THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

YOU GUYS. This has been months in the making and I cannot believe we're finally going LIVE with the big news!! Check it out below:

Eeeeek! It's still surreal and slightly terrifying, but hey... what's life without a little risk, right?! ;) Stay tuned, my friends! More info and details coming SOON.

PS Just have to say that I am so so SO grateful for every person who has supported, encouraged and helped me on this journey thus far. Literally could not have done it with y'all (you know who you are)! Good things are coming, y'all. I can feel it!

Love,

B

my breastfeeding must-haves and tips

This post is sponsored by Evivo, but as always, the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Since I just did a post that detailed our breastfeeding journey (which you can read here), I figured this would be a nice little follow-up! Having breastfed for 21 months total, spaced out over two babies, I have a few tried and true things that made my experiences so much smoother:

1) Keep snacks and water handy (for YOU) - breastfeeding gives you an UNGODLY, unquenchable hunger and thirst. Truly. It's crazy. So buy yourself a big 'ol water jug with a straw and some granola bars to keep on the bedside table. You'll thank me later.

2) A comfy robe - something cozy and fluffy and warm, preferably. Being able to snuggle up in my robe with a hot cup of coffee in between feedings was one of those simple joys that I treasured. Especially in the midst of postpartum and all the chaos that comes with that.

3) A comfy carrier to nurse in + breast pads - once you get the hang of breastfeeding and don't have the time to stop and sit for 20 minutes to feed, get a CARRIER! I fed on the go allllll the time in our Ergo - Disneyland, IKEA, friends' houses, walking through the grocery store, you name it. Also, breast pads - get the reusable cotton ones! You can wash them AND they're soft, so they don't scratch your raw nipples. Woosah.

4) Evivo probiotic drops- I WISH I'd known about these when I was breastfeeding, y'all! They maximize the benefits of breastmilk, they protect your baby's gut for a healthy metabolism and immune system and defend against bad bacteria. Gut health is REAL, you guys. Especially for babies, since what we do now literally sets them up for the rest of their lives! And Evivo is the only probiotic proven to do all of the above. You can learn more about them here, which I'm definitely storing away for any future babies we have!

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5) Grace, to give yourself - the first few weeks are ROUGH. So cry, ask for help, find a lactation consultant, sleep when you can, use the nipple cream and HANG ON. It does get better, I promise.

You got this, mamas!

 

Love,

B

is our family complete? and other future baby-related decisions.

This post is sponsored by the CBR®; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own, as per usual.

YOU GUYS. My teeny tiny baby is 8 months old now and for some reason, this age more than any other, is making me reflect back on my pregnancy and birth. Maybe it’s because the older she gets, the closer and closer she’s inching towards a whole, entire year? I don’t know, but either way, it’s definitely got me feeling nostalgic.

As lots of you know, Matt and I aren’t entirely sure we’re going to have any more babies... at least biologically. We’ve always been open to adoption, but that’s definitely scary in its own right. I don’t know, honestly. It’s such a complicated subject for us – we would LOVE a third baby, but I genuinely don’t want to be pregnant ever again. BUT then I think back on Silas and Verity’s births and some part of me would love to deliver another baby – there’s such an adrenaline rush that comes with labor and I LOVE that part. I mean, if there was a way to push another baby out without having to go through the 10 months of pregnancy beforehand, I’d sign up in a heartbeat! Haha. And on one hand, I’m so happy we’re out of the newborn phase and both of our kids sleep 7:30-7:30, so do I really want to do sleepless nights again? But on the other hand, I’d love for Silas and V to grow up with another sibling and 3 just feels good to us. AAAGH. Anyways, as you can see... lots of factorsand lots of indecisiveness over here.

BUT, all that to say... with birth and babies on my mind, I can’t help but think about things I did the last 2 times and what I would do the same/differently if we ever DID have a third. I definitely feel more prepared for things like my hospital bag and newborn must-haves, having had 2 previous newborns. I would still keep a lot of things simple, from decorating to baby clothes. We would still get meals delivered from our church and I’d definitely have family in town for a couple weeks afterwards – it’s so nice to have adult company and extra helping hands (especially when you like the people that come over ;)).

Things I’d do differently? Probably a few things, but at the top of my list? Digging a little deeper into the Cord Blood Registry and that whole process. I had heard bits and pieces about it during my last two pregnancies but never fully investigated stem cell preservation. You can visit www.cordblood.com for more details, but, basically, by preserving your baby’s cord blood stem cells, you’re able to keep them for future medical use for them! AND they may be used in the treatment of over 80 diseases and conditions. That’s pretty amazing to me!

I tend to struggle with some anxiety and so while I try to not live in the “what-if’s” of life, I also believe in doing everything I can to ensure 1) nothing bad happens to my children and 2) if something did, having the ability to fight it! I wish I had known more about cord blood banking before having Silas and Verity because we probably would’ve made the decision to do it! I’ve loved learning about the process of stem cell storage and feel way more informed going into the future – whether we have another baby or not, or even if we adopt! I’m a person who likes options and I’m excited to consider this option for any other kiddos that come in our family.

How did you know if your family was complete or not?? Also, did you choose to preserve your newborn’s stem cells? I’d love to hear from you!

Love,

B

I stopped breastfeeding at 6 months - when I didn't have to. Here's why.

This post is sponsored by Nature's One; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own, as per usual. 

This post has been a loong time coming and when I have something huge to process, this is usually where I come to do it. So here goes. Haha.

Breastfeeding, you guys. It's such a hot topic and one that typically has pretty passionate people on both sides of it. You have people that fall in the middle somewhere, those who could care less about how people decide to feed their babies. And then, of course, you have what I lovingly refer to as the crazies - 1) Breastfeeding moms who think formula is legitimately poison and that you're a terrible mother for giving it to your baby and 2) the formula-feeding moms who get super defensive about having to use formula or choosing to use formula or those who are even grossed out by breastfeeding. 

I'm not going to pretend to know where everyone stands on that scale, but I will give you some insight into my personal thoughts on it. I breastfed my oldest, Silas, for 14 months. We STRUGGLED, especially in the beginning. He was 2.5 weeks early and had a really difficult time latching, which caused me so much pain. I mean, it truly felt like my nipples were being singed off by the fires of actual hell. He had hard time gaining weight, and looking back, I actually don't think my supply was providing him with enough milk. It definitely got easier over time, but he stayed an hour-long nurser and was still nursing 7x a day when we weaned at 14 months (again, I'm pretty sure it was because my supply was so low and I just didn't realize it).

We finally started supplementing around 10 months with Nature's One Baby's Only Organic Formula (we did tons of research and it's the closest thing to breastmilk on the market!) because he was still so tiny and honestly, in hindsight, part of me feels incredibly guilty that we waited so long. The moment that will forever be etched in my memory is the first time he had a full bottle of formula before bed, near the end of us weaning. Matt and I had always considered Silas to be a light sleeper - he usually flopped around all night long. Well, that first night, when we fed him 6 oz of Nature's One formula, he literally didn't move a muscle the entire night. I'm pretty sure he had just been hungry all those other nights, which is why he tossed and turned.. and that realization broke my heart into a million pieces.

With Verity, we went in eyes wide open, knowing the struggles that can accompany breastfeeding and feeling a little more prepared for it, in general. She was born at 39 weeks 3 days, so basically full-term, and had a great latch. Girlfriend loved to eat and other than those first 10 days of raw nipples, she was nursing like a champ! I actually had the opposite problem with her - my supply was so good that she was pretty much drowning in milk. So much so, that she had weeks of projectile vomiting before we figured out that she was just being overfed. I'm talking, exorcist-style, 4 ft radius, gallon-volume of milk, projectile vomiting. It was actually kind of impressive haha. We finally did a weighted feed and found out that at 6 weeks, she was transferring 3.5oz of milk in 7 minutes on ONE SIDE. I had been feeding her 10-12 min on BOTH sides. #whoops. We switched to block feeding after that and nursing massively improved, for both of us. 

At around 4-5 months, Verity went from only nursing for 7-10 minutes on one side to nursing 15 minutes on both sides (she just needed more milk as she grew bigger). However, this is where the cracks started showing. Nursing a baby 6 times a day is hard enough but nursing a baby 6 times a day, for 30 minutes each time, while also trying to entertain a 2-year-old is damn near impossible. I began getting so frustrated and so overwhelmed every time I nursed her - I was basically immobile, stuck on the couch or chair, while Silas touched everything in the house he wasn't allowed to touch. 10 minutes? He was fine! 30 minutes? It was pretty much a free-for-all at that point. I just got angrier and angrier every time I had to feed her.

One night in particular, when she was around 6 months old, I was headed to a friend's house and sobbing on the phone to my mom.

"I don't want to do this anymore! I HATE IT. I'm dreading feeding her every single time."

My mom said, "Brenae. You know you don't HAVE to nurse her, right?"

Uhh. What do you mean?! I CAN STOP??

"But it's so much healthier for her," I choked out between sobs.

"Honey, it's actually healthier for everyone for you to be a happy, loving mom. Not angry. Not frustrated. And if that's what I takes, THEN DO IT and be free! There's nothing wrong with being done."

It was like a 100lb weight was lifted off my chest, hearing those words. I genuinely had never considered the fact that I COULD stop anytime I wanted. I nursed her for 6 months, I enjoyed most of that time. And I had the choice to stop if it was no longer healthy for me, which it wasn't. WHAT?! 

Up to this point, I had been feeling so resentful of Matt and his freedom, to go anywhere he wanted, whenever. To be gone for 6 hours, golfing, if he so chose to (I mean, it's rare he does that, but still! He had options). I was feeling so claustrophobic, so STUCK, and it was making me such an angry person. My mom was 100% right.. breastmilk might truly be "better", but my kids having a mom that wasn't ready to fly off the handle at any given moment? THAT is the best thing, by far.

Having been a breastfeeding mom, I felt incredible guilt at first. Guilt that I COULD have kept nursing her. My supply hadn't dropped, she wasn't having weight issues, there was no physical reason to stop. But as I introduced a bottle to her (using Nature's One formula once again), as I gained an hour of two of freedom, an afternoon alone, and finally, once she was weaned entirely, the ability to be gone whenever I wanted, for however long I wanted.. I found my sanity.

I was happy again! I was RELIEVED. I can't even describe how I feel now - it literally changed my entire outlook on this whole season of life. Two under 2.5 is hard but man, I am LOVING these days now. And after talking to so many other mamas and sharing my story, I knew I had to write this post. Because you guys, there are SO MANY MOMS out there that feel this way!! I know because they've told me! And they feel guilty and sad and some have even been told by family members that it's too selfish for them to stop, to basically just suck it up and finish out the year. WHAT?! I'm so grateful that my husband and family supported me in my decision and I want to encourage others in that same boat, that IT IS OKAY to stop breastfeeding. IT'S OKAY!!! Your baby will be fine AND you will be fine. So shove that mom-guilt to the side and BE FREE to make whatever choice you need to. The best gift you can give your babies is a healthy, whole, HAPPY mama. 

And honestly, finding Nature's One Baby's Only was a godsend for us. If you've followed our family for any amount of time, you know that I'm pretty much a freak about what we eat and put in our bodies. I'm always looking for the best option for us, the healthiest choice. And that's why I love this company! Yes, they've sponsored this post, but it's because I reached out to them and asked if they wanted to partner together on a blog series.. I love their formula THAT MUCH!!

For one, it's super similar to breastmilk in terms of color and consistency, in my opinion. Most formulas are thick and heavy, while breastmilk is thin and light - Nature's One formula is the closest I've seen visually to breastmilk. My kids have never had the tummy issues that plague some formula-fed babies. They never even noticed a difference, honestly! I remember trying to give Silas a small bottle of another brand early on and him gagging and sputtering it out, probably because it tasted so bad haha. But with Nature's One , both of my kids never even batted an eye at the change - they literally drank the whole bottle without any indication that it was different than what they tasted when they nursed. THAT was honestly the biggest selling point for me - I mean, they would know better than anyone, so it HAD to taste similar to my breastmilk! Which is amazing.

And okay, well... if you made it this far, you're my hero, haha! I'm sorry this is so long but it really just had to be said. The days are long, but the years ARE short and there are so many other things to focus your energy and time on, mamas. And honestly, 20 years from now, it won't matter whether you breastfed or formula fed! Bottom line.. just feed your baby. However that looks like. Whatever you choose to do. Breastfeed for 2 years. Formula feed from day 1. Do a mixture of both. Find what works for you, your babe, your family, your own mental health and JUST BE FREE.