Thursday

Our Decision To Use A Doula


I was over halfway through my pregnancy when I traveled for work to Vermont to visit a client. My contact there is a female that I'm close enough to that we can work hard during the day together and then kick back in the evenings over dinner and have "real talk."

Since she is a mother herself, a lot of our conversation this past trip revolved around pregnancy and childbirth. I was so interested to hear about her experience, which included the use of a doula. I was somewhat familiar with the concept but spent a good amount of time researching doulas and reaching out to some local ones in Charlotte.

Here's why we ended up choosing to use a doula:

+ We were complete amateurs. First time parents with no births attended, ever. We loved the idea of the hand-holding we would get through a process that can frankly be overwhelming.

+ We loved the statistics: evidence-based research shows that doula-attended births are shorter, have fewer complications, are associated with more positive birth experiences, and reduce the risk of emergency c-sections, forceps, vaccuums, etc.

+ I wasn't closed to the idea of a medication-free birth, and I knew the use of a doula could be extra helpful in laboring unmedicated. I truly believe that most hospital nursing staff can also provide great support, but in my own time of laboring, there were several times that the nurses needed to be tending to other patients. Our doula was always by my side. Seriously, I don't even think I saw her take a break; she was amazing. I did end up choosing an epidural but only after dealing with extremely strong and quick contractions for about 7 hours, and she got me through all of that pre-epidural laboring.

+ We had various family members coming in for the birth and our doula was a great help in managing everyone's expectations and being a source of support to everyone.

+ I wanted to feel that my husband was my biggest cheerleader through the birth, and our doula helped coach him with how to best support me and my needs.

+ Lastly, I loved the "old school" concept of having a female who is very experienced with births to be my side, someone who had seen it all and could bring a wealth of information to the process. Someone who was my advocate.


In my personal experience, our hospital worked seamlessly with our doula. They did not seem put off at all that we had her in the room with us, but I think this is also due 100% to her wonderful attitude and teamwork approach. She has a gentle but firm personality and never overstepped her boundaries. She worked with me before our due date to lay out my "birth preferences list" which is like a birth plan but a lot more flexible to account for changes that may need to occur for the baby's safety or my safety.

Additionally, she was an incredible source of education and support to me while I was approaching my due date and then in the nine days past that date that we went before meeting our daughter. She and I texted or spoke on the phone daily. She helped me with preparing for the birth and the labor -- everything from what to pack in my hospital bag to what sort of really strange labor signs I could look out for. She brought to the table helpful ideas to move us in the direction of having our baby, and most importantly, she kept my spirits up. 

She helped me through a morning of cod liver oil to induce the birth, but that's a story for another day :)

While I labored overnight without my family members there, she held my hand, stroked my hair, put a cold washcloth on my forehead, pushed my hips together, rolled tennis balls on my back and massaged my shoulders -- which allowed my husband to sleep and get rested for the huge day ahead of us where I would really need his help. In the morning, we three walked the halls of the hospital together. I don't know if I would have made it out of the bed for a walk without her encouraging us to do so.

Hiring a doula is an added expense that is often not covered by insurance plans, but my husband and I are both in total agreement that it was money very well spent. Our doula has a special place in our hearts and will always be a part of our lives. She shed tears of joy right next to us as our darling Camille made her way into this world. It was an incredible moment that we had all been waiting for!

If you are in Charlotte, here is the site I used to research doulas: 

Other websites to check out: 

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to leave them in the comments or contact me personally. If you've used a doula, I'd love to hear about your experience.

Feel free to Pin the below image if you feel that this information could be helpful to you in the future!


Pin It!

Wednesday

Our New Outdoor Rug

Our old outdoor rug kicked the bucket, HARD. It went from looking okay to looking absolutely heinous in a blink of an eye. Ian begged me to shop for a new rug ... um, you don't have to ask me twice.

Large rugs can get costly, but I was thrilled to find a major sale going on at World Market. We scored this green and blue tassel rug for $150, and it's 8x10. You can find it online here.


We already had the umbrella from World Market, so it coordinates really nicely.

When I first ordered the rug, I received a notice saying it was backordered, but it still only took a week or so to get it in. I was really impressed with the way it feels -- much softer than our previous rug. My only concern is that it will potentially show dirt easier due to how soft and absorbent it is, so time will tell.


It's also available in yellow, but since we already had a good amount of greens and aquas outside, this color was the perfect fit for us. 


Amazing what a new rug will do for a patio! I love spending a little time out here daily.



I know $150 isn't chump change, but for a rug this size and quality, I think it is an incredible deal. 

Tuesday

Family Time

We've shared some good times recently with Ian's side of the family. They don't live as close to us as my side does, so getting together is a bit more of a challenge. This was the first time that they met Camille, and we loved catching up with all of them.

Our first visit was to the mountains to spend time with Ian's sister, her husband, and our niece and nephew from Cincinatti. They were super excited to meet Camille since it was their first cousin ever!

During the same visit, we also saw Ian's mom and his aunt, uncle and cousin who live in the DC area.







This past weekend, Ian's grandparents came down to Charlotte. His grandmother is 92 years old and she didn't skip a beat when it came to keeping a baby enthralled. Camille was so taken with her! She raised three boys of her own and I'm sure she was a great mom to them. When she saw Camille's rabbit, she started reciting the story of Peter Cottontail to Camille, and Miss Millie was all ears. I was having to hide my teary eyes -- it was such a sweet moment. 






They returned to DC on Sunday and called us to let us know they made it home safely. They are such special people in our lives and I am so thankful that Camille got to meet her very loving great-grandparents.

Saturday

Saturday Sip & Shop XXVI


Sip:
This recipe looks so refreshing for the hot weather. I think thyme is an underused herb.

Blackberry Thyme Sparkler

Blackberry Thyme Sparkler

***

Shop:
Tassel necklaces ... love them. I have two that I wear often, and this one is a stellar price for the look!




Gold-Tone Beaded Y-Shaped Tassel Necklace
$34.50

Friday

Friday Randoms & Affiliate Links Discussion

It's Friday morning, and I'm sitting on the couch drinking a cup of coffee and watching my baby sleep on the video monitor.

Today will be great :)

What's necessary? The coffee. I've been up since 5:30am. It's not as sweet as I would like it to be, but I'm currently tethered to a pump (tmi?) so I'm enjoying it as-is. 

What's not necessary? Watching the baby on the monitor. She's asleep and will likely be for the next half hour or so. Our house is small enough that if she were to wake up, I'd hear her. But she just looks so darn cute on the monitor that I enjoy watching her sleep.

I do have a bit of anxiety about today because the baby has to get several shots. It's her two month appointment and, from what I've read, I think she gets three today. Three shots! I'd scream-cry, too. I am ready to comfort her afterwards with lots of love and snuggles, but I just hate to see her in pain. And I have this fear that since I'll be holding her during the shots, she might think that it's something I'm doing to her. I'll gladly take any advice from anyone who has been in these shoes.

This weekend Camille will meet her great-grandparents (Ian's side). I'm really looking forward to this since they are so special to me. Every day I wish that my own grandparents were still alive to meet Camille. They didn't even get a chance to meet Ian. I do have a pretty amazing story about visiting my grandparents' resting places when I was newly pregnant and something pretty magical happened -- but I'll save that for another day.

Absolutely Fabulous Quotes about Love, Life, God, Strength, Friendship

Hey, I wanted to discuss affiliate links for a bit. If you have a blog yourself, you may be familiar with these, but I know many of you who read here may not have a blog. Affiliate links are links in a blog post that, if you click on them and make a purchase, pay a certain percentage back to the blog writer. In many cases, we are talking about a very small percentage. A finders fee, if you will, from the company to the blogger who "made the introduction." If you have ever shared your personal referral link to Groupon or Rue La La with someone, it's basically the same deal (except they pay a LOT more when someone makes a purchase!).

I choose to use affiliate links because what girl doesn't like a way of earning a little side cash? What I earn from something a reader buys is not sending me to Paris ... or to the spa ... or heck, even to the Hair Cuttery. As a blog reader myself, I love supporting other bloggers through their affiliate links. My take on it is this -- if the products cost the same to me whether I purchase directly or through their link, but I can help a friend out in a small way financially, then it's no skin off my nose to use her affiliate link.

Now I'm going to tell you how to recognize an affiliate link on my blog and also tell you about how I use them and do not use them.

If you want to know if something I'm linking to is an affiliate link, you can hover your mouse over the link. If what you see pops up as a link with "rstyle" in it, or if it's a shortened "bit.ly" link, it is an affiliate link. If you see the straight link, however, then it is a normal link to a site. No money involved.

If I'm going to link to a product, I will typically (if I have time) check to see if it is one for which an affiliate link is available. If not, I will still link to it. My goal here with my blog is to share with you my favorite items and wishlist items, regarless of whether I make $0.14 from it if you buy it, too. :)

What you won't see is me just throwing out a bunch of affiliate links I could care less about. Personally, that's just not my style. I want my blog to reflect items I truly own, love, want, need.

Here's where, as a reader and consumer, you maintain the power: you can choose whether to use the affiliate links or not!

Take, for example, my Anthropologie top.


I used an affiliate link when I linked to it above, which you can see with the mouse hover technique. But if you choose not to use that link, that's your right! You could easily go to Anthropologie's site directly.

And for what it's worth, the top is now reduced to $19.95 ... only sizes left however are XS, S, and M. My XS fits true to size (I'm a shorty ... 5'2) but I did read online in the reviews that some people are saying to size down.

So there's the scoop on affiliate links. Baby's waking up now so I'm done. Have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday

Real Talk: Two Months Post-Baby Update

Thank you, Kate Middleton, for showing us that it's incredibly abnormal -- even for a seemingly-perfect duchess -- to leave the hospital looking like you never had a baby.

I still looked pregnant ... about six months pregnant!

Here are some notes from my postpartum experience in the past two months.

 
The First Few Weeks Home
I'd read a lot of advice before giving birth about what the first week or so would be like, and my doula was also a huge help here. She gave me some recommendations about what to bring home from the hospital and what to have on hand. My favorite purchase per her advice was the Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm (online at Walgreens or Drugstore.com). Along with the Dermoplast, Epifoam, and Tucks pads (all brought home from the hospital), this balm really brought relief and repair.


We also asked for a sitz bath before we left the hospital, and Ian used to get it prepared for me at night after the baby went to sleep.

I had a prescription for Lortab but I quit taking it due to the fact that it was hard on my stomach. I did take some regular pain meds that the rounding OB prescribed me (ibuprofin) and kept a time log next to the pill container to ensure that I was taking them regularly.

Ready for the glamorous part? I got a lot of relief by sitting on an ice pack wrapped in a dishtowel.

Yep, I don't miss those days one bit.

Weight Loss and Toning Up
I've mentioned here that I'm back down to my pre-pregnancy weight, but I've also mentioned that my body just isn't the same. My weight is "redistributed" if you will. It brings to mind an image that has always struck a chord with me ... the picture of women who all weigh 154 pounds. I love this photograph because it shows that weight is TRULY just a number on the scale.

All of these women weigh 154 pounds. Just something to keep in mind as every woman carries her weight differently. Stop comparing yourself. Don't focus on a number! Stop trying to look like someone else. Proudly be who YOU are.

With that said, I recently got the all-clear from my MD at my 6-week appointment to resume exercise. I've been taking a few fitness classes each week in order to tone up my tummy. Your stomach muscles experience some pretty incredible changes during those nine months that take lots of time to bring back to normal.

It's not important at all for me to have washboard abs (because it's not like I had them before ... ever). But  I would like to tone up my stomach a little more so that I can feel confident in my pre-pregnancy clothes. And frankly, I love my clothes and don't want to have to go out and purchase an entirely new wardrobe!


I did get comfortable enough to wear a two-piece during our recent beach trip, but my stomach still has a way to go before my pre-pregnancy jeans fit well again. This photo does do the belly justice as I was reclining back. My linea negra on my belly is also still present -- and I love it. Although I know it will fade with time, I actually hope it stays.

Moral of this story: don't think you'll be packing away your maternity clothes shortly after birth. I was still wearing maternity shorts six weeks post-delivery.

Nursing Notes
Nursing is what I attribute weight loss to. I have not made major changes in my diet, although I'm a bit less likely to pull a U-turn into Cook Out for a banana split milkshake these days. Man, those were delicious while they lasted. The weight loss I have experienced is likely from the calorie burn from nursing. I've read that it can burn upwards of 500 calories each day.

A great find for me was Lily Padz (online at Drugstore.com). These were awesome not only for pool days but also for nights when I wanted to wear a comfy, loose nightshirt to bed. Otherwise, you will want to wear something tighter that can accomodate your nursing pads, like a tank with a built-in bra. Two months out and I still can't go without the nursing pads at night -- Lansinoh are my favorites and here on Drugstore.com you can get the best price I've found.

Skin and Hair
I swear my wrinkles significantly decreased when I was pregnant. Well, they are coming back. :) I plan to ask the pediatrician on Friday what sort of over the counter anti-aging products I can use while nursing. Around 7-8 weeks postpartum is when I've started really experiencing hair loss! You'd be amazed how much comes out when I am drying my hair. It's scary.

Wardrobe Needs
The built-in bra tanks I mentioned above? Go ahead and stock up on lots of those ... they are great for sleeping and for daily wear under tees and cardigans when you are breastfeeding. You can get the nursing versions if you'd like, but I personally don't really like for those plastic snap-off hooks to show.

I've always liked wearing all black, but I learned that my black tops were also a great way to conceal the lumps and bumps. Anything too thin or clingy hasn't seen the light of day yet.

Here's what I truly swear by: SHAPEWEAR. I wore shapewear daily not just to smooth everything out, but also in the hopes that it would help my body return to my previous size. Sort of to remind those muscles how they used to be, perhaps. Here is the exact pair I swear by and they are $16. I have the latte color and they worked under everything. I wore these for about the first four weeks until I was comfortable enough to go without them.

+++

So there you have it; my two cents. I'd love to hear from others about their experience. Hopefully this post will be helpful to any of you who plan to have a child at some point. Getting back to a size or shape you are happy with is not an overnight feat; it took a lot of time to put on the weight, and all of those body changes happened for a very important reason. And even if I don't look exactly how I used to, that is OKAY. As long as I feel fit, strong, and healthy, and as long as Camille is happy and healthy herself, we are all good.

Wednesday

The Baby Is Two Months

Two months have gone by in the blink of an eye, and I'm just soaking up as much as I can of you, sweet baby girl.

Within the last eight weeks, we have had a lot of adventures together. Trips to see family, visits from dear friends, and multiple outings around town -- you've handled it all so well and wooed everyone. 

We enjoyed a great weekend trip to the lake, and your Binkie (my mom) decided she was more of a Bunny, so we had a bit of a name change. Per usual, you were completely spoiled by your Bunny, and she even made you a new bonnet using leftover cloth scraps from an Easter dress she made me when I was a little girl myself.


You had a bath in the lakehouse sink, and you were so adorable that Ian and I called your Bunny in to see you. Bunny then called your grandpa (who is still deciding on his name) in because he just had to see cute you. Then he decided that everyone needed to see you. So your Aunt Sarah, Uncle Cameron, Aunt Laura and Uncle T all came in and you had eight people standing in the small bathroom watching how cute you were.


And later, we read the book that always makes me choke on my own tears while reading it, On The Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman.



You attended the baptism of your friend Grayson dressed in a pale yellow vintage Feltman Brothers dress that my mom was given when your Aunt Laura was born. The bonnet you wore was handmade by your Bunny and it's the same one you wore home from the hospital. 

You were so well-behaved and slept through most of the service, even though your dad and I took a seat at the back of the church -- just in case there was a meltdown. You pleasantly surprised us!



You did start losing a good bit of your hair, which I try not to laugh about ... you still look so darn cute. And now, at the end of eight weeks, much of it has returned.



You got to meet your Great Aunt and Great Uncle that live here in Charlotte. They were so impressed with how good and sweet you are!


At the end of the month, we took you to Murrells Inlet, SC, where you had your first toe dip in a pool.


You celebrated your first July 4th with me and some of my Charlotte blog-friends-turned-real-friends. No fireworks for you this year, though!




It's my goal to never see you cry, but that just isn't very practical. It's your only way of speaking with us now. Well, this month has brought a new development ... real people tears! I'm not used to seeing tears come out of your eyes when you cry, but when I do it just pulls on my heartstrings. You also have a killer pouty face that you will sometimes precede your cries with, and I'll do just about anything to make it all better for you.


On a happier note, you are smiling a lot now! Even a few coos and some giggles from time to time. You love sitting in your swing and looking up at the mirror above you, laughing at your own reflection. Also, in this past month there have been a few more fun discoveries. You are grasping things with your fingers now, and your favorite item to grab is my hair. Maybe a mommy haircut is in my future? You have been soothing yourself by sucking on your finger(s), hand, or arm, although you still like your Nuk pacifier. Later you found your tongue, and the other day we witnessed you grasping your toes like a yogi doing Happy Baby.

You attended your first storytime at our local library and slept right through both of the books. Now that I am cleared for exercise, we have also been attending Baby Power Hour where I can work out right next to you in your stroller. When you are a bit older, I can bring a blanket for you to play on right next to me.

We have about three more weeks together before I return to work, and I'm making sure every moment counts. Your dad and I love waking up each morning because, with each passing day, you are becoming even more and more fun and amazing.

Love you, dear baby.

Click here for Camille's one month update

Friday

A (Somewhat Typical?) Day In The Life

Today I am linking up with Leslie at A Blonde Ambition for her Confessional Friday series. Leslie is just so cute and I was so excited to see that she is expecting baby girl #2 this winter. Best wishes to you and your family, Leslie! Such an exciting time.


This week, Leslie challenged us to show a typical day in our lives. I'd already been planning a post like this to document what these maternity leave days have been like (and trust me, no two are ever the same) so here's a glimpse into what this past Tuesday was like for us.

1:30am 
Camille is starting to cry in her crib. This feeding time is really rare for us. Typically, she'll do a long first stretch and sleep from 9pm to about 5:30am, so this is sort of out of the blue. I roll out of bed and somehow land my feet into my slippers, shuffle into the nursery, and feed her with the lights down low.

5:30am
Camille is up again at her normal time for her "early breakfast." We do another nursing session in the rocking chair and then I change her diaper, lay her back in her crib, and swaddle her back in her Miracle Blanket. I'm getting back into bed around 6am.

6:15am
Fifteen minutes later, Ian's up for the day as he has some early cases. He's showered and out of the house by 6:45. After I tell him goodbye, I close my eyes again to try to get some sleep.

6:50am
Five minutes later, Drake barks at me to tell me he needs to go outside. I get him out and then am back in bed around 7am.

7:50am
Camille is up and ready to get the party started for the day. Our current Moms On Call schedule has her eating at 9am, so I'm trying to feel her out and look for hunger signs ... I'm thinking there is no way she will last until 9 and I don't want her to be hungry!

8:00am - 8:30am
Feed Camille and snuggle with her on the couch. We also do tummy time, which she's not too crazy about today. After tummy time, she goes in her swing (this was passed down to us from a friend, and it's her FAVORITE) which is right in the kitchen. I use this time to wash and sterilize my pump parts, get a cup of coffee from the Keurig, and have some watermelon and blueberries for breakfast.





9:15am
Camille is napping in her swing. Her morning nap (according to Moms On Call) should be 10-12, but since she ate earlier, she's asleep earlier. I'm just letting her call the shots at this point, and I'm okay with that. I use this nap time to pump milk for my return to work freezer stash, and then I shower. I skip washing my hair and opt for some dry shampoo ... gotta love those no-wash days. I used to skip shampoo days for the health of my hair, but now I just do it for the time savings. During this morning time I also tidy up around the house, write a blog post, run laundry, and spend some time with Drake.


11:30am
I grab an early lunch while I can. I have leftovers from the fridge -- chicken sausage, coleslaw, and a tomato and mozzarella salad. I read some favorite blogs on my iPad while eating, and watch Camille nap in her swing. This is a long nap for her and I'm attributing it to the fact that she was up at 1:30am.



12:05pm
The baby is awake and it's time for her lunch. I get her fed, changed out of her pajamas, and then we take some fun photos together because she is just looking particularly scrumptious. Afterwards, we rock in the rocking chair and read a book. I love using my Boppy pillow for this time -- I have her sitting on my lap facing outwards and then I put the Boppy around her tummy and sides like a horseshoe. I prop the book on the Boppy so she is held up and can see the pictures (if she chooses to look at it versus the light on the ceiling, her favorite).






2:00pm
I get the baby loaded up in the car and we head to the mall. I have been introduced to an awesome new class at the gym that we can take together on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but since this is a Tuesday (and a hot one), it's time for some good ol' mall walking. I turn on my Map My Run app in the mall parking lot and make a goal to walk 2 miles before we leave.

We return some items for Ian at Belk and drop off a top of Camille's at the monogramming kiosk. I pick up a few foam soaps on 50% off sale for us and my mom at Bath and Body Works and also purchase two new tees for myself. I've been looking for a perfect relaxed-fit shirt to throw on with shorts, and LOFT has them on sale for $8. They are awesome for my post-pregnancy tummy. I pick up one in grey and one in seafoam. (This is the shirt ... I'm going to get one or two more and I have my eye on dandelion and light lobster).

3:00pm 
Camille has her second lunch via bottle in the dressing room of LOFT. Afterwards, we pick up her monogrammed top and I have a little afternoon snack.



4:15pm
We've walked 2.5 miles now around the mall, so we head to the grocery store where we buy dog food, milk, half and half, and two "custom meals" for dinner. We have implemented Takeout Tuesday in our home, which is a huge timesaver. Our grocery store has these custom meals for $6 in the deli, and you can choose one protein entree and two sides. It's the best deal. I got their poached salmon, kale salad, and apple salsa (apples, tomatoes, green onions, and cheese cubes in a vinaigrette).

5:15pm
We are back home and Ian plays with Camille while I put away the groceries and get ready to feed her.





5:30pm
Camille eats, gets burped, and then we snuggle. Later she swings a bit before falling asleep in her swing.

6:15pm
I spend the next hour working on a calligraphy project ... wedding invitations, my favorite!


7:30pm
We move Camille from the swing to the Rock and Play and take her out on the screened porch, where Ian and I eat dinner together at the picnic table. We don't watch television with dinner (as we normally do) which is really nice. We need to do this more often.


8:15pm
Ian's feeding Drake his dinner and getting him outside. Camille's in the bathtub and, towards the end, is not a happy camper. I'm rushing through the last part of her bath so I can get her wrapped in her towel like a delicious little burrito. She gets a new diaper, has her late dinner, I put her pajamas on, and Ian and I watch her mesmerized by the mobile that my friend lent us. She loves the black and white patterns and is cooing with delight. It melts us. Lights are off in her room around 9:00.




9:00pm
Ian and I are positively whooped. He's doing some computer work and I'm returning some emails and looking through Instagram. He discovers that after updating his software on his iPad, a bunch of his work documents are missing. We are both stressing out trying to figure out what happened. I am no help because I never update my software ... for this very reason.


11:00pm
After making a quick batch of overnight oats for the next three days, I head back to bed. Even after vowing that this night would be an early night for us, lights are just now going out. Phew. Exhausted. But happy. :)

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Thanks, Leslie, for giving us a platform to share our days and see how others spend their days. I can't wait to read the other link-ups!
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