Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Life as a Stay-at-Home Mama {Reality Check}

Whew. Where to begin. Months ago, I made a goal of staying home with Blair by January 2016. I wouldn’t say I had a true game plan in place, but I am truthfully more a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ type person anyways. Not my best quality, but somehow it usually comes together in the end!

As some of you know, I started my business with Rodan+Fields back in April 2015 with a goal of it allowing me to become a stay-at-home mama. I was also working full-time, juggling parenthood and several freelance projects on the side as I started this business - can you say busy?! I wanted to be at home, so I was willing to put in the work to get there. I continued to juggle my fast-paced, busy lifestyle all the way through the end of 2015, where we had a bit of an extreme life change happening - which was Michael accepting a job in Memphis, TN!

As I mentioned in my last post, I ended up having to say goodbye to my job in order for us to take this leap of faith and move 900 miles away from our home in VA. Which means that I became a stay-at-home mom in the blink of an eye - absolutely NO time to prepare for this huge change! I literally went to work one week, and the next, was lounging in my PJs, relaxing and sipping delicious coffee - NOT. Life with a toddler is none of those things! It is pure craziness from the minute she wakes up (usually screaming at the top of her lungs) until the minute she falls asleep (sometimes for a nap, sometimes not until bedtime...yikes). Sometimes I have to sit back, take it all in and just laugh at the ridiculousness of our days. 

To be honest, that girl who had a dream of staying home with her baby was not prepared for what being a stay-at-home mom really entails. Vacuuming three times a day (sorry, neighbors) because there Puffs littered on the floor, cleaning up toys just to have them thrown in the middle of the room again, and reading Goodnight Moon five times in a row in the middle of the day - and that’s just a sampling of our day. No, this was not what an obsessively organized neat-freak of a mom envisioned when I thought of staying at home. BUT….and this is what’s been even more rewarding than I ever could express. There are hard days, trust me...where all I want is a nice, cold drink and a vacation all to myself, but a hard day at home with Blair is a million times better than a hard day at the office. I always felt like my job was stealing hours of my time away from my family and I wasn’t getting anything valuable out of the time I put in. Sure, I was getting paid, but that was just for survival (okay, and to buy nice things). When I had a bad day, I hated to come home in a bad mood and have it weigh on me, but it did. And it really wasn’t worth it to let it control me. Now, when I have a bad day, by the end of the day, I’ve completely forgotten about the bad. What I remember about the day is getting my sweet girl out of her crib, watching and listening to her learn new things every single day, letting her nap on me (she’s only young once!) and sitting at the table to enjoy not just one meal but all THREE meals in a day with her.

That’s what being a stay-at-home mom is all about. The memories you’re making that you wouldn’t have made otherwise, if you were working in an office for 8 hours a day instead of spending those 8 hours with your baby. Now, I know there are so many parents who would love to stay home with their kids, but it just isn’t feasible. I get it. I wouldn’t say we were fully prepared for me to leave my job when I did, but sometimes life happens and you have to go with the flow. Luckily, my background in marketing has served me well and I’m able to pick up some freelance work here and there. Also, my Rodan+Fields business has been a game changer, and it continues to grow. I’m so grateful for what it’s done for my family so far and I know it’s going to get us exactly where we want to be soon! 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

2015: A Year of Change!

Long time, no talk! To say that life has been busy is an understatement :)

Since my last post in October (yikes!), we've had quite a few life changes and I really want to find my way back into blogging. There was a time when it was a top priority, but work, babies and a new side business (more on that below!) have kept me away from this space for a while. I want to declare that I'm officially 'back' - we'll see how things go!

Where to begin? Well, back in April 2015, I took a huge leap and started my own business with Rodan+Fields - yes, those are the names of the doctors who created Proactiv! I was looking for amazing skincare to take care of my post-pregnancy skin issues and I was also searching for an opportunity to 'do my own thing' and eventually be able to stay at home with my daughter. It was a great fit from the start, and I jumped right into sharing this amazing skincare & business with my family and friends - and I haven't looked back! I've grown so much as a mama and professional, learning how to juggle parenthood, a full-time job and a business of my own. It hasn't been easy - but it's definitely been worth it! I love sharing this opportunity with others, and I can't wait to share more about my experience so far. If you're interested in learning more about Rodan+Fields, shoot me an email at - I'd love to chat about the products and the business!

So, while I was spending most of my 2015 being a mama, wife and #girlboss, we had been talking about moving to a new city for Michael to advance his career. After several interviews and traveling to a few cities to meet with hiring managers, Michael accepted a job in Memphis, Tennessee - a 13-hour drive from Virginia! Keep in mind, this all happened in early December - in the midst of a big trip to NYC and planning for the holidays. We like craziness like this, what can I say ;)

December was a bit of a strange month for us, as we met with Realtors, movers, our relocation company and tried to wrap things up at our jobs in VA - all while trying to enjoy the holidays. It was a little insane, truthfully, and my head was spinning a majority of the time! Michael's first day at his new job in Memphis was January 4th, so we planned our entire move within a month, got our house on the market (still for sale, if you're interested in a home in Northern Suffolk!) and packed only the necessities since movers will be getting the bulk of our furniture and belongings. The day after New Year's, we hopped on the road for a 13-hour drive to our new home. We debated flying vs. driving, but realized we'd never flown with Blair before and we needed to take all of her toys - entertainment and boredom prevention. 

We've been fortunate to have corporate housing for two months, so we're living in a nice, furnished apartment with just about everything we need. Except a blender and a Crock Pot...not having those two things have seriously put a damper on my motivation to cook! ;) We're almost one month in, and we've been house hunting with an awesome Realtor here in Memphis (seriously, I'll be happy to refer him if you're in Memphis and are house hunting!).

To say things have been crazy over the past few months is an understatement! Also, big life changes have taken place over here. I left my job in VA before we moved, so I went from full-time working mom to full-time stay at home mom in the blink of an eye - I don't know if I was fully prepared for the transition! I feel so fortunate to be able to stay home with Blair, and I'm super grateful for my Rodan+Fields business for helping me achieve this milestone - along with continuing to build my freelance writing business. What I'm doing professionally right now has been my dream for many years. I've always wanted to work on my own terms and be able to raise my children without having to rely on daycare. We left great childcare (grandparents!) back in VA, so we knew that me staying home and running my businesses on my time would be the best thing for our family - daycare just isn't an option for us. There was a time before Blair was born that I felt sick to my stomach about the possibility of putting her in daycare, but luckily my mom and my mother-in-law were able to keep her during the week, so I didn't have to worry about it. That alone is what has propelled me forward with my R+F business - knowing that I would do everything I could do to keep my child at home and not have her spend most of the day at daycare. I certainly feel blessed to have this season of my life, to be able to do it all - to be empowered as a professional while being able to spend every day with my sweet girl. 

So, that's a recap on the last few months of life around here - I'm feeling inspired to revitalize this space and share more about life as a mama, girl boss and wife living a completely new city! Keep me accountable, friends. :)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Our Breastfeeding Journey

The closer we got to Blair’s first birthday, I thought that I’d be most sad about the fact that an entire YEAR has gone by in the blink of an eye. And it did, for sure. But what surprised me most when thinking about her first year, was that I’m dreading the end of our breastfeeding journey. There have been so many times I wanted to write about our experience, but for fear of jinxing it all (and I don’t even believe in that!) I wanted to wait until we’d made it a full year. Let’s start at the beginning.

Long before Blair was even born, I knew I wanted to breastfeed her. Our decision was reconfirmed when we had our childbirth class at the hospital and the OB nurse shared more about the benefits and gave more information about the how much support new mothers can get from the hospital’s team of lactation consultants. I read lots of books, websites, forums, etc. to learn as much as I possibly could.

Though I knew ‘plans’ were often hard to keep when it came to childbirth and post-delivery, I went into it with a birth plan and intended to keep it. The biggest thing on my list, other than a big NO to a C-section, was making sure we had skin-to-skin right after delivery, because that can really boost the potential for success with breastfeeding. 

What was that about plans not going as intended? I should’ve been prepared, I guess. :)

When my water broke at the hospital, my midwife noticed that there was meconium – which could mean very little or it could be very serious. There wasn’t really a way to tell how serious it was in Blair’s case, so my midwife warned me that they would be bringing in the pediatrician during delivery and that even possibly, Blair could be whisked away to the NICU at the children’s hospital – miles away from the hospital where I was delivering her. I was nervous, but hoped for the best, because that’s all you can do, right?

As soon as Blair was born, the pediatrician and nurses immediately took her over and suctioned out her mouth and tried to remove as much of the meconium as possible, while I sat there helpless, not really knowing what was going on. Finally, they brought her over to me – but unfortunately, I only got to hold her for about 2 minutes and then the pediatrician said she’d need to stay in the nursery until further notice for monitoring due to the fluid she had swallowed. The combination of emotions of just giving birth, seeing your new baby for 2 minutes, and then having her taken away got the best of me. My next thought was that our chance of success with breastfeeding was fading – maybe a little bit irrational, but I was crushed by not having the skin-to-skin time I had hoped for so much.

We were very fortunate that Blair’s condition after birth didn’t warrant going to the children’s hospital, but nevertheless, it was a rollercoaster of emotions. I did not get to breastfeed her the day she was born, and instead had to pump so that hopefully my supply would come in. I remember pumping a few drops of colostrum to feed her with a syringe and feeling defeated because I was certain I wasn’t going to have success with breastfeeding. I pumped every 3 hours around the clock the first 24 hours after birth and finally, on Day 2, I was able to go into the nursery and try breastfeeding. I feel so fortunate that she took to it right away, and I visited the nursery every few hours to feed her throughout the night. On Day 3, the day we were set to go home, Blair was finally able to stay in our room and it was our first time truly taking care of her. We hadn’t even changed a diaper up until this point! Needless to say, it was scary. :) All I remember from that day was that she wanted to nurse constantly – and she did for over an hour straight! It was rough, not going to lie – but one thing you should know about me is that I’m determined.

The first few weeks at home were a little rough, but I never felt like giving up on breastfeeding. I knew it was best for Blair, and slowly but surely, it started to get easier. After the first month, it even felt comfortable. One of the best things was we could pretty much go anywhere on a whim, because all I had to do was hop in the backseat of the car and feed her – and I’ve done my fair share of that over the past year! It became second nature, and to this day, it’s been a breeze (after the initial first month of getting used to it!).

I’d say my biggest challenge has been PUMPING. When I went back to work as she turned three months old, I knew that would become my reality for the next 9+ months. Two weeks into going back to work, I accepted a NEW job with a new company – so not only was I new to pumping, but I was going into a new company where I didn’t know anyone! Luckily, the company is very welcoming to new parents, so I didn’t have a problem acclimating. It was a challenge, though, to find time on my schedule to pump three times per day. I finally just made it clear on my calendar that I was unavailable at those times. I think that approach helped me succeed with pumping at work – placing a priority on it and making sure others know I have an obligation to attend to. Despite the fact that my company made it easy for me to pump at work, I still struggled many days to produce enough. I’d read many times before that the pump isn’t as effective as a baby is, so it wasn’t uncommon to produce less when pumping. Nevertheless, it was stressful to constantly worry about whether I was going to pump enough for the next day! At around 8 months, I had to add a regular pumping session as soon as I got home in the evening – so I was pumping four times a day now – in addition to breastfeeding in the morning and the evening. At about 10-11 months, I had to sometimes add ANOTHER session – so I was doing five sessions some days. You bet I was exhausted. ;) But, we were so close to a year at this point – so I never even considered giving up!

When Blair turned one last month, I realized that the thought of breastfeeding coming to an end actually made me really sad – not quite what I would’ve expected a few months ago! Also, she still enjoyed it and wasn’t eating enough solid foods to completely replace it. She also still nurses some nights if she wakes up at 3-4am – so I was knew that would be rough to quit cold turkey. So, now that we’re at almost 13 months old, I decided to focus on cutting back on my pumping sessions (so I’ll at least get some time back during the day!) and still nurse her in the morning and in the evening. So far, this is working well – and I’ve decided to let her make the decision as to when we stop (within reason…I promise I won’t be breastfeeding her when she’s 3, 4, 5. Ha!). While I know I’ll be sad when we finally do stop, I definitely have zero regrets because we made it to our goal of one year – despite the initial challenges we faced!

If I could offer any advice to expecting or new mamas, this is it:
  • Don’t allow others to sway your goals. If you want to breastfeed, but maybe you’re having challenges, don’t let someone tell you to just ‘try formula’ because it’s easier. It sometimes takes a few days for your milk to come in, so don’t fret if it’s not right away!
  • Likewise, don’t be afraid of supplementing if you need to. There were a few days right after Blair was born that I think we did the right thing by trying to supplement, but if I could go back, I would’ve stopped after my supply came in. I’ve learned that sometimes you should listen to your instincts rather than just take everything the pediatrician says to heart. Blair never even really liked formula, so it was usually a challenge to make her drink the 3-4 ounces of it per day.
  • If you are going back to work, it is definitely a good idea to try and pump while you’re on maternity leave. I didn’t do it enough, and I didn’t build a good freezer stash, but even the amount I did it helped.
  • Don’t feel pressured when you need to pump at work. I made the decision to view it as non-negotiable and the most important thing I could do for my daughter, so when I felt people giving me side-eye for walking out of the office three times a day, I let it roll of my back. That’s not to say I never had to tweak my schedule for work obligations, but I always made sure to fit in my pumping sessions.
  • You probably will go through stages where you are pumping less. Don’t stress too much – that can affect your supply, too.
  • Try Mother’s Milk tea and Fenugreek supplements (our pediatrician is a lactation consultant and she recommended both). I really liked the Honest Company Lactation Plus capsules! Also, drink a LOT of water!
  • Don’t be afraid to breastfeed whenever you need to. I used to feel pressured if Blair would need to eat when we had company at our house or if we were at someone’s home. Excuse yourself and then focus on the baby’s needs – don’t let yourself worry about everyone else. They understand – or if not, they will learn to!
  • Remember: it gets easier! The first few months were a LOT different than now. She used to eat for an hour at a time, and then we would start all over again two hours later. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time on the sofa! Now, she eats for five minutes and has to get down and get a toy because she’s a busy girl! Just realize that when you don’t know how you’re going to make it to your goal (whether it’s 6 months, 9 months, 1 year, or more!)  - you can! And just remember that you’re doing something GREAT for your baby. Blair only got sick one time while breastfeeding – and it was last week…she got her first ear infection. But really, breastfeeding is that great – it can keep your baby from being sick all the time. That in itself is awesome! :) 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Blair {7 & 8 Months Old}

It's amazing how quickly time passes...and how quickly I forget I have a blog to update. ;) Similar to last time, I'm going to group Blair's monthly updates and highlight months 7 & 8! After all, she'll be NINE months next week. Seriously, stop growing so fast, sweet girl!

When I left off last time, Blair was super close to sitting up....and I think she actually started sitting up unassisted a week after that update! In the past two months, she's learned so much and she's fully on the move now. She started crawling a day after turning 8 months old and hasn't looked back! As if crawling wasn't enough, she's also pulling up to standing without zero effort and she's started letting go of things and standing on her own for a few seconds. I think we'll have a walker before my next update! ;)

We started swim lessons and she loves the water! There are only two more sessions to go, and then we'll keep practicing at our neighborhood pool all summer. I'm so glad she loves the water - because we usually spend a lot of time at the beach and the pool! 

Blair loves eating solid foods and we've tried a variety of different purees. The only thing she still refuses to eat are peas...she hates them! Some of her favorites are sweet potatoes, mango, apricot, avocado, strawberries, pears and greek yogurt. We also started giving her organic yogurt melts and she loves them! We've done a few meat purees, and she eats them...but neither one of us really love the idea of them! Pureed turkey looks and smells unpleasant ;) She's still only eating solids a few times a day, and prefers breastmilk...pretty much anytime. :)

She's done a great job of putting herself to sleep in her crib - and she's still in the Magic Sleepsuit for now because it definitely helps her sleep! She goes through phases of sleeping through the night and waking up at 3am other times. There's no rhyme or reason but we're used to it by now ;)

Blair's 8-month stats:

15.5 pounds
Wearing mostly 9-month clothing; she can still wear some 6-month outfits, with the exception of footed pajamas (way too short!)

Her favorites:
  • Standing
  • Sophie the Giraffe
  • Her Wubbanub
  • Swimming
  • Crawling
  • Rolling over when we try to change her diaper...
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Greek yogurt
  • Paige...poor dog!
  • Starbucks cups...she doesn't have a chance :)
  • Feeding herself yogurt melts
  • Throwing her toys on the ground...and waiting for us to pick them up 
  • 'Talking'
  • Being tickled...her giggling is everything.
  • Diaper changes
  • Being still
  • Waiting for us to prep her food
  • When I leave the room (she has serious stranger danger these days!)
  • Not getting her's already starting :)
  • Teething...and she still hasn't actually cut a tooth yet!

It constantly amazes me how much she changes in such a short amount of time, but it's so fun to reach new milestones! She's such a sweetheart, but I know we'll have our hands full over the next few months as she starts walking! As always, I can't wait to watch her learn new things :)