August 27, 2015

Hey Mama It's a Giveaway

When you're expecting or if you have a new little darling, the last thing you want to do is add difficult challenges to your everyday life. It's not a secret that pregnancy comes with its fair share of difficulties and so too does breastfeeding. Late nights, cramping and exhaustion are all things you can expect when you're expecting and when you're nursing. With this list of undesirable side effects the goal really should be to make things easier on new and expecting mamas.

I can't promise to make this time in your life a cake walk but I have discovered a product that will make it more delicious and it's specially formulated with great health benefits for new and expecting moms.

What am I talking about?

Hey Mama Teas 

A delicious line of iced teas that will make searching for a refreshing, baby-safe beverage a no brainer.

These amazing teas are made with naturally caffeine-free ingredients and contain 800mcg of Folic Acid. They come in four different flavors and each one is uniquely brewed to offer a different set of pre or postnatal benefits. My personal favorite is Lemon Glow. It is the perfect, refreshing drink to enjoy outside during this hot Georgia summer.

Here's a list of all the flavors and some of their key ingredients.

Prenatal Blends:
  • Minty Morning - made with organic peppermint leaf, organic ginger and organic red roobios tea
  • Lemon Glow - made with organic raspberry leaf, organic nettle and organic red roobios tea
Postnatal Infusions:
  • Raspberry Divine - made with organic red raspberry leaf, organic oat straw and organic blessed thistle
  • Life's a Peach - made with organic fenugreek, organic fennel and organic chamomile
If you're a new or expecting mama or if you're just looking for some new delicious beverages you should check out all the great options from Hey Mama Teas and one of my lucky readers is going to win a four pack sampler, just follow the directions and enter below for your chance to win.

Be Blessed,
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August 18, 2015

Breastfeeding Essentials

It's happenstance that August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month and it also happens to be the month I began breastfeeding again, since it's the month I had my second son!

My first experience nursing was met with several challenges. The greatest of those arose from having a baby in NICU that was initially incapable of eating. He was hooked up to a feeding tube that filled his stomach with the proper nutrients to sustain his health and growth - sometimes that included pumped breast milk fortified with vitamins and sometimes that meant formula. I was therefore forced to rely solely on a pump to stimulate my milk supply and it was incredibly difficult. You see your body naturally responds to the demands your infant places on it to generate the proper amount of milk. While a pump is incredibly helpful after your milk supply is established I would not recommend it as your sole means of releasing milk, especially early on in your pregnancy.

Now that I am a well seasoned breastfeeding professional, I thought I'd share some of my personal breastfeeding essentials. All kidding aside, I should point that I am by no means an expert, all advice you'll find here is based primarily on my own experience.

A Breast Pump 
A breast pump is a great asset to help you save your milk for the future. You can freeze it or you can have your hubby feed baby in the middle of the night and you can have a good night's sleep. If you're a working mama the breast pump allows you to keep up your milk supply even when you're not nursing, just be sure to bring some sort of insulated carrying case so that the milk stays cold until you get home.

Also, most insurance companies now cover the costs (all or partial) of a breast pump - be sure to check your coverage before having your little one. Your insurance company may require a prescription from your doctor, so just mention it to him or her at your next prenatal appointment.

Hey Mama Teas
After nine to ten months of depriving yourself of sushi, lunchmeat and, for some, caffeine - treating yourself to a delicious tea that also helps stimulate milk production is ah-ma-zing! Hey Mama Teas are specially formulated with naturally caffeine free ingredients.

There are four different varieties:

  • Lemon Glow
  • Minty Morning 
  • Raspberry Divine
  • Life's A Peach
The first two are formulated with awesome benefits for pregnant mamas and the second two are perfect for nursing moms but they are all delicious! You can check out their entire line of awesome products here.

Update: Check out my full review of Hey Mama Teas here.

Nursing Pads
For those of you who are new to breastfeeding, leakage is an actual thing. Make sure that you have some nursing pads on hand. I'd recommend wearing them even if you don't think you'll need them. The last thing you want is to be out and about and you have two very prominent wet spots on the front of your shirt (I'm speaking from experience here, just trust me).

Nursing Scarfs
One of the great things about nursing is that you never have to worry about packing a bottle when you leave the house, you're literally a walking food supply for your baby and it's such a beautiful thing. What's even more beautiful is now there are gorgeous accessories that assist you while nursing and also keep you looking fabulous. One of my favorite accessories is a nursing scarf. They look like normal infinity scarfs but they open up so that you can cover yourself and baby when you nurse. They're especially perfect when you want to spend an afternoon picking out cute new baby clothes and you don't want to be confined to a public bathroom or your car to nurse.

Whether you have a baby or not scarves like the ones offered by Kismet Love Collection are perfect for every stage of baby.

Nursing/Teething Necklaces
If you follow me on Instagram then you know I LOVE nursing necklaces/teething necklaces. I wore them while I was pregnant and my toddler loved to play with them. Now that I'm nursing I wear them so my little guy has something that will stimulate him while he eats so he doesn't fall asleep. Just like the nursing scarfs they look great whether you have littles or not! I buy all my necklaces from Wee Kings because they are affordably priced and very high quality. Plus each necklace comes with a pair of matching earrings and who doesn't love that?!?!

Burp Cloths
You may have to deal with a little spit up when you burp baby or some milk dripage or you may just need to wipe your brow - no matter the reason you really can't have enough burp cloths on hand. I used them most often by tucking them into my nursing bra so that if the baby drools or if I drip I don't get it all over my clothes. If you don't have a beautiful Kismet Love Collection scarf then you can use a burp cloth to cover up as well.

Nursing Bra
When your little one is hungry you don't want to be fumbling around with your bra. Nursing bras provide you with the support you need from a regular bra and they also give you easier access to accommodate you and your little one when they're hangry. I found some great options (in larger sizes) at BuyBuy Baby, here's a link if you're looking for some great options.

A Comfy Chair 
Breastfed babies are harder to put on a schedule so chances are you'll be up more often cuddling and feeding your little. You want to have a comfortable place to relax and nurse. A comfy chair in a well lit area is a breastfeeding essential. I like to keep a small table next to mine so I can set up my breast pump, place my Hey Mama Tea or put my phone or kindle.

These are just some of my favorite breastfeeding essentials but the list is by no means inclusive of all necessities.

Do you have any breastfeeding essentials for nursing your little(s)?

Be Blessed,
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August 12, 2015

An Answered Prayer

I don't want to waste any time introducing my new beautiful baby boy, A.J.

He was born on August 1st under a full moon - a blue moon to be exact. Every breath he takes is a blessing.

Over the last week and a half I needed to take some time with family and friends to celebrate our new bundle of joy and while I haven't necessarily been posting on the blog that's not because I haven't been writing.

A.J. is now 12 days old but these words that I wrote a week ago could not be any more true now:

I'm wide awake and it's 4am. Every sound inside and outside the house is muted except for the steady hum of crickets and the soft inhale and exhale of the house's occupants. The world is asleep but you my beautiful boy are staring at me with your big round eyes. You're just five days old and it's hard to believe how much I already love you. You have runaway with my heart.

Your eyes are searching for something. I think you're looking right at me but I know you can only see  remnants of light and color; although I'm convinced when you stare in my direction that you know it's me and that I'm your mama. I have such a connection to you. When you cry I have a physical reaction. When I see your big brother love on you and kiss your head I'm sure my heart quite literally skips a beat (or two). 

The two of you are my tiny humans. The fruit of my loins and my life's greatest work. I have so much planned for you both and I have so many expectations but in my heart of hearts I'm most excited about you breaking through those expectations and you living your own unique life. I'm just so privileged that I get to bear witness to all the opportunities in front of you. You can't even walk yet let alone hold up your own neck but your impact on the world is immeasurable. The ripple effects of love that are shooting out from our home have to be felt by neighbors and loved ones alike. 

Your tiny body offers a beacon of hope that with each new life lies exponential opportunity for an incredible future. Life is so simple in your unfiltered eyes - you love those that care for you, without inhibition or reserve. You allow others to help you when you're in need without pride. You except things as they are without question and see things in their current state not in a life perpetuated by a list of cause and effects that have brought you to this point. 

I have so much to teach you and even more to learn from you but it's only day five. So for now we can rock back and forth to the hum of crickets and appreciate these early morning moments when you and I dream of conquering the world.  

Be Blessed,
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July 31, 2015

Look at Them Legs

I just tried the Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs in Light and I loved the results! It only took minutes to apply and the results were instant. 

The Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs - Leg Makeup was so easy to add to my very pale legs that I was able to do it while watching my little guy play outside! 

It has the consistency of a foundation but it's meant to be used specifically for legs and feet. Like most self tanners you need to apply it sparingly to your knees and ankles and you have to allow it to set before putting on your clothes. It also leaves a colored residue on your hands but it's really easy to wash off with a little soap and water. 

Before (left) and after (right). I'm obviously very fair but I thought the leg makeup did a great job smoothing out my skin tone and giving me a natural looking color.

P.S. Please don't mind my swollen ankles and legs I'm 38+ weeks pregnant so my whole body is swollen. 

Do you use self tanner or leg makeup? If so what's your favorite?

I received this product free from Influenster for testing purposes - all opinions are 100% my own. ‪#‎AirbrushPerfectLegs‬

Be Blessed,
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July 28, 2015

Highs and Lows and a Hospital Stay

Another sleepless night means more time to jot down all the craziness that keeps running through my mind. It's hard to believe that we are literally days away from meeting our baby boy. If I don't have this baby naturally we are being induced on August 5th - a week from tomorrow!

As labor approaches I seem to be so up and down emotionally. My hormones are out of control, I'm so excited to meet our little boy and I'm overly anxious about the delivery process.

Let me start by saying that I've been really nervous about going into labor with baby #2. If I learned anything the first time around it was that the circumstances of pregnancy - labor and delivery especially - are almost completely outside of my control. Things happen just as God plans them whether my birth plan aligns with the plan or not, is really up to him. Which is why my birth plan is pretty simple:
  • Have a healthy baby
  • Keep things as stress-free, healthy and safe as possible 
  • Go full-term (37 weeks) 
  • Be open with our toddler about the changes happening to our family
  • Get an epidural 
  • Don't have the baby on the side of the interstate
It's not a complicated list. In fact I've already accomplished many of the items I was hoping to fulfill. But the thought of having this baby on the side of the interstate during Atlanta rush-hour traffic, is keeping me up at night.

Last week I was so nervous when I started having contractions. I followed all the protocol and called the doctor who requested that I come into the hospital. After the late night drive, I was hooked up to monitors that confirmed the contractions were real - I had a nurse tell me I was dilated but not enough to be considered in active labor. They were going to observe me for three hours and if the contractions continued, or if I continued to dilate, they would keep me longer. Well after a quick check three hours later they confirmed that both things had occurred. So they gave me some pain medication, put me to sleep and told me if the contractions or dilation continued it would be considered active labor, otherwise I would be going home. I was still a ball of nerves - I just didn't want to hear that all this was for false labor.

When I woke up the next morning, they confirmed that the contractions had almost completely stopped but I was continuing to dilate. That was the news we needed to confirm that, "this was it" and they said that we'd be heading home with a baby. Meaning baby boy was on his way! All the nerves I had about false labor disappeared and I was instantly overwhelmed with excitement. It wasn't long after that when the doctor came in and my anxiety was back. He confirmed that my contractions and dilation just weren't adding up and it was actually false labor. I went from high to low in a matter of moments. We packed up and headed home - no baby - this mama was sad.

Three days later the same thing happened but this time after being admitted and getting the pain medication my husband and I decided we'd spend the night in our own bed instead of in the hospital. False alarm #2 and still no baby.

Now I'm gun shy. I've had contractions on and off for days but I don't want to go to the hospital unless I know for sure that the third time is the charm. I know that God works in his own, perfect time and I have to be open to his plan so I'm praying for patience with each passing day. I know that this baby is coming soon but the waiting is driving me crazy.

At this point I will likely be out of commission for a bit, at least until baby arrives, but feel free to follow along on our journey via Instagram.

Also, for all you bloggers make sure to take advantage of my buy one get one free ad sale. Up until baby, any sponsorship ad you purchase will be doubled - meaning you'll get two months for the price of one! Check out all my sponsorship options here.

Be Blessed,
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July 20, 2015

Pregnancy Advice from Strangers

Unsolicited advice runneth over where weddings, pregnancies or children are concerned. With a growing belly people are more and more inclined to share their experiences and expertise on childbirth and rearing. I've been stopped at the grocery store, the mall and even the gas station all so that strangers can sprinkle me with their little bits of pregnancy wisdom. Surprisingly, the advice is not just from women but men are also getting in on the action.

Instead of hoarding these golden nuggets of wisdom I  thought it was only kind of me to share some of this advice with you - hopefully it will make you laugh - if not provide some actual insight.

"Get an epidural. Seriously." 
- said the male the gas attendant at Costco

"Don't drive yourself to the hospital, just call 911." 
- said the female insurance adjuster that inspected my car

"Make sure to send your baby to school." 
- said the male the restaurant owner at one of my favorite ethnic restaurants

"Sleep now." 
- said the female nail tech while I was getting my pedicure

"Enjoy your growing belly." 
- said the female shopper at our local grocery store

"Now's the time to eat more ice cream." 
- said the female attendant at the chiropractor

"Stay inside - it's too hot out there." 
- said the male technician who was changing my oil

"Don't forget about your other little one once that one arrives (pointing to my belly)." 
- said the male kid's train conductor at the mall

"You're going to pop at the next full moon." 
- said the female conducting the animal adoptions at the pet store

"If you want to go into labor do it the natural way. You know the three letter word, S-E-X." 
- said my male chiropractor

I can't tell you the number of internal eye rolls or sarcastic responses I've wanted to spew back to these advice givers but luckily I'm able to hold my tongue most of the time. But since this is a safe space I will qualify the following:
  • Epidural - yes please! I have nothing against a natural birth but if I have the choice I'm taking the pain blocker. 
  • I drove myself to the hospital last time and while I don't plan on doing that again - I certainly don't plan on calling 911.
  • Yes, I plan on sending both my children to school - this was really never a question.
  • What do you mean, "sleep now?" I'm writing this at 5 a.m. because I've been riddled with insomnia. I'm convinced nature has a way of slowly depleting your sleep while pregnant so that you're more prepared for the late night feedings after baby arrives. 
  • I do enjoy my growing belly, sometimes - not at much as I should honestly. This is something I'm trying to embrace but the additional weight can be a lot to handle at times, especially when I can't tie my own shoes.
  • I eat A LOT of ice cream - it's embarrassing how much ice cream I've eaten inhaled over the last couple months. 
  • I heart air conditioning but I do try to take my son outside when it's not raining or too hot.
  • How could I possibly forget about one of my children? I adore my oldest and he is going to be such a big helper and a great big brother. One of the things I'm looking forward to most with baby #2 is introducing my boys to one another. I could NEVER forget any of my littles, they are my heart. 
  • I sincerely hope no "popping" occurs but if a full moon prompts me to meet this little guy, I'm all for it.
  • Thanks for the spelling lesson I always thought "sex" had an extra letter - maybe a silent "e" at the end - anyone else?
I'm just weeks (maybe days) away from having this little guy - I'd love to know if you have any advice.

Be Blessed,
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