Monday, May 14, 2018

Checking In

You guys, there's so much I could write, but we all know I've sucked at keeping up this blog for the past few months as I've been throwing myself headfirst into motherhood and getting back to my corporate gig.  Yikes, it's been a while...  this space used to be my escape and release in a way, a creative outlet.  Now, I don't get here as often because it's usually easier to wax philosophical on Instagram while I'm pumping...

I love my tiny human.  Kenny is a good baby, and we're in a blissful period where we're sleeping a bit more and enjoying lots of smiles and giggles.  It seems like every time we get something figured out, it changes; babies are 100% a moving target!  But it's fulfilling, and it sort of feels like he's been with us forever.

I've definitely had to say no to more things...  after-work fun, local influencer events, blog opportunities, etc.  I'm exhausted each and every day!  But I did manage to page at our DAR state conference by having Mom stay at the hotel with the baby.  We've also survived a few weeks of daycare, an evening with a non-family babysitter, an overnight work trip away, a week of solo parenting, and a road trip.  Whew!  That's a lot for a little guy who's only been out here breathing oxygen for a few months.  So I think that what's happening in non-essential stuff is eliminated from the calendar, and the stuff I really want and prioritize is making the cut.  That's not a bad place to be.

I'm also "graduating" from regular therapy!  I started using Talkspace over a year ago, because I was stressed out and struggling.  Dan and I were having conflicts about trying to conceive (it can put a lot of strain on a marriage!), I was overweight and overeating, I was navigating work and personal relationships, and I needed an objective ear that wasn't my friends.  Having a therapist in my phone to text or video chat with helped so much.  I went from a monthly video chat and 5x weekly texts to just texts, then to a few times a week, then to once a week texts.  Now, I don't feel like I need the sessions anymore, and my therapist supports me stepping back until I know I need help again.  I made sure I had support from that point, through pregnancy nerves, to those initial baby blues, to my transition back to work, and I couldn't be prouder or happier that I feel so much better now than I have in so long!

I've made sure to do some things for myself since Kenny was born.  I'm still active in the DAR, which I love!  I've gone to Happy Hours (just not 2-3 a week like the old days).  I've gone to Target after the baby is asleep to walk around.  I've worked on my scrapbooks and photo books.  And now I'm taking some time to reconnect with this blog, as I've got a bunch of stuff on my mind that people might find useful or interesting to read!

I have a few posts I'm thinking through, including my latest Stitch Fix recap, my experience going back to work (and pumping!), favorite baby things, and Kenny's 100 Days party/my first Mother's Day!  Hopefully I'll get around to those now that I'm tackling my to-do list to an extent.  But the desire to write has to be > the desire to sleep, and I have to have showered.  Because sometimes you just have to go into survival mode, and put yourself back together when you can.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Nursery Tour

When we found out I was pregnant, we decided that rather than moving to a larger home, we'd stay in our 2BR 2BA apartment.  We have plenty of space (1200 sq ft!), so we felt like it would be better to stay put and save money for now.  That said, with all of our family out of state, we wanted our 2nd bedroom to be a dedicated guest room for extended grandparent visits.  So we decided to share one walk-in closet in our bedroom and turn the other into our nursery.

I've had a lot of friends curious about our "closet nursery" so I decided to share it here.  That said, it's not going to be one of those lifestyle photo shoots, just a completely functional peek into our life with baby!

Outside of the nursery, on my side of the bed, we added a rocker, my Christmas gift from my mother-in-law.  We got it via Amazon, carefully looking for a smaller rocker that would fit that specific space.  We also got a ton of baby books from folks too, which wouldn't fit in the over-door hanging storage I got.  So the wall above the rocker became a baby book nook with display shelves, and the over-door hanging bins became storage for stuffed animals.

Inside the nursery, we were fortunate to have a great space and some closet shelving to work with.  For obvious reasons, we kept the shelves above the crib empty, but I felt confident in the strength of the shelves to store diapers above our changing table.  After all, baby isn't to be unattended on the changing table!  We also love having everything we need for the baby in one main spot, organized so we know where to reach even when we're tired.  Kenny loves the mobile above the changing table too.

Since I took these photos, I've filled up the bottom clothing rack with 3-6 month clothes!

We also chose a mini crib because of the space, and Kenny sleeps in it every night!  It's shorter than a full size crib, and about four inches less wide.  The space is the size of a pack 'n' play basically.

We've also got baby "stuff" in other areas of the apartment, but we try our best not to let it take over the whole space!  I think that once Kenny is bigger, that will be tougher... but for now, it's not so bad!  We have a mini dishwashing/drying station by the kitchen sink.

In the living room, we have two bins under the coffee table that hold books and toys that we use for the day.  We also have a little foldable swing and Kenny's activity mat.  Usually there is a bunch of baby stuff on the coffee table during the day, but by creating designated spots for baby stuff we have managed to keep it pretty tidy in general.

In addition, because I was craving natural sunlight, Dan put privacy film on the lower 2/3 of our patio windows, so I can see clearly outside when standing but be hidden when I'm sitting on the sofas nursing.  Since we're on the first floor facing the parking lot, I really appreciate the privacy, and Kenny and I get good natural lighting all day.

So there you have it!  That's how baby has changed our apartment, and how we created a nursery in our closet.  We like having Kenny "in" our room, so our family can stay in the other bedroom and visit us as often as possible.  I'm sure once he is mobile and getting into things, we will have to childproof and adapt, but for the past couple of months it has worked for us.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Kenny's Birth Story

A month ago (wow!), I gave birth to our first child, Kenny.  Considering that his due date was just a week ago, it was a roller coaster ride to be sure.  I finally found a few minutes, jotting notes here and there over the past month, to share the story here.

I'd gone to my OB for my regular weekly appointment at 37 weeks, expecting a normal visit, but my preeclampsia symptoms (which began around 35 weeks) were getting worse.  I was carrying a ton of water weight, my blood pressure was going up, and I had protein in my urine.  My doctor ordered additional labwork to be run that day, telling me I needed to put my feet up from now until the baby was born.  So I headed back to the office, let everyone know I'd be working from home for a while, then headed to dinner with my friends.  I had a blast with them, and then afterwards I was sitting on the couch at home eating a candy bar when the on-call doctor phoned.  They told me that I needed to come to the hospital for induction that night.  Dan wasn't even done with work yet; I had to call him to tell him to come home.  I was shaking!

Photographic proof that I was out with my friends P & M that night, not knowing I'd be heading to the hospital

We arrived at the hospital late on January 30th for me to have medicine placed to prepare my cervix.  I guess my preparedness paid off in some ways...  I already had my bag packed in the car, with a copy of my hospital pre-admission paperwork and everything we needed ready to go.  We also had the carseat installed and inspected the weekend prior!

The next morning, my water broke on its own.  I was coming back to bed from the bathroom, and it just happened.  I wasn't exactly sure if I was correct about it, but the nurses confirmed what it was.  It was such a crazy sensation!

At about 10 a.m., we started the medicine pitocin to induce delivery.  I made quick progress with dilation over the course of the day, and I remember being hungry (of course LOL).  I remember the joy I felt when I was given a popsicle, and I was so glad that I ate a big meal with my friends the night before!  My contractions kept getting stronger and stronger, to the point I was ready for my epidural.  Oh boy, I loved that epidural!  Meanwhile, my parents drove down from Indiana and arrived around 3 p.m.

By 5:30 p.m., I was prepared to push.  Dan and my mom were on my left side to support me during delivery.  Pushing with the epidural was definitely challenging in a way... As a first-timer, I didn't know what I was doing, or what was productive, and I needed a nurse coaching me on when a contraction was coming.  But my doctor and nurses were so great, and I got the hang of things in the end.  After an hour of pushing, our Kenny was born!  He cried right away (I heard him before I saw him), and they placed him on my chest, goo and all.

I remember crying.  I remember my Mom was crying, and that Dan cut the umbilical cord.  I think my first reaction upon seeing Kenny was just surprise...  did I really have that little guy inside me all this time?  (That's what she said... LOL)  But seriously, I couldn't believe that this little person was ours, and that he had such a sweet face.  It was all such a blur.  Our hospital really emphasizes skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding, and within his first hour of life I was nursing him for the first time.

This photo is my everything!

The hospital cafeteria was closed by the time I was allowed to eat, so Dad and Dan went and got me some Steak 'n' Shake.  Dan fed me chicken tenders while I lay in bed.  It was the best-tasting chicken ever given the circumstances.

Kenny was born on a Wednesday, so we moved to a recovery room and spent that night and Thursday night in the hospital.  Dan stayed in the room with me, and we had our first sleepless nights with a newborn.  We had no idea what we were doing, and it was scary even just picking him up.  Were we doing it right?  Clueless.  Fortunately the nursery nurses were amazing.  We had some coaching on breastfeeding from a lactation consultant, Kenny got checked out by a pediatrician, and I got checked out by a doctor from my OB's office.  A photographer came by too, so we have some precious photos of Kenny from when he was less than 24 hours old!

By Friday, my preeclampsia symptoms seemed to have subsided, and we were discharged to go home.  But the story doesn't end there.

On Saturday, I wasn't feeling great, but I figured that was normal after giving birth.  I had a headache that wouldn't go away, and I was seeing sparkly "floaters" in my vision.  Dan went to work that day for his brewery's anniversary party, and I remember thinking that maybe I was tired and dehydrated from being up at night with a newborn.  But then I recalled the symptoms of preeclampsia that my doctor had repeated to me over and over...  so I told Dan to bring home a Gatorade and a blood pressure cuff from Walgreens, so we could see what was up. When we took my blood pressure, twice, it was through the roof.

Everything became a blur.  My parents were staying with us, and my Mom was going to be with us for a couple of weeks.  We knew that I needed to get to the ER, since my doctor's office was closed.  So we left the baby with my parents (thankfully I had saved formula samples in the pantry!) and went to the hospital immediately.  We knew we made the right call by the way the ER personnel acted when I arrived.  In fact, the ER doctor told Dan (while I was out of the room) that if we hadn't known to come in, I could have ended up having seizures and in a coma!  I was admitted to the hospital for preeclampsia and spent 24 hours on magnesium treatment, then another night for observation.

Those two nights in the hospital were gut-wrenching.  I was not allowed out of bed except for the nurse to take me to the bathroom, and the treatment made me feel terrible.  In addition, because Kenny had been discharged from the hospital, he couldn't go back into the nursery, so having him room with me at the hospital (not to mention the terrible flu season) felt risky.  Not to mention I was being checked every hour, on the hour, by nurses.  Instead, he stayed home with Dan and my parents, and I got familiar with the hospital's breast pump.  I didn't see him from Saturday night until Monday afternoon.  Not being able to control anything, I set an alarm for every three hours to pump milk for Kenny.  I'm so glad that I did, because my milk came in while I was there!  The nurses stored it for me in the NICU fridge, and Dan would come back and forth (we live three miles away) to bring home food for our son.

I took these photos while I was in the hospital for the 2nd time, to commemorate my misery.

I cried and cried every night being away from the baby.  It was so hard, even though I know I made the right call at the time!  In some ways, if you look for silver linings, I got some reassurance out of it.  I learned that I could survive being separated from my baby (as tough as it was), and Dan got the experience of being a full-time caregiver in a way most new fathers don't get right away.  He had two nights to bond with that baby, which made me feel better.  I also learned that Kenny was fine with formula (and later breastmilk) from a bottle.  He was nourished, and I didn't have to worry about that.  Lastly, I learned that I have to take care of my own well-being to be able to take care of my baby.  The hospital stay allowed me to rest (somewhat) and recuperate fully so I could go home to my baby.  Kenny was thriving, so I couldn't let myself feel any guilt over how things happened.

Once I got home on Monday, I did notice that my "baby blues" hit in the evenings, and that I was experiencing anxiety related to our health.  Every time I had a headache or something, I was worried I was going to end up back in the hospital.  Every time anything happened with Kenny that I wasn't sure was normal, I was suddenly paralyzed with fear that he was going to overheat or starve or stop breathing or be sick.  In hindsight, I think that my feelings were very normal, but that second week post-partum (let's face it, my first week was a hospital stay) was definitely tough.  Thank goodness my Mom was there to help me through it, and that Dan was so great throughout.  Once my doctor reassured me that I was out of the woods for preeclampsia, my anxiety subsided.

So there you have it!  Kenny's birth story, plus my bonus hospital stay.  A month later, I definitely feel recovered from delivery and preeclampsia, and now I'm full-on in newborn land.  It's a whole new level of exhausting, but ultimately everything I've been through has been worth it!

I mean, look at this guy...  :)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Maternity Photos

I wanted to get some photos with Dan before the baby came, so of course we called upon our talented friend Steve Cross to take them for us!  Steve shot our engagement photos and wedding photos, all in Franklin, so it was only fitting to head back to the park at Harlinsdale Farm where Dan and I got married in 2015 to take some pictures.

I did my own hair and makeup, which is not my forte, but in the end I think that it made it just that much more natural and authentic.  I was 36 weeks pregnant, so baby was moving quite a bit during the shoot!  It felt like our first family portrait with him, in a way.

You may recognize the barn area from our wedding photos if you've been around this blog for a while.  It was kind of magical to stand where we said our vows and think about how our relationship and family have evolved.

There's going to be lots more baby stuff on this blog, I imagine.  It's hard not to be consumed by it when you're largely pregnant or about to dedicate so much of your time to caring for someone else.  But I'm hoping that this blog and our family continue to be authentic and natural, always Aubrey as my blog title says.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Pregnancy: Things I've Learned These 9 Months

So... my baby was born on January 31st, and I never posted this!  Here you go... promise to come back later with maternity photos, baby birth story, and more.

At my last general pregnancy check-in here on the blog, I'd made it 7 months... and now I'm past 9 months, and I have a few more notes to share!  Honestly, if I had to sum up my pregnancy, Weeks 0-20 felt like this endless nauseous, heartburn-filled saga of exhaustion.  Weeks 20-37 have been more relatively easy, though I'm at the point I'm starting to get uncomfortable.  I feel like this is the complete opposite experience from what some women go through.  It's crazy how every pregnancy is so completely different for everyone!

Attending my company holiday party

My favorite pregnancy app has been The Bump (free), though there are a lot of similar apps out there.  I liked that each week I could read up on baby's development but also what symptoms I could expect for myself or changes in my own body.  I think that it's the kind of thing you only use during your first pregnancy (kind of like reading pregnancy books, if you're into that like I was!) but for us it was useful.  Dan downloaded it to his own phone, so it was nice because he kind of felt connected to how the baby was doing and also informed him of some of the things he might observe in my behavior or health.

My favorite photo app has been Little Nugget (not free), which will also be useful once baby arrives.  I feel like the stickers are on trend and plentiful once you buy it, and I found that I liked it more than using my letterboard or something else.  It keeps things at your fingertips, and you can customize colors and whatnot!

My least favorite pregnancy symptom, aside from the pregnancy nausea last year, has been swelling.  CANKLES.  In my 35th week, I ballooned up in weight, and it was almost entirely in my feet, legs, and hands from water retention and swelling.  Most of my shoes don't fit!  We had to keep an eye on my symptoms in case preeclampsia became a risk, which was nerve-wracking for me.  I did find my compression socks (with cute cats of course) were helpful, as was elevating my feet whenever I could.

Sausage feet stuffed into socks

My favorite maternity clothes were either non-maternity (like my Three Bears Company pieces), Target maternity solid-colored dresses and tops from my Mom, and a handful of maternity pieces I got via Stitch Fix.   I got a lot of compliments on my Dwell & Slumber pieces too, but I found that as the weather cooled off I got a lot more wear out of mixing solid layers and leggings with dresses.  (I found the Dwell & Slumber pieces harder to layer because of the way the caftan sleeves bunched up for me.)  I wore a lot of non-maternity stuff the entire time, using leggings and maternity camisoles to make them work.

The Stitch Fix pieces I kept

My maternity clothing fails were Le Tote for Maternity (I just didn't like the fit of what I ended up with, so I cancelled), maternity jeans and pants that weren't ponte or leggings (like a bad tube top, I kept having to pull them up), and buying tops with a distinctive print.  The two print tops I had, I felt like I couldn't wear them as often as solid colored pieces, which could be mixed and matched more often.  That's why I recommend solids, because you can wear the same stuff every week and just remix it like a capsule wardrobe.

What else have I learned since my last post?

I still stand by a lot of what I wrote a couple of months ago.  Pregnancy is still gross.  And you still have to surrender, even more as you get bigger and rounder and more exhausted.

Other thoughts...  Nesting is real, and I love it.  People love to talk about pregnancy and be super nice to you.   People love babies and will surprise you with gifts.  Sometimes I cried for stupid reasons, like because I felt too tired and swollen to go out with my girlfriends one night, or because my laundry basket was too heavy.  Hormones!

One thing I've grappled with overall is just fear...  I've never been hospitalized, and I've never had major surgery.  So yeah, childbirth feels scary.  And not knowing when it's going to happen?  That's scary too.  But now that I see the light at the end of the tunnel, the level of discomfort that I feel plus the excitement of meeting my baby is starting to outpace the fear.  I think a little fear is natural, but it definitely feels like it's going to be worth it!

Lastly, I'm trying to be kind to myself.  I think a lot of women beat themselves up over things related to childbirth, breastfeeding, motherhood, etc.  I hate seeing wonderful mothers do that.  So while I know I'll have those moments, I'm still going to try to focus on not having crazy expectations of how things are going to go.

Here's hoping these last weeks of pregnancy are healthy and happy as can be!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Baby Showers & Breakfast

In January, I was blessed with TWO more baby showers, both of which ended up being brunch or breakfast events!  Given that I love breakfast foods, it was pretty perfect!  The first, thrown by my friend S, was a local celebration that brought together a bunch of my favorite Tennessee ladies and some out of staters too.

I didn't do a great job getting a bunch of photos, but my favorites were the mimosa/bellini bar (with sparkling water for me!), the breakfast buffet with favorites like biscuits and hash brown casserole, and doughnuts instead of cake.  Yum!

We had folks from Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin, but also longer hauls like Knoxville, Cookville, Crossville, Chattanooga, Monteagle, and even Illinois and Indiana!  I think it was really good for my Mom to see what a great community I have here in Tennessee.  After six years, it's definitely my favorite place I've lived thus far as an adult.

Then at work, my friends J and P put together a shower in one of our conference rooms.  The snowy weather caused a reschedule, but it ended up being a really nice breakfast "open house" style shower.

And the super-fun balloons from my shower made their way up to my desk later too.  :)  People who missed the shower are still bringing gifts by my desk, and it's so touching and sweet!

Something we've received that wasn't necessarily on our registries: tons of books!  Here's a nursery sneak peek where you can see how we've displayed a bunch of them, and we are going to store the rest in a book bin.  We love reading (I worked at the public library in high school) so it's wonderful to have these already to read to baby Kenny!

Now after three (yes, three!) baby showers, I've written over 100 thank you notes and counting.  We are just so grateful for all of the gifts and love that we've received, I wanted to make sure to thank everyone individually for thinking of us.  I'm old school about notes and snail mail like that.

I also wanted a way to keep all of the adorable cards we've received.  I decided to use the same method I used for our wedding cards; I punch a hole in the corner and use a loose binder ring to keep everything together.  I even included the invitations to the baby showers, so I could keep those together with the cards.

When I'm sitting in the living room with swollen pregnancy feet, it's encouraging to flip through the cards and read what people wrote to us.  I'm tempted to stick it in our hospital bag, just so I can read it if I need the encouragement.  :)

I'm so grateful for the blessings and love we've received in anticipation of our new arrival!

Monday, January 29, 2018

2018 Desire Map

It's the end of January, so by now most people have given up on New Year's resolutions or are sort of getting tired of them.  The one perk of being super pregnant this time of year is no one trying to sell my weight loss products and programs... figure they'll wait until after my baby is born to do that.  (eyeroll)

But I didn't want to start the new year, a year that is going to be life-altering, without some thought behind my desires and wants.  So when my friend Lindsey mentioned she was doing The Desire Map again this year, I knew that I wanted to give it a go.

The endstate to The Desire Map for me was all about three words that would guide me in 2018.  Sort of my personal mantras for the year.  I did read through the book, which kind of reads like a blog-meets-pep-talk in a way.  I don't usually like the touchy-feely mumbo jumbo, but I did glean some wisdom while reading.

For me, the bread and butter of this was the workbook exercise.  I spent a lot of time brainstorming.  Since I may want to do this over and over again, I downloaded the book PDF (sometimes available for free!) and printed out the worksheet pages.

I decided to share this on my blog as it's along the lines of New Year's resolutions posts I've done in the past, AND because I felt like it was a really great exercise.  I'm not plugging this author in any way, nor is those sponsored... I just felt like overall it was something that I enjoyed putting some thought behind, and that it might help someone reading this blog to embrace this kind of thing!

For 2018, the core desired feelings on which I landed are:

  • intentional
    • I want to live my life and make choices with intention, not out of obligation or just letting things happen to me.  I want to do things I want to do!
    • I want to be present as I raise my baby.  I don't want to let things just rush by.
  • nourished
    • I wanted a word related to my health, so words like strong and energetic came up.  But ultimately I landed on nourished, because it can have so many meanings around health and happiness overall.   I want my body and my soul to both feel nourished.
    • joyful
      • I want to embrace happiness and seek joy.  I think sometimes I do a lot of what other people want me to do, and I don't seek out the things that bring me personal fulfillment.
      • I also want to embrace the joy of parenthood, keeping an eye on my personal well-being to manage any baby blues or stress that come my way.

    Did you make any resolutions or mantras for 2018?
    How's it going?

    Sunday, January 7, 2018

    Sunday Lately: Cherishing, Applauding, Singing

    Sunday Lately is a weekly linkup hosted by the Blogger Tribe

    We e-hangout every Sunday, sharing a small glimpse into the past week of life in our own words.

    Happy New Year!  I'm hosting Week #158 of our Sunday Lately linkup, led by our fearless leader Katy.  Here's a glimpse into the first week of 2018 in my life!

    Cherishing...  my friends and family.  We had another baby shower this weekend, this time in Tennessee.  We've hardly had to buy a thing for this baby, because we're blessed with friends and family who've been so generous!  This baby is so loved already.

    Applauding...  The Pigeon Letters.  I love the botanical line drawing books Peggy has done! I've been drawing in my planner versus using stickers these days, because it's something I can do without carrying around a bunch of planner stuff, just pens.

    Singing... to my baby belly.  I'm feeling pretty big at 33 weeks... I can't believe I'm just going to get even bigger!  I know he can hear me, so I've definitely been singing even more than usual, especially in the shower.  I have also been reading a bunch of books (many of them gifts) that just make me feel overall a bit more knowledgeable about topics I never really cared about before.  I've definitely learned a lot about my own body in this process!

    And for no good reason except for cuteness, here's a photo of my (fur) babies!


    An InLinkz Link-up

    How was your week?
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