things like that, so she wanted us to have all of the stuff she’d donate to Goodwill anyways. That was super helpful! Now we just need to clean out our guest room closet so we can store the stuff. Oliver is currently enjoying sleeping on the changing pad that he thinks is his (boy, is he in for a surprise come November.)
Miss anything? I had a little twinge of lust when I was at Trader Joe’s and passed by the pineapple hard cider, and I do miss guzzling caffeine freely if I’m feeling sleepy (which is pretty much every day as a prego!).
Movement: Nope.
Food cravings: I reaaaaally wanted a pretzel when I walked by Wetzel’s in the mall, but I refrained. I’ve been craving sliced tomatoes with salt and pepper, beef (yay, meat!), and my fruit kick continues with cravings for cherries and nectarines. Last week I was all about potato chips and had a few servings over the week, but now I’m over it.
Anything making you queasy or sick: You know how I bragged about not having morning sickness when I made my announcement? Well, I jinxed myself, because week 14 was nausea city. Thank goodness my barfing episode from last week is over. It was the first time I barfed during my pregnancy, and it was on my 30th birthday on the airplane going to NYC (And I actually barfed three times in the nasty plane bathroom. Gross.). I ended up getting a prego-safe prescription for nausea that week, because I was not enjoying being super queasy as I ran around NYC. I’ve had a few small episodes of nausea this week but am feeling much much better. I still have zero interest in eating chicken.
Gender: We know, and close family and friends know 🙂 I’ll be sharing once we get final confirmation after 20 weeks, just in case early predictions were wrong!
Labor signs: Nope. Let’s keep it that way.
Symptoms: Still more tired than I’d like, some lower back soreness, and still having to make a few bathroom trips in the middle of the night.
Happy or moody most of the time: Mostly happy but I find myself more sensitive than usual. I may have cried this weekend after I tried to make pancakes and screwed up the water/mix ratio, and then dropped a glass in the kitchen that shattered, and then somebody made a rude pregnancy comment. Cue the tears. Whatevz. It’s all part of the journey and I’m trying to remind myself that moments like that are somewhat inevitable during pregnancy.
Looking forward to: Attending Bloggy Boot Camp this weekend in Temecula, and heading up to the Mojave Desert next weekend for a petroglyph tour!