Current obsessions – my favorite facial skincare products.

I am no expert (not even close) on skincare, but I always enjoy these types of posts when other people write them, so I figured – hey, why not me?  I am just loving how my skin looks recently and wanted to share a few newer products that may have contributed.  None of these companies know I exist, I purchased all items listed below, and these are not affiliate links because I don’t care enough to learn how to set that up.  :)  Full disclosure.

A few months ago I was not loving my skin.  I – in general – have very dry skin.  Like very, very dry.  It was really patchy and flaky and just PARCHED a few months ago and I chalked that up to 1) naturally dry skin; 2) getting over a cold; 3) pregnancy.  But it was really bothering me, so I decided to go see an esthetician who I’d met in pre-natal yoga two summers ago.  She owns Broadway Skin and Body Retreat and is a really sweet person.  She reviewed the products I was using at the time, looked at my skin with her fancy magnifying machine (a scary sight, I’m sure), and confirmed that my skin was very dry with some hyper-pigmentation and discoloration.  She politely told me that a few of my current skincare products were not ideal for me (most importantly – my face wash and the fact that I was using witch hazel as a toner) and recommended that I focus on exfoliation to get rid of the layers upon layers of dry skin that had built up on my face.  She was not pushy with the products she carried in her shop at all, and made some general recommendations.  She sent me home with some samples and sold me on the benefits of a couple of items that I purchased that day.

I heard a quote recently and I’m so sad I can’t remember where I heard it (probably a YouTuber) to reference the person who said it and precisely share it here, but it was something along the lines of, “When you’re young, you have the skin you were given.  As you age, you have the skin you earn.”  That resonated with me!  It is within my power to take care of my skin and protect it from the sun and so forth.  Why am I not better about doing that?  Older me will thank younger me.

Okay – so here’s what I currently do and I really think it’s working well for me in this phase of life.

IMAGE Skincare Ormedic Balancing Facial Cleanser.  I really love this stuff!  It tones the skin as well and balances out that pH without any added steps.  It’s gentle and non-drying.  I will definitely keep using this.  I am religious about washing my face each evening.  I go through phases where I’ll wash it in the morning (I know that’s recommended due to all the bacteria on our pillowcases – ew – and so forth), but more often than not, I don’t.

HollyBeth Organics Grits Honey Scrub.  I use this exfoliating scrub approximately three times a week and it has made an amazing difference in how plump and healthy my face feels.  Gone is the dry, listless appearance of a few months ago.  I think getting rid of all that dead skin was huge for me.  Since I have dry skin I thought that exfoliating was a no-no because it would dry the skin out further, but I guess I had that backwards!

HollyBeth Organics Eye Cream.  I was previously not using an eye cream and it showed.  My dry skin needs something around that eye area to keep the lines at bay.  I have seen a major difference since I started using this cream and I’m very happy with it.  Maybe any other good cream would be just as good, but this has worked for me.  I apply it after I cleanse my face.  It’s pricey but lasts a long time and I don’t mind investing in good skin products when they work.

Clinique Moisture Surge Intense Skin Fortifying Hydrator.  This was one item that I was previously using and Devon said that Clinique is okay but not at the top of her list of the best product lines.  I tried a HollyBeth moisturizer sample she gave me and it was not effective, so I went back to my trusty Clinique – mainly just to use the jar since I hate wasting products.  It seems to be working well with the changes I’ve made, so I’m sticking with it.  I’m not opposed to trying something new, but am not deliberately seeking anything out either.  I’m happy with this!  I apply it after I wash my face each evening.

IMAGE Vital C Hydrating Repair Crème.  I have been using this in the morning and I really like the citrus scent.  It’s perfect for the AM and this seems to work well to keep my skin moisturized through the day.  I’m only wearing make-up once or twice a week these days and this has served as a good unofficial “primer” for me when I do put on makeup.  If my skin feels super dry, I’ll reach for the Clinique option above, but in general I’ve been using this and like it.

Supergoop! Skin Soothing Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40.  If I am not wearing makeup and know that I’ll be outside a decent amount in a day, I’ll use this sunscreen on my face, neck, and décolletage instead of using the Vital C crème above.  It’s light and doesn’t have a strong scent, which I appreciate.

Supergoop! CC Cream Daily Correct Broad Spectrum SPF 35+ Sunscreen.  As previously mentioned, I’m only wearing makeup once or twice a week recently, and honestly – I have never been the type to NEED makeup in order to feel like I can leave the house (not that there is anything wrong with that – it’s just not something I’ve ever cared about).  When I do have the desire and want to take the time to wear a little makeup, this is what I am using.  It gives me enough coverage to even out my skin a bit but is obviously not full coverage and doesn’t hide all freckles, hyper-pigmentation spots, etc.  I think I got a sample in a Birchbox years ago and it has been my go-to ever since.  I use the shade Light to Medium, I think.

Clinique Blended Face Powder.  I’ll set my CC cream with a very, very light dusting of this powder.  I don’t really know why as it’s basically invisible.  Maybe it’s purely mental but I just feel like a powder gives a little finish and adds a smooth quality to the skin.  This container is huge and I’ll be using it until I’m 40 probably because I use so little of it.  I think I have the Transparency Neutral shade.

A few other things I use and do include:

Clarisonic Mia 2 with a sensitive skin brush head.  I requested this for Christmas a few years ago and my mother-in-law delivered.  I use my Image face cleanser with the Clarisonic about three times a week (on days that I don’t use the HollyBeth exfoliating scrub).

Water.  Without fail, I drink 80 ounces a day.  Some days are easier than others, but I know this is good for my skin and especially important while pregnant to keep those Braxton Hicks, among other symptoms, at bay.

Clean makeup brushes/sponges.  I have become quite diligent about cleaning my Sephora makeup brush, BeautyBlender sponge, or Clarisonic Sonic Foundation Brush Head (a recent little splurge that I LOVE) after every use.  I would formerly go weeks without cleaning whatever tool I’d been using to apply my makeup and I cringe to think about that now.  It takes about a minute of my time and I think it applies makeup so much better when I next use it.  Plus – more importantly – it’s clean and better for the skin without all that buildup and bacteria.

And that’s all she wrote on a subject she knows next to nothing about.  I love talking about makeup and skincare and beauty products, even if I do barely dabble in using them and don’t know anything.  What are your favorite skincare must-haves?

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The second bambino – a pregnancy update.

Here we are in the third trimester and I’m finally taking the time to jot down a few things about this pregnancy and what I know about this baby I’m carrying.  #secondchildproblems indeed.

I saw a meme that said something like:  First Pregnancy – “The baby weighs 1.3 pounds which is 6 ounces more than last week.”  Second Pregnancy – “I think I’m due in the Fall….”  I’ve found that to be very true.  I definitely have a hard time keeping track of what week I’m on.  My Ovia app keeps me on track there – and I mainly only check the app when I need to remember how far along I am.  I don’t devour the information in the articles like I’m going to be tested on the material the way I did during my first pregnancy.

Much like my pregnancy with Ava, I have been very blessed thus far to be enjoying a relatively easy time of it.  I still – even as recently as last week – gag in the mornings if my stomach is too empty, but it’s nothing a Kind bar won’t fix lickety-split.  There are other pregnancy symptoms that I won’t go into detail about, but overall, it has been pretty smooth sailing.  My varicose veins are out of control, which is glamorous, but doesn’t really affect how I feel.  There have been a handful of days when I think I was on my feet too much or something because by the end I feel very mild contraction-like discomfort in waves, but maybe those are just a different style of Braxton Hicks.  I spoke to my OB’s office about it and mentioned it at yesterday’s ultrasound and since there is nothing else to indicate an increased risk of pre-term labor, no one seems concerned.  Owen looked great at the ultrasound yesterday.  He’s measuring right on track at 30 weeks, 6 days and weighing around 3 lbs 9 oz.  His heart and kidneys and spine and brain all look great and he’s taking his practice breaths like a champ.  He’s head down and in a good position for now, so hopefully he stays comfy just like that for the next 7-10 weeks.  He had a hand up over his face and his feet pulled up around his head, but we got a few cute 3D pictures with a little smile on his face.

I feel like my immune system really took a hit in the early second trimester, but I’ve felt well and healthy through the summertime months.  Speaking of summer, I know that being pregnant in the summer is many women’s nightmare (hot hot HOT) but I continue to have cold blood coursing through my veins and have not been affected by the heat at all.  In fact I usually need a sweater or blanket if I’m sitting or lying down through the day.

Owen moves a lot which is so fun.  Those baby kicks and punches and rolls are one of my favorite things about pregnancy.  I’ve been taking a continuing ed prenatal yoga class, which is a really great way to unwind and do something for just myself and Owen each week.  The class ends soon and I won’t renew, but I want to find something else to do in its place.  Other than that class and our morning walks as a family, I’m not exercising.  I walk around a lot and am pretty active in general for everyday activities, so hopefully that’s working okay for me.  As of my 28 week appointment with my OB, I was only up 11 pounds from the 8 week appointment weight.  He was really comfortable with that, so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.

I passed the glucose test (yay!) and have been trying to limit my sugar intake in general, which I’ve noticed makes a big difference in how I feel.  Of course I am craving ALL THE SWEET THINGS, but I’ve been pretty disciplined about not eating them because I know it’s not worth not feeling well later.  I basically only drink water (always 80+ ounces a day) with the exception of the occasional (once a week? maybe?) sweet black tea from Starbucks.  And I’ll have a sip or two of Kevin’s diet soda when he indulges in one (once a month? maybe?).  So overall I’m very happy with how I’ve been doing on the food and drink front.

We have basically made no preparations.  I think we have bought three sleep and play outfits and we have maybe four gender neutral items of clothing in Ava’s stash of things outgrown.  Of course we have the high chair and the pack and play and the travel crib and changing supplies.  We need to get a Rock’n’Play sleeper (hopefully Owen is the same kind of sleeper – awesome – as Ava) and some newborn diapers.  We’ll get away with not buying a second infant car seat because Ava is in a forward facing seat and will likely continue to be from here on out because of the span and shape of the spica cast and rhino cruiser brace (by the time she’s out of the brace she should be big enough to face forward anyway).  We need to order a crib soon and get the room converted from office to baby, but there is no sense of urgency since we know Owen will be in our room for 4-6 months.  We’re going with a safari kind of theme with a lot of grey and brown and yellow in the room.  We need to get a double stroller at some point as well.

I think Ava is going to be an amazing, sweet big sister.  She has been obsessed with babies for the past few weeks.  Of course it’ll be different when the baby doesn’t leave and takes mama and daddy’s time away from her, but I think we’ll all do fine with the transition.  We’re so fortunate that Kevin’s parents live so close to us and that they regularly care for her now and she’s accustomed to being around them for longer stretches of time.  As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I’m nervous about the timeline of the next 10 weeks.  Ava should be transitioning to the brace from the cast when I’m around 37 weeks and I had her at 37 weeks (and 6 days), so it just seems like it could be a whole lot going on at once.  I know it will all work out fine, but the unknowns are unnerving.

I feel a little guilty sometimes that so little of my time and thoughts have been focused on Owen versus how I was when pregnant with Ava.  But maybe it’s to his advantage – I feel like though there is more life stress during this pregnancy, I am much less stressed and worried about stuff that could go wrong related to the pregnancy.  Does that make sense?  Maybe he’ll be totally chill – just like his mom (wink wink).  I do know that we are so, so grateful for this life and that he is thriving.  We love him already and are excited to meet him in a couple of months.

{Pregnancy Announcement – Owen}

That’s a wrap {June}.

 

Links to Love:

  1. This song (Homecoming – Josh Ritter) was at the end of the Billions season finale and I immediately bought it on iTunes.  My play count since purchase is probably 100+.  (Slight exaggeration.  Slight.  Maybe.)  I love it.
  2. Speaking of songs, Rach shared this one recently, and it really resonated.  Hannah Kerr’s voice is beautiful.
  3. Comparing the Big 12 Football Teams to characters from The Office – I thought this was pretty funny.
  4. Heart eyes on this little video – a baby elephant chasing birds.

Making Memories:

  1. Our master bath renovation took a little over two weeks but it is over now and we are so, so happy with the results!  Our bathroom feels so luxurious and spa-like.
  2. Kevin and I have each made time for friends in June.  He met up with some guys he used to work with for a golf tournament and they had a great time.  I’ve lunched and brunched with a few friends, and we met up with my aunt and some of my cousins for dinner one night.
  3. I started a pre-natal yoga continuing education class.  It’s eight weeks and I think it’ll be really good for me and therefore the little guy.
  4. Speaking of our boy, we have announced his name:  Owen Daniel.  Owen was honestly the only name that Kevin and I agreed we strongly liked and Daniel is Kevin’s middle name.  We’ve probably known for two months that Owen was the strongest name contender, but we waited for quite awhile to share because why not?
  5. Ava had a lot of fun in June.  She’s been to the zoo a couple of times, had a few play dates, played in sprinklers with the neighborhood kids, and went swimming for the first time!
  6. We have felt so blessed by the outpouring of love and support from family and friends. Seriously – I’m so humbled by the generosity of the people in our lives. Kevin’s parents have kept us fed from the day of the surgery forward and so many others have given food and time and prayers and gifts and…we’re just so fortunate.

Bookish:

  1. I’m still currently reading Team of Rivals (slow and steady progress) and re-reading the fourth Harry Potter.  I also started Emma and I’m really enjoying it!  Jane Austen is so witty.
  2. The only book I finished in June was actually an Audible book:  Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella.  Definitely not my favorite book by her – I gave it three stars.  It’s hard to say for sure, but I may have liked it better if I’d read it rather than listened to it.
  3. Kevin finished Good to Great and gave it five stars.  (Ron, are you reading this?  I promise we’re not just saying five stars because you’d disown us if we rated Jim Collins any lower.  ;-) Kevin really loved the book and sees so much application for it at work.)
  4. Kevin is reading American Lion:  Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham.  He is also listening to Treason, which is the sequel to Duplicity, the book we listened to on our way to and from Denver last December.
  5. We also are both still listening to David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day.  And we found out that David Sedaris is coming to town in November!!  We’re definitely going to go to that show.
  6. Ava made a trip to the library in June and has really enjoyed two of her checked out board books:  Show Me Your Feelings and Baby’s First Words.

Challenges:

  1. This post goes into the details, but finding out on June 1 that Ava’s hip is out of joint and she would require surgery was undoubtedly a monster challenge.  The month included a lot of anxiety, tears, and research as we tried to prepare ourselves.  A few decisions were made:  I decided to take a leave of absence from Junior League which meant abandoning my role on the board and Kevin decided to decline the offer to be the head coach of the middle school football team at his alma mater.  We both struggle with feeling like we’re letting people down by backing away from those commitments, but I feel strongly that as rewarding as those roles would be in a normal fall, we simply have too much else going on personally and professionally.
  2. The surgery was Wednesday and it was a very, very hard day. We had to be there at 6:15 am and they called us back around 7:00. By then Ava was starting to get hungry and she doesn’t care for medical professionals anyway, so we went into meltdown mode pretty quick. And by we I mean both her and me. The people – nurses, surgeon, anesthesiologist – were all so professional and amazing but oh my goodness I think it was the hardest thing either Kevin or I have ever done to send our baby back to the sterile surgery environment section. The surgery was definitely best case scenario –  a closed reduction. They made a small incision to cut a tendon but it was a primarily un-invasive procedure, for which we are very thankful. The nurse kept us updated from the OR through the process and the surgeon came out to talk to us when he was done and we were happy with the degree of confidence he had in the result of the procedure.
  3. Ava’s recovery and our adjustment is only three days in but we’re doing well overall. Ava gets frustrated with her lack of mobility and has asked us a few times to let her “out” of the cast or for us to put her down to walk. It breaks my heart to see her confused and frustrated. We think we are managing the pain well and we’re learning as we go. It’ll be a long 12 weeks in the cast and then the unknown of what will follow (brace for probably 12 months and the continued uncertainty of everything in that hip area staying in place, etc.) but one day at a time, one day at a time.
  4. We still know that we did the right thing with this surgery. Without intervention, Ava would have likely had arthritis by age 15 and needed a total hip replacement by age 30. But it is still hard in the moment to see her so immobilized.

Sustenance:

  1. We made these tomato-basil fish packets on the grill and they were really good.  We’re definitely going to try other variations of veggies with white fish.  Salmon packets or shrimp packets would be great too.  So many possibilities!  Perfect for summer!
  2. I made these 2-ingredient fro-yo bites as a dessert option for myself since I’m trying to really limit my sugar.  I did Oikos Triple Zero vanilla Greek yogurt with raspberries and I think they’re good.  They also made excellent little popsicles for Ava.
  3. Kevin loves this sauce which is a staple in Costa Rica, so we ordered some on Amazon and made this Costa Rican arroz con pollo.  It was very good and easy.

How was your June?

An adventure.

Back in February or March a woman who volunteers in Ava’s music class mentioned that she thought there was something a bit off in Ava’s gait when walking.  The woman works with Early Intervention and we set up a time for the PT and LSP to come to our house and do an evaluation.  Ultimately the PT thought that Ava’s seemed to have a 25% delay in her gross motor skills and she recommended that we make an appointment with a pediatric orthopedist to get x-rays.  At Ava’s 18 month appointment, our pediatrician agreed that it wouldn’t hurt to get the x-rays and she sent over a referral.  When I called to make the appointment in early May, the earliest they could get us in was August 1.  They don’t keep a wait list but I was invited to call as often as I’d like to try to snag a cancelled appointment.  I managed to do just that and we got in with a specialist on June 1.

Knowing how much Ava hates doctors we were definitely dreading the appointment.  Kevin went in with her for the x-rays and I waited outside the room since I couldn’t be exposed while pregnant.  Her poor little cries (screams – girlfriend has a healthy set of lungs) were heart wrenching.  We met with the specialist that we were scheduled to see and he, who actually specializes in spines, very quickly referred us to one of his colleagues because Ava’s issue was with her hips.  It was clear from the x-ray that Ava’s left hip was completely out of the joint, a form a hip dysplasia.  Hip dysplasia is hereditary and I had it (my pediatrician was apparently amazing and caught it at 2 month check up.  I went into a brace at three months and came out of the brace, good to go, hips aligned, at nine months old).  It is also most commonly seen on first born children, particularly girls.  Our pediatrician did all the hip tests, etc. as part of Ava’s wellness checks, but this dislocated hip eluded her.  Ava hit all her physical developmental milestones within a normal range, so we didn’t think there were any issues.  We attributed her gait to the literal toddling of a toddler.  I’m glad that the woman in our music class said something to us because otherwise this could have gone on for years without treatment.  The earlier the intervention, the better, like with most things.  Ava isn’t currently in much or any discomfort when walking because she is so light.  But as she gets older, the dislocated hip will undoubtedly lead to other problems: arthritis, back issues, a pronounced limp, etc.  For these reasons, after a lot of research and questions hurled at the pediatric orthopedist, we’ve decided to proceed with a surgery.

The surgery is scheduled for the end of June and the surgeon will attempt a closed reduction and if that is not successful, move immediately on to an open reduction.  Ava will be under anesthesia for either/both.  Following the surgery (while still under anesthesia) they will put her in a hip spica cast.  She’ll need to wear the cast for 12 weeks (they’ll change it out at 6 weeks – more anesthesia) and then wear a rhino brace for potentially a year.

To keep this post from getting too wordy or emotional – and because this is just how my mind works – I’m going to break stuff down into lists.

Things That Terrify Me:
1. My baby being in surgery
2. So much anesthesia for such a little human!
3. Seeing Ava in pain after surgery and casting
4. The possibility of re-dislocation and therefore a need for further surgery/intervention

Things That Worry Me:
1. Spica cast care – diaper changes and avoiding pressure sores and skin issues especially
2. Keeping a very active toddler entertained during 12+ weeks of immobilization
3. Carrying a 21+ pound toddler wearing a bulky spica cast up and down the stairs in our two story home (where all bedrooms are on the second floor) through the second and third trimesters
4. Timing.  If all goes as planned, Ava will move from the cast to the brace when I am 37 weeks pregnant.  I delivered Ava at 37 weeks, 6 days, so the timeline is tight.  I really would like for her to be in the brace and have a bit of time to adjust to that before we bring a newborn home.
5. Restless nights – Ava will need to be repositioned regularly to prevent sores and it also will take some adjusting for her to be able to sleep comfortably in the cast

Things That Make Me Sad:
1. It makes me sad that the pediatrician didn’t catch this earlier.  It makes me sad that I didn’t push her to check Ava’s hips more carefully, knowing my own hip dysplasia history.  Both of these things used to make me angry.  But now I’m just sad knowing that maybe this issue could be behind us.
2. As I watch Ava running around the house, climbing stairs, exploring her tip-toes, kicking her legs, it makes me so sad to think of immobilizing her for 12+ weeks.  She’s not going to understand why or how – she’s just going to know that she wants to be an independent little person who can explore her world on her own two legs.  And she won’t be able to for a bit.

Things That Make Me Thankful:
1. While this is will be a challenging experience, it is – in the grand scheme of things – a little bump in the road.  This is an isolated ailment that is very treatable.  Ava will be dancing in a ballet recital in no time or kicking a soccer ball (or both!) around in no time.
2. Everyone says it – this will be more traumatic for Kevin and me than it will be for her.  Kids heal quickly.  They are resilient.  They adjust to a new normal so much faster than adults do.  I will always remember this season; Ava will not.
3. We have been so impressed with the quality of care and responsiveness shown by the staff at Carrie Tingley thus far.  Every person we met was very helpful, understanding, empathetic.  The surgeon encouraged us to email him with questions and he has responded to each email within an hour of me sending it (sometimes in the late evening and/or weekend).  A friend’s neighbor is an orthopedist in town and he said that this doctor is great and has had excellent results with this surgery.
4. We have such a fantastic support system to help us out.  Family near and far and friends here in town have been so supportive and ready to jump in and help however they can.  These people are such a blessing.
5. There are a lot of resources out there – info about the surgery, info about recovery, info about caring for spica casts, ideas for entertaining a toddler in a cast.  One of my best friends put me in touch with a friend of hers who has been through this experience with her child, and a blog friend (hi Nicole) posted a blog post on my request about her experience when her 2.5 year old broke his femur last winter and had to be in a cast.  It has been really nice to get practical advice from “real” people who have tips to share and be able to interact with them in real time.

I’m sure there is more, but I’m going to end this here for now.

It’s easy to become bogged down at the thought of all the challenges – known and yet to be discovered – ahead, but I’m trying to shift my outlook and think of this more as an adventure.  On any adventure there will be obstacles, but there will also be great things.  We’ll get to work together as a family and come out on the other side stronger and closer.  I think Kevin and I will both be really focused on being present with Ava –  just before she gets a sibling and our attention is forced to be more divided – and that will be something that we look back on as a blessing years from now.  Her verbal vocabulary has been growing by leaps and bounds over the past couple of weeks (I hope to post more about this soon because it truly is amazing, but my two favorite phrases she uses now are “belly button” and “sound machine”.  They sound so cute coming from her sweet little mouth!) and I hope this experience will help her learn to communicate even better.  This is as good a time as any to start working with her on her Latin.  ;-)  She won’t be able to say, “Hand!”, grab my hand, and lead me to what she wants/needs.  I’ll miss that and there will be days that I just want to fast forward to the next season, but I think the time will be better spent focusing on taking it one moment at a time.   Your thoughts, prayers, well-wishes, however you send good stuff into the universe are appreciated as we prepare for this adventure.

It’s a…

We are so delighted to be having a boy!  Ava is going to be a wonderful big sister to her brother.

We found out Monday.  The genetic counselor at the perinatal clinic I go to for ultrasounds called with results of the genetic screenings (all good!) and asked over the phone if we wanted to know the gender.  I asked her to write it down and leave it at the front desk in an envelope so I could pick it up.  Then I checked with Kevin to see if he was available for lunch that day.  He was so we made a plan to go pick up the envelope and go to Weck’s for lunch.  This is the same Weck’s we went to when we found out together that Ava was a girl (blog post here), so it felt really special to do the same for this baby.  :)

We were seated at a table, ordered our food, and then Kevin opened the envelope.  Boy!  So exciting!

I have to say…I wasn’t very surprised.  I have been convinced from the beginning that this baby is a boy (although I was completely convinced that Ava was a boy too, so don’t place too much stock in my mother’s intuition).  Kevin had a dream that the baby was a boy (and he dreamt that Ava was a girl, so obviously his dreams are more reliable than my gut feelings).  And when we questioned the ultrasound tech at our 12 week appointment she said that she was pretty sure the baby is a boy – “don’t go buy anything yet, but…I’m usually right about these things.”  So we both had boy on the brain.  And boy it is!

It feels strange to know the gender so early in the pregnancy.  We can really start thinking about name options, which is fun.  I am very excited when I think of having a son (a son!), but also a little intimidated.  I know absolutely nothing about baby boys and am especially nervous about diaper changes.  :)

I’ll end with the same quote I used in the post about finding out Ava was a girl because it is still so applicable:

“The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him.” -Pablo Casals

Any tips from all the boy moms out there?

An official announcement.

She’s all smiles but has no idea her little only child world is going to be rocked this autumn.

We’re due October 12.  I kind of have it in my head that the baby will come in September and I probably just jinxed myself by typing that out and will be banished to 41+ weeks or something.  But Ava was early (evicted, you may recall – part 1 / part 2), and my doctor is highly unlikely to let me go past 40 weeks because that’s just how he rolls, so early October or late September it will likely be, God willing.

We found out on Valentine’s Day.  I decided to take a test before downing my Moscato – just in case – and good thing I did.  Pregnant.

It helped explain the roller coaster emotions I’d been demonstrating, much to my (and Kevin’s – poor guy) relief.

Overall I can’t complain BUT I will say I feel like I’ve been more nauseous this time than I was with Ava.  It may just be that I can’t lounge around like I did during the first pregnancy.  Ava isn’t one to allow lounging.  I’ve also been more fatigued, but again – fewer daytime naps may be contributing to that.

I’ve been so much more chill with this second pregnancy.  Less worried about every little ache and pain.  Less anxiety over all the things that could go wrong.  Don’t get me wrong – I catalogued all the pregnancy don’ts I’d blissfully done in those first few precious weeks between not knowing and knowing, like the good little Type A personality I am.  Lunchmeat!  Hot baths!  Caffeine!  But then I released the worry around them because there was no going back and all I can do is hope for the best.  Since then I’ve been more relaxed in what I eat (Dion’s sandwiches – toasted, but all the same – I never would have touched those in the first pregnancy; and steak, cooked to medium instead of charred), but trying to make good decisions.

So far we’ve had two doctor appointments (my weight is down a pound between week 8 and week 12 – celebrate those first trimester victories, hashtag party emoji) , two ultrasounds (all looks good!  Blessings galore.), genetic testing (all looks good!  Blessings galore.), and we opted to find out the gender with the blood work.  It’s a….

:)

Any gender guesses?

Feeding Ava.

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I want to start by saying that I believe fed is best.  Whether that is accomplished with breast milk or formula, I believe that we all do the best we can for our babies with the resources we have available to us and in the circumstances we face.  This is simply the story of my experience feeding my one and only child and that experience has been breastfeeding and a baby led weaning introduction of solid food.  If we have another child, I imagine that the experience will have some similarities but also be unique and different and personal to that child.  I’m not a lactation consultant or a pediatric nutritionist, so I say again – this is simply the story of my experience.  I did learn a few things though from lactation consultants and my extensive online research (wink wink), so I’ll put those little gems (wink wink again) in bold font in case anyone is interested in what I actually learned and not just anecdotal story.

Breastfeeding was not easy.  For the first 6 to 8 weeks (it’s all a blur – I don’t remember exactly), I would start each nursing session with the goal of simply making it through that session.  If there had been the slightest obstacle to me continuing to breastfeed, I don’t know that I would have persevered.  The stars aligned though and really, I had the best situation possible.  I never had a milk supply problem, I didn’t go back to work until Ava was three months old and even then, I only went to the office for four hour stretches, I pumped a bit to be offered to Ava in a bottle when I wasn’t with her (she was never very interested in a bottle), and really – I know I had it easy.  But it was still hard.  It was painful and it was emotional.  But we made it work and at around four months, we really hit our stride and I started to enjoy breastfeeding.  She got her first two teeth at six months old and then the second set at seven/eight months old.  Between six months and nine or ten months, I would be really tense during each feeding session because I had felt the sharpness of those teeth and I did not care for it.  I returned to the mindset of starting each session with the simple goal of making it through THAT session and that session alone.  Ava was overall, in hindsight, not a biter, which I’m very thankful for, but the anticipation and uncertainty was nerve-wracking.  At some point, I grew more comfortable and while my guard is never completely down, I guess I’ve just accepted the fact that she may bite (on purpose or unintentionally) and I’ll survive.  As of now, Ava, at 15 months old, is down to three milk feedings a day and that is working well for us.  She would probably nurse more if I offered – sometimes she tugs at my neck skin, which is her way of saying, “Hey Mama, is the milk shop open?” (she’ll also sometimes pull at Kevin’s neck and look down his shirt, which is pretty funny) but I have stuck with only feeding her milk three times a day for the past couple of weeks.  My goal is to continue to nurse her around three times a day until she’s eighteen months (if she gets a cold, I’ll likely up the feeding count), then feel out if she seems ready to start weaning further.  I imagine we’ll drop to two feedings a day and then one, so I anticipate that it’ll be a slow and steady process.  I’m definitely ready to not feel like a milk cow, but I know I’ll miss the quiet moments that we share.  The thought of weaning is bittersweet, for sure.

As I mentioned, I was lucky and never had a supply problem.  If anything, I had oversupply, especially if she went more than six hours between feedings.  I’d use a hand pump when I first woke up to slow the flow a little bit because otherwise she would sputter and choke a bit.  I know that sometimes there are health issues and supply simply isn’t there, no matter what.  I found that drinking a lot of water (80 ounces a day), eating a balanced diet, and offering milk often was key in establishing and maintaining a good supply.  I used this lactation cookie recipe, which may or may not do anything to help but they’re delicious and any excuse to eat cookies, amiright?  Provided there are no underlying issues, it is truly a supply and demand system.  The more the baby is offered the breast and the more the baby consumes, the more is produced.  I pumped around once a day from the time Ava was about three months old until she was around six months old (I think – I don’t remember for sure) and built up a little supply of frozen milk for her to drink when I was away from her.  I hated pumping and didn’t get much from a pumping session so it felt kind of pointless.  If you pump and don’t get much, don’t worry about how much the baby is consuming, provided the appropriate number of diapers are being change and weight gain is on the curve (even a low curve – Ava was in the 3rd-5th percentile for the first 9 months or so, but she was gaining steady and staying on that curve, so there was no need for concern.)  A baby is always going to get more milk than a pump!  Always.  That’s how our bodies are made.  If we have another child and our lifestyle remains the same in terms of when I go back to work and how often I’m in the office, I anticipate that I won’t pump and we’ll have formula on hand for when I’m not there to feed the baby (provided I am able to/decide to breastfeed in the first place!).  But who knows – why make that plan before it needs to be made?

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We got the go-ahead from our pediatrician to offer cereal at four months, but I was intrigued by the idea of baby led weaning.  After reading Baby Led Weaning:  The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods-and Helping Your Baby Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater and talking to Kevin about what it entails, we decided to go that route.  Official baby led weaning means that the baby is only offered breastmilk or formula until they are at least six months old and even then they need to meet other criteria like being able to sit up unsupported, have lost the tongue thrust reflex, and be able to grasp and hold on to food.  The book talks about how a baby’s digestive system isn’t fully developed at four months old.  I am no doctor and know nothing about the development of a baby’s digestive system, but I genuinely believe that it does not hurt to let their little systems develop without the introduction of solid food (even something as mild as rice cereal) in the first six months.

When Ava was six months old, she met the above criteria, so we started introducing solid food to her at that point.  We started slow, but basically gave her whatever we were eating.  Ava loved food from the beginning.  She loves flavor, including a bit of spice, and she’s been very good about trying things.  It was really, really cute to watch her discover different flavors and such a relief to skip right over the puree stage.  If baby led weaning is something that interests you, I highly recommend the aforementioned book.  A few things that stood out to me as I read it are as follows:

  • An advantage of baby led weaning is that a baby learns to chew early.  With purees, the baby can continue to suck, like they do from a bottle or breast, and they do not learn to chew.  When solid chunks of food are eventually introduced, the baby has a tendency to suck rather than chew because they are accustomed to sucking.  This can lead to choking.
  • Speaking of choking, there is a difference between gagging and choking.  A baby’s gag reflex is much, much further forward in their mouth than an adult’s gag reflex.  It is triggered very easily!  This is a defense mechanism because it forces forward anything that has triggered the reflex before the item moves further back and gets lodged in a baby’s throat.  The baby learns early on how easy it is for their gag reflex to be triggered and how to control the amount of food they put in their mouth because they, by instinct, want to avoid triggering the reflex.  Baby led weaning can include A LOT of gagging.  The baby is learning about that gag reflex and because it is so far forward, it doesn’t take much to trigger it!  The gagging part of baby led weaning is scary.  It is so hard to sit idle and watch a baby gag.  But it is really, really important that the baby is allowed the opportunity to let the reflex push the food forward and that they work it out for themselves.  Adult intervention can cause the food to move backwards and get lodged in the throat, which can lead to choking.  If the baby is turning blue and not breathing, follow the steps of infant first aid/CPR, obviously!  But if they are gagging, let them be.  This was by far the scariest and hardest part of baby led weaning to me.  And Ava wasn’t a frequent gagger at all, so we were lucky.  But it’s still nerve-wracking.
  • Baby led weaning allows a baby to eat at their own pace.  They have control over what goes into their mouths and the quantity.  If they try something and don’t like it, they can spit it out and not try it again during that meal; the food can be offered to them repeatedly but it isn’t forced on them.  (Recently we have repeatedly offered vegetables, and Ava has repeatedly refused them and that’s okay.  We’ll keep offering and eventually she’ll come around to them.)  Eating is enjoyable to them because they’re in control and they’re part of the family gathering at the table.  There aren’t any tricks like zooming the airplane (spoon) into their mouth to get them to take another bite of something they don’t really want.  They follow their own instincts and also learn by example.  They won’t forever be eating with their fingers as long as they are given the opportunity to use utensils, because ultimately, they want to do what mom and dad and older siblings are doing.   Mom and dad can focus more on their meal because the baby is picking up their own food and bringing it to their own mouth, versus mom or dad wielding the spoon. 
  • A baby learns to recognize when they are full which can help them develop healthy eating habits as a child and later as an adult.  Rather than meeting a “quota” amount of jarred pureed food, the baby follows its own instincts, eats at its own pace, and stops eating when he or she is full.  Healthy eating habits are established as young as infanthood, and can help prevent obesity later in life. 

I haven’t read the book in around a year and I know I’m not mentioning so many perks, so again, read the book if you’re interested in learning more!  The biggest con is the mess, but really, isn’t feeding a baby and/or toddler messy regardless of how the food is delivered to them?  I reiterate what I said above – we all make the decisions that we feel are best for our child so if that means cereal at four months for you and your baby, you do that, mama (or dad!)!  Baby led weaning was simply the option we chose for introducing solids to Ava and we have been very, very happy with how it worked for our family.

How did you introduce solids to your kids?  What did you like or not like about the process?