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{Riley, 2 days old}

Thanks to Lea, Ashlee, Julie, Teresa, Erinn, Amira, and Claire for their fantastic guest posts on motherhood while I've been away adjusting to life at home with a newborn.  I hoped you enjoyed reading their sweet wishes and wise words as much as I did.  

We are settling into life at home with our sweet Riley, and I hope to be back to blogging more regularly soon (I consider my 3 posts since her birth a HUGE accomplishment!).  I do hope to pick back up sooner than later, as I love having this avenue to help document our new life with our little one as she grows.  Even rereading my pregnancy posts inspires emotion and nostalgia, and makes me thankful I wrote down how I feeling during that time.

Until then, a friend reminded me of this quote, "The days are long, but the years are short," - Gretchen Rubin...I can feel the truth in this already as we're creeping up on 1 month of having a daughter!  

Making a Memory

During these first few days home, I've found myself trying to soak up every sweet moment and savor the smallness of our baby, and her sweet baby scent before she grows up and changes in a flurry.

As I rock in our glider, Riley nuzzled under my chin, I find myself replaying the scene from the original Parent Trap over and over in my head.   Hayley Mills' character, Sharon McKendrick, upon meeting her grandfather for the first time, buries her nose into her grandfather's lapel, and sniffs heartily, much to his bewilderment.  "What are you doing?" he inquires, laughing at her eager smelling. "I'm making a memory," she replies candidly.  "Years from now, when I'm all grown up, I'll remember my grandfather, and how he always smelled of...tobacco and peppermint!"

This is the only way I've been able to describe what I find myself doing these past few weeks...making a memory.  I find myself burying my nose into the soft, downy hair of our little girl's head, inhaling her sweet baby smell, trying to lock this precious scent into the folds of my memory.  Capturing the softness of her skin against mine, the way she fits in crook of my arm, the heaviness of her head on my shoulder...all these moments together, making a memory.



Playing this song from the Newroom finale on repeat...

Enjoying these fruit roll-up throwbacks between nursing sessions...

Curling up on the couch, baby in arms, and catching up on fall premieres...

Enjoying the new arrivals in these etsy shops...

Pretty psyched about shopping here for my sweet girl...

Thankful for the dinners from family and friends simplified by the convenience of this site...

Enjoying the kisses, cuddles, wide-eyed stares, and chipmunk cries of my little one...

...and falling in love my husband more and more everyday after seeing him be a daddy...


Guest Post: Beaktweets

There is no greater cliche in parenting than, "Time flies." Everyone says it to you, every step of the way. And yet, it is so true that it won't soon stop being a phrase we share with expecting and new parents.

My best advice for new moms is to just enjoy it. We live in a culture that puts a lot of pressure on doing it right. We are inundated with too much information which leaves us less willing to simply trust our own instincts.
A day when I really did just sit and hold her and enjoy her

One of my most vivid memories from the first month of my daughter's life is sitting on the couch, holding her and watching TV, thinking I should have been doing more. Tummy time or reading books or some other educational game. She was merely a few weeks old and already I was stressed about how well I was performing as a mother. I wish I could go back and tell my new-mom self to take a deep breath and be confident that cuddling my little baby as she took in her brand new world was exactly what I was supposed to be doing.

When well-meaning people tell you "It goes by so fast," as if you've never been told that before, I guess it is just their way of reminding you that all the other stuff can wait. The laundry, the dishes, the cooking, the educational activities and schedules for sleeping and eating- it will all happen in time. But those first few weeks are a gift. A chance to disconnect from the outside world, to take a break from normal chores and activities and a time to commit your energy to simply loving your brand new baby.

Dinner Last Night

I'm giving myself mad props right now for my multi-tasking skills; making a successful fall dinner while taking care of a 2-week old newborn!  {Insert applause for the small victory over here!} Now, it wasn't anything fancy, but I figured it's a step up from a frozen pizza, so it merited a pat on the back!  

While I'm not a huge fan of Rachael Ray, I do appreciate the simplicity and quickness of her recipes, which made this slow cooker beef stew was a success!  And an added perk, I was around all afternoon to inhale the glorious mingling of flavors as they simmered in the crock pot.  Additional added bonus: this is a freezable soup, so we froze the leftovers for a rainy day.


Guest Post: Shades of Gray

Hello Lovely Little Things readers! My name is Amira and I blog over at Shades of Gray. I'm so excited to be guest posting for Michelle. If you are reading this, that means she is enjoying her new little bundle of joy. As a new mom myself, I know how completely smitten she must be right now...and also how sleep deprived.
When I was pregnant I did everything I could to prepare for the labor and birth experience. My husband and I took classes and read books. I knew without a doubt that I wanted to breastfeed, so we took a breastfeeding class as well. Ah, if only that class could have prepared me for the journey I was soon to face. 

Breastfeeding was hands down the most challenging and trying time of my entire life. Avery was such an amazing baby. She hardly cried, and even as a newborn slept 5 hour stretches of time. I should have been in complete newborn heaven. Instead I spent those first few weeks crying and in a lot of physical pain. I wanted to share my experience with you, and offer up some "tips" or things I would have done differently. You can read my entire story here, but the cliffs notes version is that Avery had a very strong latch. My nipples were cracked and bleeding by the 2nd day, so when one of the nurses offered me a nipple shield I lept at the chance for some relief. Unfortunately, Avery had a hard time getting enough colostrum and milk through the shield (extremely common with these shields, which I didn't know at the time). Ultimately, she began to lose weight, and my milk supply began to dwindle. On the 5th day, we had Wendy from Latching with Love (miracle worker) come to our house. She helped me to get Avery to latch onto my nipple without the shield, and she also put me on a pumping schedule to get my supply back up. It was the longest week of my life, but in 3 days my supply had tripled and Avery was beginning to gain weight. I learned so much from Wendy that I wish I had known prior! 
Soon I began talking with so many of my mom friends who started sharing their stories with me. I realized it was the same story over and over again. So many moms had struggled with nursing and were unsuccessful. Moms were having to supplement with formula because they weren't making enough milk on their own. It turns out these poor moms were either using a shield (which can drastically affect your supply), or had been told by doctors to supplement with formula before their poor milk could even come in! For most women it takes 3-5 days. If you can avoid supplementing with formula during that first week, and just let your baby nurse on demand you have a much better chance of a bountiful supply.

**Now I know I cannot speak for every woman as each situation is different and of course there might be other reasons that nursing is unsuccessful. The baby could have a poor latch or a tongue tie, mom could have a powerful letdown, etc. I can only speak for my own challenges.**

Nursing Tips: 

1. I would have pushed through the pain and refused a nipple shield. While the temporary relief is heavenly, it just isn't worth the risk of affecting your supply.
2. Have the phone number of a lactation consultant that will come to your home if you are having troubles. You won't want to scour to find someone once you're in the throes of hell. I had been crying for five days straight, was healing from my c-section surgery and the last thing I wanted to do was venture out of the house to a breastfeeding class. Having Wendy the LC come right to my home was a God send. 
3. You will have people tell you "if it hurts you aren't doing it right" and that just isn't true. Some people don't experience anything more than mild discomfort, but the truth is, for a lot of women it is extremely painful. It DOES get better and I promise it's worth it. Within a couple of weeks it was much better, and by a couple of months you don't even feel it.
4. Invest in Lanolin! It is a nipple cream that you apply every time you are done nursing. It is safe for baby, so you don't have to wash your nipples before every feeding. It works like a chapstick. If you let them dry out, they will crack...and bleed, eek. Also, make sure to rub the cream between your fingers and get it warm, this thins it out and makes it easier to apply. It comes out of the tube rather thick. You can also buy gel soothies that you keep in the fridge and you put them in your bra after feedings. It is the BEST feeling. 
5. At the beginning you will feel chained to your couch. Newborns eat every 2 hours (10-12 times a day!) and can take 45 minutes to eat! Which means that you could potentially be nursing every hour. I remember feeling like a recluse. I had no idea the time commitment and had a hard time imagining how I could possibly do this for a year. It gets SO much faster and easier as time goes by. Avery is 6 months now and takes about 20 minutes to eat (a lot of babies only take 10 min!) And she eats every 3 hours. I've also become a pro at nursing her in the car so I could stop planning my outings only 2 hours at a time. So enjoy the first few months as much as you can! My husband and I watched all 7 seasons of Modern Family those first few weeks. Now that she's older I would give anything for hour-long nursing sessions to blog or read :-)
6. Babies go through frequent "growth spurts" during the first few months. They will want to nurse constantly for 2-3 days. Do not be alarmed that this means you aren't making enough milk. Your baby is stimulating your breasts to make more as he/she grows. 
7. And last but not least, do not beat yourself up if nursing isn't for you. Us mamas need to stop judging one another and start supporting one another. Even if you only nurse for a few weeks you are providing your baby with valuable antibodies they would otherwise not receive.

I thought these were neat statistics all of which I found at The Alpha Parent:  

Breastfeeding Benefits Timeline 

By exclusively breastfeeding for...

At least 1 month: 
you have given your baby significant protection against food allergy at 3 years of age, and also against respiratory allergy at 17 years of age.

Six weeks: 
your child now has less risk of chest infections up to 7 years old (NCT).

3 Months: 
you have given your baby a 27 percent reduction in the risk of asthma if you have no family history of asthma and a 40 percent reduction if you have a family history of asthma (Tufts-New England Medical Center Evidence-Based Practice Center).

If you have exclusively breastfed for this long, your baby will have enhanced development in key parts of the brain compared to other children who were fed formula or a combination of formula and breastmilk (Dean et al).

By this stage you have also given your baby between a 19 and 27 percent reduction in incidence of childhood Type 1 Diabetes (Tufts-New England Medical Center Evidence-Based Practice Center).

4 months: 
you have reduced your baby’s risk of cot death.

6 months: 
you have given your baby significant protection against eczema during their first 3 years (Chandra et al).

You are now in the 1% of mothers who have breastfed for this long! Bravo! (BBC 2012).

You have also given your baby a 19 percent decrease in risk of childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia and a 15 percent decrease in the risk of acute myelogenous leukemia (Tufts-New England Medical Center Evidence-Based Practice Center).

7 months - 9 months: 
Babies breastfed for between seven and nine months have higher intelligence than those breastfed for less than seven months (Johnson)

1 year: 
As a result of receiving your breastmilk for at least a year your child is more likely to display better social adjustment when they begin school (Kneidel. S).

By breastfeeding for a year you have given your child a lower risk of becoming overweight in later life and lower risk factors for heart disease as an adult. Oh, and you've saved yourself at least $720 on formula! (NCT).

Good luck mamas! And just remember, YOU are the mama and know what's best for your baby :-) 
Congrats Michelle!


Quote of the Week

"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall."
~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

Happy first day of fall!


Guest Post: Strawberry Swing and Other Things

The time honored cliche of "they grow up so fast"...

Hi everyone!  I'm Erinn from Strawberry Swing and Other Things.  When Michelle asked me to guest post while she gets to settled to life as a new mom, I jumped at the chance.  I love sharing my stories and of course, love reading about others too, so I thought it was great feature.  However, I had such a hard time deciding what to share.

Looking back over the last 16 months I feel like there have been so many moments and milestones passed, how could I choose one to focus on!  And it's true, they grow up so fast.  My daughter is already quick as lightening, talking up a storm (even if it's really only clear to me, she has a pretty extensive attempt at vocabulary), and already learning skills like sorting shapes and (trying to) put on her shoes.

How did this little baby who was born at 35 weeks gestation weighing only 5lbs and needing preemie clothing, smaller than what some of her dolls would wear, turn into this little child?

So, instead of lamenting on and on, I thought I'd share some of my favorite ways to track all those milestones and make sure you "never miss a moment" memories.

I tracked a lot of Ashlynn's first year in my Mom's One Line a Day journal, of course, not every day, but I did a really great job of attempting to write something each night as I kept it on my nightstand.  I always made sure to mark the major moments - rolling over, smiling, first words, first steps, first foods, etc.

I also purchased a Baby Book from Ruby Love Designs.  I love that I had the ability to personalize it and it was able to add on additional packages to cover other milestones that a traditional baby book doesn't have.

Of course, blogging is an online diary in itself, not to mention my weekly check-ins.  While it did become a struggle getting Ashlynn to lay down for her weekly photo shoot, I'm so glad I can go back week by week and see her meet her milestones, when we struggled, and our all happy times too!

Lastly, Instagram.  Not much to explain here, especially if you are an instagram addict like myself (@ehayes1183), but it makes snapping those every day moments so easy.  Sometimes it's hard remembering to pack or pull out the camera, especially with a baby in your arms, but you always have your phone!

How have you been tracking your little one's first year?  

Guest Post: The Things We Would Blog

A Letter From One New Mother to Another from Teresa of The Things We Would Blog

When Michelle asked me to contribute a post to her blog while she is out with her new baby girl I was enthusiastic but not at all sure what I should write. As a first time mom to a five week old baby I'm hardly qualified to be doling out advice to new mamas! I asked my own mother what she thought I should write and she suggested that I write a letter to Michelle, so here it goes...

Dear Michelle,

Congrats on the arrival of your new baby girl! I'm only a few weeks ahead of you but I guess I can still say welcome to the club. :) These first five weeks have been simultaneously the most exhausting and wondrous of my life. When people called the first three months of baby's life the "4th Trimester" I really had no concept of what that meant. I knew I was being naive to think my maternity leave would be a nice summer vacay but I guess I didn't know how all-consuming newborns really are. I'm currently writing this on my iPhone with one hand during a quiet moment while breast feeding! Here are a few pieces of advice (mostly tried and true from mom's throughout the ages) that have kept me sane over the past few weeks. 

1) Don't go it alone. The number one thing that has kept me going through the long nights of feeding and days of crying has been getting help from others (especially my incredible mom). Don't be afraid to have a friend or family come and just hold the baby so you can have a break. 

2) Listen to everyone's advice and then choose what's best for you. During our five night hospital stay after Myles was born we had the privilege of learning from over 10 nurses. Each one had their own advice about everything from breast feeding to visitors. It could have been overwhelming to have so many opinions but instead I thought of myself as lucky to have so much wisdom to choose from.

3) Make time for yourself. This is the most cliche advice there is but that's because it's SO important. Take a bath, go to the store alone, have a cup if tea in the backyard, get a pedicure with your best friend. 

4) Find camaraderie. I have really enjoyed reading about others experiences online. When I get to the end of my rope it's great to read other people's advice and experiences with breastfeeding, sleeping, crying, etc. Feeding baby is very time consuming but leaves a lot of room for surfing the net on your phone! I've also loved spending time with other new mothers, there's nothing like being with someone who is in the same boat. 

5) It's okay to be honest. If you're over the moon about that little smile that just came across her face, if you're going crazy from sleep deprivation, if you're not sure about how well you're bonding with the baby, if you're love watching her sleep... it's okay to be honest. Patrick has been so great about encouraging me to embrace every moment and be okay with both the highs and lows. It's freeing to be honest. 

That's it from me, I look forward to getting some advice from you soon! Can't wait to see photos and hear stories about your new baby girl. 

xo, Teresa

Guest Post: The Girl in the Red Shoes

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Hi friends! My name is Julie and I blog about life as a new mama over at The Girl in the Red Shoes. My son, Hudson, will turn one in September and I can't believe how fast this first year has gone! I have been breastfeeding Hudson since day one and it has been one of the best experiences of my life. I started a series on my blog called The Breastfeeding Diaries in which each week I feature a different mom's breastfeeding journey. This series has been such a blessing to me as well as hundreds of new mamas out there! So, if you are a mom, or soon-to-be mom, I encourage you to check it out. Breastfeeding can be hard and it is so wonderful to know that you are not alone.
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When I was pregnant with Hudson I had a lot of worries and anxiety about breastfeeding. Would it work? How would I know if he was getting enough? Would it hurt? How often would I have to feed him? The list went on and on. Part of my anxiety was due to the fact that it seemed like everywhere I went new moms were telling me how hard it was to breastfeed. And how tired they were. And how they gave up because it was too much work. 
So, I was scared.
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I wish I could go back in time and tell my pregnant self to stop worrying. Yes, breastfeeding can be hard when you are first learning, but it gets easier. Yes, it's a huge responsibility. And yes, at first it hurt (just a little!). But I can say with 100% confidence that 
it is worth it. 
I know firsthand how confusing and emotional breastfeeding can be. New-mom emotions and exhaustion make everything ten times harder. It is ridiculously hard to keep your baby fed and (mostly) happy if you breastfeed or not! I believe that every mom is doing the best that she can for her baby. And in the end, that's all that really matters.
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My number one recommendation for moms who know they want to breastfeed is to do your research. First, attend a breastfeeding class. Most hospitals offer a birthing class, which is great, but they usually spend very little time on breastfeeding. The hospital we used also offered a separate breastfeeding class that I attended with my mom (my poor husband was traumatized from the birthing class, so we let him skip this one....however, if I had it to do all over again I would have skipped the birthing class and just attended the breastfeeding class. It's important for husbands to attend this class because they are most likely going to be your breastfeeding support system. They will be with you when you are struggling or upset and it is helpful for them to have some background knowledge about the benefits of breastfeeding so that they can encourage you when you are feeling overwhelmed. My husband did some research and also read part of my breastfeeding book to make up for not attending the class! And don't worry husbands, the breastfeeding class is totally fine for men to attend.)
Second, start thinking about a support system. Most hospitals or even some pediatric offices offer a breastfeeding support group. Find out where there is one by you and write down the meeting times. Hudson's doctor's office has a lactation consultant on site to meet one-on-one or in groups with nursing moms. Take advantage of this service! I attended a support group meeting with the lactation consultant and it was wonderful! The lactation consultant will weigh your baby, watch you feed him/her, assist with your latch, and answer any questions you have. After you finish feeding they will weigh your baby again, which is great for new moms who wonder if their baby is getting enough....the lactation consultant will be able to tell you pretty accurately how many ounces baby is getting (and if that's enough for him/her). It really is encouraging to hear you are doing it right! Okay, now for the breastfeeding supplies I recommend for every new mom. Did you know that breastfeeding supplies are tax deductible? So keep your receipts ladies!
Breastfeeding: Getting Started
1. The Nursing Mother's Companion is a great book to read when you are pregnant. This book is very comprehensive but it helped me mentally prepare and understand the importance of putting your baby to the breast frequently during those first few days. By frequently I mean you should make 10-12 attempts (or more!) at feeding within a 24 hour period. (And yes, that seems like a TON, but it was accurate!). I'll talk more about my first few days of breastfeeding in part 2 of this series next week. 2. A breastfeeding pillow is a must! You'll need something to help you support your baby, especially when you are first learning to breastfeed or if you had a c-section like me! I use the Boppy but I know some people prefer My Breast Friend. Test them out at the store to see which one you like better. I chose the Boppy because it was simple to use and could be used later to prop up the baby or help him sit. Plus, sometimes my husband uses the Boppy while he feeds Hudson...and there is no way he would have used something called the "breast friend." But to each their own! 3. Comfortable nursing bras. For those first few weeks you'll want a nursing bra that doesn't have padding or underwire. You'll be wearing them a lot so be sure to invest in something that is comfortable! I really like these by Gillian & O'Malley at Target. 4. Nursing Pads. You'll leak all over the place the first few weeks....and months. Trust me on this one. These are great because you can throw them away. They were a little bulky on me so sometimes I cut them in half! I think the next time I have a baby I'll ask my mom to make me some washable ones out of flannel. 5. Soothies Gel Pads are like heaven on your sore nips. Buy just a few won't need them after the first fact I think I only used two pairs. 6. You'll also need some nursing tank tops. I bought these Gillian & O'Malley at Target  tanks in several colors. They are great to wear by themselves or under a sweater for discrete nursing sessions. I found that after a few weeks of constantly wearing a bra or nursing tank top my skin was getting irritated. I'm not sure if this happens to everyone but I have super sensitive skin. I ended up wearing my regular Old Navy tank tops at night. They are stretchy and just tight enough to provide a little support  without any elastic digging in to my skin. 7. Lansinoh Lanolin cream is a must have! I used this for the first 4 weeks and it helped me avoid chapped and cracked nips! And it feels awesome. 
8. A nursing cover. This one isn't something everyone must have, but it does come in handy when you need to nurse the baby and have visitors. Or if you have to nurse your baby in the car (like I have!). 
9. And finally you need a good double breastpump. The Medela Pump in Style Advanced seems to be the most popular pump...and for a good reason! It comes in a tote bag so it's easy to take to work. Plus, once you learn what you are doing it is easy to use. You'll want to at least familiarize yourself with your pump before you have your baby just in case something happens and you are not able to nurse him/her right away. I didn't bust out my pump until Hudson was 4 weeks old because I figured I would forget how to use it....but that's just me. Please feel free to stop by my blog if you have any questions!

Guest Post: Where My Heart Resides

Next up is Ashlee of Where My Heart Resides!  I had the privilege of meeting Ashlee back in early June while she was in the Seattle area visiting friends.  She's a fabulous blogger, and mama to adorable, 16 month-old Everett.  Check out her blog here!

Six Gift Ideas for a New Mom 

So your wife/sister/daughter/best friend just had a baby and you’re on your way to the hospital but don’t want to show up empty-handed. Do you bring balloons? Flowers? Diamonds? Booze? A teddy bear for the baby? All of the above? Chances are you’ve already spoiled the baby rotten in the form of cute onesies and baby registry items, so this time around, it’s perfectly okay to focus on the new mom (and let's be real: she earned it!). Here are some of my favorite ideas for new mom gifts...
  1. Something symbolic: A Peace Lily plant or succulent. The key to giving a “new life” gift is this---get one that won’t die. The best plants to give a new mom are the ones that require very little water and care, basically the types of plants that are the opposite of a newborn baby.
2. Something delicious: Food, food, and more food. One of the best gifts you can give a new mom is food that requires little to no preparation. Freezer meals, big bags of granola, and ready-to-eat snacks are all great choices. If cooking's not your thing, a gift certificate to local take-out would probably be more than welcome. 

3. Something beautiful: A ring or necklace with the new baby’s initial. One of my favorite gifts I received after having my son Everett was a tiny "e" ring from Catbird. If you're on a budget, Etsy also has a ton of affordable options for initial jewelry.

4. Something practical: A housecleaning gift certificate. My mother-in-law gave us six months of house cleaning after our son was born and it was amazing. Once a month, I left the house for three hours and wandered around Target before coming home to a sparkling clean kitchen and perfectly vacuumed carpets. Heaven!

5. Something that makes her feel pretty: A birchbox subscription. Birchbox is a monthly beauty box filled with skincare and makeup samples. In those first few sleep-deprived months, it can be difficult to feel pretty. I loved having makeup samples show up on my doorstep, and made a ritual of opening the box at the kitchen counter and immediately trying everything at once. I felt like a queen, despite my spit-up covered t-shirt, oily hair, and stretched out yoga pants.                                                                                      6. Something sentimental: A newspaper from the baby's day of birth. If you're on a strict budget but want to do something special, this is an easy gift and especially great for moms who like to keep memory boxes or scrapbooks.

All set with your new mom gift, but still want to get something special for the baby? Check out Iviebaby, Children Inspire Design, and Little Hip Squeaks for super cute, unique gift options! What was the best gift you received when you became a mom?

She's Here!

She's here!  She's here!
And it was all worth the wait, just like everyone had told us it'd be. In the middle of a thunderstorm, we welcomed our sweet Riley June into this world.  She weighed 7 lbs, 13 oz. and measured 21-3/4 inches long, already tall like her mommy and daddy!  She has a full head of dark hair, and long skinny legs, arms, fingers, and toes, which she loves to spread apart, earning our affectionate nickname of "monkey feet." We had the good fortune of a fairly quick and smooth labor and delivery, and are now settling into life at home.   She has made us a family, and the feeling is so euphoric, it's indescribable.  I never knew my heart could feel so full.  We are overwhelmed with pure happiness and love for our little sweet sweet. 

Guest Post: Free to Be Lea

Hello friends of Michelle! I'm Lea from Free to Be Lea, and I was thrilled and honored when Michelle asked me to guest post on Lovely Little Things!

This year I became a first time mommy myself, and I'm so excited for Michelle to meet her baby girl and experience the magic of motherhood. I had my baby boy (Tommy) last November, and it has been a beautiful ride, so I thought I'd share a few SIMPLE and helpful tips that have helped me along the way.
My son was born 3 months early. YES you read that right, 3 months! Thankfully he is happy, healthy and thriving. I can remember looking into that incubator and thinking two things. First...... I love him so much and second.... I wish he would hurry up and GROW so I can take him home! Well, guess what? He did grow, and he's been growing at a lightning speed ever since! I look back at old pictures and can't believe how much he changes from day to day, which brings me to my first tip.

Tip #1 
Everyone tells you to enjoy it, because they grow so fast and it's true! Document it as much as you can. You don't want to miss a thing, so grab your camera, iphone, whatever. You'll be so glad you did.

Tip #2 
Sleep when the baby sleeps. Seems easy enough right? It's what EVERYONE tells you to do! This was a tough one for me, because I love to take care of my house, cook, blog, facebook, whatever! I had to remind myself that to be a good mother to Tommy I had to take care of MYSELF first. Here's the secret. Babies sleep a lot, especially at first, so even if you sleep during just one of their naps you will feel refreshed and revived to not only be a good mother but to do the things you enjoy. I chose to sleep during my sons first morning nap. That way, I had more energy for the rest of the day. I'm also a bit lucky to have a husband who works from home. He takes Tommy for 2 hours in the morning so I can sleep in. I know. I'm a lucky girl!

Tip #3 
It seems like people have a baby, and they forget their first babies. The animals! True, it's hard to give the same attention you used to give your pet when you have a new baby in the house, but they should be included as much as possible. Having a new baby is an adjustment for everyone, even your pet, so make sure to include them. Afterall, pets are part of the family too!  Even if it's just laying next to you on the couch while you feed the baby, make them feel included. Pets are great for children. Pets teach children to be gentle, loving and more compassionate adults. As you can see Tommy loves my little buddy Jake!

Tip #4
As I said above, my baby was a preemie. The road has been a rollar coaster of challenges and emotions, but at the end of the day, I am blessed to have a healthy and happy baby boy! Being a new mom can be stressful at times, but I keep reminding myself to go with the flow. Trust your instincts. Every mother has them and they will never steer you wrong. Get rid of the baby books, limit the googling, appreciate other moms advice but listen to your baby! Every baby is different and you learn as you go.
Most of all enjoy every single moment. It's the toughest but most rewarding job you will ever have in your life. Don't get me wrong, I've had my days where I fantasized about having a nanny but then I realize I am blessed that I don't! I have the luxury of staying home with my son to be a full time mom. It's ME who gets to see all his firsts and not some nanny! I get to see his first gummy smile, giggle, roll, crawl, kiss, transition to solids, everything!  And I wouldn't trade that for the world! 

8 Days Later...

Well folks, I'm still pregnant...
The due date came and went...and now we're 8 days past her due date.  

I never knew waiting for something would be so hard.  Let me tell you, waiting for a baby up until your due date feels VERY different than waiting for a baby AFTER your due date.  All of you mamas who've delivered babies later, I give you SO much credit...I never had even the faintest, remotest idea how hard the final days of waiting would feel.

Throughout this experience, I have really, truly enjoyed being pregnant.  I love the feeling that I've created life, I love feeling the baby move, wiggle, kick, and flip.  I love talking to her, and hearing my husband talk to her. And up until this point, I feel like I really haven't complained much (you can even ask my husband, he'll attest that this is true).  I haven't minded giving up my normal clothes, alcohol, sushi, soft cheeses, gaining baby weight; the usual things people gripe about. Just knowing that I'm doing these things to keep her safe, happy, and healthy in there is motivation enough.  It has never felt like a sacrifice or a chore.

But now...I'm tired.  I'm anxious.  I'm puffy and swollen.  I'm restless.  I keep wondering, "when will she be here?!" Our friends and family have been checking in; texting, calling, facebook messaging us, as eager as we are.  And while we appreciate that they're thinking of us, our replies remain the same: "still waiting, keep you posted..." We have a doctor's appointment tomorrow morning, so hopefully we'll have some news of what's to come.

The waiting game continues.  Please come soon baby!