traveling with littles // our travel essentials

Traveling with Littles.jpg

Since I posted about our Mexico trip (over on Instagram and on the blog) I have had TONS of questions about how we traveled with the kids, what we took, and tips from the trip. So, I thought I would just put up a big post with links to everything so I wouldn’t have to type and text and respond with the same things to everyone. Plus, this is a great reference for me because as much as I love traveling, the actual act of traveling gives me a bit of anxiety, especially in the day or two before. It’s mostly the preparation, which is sort of counter-intuitive since I am such a planner, and the lists and lists of things to pack and to-dos before we leave (like I will stay up all night cleaning the house and doing all of the laundry the night before so I come home to a super clean house).

Any-hoo, onto our travel essentials. Obviously it depends on your kids, your routine and every day necessities, and your own preferences, but lots of these things work for most of the littles. Also, I have tailored this to air travel, but many of the same things are true when we drive.

Something that I had growing up was a travel backpack which was a backpack full of toys and things that I only got when we traveled. (Thanks Mom & Dad!) And this is something that we started when Eloise was tiny and continue to do. Guys, it’s magic. These are special toys that she only gets when we drive or fly, so they are really special every time. It really doesn’t have to be anything crazy or over-the-top, and remember that they have to really be small enough for your littles to carry (or else you will have to carry it!). Right now these travel-only toys include: this Doodle Pro, these Mermaid stickers, flashcards (from the Dollar Spot at Target), these headphones, coloring book or paper and crayons, and this kids’ digital camera we added as a new surprise for this most recent trip! I also include a small snack in the front pocket of her bag (usually a bar and a pouch).

I try to have Eloise carry some of her own things, but since her backpack is so tiny, realistically I have to carry some things. I generally put her stickers, a small book, her headphones, and her lovie and blanket in her backpack, and then I carry everything else. This trip I took my diaper bag (I have this Skip-Hop one which I am LOVING right now because pockets and over-the-shoulder handles or cross-body – necessary with two kids) and this awesome Lo & Sons bag (Deluxe Small). And then Aaron carries a bag too, currently this Miir backpack which is also awesome! Between all of those bags, we can usually fit everything we are carrying on the airplane without it being too obnoxious! I put all of the essentials that we will more than likely need during the plane trip in my diaper bag (diapers, wipes, water bottles, pacifier) that goes under the seat, and then at least one of the other bags goes up into the over-head bin (and includes things we don’t need immediately like extra clothes, snacks, etc.).

STROLLER, CAR SEATS, AND CARRIERS

Even though our every day stroller is pretty compact (we have the Bugaboo Bee) it seemed too bulky to take on the trip. I wanted something that either girl could sit in that would be easy to maneuver around the resort. But I also didn’t want a super cheap stroller that would break during the trip. So we settled on this umbrella stroller and it was perfect! It fit either girl, laid back for the occasional nap, had a pretty big storage basket underneath, had a cup holder (bonus!), and folded to be pretty compact. We took this stroller with us in the airport and then gate-checked it. Though not necessary, I like to put gate-checked items into bags and this one was perfect for an umbrella stroller!

We weren’t planning on doing any extra driving while in Mexico, but since we did have to get from the airport to the resort (in a vehicle) we brought both of the girls’ car seats. We don’t use them on the plane (see below) but I didn’t feel comfortable being in a vehicle without car seats, despite the assurances that Mexico does not actually require car seats for children. (Um, yikes, but that’s not the point here.) So we checked the car seats using these car seat bags. Obnoxious, yes. Practical, yes. The bags have backpack straps (which Aaron can use; I, however, will fall over backwards!) and are big enough for the seat plus we always put diapers in the seat to save room in our luggage! A note about international travel and car seats is that other countries, including Mexico, don’t have locking seat belts, so be sure to take these brackets which will “lock” the seat belt!

We also took both of the carriers for the girls (the Tula and the Ergo) since we both can use them and Aaron can still carry Eloise in a carrier. In hindsight, we should have just brought one since the Ergo went unused during almost the entire trip. (It was WAY too hot to use the carriers when we were in Mexico, for the most part!) But, we find the carriers really helpful when we are getting on the plane because it frees up both sets of hands to carry bags. And as much as I love my Solly wrap, in the past it has been too tricky to try to get Daphne in and out of it as the other carriers (though I loved it when D was a newborn).

PLANE

Getting on the plane with littles is always an experience. And one that gives me anxiety. I just want to be on the plane with my luggage stowed and seat belt fastened. So I make sure that we get any gate check bag tags that we need (for our stroller and sometimes our infant car seat, but not this time around) as soon as there is someone at the gate counter, and then I wait in the immediate boarding area in case there are any updates about the flight. And there are differing opinions about this, but our system is to get on the plane as early as possible! That generally means we board with the “families or passengers that need extra time getting down the jet way.” For some airlines this is the very first group to board, and for others it is after all of the gold, platinum, whatever flight status passengers get to board. But, long story short, we get onto the plane with the girls before 95% of the rest of the passengers.

Once we find our seats, I get in first to sit in the window and then Eloise will get the middle seat. I wipe down everything (tray – both sides, arm rests, window and wall) with a disinfecting wipe. My girls, especially Daphne, lick and touch everything. So there’s that. While I am disinfecting, Aaron is installing the CARES harness that we use for Eloise onto the seat; it is a loop that goes over the seat, but requires the tray to be put down for tightening, and then provides an upper harness that loops into the regular airline seat belt. Again, there are many differing opinions about how small children should be restrained in an airplane, but we have chosen to have lap infants (before age 2) and then use the CARES harness (rather than hauling a car seat on the plane). And then Daphne sits with me during pre-boarding and then during take-off and landing, just in case she won’t take her paci and needs to nurse.

Before I had littles, I didn’t put anything in the seat back pocket. But now, I load it up with wet wipes, water bottles, books, snacks. When you have a baby on your lap, it is difficult to get a bag out from under the seat, so I try to get most of what I might need during the flight out where I can easily reach it. And then we use the under the seat space at Eloise’s seat to store one of the bigger carry-ons that has things we will need during the flight, and the other carry-on goes up into the overhead bin. That leaves Aaron with no bags at his feet so he’s a bit more comfortable (since his knees nearly hit the seat in front of him).

 

PLAY

Even on a short flight little ones need something to do, so we try to bring entertaining things to keep them occupied for as much of the flight as possible. Like I mentioned above, we have special airplane toys/items that only come out during travel, so they tend to keep Eloise occupied for a little longer than normal. In addition, I bring a few small board books or magazines for her to read or to have read to her. For Daphne, I brought a few soft toys and books, but avoided anything that squeaked!

Before each trip, Aaron will pre-download shows (Daniel Tiger, Mister Roger’s, and Sesame Street are the current ones) onto either his phone or one of our computers. This way we don’t have to worry about Wifi on the plane or any sort of buffering during the show. We are pretty strict about screentime with Eloise during our normal life, and during traveling, we are equally strict. She gets to watch one (maybe two) shows of her choosing during a plane ride, but only after she takes a nap. It is amazing that a toddler can go from “I am not tired. At all.” to sleeping in a matter of minutes if it means there is a show on the other side! We don’t always get the longest naps, but we make sure she naps before a show. And, also, we try to exhaust every other possible entertainment method for Eloise before we let her watch a show; that means reading stories, snacks (so many snacks), walking up and down the aisle, going potty, etc. We know from other parents that if you offer a show too early in the trip, the only thing your toddler wants to do is watch a show!

 

FOOD

I bring tons of snacks on trips, always. Even before kids. I guess I worry about being on a plane or in a hotel room without food! I tend to make a big trip to Trader Joe’s a few days before a trip because it has the BEST snack foods. And snacks don’t have to be unhealthy. We do a lot of trail mix, dried fruit, and other healthier snacks so that I don’t worry as much if that is all Eloise will eat on the trip.

One thing that we do bring that we don’t have normally (so it’s special which magical for toddlers!) are food pouches. They are heavy but really convenient and if you have kids, TSA doesn’t make a stink about them at all. For a flight, I will put one into Eloise’s backpack for her to find and then let her choose when she wants to eat it. But I do limit the amount of pouches to one per day for Eloise. Daphne, on the other hand, was young enough on our trip that we were still transitioning between purees and BLW (baby-led weaning). So I loaded up on pouches* and brought enough for one pouch per meal since I didn’t know what the food situation was going to be.

*Since I don’t normally buy food pouches, I was overwhelmed (an understatement) when I went to Target to buy them for the trip. Holy cow there are about 100 brands, even if you are only looking at organic ones! So, I started reading the labels. Many pouches (and other baby foods and drinks even) use apple sauce/puree as the main filler with only a small amount of the other flavors. My test for pouches was to find ones that were (1) organic and (2) weren’t apple sauce. And I ended up finding these Happy Baby Clearly Crafted Stage 2 that fit the bill and were in a clear pouch (bonus!) with lots of interesting flavors. Like I said, I loaded up and ended up bringing enough for 2 or 3 every day which was so, so heavy going down to Mexico, but Daphne ate them all during our trip and we didn’t have to haul them back (except the ones I saved for the flights home).

Along with TJ’s snacks, we also like Ella’s Kitchen snacks, Bambas, and Larabars (mini). We don’t usually let Eloise snack much during the day because it just destroys mealtimes, but when we travel (and especially when we fly) we are super lax about snacking. We ended up being able to get food really quickly at the resort in Mexico because there was a food buffet open almost all day, but sometimes waiting in restaurants for a meal is hard, so I always have snacks or a pouch in my bag.

 

SUN AND SAND

One thing I was dreading with the hot weather in Mexico (and also just summer in general) is sunscreen. I loathe sunscreen but the alternative is worse. I am also really picky when it comes to sunscreen and will only use physical sunscreen which means almost all of the cool sprays, mousses, dry-touch ones are all no-nos. Our favorite for the past few years is this non-aerosol spray from Babyganics which we all use. And I also picked up this Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc for our trip after reading really good reviews on it, and I really liked it! Aaron wasn’t sold on it, but the smell was amazing. Neither one of these sunscreens are super white and greasy which is what I am looking for. And be sure to test sunscreen on an arm or leg of your babies first to make sure there isn’t a bad skin reaction! Daphne wasn’t able to wear sunscreen all summer-long (because she was under 6 months) but thank goodness she was old enough when we went to Mexico and that she wasn’t allergic to either sunscreen we had.

Because we were going to be at the beach, I brought along our little anti-UV pop-up tent that I picked up at the Nordy’s Anni Sale this past summer. It didn’t get as much use as I thought since Daphne was so little this summer and we mostly just stayed out of the sun, but it folds up small enough (and flat enough) that we were able to get it into our suitcase for this trip. To be totally honest, we only used this tent one morning while we were in Mexico, but it was still worth it! I was able to keep Daphne out of the sand since she would just eat it and be covered in it (between the sunscreen and her hands in her mouth all the time) which was amazing! We have previously rented a big tent for the beach when we went to Maui and it was awesome for the beach!

If it is sunny and hot at all, my girls are used to wearing sunhats (at least Eloise is). Since neither will reliably keep sunglasses on, sunhats are the way to go. We love this iPlay one since it is super lightweight, dries quickly, and breathes. Plus, it is adjustable and has a chin tie (which is necessary for a baby who tries to pull it off). Eloise had a dark navy blue one when she was one, but I quickly discovered that the dark color got hot in the sun. So she and Daphne both have white ones. There is also this one that has more neck coverage. And in addition to a sunhat, we wear lots of sunshirts near the pool or at the beach. We have one from Crewcuts (J. Crew’s baby line) and Honest Co. but I have also been liking the ones that come with the bathing suit set (like Cat and Jack for Target). Often I will bring an extra sunshirt along in my bag and then can switch out the girls’ shirt if we are going to be in the sun so I don’t have to slather on quite as much sunscreen!

SLEEP

Ah, elusive sleep. Especially when you are traveling, sleep is elusive. We have two really good sleepers, but traveling and being away from home and in a new place can be disruptive! We try to mimic our sleep routine and schedule from home as much as possible when we are traveling. Same jammies, same lovies, same pacis, same/similar sound machine, same sleep sack.

We have this travel sound machine which has been good for the past few years, but we have been having trouble with batteries corroding in it, so I am on the hunt! Basically, I want something that is lightweight and can give us the sound of rain (that’s our preferred sound) all night long (so no timer). If you have any recommendations on a good travel sound machine, I am all ears!

And since Eloise had been recently night-time potty-trained, I brought along this waterproof mattress pad cover which is the one that we keep on her bed at home. Luckily, we didn’t end up needing it, but I will probably still bring it along with us for our next few trips since it folds up like a small blanket.

And for Daphne, I ended up bringing an extra blanket for her which I used on the plane while she napped and then hung on the side of the pack n’ play while we were in Mexico. I wouldn’t normally hang a blanket on the side of a pack n’ play but in this case we were sharing a hotel room so I needed to put something up to block Daphne’s view so that she would sleep. We put her over on the other side of the room (from the beds) to give her some space and quiet, but the sides of the pack n’ play are mesh… so we hung a blanket over one side and a towel over the other and it worked really well (the other two sides were facing the wall and the sliding door with curtains). At this point (one month later) Daphne probably would have pulled that blanket and curtain off the sides since she can now stand up in a crib, but at the time it worked!

PASSPORTS AND TRAVEL DOCS

When we decided to book our trip to Mexico for the entire, we knew it would require passports for the girls. Even though we don’t have any other international trips planned as of now, it’s nice to know that we can plan a last minute trip or take a drive across the border if we need/want to (Canada is just about 3 hours north). Plus, passports for littles are insanely cute and good for 5 years. We took our own pictures using the Murphy bed in the guest room/office for the white backdrop, and then printed them at Walgreen’s.

{Side note: This section is about vaccines. We have decided to vaccinate ourselves and our children which is a personal decision. This isn’t a post meant to be pro-vaccination, but just to explain what our process was regarding travel and vaccines.} And since we were traveling abroad, I did ask our girls’ pediatrician about any extra vaccines they may need before the trip since other countries have different exposure risks than we do domestically. He told us that Eloise was good-to-go since she is up-to-date on her vaccines (thru three years), but that he recommended that Daphne get an early booster of the MMR (which isn’t started until after one year) because there is a high risk of exposure when you travel internationally, specifically in international airport terminals. Also, since it was early October when we left for our trip, we all got our annual flu vaccines before flying.

And finally, be sure to research any other documents you might need on your trip, depending on where you are traveling, including any required visas. I also took pictures of our passports as well as scanned them and saved them to our cloud storage (just in case they got lost) and took a copy of the girls’ birth certificates and vaccine records (which I always have with me).

What are your travel essentials?

M

This post contains affiliate links.

 

project baby #2 {nursing essentials}

Back in April I shared my newborn and post-partum essentials that were important to me in those first few weeks when Daphne was so tiny and new. (And see my post-partum essentials with Eloise here.) Now that we are seven months out, I wanted to update again with my nursing essentials since these are the things that are (or have been) important to me for a much longer amount of time and will likely be until Daphne weans.

Post-Partum-Essentials

{one} (Reusable) Nursing Pads.

For me reusable nursing pads are must and Bamboobies are my go-to. Even after my supply had come in and leveled out, I still found that leakage was an issue, so these help me from having to change clothes (or at least my shirt) multiple times per day. Plus, once baby sleeps thru the night and you are going 10 to 12 hours between the first feeding and the last, you want something that will help absorb. I like the thin, heart-shaped pads for daytime since they fit smoothly, but then I like the thicker, round ones for nighttime use.

{two} Nursing Bra.

Like most new mamas, I spent the first weeks (okay, probably months) in softer nursing bras meant for sleeping. Then once my milk came in I started wearing “real” nursing bras, including underwire ones (which you have to be careful with when your milk is coming in). I still had nursing bras from when Eloise was little but found that I needed/wanted a few new ones.

I kept seeing blog posts and ads about a new brand called ThirdLove and decided to finally buy when they released a line of nursing bras. I opted for the wireless one and have been really impressed. The biggest thing about nursing bras (for me) that you don’t have to think about with regular bras is how easily the cup flips or folds down; I have a few that don’t do this well and end up soaked in milk at the end of every feeding! ThirdLove’s cups are super soft and fold really well down plus a bonus that the straps don’t slip. Guys, this is life-changing!

The other secret to nursing bras (which I have shared before) is that Nordstrom will convert any regular bra into a nursing bra for a nominal alteration fee (like $15). Definitely worth it if you are particular about a brand, or have a unique band or cup size.

{three} Tanks.

As with Eloise, I don’t like nursing tanks. I think they can be great for those first few weeks, but beyond that, I like the support (and look) of a bra. But, I do wear a tank top basically every day so that when I do nurse, my belly isn’t exposed; I just pull down the tank when I need to nurse. I have multiple tanks with the thin (spaghetti) straps from both H&M and Old Navy in white, black, and grey that basically covers any shirt situation along with an old “nude colored” cami (similar to this) which is great for under white shirts.

{four} Boppy Pillow.

When nursing Daphne, I have found that I use my Boppy nursing pillow so much more than I did with Eloise (seven months out), like whenever I am home during a feeding. I find it is much more comfortable for me to have the support of a pillow and will probably continue to use it until Daphne is too big! This time around I also bought this beautiful pillow cover from MadlyWish which is made from the Rifle Paper Co. fabric line. Guys, it sounds silly, but this pillow cover makes me so happy. I wish I would have gotten a fun cover for the Boppy when Eloise was little. Instead I used the very juvenile ones that came with the pillow. So, get a Naked Boppy Pillow and find a shop (there are tons on Etsy or Instagram) that sells beautiful covers and you are set!

{five} Hydroflask Waterbottle.

Until about two months ago, I was using the same Camelbak waterbottles that I got when I was pregnant with Eloise. They worked fine and were great for keeping me hydrated during pregnancy and post-partum. However, when they started leaking (from the drinking spout) and becoming harder to clean, I started shopping around for something else. Enter: Hydroflask. I had heard great things about Hydroflask from other mamas but couldn’t get myself to buy a waterbottle that was so expensive! But then I did. And it was so worth it. Seriously. My water stays cold for hours or until I drink the entire bottle (usually the latter). If you are on the fence at all about one, do it. I got the wide-mouth one and added the straw lid because with two little ones, I never have two hands available to screw open the lid!

And along with these essentials, I probably should mention a breast pump. I didn’t have a great experience pumping with Eloise but we bought this new Naya Smartpump this time around and I really, really like it (well, as much as you can like a breast pump). A lot of people are surprised when they find out that I pump because I stay home with the girls, but sometimes I need to be able to be away from Daphne and we also give her a bedtime bottle which (right now) is pumped milk, so I am currently pumping twice per day.

What were your nursing essentials? Did they change over time or from your first kiddo to your second (or third)?

M

This post contains affiliate links.

Baby Shower En Blanc for the Andersons

About a month ago, we were honored to throw the Andersons a baby shower for their little one Austin {who joined the world on just a few weeks ago}! I offered to throw Jess a shower last fall, not totally realizing how much more work it would be to host a party with a brand-new baby, but I did all of the planning before Daphne was born and it worked out pretty well!

Jess had requested an “En Blanc” party, so the theme was super easy: white. I pinned lots of different things, but wanted to keep things simple, both décor and food. Most of the décor I got from Etsy, but everything is linked below for those who have asked. There were tons of babies and it was so wonderful to see so many friends.

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{Popcorn favors}

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{Guess how many candies in the jar & the winner gets the entire thing!}

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{Wishes for Baby Austin}

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{The dessert bar!}

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{Thanks to Cale, the father-to-be, for helping get this donut cake together!}

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{Eloise, Daphne, and Jaz before the party!}

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{These two girls had the BEST time!}

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{All of the MAMAS! Such an amazing group of women.}

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{All of the “new” Papas!}

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{Oh brother, those papas…}

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{The Andersons!}

{photos by Jess // Ready to Pop favor stickers: Kaspi Party Etsy Shop // small white picture frames: Michael’s // white clipboard frame: Target // art: Soeurette, my mama // lidded glass vase: Michael’s // small flower bouquets: Michael’s // Oh Boy banner: Ur Invited Too Etsy Shop // LOVE sign: Target (old) // Wishes for Baby cards: DIY // white balloons: Display and Costume // tissue tassels: DIY // menu card: DIY // Oh Boy cake topper: Foiled Prints // mini cupcakes: Trophy (vanilla-vanilla)}

Congratulations Jess, Cale, and big sister Jazmyne!

M

project baby #2 {newborn & post-partum essentials}

This time around I felt so much more prepared for post-partum life with a newborn (though the toddler is throwing a bit of a curveball!), but there are a few new things that I have found especially helpful these first weeks! {See my past newborn and post-partum essentials.}

Milkies Milk Saver - Copy

ONE. Milk Saver. This is something that was shared by a  good mama friend and that I never would have bought or tried without a personal recommendation. You basically stick it into your bra on the opposite side that you are feeding on, and it catches the milk that you would otherwise leak (or let-down) into a nursing pad or bra. It doesn’t seem like much, but especially when I have gone a long time between feeds (like first thing in the morning after going all night) I can get half an ounce to three-quarters just from one side! Then I add this milk to the milk I am pumping, and since we are still only doing a one-and-a-half ounce bottle each evening, it makes a difference. One thing to note is that it’s foremilk (and not hindmilk) so it won’t fill baby up as well, but I would rather Daphne drink it than it all be wasted.

Pumping Bra - Copy (2)

TWO. Pumping Bra. If you are going to pump, you might as well pump both sides (there are some exceptions to this) and it really sucks if you have to hold the pumps onto your breasts (haha, pun intended!). I have used this pumping bra for both girls, and even if you don’t use this exact one, get one if you are planning on pumping at all. These bras make pumping hands-free which is amazing; my first pumping session a few weeks ago I didn’t know where this bra was and it was the longest 15 minutes of my life! Plus, When I am pumping, it is total mama time and I give myself full permission to zone out on Facebook or Instagram.

LilyPadz

THREE. LilyPadz. Nursing pads, especially in these early days and weeks, are super important. I used the reusable Bamboobie ones (and still do at nighttime) but these LilyPadz are a game-changer! They are sticky silicone pads that basically prevent leaks between feedings (unless there is a LOT of milk leaking!). My advice would be to wait a week or two after birth before starting them because your nipples will be super tender and maybe a little raw. Plus, if you are using any type of ointment or cream, these are a no-go.

FOUR. Lactation cookies. There are some foods that are supposed to increase milk supply, a few of them being rolled oats, Brewer’s Yeast, and flaxseed. And it just so happens that if you add these things to a chocolate chip cookie dough, you get chocolate chip cookies that help you lactate! I tend to always have a sweet tooth post-partum so I don’t have any problem eating a few of these thru-out the day! {We call them “Mama’s special milk bars” at our house so that Eloise doesn’t realize that I am actually eating cookies all day long… though I think she might be catching on.}

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups of thick cut oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons Brewer’s Yeast

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flaxseed meal and water; set aside 3 to 5 minutes.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs. Stir flaxseed mix into butter mix and add vanilla. Beat until well-blended.

Sift dry ingredients, except oats and chocolate chips. Add butter to dry ingredients. Stir in oats and then chocolate chips.

Drop on parchment paper on baking sheet. Bake 8 to 12 minutes.

*recommendation to eat 4 or more per day!

FIVE. Sleeper gowns. We had a few of these with Eloise, but I don’t remember them being as helpful as they are this time around. I basically mean a nightgown that has snaps or a zipper for easy diaper changes in the middle of the night. It is hard enough to change a newborn’s diaper with any outfit on since you are doing it so frequently, but in the middle of the night (or even a sleep deprived day) a simple in-snap is much-needed.

SIX. Gloves. Also another thing we didn’t use with Eloise. Maybe it is because we started trimming her nails earlier? But, we used gloves on Daphne for the first five weeks since her little nails grew so quickly (and were so sharp!) and the in-hospital pediatrician recommended we don’t trim her nails for the first few weeks since the nails are basically fused to the skin at that point. A lot of newborn tops and outfits have built-in gloves which is super helpful, but I would still recommend picking up a pair!

June and January Booties

SEVEN. June and January booties. Eloise was born in the summer (during our hottest month) so socks weren’t really a thing we worried about until she was quite a bit older. But, since it was still pretty cool in March, I did worry about Daphne’s feet being too cold. I picked up these June and January booties (because they were impossibly cute!) with a clothing order before Daphne was born, and quickly found out these booties were perfect in lieu of socks! They have Velcro and are actually small enough around the ankle to stay on Daphne’s feet (which is the big issue with socks for babies). I ended up ordering another couple of pairs because I was so happy with them and Daphne was wearing them (and still does) every day.

EIGHT. Swaddle blankets. We probably have ten or fifteen swaddle blankets (at least!) that have accumulated from the time Eloise was born. They make great gifts and are actually really useful as a make-shift nursing cover, burp cloth, car seat cover, etc. and, for swaddling! Both of our babies have loved/needed to be swaddled for soothing and sleeping, and even though we use a zipper swaddle at night (we have been using this one with Daphne) we use a blanket a lot during the day which is why they are all over the house! This grey one from Lou Lou & Co is my absolute favorite though because it is super soft, a little stretchy, and makes for a great swaddled baby! I think it may become my go-to baby shower gift.

What were your essentials?

M

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project baby #2 {daphne’s birth story}

{warning: this is likely an overly long post for a lot of readers, but I wanted to share details for those who have asked & also to have a record to share with daphne one day. feel free to skip down to the pictures, or skip this post completely!}

As most of you know, I pretty much fell off the map as I neared my due date. In fact, I only blogged up to week 37!  Once I hit 38 and 39 weeks, I kept telling Aaron that I should do my weekly photo, but by 40 weeks I was over it! This is actually the final picture I took of me and the bump, on February 24th, 4 days before I went into labor. You can see I stopped wearing pants (dresses were a godsend even though it was still really cold outside!) and my toiletries and make-up were all packed up and ready to be tossed into the hospital bag (well bags, plural, because I just kept adding things!).

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Physically, those last three weeks, I felt great! I was tired, but I was actually sleeping really well, my heartburn had subsided, the baby was not into my ribs, I had zero swelling, and I didn’t have any (noticeable) early labor symptoms. BUT, mentally and emotionally I was so drained and so ready to be done. I felt like I might go into labor at any moment from February 15th on (that’s the day I had my mani/pedi so I was sure that would do it!) and so I was completely exhausted and anxious by the time my parents came into town on February 20th. We were all worried that they wouldn’t make it in time, but alas, we waited. And waited. And my dad actually extended his trip a few days, but ended up getting on a plane about 5 hours before I had my first labor contraction!

That last week was difficult for me because I felt like I couldn’t plan anything. So we would wake up in the morning and since there wasn’t a baby, we would maybe plan a short outing, just in case I went into labor. My due date was definitely the most difficult day for me, and after that, I felt like I could better handle not being in control (which I very obviously wasn’t at that point!) and try to enjoy these last days with my family and with Eloise before Baby Foot arrived. I also stopped all social media at that point, including responding to any and all texts and emails, so sorry if I was ignoring you!

On February 28th I had my 40 week (well, 39 weeks + 6) appointment with my midwife. I remember checking into the front desk and seeing the on-call board: Sarah was the on-call midwife (my favorite one since she also helped delivery Eloise) and Dr. Foltz was the on-call OB (also my favorite since she was my original OB years and years ago); I made a mental note that it would be a great day to have this baby since those are exactly the providers I would have wanted if I had my choice! It wasn’t until after Daphne was born that I actually made that connection… I think that is what I needed to get things started!

Anyways, my check-up went well with my weight and blood pressure, and baby’s heartbeat. At that point Sarah went ahead and checked to see if and how much I was dilated and I was almost 4 cm! I was really surprised since it didn’t feel like I was having early laboring at all, but clearly all that tightening in my belly (like Braxton Hicks) was having an impact. Since I my body was already dilating on it’s own, it made sense to have my membranes swept (which only is effective if you are already close to baby time, like within 48 hours!). It was so, so uncomfortable (and borderline painful!) and I was honestly uncomfortable for the remainder of the day (cramping mostly). Since I was at 41 weeks, my midwife also had me schedule an ultrasound for the end of the week as well as a non-stress test (to monitor baby’s heartbeat) which are both standard for post-due date cases. Apparently after 42 weeks the placenta stops working as efficiently so close monitoring of mama and baby are required as well as discussion about intervention.

We took it easy for the rest of the day and said good-bye to my dad. By that evening I was really feeling crampy, so I called it a night early to try to get some rest. I got ready for bed and was lying down for just a bit when I had my first (real) labor contraction. I noted the time – it was 9 pm – and tried to go to sleep. Well, that was wishful thinking because the contractions kept coming and seemed to be fairly regular. At 9:42 I called Aaron, who was upstairs watching TV with my mom, to tell him to come down and time my contractions. Within 30 minutes, my contractions were becoming regular (4 to 5 minutes apart and a minute long) and Aaron called our doula, Jennie, to give her a head’s up and have her start making her way to our house. Then Aaron called the doctor’s office to give Sarah, the midwife, an update and they agreed that we would wait for Jennie to get to the house before making any further decisions.

At 10:50 pm, Jennie arrived at our house and I was still downstairs in our bed laboring on my side (with my pregnancy pillow, thank goodness!). My contractions were still consistent, and, spoiler alert, never stopped. Jennie talked me thru my next few contractions, and I decided I was ready to head to the hospital. At that point, the last thing I wanted to do was get in the car because having contractions in the car is the worst, but I also knew that I didn’t want to have a homebirth, so there really wasn’t any choice. Aaron called Sarah back to let her know we were headed to the hospital and that we would meet her there.

We pack up our last-minute stuff (and by we I mean Aaron), and say good-bye to my mom, and get in the car around 11:30. I had a number (like 4 or 5) of contractions in the car, but luckily since it was so late, there was no traffic (even on I-5) so we made it to the hospital pretty quickly! Aaron pulled into the hospital’s parking garage at 11:40 pm. After parking, I had a few contractions on the way into the hospital, but luckily we had Jennie with us and she was able to help me as Aaron navigated us up the elevator, thru the security desk (you don’t need to show ID if you are in labor!), and up to L&D triage. My contractions were getting stronger and much more intense. At 11:50 I was checked in and at 11:55, the nurse checked and I was 7 cm dilated. I remember looking at Jennie and telling her that I needed a break. I also remember making a reference to wanting something to help with the intensity (an epidural), but no one even acknowledged it! Not because they didn’t care, but it was WAY too late by then! And really, I wanted an un-medicated labor, but I probably would have given anything to have just a minute of rest at that point! The nurses wheeled the triage bed directly to the L&D suite.

At midnight my labor was strong and from the time I got onto the triage bed, I kept my eyes closed. That was the only way I could handle the intensity of my labor. The nurses wanted me to move from the triage bed (stretcher) to the actual hospital bed, but I refused. I remember them telling me I would be way more comfortable and then I wouldn’t have to move after the baby was born, but there was seriously no way that was going to happen. I also remember seeing Sarah at this point with her scrub cap on and ready to deliver. And almost immediately upon entering our hospital room, I felt like I needed to push.

At 12:05 am, Sarah checks and I am fully dilated. She gave me the green light to start pushing even though my bag of waters was still fully intact. Once the baby started crowning, everyone could see that baby’s hair floating in the amniotic sac, which was apparently really cool. (Rarely babies are born completely in the amniotic sac, called in the caul, and it is seen as a sign of good luck!) After the baby’s head is born (and the amniotic sack breaks on it’s own), her shoulder gets stuck below my pubic bone (shoulder dystocia). I was too focused on pushing (and the pain/intensity) to really realize the severity of the situation, but Aaron has told me he was terrified. I remember hearing someone (it was Sarah) call “SHOULDER!” and then being turned onto my back by the L&D nurse (as I was pushing on my right side at the time) which was horribly, horribly painful! Apparently this was to get back-up in case the baby couldn’t turn and pass under the bone, and a physician and NICU team arrived immediately. There is a series of maneuvers that are used in this (rare) situation, and luckily, Sarah was able to get the baby turned and I was able to continue with a safe and healthy delivery in about 90 seconds. Baby Foot Lower was born at 12:19 am on March 1st!*

Despite the slight complication at the end, Baby’s APGAR scores were high (7s I think) and no visit to the NICU was necessary. And while technically the Baby’s gender was a surprise, I wasn’t at all surprised to hear it was a girl! Baby remained unnamed for at least a few hours (we were already in the post-partum room) as Aaron and I weren’t decided on a name.** We each had a name that we liked; mine was Margot and Aaron’s was Daphne. I will let you guess who won!

We were able to skin-to-skin almost right away (me and Aaron both) and by 12:50 am Baby was nursing for the first time. I remember the moment I first held Daphne that it felt so strange, like I was cheating on Eloise. It was such a weird feeling because when Eloise was born, at that moment, I was holding the little one that made me a mama, but with this second baby, I was already a mama… she felt like a stranger for just a moment! (I have heard other second-time mamas have felt the same way!)

So even though she made us wait (and wait) until March to be born, once she decided, she was here in a hurry: just over 3 hours in all.

Welcome to the world Daphne Lucille! I wouldn’t have been able to have done any of this without Aaron, Jennie, Sarah, and all of the L&D staff, and my mom who stayed with Eloise. Plus, we had so much support from friends and family. We really are so blessed!

M

And here’s Eloise’s birth story if you are interested!

*March 1st is also Aaron’s dad’s birthday, so Daphne shares the day with her Papaw.
**Many of you have asked what our boy’s name would have been, and since the likelihood of us having a third child is basically nil at this point, we have been sharing it (though we reserve the right to it if we ever do have a boy!): Fitzgerald Benjamin. Fitz as a nickname. Benjamin is a family name on both sides: Aaron’s oldest brother, and the middle name of my dad, brother, and grandfather.
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project baby #2 {week 39}

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{letter board: Letter Folk // tunic: Old Navy (old)}

{week 39} With just T-minus 4 days until my due date, I figured I should get this 39 week update posted, especially since Eloise came 2 days early…

This week’s midwife check-up was sort of a bust. We all headed downtown to my appointment on Tuesday morning (yep, on my birthday!) and we were pretty excited since it has been a while since Aaron had been able to join me at an appointment. Such a difference from the first time around when he literally went to every appointment! Upon checking-in we were informed that there had been a scheduling error and no midwives were in the office that morning. Grrr! We were given the option to either wait for a later appointment with one of the office’s many OBs or schedule to come in later in the week. I opted to do neither and skip the 39 week appointment altogether! Honestly, I spend 20 or 30 minutes waiting for the nurse; she checks my weight and blood pressure; and then 10 or 15 minutes more of me waiting for the midwife so she can measure my belly and listen to the baby’s heartbeat with the Doppler. And as much as I love to hear that little heartbeat, I didn’t think it was worth all of that time extra time in the office (or the extra trip back)! If there as ANY indication that I was having complications or risks (past high BP, swelling, pain, bleeding, etc.) I absolutely would have stayed, but it is pretty much status quo at this point (which is fantastic!).

This week I have been feeling slow and like I have to pee every single second… but I have also been trying to savor all of the time I have had this week with Eloise because I know this is more than likely the last few days I will have with her just Mama and Eloise. Every one is so excited about Baby Foot’s pending arrival, but it is definitely bittersweet. So I have taken all of the cuddles, extra stories and songs, and back rubs that I can get in with Eloise lately! And this weekend will be a mix of getting last-minute things done (I have two in-progress projects for the nursery!), checking off Eloise’s list of things she wants to do (the playground and making banana bread), and possibly making some freezer meals.

Physically I am still feeling really good! I am tired and feel like I could sleep all day long, but once I am up and awake, I feel somewhat energized. My appetite is still low, so it has been lots of green smoothies around here this week. Getting up from the bed or the couch is probably the hardest thing as I feel like my arms and legs are just flailing about – it’s probably quite funny to see! And it feels like maybe the baby has dropped a bit since I am feeling less kicking in my ribs and more pressure on my bladder… No signs of early labor, but honestly I am not counting on that since I had pretty much no signs of labor with Eloise until I started having contractions which didn’t ever stop until she was born!

As I have mentioned before, I am still holding out for the 21st (or later) since my parents will be here and I can get in one more Pure Barre class (tomorrow afternoon!!). It feels crazy to be like a ticking time bomb, but as they say “babies are born on their birthdays” and you just have to go with it!

And here is my 39 week update with Eloise (which was my final one before she was born as I had her just 4 days later)!

Happy 39 weeks! Any predictions on Baby Foot’s birthday??

M

project baby #2 {week 38}

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{letter board: Letter Folk // tunic: Old Navy (old)}

{week 38} Welp, 38 weeks! I am glad that I made it this far and hope to have (at least) one more weekly bump update before Baby Foot joins us in the world! Most people think I am completely nuts you guys, but I could go maybe another month or 6 weeks – I am going to miss being pregnant so much!

At my appointment this week, everything was good and normal with the bump measuring in around 36 (or a stretch to 37!) with absolutely no signs of early labor. My mid-wives are pretty relaxed about doing any kind of physical exam, even this late in the pregnancy, because if there aren’t any complications or any other signs, early dilation or effacing can just mess with your mind and can mean absolutely nothing in terms of actually going into labor. I know a few mamas who went weeks dilated to a 3 or 4, and then mamas who went from 0 to 10 in just a few hours!

Lots of people (including total strangers) have been asking how I have been sleeping, and the answer is wonderfully! I don’t want to jinx it, but there have only been two or maybe three nights (including Sunday night) where I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. I am so, so thankful I haven’t had a lot of insomnia during the past nine months and feel so badly for any women that do. For me, it is my brain going a mile-a-minute and not being able to turn it off! But, whether you are working at an office or at home with your kids, a full night’s sleep is a necessity! Fingers crossed I will continue to sleep well at night since I know once this baby comes that will change!

After my appointment with the mid-wife last week I had a pre-natal massage. You guys, it was the best! I never had one with Eloise because I didn’t have a good recommendation for a pre-natal masseuse, but this time around a good friend referred me to a wonderful gal who was more than qualified. I am not huge into massage but it can be really relaxing for me, and with all that my body is doing at this point, it was nice to get some work done. Plus, it meant I got to lay down and take a little snooze during the middle of the day! If I were to do it again, I would schedule pre-natal massages for at least once per trimester!

Also, we finally figured out the car seat arrangement in our new car that works for everyone! I had mentioned either in a weekend post or a bump post previously that we couldn’t make the two car seats work in the back seat AND have Aaron (and his long legs) be able to fit in the driver’s seat comfortably. We really had two options: (1) turn Eloise to be forward-facing (since it makes her seat much less deep!) or (2) buy another car seat for Eloise that was less deep than her current one. We are currently borrowing one of Amanda’s Diono car seats (since we need an extra car seat for Eloise for when my parents get into town) which gave us a good insight into how another seat would fit in our car. We really like the Diono and are really considering it for when Baby Foot grows out of the infant seat, but it didn’t give us as much space as we had hoped. After re-arranging all of the seats in our car, Aaron realized he was able to change the angle of Eloise’s current seat so it was super up-right, and lo and behold it fits behind the driver’s seat while Aaron is driving! Hooray! Seriously. This is the BEST news. I didn’t really want to have to buy another car seat at this point (mostly because we really don’t have space to store Eloise’s current seat (it’s super bulky!) but I didn’t want to feel like my only choice was to turn Eloise forward-facing if she wasn’t ready. This is a really personal decision for a lot of parents, but one that I was willing to stand firm on. Technically Eloise can be forward in the car because she is over the age of 2 (which is state law) but she is well within the height and weight limits of the rear-facing for her current car seat as well as the fact that nearly everyone that knows anything about car safety will tell you that facing backwards in the car is the most safe (actually even for grown-ups!). Okay, so there’s the end of that long digression…

And here’s my 38 week update with Eloise!

And lastly, since I didn’t do professional maternity photos this time around (see Eloise’s here) and wasn’t really showing when our Christmas cards were taken (I was just 25 weeks along), I wanted to be sure to capture at least a few moments of this Baby Foot bump. So thanks to my super awesome hubby for getting some really sweet shots! (Sidenote: I promise that I am clothed the last few shots!)

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Happy 38 weeks! And Happy Valentine’s Day!

M