Wednesday, October 17, 2018

My Top 5 Breastfeeding Must Haves

Breastfeeding is the most BRUTAL-FUL thing. I mean, after you have grown a human for the better part of a year and get to experience the magic of childbirth the real fun comes. Breastfeeding is not for the weak minded, let me tell you. It is a minute by minute commitment that most mommies will struggle through.

I knew with the twins it was breast or bust. I never for one second entertained the thought of formula. I actually got pretty sassy with an LC in the hospital who dropped the F-bomb.

 I sought constant support from my local Lactation Specialists, I read and researched everything I could find and asked constant questions of friends. I pumped constantly to boost supply, dealt with nipples that felt like they were being seared off with a dull machete, boobs the size of watermelons ready to explode with each breath and never, ever questioned my body's ability to provide for my babies.

I tandem nursed the biggies for just over a year and was able to donate gallons upon gallons of stored milk. Dude was the same...accept I had a whole second boob to spare! I too nursed him for a bit over a year and was given the huge honor of being to share my milk with a close friend who too was dedicated to breastmilk. It was one of the greatest things I was able to do for someone I love.

It's easy to forget how challenging those first few weeks of nursing truly are. The  honey-like colostrum requiring constant massage, milk coming in hard and fast making you sick with discomfort, the boob boulders, sand granules, fearing plugged ducts, bloody and cracked nipples, latch issues, the CONSTANT questioning that all this is normal...I mean it is no easy feat.

Now that the hard truth is out of the way, here comes the good truth.

As with everything pregnancy/birth, all that pain/discomfort is temporary. That hard work, that dedication, will (in most cases), pay off. Once your milk stabilizes, nipples turn to leather and you/baby get into your groove, there is truly nothing more amazing than being able to provide your baby with the most natural, perfectly created just for him "meals by mommy".

There of course are many mommies who really struggle and give it their all before accepting that bitter defeat. While I am no professional, I think early stress from any sort of medical or other issue can really play a role in affecting milk supply. I know from supporting close friends that the heartbreak they feel from giving up on breastfeeding was devastating.

But above all else, any mommy who loves and feeds their baby in any form is doing a great job.

Phew, with all that out of the way, let this (overly) milky mommy share my favorite breastfeeding products/supports. I would be LOST without them!!

1. MILKIES MILK SAVER: Obvi, I couldn't use this with the twins as both of my boobs were occupied, but with Dude and after soaking through one too many T-shirts, I saw this and immediately bought it.  I used it nonstop with him and have already been catching milk like crazy with Richie. It is so easy to use; just stick your nipple in, secure with your bra/tank and let that boob drip fill up that silicon saver.  I usually get like 1-2 oz per feeding from just sitting there. No manual pumping required and always a dry shirt!! This is my favorite thing to use, especially in the first few weeks before I start pumping because I can build my stored supply without increasing my already over supply. Just be careful when you go to pick up baby... milk tsunamis are never fun.
2. MADELA MANUAL PUMP: Going from twins to a single is quite a different experience.I remember stressing about what on Earth I was supposed to do with that other boob when feeding just one baby. Did it just sit there? Could the baby drain one and then the other? Wouldn't one always be super full and hurting? I just didn't get it.

Thankfully, I am a quick study. This guy was a total blessing in disguise after having Dude. Being as I have too much milk and my boobs are on the verge of explosion constantly, I needed some extra relief after each feeding. I would catch on one side while nursing on the other, then after I swapped him to the other side I would pump out the rest of that golden goodness and then following him finishing on the other side, repeat. I LOVED the freedom of not being hooked up to the electrical pump while getting in more snuggles with Dude and doing little work for lots of supply. I have already used this a bit with Richie but only for comfort as I am not trying to kick up my supply any higher than it already is!


3. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, Book. This has often been referred to as "The Bible of Breastfeeding" and I have to say I agree. I bought this when pregnant with the twins and can honestly say I read it cover to cover during those nightly feeds where it was me, two suckling babes and the moonlight. I referenced it again with Dude and have done the same with Richie. It has everything you could ever wonder about all in one place that can be kept close at hand. We all know there are about a million questions and concerns that arise when breastfeeding, so to me, this book is a must!
4. Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. Oh those sweet nipples. That phase between raw and leather is not an easy one. Thankfully Earth Mama has the most soothing nipple butter to ease some of that chappy, scabby process. I use it after each feed, before I use my manual pump and always before I shower. I love keeping those nips hydrated and calm...since it feels like fire torture at first with each latch. Aside from this being all natural and totally safe for mommy, another bonus is that it is safe for baby too! No more having to wipe off the lanolin from those tender feeding devices, baby can jump right on and you both can relax into a wonderful, snuggle filled feeding.

5. Earth Mama Organic Milkmaid Tea. Just because I am a milk machine doesn't mean I don't continue to support a healthy supply! As an oatmeal and tea lover, a daily dose of this amazing, organic tea does the job to keep me freely flowing. With all the right herbs straight from nature, this tea is a must have for any milky mommy's pantry.

While this is only my five most used items, there are many more things I just can't seem to live without. Nursing tanks to holster my melons during engorgement (any bralettte is just too restrictive for me), organic cotton/washable breast pads and of course my favorite breastfeeding app for the new (or always anal) mommy; Baby Connect.

And of course no breastfeeding post would be complete without sharing my two favorite sites to troll while feeding and wondering if you are doing this correctly...Kellymom.comcom for ALL the things breastfeeding. And my personal favorite timeline breakdown, The Alpha Parent - Timeline of a Breastfed Baby. 

As I enter my last breastfeeding experience with my last baby, I am soaking up every second of the good, bad, horrible and magical. I love me some breastmilk superpower and intend to live it up, pump it out and cherish this last wet n' wild ride.

Strive to thrive, 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

8 Easy & Affordable FALL-tastic Decorations

With no BIRTHdays to celebrate quite yet, I am refocusing all my Thriving energy on enjoying the Fall! Now that we are nearing the end of September, if you have't decorated yet, it is high time you get started!

Here are my eight favorite and super affordable ways to sing Fall-a-lejua all throughout the house!

1. Assorted Colored Stones of Sorts. Whether marbles or jewels, big or small, anything in Fall colors will do. I have had these assorted autumn cuties for years and love that I can reuse them each season. On a platter, in a jar, sprinkled on a mantle...the list goes on! 

2. Fabric. Also something I acquired long ago, but have been so grateful to have stored away! In brown, bronze and orange, shiny and matte these signature pieces are perfect for "shwagging" any and all surfaces. With so many choices and coupons to use at the fabric store, make the tiny investment this season and you won't be disappointed when you use them again and again!

3. Sparkly Pumpkins.  When I found these minis at the Dollar Tree I snapped them up with the quickness. Something about pumpkins and glitter just really gets me going. Especially knowing it is not going to get all over my clean house! My big guy was a 50% steal at Michael's with an additional 40% off!! I mean it was practically free which makes me love it all that much more.

4. Go-To Collection of Mini Pumpkins & Gourds. I again, have had these same supplies for years and always look forward to their annual debut. Did I also mention how incredibly easy and gorgeously green all this reusing is? With a simple sprinkle here and thought- out placement there, every surface in your house transforms making it oh so Fall-tastic!

5. Throw Pillows. These are the pillows I use year round. They are well made and have lasted a very long time. I add a vintage pillow cases in the "off season", but when Fall/Winter set in they are naked and in full force! I love their shiny burgundy color and that one side is silky smooth while the other has gold accents...they are perfect in their true form from September to December!

6. Leaves. While I personally am not a fake plant/silk flower girl, I have NO problem busting out some silk leaves in the Fall. Once you buy your first bag (or bunch depending on where you go) you will NEVER need leaves again! Also, there is no "real" leaf collecting, no "real" leaf mess and when your kids help you decorate (as mine did) there are no "real" leaves to crunch!

7. Thriving Art. This addition to my "Fall collection" is by far my favorite...and the most cost effective. Since the boys and I do art sessions pretty regularly it is easy to throw in some seasonal projects. This year, using my favorite non-toxic, water based finger paint (which was a phenom investment at Target for $10) we used fall colors to do some hand prints and smears. Once they hung to dry I simply cut them out in the shape of an autumn leaf and boom! Perfect art to add to the gallery!

8. Fall Candle. My Thriving Mommy and I have yet to get around to making an Autumn collection of our DIY candles, so I head to Target for their soy candles in my favorite scents. I can honestly tell you I burn these nonstop and am obsessed with how they make my entire home smell amazing! These are a must have when you do your Fall-fromation for sure!

With my house in FALL swing inside and Halloween showcased outside there is only one thing left to do, enjoy it all and wait for my fourth little man to join in all the autumn fun!

What are your favorite Fall accents to add to your home?

Strive to thrive, 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

How to Prepare for Lying In - A Postpartum Must

The rush of having a new baby is truly euphoric. The transformation of pregnancy, the pure magic in the experience of birth and the incredible emotion that takes over when you hold that sweet baby for the first time. A whole new life for you and baby is beginning.

That new life needs to begin with rest, healing and nourishing your miraculous body for all she has accomplished. Not getting home and throwing in a quick load of laundry before heading to Costco because you are out of milk *ahem, yes, I am talking to you...well myself that is*

Sadly, my last time around looked more like me getting home with a newborn, leaving him with his Daddy and big brothers while I quickly rinsed off the hospital cooties and freshened up my lady parts. and racing to unpack After a nurse session with my sweet baby, I hopped up, cleaned up the house a bit from my two day absence and started making dinner. BIG MISTAKE. Newsflash, you JUST HAD A BABY LIKE 48 HOURS AGO!! YOU NEED TO CHILL THE F OUT.

Thankfully this time around I am ready to apply what I've learned and the use the incredible struggles I faced previously to approach this postpartum recovery differently. I am going to put myself and baby first. The house will be fine if it is not maintained to my OCD/anal standards. The kids will continue to thrive with their Daddy and Maj taking care of their daily needs. The laundry will still get done, the dishes will be washed and everyone, yes everyone will survive. (This is my new mantra. I say it on repeat to calm my anxieties).

When I entered my third trimester, the time came to really develop my postpartum plan of attack. I was so grateful to have been given an amazing resource to help me achieve my new goals. I was also flabbergasted to realize that this "mommy bedroom vacation" I was dreaming up was in fact a legit thing that had been celebrated throughout cultures ,across the world for centuries. How had I missed that?!


My MBV (Mommy Bedroom Vacation) was actually referred to as Lying-In. A time to rest, heal and bond with your newborn. When The First Forty Days was sent to me as a part of my trimesterly Mama's Bump Squad package, it felt like the sky had opened and Earth Mama sent me a gift from Heaven.

Well, that was that! I was ready to start sharing my new found knowledge and preparing for my Lying-In period. I was going to force myself to slow down and was actually looking forward to being able to accept that this needed to happen and I was the one who needed to make it happen.

So, now, how to prepare for this amazing experience...

1. CREATE A PLAN. To make this even easier, Earth Mama provides not only excellent information on the process as a whole, but also has a FREE and easy fillable document that prints into a lovely PDF for you and your support team to reference. Now you have an outline to discuss with your support team and have your goals ready to share!

2. GET YOUR SUPPORT TEAM UP TO DATE ON SAID PLAN. Obviously I knew my husband and Thriving Mommy were going to be the key players, so that was easy to establish. Having a plan for everyone to reference with what I saw for my week of bed rest and slow re-entrance into full mommy-ness made it easy for us to get on the same page. Since my main concern is my three little guys, it was good for me to be able to delegate responsibilities and discuss how I saw each person fulfilling the role I hoped they wouldn't mind assuming for a bit.

3. HOUSE/KID PREP. Channel all that pregnancy nesting into lists, tasks and getting organized for you to be out of commission. My goal is one week, which to me will feel like one year. I can barely handle sitting still for one hour let alone one week, but again, this is about healing...which considering I was up at about only two days after my C-section screams that I have a problem and need to rest. Get the house cleaned, the laundry done, sheets changed, kids foods/snacks restocked, menus made and any and all notes prepared for your team. The last thing you want is to be disrupted 300 times a day asking where the extra goldfish crackers are. Make sure everyone has access to your kid's schedule and that they know what they need/have to do. For example, Tuesday, sports camp. Kids need to be ready to go with athletic attire at 8:50am, snacks and water packed for after. Dude needs his own ball so he doesn't disrupt the activity... You can never be too prepared, trust.

4. PREPARE YOUR RECOVERY SUITE. Remember that time my husband got a vasectomy and had an amazing, calm, healing recovery suite all to himself for the weekend? Well take that times 1,000 and that is what you should get mommy! I will be staying in our bedroom which is slightly more tricky as the boys will have easy access to me and I will get to hear all their squeals/daily squabbles a they yell throughout the house, but everything is here where I need it. I am not packing bags to move downstairs, way too much.

I did vamp it up a bit, adding an extra bedside table with all my baby/mommy necessities (nipple butter, single manual pump, diapers, booby tubes, iPad, kleenex...the list goes on). I also have my "eating in bed tray" for constant calorie consumption of healing, nourishing foods (my mommy is all over that). I moved the changing table and little baby chair in my room for when I need to stand up for a second and/or take a quick shower. My linens are changed, my room is clean and I am ready to seclude myself into a sanctuary of healing and connecting with my last baby boy.

5. ALLOW IT TO HAPPEN. Now you are ready. You have your plan, you have done the leg work to prepare, you are set up and ready for action. Here comes the hardest part (especially for me), allowing it to happen. Allow yourself to let go of all those constant tugs at your mommy brain and let chaos ensue. Remember, it can and will all be put back again. So what if your kids eat In N Out for a week straight, worse things have happened. You will soon emerge from your recovery suite with a well adjusted, breast feeding champion baby and a stronger, healthier body ready to get your kids back on Spinach and Kale and into clean clothes. It will be alright.

Truly savor this time as it is so important and so necessary. You can do this mommy!

Are you ready to help yourself or a loved one with their lying-in period? What an incredible way for women to support one another through the greatest miracle of all...motherhood!

Don't miss my IGTV episode on the topic too!!

Stive to Thrive, 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

5 of my Favorite Hospital Essentials

It's time to get ready to welcome Richie!! We are two weeks out and thankfully we are packed and loaded. Game time here we come!

I am a proud over packer and feel no shame appearing as though I might be moving wherever I go. I HATE needing something, so I make sure to take everything. Even if I don't use it all, at least I have it...just in case.

The hospital is no different, I do not want to nee something that I hesitated to pack. I know this, I plan for this and I am always happy I overpacked because I rarely want for anything...aside from a cool glass of rosé. Just kidding. Kind of.

But in reality, aside from all the cozy clothes, all the fresh linens I bring from home and all the other millions of items I can't live without, these 5 essentials I would never forget!

PS, I did not include my best friend/barf bowl on this list, but please know she is by far NUMBER 1.

1. SWEET/SASSY ROBE. Those first pictures with that fresh baby can go one of two ways. You can look like a hot tired mess who just went through the marathon of birth. OR you can look like a hot tired mess who just went through the marathon of birth...but has a great robe on. I choose the second option. Since I birth in only a bralette (if that), what I put on for those first few pictures (aside from blending the sweat into my hair and applying some fresh chapstick) is muy importante. I always opt for something that is A. Comfortable and B. Photo worthy, which for me, usually means florals. It is like an instant "freshen" and photo ready move to make...way cuter than any gross hospital gown in my opinion.


2. SLIPPERS. Cooties are gross. Hospital cooties are the grossest. I keep my slippers right at next to that bed and slip them on and off for my bathroom trips. Clean feet = clean bed = happy mommy. I like my toes free and these floral cuties (with bow of course) are light weight, easy to fold/pack as needed and after a good wash can be re-worn once you get home.

 3. 40 BLINKS EYE MASK. Now this is not just a hospital favorite for me, but a life favorite. However, in the case of my hospital trip, it is great to block out stimuli during labor AND great to wear after when you want to send those sweet nurses a hard message to please, kindly F off and let you sleep in peace and darkness. Lash friendly, great price and wonderful when you want to "black out" and relax.

 4. EARTH MAMA PERINEAL BALM. Birth does quite a little number on your lady parts, as it should. I mean a human AND self created organ are leaving your body, so obvi it's going to be a little swollen for a bit. Thankfully, that magic vag muscle goes back, but while you wait for that to happen, why not alleviate some of that discomfort. This balm (you can get the spray is like a spa day for down unda) makes it allllll better while nature takes its healing course. 

5.  EARTH MAMA NIPPLE BUTTER. Those of us who have breastfed in the past know that those first few weeks can be absolute torture!! Turning those nipples into leather is no easy feat and I am thrilled to be using this nipple butter yet again to make the process not so absolutely, positively miserable. Best of all it is not only super safe for mommy but baby too! No more having to wipe off raw nipples coated in lanolin while the baby goes back for seconds, thirds and pretty much sucks around the clock. Earth Mama does it again as always!

While I could continue this list forever, I will spare you and let you watch the details unfold on InstaTV. Season 1, Episode 3 in the Birth-y series is ready to be watched my Thrivers! Enjoy!

Strive to thrive, 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

6 Ways to Prepare for a Thriving VBAC

I am very open and honest about my first birth experience and how it was NOT at all what I wanted, prepared or planned for. While I knew that "special circumstances" could arise (especially with twins) and had said the affirmation over and over, I still hoped I wouldn't have go through a C-section, but I did.

Thankfully, with Dude, I was dedicated to making all my birth dreams come true. Starting with of course, him coming out of my lady parts. And that is exactly what he did. He was my birth dream come true (in terms of goals. Trust, it was no walk on the beach...unless your version of the beach is a lot of vomit). I successfully had the unmedicated VBAC I had set out to achieve.

What is a VBAC you ask?

VBAC stands for Vaginal Birth After Cesarean. While I thought this was no big thang, I was in fact quite wrong. Maybe this was because whenever I talked about my next birth being totally different people "seemed" supportive. Maybe it was because I had laser-beam focus and was so committed to a natural, vaginal birth that I didn't realize that people weren't all that supportive. Whatever it was, it was not an easy task to find a doctor to take me on the first time around.

I had reached out to a number of local doctors and was denied by all of them, apparently having a VBAC was not an option in my "rural" community.

I was incredibly upset and thankfully had a locked and loaded birth guru in my corner 24/7, my doula and TW Nic. She hooked me up with some resources to check out (first on the list, ICAN, International Cesarean Awareness Network.) and I eventually found the doctor of my dreams, only a short drive away in San Diego. 

After successfully having Dude, I figured I would be like any other pregnant chick and no one would look at me twice when I said I was GOING to have my baby vaginally. Nooooot so much.

I again found myself fighting for the right to birth the baby inside MY body how I wanted. I gave a local doctor a good run in an effort to make it easier on myself and my boys (the appointments in San Diego can be tricky with so many kids not to mention my husband's panic about the hospital being nearly an hour away), but halfway through my pregnancy I realized that it was far more important to be supported unconditionally and went back with my AMAZING Dr. Cap.

So while I am ready for this guy to make his smooth, easy exit from my body in a few short weeks, I also know that not everyone is as lucky as I am when it comes to finding a match to support you and your wishes for birth.

With that said...

Here are my suggestions on how to best prepare for a VBAC - 
  • Educate Yourself. Apparently there are some safety concerns surrounding VBACs (this was news to me of course), like uterine rupture. Well, the research indicates that the possibility of that is less than 1%. A risk I am more than willing to take. However, not all women feel the same which is of course understandable. But, take the time to educate yourself with evidence based research and make sure you are confident moving forward in whatever path you choose for you and your baby. 
  • Take Classes. As a second time around mommy, I assumed I didn't need any classes besides a little HypnoBirthing refresher. Well, I was wrong. Not only did I freshen up on my Hypno skills but I also took an amazing class designed for VBAC moms. Not only was the class incredibly therapeutic as we connected and shared our stories, but it provided more information to boost my confidence levels even higher. I also took a Labor Comfort Measures class which allowed my TH and I to re-create what we saw for our next experience. The Birth Education Center of San Diego was an excellent resource and Care is an absolute dream!! Now that I am going in again, I didn't take the classes and more centered my mind around what was going to happen and refreshed some of my Hypno skills. 
  • Release. I still have some negative memories with the twins birth (back labor nightmare) that sometimes haunts me, but I have to let it go. I try and focus on all the positive things that happened during Dude's labor and imagine that it will be the same...but faster! And he was FAST!
  • Create A New Experience. I am now sending energy to my new experience. I see myself starting to feel surges and welcome them calmly. I let my family know it is time to go, kiss the boys and slowly walk to the car. We make an easy drive to the hospital, I get checked in, relax into my body and my baby...and two minutes later I am engaging in my favorite part of the whole experience...breathing him out and feeling him leave my body along with my purple leg syndrome...
  • Find Support. Every pregnancy is different and every mother requires a different level of support. Since I had found a doctor who I trusted completely I knew the only other birth support person I needed besides my TH was a doula. My doula, Nic. I cannot recommend a doula enough. Granted, I am lucky enough to have a doula wrapped in a bestie, but this service is truly one I wouldn't want to be without. Having someone there to help not only you, but also your partner is huge. Whatever support you feel you need, you should get. It is well worth the investment.
  • Get excited. Every birth is different and should be treated as such. For those of us who desperately want a VBAC (or a second one), this is the time to get super excited. I know I can do this, I've done it before. I know things may arise, but I am choosing to send energy to a smooth/easy birth...did I mention fast too?

Whether or not you want to be a repeat cesarean mommy, have a VBAC or pretend the baby will never come out and do nothing to prepare, just make sure the choice is yours. There is no wrong way to bring a baby from a loving womb into a loving mommy's arms. From my experience, I never want anyone to feel the self-doubt, despair and confusion I did before having Dude. I refused to accept someone telling me what was best for me and my baby.  Remember to trust your body, your instincts and follow your gut. We are strong, powerful Thriving Women who have been given the gift of co-creating, sustaining and delivering HUMAN LIFE. I mean, is there anything more freaking cool than that?! I think not. 

I look forward to sharing my birth story in the upcoming weeks as I welcome my last sweet baby boy. I am hoping to help other Thriving Mommies take another look at their birth choices and find the strength I momentarily lost...then got back ten fold when I made that VBAC my b*%@#.

*Here are some additional resources that I found helpful and empowering**

Strive to thrive, 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

My 5 Favorite Labels...So Far.

Despite my personal passion for all things organized, now that I am a big time business lady, I feel even more entitled to buy allllll the supplies.

Especially indulging in my love of labels.

While Washi Tape still holds a huge place in my heart, I have been going nuts-so with my Amazon account as of late and don't show signs of slowing down. These five have been getting purchased and re-purchased as I attempt to label EVERYTHING in not only my home but also, in the different projects I take on for clients.

So, go ahead, treat yo'self and start a label collection of your own...all you have to do is click on the picture and BUY!!

1. CLEAR WITH GOLD BORDER. These are probably my most favorite. They create a clean, basic look with just a touch of sass (thank you gold) and are still oh so subtle. Great for pretty much everything that you want to label but maybe not scream, "HEY, THIS HAS A LABEL ON IT!!!" They are super easy to take on and off leaving no sticky residue..and heck, they even come with a pen!! L.O.V.E.

2. THE "SEE ME".  Same distributor, same inclusion of a great pen, different look. Still love these for the design, but I tend to use these more on things I want to REALLY notice. You know, like toys and stuff little ones need to learn to identify. These also add a great pop to a clear storage bin that is loaded up so you don't miss what all is in there.

3. THE CHALK LABEL.  These are one-use wonders, but for the price, you won't be mad at it. These are kinda my fave as far as chalk labels are concerned, and I mean, who doesn't love a good chalk label? Also comes with two pens, but I didn't use them as I prefer a thinner one myself. Same sassy designs and great for anything/everything!

4. THE CHALK CLIP. Not all of you (I won't say us since I am excluded from this statement) are in to the whole clear canister thing. I get it. It can be a lot for someone who is not obsessed with organizing or who doesn't have a deep rooted hatred for packaging. So, here, let's meet in the middle-ish. Chalk clips. These are great to get that cereal bag out of that junky old box, keep it fresh and also write what it know, like "Red Berries"... if you're in my house. You can also clip these on to thin bins to mark what is inside, and again, lose some of that junky packaging. If it too makes you cray.
5. THE CHALK TAG. Again with the chalk, I know, but it's just so great! I use these to label all the baskets that hide everything. You know, your wicker lovers in the house. The baskets you can put stuff in and easily forget since you can't see it. Too thick for a clip, means a tag is in order. Label it, tie it on and #boom, you are looking fresh, clean and organized!

And there you have it! My FIVE most ordered labels to date. Looking super forward to my next obsession as I continue on my journey of Organizing Specialist...well, and I guess just being anal ole' me!

Strive to thrive,