Solo Parenting: How to Cope When you Feel Alone

As a military spouse you may spend a lot of time parenting by yourself. This may not what you have envisioned when you got married and started having kids! When you get overwhelmed here are some ways to keep a level head.

One of the first things I heard after I married my husband was that I might was well get used to being alone, after all I’d spend the majority of our marriage being a single parent. While yes in our two years of marriage we have spent the same if not more time apart then living together, I am not nor will I ever be a single mother, no matter how much SOLO parenting I do.

On many non-military blogs I have seen many articles criticizing married moms who have spouses that are away a lot calling themselves a single mom. I have seen posts in military groups, criticizing spouses for describing themselves as single moms. But I get it. It is hard knowing that daddy or mommy is not coming home at 5:30 to give you a bit of a reprieve. No one else to change diapers, rock the baby to sleep, help fix dinner, or just allow you to escape for a quick shower! So I think we need a term to describe it, and then we need to use it!

Solo-Parenting.

Whether you are solo parenting due to a deployment, TDY, field time, or any other number of reasons for however long it can be exhausting.

So how do you cope with Solo Parenting?

There are some specific strategies that can be used to help those solo-parenting when you start to get overwhelmed.

~ Prior to your Spouse leaving, talk about any potential big decisions that will need to be made.

If you talk about any decisions that need to be made before your spouse leaves, then you won’t be stressed about making any big decisions alone or trying to get in touch with your spouse who made be unreachable. This is one of the differences between solo parenting and single parenting is that you have another person to be a sounding board for potentially difficult decisions. While not all situations can be predicted, there are some that just come in the course of time. Like age limits for things such as vaccinations, how to raise your children, or even less important things like- ear piercings. I know how stressful it can be to try and have to make important decisions alone. My husband would not be present at her birth, so before he left we talked about how he wanted her to be treated. Do we want her fully vaccinated? How did he feel about formula use? What were his opinions on events happening in an emergency?

As for after she was born: how do you want our sleeping arrangements be? He may not be here now but eventually we will all be a family living in one house again and so while it may not affect him in the moment, it will in the future if she is in our bed and he comes home and she struggles to adjust to a crib. How does he want to be involved in her doctors appointments? If your kids are older discussing things like schooling is important. How do you want family to be involved?

Involving your partner will make you feel less alone and more like you are in the partnership you probably envisioned for your parenting.

~ Know when you are at the end of your rope.

Knowing when you are so exhausted, or so stressed is important because we all need to know when to step back and ask for help! Asking for help can be so hard. We want to give the impression that we can do it all, because we don’t want to feel inferior to all those who appear to have it all together. I will tell you a secret that everyone knows but nobody believes. Not a single one of us can do it all 100% of the time! Everyone needs help and rest! If you take care of yourself before you reach the end of your rope, then you can keep going longer! When your spouse is home you may be able to get that break before you realize you are in desperate need of one. But when you are the sole parent in the house and nobody is coming home to relieve you it can sneak up on you. So take note of your mental, emotional, and physical state when that happens so you can begin to notice it the next time. And then when you’re there reach out! And remember it takes a village.

~ Take care of yourself with lots and lots of self-care.

Self-care is so important that I have written about it so many times:

If you practice self care regularly it will take you much much longer to reach the end of your rope. This means asking for help so you can get a break to practice good self-care. It is even more important when you are the sole caregiver for your little ones with out any in home reinforcements.

 

 

As a military spouse you may spend a lot of time parenting by yourself. This may not what you have envisioned when you got married and started having kids! When you get overwhelmed here are some ways to keep a level head.

What was in my Hopsital Bag & What I Actually Used

I read so many check lists of what I should back in my labor hospital bag! So here is what I took, and what I actually used out of my bag!

So I haven’t written about my birth experience. But I wanted to share what I packed in my Hospital bags and what I actually used.

In preparing for the hospital I spent so much time on Pinterest and Read boards trying to figure out exactly what I needed to pack in my hospital bag. After reading what seemed to be 100s of blogs I came up with my check lists.

I decided the best way to do it was to pack to separate bags- one for the labor and delivery part of my stay, and one for the recovery part of my stay. That way I wasn’t moving too much stuff across the hospital during my stay. I could leave my recovery bag in the car until I was moved.

So here is what was in my Labor and Delivery Bag:

  1. Essential Oils and Diffuser. I brought Peppermint, Lemon, Orange, Lavender, and Young Living’s Gentle Baby Oils. I also brought a blend I made in a roller bottle that is supposed to help support Labor and can be applied to the flex points on your inner ankles. Even though I am very open to and will likely use medications in my labor process, I also wanted to supplement with natural means as well. I did use my diffuser, but I only diffused Gentle Baby during labor. It was honestly too much to think to change scents. So pick a favorite and stick to that
  2. Camera and Charger. I definitely want some pictures of when I first meet her and so I have my camera so my mom can capture some of those moments for me. My camera definitely got used, but not enough to need the charger since it was fully charged. More pictures were taken on my phone and my moms.
  3. Cell phone and charger. If I am given the opportunity hopefully I will be able to talk to my hubby throughout some of the process.
  4. DVDs to distract myself. This was definitely helpful at the beginning, but after a certain point I was in too much pain to pay any attention to it and turned it off.
  5. A robe and slippers. This will allow me to walk around during labor without exposing myself. Didn’t use this in labor but definitely came in handy during recovery.
  6. A sports bra to wear in the shower if I decide to labor in the shower at all.  Couldn’t get out of bed.
  7. Vasaline for my lips. I’ve read labor can really dry your lips out.  A definite YES!
  8. Face wipes. I bought the Neutrogena Grapefruit face wipes. For me they have a ver cooling effect and will be refreshing.  Another Definite YES!

In my Recovery Bag:

  1. I will keep my slippers and Robe with me in my recovery room from my L&D bag
  2. I will also keep my diffuser especially to difuse Gentle Baby in my recovery Room. I will also have another roller ball blend of Fennel and Clary Sage to help my milk come in.
  3. Multiple sleep nursing bras I just wore one nursing night gown the whole time since I was only in recovery room one night.
  4. Nursing night gowns
  5. Granny Panties to wear on the way home So glad I had these to wear home. I wore them over the mesh undies to keep them in place!
  6. Toiletries so I can shower Never showered 
  7. A dark colored towel- I bought the cheapest one I could find a Target so when it gets ruined, I won’t mind
  8. Boppy Pillow So helpful in my sleepless state to start nursing
  9. Pillow from home Loved having my own pillow
  10. Socks
  11. Milk Makers Tea and Granola Bars
  12. Earth Mom New Momma Bottom Spray
  13. Nipple Cream
  14. Nursing tank and leggings or a maxi skirt to wear home. I wore a night gown home!
For Baby:
  1. A few different home coming outfits in different sizes.
  2. Larger Muslin swaddle blankets- I find them so much easier than the small hospital receiving blankets to swaddle.
  3. Water Wipes- my hospital does not provide wipes, but does provide diapers.
  4. Socks and a hat for the ride home.
  5. Car seat (obviously)

I read so many check lists of what I should back in my labor hospital bag! So here is what I took, and what I actually used out of my bag!

Celebrating Baby’s First Christmas

This year our family is excited to celebrate Baby's First Christmas! Here are some ways we are going to include her in our new traditions!

What a time of celebration!! Baby’s first Christmas. Such a fun milestone for baby, no matter how little they are when Christmas arrives. This year will be baby’s first christmas at just a few weeks old! And I can’t wait to celebrate in all the glory it will be! I have been shopping for her Christmas presents for a few weeks now. Of course since she is only a few weeks old she will have no clue they are Christmas presents, and they are all toys she would have gotten from us to begin with! But still it’s fun for me to shop for her in that way.

So what are some of the greatest ways to celebrate Baby’s First Christmas?

  1. Pictures with Santa! I went and found her a cute Christmas outfit for her to wear for Christmas pictures with Santa. Yes she will only be a few weeks old, but maybe that means we can get at least one Santa picture where she isn’t screaming her head off at a stranger!
  2. Picking out perfect Christmas dress for Christmas Eve Church. The Christmas Eve Carol Candle-Light service is one of my favorite services of the year. I love it. And in the south dressing up in your Christmas best is second only to Easter. So finding a cute Christmas dress is a fun thing to do in preparing for Baby’s First Christmas
  3. Christmas Jammies. Baby’s spend so much time in their jammies in the first couple months so what could be better than adorable Christmas jammies for a baby!
  4. Using baby’s hand and foot prints to make adorable Christmas memory keepsakes!

First Holidays are so much fun to experience. And this one was so much fun to celebrate with friends and family!

This year our family is excited to celebrate Baby's First Christmas! Here are some ways we are going to include her in our new traditions!

Third Trimester Bump-Date

As my first pregnancy ends I wanted to share the ups and downs of my third trimester! How her nursery came along & all the highlights!

I can’t believe I have made it to my due date so quickly! As my third trimester comes to a close I wanted to share how the last three months of this pregnancy have gone! Its been both challenging and fun! But I am so excited to meet our Little Miss, so whenever she wants to make her debut, we are ready for!

The Last Move

The start of this trimester marked the final move of the pregnancy! I started my third trimester by saying “see you later” to my hubby as we flew off in opposite directions! It was incredibly emotional for both of us. But after we made it to our destinations it was much easier to keep going (because he had to for work & I needed to find my new normal).

Being where I was finally going to bring baby home I was able to start getting my room ready for her! Finally letting my nesting instincts come out! Wanting to buy everything at once has been my biggest struggle! I was so ready to have stuff all set up! However, I managed to slow myself down and do it piecemeal. After all when I arrived I still had 3 whole months left! For the small room that I have to share with her I am so excited about how it turned out. Check out our shared bedroom & nursery! I love the way the colors can be subtle and adult, but also fun for a baby girl! Plus everything can be reused for her toddler room once we make it to our next location.

Just look at how cute I was able to make the room!

Plus, my dad has been so helpful in helping me hang up everything and build all the baby gear! Definitely could not have done that all by myself!

My Pregnancy Health

Health wise I have been lucky in that I have a super healthy baby! Everything has been going great. I have of course had my hiccups. Unfortunantly one isn’t such a small hiccup. At 24 weeks I failed my 1 hour glucose test and was called back in. At 26 weeks I failed the 3 hour glucose test! Despite everyone telling me that I was going to be just fine, that plenty of people have to take the three hour test and never actually get diagnosed with GD.

Well I guess I was just wasn’t one of those people. I have been lucky that I have been able to manage my GD with diet. I didn’t have to take any medications or insulin to help manage my blood sugar. But it has taken great creativity to find ways to curb my sweet cravings- I definitely miss ice cream!! It has been really hard since fall approached in full swing as pumpkin treats are one of my favorites, and they are all super sugary and carby!

Because of the Gestational Diabetes the growth of our Little Miss has been monitored pretty closely to make sure she isn’t getting too big, too fast! Its been fun to get to see her and check on her every few weeks! Even though I know she is always healthy because her movements are constant if I am sitting still for more than 5 minutes!

As I get closer to the end of my pregnancy they grow more and more worried that she will be too large to deliver vaginally. At 32 weeks she was 5lbs, measuring 3 weeks ahead. At 36 weeks she was still 3 weeks ahead weighing 8.5lbs. So they are bringing me back at 39 weeks to check her size one more time before delivery. They are worried her size will be too big. However, they don’t induce labor for large babies.

Because of this I have been doing a lot of research on c-sections since this was not part of my plan originally.

But pricking my finger 4 times a day has definitely not been the highlight of this pregnancy!

My Birth Plan

I also attended a Child Birth Class at the Hospital at my mom’s instance. It was there I learned that I had completely ignored the childbirth part of pregnancy and in my mind always skipped over it straight to the baby being born. I think it’s because I knew my hubby would not be around for her birth and that scared me so I just chose not to acknowledge it. Now that it is so close I have had no choice but to begin to acknowledge the birthing process. Of course just as I began to come up with a plan (As quickly and painlessly as possible- I am terrified of the pain!!), a planned c-section became an option on the table due to Baby L’s supposedly large size!

Highlight of the Third Trimester

The highlight of my third trimester has definitely been getting my maternity photos done. I had them done around 33-34 weeks. I wanted to have a clear belly, but I could see the swelling starting to creep up and wanted to feel great in my pictures! Especially since I am planning to do them on the beach! I mean when in Hawaii, you have to do your pictures on the beach! Here are some of my favorites!!

                          

 

My photographer did an awesome job and I am so pleased with how they turned out.

Some other highlights have been getting to see her squishy little face on the ultrasounds as they monitor her growth. While I would totally give up the extra ultrasounds if it meant I didn’t have to go through GD, I love that I get those little extra moments with her!

But as the pregnancy draws to a close I have some final reflections I want to share:

Even though it hasn’t always been easy, I have loved being pregnant.

As you have read in previous posts and this one as well, my pregnancy hasn’t been the smoothest, or always easy. I was so sick in the beginning, emotionally it was hard knowing our family would be separated for almost her whole first year of life, diagnosed with GD, and back pain. But I wouldn’t trade any of these things! I have loved being pregnant, even when its been hard. I was so excited when I got to the 2nd trimester and pregnancy felt like what I always had imagined. And while we aren’t planning to have another any time soon, I know I will look forward to it all again. Even the constant rib kicks, because they let me know she is doing ok!

As much as I have loved Pregnancy I think I will love being a mom so much more!

All of this has prepared me so much for the challenges that might arrive in motherhood. But I think it will be so much sweeter than this time has been. I can’t wait to cradle her, hold her, snuggle her! I can’t wait to introduce her to family and watch them love her! She is already so loved! And I can’t wait for her to feel that!

As my first pregnancy ends I wanted to share the ups and downs of my third trimester! How her nursery came along & all the highlights!

IF you are new to the blog and wanna check out the rest of my pregnancy journey see my first and second trimester Bump-dates!

Choosing a Parenting Style Before Baby Arrives

With so many books available to soon to be parents all claiming to hold all the secrets how do you choose which parenting philosophy is best for you?

 

There are so many books out there that all promote their own philosophy on how to keep your new born happy and yourself sane during the transition of adding a baby to your family. Books like The Happiest Baby on the Block, What to Expect the First Year, On Becoming Baby Wise, and so many more all offer their own solution to getting your baby to sleep more and cry less! I have read so many books on helping toddlers behave, teens be compliant and respectful and parenting strategies for the ages in between, but I have read so little about the infant stage. So as a naturally curious person I dove into books promising to help my infant the most. I wanted to be prepared. But I was quickly confronted with a choice. How do I want to raise and treat my infant? And guess what, she isn’t even here yet! I still have quite a few more months in fact! How am I supposed to make those kinds of decisions before I even meet her!

                              

The trap that these books set for new sleep deprived parents is that if you can’t follow them to a T you are failing your baby! And that simply is not true. There is no one size fits all parenting strategy because no two kids or parents are exactly alike. I have talked to many new moms and they feel the pressure to make sure their feedings last so long, go through extreme measures to make sure their baby stays awake for a full feeding and stays awake for a certain amount of time after the feeding. And when hormones are already raging after birth it can create quite a tense situation between the two parents.

Each book claims they have the best way to calm down your infant so they get the most sleep (theoretically so you do too), and help them be the happiest baby possible! But you must adhere to their premises, their schedules and philosophies behind their decisions. And typically, they say to start from birth! But what if the one you pick doesn’t work for you in application, or your baby just won’t follow an “Eat, Play, Sleep” schedule? Guess what it’s ok! In this post I am going to summarize some of the most popular infant parenting philosophy books. And then show you how you can mix and match them together to make it work for you.

  • Happiest Baby on the Block: The premise behind this strategy is the 4th Babies are not prepared to be out of the womb yet and are still very underdeveloped. By mimicking the sounds and feel of being in the womb it will reduce colic in babies. He has 5 S’s that help you mimic the womb and when done together in the perfect combination induce the calming reflex. The 5 S’s are: swaddling, sucking (nursing, bottle, or pacifier), shushing sounds, side/stomach laying (not for sleep- but in your arms to calm them down), and swinging. When parents do all of this to mimic the womb it will reduce colic. His research is based by studying the parenting strategies of cultures all around the world, particularly those that have the smallest incidence rate of reported colicky babies.
  • Baby Wise: Baby wise follows a strict wake/sleep schedule and has adjustments all for baby’s first year. They are proponents of a strict “Eat, play, sleep” schedule. I feel like this is the most strict parenting philosophy because the book includes timed schedules for each week from one to 52. Including how many naps, how long they should nap, and when they should be woken up. What if your baby just won’t follow this schedule, maybe their metabolism is faster and so they get hungry quicker and end up waking up more often at night? This book also says you should not rock, nurse or comfort your baby to sleep. This can be super difficult for a new mom. Who wants to listen to a new baby scream in protest? Definitely not me, or anybody I know either!

No new parent wants to feel like they are failing their new helpless little baby, but this can happen when parents try to adhere to only one philosophy that was picked before they even meet their baby! But we are often warned to not spoil our infants. Don’t nurse them to sleep, they will pick up bad habits and we will be doing it forever. Don’t let them sleep in the swing- they will never sleep in a crib after that. No pacifiers, they will get attached. Don’t pick them up every time they cry. They will learn to cry to get their way.

But guess what? Babies do not have the mental capacity to be manipulative in that sense. They just don’t know how to get their needs met. But meeting an infant’s needs is quite simple: change, feed, love them. If you can do those three things then all your infants needs will be met. You can’t spoil your baby too much! In fact, there have been recent studies that show cuddling your infant and picking them up on demand when they cry has positive impact on their brain development! Now what new parent doesn’t want that!

SO here is how to take those popular parenting philosophies and make them work for you!

What Baby Wise does well:

reinforce the importance of routine with infants. This is so important. Babies love predictability and routine. It allows them to predict what is going to happen next. That is comforting for an infant who depend on mom and dad for everything. Gives you the basics of sleep training for older babies- after the first 3 months or so. If you want to follow along exactly it provides sample timelines for each age bracket as your baby ages from birth to the first year.

What Happiest Baby does well:

What Baby Wise misses to me is how to help comfort a baby who isn’t following the timelines to a T! It gives parents step by step strategies for how to calm down a baby. It helps gives parents confidence moving forward when comforting their baby. Reinforces the idea that you can’t spoil your baby. If you have to nurse your newborn to sleep then its ok. And provides ages when more and more boundaries becomes helpful, starting around 9 months.

Remember, parenting is not a size fits all endeavor.

What worked for your 1st baby might not work for your 2nd. Or what worked for your neighbor might not work for you, and that’s ok! If you pick one strategy before the baby arrives and it doesn’t work for you when the baby arrives, its ok! Adjust! And enjoy your new bundle of joy!

With so many books available to soon to be parents all claiming to hold all the secrets how do you choose which parenting philosophy is best for you?

What is on my Baby Registry

One of the things I was most excited about doing during pregnancy was putting together my baby registry. There are so many components! Here's what I picked!

One of the things I was most excited to do during my pregnancy was making my baby registries! I love browsing baby registries to find the perfect gift for my friends showers! So I couldn’t wait to get started on my own baby registry! I even started before we knew if we were having a boy or a girl, picking out gender neutral items.

I decided to make two registries (see why multiple registries are handy here): Target and Amazon. And between the two I was definitely able to find everything I needed for reasonable prices. Knowing I would not be able to furnish an entire nursery, would have limited storage space and would be sharing a room with baby the first year I chose space conscious, multi purpose items whenever I could.

What I am using as a Crib & Bassinet:

To save space in my room- I knew I wouldn’t have room for a full size crib I found The Graco Travel Lite Crib . It has stages so it can accommodate baby as she grows!

And then for a bassinet I found the Graco DreamGlider that is a two for one item! It is a swing and a bassinet! The back can be moved to an incline for babies that have acid reflux! In all my years as a nanny, no piece of baby gear ever saved me more than the swing, so I was definitely putting one of these on my registry.

Since the crib is an odd shape, I found these sheets and waterproof liners that will fit the mini pack n play! Mine and babies room will be grey and pink, with mint details and flowers. So these grey sheets work perfectly for her bed too! The Kushies Baby Bassinet Fitted Sheet fit and are so cute, plus being 100% cotton will keep her cool in the warm Hawaiian weather. Munchkin Waterproof Changing Pad will protect both the swinging bassinet and the pack n play in even of a blowout!

                                   

Car seat and Stroller:

I had read so many great things about the Chicco Keyfit car seat. So off to the baby store I went to try out how easy it was to lift the car seat, how heavy it was and more. And when I liked it I decided to check out the stroller that went with it! It folds easily and small, and is fairly light. So I chose the Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System to easily meet all my needs! The Keyfit car seat is the number one safety rated car seat across numerous panels including Consumer Report! A baby seat is namely about safety and so I feel confident in choosing this one! If you need more convincing just check out some of the reviews on Amazon!

Play Gym & Toys:

Because I knew I wasn’t going to have a full nursery and I would be saving money from not having to buy a crib, a glider, changing table due to lack of space I thought I might be able to splurge a little bit in some other areas! Like the play gym I picked out. It is the Infantino Grow-with-Me Playtime Teepee. Just look at how cute it is!

I think she will love it, and as she gets bigger we can remove the mobile and she can have a fun play space!

Baby Bath:

Originally I wanted to get a sink bath support since the house is small, and doesn’t have a lot of storage space. Normally those are smaller and take up less space and I figured this would be our best bet. But, the kitchen has no counter space and the bathroom sink has no vanity. So we decided that a smaller tub I can put in the big tub will be the best bet. Then I save money by only having to buy one baby bath. Because I have seen it in action, used it, and its collapsible I picked the Stokke Flexi Bath with Newborn Support.

And then to save my knees and elbows I found these two products! I love the what theme going on with baby bath supplies. For my knees I am getting the Milliard Bath Kneeler Cushion Mat and for an elbow rest, Skip Hop Moby Bath Elbow Saver. I think these will make bath time easier on me!

Baby Carriers:

I was a nanny and a baby sitter for nearly 12 years at this point in my life! So I have tried a lot of baby carriers out. And my favorite is the Baby Tula Ergonomic Baby Carrier! It is so comfortable to wear, wasn’t hard on my back and is cute too! Since you have to purchase an infant insert to support them as newborns I wanted a wrap style a carrier instead for the early weeks. I decided to try the Baby K’tan Original Baby Carrier. I wasn’t excited about the moby wrap and trying to figure out how to wrap it on my own. But the baby K’Tan is based on your t-shirt size so it is already more fitted to my size.

A baby carrier was important to have because my hubby won’t be home during her first year. I can use the carrier so I can get chores around the house done, like laundry.

Nursing Essentials:

I plan to breastfeed our little one when she arrives and so being prepared to nurse was important to me! My favorite nursing bras are the Gilligan and O’Malley brand from Target! They are affordable and so comfortable! I may never go back to wearing an underwire bra again!!

But I wanted to make sure I was prepared as possible so I also went for a Boppy Nursing Pillow on recommendations from family! I know babies make a lot of mess- from leaking diapers to blowouts and spit up, so I wanted to protect the boppy so I could save it for future babies with a Boppy Water Resistant Protective Cover and a washable cover in a fun color, Boppy Pillow Slipcover Trellis Turquoise.

Beside a nursing pillow I wanted to be prepared with breast pads. I got some Medela Washable Bra Pads, and UpSpring All Natural Nipple Balm so that I don’t have to remember to wipe it off before each feeding. I also have already had some tenderness, so I’m worried about the level of sensitivity and tenderness at the beginning. These heating pearls by Lansinoh TheraPearls should provide relief.

Diaper Bag:

The diaper bag is another item I picked out because I had used it while babysitting. It is cute enough to use as your every day bag. Plus its roomy with lots of pockets. The Skip Hop Baby Duo Diaper Bag w/ Mat can double as my purse, meaning I only have to carry one bag. As a bonus it has a changing mat for public bathrooms. And can easily hang on the back handles of the stroller so I won’t have to carry it while pushing her around!

So there you have it! All the basics on my baby registry! I am so excited to be setting up the nursery and getting to start using all these baby products soon! Be on the look out for reviews of them as I get to use them more!

 

What were your favorite registry items?

One of the things I was most excited about doing during pregnancy was putting together my baby registry. There are so many components! Here's what I picked!

How Nesting is Preparing me For Breastfeeding

One area my nesting has centered around is breastfeeding preparation. I wanted to share some of the ways I am preparing to breastfeed with all of you!

A few weeks ago I wrote about my nesting instincts and all the ways I was working on getting ready for our Little Miss before we made it to Hawaii and I could start getting her nursery/my room all set up! Now that I have just two short months left till we meet her, I am nesting in a whole new way! One of the biggest things I am preparing for her arrival is preparing to breastfeed!

I have heard stories that run the gamut.  From being super easy- latching for baby is easy and happens quickly, milk supply comes in easy and in full force. All the way to struggling with latch and supply issues. I know there is no real way to prepare for breastfeeding. So much is dependent on your baby, you just have no idea what will happen. I am trying to educate myself as much as possible. And have as many tools at my disposal as I can to begin with. This includes a determination to breastfeed, and tools like a nursing pillow, nipple balm, and lactation teas and treats.

I want to share a little bit about how I am preparing to be able to breastfeed.

I set up my Registries to Promote Breastfeeding Success.

From the beginning I knew that I wanted to breastfeed my baby if we are able to do so! Of course, if she is having health issues and we struggle then I am totally open to formula or exclusively pump. But it is my goal to breastfeed for the first year. So, when I started setting up my registry I added breastfeeding essentials to my registry.  I registered for a boppy pillow, nnipple balm, nursing cover, nursing pads- disposable and washable, and a rocker to comfortably nurse in. Another essential piece of baby gear that is often recommended to promote breastfeeding is a baby carrier. I also registered from lactation tea and goodies- cookies and granola bars that had good recommendations.

These are not items that many people purchase as shower gifts. However, having them on the registry will help you feel prepared; just like purchasing bottles and formula will help you feel prepared to feed your baby that way.

Another essential tool for breastfeeding is a good nursing bra and nursing tanks. I have purchased a couple of nursing bras from Target and some tanks from Motherhood Maternity; but there are so many options out there.

I’m sure all you mamas-to-be out there know how daunting it can be to try and pick out a nursing bra before you’ve started your breastfeeding journey, so I wanted to share a new option that’s on the market. ThirdLove recently released their nursing bra collection and it looks as cute and stylish as it is functional! Their nursing bras come in wired and wireless versions so you can find something that works for you no matter your preference. It’s nice to be able to stock up on both styles so that once baby comes you can test out which works best for you. Don’t forget that your size is probably going to fluctuate once you’re nursing, so have a variety of sizes on hand to avoid squeezing into a bra that’s suddenly way too small!

I spend time Researching

As a blogger, one of the first places I turned to for information (other than friends and family) was the internet and other bloggers. Reading firsthand accounts about what made their breastfeeding journey a success or failure really helped me nail down what I needed to do to start my journey out on the right foot. So I went and bought the recommended books other bloggers shared. I added the products they wished they had to my registry to keep track of the best tools I needed to succeed.

One of the most popular books was the ­The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding that is put out by the La Leche League. It is a comprehensive manual that includes trouble shooting for when issues arise. I also plan to register and for a breastfeeding class at the local hospital. They talk about latch, storing pumped milk, and other breastfeeding essentials.

 

I talked to Friends and Family

As a part of my research I reached out to friends and family members that have breastfed their babies. They told me about their favorite nursing bras, how they kept track of feeding schedules. They told me which were their favorite nipple creams from natural coconut oil based products to lanolin. What I learned was that what works for one might not work for everyone. But, there are so many options out there that everyone can find something that works for them.

Another friend who is big into natural wellness suggested the use of essential oils. Fennel and Clary Sage are both great essential oils for helping establish your supply. I plan to ask about this at the breastfeeding class.

I Choose a Baby-Friendly Hospital

OK, now I know being on military insurance that I didn’t have a great deal of choice in where I would deliver my baby. But there are a lot of things that Tripler Army Medical Center does to promote breastfeeding success. If there are no required medical interventions necessary from mom or baby then skin to skin is immediate. I will immediately be handed baby to hold and try to nurse her.

After I am moved to the mother-baby recovery unit, then baby remains in the room with me. This promotes nursing success because baby is right there. I won’t have to wait for the nurses to bring her to me to nurse her. This will help me identify her feeding cues even early on. Breastfeeding works on a supply and demand schedule, and so the more I nurse the more supply I will make.

Furthermore, while I am in the recovery unit, I will have access to a lactation consultant. She will be able to help me assess baby’s latch and guide me on nursing positions that will work for us and other helpful tips.

I also plan to take my lactation teas and cookies & granola bars to the hospital with me so that I can begin using them right away. I have heard this is the best way to establish a good supply.

Like preparing for anything as a new mom there is only so much preparation I can do.

Everything will depend on how baby is when she arrives, but I am a planner. Since breastfeeding is important to me I am preparing the best I can. As a SAHM I don’t have to worry about the stresses working moms have when it comes to breastfeeding. I also have a supportive community behind me. My hubby is supportive (even from afar!). My parents who will be primary supports are also supportive. They purchased the rocker for their living room for me to nurse in.  Preparation is key and I can’t wait for her arrival so I can start my breastfeeding journey!

One area my nesting has centered around is breastfeeding preparation. I wanted to share some of the ways I am preparing to breastfeed with all of you!

Baby Proofing Your Marriage

Becoming a parent is a huge shift in your marriage! But it shouldn't detract from the intimacy between you and your spouse!

We’ve all heard it said that your marriage is more important after you have children, not less. Yet, there has been a huge shift in parenting over the last several years in which we are always putting our children first.

The reason our marriages matter more after children is because our marriage is a model of what healthy relationships look like. And parenting children is so much easier when you are a team. And being a co-parenting team is much easier when you have a solid spousal relationship. Always remember that before you were a mom and dad, you were a husband and wife.

While I was working in the Chaplain’s office at Ft. Benning I read And Baby Makes Three: The Six-Step Plan for Preserving Marital Intimacy and Rekindling Romance After Baby Arrives by John Gottman. I liked it so much that it’s a book I highly recommend to all parents and parents to be (I even list it on my resource page!)

I value Gottman’s insights on marriage and so I really took some of his principles to heart in preparation for when we had our own kids. And it sure is coming in handy now! Gottman has Six Steps for Maintaining Romance After Children. Who doesn’t want to keep that spark alive? Nobody goes into having children intending to neglect their marriage. But during the new born phase so much of a new parents’ life begins to revolve around the new baby. The new baby’s eating schedule, sleeping schedule. And suddenly the intimacy and closeness between husband and wife begins to decrease. It just happens.

Maintaining the same level of romance and intimacy takes a lot of work. Here are just a few of the steps he recommends for maintaining Intimacy and Romance in your marriage:

  • Soften how you bring up a problem
  • The importance of repair
  • Accepting influence
  • Savoring your friendship
  • Giving Grace

Giving Grace

It is not about avoiding problems that may come up as new parents, but finding positive strategies to manage the problems as they occur. Tensions can begin to run high in the first few months home with a new baby. Neither parent is particularly experienced or confident in their parenting abilities. This insecurity can make emotions run high. New moms have a surge of hormones to top it all off making them even more prone to being emotional. Lack of sleep also contributes to the rise in tensions in the home. Nobody can function at their best when they are being awoken every two to four hours.

So small events may turn into larger disruptions than might be normal. When this happens remember to give yourself grace. And to give your partner grace.

Giving your partner grace can be more difficult for new moms. New moms may not see how the transition for their partner is as difficult for dad as it is for mom. New moms, especially those who nurse are now the primary source of survival for a new born and are often still struggling with postpartum symptoms. But both new Mom and Dad need grace during the transition into parenthood. Grace can help promote intimacy in your marriage because it will prevent harboring resentment. Resentment prevents intimacy because it allows there to be separation within the marriage. Resentment can build up walls. Walls up = no intimacy.

Importance of Repair

Because tensions run high during the transition from a two person family to a three person family, repair attempts are so important. Why? Because we may often hurt our spouse’s feelings. Making and accepting repair attempts is more telling of relationship satisfaction than how many arguments a couple has. But it is not enough for one person to constantly be making repair attempts; the other must accept them. By accepting the repair attempt you are coming back together and creating more intimacy. When you reject your partner’s repair attempt you are putting up a wall between you. This prevents intimacy from growing in your marriage.

Savoring Your Friendship

Remember what brought ya’ll together as a couple to begin with. Most likely it has something to do with a friendship that was cultivated. During the postpartum period sexual intimacy is off the table. So finding old ways to create intimacy is important. At the beginning of your relationship, most likely sex was no the element of your relationship that created intimacy. Most often intimacy is created through friendship which leads to a more sexually intimate relationship. Get back to basics and by spending time together you can help maintain levels of intimacy in your relationship. While you may not be able to find time to get away and spend one on one time with your spouse, spending time together as a new family can help you maintain your friendship. It is a way to create new memories and experiences together.

This is just a way to start maintaining intimacy in your relationship after the newest addition has arrived. If you are looking for more information check out Gottman’s book And Baby Makes Three. He has such relevant information for new parents!

Becoming a parent is a huge shift in your marriage! But it shouldn't detract from the intimacy between you and your spouse!

What to do when you Can’t Nest

One classic phenomenon in pregnancy is the desire to clean and prepare the house for baby, but what if you are pregnant and aren't where baby will make his or her appearance? Here are some ways to fulfill the need to nest when you can't do it physically.

I have always been super excited to decorate my baby’s nursery long before we had our first positive pregnancy test, to be honest, well before we even decided to start trying for a baby! I had a secret Pinterest board full of baby nursery ideas for both boys and girls! Of course soon after I found out I was pregnant I realized I wouldn’t be decorating any nursery! To say I was a little disappointed might be an understatement, but I quickly moved past it, and started dreaming about ways I could make a wonderful shared space for baby and I at my parents’ house! But dream is all I can do until I am more than seven months pregnant and starting my third trimester!

Not all pregnant women experience the phenomenon of nesting, but it is the intense feeling of wanting to clean and prepare your home for baby’s arrival. And all women experience at different points in the pregnancy. But I am a prepare-er, so I feel like I have felt this instinct since fairly early in the pregnancy, but without being able to really do much to prepare for her arrival since I had two moves to get through between when I found out I was pregnant and when our little Miss will finally make her arrival! This hit especially hard after the baby showers! I had all this cute baby stuff and all I could do was put it in boxes and suitcases as I prepared to fly to Hawaii.

For Military wives we may not always get the opportunity to nest in the traditional sense, maybe our nesting instincts get sublimated into a pack out and move out cleaning. Maybe we know we will be moving within a couple months of baby’s arrival and so we don’t want to put so much energy into making a Pinterest worthy nursery! Maybe we are living in a hotel waiting for housing at a new duty station when our next bundle of joy arrives. Whatever the case is, we can find ways to direct that energy and make the best out of it!

While I know the urge to nest typically hits the hardest towards the end of the pregnancy, it still has been challenging to be able to do so little to prepare for baby early. So here are some things I am doing to help ease my anxiety before I have a physical place to prepare:

  1. Ordering bigger pieces of gear and having them sent to my parents’ house. By having some of the bigger items already waiting for me it will be easier to set up the room when I get there with minimal rearranging once my bed is purchased (better believe that is the first stop we are making on the way back from the airport!). Since her bassinet and crib (A Graco dream glider bassinet and swing in one; and Graco travel lite crib with stages pack n play) are already at the house I can sleep easier knowing that should she make an early arrival she will have a place to stay.
  2. Lots of online research. I spent so much time researching the best baby items for small spaces. I have known since the beginning of the pregnancy that me and baby would share the one extra bedroom at my parents’ house for just about her whole first year! So, finding products that served multiple purposes, were small/portable and most space effective were so important to me. Thank goodness for Google and Pinterest. It made it so much easier to decide exactly which products I needed. Also, it was helpful to feel like I was picking out strollers and car seats without having to purchase and then transport large items. I now know exactly what I want and can order it as soon as I get there.
  3. Thankfully I am going to be living with my mom and dad, so I can send them hunting for items on island to get for me, so they will be ready for me when I get there. I can go to my local Target here look at it all and then send my mom the link so she can find it at her local Target! She can do that with baby items too! I have sent her to her Target with my baby registry so she can tell me which items are more expensive at her local target so that I can get those before I get there or order online instead of paying for the island mark-up!
  4. And finally, spend countless hours envisioning the space. Since my parents have been there for the last 8 or so years I have spent a great deal of time at their house for vacations even though I have never lived there. So making layouts of the room in my head has been helpful so when I get there, if I am too big to move it all around myself I can direct my dad with how I want everything to be!

So while I may not be able to nest in a traditional sense, I have found ways I can prepare for baby and reduce my anxiety so I don’t feel pressured to have everything done in the first few days upon arrival!

What are some of the non-traditional ways you have nested in preparation for your new addition?

One classic phenomenon in pregnancy is the desire to clean and prepare the house for baby, but what if you are pregnant and aren't where baby will make his or her appearance? Here are some ways to fulfill the need to nest when you can't do it physically.

Pregnancy Update: 2nd Trimester

When I shared our pregnancy announcement I included a pretty inclusive recap of my first trimester including the hardships of morning sickness and emotional sensitivity that I can thank my lovely hormones for. So now that I am through with my 2nd trimester I thought I would share another pregnancy update including our Gender Reveal!

So the start of my 2nd trimester marked our move from Fort Benning. Funnily enough during this pregnancy I will be in a different state for each trimester. So being home in South Carolina has been fun for this trimester because thankfully I am feeling so much better, no more morning sickness and nausea! There was a light at the end of the tunnel!! And pregnancy is really starting to be more like how I imagined it to be, although I didn’t look anything close to pregnant till I really hit 6 months! Now that bump is poppin’! It has been fun to be with family and friends when I am actually feeling good about being pregnant and getting to celebrate this time and prepare for baby with those who will love this baby along side of me. However, everyone told me my energy would be back in the 2nd trimester, and that simply hasn’t happened yet! I still need a nap during the day if I want to be awake past 9pm! But hey, I will take that over nauseated any day!

One of my favorite parts of the 2nd trimester was getting to find out the gender of our little bundle of joy. So Are ya’ll ready to find out???

I am so excited to say we will be having a little baby girl!! Everyone was right except my hubby- he thought it was a boy! I personally had no inkling one way or the other, although in my dreams (when I wasn’t dreaming it was twins) it was always a little girl! Everyone said they saw me with a little princess, and you know what, she isn’t even here yet and she is already a little diva. When I leave for Hawaii next month, she will have her own suit case of clothes she already has so many! (I just can’t help myself at TJ Maxx and the Consignment stores sometimes- they are just so cute! And so affordable!!).

She is a super active little baby! She kicks and flips and elbows me all day long until her daddy comes home from work (he still hasn’t felt her move because of this) and then starts up again once he is asleep! She has kicked me so hard several times I have actually seen my belly jump! I love feeling her move around in there letting me know she is ok! I just wish she would cooperate with me so her daddy could feel before he leaves. But with us as her parents, I am truly not surprised by her intense stubbornness.

She confirmed her stubbornness during the anatomy ultrasound. When the technician was trying to get some of the brain and head measurements, she put her hands over her head to block the camera! She was being too funny!! It took a while but eventually everything turned out looking perfect! We have a precious healthy baby!

Putting together baby registries has been so much fun also! I chose to do Target & Amazon! Both had really fun welcome gifts! It was so much fun to pick out all the things for baby! And imagining how they are going to be used!

I can’t wait to tell her how loved she was before she even made her appearance! Since this was the only trimester I would be near my husband’s family, my mom’s extended family and my friends, there were two showers thrown for her! My mom decided to have a gift card shower during our family reunion with her side of the family! Knowing I still had one move ahead of me before Little Miss arrived she wanted to make my life easier when traveling! She had some of the cutest games: the price is right! & Yummiest cupcakes!

Also while I was with my mom she took me shopping for some maternity clothes. And even though I didn’t have a very visible bump till month 6, the stretchy waist band of the shorts was so much more comfortable than my previous shorts! I found some really cute options!

And then my Sister in Law through another great shower with friends and my husband’s family! We had a great time, and I was so impressed with her gift wrapping skills! She had wrapped a whole clothes line of baby clothes ranging from new born to 24 months for us!! It was so cute! And I told her even the clothes pins would come in handy since my parents don’t have a dryer and they still line dry all their laundry!!

(that is my sister in law wearing the baby!)

So all in all the 2nd trimester has been really great so far! But it has not been without its difficulties either. Now that my appetite is back with a vengeance we don’t have a kitchen to make any food, living in a hotel is kind of the worst sometimes. And so, I can’t just make whatever food I am craving and fresh foods can be hard to come by!

Another drawback of the hotel room is there is really nowhere else to sit in the room other than the bed, which turns out is killer on your back to just sit in bed all day! So I have taken to doing all my work at Starbucks because at least I can sit in a chair for a few hours a day! Driving can also be hard on my back. One way I am alleviating some of this pain is through prenatal massages!

Heartburn is also a killer now. Being in the hotel means limited fridge space, and I get tired of water quickly so I have had the crystal light lemonade packets in our room, which have always gone down well before, but now I am finding that lemonade is giving me heart burn ☹ Tums have come to my rescue many many times!

Finally, not being able to nest has been hard, especially after all the baby showers and all the cute baby things I have! But only a few more weeks till I am in my final location before the birth! (+ more on this later!)

As my 2nd trimester comes to a close I am so excited about the final trimester, getting the baby’s room (also known as my room) settled at my parent’s house and getting into a good routine before the baby comes. Hopefully building a community of friends in Hawaii so that when the baby gets here I will be able to get out of the house. What a crazy journey it’s been so far!

Check out my latest BumpDate! The end of my 2nd trimester! It's a ....!