Looking back at 2020, it’s clear to see why there’s a bigger-than-usual push to shop small this Christmas. I’ve put together this Christmas List for Babies from Etsy shops only to help you shop small this holiday season. Just click the links to shop!
Apple-picking season is upon us. If you’re like me, you LOVE going to the apple orchard (shoutout to Jonamac in Malta, IL) and picking a bag full of apples! But then you get home, and you’re like – what am I going to do with all these apples?
Here’s your solution: gluten-free apple pie bars. I’m not a huge baker, but these are so easy and simple to make!
Ingredients for the gluten-free crust:
1 1/2 cups gluten free flour (I used half rice flour and half almond flour)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter (cubed, cold)
1/2 tsp vanilla
A couple pinches of salt
Ingredients for the filling
3-4 medium Apples (use different colors!)
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
Squeeze half a lemon to finish it off
Putting it all together:
Oven at 350 degrees. Prep baking dish with unbleached parchment paper.
Combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, butter and vanilla into food processor. (If you don’t have a food processor, I used my ninja bullet and manually pulsed it. It worked perfectly!)
Press dough into bottom of baking dish. Save some for some crumbles or cut-out shapes/designs on top.
Bake the crust for 15 minutes.
Slice apples and combine filing ingredients in a bowl. When the crust has cooked for 15 minutes, pour filling onto crust.
Crumble dough or add crust designs to top of apples.
Despite being used for their healing properties for thousands of years, crystals are definitely having a moment right now. Have you been curious about this new crystals trend? Have you wondered how to use them in your own life? In this post I’m going to do a simplified overview of how to use healing crystals, and then I’ll highlight seven different crystals you can benefit from during pregnancy.
The idea behind healing crystals is that each crystal or stone has its own energy. That energy interacts with our own energy, which in turn can have different healing effects.
To properly prepare to use a crystal, you need to first cleanse a new crystal to remove any energies attached to it from the store. You only want the inherent energies of the stone to remain when you use it. I normally do this by soaking them in water for at least a day (natural stream water or rain water is best, but tap water is okay if it’s all you have). Be careful with this method as water can corrode/rust certain stones. You can also sage the crystals, but be sure to be extra thorough!
Once your crystal is cleansed, you can “charge” the crystal. Some people skip this step but I prefer not to. Charging the crystal is exactly what it sounds like – you’re energizing the crystal to power up its natural healing properties. You can charge your clean crystals by placing the next to a selenite stone, or placing them on a selenite charger. You can also leave them out overnight to charge in the moonlight.
Once your crystal is cleansed and charged, it’s time to set your intentions, or “program” the stone. People do this in different ways. I simply do a form of meditation. I play some meditation music on Spotify, relax as much as I can, then I pick up the stone and meditate with it in my hand. While holding the stone tight in my fist, I silently speak into existence what I want the stone to help me with. Once you feel as though you’ve sufficiently set your intentions with that stone, it’s ready to use!
To “use” the stone, you can simply carry it with you (close to the body). You can take it out and hold the crystal when you need it. You can also meditate with it in your hand or place it on the chakra that stone is connected to. If you ever want to “reset” the stone and use it for a different purpose, sage the stone, charge the stone and set your new intentions.
Now that you know the basics of using healing crystals, here are my seven crystals to use during pregnancy:
1. Rose Quartz
Rose quartz is often referred to as the love stone. It radiates a gentle energy that promotes bonding between mom and baby during and after pregnancy.
2. Clear quartz
Clear quartz is a neutral crystal that can be used for virtually any purpose. If you’re interested in healing crystals but don’t want to buy a ton – start with a clear quartz and program it for whatever intention you have to aid in your pregnancy.
This stone is perfect for you if you believe you have guardian angels and want to encourage your connection with them during your pregnancy.
Amethyst is a favorite of mine as it has so many different uses, is widely available and budget-friendly, and is a beautiful purple hue! During pregnancy, it can help with insomnia, relaxation, protection, pregnancy headaches and can promote positive pregnancy dreams.
Unakite aids with anxiety and stress during pregnancy. Promotes peace, patience and bonding. It is also believed to help with skin elasticity (think stretchmarks!) Keep this stone around for your labor as well.
6. Black Tourmaline
Black tourmaline is a powerful protection stone. If you want to ward off any type of negative energy during pregnancy, whether it be from other people or spiritually, this is the stone for you.
Referred to as the “stone of fertility,” carnelian is directly related to the sacral chakra and reproductive organs. Use it to manifest health and strength of your reproductive system before, during and after your pregnancy.
I prefer shopping for crystals in-person, so you can choose specific stones you feel drawn to or feel a connection to. If that’s not an option, shopping online works too! My favorite local shop has a vast online store you can shop here: https://www.crystal-life.com/
*Always discuss health concerns with your physician
Starting your baby registry can feel overwhelming. Most moms making a registry are making one for their first child and have no idea where to begin (like me). So, we go down the Google rabbit hole, reading article after blog post after article trying to figure out what we NEED need, what we kind of need, what we can buy later/what is unnecessary.
I spent a lot of time researching what to add to my own registry but didn’t want to write this post until I was a little into the newborn phase so I could REALLY tell you what you need and what you don’t.
The first step in creating a registry is deciding where to create your registry. I was torn because I wanted to create a Target registry for most things but also wanted to add thing from baby boutiques, Etsy, Amazon, Walmart, etc. So, I ended up looking into Babylist. Babylist allows you to add items from virtually any store to your one Babylist registry. And, when your friends and family shop it, each registry item has a price widget that shows them price comparisons for the same item on other websites, ensuring they don’t overpay. Other neat features of Babylist are the gift tracker, the free Hello Baby Box, free insert cards for your baby shower invitations, cute baby progress updates and 15% off registry items from the Babylist store after your shower. The way Babylist works with adding items from multiple websites naturally encourages online shopping which is helpful to your guests during Covid.
Once you set up your registry, the hard part begins – what do you add?! Here is my list, broken down by level of necessity from my own experience. The “Newborn Necessities” are what I consider the must-haves for the newborn phase. The “Nice to Have” list are not necessities but are convenient, or are things you can hold off on getting until after those initial newborn days of feeding, sleeping and repeating. I’m including links for certain products I particularly like!
Medicine cabinet stock (vaseline (necessary for circumcision healing), gripe water, (a MUST have) gas drops, baby Tylenol/Motrin, Desitin, non-talc powder, saline drops, chest rub, Pedialyte, teething ointment).
Onesies in multiple sizes (preemie, NB, 0-3, 3-6 mos., 6 mos., 6-9 mos.) (*I recommend at least having a few preemie onesies/nightgowns since preemies are usually unexpected! They’re so cheap and will be a lifesaver if your little one comes early. Trust me – the last thing you want to be doing while baby is in the NICU/special nursery is online shopping for preemie clothes so you can dress them in something from home. Keep the receipts and you can return if you don’t use them!).
Pants/leggings in multiple sizes
One piece pajamas/nightgowns in multiple sizes (preemie, NB, 0-3 mos., 3-6 mos., 6 mos., 6-9 mos.)
Other seasonal apparel depending on when baby is due (summer outfits, sun hat, swimwear, winter coats, bunting bag, etc.)
Clothing other than onesies/pants/sleepers (undershirts, shorts, tops, sweaters, dresses, rompers, mittens, undershirts).
Owlet sock (I highly recommend this product – it allows you to fall asleep with some peace of mind. Especially with having my LO in the mid-level NICU for two weeks, I was used to being able to monitor his oxygen levels and HR).
As a new mom, the last thing I think about in a day is myself. I forget to eat most days. I lose track of when I’ve showered (gross, I know). Dry shampoo is my best friend. I leave the house with no makeup and rocking loungewear. I’m sure all moms can relate.
These five clean skincare products make is easy and affordable for the busy mom to still take care of her skin – and if it’s all you manage to slather on in the AM (like me), you can feel confident running out the door with a naked face.
Eye creams can get super expensive. The full size version (0.5 oz) is only $32.00 and will last you a lifetime. A little goes a long way. They also make this on-the-go mini tube for $25.00. I’ve been using this product for years and have tried many other eye creams. This one is my favorite because not only does it immediately brighten and add a glow to your dark bags under your eyes, but it contains actual caffeine from coffee to ~literally~ wake your eyes up. So, for all those days you feel like “I need to soak my eyes in steaming hot coffee” – this will do the trick without the irreparable burns. Vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, and verified Clean at Sephora. Also, the little glass jar can be re-used instead of tossed!
Like eye creams, serums can get expensive as well. This full size tube (1 oz) of vitamin C serum is only $28.00 and lasts a while – even with daily use. I love this serum because it is “clean” (made without parabens, BHT, synthetic dyes, phthalates, mineral oil & synthetic fragrances) and it stays on all day. Most days I only use my Origins eye cream and this serum and that’s it – no makeup. But at the end of the day when I wash my face, I can fee the serum is still there. It also has this iridescent shimmer/glow to it that instantly brightens your whole face. On top of the Vitamin C – it contains artichoke extract (minimizes pores) and hyaluronic acid.
I’m a big fan of First Aid Beauty and have been for a while. Their Ultra Repair Cream is my go-to moisturizer in all seasons. This 5 in 1 Face Cream takes everything I love about their Ultra Repair moisturizers and adds in sun protection, preventing wrinkles by filtering UVA/UVB rays with Zinc Oxide. For $40 you get a solid weapon against all the icky stuff that ages your skin. Vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, recyclable packaging and verified Clean at Sephora.
If you don’t know about Mad Hippie, they are a top natural skincare company that also focuses on conservation efforts. All Mad Hippie products are free of Parabens, synthetic fragrance, dyes, petrochemicals, PEGs, and SLS, and are cruelty free! I love this product because a full size spray bottle (4 oz) is only $20 and it’s fast to use while loading your skin with good stuff. I spritz some on in the morning and/or before bed, or throughout the day for a refresher (if I’m not wearing makeup). This spray is loaded with natural antioxidants and moisturizers such as milk thistle, resveratrol, green tea, white pine bark and pomegranate seed extract, to give your skin a fast and easy spritz of pure, healthy goodness.
I’ve tried a bunch of makeup remover wipes and I, along with many women, always go back to the Neutrogena makeup remover wipes because nothing seems to work as well. I just recently tried these looking for a clean option for wipes and I was thoroughly impressed. They remove makeup and grime just as well as the Neutrogena wipes and come without all the nasty chemicals! They also smell ten times better and don’t run you extra money for the clean ingredients ($7 for a pack of 30). Free of parabens, silicones, synthetic fragrances and pthalates, and always cruelty-free.
Covid-19 has really thrown a wrench in every pregnant mama’s journey. We’ve had to re-set our expectations and adapt to a new way of doing things while pregnant, which unfortunately has meant a lot of replanning, cancelling or postponing of baby showers. I’m sure you’ve cried at those videos online of surprise drive-by showers like I have. Or maybe it was just my hormones…?
My mom, mother-in-law, sister and best friend had been planning my baby shower. It was going to be at the Ellwood House, which is a beautiful local and historic property. About 60 important women in my life were going to be there. They had done so much work and then this struck – so they re-grouped and planned something different.
At first, when my mom brought up these “virtual showers” that people do, I was not on board. I was just depressed and mopey and blah. I gave myself about a day to feel sorry for myself and then it was time to get on board with the new plan. We looked at websites and businesses that claim to specialize in virtual showers. We looked at using Zoom or other group video chat forums. After lots of research, we decided to utilize Facebook. And it was probably the BEST choice we could have made.
I’m half writing this to tell you about my shower, but also for you to take notes on how to do this yourself! I know a lot of states are opening up, but there are still plenty of women who aren’t feeling comfortable with large gatherings (understandably so). Hopefully this helps you!
First, we had to notify everyone we sent an invite to that we would be hosting the shower on the same day and time as planned, but on Facebook. We created a private Facebook group and invited all our shower guests to the page. I was kept off the page until the day of the shower! So, before I saw the page, they had posts and games started that were getting all the guests excited for the big day!
Some post ideas:
Link and pin your registry
Play with Facebook polls and have everyone vote on things like, who will baby look like? What sex will the baby be?
Baby pictures of the parents-to-be
Game cards to be printed and used during the “Live” shower
Posts asking for how guests met the mom/dad/parent to be, or asking for advice for the parents to be
Guess baby’s due date
“Guess how many” games – for example, we posted a large baby bottle full of animal crackers and had everyone guess how many for a prize
We also wrote a personal letter from Matt and I to our guests to post on the page before the shower, explaining how the Facebook Live event would work and thanking everyone for being so supportive and flexible with us during this pandemic. I think this is an absolute MUST, especially if you have older family who aren’t super tech savvy.
My MIL also went “Live” a few days before the actual shower which let people get familiar with viewing the Live, and she answered any questions that people had about the Live shower.
We used Babylist for our registry and had everything shipped to our house. So, my mom, MIL and sister came over and opened all the shipping boxes and wrapped every single gift. A true labor of love… There were a lot!
On the day of, my mom, MIL and sister came over and decorated our living room for the big event. We then went live and opened all our gifts with breaks where we played games and this mama got a break! We were able to monitor our guests’ live comments on our phones as we went along and could respond to the camera, almost like we were all together. It lasted about two hours and could not have gone better!
Winners were announced for all the games and they will get Starbucks or Amazon gift cards from my amazing shower planners. We are also sending out small favors with our thank you cards, so the only thing missing really was food. All other aspects of a baby shower were brought to life virtually!
I cried when I first saw the living room full of gifts. I cried during and after the shower. I was an emotional mess – because we felt so grateful. Yeah, it sucked not being able to hug and see everyone in-person, but the love and support we felt from everyone joining our Live and seeing all the posts on our Facebook Group from everyone was overwhelming in the best way.
After the shower, we posted pictures of the shower and of baby’s nursery, as well as thanked people for gifts that showed up after the fact. I can still go on the page and re-live the magic of that day! And if anyone misses the Live, it stays up as a video post so they can watch it later when they have time.
I hope this helps any mamas who are planning a virtual shower – and if you have any questions at all, comment below or DM me on instagram!
Hello, friends!! I’ve gotten a lot of questions about stuff in Brooks’ nursery from posts on my instagram stories, so I decided to make a blog post with all the links you need to shop.
Let’s start with the crib and dresser!
A loooot of research went into what crib to get. My mom and grandma were generous enough to go in on both together, but kept me a part of the selection process while we researched safety and reviews on basically every crib in existence.
My checklist for the crib included: modern, white, convertible, good reviews and safety ratings, Greenguard Gold Certified, around $200 and a known brand. This Carter’s by DaVinci Morgan 4-in-1 Convertible Crib checked off everything on the list! It’s only $179.00 and the back of the crib will turn into a stylish headboard by the time we convert it to that level. It’s sturdy and does not have a weird paint smell which many moms worry about!
The dresser is the Storkcraft Brookside 6 Drawer Double Dresser which I can’t find in-stock anywhere! We ordered it from Wayfair for about $200. A comparable Storkcraft dresser with similar safety features is linked here.
The beaded light fixture was super popular with you guys – it took tons of research to find one that wasn’t over $200. This Safavieh beaded pendant light is only $175 and actually gives off plenty of light. I love it – Matt did NOT love installing it though!
The rug linked here is also Safavieh (I love this brand) and comes in four color variations and tons of size variations. Ours is the beige/ivory and we ordered a 4′ x 6′.
The chair and pouf are also from Walmart! The HomePop Accent Chair comes in several colors and is a great price for the quality, ringing up at $130 when we ordered. (Price varies). Ours is the color cream. I was surprised by its quality.
The pouf is linked here and is only $40 in the color Ivory. It also comes in several colors (price varies). It makes the perfect foot rest with this chair!
Our curtains are from Target and are an unbeatable price. Buying curtains can be so expensive especially when you have to usually buy per panel. These Chenille Chevron Light Filtering Curtains come in a set of two and are a quality, heavier fabric that lets just enough light through but not too much. The set of two are only $35 and they come in grey and light blue – white is currently sold out.
The LAST addition to the nursery I really want to share is our name sign for above the crib! We ordered from CarpenterFarmhouse on Etsy and went with the 30″ sign, which came to about $70. You can customize the paint and font colors too!
And for a dose of reality: here is the current state of affairs in the nursery! Nesting has begun!
So many of us have landed in this unusual, unexpected and terrifying place. Some are in their first trimester, terrified of having a suppressed immune system during this. Some are nurses and bankers and grocery store workers still reporting to work. Many are going to OB appointments alone, cancelling gender reveal parties and baby showers, doing all their long-awaited shopping online. Some are delivering a baby in the midst of this, unable to have their mom, dad, sister and support systems present. None of this is in the “what to expect” books. None of this is normal.
You know what makes it worse? Shamers who are NOT pregnant during this, telling us what we can and can’t grieve, because we should just be “grateful.” I’m here to tell you that you can be grateful for your baby on the way and still grieve all the things we are missing out on. You can be grateful and still angry that we had these joys taken from us or altered. Nobody has the right to tell you how you should be handling this and how you should be feeling during this unanticipated obstacle of your pregnancy.
As a bit of comfort, however, I’m also here to remind you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There’s something comforting about being scared and unsure with other unsure and scared people. It’s like walking into class on the day of a massive test, and having everyone else tell you they didn’t study and are going to bomb the test too. It doesn’t change the fact that you are going to bomb that test, but it’s oddly comforting to know there’s a group of you feeling the same. We are here, we are scared and uneasy, and we are an untapped army of support for each other. Let’s have open, honest and real conversations and be there for each other.
My husband and I have been working from home for a few weeks now. We just closed on our first house a little less than two weeks ago. So, I was stressed before all this started. Being an attorney can be stressful. Working full-time in a professional career while physically uncomfortable, emotional, hangry and sleepy can be stressful. Buying a house for the first time is stressful. Packing and moving is stressful. Pregnancy on its own is stressful. Having an anxiety/panic disorder on top of all this (and being unmedicated due to pregnancy) is what you would think would be the cherry on top. BUT NO – NOW let’s throw in the plot twist of a damn unprecedented worldwide pandemic and you have the perfect recipe for a complete mental breakdown.
That being said, I’ve been focusing SUPER hard on what is helping me through this and what is not. I’m no expert here – just an anxious pregnant lady learning by trial and error – but I think some of these tips will work for you too.
Okay – hear me out. I don’t care if this is the best psychological way to technically deal with this. All I know is this is helping me. Keeping moving and busy. Keeping my mind focused on anything other than the negatives. Netflix, podcasts, reading (all e-books and audiobooks are obtainable from your couch – no excuses), cleaning, housework, pinteresting, creating/editing your online baby registry, adult coloring books, board games, cooking new recipes, online shopping (for baby, for nursery, for yourself…), blogging, creating, starting that side hustle you’ve always talked about – KEEP YOUR MIND BUSY. Downtime just sitting and thinking can lead to a downward spiral of negative thoughts and soon, you feel the walls closing in. It’s okay to set time aside to think about what’s going on and to watch the news/scroll twitter and facebook for updates, but you don’t need to fill your day with it. In fact, you shouldn’t.
This stems from where the previous section left off. In the beginning of this, I was spending ALL DAY – I’m not kidding – all day, every day scrolling and refreshing twitter and facebook with the news on in the background just soaking up every bit of chaos there was to soak up. After this became noticeably unproductive and unhealthy, and I was catching my anxiety spiking while reading, I realized I needed to limit my intake. It was hard at first because I felt like if I wasn’t refreshing my twitter feed constantly, I would miss out on the latest social distancing recommendations and the latest political press briefing (a weird FOMO). To my surprise, limiting my exposure did not lead to the world ending. Some days I will watch the president’s and governor’s press briefings, other days I will catch the recaps of the briefings on twitter or from my husband and mom. If I notice a certain person on my facebook feed is posting things about Covid-19 that aren’t helping my anxiety, I mute them. If I notice I’m reading tweets and my anxiety starts spiking, I close out. If I am having a conversation with someone about Covid-19 and it’s not beneficial to my mind, I cut it short. Protect your mind and well-being unapologetically. Limit your news intake to what is necessary to stay informed.
Gratitude Journaling and Meditation
I used to write in a gratitude journal a couple years ago but haven’t since. I originally started when I read Rachel Hollis’ books – Girl Wash Your Face and Girl Stop Apologizing. Unfortunately, I struggle with being a morning person so that morning practice slowly faded out of my life. I was inspired by other women on instagram (it can actually be a good thing sometimes) to pick up gratitude journaling again during this crazy time.
You don’t need a fancy gratitude journal to do this. I made Matt do it this morning with me and gave him a notebook and told him what to journal based on my gratitude journal’s guides. Do this first thing in the morning, with a cup of coffee and some meditation, massage, ocean waves or nature sounds in the background (Spotify has unlimited options).
Three things you are grateful for today. Get detailed!
Someone you are grateful for today:
Today I am: (perfect for feelings or manifestations!) “Today I am strong, invincible, powerful…” “Today I am stressed, but optimistic…”
Three goals or intentions for today:
If you want to order your own guided gratitude journal, check these out:
I added these screenshots because they are IMPORTANT. If you are working from home and you feel stressed that you aren’t being productive enough or you’re finding it hard to focus – give yourself grace. We were abruptly uprooted from our daily routines and are learning to adapt to a new way of life in a scary time and are expected to not miss a beat with our jobs. Be patient with yourself, do your best, and remember the above!
Also important – stop comparing yourself to the bloggers on instagram who seem to be living their most glamorous lives during this. Their job and source of income is literally based on posting and promoting a glamorous daily lifestyle. We could all achieve that too, if we were being paid mass loads of money to post on instagram. We aren’t. Don’t feel inadequate for getting through your day without doing pilates and making a picture-perfect whipped coffee drink for instagram.
Take a Walk!
The best thing I’ve incorporated into our daily routine is a walk around the neighborhood first thing when we get up (observing social distancing of course!) We live in a neighborhood now full of kids and families, and there’s something comforting about seeing everyone else at home, kids out riding their bikes and drawing with chalk, dads playing basketball with their kids. Take it all in. It restores a sense of normalcy.
While out – watch for decorated windows and doors and chalk messages on the sidewalks! We have a lot of #hearthunt participants in our neighborhood where people are posting colorful hearts on their doors, some naming people they are thankful for in these times, like nurses, teachers, first responders, etc.
Create a Pregnant Mama Support Squad
If you don’t already have a few other pregnant mamas you can talk and vent to, find them! If there’s someone from high school who is also pregnant right now, but you haven’t talked in years, reach out! Ask them how they are doing and form your own little web of pregnant mama support. You may have a great support system already, but there’s something special about having women to talk to who are going through this at the same time as you. If you don’t know anyone pregnant – I’m here! Message me!
If you are a pregnant or new mama right now – comment below with what’s helping you cope through this!
It’s absolutely nuts to think we are officially halfway through this pregnancy! I can’t necessarily say it’s flown by, since the first trimester felt like an endless drag of illness and survival mode. But I’m definitely not ready for the next 20 weeks to fly by either!
We still have so much to do. We are moving at the end of March, so the nursery can’t be started. We won’t know the gender until our reveal on Saturday, so we haven’t really bought much for baby. I feel like I still have a million books to read and a ton of learning to do before baby arrives. Not sure 20 weeks will be enough time…. But also, not sure I’ll ever be fully “ready” for such a big, new thing.
We are 7 weeks into the second trimester and I can tell you, the promises of the second trimester being the best are true. I feel great. I am still exercising (just swimming and walking for joints and labor prep). I have gained back the weight I lost with pneumonia and morning sickness and am the heaviest I’ve ever been – in the best way! For having a joint disorder, I’m doing pretty well keeping my dislocations and joint slips to a minimum. And my favorite perk yet – I can finally call myself a morning person! I have always been one to sleep heavy and deep; anywhere, any time. On weekends my husband and I would sleep til about 1 PM. I think baby is trying to prepare me for when he/she arrives, because I’ve been waking up early (around 5 AM) and getting a jumpstart to my day, which I’ve never been able to do. Rachel Hollis, author of Girl Wash Your Faceand Girl Stop Apologizing, often talks about the benefits of getting up early and jumping into the day. I finally see what she’s talking about! There’s something spectacular about giving yourself time to fully wake up, sip coffee, scroll instagram, read a magazine – write a blog post 😉 – get a headstart on your work for the day, do a little more with your hair and makeup sometimes. It helps me feel like I’m maintaining a little more control over my life in this moment of a lot of big new things coming at us. In addition to all the positives, I am feeling a little more difficulty with bending over, walking long periods and getting fatigued more easily.
One of the highlights of the past week I can’t fail to mention, is I am finally feeling baby move! I found out I have an anterior placenta (where the placenta is between baby and the front of your stomach instead of back towards the spine) which makes it more difficult to feel baby early on. Typically, they say you will feel baby move between 18-25 weeks, later if it’s your first. I felt baby move during the 19th week – and it wasn’t like anyone described. People and literature tell you it will feel like tiny gas bubbles or flutters. My first movement I felt was a massive somersault or flip that about knocked me out of my work chair. Since then, though, it HAS been a lot of flutters, bumps and kicks! After waiting month to month to check on baby with a heart doppler, it’s so nice to have reassurance throughout the day that baby is good and moving in there.
We had our 20 week ultrasound yesterday – and let me tell you – my bump best friend was right. It was absolutely mind-blowing! For those who don’t know, for a normal pregnancy, you typically have an ultrasound around 8-10 weeks, and then await for another at 20 weeks which is the full anatomy scan. They look at all the little details of baby, including the lips, the fingers, the bones, the sex. Then they measure all the parts of baby. The 20 week is important if you skip genetic testing because they can see any deformities or complications with baby. They can see where your placenta is, check the placental insertion, see how baby is turned (which doesn’t really matter this early). Luckily, baby was looking great and our technician was able to see what the gender was, even with our baby moving around like CRAZY. I do have to go back to get more images of baby’s head, because baby’s head was so low and we couldn’t get he/she to move the head for different angles (even with jumping jacks!). It is mind-blowing to see this baby inside of you, moving, kicking, flapping its hands, and thinking – “I am growing this!” It was probably the first time I fully realized that I’m having a freaking baby! I also realized I shouldn’t have a Starbucks Pink Drink before an ultrasound because then baby won’t sit still.
Even though we had our 20 week ultrasound, Matt and I won’t know the gender until this Saturday when we have a small reveal get-together with some immediate friends and family. Matt and I chose to find out with everyone, but now we are regretting it seeing this little envelope with our baby’s gender sitting on the TV stand. It’s so hard not to open it! My best friend had her gender reveal last weekend and it made me so excited for ours! And I’m always feeling so excited, grateful and blessed that this baby, whatever gender, will have an amazing soul to grow up with.
I’m so excited to share baby M’s gender with you all come this weekend! Stay tuned!
If you read my previous post, you know that I had my bout of morning sickness in the first trimester for about 8 weeks – the same 8 weeks I was super ill. It was a terrible cycle – I was so nauseous I couldn’t hold down fluids (not even water) so I wasn’t helping myself get better. The violent coughing from the pneumonia made it impossible to not puke. So, as you can imagine, I tried just about every trick in the book to help combat the morning sickness. Here’s what worked for me:
Ginger ale has always been my go-to when hungover. People say it doesn’t actually help, but the ginger taste, ice cold and carbonation has always helped settle my stomach in all situations. I kept a stash at home, in my car and at work and drank it almost exclusively for weeks. The sugar intake was probably bad, but it was either that or be dehydrated which wasn’t an option for baby.
Herbal teas are tricky during pregnancy because, well, herbs are tricky. Mixed herbal teas tend to have several different herbs so you’ll find yourself googling a million herbs and their safety relative to pregnancy while standing in the tea aisle. Go for pure ginger and lemon, or ginger honey tea. Or, get a pregnancy-specific ginger tea like this organic, caffeine-free orange ginger tea from Pink Stork. As always, consult with your doctor.
I’ve had major motion sickness issues my whole life, so these bands were not new to me, but I didn’t think to use them for morning sickness until they came in my first Bump Box!
Basically, they are wristbands with a metal ball that presses gently on the inside of your wrist for targeted acupressure that helps relieve nausea.
Tons of Water
This may be obvious to some, but staying overly-hydrated helps a ton. I ended up keeping a big bottle of water next to my bed and would drink as much as I could in the morning before I sat up or tried to move.
Crackers and Water on Night Stand
This wraps in with the above, but keep crackers on your night stand with your water as well. Munch on them in the morning before you start moving.
Don’t Drink While Eating
This was a tip my family doctor gave me. If you’re having trouble holding food down, eat your meal without any water or beverage, wait a while, and then drink. It helps prevent vomiting.
Just like when we were kids with the stomach flu – the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) diet is key! I ate a lot of cheerios, plain crackers, and plain vegetable broth or ramen noodles, applesauce and toast during this phase. Anything is better than nothing. Avoid foods with strong aromas!
I’ve been debating if I should make one post on this topic or break this down into multiple posts, because there’s truly so much to talk about. Consider this post an over-arching summary of what I figured out along the way, but expect more posts to come getting into the nitty gritty details of it all! Let’s talk about the bigger things I discovered during my whirlwind first trimester of my first pregnancy:
Your Immune System Dies
I feel like this is one of those things that is assumed to be common knowledge that I was completely unaware of. (I’ve had a lot of moments like this so far). When you become pregnant, your immune system typically weakens which not only makes you more susceptible to illness, but prevents you from getting better like you normally would.
I experienced this first-hand when I got the flu in November. My PCP told me to just wait it out and I would be fine. I never got better. The flu turned into pneumonia when I was across the country after my doctor told me I was fine because I didn’t have a fever. I called them to tell them I was extremely ill and needed a prescription for some kind of antibiotic right away (this was two weeks later!). They fought me saying “you had a virus, we can’t give you antibiotics” – completely ignoring my new symptoms. By the time I got home to Illinois, the pneumonia had turned into the beginning of sepsis (where the infection spreads into the bloodstream which can cause organ failure and kill you quickly). I was then admitted to the hospital for three days, worked on recovery for about a week, and THEN – the pneumonia came back!
I have had the flu many times before in my life. I have never struggled recovering like I did here, and I have NEVER been so sick in my life. The entire sickness period lasted almost my entire first trimester. Invest in a stockpile of germex. Take it everywhere. Get your flu shot. Stay away from sniffly friends, family and co-workers. Don’t let them tell you “I’m fine, it’s just allergies.” Up your vitamin C. Don’t feel weird for wearing a medical mask on public transportation. Be selfish and protect yourself, and baby!
Early-detection pregnancy tests
When you’re actively trying to conceive, you want to know ASAP if it worked this cycle or not. I bought a few rounds of the early-detection pregnancy tests that claim to tell you 6 days before your missed period. None of them worked. I even tested the day before my missed period and they were negative. So – I went to a Halloween party and had a couple glasses of wine. Then my period never showed up! Turns out I was pregnant, but I had to wait for a couple days after my missed period for the positive results. If your early detection test is negative – wait and try again!
The first few appointments I had with my OB – I felt like a total idiot. My first appointment, they did a full gyno exam and I was not aware that would be happening. That bothered me. I hate going to the gyno and need to mentally prepare for it, so when I walked in and they told me to strip it down – I was pissed! So, expect that! Also, nobody told me I need to show up to each OB appointment with a full bladder, because they test urine every time. (This might not be true for all doctors, but mine does). Also, when I had my early ultrasound at 8-9 weeks, I brought my husband. We were so anxious to see baby was okay since I had been so ill. I pictured the ultrasound as a usual tummy ultrasound. NOPE. Matt got to sit in the room while I had a vaginal ultrasound, which neither one of us expected! I feel like all of this is so routine for OB doctors that they forget to inform you what to expect at your appointments, so don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re like me and need to know what you’re walking into at all times.
Morning Sickness: When will it end?
When you first find out you’re pregnant, one of the first things many of us do is start ordering books, researching blogs, following podcasts, etc. All the reading and information out there says that your morning sickness will end by the second trimester. I was surprised to hear from so many women in my life that that wasn’t true. Many women have morning sickness well into the second trimester, or even throughout their entire pregnancy! Luckily, I was the rule and not the exception. I had morning sickness conveniently (or maybe inconveniently?) at the same time I was extremely ill, so I got it all over with at once! By about week 10 my morning sickness was calming down. By the second trimester, it was gone. Just know, every pregnancy is unique and you may experience ongoing morning sickness. So, I recommend finding out what works for you – whether it be ginger tea, nausea candies, sea-sickness wristbands, munching on crackers in bed before you get up in the morning, etc.
A lot of medicine is actually safe for pregnancy
Like many women, as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I tried to jump off all my meds right away. I always thought that you should avoid taking any medicine while pregnant because, well, it’s just better that way. I went off my anxiety meds and stopped taking my daily Zyrtec and occasional Benadryl. I was totally on-board with this whole “natural pregnancy” train. Well, I quickly got over that when I landed in the hospital and got loaded up with antibiotics, Tylenol, Benadryl (because I was allergic to the antibiotics), etc. Throughout my time in the hospital and my ongoing care, I’ve learned that it’s actually okay to take certain medicines when you’re pregnant and baby will be just fine. Typically, all OB doctors have their “safe list” and will give you one at your first OB appointment. Getting over my fear of taking medicine while pregnant has helped a lot during this pregnancy. I still try to limit any medicine intake, even though the medicine I’m using is safe. But let my traumatic hospital stay help you – you’re not a bad mom-to-be if you pop some Tylenol or a Benadryl here and there.
Like the medicine situation above, I started tapering my caffeine intake when we decided to start TTC. Law school really put me into a bad relationship with caffeine – I was drinking probably 50-60 ounces a day on average. When I found out I was pregnant, I was down to about two drinks a day. I cut it out completely at this point and SUFFERED. I had a two-week withdrawal period where I was having daily migraines and could not keep my eyes open at my desk. I always just thought you can’t have caffeine when pregnant. Apparently, that is not true, and I really wish I had known that before I killed myself for two weeks! My OB actually told me, without me asking, that caffeine is okay as long as you’re not over-doing it. My further research has revealed that you should stay under 200 mg caffeine per day. So now, I get creative but still keep my intake low. For example, this morning I stopped at Casey’s and filled my coffee cup 2/3 decaf and topped it off with dark roast (lowest caffeine content). long story short – caffeine and coffee is actually okay (as long as your doctor says so for your specific pregnancy) – so don’t let anyone mom-shame you for needing a little boost!
The Great Pineapple Debate
Google will be your best – and worst – friend during the first trimester, and really, your entire pregnancy. I found myself constantly googling if everything was safe (and still do now that I’m in the second trimester!). There’s just so much to know, and it can feel overwhelming. What cheese is safe? Is it safe to go bowling? Is it safe to eat this? What about this? What about this?
One of my first cravings was for pineapple. One day, after stuffing my face with a ton of pineapple, I suddenly got the google urge and of course, a bunch of scary stories popped up claiming that pineapple can cause miscarriage. I researched this endlessly, because obviously I thought I had just done something terrible. Turns out, there are a lot of old wives tales that say pineapple isn’t safe, but there is no medical evidence to support that fact. I also heard Laura from the Big Fat Positive Podcast discuss this – she said she found that you’d have to eat like 7 pineapples in one sitting for anything to happen. The concern comes from a certain enzyme found primarily in the core of the pineapple which you don’t eat anyway. The enzyme, bromelain, is thought to contribute to cervical ripening, BUT, there is no evidence that supports the notion that pineapple is dangerous during pregnancy. As always, confirm with your own doctor.
What did you learn in your first trimester? Let me know below!
Hey hi hello, Tiana the brunch lover here. You know what’s so frustrating? Going to gluten-free friendly brunch spots but they don’t EVER have gluten-free french toast, and it’s definitely not vegan.
I’ve been experimenting with flaxseed meal as an egg replacement for a while now, using it for everything from cupcakes to pizza crust. I was craving french toast the other day and decided to try using flax meal as an egg replacement for french toast. GUESS WHAT! It actually worked, and it was delicious.
The key with using flaxseed meal as an egg replacement is always using one part flax meal to three parts water. To make one “egg,” you would typically do one tablespoon flax meal and three tablespoons warm water. You then let it sit for about five minutes, mixing in between, until it forms an egg-white texture. For this recipe, using only one package Schar bread, I did 1/4 cup of flaxseed meal and 3/4 cup warm water. After it began forming an eggy texture, I mixed in about half a cup of cold almondmilk.
Whisking the mixture, I then added a teaspoon of vanilla flavoring to cover up the flax taste (vanilla almondmilk will help with this too!).
From there, you simply dunk the bread in the mixture, being careful to not let it sit because the gluten-free bread will crumble easily, and slap it on a hot, buttered frying pan.
You will use A LOT of butter, as the flaxmeal coating on the bread is very sticky. It might be better on a non-stick pan, but we use stainless steel over here.
Add butter to the pan as needed, and cook to desired browning level. Remember – you don’t have to worry about cooking the egg-soaked bread to the right temperature because it’s eggless!
We topped ours with blueberry preserves and powdered sugar! The blueberry spread compliments the buttery taste of the toast so well! If you’re a plain butter and syrup kinda person, try Walden Farms calorie-free pancake syrup.
Let me know how it works for you! ALSO – comment below with your favorite french toast topping!
If you knew my title was from Queen Ari’s song “Get Well Soon” then you already know what this post is about – self-care.
I am a huge fan of staying in and having an evening on the weekend to recharge and rejuvenate. As a young lawyer, I don’t treat myself the best during the week, and I’m sure all my boss women reading this can relate. I stay up way too late, wake up early, don’t drink enough water, skip workouts, fall asleep at least once a week without taking my makeup off, build up tension from five days at my computer screen, and so on…
Us boss women tend to put our career at the top or near the top of our priority lists with our families and loved ones. Fill the middle with going out with friends, side hustles, hobbies, sports/fitness, random commitments, etc. and skim down to the bottom… Yep, there we are! We put our own bodies, our own health and well-being, emotional stability, and joy, WAY at the very bottom of our list. It’s only natural to do this when you’re hustling like we do. I don’t know one boss woman in my life who doesn’t struggle with taking care of themselves as good as she should be. It normally shows up in the form of not sleeping enough, or over-working and not making time for themselves that they need.
THIS is why I’ve started blocking out chunks of time on my weekend to take care of my mind and body. On top of sleeping in and taking yoga on the weekends, I have added at least one night to be alone and do a full relaxation routine. Once you start this routine with me, I think you’ll understand JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out). See: my inspiration for this post – Kourt Kardashian/Poosh.
First thing’s first: pick a space to spend your night. Your bedroom, your living room, whatever. Choose it and declutter it before you start winding down. You cannot fully relax in a cluttered space.
If you don’t already have an essential oil diffuser, you need one asap. You can find a good selection at your local TJ Maxx, or even at grocery stores like Hyvee. Here are some other options as well, including the white Pure Enrichment diffuser (the one I own and love) (click the images to shop!):
Start your relaxation process by using a few drops of lavender oil (my favorite) or eucalyptus oil. Other top choice oils for relaxation, sleep, and stress relief are frankincense, chamomile, and bergamot. If you have a himalayan salt lamp, turn it on for an added relaxing glow to your space. (Click the pics to shop):
My favorite Spotify playlists for this kind of night are “Relaxing Massage,” “SPA Treatment,” or “Ocean Escapes.”
Once you have your diffuser and playlist going, and you’re in your cozy evening attire, start your full-out skincare routine. I’m not talking the simple makeup wipe and face wash routine you do when you’re rushing to get to bed – I mean your full. out. routine. Remove your makeup, wash your face with a quality wash, exfoliate, and wax or shave. Save your moisturizer, serums and night creams for later… You’ll be doing a mask! Click my favs below to shop:
Aromatherapy Skin-Safe Oil
This is a way to take your essential oils to the next level. Most essential oils are not created to be applied directly to the skin. What I do is take my wax melts warmer and (making sure it’s free of wax melt residue first) melt down some coconut oil. Then I add in a few drops of lavender essential oil and mix it, shutting off my warmer before the oil becomes hot. Once in bed, I massage this into my temples. (I stole this from my yoga teacher–10/10 recommend).
Heat and Massage Therapy
A must for me is my heating bean bag. I found one here that is similar and lavender scented for added relaxation. I love placing this around my neck and shoulders, down the length or my spine, and on my lower back. For maximum relaxation, wrap your neck and shoulders while doing your face mask and massaging your temples with your oil.
If you are one that suffers from major muscle tension, I recommend investing in an electric massager. I use this HoMedics Shiatsu massager and it works wonders when my back starts spasming (it also heats up!).
A relaxing night of self-care is not complete without a face mask. Try some Sephora Clean verified sheet masks I hand-picked for you below (click to shop):
Once you’re laying in bed, complete with face mask, playlist, temples oiled, all the good stuff, try some deep breathing. All I do is my yoga breathing: breathe in slow and long through my nose, as much air as I can fill my lungs with, and then exhale slow and long until you feel like all the “stale” air in your lungs has left – until you can’t exhale any more air. Think of it as clearing your lungs of stale air and toxins, filling them completely with new and fresh air. This will help clear your mind and reduce anxiety, allowing you to maximize your relaxation.