Super Preggo Ladies, Could You Just Relax?

Which was harder for you – the last two weeks of your pregnancy, or the first two weeks home with your newborn?

Here’s a recipe for an internet disaster:  Tell a bunch of tired and hormonal women to RELAX already.

But I can’t. I literally can not hear another women complain about needing her baby out NOW without adding another perspective.

pregnant mom 2
Comment Credit:  Nurture Pregnancy App

Note:  If you are a nurse or a well meaning friend or family member – please don’t add to that notion either.  Help these women relax!  Buy them ice cream, rub their feet, but don’t make them feel like their baby NEEDS to come out now.

pregnant mom 1
Comment Credit:  Nurture Pregnancy App

This P.S.A. is coming from someone that is currently “past due” by almost a week, so I’m in the trenches too.  But not for a second will I be fooled that I can’t wait a few more days for my baby to arrive.  Passing your due date is not a reason to panic.  It doesn’t mean something is wrong with your body or your baby.  You don’t need to start planning your induction the second you reach your last month of pregnancy.  I mean, your baby WILL arrive.  I have never heard of one baby that grew up and graduated in their mother’s womb.

pregnant mom 5
Comment Credit:  Nurture Pregnancy App

Don’t get too caught up in the labor signs either.  Some of us have Braxton Hicks and start dilating weeks before baby makes an appearance.  Some of us go from 0-10 cm dilated in less than twenty four hours with no prior labor signs.  Neither is right or wrong.  Our bodies are unique.  Our babies are unique.  Relax mamas-to-be.  You are almost there.  Your baby will arrive any day now.

pregnant mom 4
Comment Credit:  Nurture Pregnancy App

Trust me, I get it, you are uncomfortable right now.  Your ankles may be swollen, your skin may be tight and itchy, you can’t find a comfortable sleeping position.  That’s all real.

But I hate to break it to you, you aren’t going to be comfortable for awhile.

If you’ve never been through it or in case you’ve forgotten, once baby arrives, your body is still not the one you are longing to return to for awhile.  The unglamorous truth is that your body will be bleeding for a few weeks afterwards, statistically you’ll probably be recovering from stitches (vaginally or a c-section), and you still won’t be getting any sleep.

pregnant mom 3
Comment Credit:  Nurture Pregnancy App

Sure you won’t be waking up to pee and reposition every few hours; instead it will be to soothe and feed a crying baby.  Your boobs will be huge, leaky, and overly sensitive.  Your mind won’t be able to shut off because you have a newborn to check on.

I’m not saying this to scare you.  I’m just honestly wondering, do those sound like great alternatives to rush through the last days of your pregnancy?

pregnant mom 6
Comment Credit:  Nurture Pregnancy App

Personally, I am in no rush.  Baby will come, and I will be thrilled when she does.  In the meantime, I am trying to relax, even in my super preggo body.  Because relaxing and thinking in concise thoughts is something the newborn stage doesn’t often afford.

Have you read Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster or My Mom is the Worst?  These children’s books offer a good laugh to a tired parent, and make a great gift.  Check them out here.

JK Coy Books

For the women on the other side of pregnancy:  Which was harder for you – the last two weeks of your pregnancy, or the first two weeks home with your newborn?

Open Letter from an Honest Parent; I’m Losing My Marbles

When will they sleep?  When will they grow out of this stage?  Where did they learn that?  When will they grow up?  Where did that attitude come from?

I am a parent.  I get tired.  I get frustrated.  I complain.  Daily.  The hours can feel so long.

I mean, I write children’s books about how crazy my child makes me and blog on a website called MyMomistheWorst.com, all of which I wholeheartedly stand behind.

I wanted to create a place for parents to say “I’m struggling every day.  Anyone with me?”  But I also want to remember –

I am a parent.  I love my child.  She cracks me up.  She brings me joy every day.

My husband and I attended a parenting conference this weekend.  He absolutely loves when I sign him up for this kind of thing.

But I know we both gained some valuable insight.  One of the analogies that has stuck with me this week is the idea of bringing home a jar full of marbles (936 to be exact) with your newborn.

jar of marbles

Every week, sometimes it feels like every hour, we run in to parenting situations that make us feel like we are literally losing our marbles.

When will they sleep?  When will they grow out of this stage?  Where did they learn that?  When will they grow up?  Where did that attitude come from?

But we are literally losing our marbles.  Each marble represents a week that we get with our child before they leave home at eighteen (give or take a few marbles).  With each week we lose one more opportunity to influence, to love, and to mold our children.

The analogy reminds me that the time with my child is not infinite.  Though, the hours can certainly feel that way.   It is human and honest to admit my child is driving me crazy.   I just don’t want to let myself forget to value the chaos and memories we have together now.

Like a wise children’s book once said…

“Everyday you make me crazy.  I love you to pieces. Beautiful Monster.” 

 

 

How to Love Your Maternity Pants, Then Return Them for A Smaller Size

So why am I raving about pants that aren’t even mine, that I plan to wear to the max, and that I’m going to return? 

I’m in love with my pants.  Hands down they are the most comfortable thing I’ve worn, pregnant or not.  The weird thing is, they aren’t mine.  Even weirder, I intend to return them.

I’ve worn them three days in a row now and I plan to wear them every day until Baby Two arrives, and probably for a week or two after that.  Then, back they go.  No point in keeping them since I’ll soon be out of maternity sizes.

Le Tote Maternity
My Current Obsession:  These Pants!

So why am I raving about pants that aren’t even mine, that I plan to wear to the max, and that I’m going to return?

It’s because over three years ago I joined a rent and return clothing exchange called Le Tote.  I initially joined long before I was pregnant, but now this service has carried me through two pregnancies, and all the time in between.  Weddings, interviews, casual days, parties, business meetings, trends I wasn’t sure I could pull off, trends I didn’t want to commit to, a growing belly, a shrinking belly – the service has been there with me through it all.

For the first two trimesters I can typically craft something together to wear – a rubber band to give me more room on your pants button, a flowy dress, or leggings and a long shirt – but by that third trimester it starts getting really iffy.   That’s when I switch from the regular Tote Box to the Maternity Box for a few months.

Pregnant or Not, Here’s How the Service Works:

  1.  Sign up for Le Tote here, and get your first BOX FREE!
  2. Fill out a style profile.
  3. Sign up for a monthly plan (cancel at any time).  When I’m not pregnant I do the five piece box (three clothing items/two accessories).  When I’m pregnant I do the Maternity Box with three pieces (two clothing items/one accessory).  They have plenty of name brands to pick from – Lucky, Kate Spade, Jessica Simpson, Vince Camuto, Calvin Klein, etc. and accessories include jewelry, scarfs, and handbags!Dec le totes
  4. Le Tote curates the shipment for you based on style preference, fit, time of year – and then you have 48 hrs. before they ship it to go in to your account and swap items if you want.  *I do this almost every time because I usually have an event coming up that I want specific items for.
  5. Your Tote clothing arrives in the mail with a preprinted mailer for your free return shipment.
  6. Wear the items as long as you want (you don’t even have to wash them before you return them), and drop them in the mail.  If it’s during the same month, you get to pick more clothes without paying anything else.  I typically get three boxes a month for one monthly fee.  Ladies, that’s like 15 items for about $60 a month!  Plus you can add insurance for five bucks a month in case anything happens to the clothes.  Mother’s of little ones, it’s worth the peace of mind.
  7. If you ever want to keep items – they offer awesome discounts off the retail price.  But don’t feel like you have to.  The premise is wear, return, repeat!

Hoping you find some clothes that make you as happy as my cozy pants make me.  Everyone deserves to love their pants and everything else in their closet!

Other Recent le Totes

A Solid Productivity Tip from the 1980’s

Do you remember when you were a kid and your 1980’s Nintendo started freaking out for some unknown reason.  You would just hit that reset button multiple times until it finally worked out its kinks.  That’s exactly what I needed, a reset. 

I started this morning on the wrong page.

I logged in to my January sales numbers and was not excited by what I saw.  Effort and sales were not matching my expectations.  It made me freeze up.  It made me question myself.  It started a negative reel in my head.  And negative thinking is a slippery slope.  It breeds self doubt.

After an hour I noticed I was sitting in the same spot, getting no where, just feeling worse than before.  Do you remember when you were a kid and your 1980’s Nintendo started freaking out for some unknown reason.  You would just hit that reset button multiple times until it finally worked out its kinks.  That’s exactly what I needed, a reset.

old school nintendo
Neil Godwin | GamesMaster Magazine | Getty Images

So I finally pulled my butt out of the desk chair, got away from my computer, and decided to actively participate in a reset with an easy fifteen minute workout.

Here are some “resets” that typically work well…

Positve Thinking tip

A Workout:  Sometimes this means a really good sweat session if time allows.  Other times it means getting away from the screen and just committing to moving.  When I used to work in an office this would often take shape in a walk around the complex to clear my head.  Now that I work from home, it often means walking the dog, or grabbing the pair of 10 lb. weights I keep in my office and setting my phone timer for 15 minutes.  Other times it is just stretching.  Ideas seem to come to me more clearly when my body is active.

Ideas On A Page:  Walk away from the computer and go old school (as old school as that 1980’s Nintendo I referenced).  Grab PAPER and a PEN.  Weird, I know.  Spend five minutes jotting down a list of all the things you could do next to get to your big goal (Your sales quota, the next meeting you are trying to get, the blog traffic goal you set, the promotion you are going after).  All ideas are fair game.  After the five minutes are up, reread your list.  What is the ONE THING on that list that will have the biggest impact on reaching that big goal in the long run?  You know which one it is, even if it’s not the one you feel like doing.  That’s the one you must do next.  Stop rereading the list looking for an out.  Get to work on THE ONE.

Gratitude:  When I seriously can’t get a grip on my negative thoughts, I have to force myself to pause and think of somethings I am grateful for.   This morning my list included:  I get to work from home right now, my efforts today will continue to pay off in the future in ways I cannot see yet, and that I live in a place where “winter” means sixty degree weather on a rough day.  Gratitude can also manifest in what we do for others.  Pause your negative track long enough to write someone an encouraging note, or grab a coffee for your childcare provider, and see how you feel afterwards!

My fifteen minute workout actually ended up being a five minute workout and a ten minute dance party.  My dog told me I looked ridiculous.  And I did.  But I was also in a much better head space by the time I finished.

It might be hard to start a full on dance party at the office, but one of these other tips should do the trick to reset your thinking.

Otherwise a conga line is always worth a try.

 

How to Become a Millionaire, Even If You Are Still Trying to Master Facebook Ads

Who knew coming to a children’s book website was going to make you a millionaire and save you thousands?!

Numbers never came easy for me.  My math grades consistently weighed me down throughout the years.  But as I grew up, I’ve become fascinated by what math can do.  I

think I first got into it when I learned about compound interest while reading Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, around the same time I was starting my first “real job” as a mortgage loan officer.

As soon as I found out there were simple formulas for things like becoming a millionaire (hint: the earlier you start saving in a 401k the less you have to put in later to become a millionaire – more on that here)

Start investing early
Assuming a 12% interest rate, photo cred. @DaveRamsey.com

and paying off your mortgage seven years early (don’t pay a company for this advice – the trick is taking one of your monthly Principal and Interest Payments, dividing it by 12, and adding that to your monthly payment so you have essentially made one extra payment per year).  You will save THOUSANDS in interest.

Who knew coming to a children’s book website was going to make you a millionaire and save you thousands?!  You can now spare a few bucks to check out my children’s books, and maybe even send a set to a friend.  ***Hey I’m about to have another baby and you don’t get maternity pay when you are self employed, so I can’t be above shameless self promotion.***

Anyways, today I wanted to share some other numbers with you.  They are the metrics behind the Facebook ads I’ve been placing (you can follow me on Facebook @StoriesbyJKCoy).  As marketers we know social media advertising is important, but it can become overwhelming and difficult to know if our spending is moving the needle.  Hopefully these will give you a point of comparison for your own social media marketing efforts.

There are so many metrics that can be tracked, and I am still learning.  I’m also experimenting with Amazon ads, so expect future posts on that.  But today I am going to throw out where my different Facebook ad types are bench-marking.

Below are results for the last 45 days.  That is around the time I published my second children’s book (My Mom is the Worst), launched this website, and have gotten more focused on testing and tracking my marketing efforts.  I am going to refer to everything at Cost Per Click (CPC).  Facebook sometimes refers to these metrics as Cost Per Result because some ads have different goals:  getting viewers to watch a video, leave a comment, like a fan page, visit a website, sign up for an event, etc.)

Facebook CPC 1.16.18

1.  Traffic (Blog):  5 ads, $0.12 CPC Avg., $0.05-$0.38 CPC Range

2.  Post Engagements (Comments/Shares/etc.):  3 ads, $0.06 CPC Avg., $0.04-$0.16 CPC Range

3.  Facebook Fan Page Likes:  2 ads, $0.59 CPC Avg., $0.40-$1.80 CPC Range

Engagement is good.  Engagement creates a relationship with customers.  It creates fans, and raving fans are happy to market for you even when you aren’t around.  So for that, I am pumped to be able to drive a potential fan to this blog to read about a topic that connects with them for $0.12.

But as I said, maternity leave is just around the corner, and we gotta keep a roof over our heads.  So, I need to know how this all equates to book sales.  Sign up to follow the blog to get email updates as soon as I hit publish on the next marketing results post.

And be sure to add Love You to Pieces Beautiful Monster and My Mom is the Worst to your book collection.    (Yep, I’m still trying to fund that maternity leave.  The more books I sell, the longer my husband will let me stay home.  Kidding….maybe…).

$$$ Remember the thousands I saved you, you awesome little millionaire?!:)  $$$

Feel free to let me know how your own Facebook Ad CPC’s compare, and whether you have seen a direct impact on your sales, in the comments.  I appreciate your vulnerability.  We can all stand to learn from each other.

 

 

 

 

Keeping Your Mind From Fearing Birth During Those Final Weeks

I got this mailer from my hospital the other day.  They mention the pampering experience you receive in the Labor and Delivery ward.  That should be illegal.

Watch out!  It’s officially birth month.  Something pretty large is exiting my body soon whether I like it or not.

40wks birth
Insta Photo Cred @mayavorderstrasse

My due date is Jan. 23rd.  So I’m currently 38.5 wks. pregnant.  Some might say baby is due any day.  Which is possible.  But really anytime between Jan. 9th and Feb. 6th should be considered “ordinary” since due dates are an approximation and two weeks “early” or “late” is the normal window in which your body is likely to go in to labor.

In fact, according to Glow’s Nurture Pregnancy App.  95% of babies aren’t born on their due dates.  Just 25% of babies come “early” and 70% of babies come “late.”

So, that said, I am just over here trying to keep my cool and enjoy these final weeks before a tiny dictator becomes the center of my universe.

The last couple of weeks I have shared resources I used to educate myself on birth, why I chose a natural birth, the natural hospital birth story of my first daughter, and today I’m sharing my thoughts on how I’m dealing with the idea of experiencing birth for the second time around – very, very soon.

In reality I am excited and nervous at the same time.  Birth is like a beautiful body and mind *ss kicking that can sneak up on you at any moment.  So psychologically, that’s a blast.

I’ve been trying to stay healthy, positive, and busy to avoid getting stuck in my own head.  Birth will happen in its own time, so in the meantime, here is how I’m keeping my mind from fearing birth during these final weeks…

 

Fearing Birth

 

  • Staying Active:  I don’t feel quite as strong, or as active, as my first pregnancy, but I’m still making a decent effort.  I’m stretching, doing short (15-20 min.) body weight to 10 lb. weight workouts, and walking.  The better shape I keep my body in, the more likely it will be ready to be my teammate in labor.
  • Relaxing:  My bubble bath habits have gotten a bit out of control.  Between finishing our master bath remodel and my baby belly growing much faster this time around, baths happen almost every other night.  I am not a big t.v. watcher, so the tub is likely where you’ll find me after 8 pm.  I also like to get massages.  I didn’t enjoy some of the wimpy prenatal massages I received with the first pregnancy.  So now that I am in the “birth month” window, I feel comfortable getting a firm massage again, with no fear of it setting me in to labor.  At this point, baby is developed.  Plus I feel like this aligns my spine and pelvis, which is helpful for baby’s exit strategy.
  • Checking Things Off My To-Do List:  Some of the things are rational, and I really would like to accomplish them before baby arrives:  washing the infant car seat that have been in the dusty garage for a year, setting up some book marketing efforts for my children’s books that can run in the background, girl time with my friends.  But other silly things just get added on when I start to panic that I will never have free time again – like washing the living room curtains, transplanting my succulents, and filing every piece of paperwork in my house.
  • Adulting – When you start to think about creating new life, you also start thinking about how you need to get your ducks in a row.  With the first baby, our adulting goal was to pay off the remainder of our hefty student loans before our daughter was born.  We managed to pay them off the month she was born, except the joke was on us when her monthly daycare and diaper bills ate up all the money we thought we were going to be savings.  Kids are fun.  This time around, our adulting goal was to write a will.  We managed to finish it, but are waiting to file it until we have a name and birth date for Baby Two.  But, at least we now have it on paper, and know what each of our wishes are, if needed.
  • Filling My Head With Positive Thoughts:  Is child birth going to hurt?  Yup.  Am I going to have to try to push through that to have the birth I want?  Yup.  Is it going to be a walk in the park?  Nope.  And even with my best intentions, plenty of unforeseen things could still come up.  But, having no plan, is like planning to fail.  So, I’m filling my head with positive birth stories through the resources I mentioned here, and leaving the rest to the higher power at be.

I got this mailer from my hospital the other day.  They mention the pampering experience you receive in the Labor and Delivery ward.  That should be illegal.

A Pampering Birth

Unless they now paint my toe nails and tell me I’m pretty during labor, leave chocolates on my pillow during turn down service, and my girly parts feel relaxed and rejuvenated when I go how with my newborn two days later, a pampering experience is a slight overstatement.

I’ll report back in a few weeks and let you know how that pampering experience played out.

***I’M CRACKING MYSELF UP OVER HERE***

 

 

Four Reasons Natural Birth Trumped America’s Other Options

Eventually my first pregnancy got to the point that I could no longer ignore that this baby was exiting my body, whether I liked it or not.  So I decided to educate myself on childbirth.

Something you should probably know about me:  I get real squeamish around anything medical.

I don’t like hospitals.  I don’t like feeling like a patient.  I didn’t like watching ER, back in the day.  I would try to watch, because, you know, Mr. Clooney.  But, I’d be caught off guard, every episode, by some bodily fluid spraying out.  GROSS.

Many of my family members work in hospitals.  I plug my ears when they share medical stories at the dinner table.

When it comes to medication, I’ve always erred on the side of less is more.  You’ve all seen the commercials where the list of possible side effects sounds far worse than the things the medicine is supposed to treat.

And, I pretty much blacked out during health class.  Too much information about the inner workings of my body.

All that said, I’m not sure if that made me a more, or less, likely candidate for natural childbirth.

But eventually my first pregnancy got to the point that I could no longer ignore that this baby was exiting my body, whether I liked it or not.  So I decided to educate myself on childbirth, using the six resources I mention in this post, plus lots of stories of woman with positive birth experiences.  (Sign up to follow the blog and you will get an alert when the rest of the series is added).

Below are the reasons I found in favor of natural childbirth.  Some are fact based, some are preference based.  This list was enough to encourage me to make natural childbirth Plan A.

Natural Birth Part Two

A 32% US Cesarean Rate, According to the CDC:

Really?!  So one third of woman are now incapable of safely delivering their baby?  Bull Sh*t.   There are scenarios where a cesarean is most definitely life saving for mom and baby, but there were two instances I was not comfortable with:  medical interventions that lead to a cesarean (more on that later), and doctors and mothers that casually consider a cesarean a modern option for any inconvenient pregnancy issue.  I’ve heard stories of mothers scheduling cesareans so they could pick a special date, chose their time off based on work schedules or visitors being in town, because they are told their baby is to big on the ultrasound, because they don’t want to push, because they had a c-section before, because a woman has a small-frame she is told she will have trouble pushing out a baby, or just generally because labor is not progressing and the mom is getting too tired.  The list goes on.  I can’t understand why these are sufficient reasons to under go major surgery.  32% was very discouraging to me.  I needed to arm myself with the best possible scenario for avoiding becoming part of this statistic.

One Medical Intervention Often Leads to Another:  

Many women that are part of that 32% cesarean rate, don’t enter the hospital thinking that will be their fate.  They have the best intentions to labor and deliver vaginally.  But then the realities of modern medicine intervene.

1.  An epidural is administered for pain management, labor slows down because your body no longer feels the natural sensations, nurses administer pitocin (almost 30% of births use pitocin or other induction methods)  to speed up labor which causes contractions to intensify (mom often doesn’t notice because she’s had the epidural), baby starts to go in to distress because of the unnatural intensity and frequency of these super contractions, the babies heart rate spikes to unsafe levels, mom is taken in for an emergency c-section to save the baby.

2.  A mother is at, or past, her due date so an induction is scheduled.  The doctors try to artificially start and progress labor, which can lead to the same scenario described above.

Again, cesareans are a great option to have when things go wrong, but if the medical interventions used to speed labor ultimately lead to the cesarean, we are a victim of our own medical side effect commercial.  Medical intervention comes with side effects, and I didn’t like the course that those interventions could put me on.  So I chose to avoid step one, the epidural, in hopes of avoiding the other interventions.

I Wanted Support, Not Ulterior Motives, Driving My Birth Decisions:

Many hospitals have standards about how quickly you need to progress in labor before they offer ways to intervene – for your benefit, of coarse.

And, most doctors will only be there for the last few minutes before baby arrives, leaving you to labor alone or intermittently with a nurse.

I knew labor would be difficult, and possibly scary.  As a woman you really have no idea what it will feel like.  You don’t get a practice run.  I knew I wanted a support system that would be there with me for the challenging parts, and keep me calm.  I figured the best way to do that would be to hire a midwife.   Because the majority of midwives regularly attend natural births, I felt comfortable trusting my midwife during the birth process.  You would never hire a coach that hasn’t regularly achieved that outcome you want.   That would be silly.  Why would I leave my intentions of a natural birth to someone that doesn’t regularly do it, nor encourage it?

I initially looked for a doula to come alongside my OB-GYN, but found that most were more than I had to spend.  Fortunately, I ended up finding a midwife that was approved to deliver at my hospital (I live in Orange County, CA – not some small town, and astonishingly there was still just one midwife approved to deliver at my hospital, at that time).   This meant insurance would cover it.   I got the best of both worlds: an experienced and encouraging coach and doctor, in a hospital setting in case any issues came up.

Natural Labor in the Hospital
Walking Around to Labor, Temporarily Wearing the External Fetal Monitor to Check on Baby

I Didn’t Want to Feel Like a Patient: 

As I explained, I don’t like medical stuff, which includes feeling like a patient.  By forgoing the epidural I was able to wear my own clothes (no paper hospital gown), walk around the room, try any position I wanted to find comfort during contractions, soak in the bathtub in my hospital room, eat and drink, push in any position I wanted (instead of flat on my back – which actually makes your pelvis more narrow), and generally deal with the pain on my own terms with a trained and encouraging support partner.

Labor and delivery was hard work, but I felt like my body was doing something powerful and natural.  I was not damaged goods, waiting for a doctor to make me better.

Your body is not a lemon.  Our creator is not careless.  Your body was made for this.

Come back for the rest of the series – my natural birth story, and mentally preparing for my upcoming delivery of baby two.  (Sign up to follow the blog and you will get an alert when the rest of the series is added).

Note:  my intention is not to shame anyone that has had a different birth experience from mine.  My intent is to provide a positive example of what birth can be, in spite of what most of us are exposed to about child birth in the United States.  Educate yourself so you can feel comfortable with your own decisions.

 

 

 

Natural Childbirth Sounds Insane, But You’re Still Curious

Six Resources to Help Consider if Natural Birth is Right for You, or Just for Hippies.

I’m a ticking time bomb over here at 37.5 wks. pregnant with Baby Two.

The first time I gave birth I had to learn a lot about my body.  It was a topic that I had avoided for many years (thirty-three to be exact).  So when I started to even think about natural childbirth, it felt like a bit of an ignorant pipe dream.

Could I?  Should I?  Why would I want to endure that?  Do modern women really chose such a barbaric option, or is that just for gypsy women with no health insurance?

 

First hour of life, natural birth
First Hour of Life

If you find yourself asking any of these questions, but are still intrigued whether you could achieve your own natural childbirth, we are going to first start by opening your mind to the possibility.

This post is part of a multi-post series on my experience with natural childbirth (Sign up to follow the blog and you will get an alert when the rest of the series is added):  resources I found to open my mind to the possibility, the benefits I found in favor of it, actually experiencing it with Baby One, and trying to wrap my mind around the idea of doing it again with Baby Two.

Your mind is incredibly powerful.  It will greatly help or hinder you during childbirth.   For that reason, we will start there.

Here is a list of the best resources I found to help consider a natural childbirth, and if the possibility was really for me.

Natural Childbirth, is it right for you

  1.  Book – Expecting Better – This book is a great place to start, natural birth or not.  It helps you to better understand all the “advice” (like “Don’t eat cold cuts”, “Don’t sleep on your back”, “You need a c-section if you had one before”, etc.) we receive as pregnant women, so that you can make educated decisions for yourself based on actual statistics.
  2. Movie – The Business of Being Born – you can find it for free on YouTube.  The documentary shares the opinions of doctors that are for and against births by midwife.  You get to see what natural childbirth looks like, something most women have never seen:  minimal intervention, not hooked up to an I.V., fetal monitor, catheter, and epidural.  Painful, intense, beautiful, and empowering,  There is even a story of one woman that planned to have a natural birth but ended up in the hospital because of complications with her baby.  It reminded me that I feel blessed to have the option of western medicine, when necessary, to support my birth wishes.
  3. Hire a Midwife – I liked my OB-GYN, but at 32 wks. pregnant I finally decided that if I wanted to try for a natural birth, a midwife was my best bet.  OB-GYN’s are trained in all the ways to intervene during childbirth.  Most have had minimal experience with a natural childbirth.  I thought, if it it foreign to them, how are they going to keep me calm and reassure me that everything is normal?  I found a midwife that was approved to deliver at the hospital I planned to deliver at.  I decided to meet with her, and was impressed how much we discussed the mental side of childbirth and what kind of experience I wanted.  There were far fewer rules about how things had to progress.  It was about letting my baby and body do their job, and my midwife would be there to coach me through it all.
  4. Book – Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – This book is divided in to two parts.  The first part is natural birth stories.  The second part is observations from Midwives that live on a farm in Tennessee and have attended thousands of natural births.  I didn’t have you start here, because the book is pretty hippy, but awesome, once your mind is ready for it.  Please do not skip this resource if you are considering natural birth.  You will gain an entirely new perspective on birth from what our western culture teaches.  Plus, Ina has a bit of a sense of humor, “There is no other organ quite like the uterus.  If men had such an organ, they would brag about it.  So should we.”
  5. Positive Affirmations – Birth will be an experience like no other.  Give yourself the best possible chance of dealing with it by having a phrase or two that you can repeat when you start to doubt yourself.  For the first birth, mine was something along the lines of: You are strong, capable, and safe.  Your body was meant for this.  A similar one that I found for birth two is: Your body is not a lemon.  The Creator is not careless.  Your body was made to give birth.

That’s a lot of homework right there.  But you’ve got time.  Start with one or two of resources and see if you are still interested.  Or just come back to this blog for part two:  The Cliff Notes Version of Why I Decided on a Natural Birth (Sign up to follow the blog and you will get an alert when the rest of the series is added).

Have you checked out the recent release of my second children’s book?  My Mom is the Worst is available now!

If you have a positive affirmation you plan to use for childbirth, please share it in the comments.

 

Twenty Two Meals and a Bottle of Rum

So instead of European vacations or a trip home for the holidays, I scheduled some other fun activities. 

Various doctors appointments.  Finally sitting down to write our Will.  Cooking over twenty freezer meals before Baby Two disrupts our routine.

I clearly know how to keep a marriage hot.

My husband had the week between Christmas and New Years off.  The younger versions of us would have never let this week pass us by without making some amazing travel plans.  The current versions of us let finances, toddlers, and the third trimester of pregnancy get in the way.  Lame excuses. I know.

So instead of European vacations or a trip home for the holidays, I scheduled some other fun activities.

Various doctors appointments.  Finally sitting down to write our Will.  Cooking over twenty freezer meals before Baby Two disrupts our routine.

I clearly know how to keep a marriage hot.

22 freezer mealsWe did the freezer meals before Wynn was born and it turned out to be a life saver for us.   There was already going to be plenty of chaos in our house as first time parents of a newborn, and typically we cook a hot breakfast daily, and 5-6 dinners a week.

There was no way that was going to happen those first few months, so being able to pull out a meal from the freezer was one very appreciated amenity.  Between a tired mama, and a crying newborn, nothing good happens in the kitchen.  We would have ended up eating Chipotle or Pizza Hut every night, which contrary to what some of you believe, probably isn’t the best idea.

Actually, it could have been even worse than that.

We could have reverted back to our early marriage days where lean pockets and ramen noodles were considered full meals.  You can read about the entire ridiculous year we spent learning to cook here. Expect to read lots of embarrassing stories and many, many typos.  You’ve been warned.

You don’t have to be pregnant to benefit from stocking your freezer with meals.  This is great for all of us with a busy life.

Stocked with freezer meals

Here is the game plan we used to stock our freezer with 22 meals (88 servings).  I recommend spreading the tasks over three days so that you don’t overwhelm yourself:

  1.  Day One (30 min/1 person):  Gather recipes on Pinterest for freezer meals.  I actually had these saved on my computer from last time we stocked the freezer.  We chose 11 different recipes and planned to make two batches of each recipe.
  2. Day One Cont. (30 min/1 person):  Create a master shopping list, organized by the section of the store the ingredients would be found in:  meat, produce, canned goods, etc.  Make sure to double ingredients if you plan to make multiple of the same meal.
  3. Day Two (1 hr/1 person):  Go grocery shopping. I went to two stores, Grocery Outlet and Ralphs, and spent $230 ($2.61 per serving).  The most expensive part was that we chose to buy organic meat and ingredients when possible.  It adds up, but organic meat is important to us, especially when I will be nursing and passing everything along to my young baby.
  4. Day Three (3 hrs/2 ppl. steps 4-7):  Label all the freezer bags with date/recipe name/servings/and cooking day instructions.
  5. Put all the meat in the bags so that you only have to touch meat once before moving on to other ingredients.
  6. Recipe by recipe add remaining ingredients.  It’s great to have one person reading the recipe and adding the dry ingredients while the other person is chopping the fresh ingredients.  Lay each bag flat in the freezer, and stack them on top of each other to save space.
  7. Clean up.

For a price, there are sites out there that will email you a monthly menu, shopping list, prep instructions, and bag labels.  Once a Month Cooking is one that I have used a free sample menu from in the past.  But I also enjoy finding recipes of my own that I know my family will eat.

If you looked in our freezer on a typical day, it’s freakishly barren.  To the point you might feel bad for us.  A few mini bottles of airplane booze and an ice pack.  But now it is completely stocked.  We look like a real American family, with the status symbol of abundance, the ‘overflowing freezer’.

 

 

I’m Begging, Stop Stressing Over Your Toddler’s Christmas

Christmas with young kids really does provide an opportunity for a low-key, joy-filled time of year.  But as parents we make it complicated.

My daughter will be (almost) two this Christmas.  This is a magical time.

*The Elf on the Shelf does not exist yet, HOORAY!*

I’m still debating if I can bypass that all together.

*She does not care about the cost, or size, of presents.  Though, there are bonus points if the present comes with bubble wrap to pop.*

*And she is content to read the Christmas Story of Baby Jesus night after night.*

Christmas with young kids really does provide an opportunity for a low-key, joy-filled time of year.  But as parents we make it complicated.  We have this guilt if the holidays are too simple.  Like if it’s easy, we are some how letting our kids down.  We HAVE to be all stressed out like all the other parents, or we must be doing it wrong.

WRONG.  Stop it, just stop it.  It’s not true.

Let me expose my “low-bar” holiday excitement, in hopes that it will let other parents see that it’s ok to keep it simple.

—-

This here is the FREE Santa.

FreeSanta

Last year we took her to the mall for photos with Santa.  I was shocked to find out that they wouldn’t let you snap a few pics with your own camera.  The cheapest option was a $30 digital file of the photos they took.  Honestly, if it weren’t for my husband, we would have left with zero photos.  Thirty dollars?!  That’s a whole lot of Christmas cookies for Santa!

So this year I did a little research.  There was a free Santa at the local garden store.  You could take all your own pictures.  There was also a photographer there selling pictures, but it was optional.

Yes, they were still thirty dollars.  Apparently that is the going rate for Santa pics in Orange County.  But we were happy with the pictures we took on our own camera, and our daughter was delighted when Santa gave her a Christmas bell.  She has been playing with that free “magic reindeer bell” for days!

——

You know what I’m most excited to give my child this year?  Two white, ceramic bunnies.  I found them in the Target Dollar Spot.

targetdollarspotbunnies

They are essentially glorified yard ornaments, and I can’t wait to see my daughter’s face when she opens them and starts petting them, and talking to them, like they are her new BFF’s.  You see, every time we walk the neighborhood, she stops to talk to all of our neighbor’s yard trinkets…bunnies, snails, ducks, cats, gnomes.  *Spoiler*  That is how you know you don’t live in the young, hip ‘hood, when ALL your neighbors have yard ornaments.  But my daughter loves them!

InkedPop Pop—-

The other thing she is sure to go wild for is the popcorn in her stocking.  Pop Pop is her jam!

Sure, there are other things under the tree this year.  Honestly mostly from family.  We are grateful to have generous people in her life.  But on our end, we really did limit things to just a few gifts.  Three fun things, two needs things, and a book.

If you haven’t added a few books under the tree yet, check these out.

Young kids truly love simple pleasures.  I assume this period only lasts for so long, so I’m not going to feel any guilt about embracing it while I can.  Don’t burden yourself with other parents false expectations that the holidays must be stressful.  It’s ok to set that bar low.  Your child won’t notice what they didn’t get.  What they will enjoy is that you are more happy when you are spending time with them.

Inkedbunnies
Those are the bunnies.  Take a moment to admire my fancy wrap job.   Ok, now I just feel like you are laughing at me.

If you still need a good laugh to help alleviate the stress, try writing “From: Mom and Dad” on a gift without feeling old.  That one about blew my mind when I was wrapping presents.

OMG, we are THE Mom and Dad.  Um, When did that happen?  Did anyone approve this?