Saturday, April 23, 2016

You know you're a mom of an infant when...

You know you're a mom of an infant when...

You get really excited to go to Target at 8:00AM because diapers are on sale and you haven't left your home in four days.

You know you're a mom of an infant when...

You don't just buy baby supplies with real money.  First you whip out your manufacturers coupons, your store coupons, your store loyalty programs, your rebates, and a couple gift cards that have been floating around the bottom of your purse since your baby shower.  BOOM.

You know you're a mom of an infant when...

The cashier at the nearest store with cheap baby supplies recognizes you due to your savings skills and lets out a little sigh when you walk to her line.

You know you're a mom of an infant when...

 Every other word out of your mouth is basically "latch" or "supply."

You know you're a mom of an infant when...

 You know that breast pads exist and are so extremely necessary.

You know you're a mom of an infant when...

 You blow through an entire season of a show on Netflix in 48 hours while nursing.  

You know you're a mom of an infant when...

 You proceed to deplore at the fact that your show has ended and then search Netflix for a show that has at least three seasons.  Come ON, Netflix. Get with the program.

You know you're a mom of an infant when...

 You catch yourself absentmindedly singing nursery rhymes to yourself. All. The. Time.

You know you're a mom of an infant when...

 You know what pee tastes like.

You know you're a mom of an infant when...

 You slept for 2 hours last night and can function all day.

You know you're a mom of an infant when...

 You walk around with spit up on your shoulder for five hours and have absolutely no clue it's there.

You know you're a mom of an infant when...

 Someone informs you that you have spit up on your shoulder and you think, "Yeah, so what?"

You know you're a mom of an infant when...

 It no longer embarrasses you to talk about any bodily function in extreme detail.

You know you're a mom of an infant when...

 You can and will prepare lunch, eat lunch, start a load of laundry, put away the dishes, go to the bathroom, clean the litter box, and take out the trash in 20 minutes flat while a certain someone naps.

You know you're a mom of an infant when...

 You haven't taken a shower in three days.

You know you're a mom of an infant when...

 You finally get to take a shower and it feels like HEAVEN.

You know you're a mom of an infant when...

 Your entire world revolves around a tiny bald chubby person, but you wouldn't have it any other way.

These are some events and thoughts that certainly shaped the early days of motherhood for me.  Please add to my list in the comments and let me know when you knew you were a mom of an infant!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Little Harp's Birth Story

I'm not going to lie; I was hesitant to post Little Harp's birth story.  This story has a huge range of emotions that I don't normally like to display, being a naturally shy person.  However, I love reading other blogger's birth stories.  It's amazing how different they all are!  I think every birth is beautiful in its own way and it's important to share our experiences with each other.  Little Harp's birth was definitely unusual despite my normal pregnancy.  So, here it goes!
When I was 36 weeks and 5 days pregnant, I woke up in the middle of the night to my entire uterus hardening and a pain that felt like a belt tightening on my upper stomach.  After about a half hour, I realized that pain kept coming back every 6 minutes and it lasted for about a minute each time.  This feeling was a contraction!  I was in labor!  I excitedly jumped out of bed and paced around the apartment to speed things up.  Sure enough, the contraction frequency increased to 5 minutes.  My husband awoke from the sound of my footsteps, and as we were discussing if we should go to the hospital my contractions suddenly slowed down.  They were suddenly super erratic and lengthening to 15 minutes.  We decided to go back to bed.  Somehow I managed to fall asleep.

Think I'm going to tell you how I had the baby later that night?  Nope!  I woke up surprised to find that I had no contractions and no baby.  I was supremely disappointed, even though something inside of me told me it was for the best since he wasn't quite full term yet.

The next few weeks continued in the same manner.  Contractions would randomly occur about once a week for a few hours and then suddenly disappear again.  Though, they were never as close as they were the first time I felt them.  I was still working full time during this period, and it was quite a challenge to focus when I felt the contractions during work hours.  I think I gave a few people some really strange faces on more than one occasion.  This is me getting ready for work at 38 weeks pregnant and a whopping 1 cm dilated.
Around 10:00 or 11:00PM on November 1st, I started feeling contractions yet again as I was getting ready for bed.  I was 38 weeks and 6 days pregnant.  The contractions felt the same as they had in the past except there was more pressure lower.  At this point, the contractions were about 8 minutes apart.  I assumed that it was false labor yet again, crawled into bed, and waited to be taken away by dreams of adorable babies that I would seemingly never birth.

However, I couldn't fall asleep.  Every time I was almost asleep another contraction would hit, and they were just painful enough to wake me up.  After a couple hours, I gave up and hurled my huge belly out of bed.  I decided to watch Frozen (because I'm an adult...), walk in place, and eat toast until it stopped hurting.  It was during the chorus of "Let It Go" that I realized these contractions might actually be the real thing.   They were 5 minutes apart and had been for longer than I care to admit, despite the fact that I had changed my position, hydrated, and eaten.  I woke my husband up to get his opinion, and we had a long period of indecision caused by my confusion about what a "real" contraction felt like.

At 3:00AM, we were driving to the hospital.  It was so exhilarating knowing that Little Harp might be on his way!  My husband kept suddenly exclaiming "We're having a baby!!!"  When we got to the hospital, I was asked a series of admittance questions by first the emergency room attendant and then the nurse.  (Now I know I should have preregistered.)  Neither one of them seemed to think I was in labor, since I was able to hold up a conversation with both of them.  My answers to their questions just become a bit more succinct during the contractions.  As the nurse put it, women in labor were usually a "bit more... focused..."  At this point, I was embarrassed that we had driven to the hospital after what appeared to be more false labor.

At 4:00AM, the nurse checked my cervix to determine if I was in labor.  I was 4 centimeters dilated!  That meant I was in active labor and I was going to be officially admitted to the hospital.  Little Harp was actually coming!  Yahoo!

I continued to confuse all of the nurses as my labor progressed.  I definitely was in pain, but apparently I wasn't showing it.  I'm not sure if my pain tolerance is quite high or if I had simply gotten used to the pain after my bouts of false labor.  The nurse asked me if I thought I needed pain medication at all, but we agreed to start the preliminary blood work for an Epidural.

At 6:00AM, the nurse returned to inform me that my platelet count was only 65,000.  A normal platelet count ranges from 150,000 to 450,000.  Mine was far below average.  Platelets clot your blood when you get a wound to prevent further bleeding, so they are super important during childbirth.  Also, you can not receive an Epidural with low platelets.  I never had any issues with platelets or clotting before.  In fact, the typical platelet counts that are performed a couple times throughout pregnancy all came back normal for me.  I told the nurse of my history, and she left to relay the information to my doctor.  They decided to run the analysis again on the same sample and take a new sample.   I overheard some muttering that the seemingly healthy girl couldn't have a platelet count that low and that the new lab technician probably messed up.  They took more blood and determined that I was 6 cm dilated.

At 7:15AM, my husband and I could tell that something was not right.  There was suddenly a huge commotion in a hallway outside my room.  A bunch of new people had clearly just arrived and were talking very quickly to each other.  Finally, my doctor came in to inform me that my platelet count had in fact dropped to 61,000 in the second sample.  I was quite sick, and I was apparently getting slowly worse.  Because she didn't know exactly what was causing the issue and I still had a few more hours of labor left, she said I needed C-section for my own health.  Furthermore, due to my low platelets, I couldn't get an Epidural or a Spinal; I would have to get general anesthesia.  This meant I would be completely put under and my husband would not be able to come in the operating room.  I hated the idea of what was about to happen, but when you have about twelve people frantically rushing around in the hallway getting your operating room ready, you aren't going to say "No."  I'm guessing that I was 7 or 8 cm dilated at that point because my contractions were about 90 seconds apart.

As soon as she walked out of my room, the nurses came in to wheel me to the operating room.  I gave my husband a kiss and I was on my way.  That was probably the most scared I've been in my life.  I was scared my baby and I would have breastfeeding bonding issues since I wouldn't be able to hold him immediately.  I was scared I wouldn't remember my baby's first moments since waking up from general anesthesia is a slow process.  I was scared of complications from surgery.  I was scared of my ridiculous platelet count.  I was scared for my life.

When I got in the room they gave me some oxygen (I'm guessing they noticed I was about to give myself heart attack), and shortly after that I was out...

At 7:51AM, Little Harp was born.  He was 7 lbs 9 oz and 19.75 inches long and healthy as can be.
When I woke up, I pushed as hard as I could threw the fog created by anesthesia and pain killers in an attempt to build the memories I so desperately wanted.  I managed to retain some glimpses of what happened while the anesthesia was wearing off.

I remember my husband smiling down at me as someone on my right asked if they could place my baby on my bare chest.  I obliged and I felt a sudden warmth.  I looked down at that cute little face as he squirmed down my chest looking for food.  The lactation consultant to my left clapped excitedly.  Definitely no baby bonding problems here...

I remember frowning at the camera when my husband took a picture of us.  I must look horrible.  I can't even control my lips they are so numb...

I remember asking my husband to take a picture some time later when I realized he was right.  This was a moment for a picture even if I couldn't feel my face.  He kindly obliged...
I remember the anesthesiologist telling me that I was OK...  

I remember sending the message to my friends, family, and coworkers that Little Harp was here...

I don't remember much else from that day, but I know that there was a lot of sleep.  At that point I'd been awake (or been getting surgery) for at least 30 hours.

The next couple days were quite challenging.  I was gradually getting sicker, but I wasn't showing the typical signs of common pregnancy-related diseases.  In addition to my platelets, my liver enzymes had begun to reach unsafe levels.  Not to mention, I was learning how to breastfeed and recovering from a major surgery.  My strategy for coping with this was to simply ignore it and focus on my adorable newborn.  Once again, the nurses couldn't believe my mood.  But come on, look how cute this kid is!
Then, my doctor informed me that she was going to have to send me to another hospital with a better hematology unit if I didn't exhibit the proper symptoms to suggest a few possible diseases or simply get better by the next morning.  After she left, the feelings I had been suppressing for days finally came spilling out and it wasn't pretty.  That happened to be right when some relatives arrived.  Sorry, guys.  A couple hours later I developed the symptoms that supported one of my doctor's theories: high blood pressure and hemolysis.

It was official, I had HELLP syndrome, which is a life-threatening variant of preeclampsia.  I just happened to get HELLP syndrome the day I went into labor, and I just happened to show the symptoms in reverse order.  I got the severe symptoms like low platelets and and elevated liver enzymes first and the more benign symptoms like high blood pressure last.  I'm a medical anomaly!  Luckily, the cure for preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome is to have the baby.  I had already managed to do that, so all I had to do was wait.

The next morning I was already getting much better.  My platelet and liver enzyme levels were rapidly approaching normal levels and were completely normal within 24 hours.  Also, the incision from my C-section was healing as if I never lacked platelets at all.  I continued to have hypertension the next couple days, but we determined that there was a heavy correlation between my blood pressure increasing and when nurses came in the room.  Clearly, I had developed a fear health care professionals.

On November 6th, I was finally released from the hospital as a healthy new mother with a healthy baby boy.  I was so excited to leave the hospital and felt a wonderful rush of freedom as I exited the hospital doors.
If you stayed with me to the end, I'm impressed.  That was more than just a birth story; it was a recovery story.  I couldn't end it at the birth and leave you hanging!  Despite the last-minute struggles, my pregnancy and birth were a fantastic experiences that I wouldn't trade for anything.  Because of those experiences, I'm blessed with the best reward ever: a healthy, adorable, wiggly boy.  Little Harp has brought such joy to our little family and undoubtedly will continue to do so!  Welcome Little Harp!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

My Breastfeeding Essentials: What to Buy to Make Breastfeeding Easier

Disclaimer: I have not been compensated for this post. These are simply my honest opinions!

When you are expecting and you first decide that you are going breastfeed, it can be super confusing to decide what you need to purchase.  I mean, you've never tried to breastfeed something before, and there are about a billion products out there with clever marketing.  How do you know what you are going to need?  Personally, I went from thinking that I only needed the baby and myself to thinking I needed every gadget on the market.  After a couple months, I feel like I've finally got a handle on breastfeeding and what products are actually useful.  Below are products that I found to be a good investment and will continue to use as my little one grows older.

  • Lanolin - Your nipples will thank you for this one, especially during the early days of breastfeeding when you and your baby are still learning how to breastfeed.  My baby had a shallow latch for the first couple of days, which resulted in two very cracked nipples.  My lactation consultant handed me Lanolin, and it made a huge difference.  I'm still using Lanolin when I feel sore and before showers.  I highly recommend keeping a tube of Lanolin where you breastfeed most often for easy access.
  • Breast pads - Inevitably, you are going to have some leakage, and no one likes milk stains all over their clothes.  You can find disposable and washable pads, depending on your preference.  I like to wear washable pads around the house because they are cheaper, and disposable pads in public because they are less noticeable under clothing.  I got my washable breast pads from This site sells pads in a ton of cute designs, and typically offers your first 10 pads for free if you pay for shipping.  What a deal!
  • Nursing Bra - It's a huge pain to take your bra on and off for each feeding at home, and it's basically impossible to do so in a public area.  Nursing bras are an absolute must.  I recommend purchasing a nursing bra that does not have a wire, since the pressure from the wire can cause clogged milk ducts.  My favorite nursing bra was actually the super affordable Nursing Seamless Bra by Gilligan & O'Malley from Target.
  • Breastpump - This is a necessity if you are planning to go back to work and continue breastfeeding.  However, it will also come in handy if you are planning to stay home.  The pump will allow you to take a little time away from baby and will get you through breastfeeding issues if you happen to have them.  Most insurance plans started covering breastpumps for expecting or lactating mothers a few years ago.  If it's free, why not get one? I got my pump for free through insurance by contacting Aeroflow, and the process was amazingly simple.  I sent a qualification form to Aeroflow, and within 24 hours they sent my an email with a list of free pumps.  After I responded with my choice, my pump arrived on my doorstep within three days.  The Aeroflow qualification form is here, if you want to see if your insurance covers breastpumps and works with Aeroflow.
  • Formula - This may seem totally counter-intuitive, and I wouldn't be surprised if some people get upset about this one but formula has saved me on a couple occasions.  On one occasion, my baby decided that he wasn't going to feed from one of my breasts for roughly twelve hours because it was too engorged.  How's that for irony?  My other breast couldn't keep up with the demand and the result was a very frustrated, hungry infant.  Luckily, we had some Similac and Enfamil formula samples lying around to tide him over until he decided that both breasts were equal again.  My baby also had a bit of formula when he had a ridiculous growth spurt and on one mommy and daddy date night.  Thus, I think it's important to have a small emergency stash of formula laying around.  You don't even have to buy anything to start a stash.  You can sign up for free Similac samples here and Enfamil samples here that will be mailed to your doorstep.  There really is no reason not to sign up!
  • Boppy - The Boppy is a pillow that wraps around your waist and supports your infant for you while your feeding him.  It may not seem like a big deal to hold your 8 lb infant in position, but holding him or her in that position for hours each day will take a toll on your back and shoulders.  Moreover, the Boppy allows you to do something with your hands other than hold your baby, like eat, drink, or entertain yourself.  I was told that the Boppy was less comfortable if you had a C-section, but I loved it.  It was much more comfortable to have the Boppy pressed against my C-section scar than my baby kicking and kneeing it.  Below is the adorable woodland Boppy I use from Babies-R-Us.
  • Nursing tops - At some point, you are going to be caught out in public with a hungry baby.  If your baby is anything like mine, you have about sixty seconds from the time he starts indicating that he wants food until a complete meltdown.  Nursing tops make it so much easier to feed your baby when you aren't at home since they give you quick access but they still look cute.  They do tend to be expensive, so I recommend buying a few staple pieces.  Personally, I love the Nursing Henley Cami by Gilligan & O'Malley from Target.  They clip down just as a nursing bras do, and they look cute by themselves or layered under a sweater.  Not to mention, they are loose enough to hide a bit of a belly leftover from pregnancy.
I hope that you found this helpful. Let me know if there is anything that you would add to the list; I'm always interested to learn what helped others.  Good luck to all the nursing mamas out there!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

How Mommy Made Tummy Time Fun

I thought tummy time was going to be easy.  I mean, it sounds pretty self-explanatory.  Tummy time is when you place your baby on his tummy and let him wiggle around happily, right?  I was so wrong.  My son absolutely HATED tummy time when he first attempted it.  Tummy time basically consisted of my son face-planting into his play mat and then screaming in frustration as he attempted to lift his head.  Obviously, it wasn't much fun for either one of us.  I slowly (and somewhat accidentally) discovered a way to ease him into tummy time and keep it fun for him.  I'm definitely not an expert, and what I did probably won't work for every baby.  However, I hope by sharing this information that I might help another frustrated little one out there as well or at least give you a good laugh.

Looking back, I took a three-phased approach to improving his neck strength, which improved the tummy time experience.

Phase 1 - Carrying Baby
Carry your baby vertically with his head peaking over your shoulder.  Support the back of his head with your hand at first and gradually offer less and less support until he is holding his head up on his own.  I recommend keeping your hand close to his head even if it seems like he is fully supporting it.  Sometimes my son would get tired after a few minutes and then suddenly loose control again. 
No, this isn't technically tummy time, but it does encourage the baby to gain some neck strength and control.  I saw a huge improvement in his strength after we carried him in this position for about a week, and he was ready to start trying to control his head while laying on his tummy.

Phase 2 - Tummy Time Support Pillow
Place your baby on a flat surface with his upper chest on a small pillow or a rolled up towel and his arm extending over that pillow or towel.  You just need something to elevate his head above the flat surface initially, so he doesn't start with his face laying on the flat surface.  That way, he won't get upset as soon as you set him down.  Also, he won't get upset if he tires after lifting his head high for only a few seconds and has to drop it back down.
Phase 3- Real Tummy Time with Visual Goals
Place your baby on a flat surface and have actual tummy time.  Keep him motivated by providing a visual goal.  Give him something fun look at when he manages to lift his head like a mirror, a book with an interesting pattern, or you!  Infants are more interested in their parents than anything else, so you are the best goal he could have.

The flat surface can also be your husband's chest.  My husband loves to place our son on his chest and have some daddy-son bonding time.  It has become a nightly ritual at our house.
This gradual approach worked great for my son, and I hope they work for your baby as well.  Now my son has presented a new challenge.  As soon as my one and a half month old started tolerating tummy time, he figured out how to roll from his tummy to his back, thereby getting himself out of it.  What a smarty pants!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Heath Bar Mug Cookie

Alright, so I know that we are all supposed to be eating healthy because it's the New Year, but who can have a perfect diet all the time?  If you are anything like me, you need an occasional treat to satisfy your sweet tooth or you will go crazy.  However, you don't want to go overboard and completely ruin your healthy diet.  Making an entire batch of cookies for yourself is definitely a bad idea.  (I may be guilty of doing exactly that recently...) Why not just make one cookie? That's where mug cookies come in.  You can make yourself a single serving in a mug!  Just wait; it gets better.  You don't have to bake it in the oven.  All you have to do is microwave the batter for 50 seconds.  Mug cookies are such a quick, easy way to satisfy a craving!
My husband and I have made a few different types of mug cookies, and our current favorite is a Heath cookie.  The salty, crunchy Heath Bar crumbles perfectly contrast the sweet, soft cookie batter.  It's really something special.  We also add walnuts because my husband absolutely adores nuts in his desserts.  They add more satisfying crunch to the cookie, but feel free to leave them out if nuts aren't your thing. 

I recently discovered that you can buy crumbled Health Bars in the baking section of grocery stores next to the chocolate chips.  You can make your own crumbles by breaking up Health Bars, but why not speed up the process for your speedy cookie?


  • 1 Tbsp melter butter
  • 1 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 Tbsp Health Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits
  • 1 Tbsp chopped walnuts (optional


1.  Mix all ingredients in your favorite mug.
2.  Microwave for 50 seconds.
3.  Devour your delicious instant cookie.

Heath mug cookies are the perfect way to satisfy a salty-sweet craving without going overboard. Though, if you do want to indulge a bit more, you can serve the mug cookie with a scoop of ice cream on top. Yum!  I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Welcome Little Harp

Little Harp arrived a week early on November 2nd at 7:51AM! He was 7 lbs 9 oz, 19.75 inches long, and absolutely perfect.

Needless to say, my husband and I are thrilled about our new addition to the family and love our Little Harp dearly. Little Harp clearly displays his love for us in return and continues to be an active (or should I say wiggly?) little guy. He has been keeping us laughing with his constant movement and animated facial expressions, like the one in this picture that was taken a couple hours after he was born. We couldn't be happier!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Bumpdate: 36 Weeks

How I'm Feeling 

I'm feeling well, but I did learn that I can't physically do everything I typically do.  For example, standing up for 5 hours will result in extremely swollen ankles.  Also, crawling around in small spaces and sitting on stools for extended periods of time will result in a sore back.  Unfortunately, I learned all this is a period of a couple days, and it took me an entire weekend to recover.  Oops.

Weight Gain/Measurements

I've gained 23 lbs, and my body is definitely feeling it.  I recognize that I'm on the lower end of the pregnancy weight gain scale, but the extra weight is challenging to deal with on a daily basis.  It's basically like walking around with dumbbells strapped to your stomach.  I can't imagine gaining an extra 10, 20 or 50 lbs, and I'm so impressed that other women can withstand the extra weight.  If that's you, I admire your strength so much.


Sleeping for a long period of time has been a little more difficult for me during the third trimester.  However, I've been taking naps at every opportunity and have actually been sleeping more overall.  

Food Cravings

I've been gravitating towards salty foods my entire pregnancy, but suddenly all I want is sugar.  If I could have a dessert at every meal and still call myself healthy, I would at this point.  Cookies, donuts, and cakes taunt me in my dreams...literally.  It doesn't help that fall has finally arrived and that one of my favorite flavors, pumpkin, is suddenly available absolutely everywhere I go.

Other Symptoms

I'm getting Braxton Hicks!  It took me a week or two to decide that I was, in fact, having Braxton Hicks because it is quite a strange sensation.  My entire uterus would tighten up, but there was absolutely no pain involved.  I imagined them being more painful and disruptive. 

Heartburn has continued to plague me this month.  Although, I know what foods trigger my heartburn now (peppers, onions, and spicy foods), and I can control it.  If I'm about to eat something that has one of those ingredients in it, I can make a decision if eating that food is worth the pain that will inevitably ensue.  For me, the answer is almost always "no," unless I'm eating pad thai.

Best Moment of the Month

Finishing decorating and organizing the nursery was my favorite moment of the month.  I'm going to admit it; the nursery has been a disaster for months.  Our nursery is quite tiny, and we've been slowly accumulating gifts and necessities for months without a real storage solution.  Thus, everything was sitting on the floor, underneath the crib, or in the closet haphazardly.  The mess was getting to me, and my poor husband can attest to that.  When I finally sorted everything out, I had a wonderful moment of inner peace.  Obviously, nesting syndrome hit me hard.

Looking Forward To...

I'm looking forward to finally meeting our little one!  I'm hoping that I don't have to do a 40 week bumpdate!  Cross your fingers!