Baby #2

Teddy arrived 3 weeks ago and I have had so many thoughts and expierences that I want to share! But as any mom knows, having a newborn and a toddler do not lend much time to dedicated writing. My experience with this baby was completely different than my experience with Vincent and that has allowed me to do things like go out on my anniversary 5 days after having a baby…

I received lots of praise for getting out so soon after baby was born, and while I totally love people telling me how awesome I am, I want to make sure everyone ( especially first time new moms) understands  why I was able to do this. 

1. Sleep.

somehow we lucked out and got a newborn that sleeps 3 hours at a time. This was not the case with Vincent. Vincent ate every 2 hours around the clock for the first 8 weeks. It was awful and since feedings took like 45 minutes I slept maybe an hour at a time. Let me tell you, there is a huge difference between 1 hr and 2. 5 hours of sleep! So if you are a new mom ( or dad supporting a new mom)  and you just can’t imagine doing anything besides watch netflix and nap all day long, that’s totally normal ! And it’s what I did with my first. ( and some days I wish I could still do that all day long )

2. Having Breastfed Before

BFing is way easier the second time around, or at least it has been for me and Teddy. I think having done it before I am just more confident and know what to expect for both myself and baby. Breastfeeding was so hard with Vincent those first 8 weeks. I felt like all I did was sit around and try to keep him awake so he would nurse. Most of the time I can wake Teddy up enough to get a good nursing session in and I feel like it has made a huge difference . 

3. Living with Parents

Living with my folks has made such a difference in my post partum experience .  We haven’t had to worry about things like meal planning or grocery shopping so I can just focus on figuring out being a mom of 2. Having extra adults also means there are plenty of people to entertain the toddler or hold  the newborn so you can  do normal things like shower. 

4. Having your husband around the first 10 days

Bryan was in school when we had Vincent and he was in the middle of a semester when he arrived. He had to go back to school literally he day after we beought Vincent home from the hospital .  Living far away from family, I just didn’t have a lot of resources so I was alone a lot. Having Bryan at the house made a huge difference !! He took the baby so I could nap or shower. I was so thankful for this time together as a family.

So anyway, I just wanted you guys to know what is going on behind the scenes of those pictures. Also, we were gone for maybe an hour because baby has to eat! I am so thankful for how well everything has gone with this baby, but I am prepared if it all changes tomorrow! 

Thanks for all of the encouragement you guys have given over the past several weeks! I can’t wait to write more and keep you guys in the loop!

Because I haven’t posted in literally weeks…

Guys, moving is hard.

Being a mom of a toddler is exhausting.

Working 40+ hours is ridiculous.

Our dogs are insane.

Oh yeah, and I’m super pregnant (37.5 weeks to be exact)

The count down to baby #2 has begun, only 11 days until my planned C. I haven’t had the energy to think of good posts, but I thought that I would share a quick update on the move and transition. 

Honestly, it’s been great. It has been hard and exciting and exhausting and sad, but I have never been more confident that we are exactly where we are supposed to be. Every step of the way I have just felt right. Even when the moving van didn’t show up for 2 weeks  (ughhhhhh) it still felt right to be here in Cincinnati. Bryan got a job in the surgical ICU just weeks after moving (now his license hasn’t come through, but I am choosing to see this as a blessing because he gets to stay home with Vincent and will be here when new baby comes, too) which I had been praying for months. We have spent ample time with friends and family and we keep saying “it’s so great to be here!”

It’s amazing when hard things and big life choices are validated in tangible ways, and I feel this move definitely has been. But overall, its the sense of peace – the peace only God can provide – that helps me know we pursued the right choice for our family. 

Now we are prepped for baby #2 and I am mentally preparing to be a mom of two. We are so thankful to be home and have our families to support us. Here’s to many great days ahead!

Millennials: Made for More

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I was speaking with a colleague the other day and he said to me, “I feel like I am made for more than this job.”  Our conversation revolved around staying engaged at work, feeling like you are making a difference, and putting your all into work or a company when you feel like you were made for more.  This is the cry of our generation – we were made to be more than order takers or paper pushers! We were made to change the world!

As a manager and a Millennial myself, I am conflicted when I have these conversations. There is certainly part of me that agrees – I do feel that we as individual people were made for more than “just doing a job.” But in my professional career, being responsible for a team of representatives, there is a job to be done and it is my responsibility to make sure everyone on my team is pulling their weight. During this particular conversation, I voiced some opinions that helped me clarify and solidify my stance on where I stand as a Millennial and how I want to encourage my fellow working Millennials to approach work, career, job, and life.

I have been at my current company for 6, almost 7, years.  There have been days where I feel like finding more, where I want to move on to something bigger and better, but I have stayed put because its just always seemed like the right thing. In my time staying with one company I feel like I have learned a few things that have helped to fit my Millennial ideals into corporate America.

If you were “made for more,” MAKE YOUR WORK MORE.

I think that we have fallen into the trap that somewhere out there is a job that will automatically be MORE for us. A theoretical space where we can achieve our best, have an amazing career, love what we do, and make a difference in the world.  I have friends who absolutely occupy this space, but I have plenty more who desperately wish they could find this mystical dream job.

My point is this – do your best to make your current circumstances BE MORE.  Exact change in the space that you occupy, don’t waste away time wishing things were different. Make changes NOW to be better tomorrow.

Here is what this looks like for me: managing a team of individuals, I have the unique opportunity to speak into their lives. I can speak words of truth and encouragement; I can spur them on to achieve higher goals than they thought possible; I can work to motivate each individual and bring us together collectively as a team; I can care about my team beyond numbers and goals and show them that I value them as people and contributors to both our company and society as a whole.  As someone in the customer service field I can show my customers that they are important people by listening and caring about their needs. I can be positive and do what’s right for every individual. I can help people to the best of my abilities and be honest when things go wrong. No matter what I can show people respect and that alone can change someone’s day.

See, I think that we need to stop feeling like we aren’t doing enough and start focusing on the little things that we can do to change the world around us daily. The people you have the most impact on are the people you live with and work with – what would it look like to love and encourage those people the most? What would it look like for you to be the best damn representative your company has ever seen?  How would your team or office change if you started encouraging everyone around you? If you offered to help your colleagues even when they maybe don’t deserve it?

I am not saying that you can’t pursue your dream job or that you have to stay at a job you hate.  But I do think that we make a mistake by thinking there is always something better when we could invest where we are.

So show up with PURPOSE. Commit to do YOUR BEST every day.  Look for ways to enact change NOW. INVEST in your co workers. Make whatever you do MATTER because you make people around you matter. Most of all, don’t let an opportunity slip away because you are hoping for something better, bigger, or more – make your work MORE now.

5 Things That Made My 2nd Pregnancy Suck Less

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If you know me at all you know that I am not a huge fan of pregnancy. It’s okay and I guess its cool to feel the baby move, but really I don’t care for it.  Being nauseated, an alien being flipping around in your stomach, the aches and pains of your body relaxing to accommodate this big thing growing in you.  I could really do without all that. But thankfully I found some products that helped me cope better the second time around and I wanted to share them here!

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Beautycounter Balancing Face Oil

The first thing that I am so thankful for is Beautycounter’s products, especially the balancing face oil.  My skin in my first pregnancy was TERRIBLE.  On top of feeling disgusting because I was pregnant, I also felt terrible because I wasn’t confident with my skin.  Everyone kept saying, “oh your skin will just glow!” – well this was not the case for me.  This time around, though, I am using Beautycounter products and they have made such a HUGE difference!  I think that the balancing face oil is the one product that I can’t give up, but there are a few others that I would also recommend for pregnancy and post-pregnancy skin.  If you struggle with skin issues (whether you are pregnant or not!) I would be happy to talk about options with Beautycounter for you!

Here is my website if you want to browse (specific link to face oil in the caption): http://www.beautycounter.com/amypietch

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Leachco Back n’Belly Contoured Body Pillow

Okay – this is by far the best purchase that I made for this pregnancy. I wouldn’t say that I sleep as peacefully as the lady above (is she even pregnant???) But it does make me much more comfortable! I really like that there are pillows on both sides, this has really helped my back and hips.  It also means that when I turn over I don’t have to rearrange all the pillows to try and get comfortable again.  I actually flip it the other way so that the open end is at my head, then I can use my own pillows for my head.  There is a downside – this pillow is HUGE. We have a queen bed and Bryan gets maybe a third of the bed these days. I think if you have a King bed it would be fine, but it’s tight in the queen. Thankfully, my husband knows how important sleep is for me so he puts up with the pillow, but I’m pretty sure he is counting down the days until it’s gone.

You can get it on amazon prime here: https://www.amazon.com/Leachco-Belly-Contoured-Pillow-Ivory/dp/B0002E7DIQ/ref=sr_1_14?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1471785251&sr=1-14&keywords=body%2Bpillow

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Bai Bubbles Drinks

Okay so if you are TOTALLY cutting out caffeine, then this one isn’t for you. There is a small amount of caffeine in these drinks (about 25 mg), but for me this is the perfect amount!  I loved having these mid way through my day as a little treat and pick-me-up.  The flavors are incredible (Pink Grapefruit is my favorite, but all the flavors are great) and they were something different from just plain water all the time. It was nice to have a sparkling fun drink option. You can purchase directly from the website here: http://www.drinkbai.com/voyager-pack or at Costco (which is where we get ours)!

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Vegan Smart Nutritional Shake

 

 

 

 

Next is this meal replacement shake by Vegan Smart.  Especially in my first trimester I was very nauseated every morning. It was terrible. I didn’t want to eat ANYTHING but knew I needed to get nutrients in my body.  This was a great option for me!  I could make this shake in the morning and shake with ice cubes so it was super cold (which was the only way I could stomach anything) and I knew that I was getting some good nutrients every morning.  I had tried other shakes, but many are soy based which my body does not do well with.  This shake is soy and gluten free but packs 20g of non GMO protein.  I still drink these daily, as soon as I wake up, to make sure that I am getting some good nutrients in the morning.  It blends pretty well (sometimes I get clumps, but if I use a blender bottle its usually pretty smooth) and the taste is actually quite good. I have only tried the chocolate, but it’s not super chalky which was another requirement of my first trimester stomach. This was a life saver for me with second baby!

Again, available on amazon Prime here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FYD5MVA/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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Guys – I cannot explain what a difference good, supportive shoes make.  My feet hurt SO BADLY with Vincent and never fully recovered after the pregnancy.  The only shoes that really made my feet feel okay were sneakers and I can’t wear those to work and they are too hot for summer so this pregnancy I was on the hunt for something better. Thankfully I discovered Born sandals! I picked these up at DSW and they are FABULOUS!  I don’t know exactly what is wrong with my feet – high arches, overpronation, or something along those lines – but these shoes are super supportive (they come all the way up the arch of my foot) and cute! And sandals! So many good things.

So these are 5 things that really helped me feel better in my second pregnancy – what else has helped you guys feel your best while being pregnant?

So, what helped?

After my last blog post When you [don’t] love your baby I was asked a question by a friend (who gave me permission to use this question):

     “What specifically helped you through this time with Vincent – spiritually, emotional, mentally?            What did dealing with lack of feeling look like for you as you struggled through the process?”

I thought these were great questions – but I really had to think about them.  How did I actually do this? What did help me during this time? I have been reflecting on these questions all week and I have had some thoughts that I wanted to share. There are 3 things that I think helped me through those first 8 weeks.

The first thing that helped me through this time is my relationship with Jesus Christ. I can’t tell you how many times I cried out to God in silent prayer, wrote in my journal, or just asked for comfort.  I honestly do not know how parents do the whole parenting thing without believing in a higher power. I feel like I need God’s help, peace, and guidance every single day.  That being said, I would like to add that Jesus did not magically make the process easier. I would ask God, “why can’t I just set this baby down?!?!? Please Lord, just let him sleep for 30 minutes by himself!” or something of the like. I can tell you that at those moments Vincent did not automatically fall into a peaceful dream state and then I immediately calmed down and then had a perfect day after. Why? Because newborns act the way they do for a reason – they are learning how to function in this new world and it’s overwhelming. I think that my relationship with God gave me a solid foundation to stand on, I stood on my rock and this kept me grounded even on the hardest days. God DID send me comforts – Bryan would get home from class early so I could take a nap, a friend from church would text or bring over dinner, another new mom would stop by with her baby and I would have company, my parents would call with encouraging words.  It might not have been the 8+ hours of sleep that I was hoping for, but God bore me up in different ways so I could keep going.

The second thing that got me through is my self talk. I have always had a strong inner dialogue with myself.  For majority of my life this was third person.  I don’t know if you have ever thought about how you speak to yourself, but typically when I speak to myself in the third person it is negative, “Why did you do that?!” “How could you make that mistake!” etc.  Thankfully, one thing that I began before Vincent came was talking to myself in the first person and asserting truths when things were difficult.  When I was feeling like the worst mom in the world because I didn’t want to hold my child anymore, I would speak to myself truthfully and logically (sometimes out loud) “You are tired, and that’s okay, but Vincent needs to be held right now and you can do that.  Holding Vincent helps his brain develop, I am helping him feel protected and cared for.  I am a good mom because I am doing exactly what Vincent needs right now.”  I would also assert Biblical truths over myself and Vincent.  You see, Satan (who is very real) plays tricks on our minds often. Unfortunately, he just has to plant a little seed of doubt, discouragement, question, or deception for our brains to latch on and let them grow out of control. He would slip in with thoughts of “You aren’t good at this” “You can’t keep going” “You shouldn’t have had a kid” and on and on. What I have learned is that we have extraordinary power over ourselves simply based off of what we think and what we listen to. When these thoughts would slip in, I would speak a truth to combat the lie.

Lie: “You aren’t good enough”

Truth: “Jesus died on a cross and said that I am worth the price, I am his daughter, I am good enough for Jesus and I need nothing else”

Lie: “You shouldn’t have had kids”

Truth: “God knit this child together in my womb. He created this life and chose me to be his mom. This was divinely appointed, not by chance. I am supposed to be Vincent’s mom”

Lie: “You can’t keep going”

Truth: “God will lift me up on eagle’s wings.  He will support and sustain me.  He is Jehovah Jireh – God who provides. I cannot do it on my own, but God will help me”

We have such power in what we say to ourselves and what God says about us. It’s amazing how quickly things turn around when we start focusing on God’s truth and do not let the lies enter into our thoughts.  If you don’t have a relationship with God (or even if you do), I would encourage you to ask God a question, “What are lies I am currently telling myself?” and then if you discover any, “God, what do you say about these things?” I think it would be an interesting experiment. Even if you don’t feel like that would work, or you are opposed to a higher power, I would encourage you to start practicing positive self talk. No matter what, I think you will see a difference in the way you hold yourself, act, and respond when negativity comes your way.

Third, I am extremely stubborn and hate failure. And this really helped me persevere.  Being stubborn and having a fear of failure is definitely something that I am not always proud of, but in this circumstance it worked to my advantage. You want to know why I was able to breastfeed for a year? Because I am stubborn and I set a goal – I was going to achieve it NO. MATTER. WHAT. I didn’t want to fail. You want to know why I woke up every two hours to feed Vincent for those first 8 weeks? Because I am stubborn, I wanted to continue to breastfeed, and I knew I had to keep going in order to be successful. When I felt void of emotions and that I wanted to shirk away from responsibility – I couldn’t because I am too stubborn to admit that I couldn’t do it so I just kept going. This is called perseverance and the experience of living through the newborn stage helped me realize how important perseverance is in life overall.  They say the best things aren’t easy, and I would say motherhood and the newborn phase definitely fall into that category. I learned a lot about humility and asking for help with Vincent, which was good growth for me. But ultimately the will and drive to not give up and just keep going did help me get through a really hard time and continue to breast feed through it all.

The second part of the question, “What did dealing with lack of feeling look like for you as you struggled through the process?” this part is more difficult. Apparently, to outsiders it looked like I was fine. After I wrote the original piece my husband said, “I had no idea you were feeling that way.” In my head I thought,how could you NOT know that I was feeling that way?! I was a wreck and I looked like a disaster!  But at the time, I didn’t express much of the lack of feeling because everything was SO OVERWHELMING. While I didn’t feel like I loved Vincent and felt void of many emotions, I was equally overwhelmed with the amount of change that occurred. I have been able to process these feelings in the year that has followed and I have been able to sort through the difficulties. At the time, I couldn’t express these feelings because I didn’t really fully grasp what was going on. I simply existed and got through the day.  AND WE HAD GOOD DAYS! Here is proof

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See! I am actually happy, that’s not a fake smile. I don’t mean to sound like everything was doom and gloom, it was just hard. I do remember happy times in those early days, too.

As I reflected on this time I realized that social media also played with my head. I had several friends that also had babies around the same time I did. They were posting pictures of these precious little bundles with captions like, “My everything!” “I love him/her so much!” “We are so in love with our little one!” etc. I would see these pictures and think, “I don’t feel that way!” but then immediately feel the need to post a picture with some sort of heartwarming caption because other people were doing it. Here’s the thing – I STILL don’t post pictures with captions like that. My captions are literal, sarcastic, sometimes (I think) funny, etc. The closest I got to “heartwarming” was when we were in the hospital and snapped this pic with the caption “Be still my heart” –

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but looking back it is interesting that I felt I needed to SHOW and PROVE my love for my child via pics and captions on social media. Just because I don’t post things that way, does it mean I love my child any less? No, it means that type of characterization is not genuine to who I am as an individual. And that’s okay. I don’t have to be sappy just because I am a mom. So this time around I know that social media does not define my affections for my child and I don’t need to worry about how much or how little I post about him.

So those are my thoughts and responses. Mamas – what got you through the newborn phase??

 

 

When you [don’t] love your baby

This blog post has been a long time coming, but it’s one that I keep putting off.

It’s a hard topic to talk about, but a few interactions recently have made me realize how important it is to share about the reality after your baby shows up.

So here it is…

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Prior to Vincent arriving people would ask me if I felt prepared. My answer was almost always, “as prepared as I can be.”  I knew that motherhood would be like nothing I had experienced before, but I also knew that I was a strong person who had lived through difficult experiences so I knew that I could conquer life with a newborn.

No matter what people tell you or what you think you are prepared for, no verbal explanation can explain the first 6-8 weeks of motherhood.  The first 8 weeks were especially difficult for me. I don’t know that I was suffering from postpartum depression, I was actually vigilantly looking out for this because I have suffered from depression in the past. No, what I felt was complete distance from who I used to be with this new life that now depended on me for everything.  I was extremely sleep deprived, away from family, and had a husband in the midst of nursing school and clinicals.  Many days, it was all me all day with a newborn. And many nights I was getting about 30-45 minutes of sleep between feedings while my newborn slept on my chest because he hated being set down.  One day I went from being an independent and self-reliant individual to a mom, and that’s something that no words and no verbal explanation can prepare you for.

Most of all I didn’t feel like I loved my son. I remember when Bryan brought me Vincent in the hospital and I literally had to tell myself out loud “this is your baby, this is Vincent!” But I wasn’t excited, I wasn’t overwhelmed with any sort of feeling really, I felt next to nothing.  I went through the motions, started nursing, tried to sleep (which in the hospital is a joke).  We took Vincent home and I continued to do the things that moms are supposed to do, but it all felt detached. It didn’t feel genuine, it was an obligation, a responsibility that I was now stuck with and no one else could really help with. Bryan did everything he could – he would be up late studying and hold the baby so I could sleep. He forced me to take naps and made sure I was eating while he was around.  But it’s not the same as being a mom.

The most difficult and most unexpected transition was the loss of independence. Suddenly, you have to think and plan every hour of every day to make sure that you are able to provide for your child.  Since Vincent hated being set down, this meant that I literally had a baby attached to me almost all the time.  Being a very independent individual, this was shocking and revolting to me.  Whenever people would come over I would immediately hand over Vincent because I just didn’t want to hold him anymore. I remember telling myself that I had to take pictures of Vincent because SOMEDAY I would want to look back and see how little he was (and that definitely DID happen! Now I wish we had more pictures of those early days).

All of this made me think that I didn’t love Vincent. I would physically make myself tell him that I loved him every day, because I knew that deep down I probably did love him even though I didn’t FEEL like it.

What I learned is that newborn love is a different kind of love.  I was used to relationships with reciprocity.  Babies don’t do this.  You pour out into your little one and you get crying, sucking, and poop in return.  Don’t get me wrong, there were some precious moments, but mostly it was just trying to make it through another day. What I realized was that I DID love my baby because I was doing everything I needed to do in order to care for him. I was nursing him, holding him so that he would sleep, cuddling him, cleaning him, and learning how to be his mom.  This is how you love a newborn – you survive, you learn, and you do what you can every day.

Our feelings lie. Especially sleep deprived hormone driven feelings.  Feelings come and go, like the ocean tides. They well up and overflow and then they dry out. Actions don’t lie. Actions show who and what we really are.  So if you are having a hard time and your actions are to seek help, tell your doctor, ask for assistance – this is you loving your baby.  If you feel like you don’t love your baby, but you nurse him every time he is hungry and then walk him around for 45 minutes at 3am because he is fussy, this is you loving your baby.  If you are a natural and you just have the mom thing down, your actions are still what demonstrate this love.  Babies feel loved by being taken care of, protected, cuddled, swaddled, and being nestled against mom or dad. They experience love in safety and comfort, not words or expressions.  I know that Vincent felt loved because we did everything he needed in those early days and on those really hard early days, I knew that I just had to act like I loved Vincent no matter what my feelings were telling me.

I recently heard of another mom who was experiencing the same feelings that I was during this early period.  My friend was concerned and shared her story with me. I asked if I could write her a letter.  I later had the pleasure of meeting this new young mom and she thanked me for the letter and encouraging words.  So here is a letter to all new moms and especially moms that don’t feel like they love their babies.

Dear Mama,

I am so proud of you. You brought new life into this world and now you are literally sacrificing your own life, sleep, and sanity.  It is not easy, but somehow you are doing it.  I remember those early days and I remember how difficult the first few weeks are.

I remember that I didn’t feel like I loved my baby and maybe that’s how you feel, too. But I want you to know that YOU DO LOVE OUR BABY.  You are doing everything you can for your child, and this is love. You are working hard to feed and nurture, hug and cuddle, figure out sleep and adjust to this new life. It’s a hard adjustment and it takes time. YOU CAN DO IT!  Take things one day at a time, each day gets better.

I promise that things get better. Nursing gets easier, sleep gets easier, you figure out how to balance your own needs with your baby’s.  But it takes time. I know that days feel like weeks and it seems like it will never end, but I promise you will both survive.

I am so proud of you and the effort you are putting into your little one. Remember, ask for help and tell people what you need. Pass that baby off every chance you get – catch a nap, take a shower, take a break. It is important to take care of yourself so that you can care for your child.  But every time you change a diaper or sit down to nurse, I want you to know that those actions clearly show you LOVE YOUR BABY.  Despite what your feelings tell you.

Good job mama – You Rock!

Abide (…waiting part 2)

As promised, this is my follow-up post to …Waiting…

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The past 3 months have been incredible for our family. When I wrote my last post I was only 9 days into a 30 day prayer covenant (If you aren’t familiar with the practice, you commit to praying for a specific area, person, action, etc for 30 days and invite others to join with you.  During the 30 days you work to seek God’s direction and voice instead of trying to take action on your own or control the outcome).  The 30 days was challenging, but helped me in so many ways.

The main effect of the prayer covenant was teaching me to abide.  Abide is a synonym for wait, but unlike waiting which is passive, abide is an active verb meaning “to stop temporarily and wait for” (thesaurus.com).  God calls us to abide in him, but I often don’t practice this and honestly, I don’t know if I understood what it meant until we went through this process.

After asking my company if they would relocate me to Cincinnati it was unclear if this was going to happen – enter 30 day prayer covenant.  This time was a very anxious period of time for me and every day I had to turn my anxiety and worry over to God.  I constantly asked God to come over the decision, help us know the right decision to make, and provide financially for a long move.  There were many days at work where I had to write down my anxieties and put them in my prayer box to try to physically separate myself from them (by the way this totally works for me – if you have worry/anxiety issues I highly suggest this practice!). But ultimately, the anxiety I was experience lead me to abide with God through the process and wait on him. Slowly, I was able to more easily turn my fears and worries over to God and I felt his peace come over me day by day.  I started to believe that no matter what, God would provide for us and He would see us through.

Towards the end of our 30 days I got news from my company that they were willing to relocate me to the Cincinnati office! This was such a blessing! And I was so excited to know that we were moving home.  I think that it is easy to look at this circumstance and say “God gave us the desire of our hearts” – which is totally true! In this instance, our desires lined up with God’s timing.  But what if He hadn’t? What if he would have asked us to stay where we are? Because I had been practicing abiding with God I had gained the confidence to know that if we weren’t able to move home he would have provided for us wherever we were.

I am so thankful and so excited to move back to Cincinnati! I know that this is an answer to prayer and that we are beyond blessed to have the opportunity to move. I am so thankful to work for a company that supports family and work-life balance that they see the importance of being near loved ones and supporting their employees. It has been awesome to experience God’s love, peace, and provision through this process.

Ultimately, I want to encourage you, friend! I encourage you to pray and ask God for the desires of your heart and experience a journey with Him.  If you haven’t ever done something like this – you can’t do it alone! I would love to partner with you and see where God leads! I would just invite you to try and see what happens, see what changes you experience, see what you realize during a waiting and abiding period. I think that no matter what you will learn something about yourself and get to experience God in a different way.

…waiting…

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I penned (typed rather) this post before I started the blog, way bay in March when there were so many pieces of life that needed to come together. I wanted to share it as part one of two this weekend…. please take a read back to March 2016….

The past few weeks have passed like an inch worm leisurely meandering down the road, in other words, very very slowly. Do you ever find that when you face a period of waiting time automatically passes about 1000 times slower than usual?

I have entered yet another period of waiting, it seems to be our pattern the last couple of years, but this time it is different. I am waiting for thing that I am REALLY excited about. Our first ultrasound for Baby Peach number two, my mom and sister to visit, and for a 30 day prayer covenant to be up.

I should backtrack. Once we found out we were preggers again, I immediately wanted to move home. We have wanted to move back home basically since moving away, but it’s always been a “sometime in the future” conversation.  Yeah, at some point we’d like to move back. Sure, it would be great to get back to Ohio sometime. But it seems like now that we are about to have 2 children under 2 that “some point” is NOW.

I like immediate decisions and action. I do not like waiting and I am not good at being patient. When I asked my work if they would relocate me to Cincinnati, I got back a vague non committal answer. It lead me to questioning if now is the right time to move. So, I decided to enter into a 30 day prayer covenant with God asking for guidance with our decision and that he would help me better understand His desire for our lives.

There have been many times in the 9 days since I made this decision that I am very upset with myself for making it. Now that I committed to it, I can’t back out! And all I want to do is talk to work and tell them what I want and make a decision! But, that’s not what I agreed to do and that’s not what God’s intention is.

As the days have crept by minute by minute, I have come to the conclusion that if nothing else results from my 30 days of prayer I will have practiced patience and waiting on God to give direction instead of taking my life into my own hands. Now, let me be clear, I do not believe that God does everything for you and you have to put nothing forward or make hard decisions. I believe that God empowers us to do the hard things, he shows us the way that is most beneficial for our lives, and if you choose to follow Him you will have a fulfilling (but probably not easy) life. I want to be clear that I think God is helping me practice patience and taking myself out of the equation and allowing God to be in control of my life. I am actually certain of this because I would do things so differently than what He does, therefore I know he is teaching me.

It is a difficult lesson, but I am learning to find peace.  There are still plenty of times when I am anxious and worried, but I work to pray through this reminding myself that God does not send us anxiety or fear. He is the God who Provides (Jehovah-Jireh).  He tells us “who adds one day to your life by worrying?” and one of my favorite verses, “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you” Isaiah 41:13.

How have you found God respond during times of waiting? Do you have any verses that were helpful?

 

Relocation Realities

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As you may have seen across my social media accounts, we are on the move again! We get to move back to Ohio, which I am pretty stoked about…and simultaneously lamenting leaving our lives in MN.
We have moved 3 times for my job, this move was at our request so it’s a little different but a move and transition none the less. If you have ever relocated before, you know what this means. It means uprooting your entire life and having to break ground in a new place, often where you know very few people.
Relocating is hard. Not only are you getting used to a new city – which includes everything from navigating highways to the name of the local grocery chain- but you often are without community and support.  I think the hardest part of being mobile in your job is that you are never certain how deep you can set your roots. You try to make friends and get involved, but what if they move you in a year? It’s not as appealing to dive deep into a community, church, or friendship if you don’t know how long you will be around. This works in reverse as well. When you are the transplant other people don’t know what to make of you and probably don’t think about inviting you in because they realize you will move on at some point in time.
This phenomenon can lead to a lonely existence. It’s easy to stay home, not get involved, binge watch Netflix on the weekend and just wait until the phone rings for the next relocation. But this is no way to live. And it’s not what God intended for us, “I came that they may have life, and have it to the full” John 10:10.  But this begs the question – what should you do? Here are three things that we attempted [with varying degrees of success] to get connected along the way.
1. Volunteer
I think this is the best way to meet people. If you volunteer with an organization you are passionate about, you will meet other people that are also passionate about that thing. Instant friends! It also gives a sense of purpose outside of the 8 to 5 grind, this is essential for me to feel like I exist for more than just clicking and typing all day long.
2. Force people to hang out with you
Okay, that sounds aggressive but you kind of have to be when you are making new friends. Often, we would say “oh we should get together” or “yeah let’s do that sometime.” And then nothing would happen. I have observed that when you are the newcomer, other people don’t realize you don’t have anything better to do with your time than hang out with them. They already have their lives in place, they have friends, family, commitments and don’t realize that you literally are available every evening of every week, oh and every weekend too. So instead I suggest pulling out your phone and saying “what days work for you next week?” Then actually put it on the calendar. This was you are both forced to at least acknowledge you have plans and reach out to the other person if for some reason you have to cancel.  Don’t sweat it if people seem uncomfortable with this approach. I have found that majority of people really appreciate that you are genuinely trying to make plans happen, so go for it!
3. Explore on your own

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Us with my grandparents, we went to check out a Greek festival!

I have always been surprised about what I have discovered by just walking around. I always ask people in my office what I should go do, but often I enjoy researching and trying things out on my own. (Sometimes Bryan likes coming with me, other times he is okay just not). We love trying new restaurants and that is a great way to explore the city! I found some of my favorite spots in Minneapolis because I just happened across them. We also found that making a list of things and places we wanted to go helped us actually get there. It’s very easy to just lounge around for most of Saturday and then never do anything because you got sacked into a TV marathon.
So, those are my tips if you are moving to a new place. If you have moved before, what worked for you to get plugged in?
One other point, if you are the person who already lives in said location and you know of someone new in town, do them a favor and invite them to go do something! Sure, it might be awkward at first, but it’s so awesome to have ANYONE invite you into their lives when you are new in town. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, just invite them to do something you already do – go to a farmers market or go for a bike ride, hit up a happy hour or take them to your favorite coffee house. Seriously anything you do, even if it’s just an offer, makes others feel so welcomed and invited.

My favorite things {baby edition}

Recently, I had a friend ask me about what she really needed for her new baby.  If you have so much as stepped inside a box store in the last century, you realize the enormity of products available for new babies and moms.  Getting your registry together is a ridiculous overload of decisions and pressure to choose the right thing all while your hormones are going crazy and you are questioning why you ever wanted to have a baby in the first place.

Thankfully, before I started my registry I had a close friend who warned me of the perilous journey that baby registries can be. So my first bit of advice is to make an online registry.  We used amazon.com for our registry because it was super easy and they have basically everything [including a 60″ TV that my husband insisted on listing ‘just in case’ someone wanted to give us a gift].  Also, everything gets shipped to your house! Babylist.com is another great site because you can add items from any website and then just mark them once they have been purchased.  This was much easier for me than going to a store. I could add a few items a day and then if I forgot anything I just popped in and added it!

Outside of where to register, I also told myself (daily) that all we really needed were:

1. a car seat to bring the baby home

2. a place for the baby to sleep

3. something for the baby to wear

4. diapers

If we had those things we could survive. This helped me eliminate the anxiety of needing everything on the list in order to function with a newborn. But there are several products that made our lives better. Some things we bought before Vincent came home, but the majority of items we picked up along the way.  We didn’t have tons of money since Bryan was in school so we tried to pick up a lot of stuff second hand or borrow things we knew we wouldn’t need long term. Here are 10 items I would recommend purchasing before baby joins your family:

  1. A great car seat. We went with Evenflo Convertible. I wanted a car seat that would grow with Vincent so we wouldn’t have to buy multiple pieces throughout his life. Also, I have a hard time with the click in car seats because they are so bulky and cumbersome when you take them out. Here is the car seat we purchased: //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=theprapea-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B01BI7JC5W&asins=B01BI7JC5W&linkId=5QHOVFDJ7XCB46MG&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true
  2. A nice set of nursing pajamas for the hospital.  Okay, this one is for your ladies.  I was so glad that I was gifted a beautiful three piece pajama set before I got to the hospital.   First you feel weird and you are still huge, so comfortable pjs are a must! But I got so many compliments on how nice my pajamas looked and it made me feel so great! My mom gifted me these jammies, and I would suggest grabbing a pair for yourself. We also got newborn pictures taken and I felt like I actually looked somewhat put together with these on, so again, they just made me feel great and I was so glad to have them! //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=theprapea-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B01CI9355M&asins=B01CI9355M&linkId=OS7BYSMCTLZZZSKT&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true
  3. A convertible crib.  Again, I wasn’t sure when we would have another baby and if we would purchase another crib. So, I wanted something that could stick with Vincent long term if we needed it to. Also, why are cribs at Baby’s R Us $700? I wouldn’t spend that much money on a bed for myself let a lone a crib for a baby. So once again, amazon.com to the rescue! We really like the modern look of our crib and I really appreciate that it’s lower to the ground. Let’s be honest, someday Vincent will climb out and I would prefer if he falls only a short distance. Also, when babies teeth they will bite the sides of their crib. I would prefer to not care if the crib looks terrible instead of freaking out because we spent tons of money on it. //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=theprapea-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00FPJTY44&asins=B00FPJTY44&linkId=CSBQMS4X2IZ52GNV&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true
  4. Somewhere to put baby when you need a break.  We had this bean bag which Vincent liked for the first several weeks of life: //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=theprapea-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00WORZYQC&asins=B00WORZYQC&linkId=TIRXVEDNPVBAINF3&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true   My only problem with this was trying to keep a blanket on him. Because of the way he was strapped in he would kick off blankets that I wrapped around his feet. Also, you couldn’t swaddle him and lay him on this so it was okay but maybe not the best.  Several of my friends had one of these: //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=theprapea-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00C4R338S&asins=B00C4R338S&linkId=EU3T75UTM2P6MICL&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true  and said that their kids loved them for the first 3 months or so. I plan to borrow one for baby number two!
  5. Baby carrier.  I loved my Boba Wrap when V was just tiny. He loved it too! It freed up my hands if I wanted to get something done around the house and V got to be all snuggled in tight.  My husband also used it a couple times when Vincent was up and crying in the middle of the night, worked like a charm! //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=theprapea-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00OHBGZA2&asins=B00OHBGZA2&linkId=HTU4OZMCXBKF66GR&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true  I stopped using this wrap at about 2-3 months because it has zero lower back support. We then switched to the Lille Baby carrier, which is AMAZING. It distributes weight across your entire torso, has lower back support, and has multiple positions. The fabric is also mesh so it breathes which is essential on warmer days! There is also a cover so that you can block out the world and baby can take a snooze while you are running errands or going for a walk. I seriously can’t say enough good things about the Lille Baby carrier //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=theprapea-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00IXXYYQC&asins=B00IXXYYQC&linkId=YZZMCTVY5HFXXHEB&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true
  6. Nursing Pillow.  I used My breast friend nursing pillow, the deluxe version. The reasons I loved it are thus: it has a snap so you can snap it around your waist which means you don’t need an extra hand to carry it. This is key when you are alone with baby and you have to carry your baby to your nursing station or just generally around the house.  It also has a pocket in the front where you can stick stuff while your pillow is snapped around your waist so you can freely walk to your destination. I consistently stuck remotes, water bottles, granola bars, cell phones, and other necessities in said pocket.  Again, you want to free up your hands as much as possible so this was a life saver for me!  I also thought the pillow helped get Vincent into good nursing positions and you can use it for multiple positions which is also helpful! //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=theprapea-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00XOSQU4K&asins=B00XOSQU4K&linkId=TADTRVSK53EYXK5V&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true
  7. Swaddle blankets.  You will want swaddle blankets, it will just depend on the time of year the weight of the blankets you want.  We used Summer Infant swaddles and really liked them. You can get them nice and snug and they are a good weight.  Vincent was born in February so if we used these we would usually add another blanket around him (our house is pretty chilly) but he liked these the best.  We had some heavier fleece swaddles, but I thought they were harder to work with so I recommend these.  //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=theprapea-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00TTWAQZY&asins=B00TTWAQZY&linkId=W5MBDJK3FHGHZBHY&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true
  8. A video monitor.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but when your baby finally leaves your room (which was THE BEST decision we ever made as parents) or you lay them down for a nap alone, a video monitor is key.  We especially appreciated the video monitor once V was older, especially when we were sleep training.  We used the  Motorola Video Monitor below.  It’s been great! You can spend tons of money on video monitors – ours is pretty simple, it doesn’t connect to our cell phones or anything, but it gets the job done.  It’s so nice to be able to click on the monitor and know if your baby is actually awake or just making sleepy nighttime noises. It gave me a lot of peace so that I could actually sleep instead of having to get up and check on the baby all the time – highly recommend investing in one!  //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=theprapea-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B018F1E5FQ&asins=B018F1E5FQ&linkId=WIRMP7P7LMQCCYYZ&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true
  9. Breast pads and night time nursing bras.  So once your milk comes in there is no stopping the leakage – or at least there wasn’t for me.  The breast pads were a must! They stopped many a shirt from getting ruined with leaking breastmilk.  They were also a life saver for going out in public.  Now remember, these are my suggestions for what you need before baby comes home – there is plenty of time to find good nursing bras later when you are more mobile. I just bought a few comfortable looking night time nursing bras for the beginning and used my Bamboobies nursing pads under them.  There are lots of reusable nursing pads out there – I personally have only tried the Bamboobies brand, but they worked great for me and have stood up under several washes.  I didn’t think that the disposable nursing pads made sense, I would rather save the waste and wash them instead of running out and having to buy more.  //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=theprapea-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B0043ZPVDO&asins=B0043ZPVDO&linkId=KYHSCZDFT2Y33GEW&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true
  10. A Amazon Prime Account.  Here’s the thing, you can buy everything you think you need or want and inevitably your baby won’t like it or you will get a recommendation from another mom of something that is better. It was impossible for me to pack up and get to Target to buy this stuff, and this is the beauty of Amazon Prime. You can order anything you need and it will ship to you FOR FREE in 2 days. Can’t wait that long? Lots of major cities now have Prime Now, where you can have stuff delivered to you same day for just $5! We used (and still do use) our Prime account all the time. It was so great to just be able to search something online and order it and not have to write it down on a list and hope that I remembered to search the shelves for it the next time we went to the store. Also, they have movies, TV shows, and music that you can stream for free which will also be a necessity when you have your 1 hour nursing sessions and you can’t take another day of soap operas and talk shows. Just go get an account now, seriously you will be so thankful. You can try it free for 30 days!<a target=”_blank” href=”http://www.amazon.com/tryprimefree/?ref_=assoc_tag_ph_1427739975520&_encoding=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=pf4&tag=theprapea-20&linkId=5IWOHVDVYB3RIRNC”>Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial</a><img src=”http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=theprapea-20&l=pf4&o=1&#8243; width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />

So there you have it. The 10 things that I think you should have before the baby comes home.  There is a lot of other stuff we purchased after we had Vincent for awhile (breast pumps, bottles, more clothes, etc) but you also get a lot of extra stuff from showers.  If you don’t have everything you think you need when the baby comes, THAT IS OKAY.  Newborns don’t need that much stuff and then you can feel like you have more control when you are making purchasing decisions later. This system worked well for us.

Mamas – what were your essential products when you brought your newborn home? What would you say is one thing every new mom needs? We would love to hear your ideas!