Delilah Dior Dominica
A woman's journey exploring her passion for Faith, fashion and travel.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Diastasis Recti

At my final postpartum check I explained I was having significantly more back pain than my usual herniated disc related pain and somehow felt my workouts were making me look pregnant rather than fit. My midwife had me lay on my back and felt around my abdomen and told me I have a significant separation at 2+ inches apart called Diastasis Recti.  I learned this is what "mom pooch" is- abs muscles separated and literally creating a bulge of tissue between them. I was healthy and active during my pregnany, but I had no idea many of the exercises I was doing actually made me more susceptible to abdominal separation after I had the baby. The most likely cause in my situation, however, was getting pregnant after having my first baby before my abdominal muscles had time to heal and fully come back together. 

Every postpartum exercise I had been doing was on the no-no list (like push, ups, burpees, planks and such) and I am re-learning how to exercise, stand, carry my babies and sit in hopes of bringing them as close as possible before the next pregnancy.  I'm bummed to say the least, but this is my reality. To be honest, my most whiny inner self is just really frustrated about not being able to do what I want to do. I like to lift heavy. I like to sprint. I like throwing weight around. I've always had to be cautious with my back but in these past three years of growing and nursing babies have been such a challenge for my physical make up. 

I've gained about 40lbs with both pregnancies and while I'm a few pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight, I just knew something was off with my core. Thankfully I have a dear friend who had twins and was pregnant again when they were just 8 months old. She also has Diastasis Recti and has given me hope as well as advice for maintaining healing. So, Who shares this same struggle with me? What physical therapy/exercise/stretches do you find helpful? How did you close the gap? I know the only way to permanently close it is plastic surgery but that is strictly after the last baby and frankly, at 26 years old I just want to be strong without waiting for the growing babies season of my life to be over to walk in confidence. Please share your story with me!  

Monday, December 12, 2016

Postpartum Essentials

Now that our sweet Kaya girl is three months old, I officially feel like I'm out of the postpartum phase. Obviously I won't be completely back to normal for about six-nine more months but I am so much more my usual self. I have been pregnant or nursing since the Spring of 2014 so it's been a long time since I haven't had to think about how what I do, wear or apply affects my babies.

Those first few weeks postpartum are such a crazy, overwhelming, blissful, beautiful and hideous time. Learning how to care for a new baby while learning how to care for your new body is a challenge like none other. Couple that with the unpredictable hormone high and lows and you've got a recipe for potential disaster. I was fortunate to have a much quicker recovery with baby number two than I had with my firstborn and I attribute the ease and joy of this postpartum period to these items (...and no third degree tear. and Jesus.)

1. Hydroflask
Water is so essential for postpartum recovery and especially for breastfeeding. As nursing mamas, our milk supply is a direct reflection of our water intake but ever since my first pregnancy I can only stomach ice cold water. I can put ice cold water in my bottle at bedtime and when I wake up, it’s the exact same temperature. Magic. I’m a huge water guzzler as it is and this 60oz water bottle keeps me in check every day. I try to drink at least two daily, but my goal is three. 

2. Natural Skin Care
As I mentioned before, I have been sharing my body for nearly three years and I always do my best to be conscious of that. This means sticking to a natural skincare regime as best I can. Something like this charcoal soap bar is gentle yet powerful and will get the job done while nursing.

3. Honest Diaper Bag backpack
I love my Louis Vuitton Never-Full and Marc Jacobs diaper bag but having a toddler and newborn to lug things around for was a bit of a game changer. As usual, Honest seems to have thought of everything with this bag. Chasing after a toddler makes a backpack pretty essential and the amount of pockets makes packing the large amount of new baby must haves organized. Bonus: one of the zipper compartments is insulated for keeping snacks (string cheese in our case) cool. 

4. Milk Snob nursing cover
Oh man. Sometimes I feel bad for the first-time-mom version of myself. I can't even tell you how many times I excused myself from the table/theatre/store/room to go nurse in the hallway/bathroom stall/dressing room. I was so willing to make myself incredibly uncomfortable in exchange for making people more comfortable. Turns out, most people don't care at all that you're nursing. As a matter of fact, most people hardly even NOTICE I'm nursing half the time. Sneaking away to nurse in a too-small bathroom stall just isn't an option with a toddler but I do try to be as modest as possible. Enter the Milk Snob nursing cover. I love that this isn't an apron style so it is full coverage making it easy to walk around and nurse with no discomfort. It also doubles as a perfect carseat cover to block out light and people who want to touch your baby's hands in those first weeks. (Why, people? Please don't be that person.) 

5. Exfoliating scrub
Breastfeeding is drying. So drying. I find my skin and scalp so dry in the first months of nursing until my body and hormones adjust a bit. Using an all-natural scrub at least once a week helps bring back the glow and hydration of my skin.

6. Dark colored lightweight robe
Nothing feels better than that first week after baby than pajamas or a robe. I recommend a dark color for obvious reasons and a lightweight jersey because all the hormones=all the sweat.

7. Vegan Protein Powder
It's just plain hard to stay in great nutrition after having a baby. You are exhausted and normally anything that is quick and easy will pass as your meal. I make an effort to have one protein shake a day to ensure I'm getting the nutrients my baby, and my body, need. Keogena struggles with reflux so I have been dairy free for the past month and will continue until she is well into eating solids to ensure she's as comfortable as possible. Thankfully, there are many dairy-free and fully vegan options in the protein powder world. 

8. Brow Pencil
Maybe it's just me, but If I were stuck on a desert island and could only bring five items, a brow pencil would make the list. It's all I need to feel put together and makes all the difference in those early postpartum weeks when no makeup and glasses are in constant rotation. 

9. Essential Oils
Essential oils are something I became passionate about during my first pregnancy and the love for them has only grown in each phase of Motherhood, both for my own body and my babies. My favorites for postpartum are OnGuard on the bottoms of my feet to keep from catching toddler colds, Serenity and Balance for fighting those baby blues and general feelings of being overwhelmed, and diffusing Lavender for a comforting scent that makes me feel peaceful. 

10. Slip-on Shoes 
All about the Birkenstocks post-partum.

11. Sitz Bath Spray
My postpartum lady parts situation was pretty wonderful this time around but with an all natural birth, things are bound to be a little sore and I did have a couple stitches. This spray coupled with the mamas bottom rub and some tucks pads for good measure were a magical combination I used religiously the first two weeks

12. Solly Baby Wrap
I cannot say enough good things about this wrap. It is my number one. My VIP. My MVP. It's the very best.  I loved the solly baby wrap the first time around but I didn’t wear Oshiolema often as a newborn (outside of traveling) simply because I didn’t really need to. As a mom of two under two, however, things have changed. I wear Keogena at LEAST once a day. I wear her in the grocery store so Oshiolema can sit in the cart, I wear her to cook dinner since its her witching hour (and her big brother’s too), I wear her when she wants to be bounced but I have too much to do…this little lady loves her wrap and I never tire of having her snuggled on me. Since she won't take a bottle yet, she is with me pretty much 24/7 and I couldn't do it without this thing. 

13. Mother Tucker leggings 
My stomach after labor is just so loose and flabby feeling that anything I can get my hands on to keep things in place counts as a winner in my book. These leggings have such a firm, tightening waistband that I preferred them over any other garment. A long flow top with these leggings stood as my wardrobe for the first month. 

Not pictured but extremely important are:

Placenta Pills:

Probably my number one essential Postpartum item. I am a big believer in all the benefits of soaking up all the nutrients from our placenta after birth. I genuinely noticed a difference when I didn’t take the proper dose or when I forgot the to take my pills in the later weeks after baby. Also, I had such a surge of energy while taking these pills to the point where I actually had to cut back the dose for a couple days! I have chosen the raw encapsulation method for both pregnancies only because I was told it helped with the taste. I have to say, with my first birth I was hesitant to take the pills out of fear of tasting, well, placenta. In both postpartum periods I’ve never tasted a thing which makes life wonderful.
Mothers Milk Tea/More Milk Plus Pills:
These milk increasing methods tend to make Keogena gassy but work immediately if I notice a drop in my milk supply. 
Bravado Nursing Cami:
I have tried many, MANY nursing camis and this one is the most efficient, most comfortable and most flattering in my opinion.
And the most unglamorous but most important items are:
Depends for the first few days ( I know, I know..I thought the same thing you're thinking. But I didn't do this last time but tried it out this time around and was so impressed.)
Always Infinity Pads for weeks 2-4
Peri Bottle for the first couple weeks
Dermoplast is a magic numbing spray that I use overtime I use the restroom until I don't feel the need to anymore.

Most Importantly but probably the most overlooked: REST.
There is such a pressure to rush into busy and fit and recovered as early as possible. Last time I had so much healing to do that rushing wasn't an option. Because I felt so great this time, I made the mistake of working out too soon and caused way more harm than good. Don't set yourself back to reach some impossible (and invisible) standard. Snuggle your baby. Sleep. Eat good food. The laundry, cleaning, gym and anything else can wait. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Warby Parker Winter Arrivals

When Warby Parker, a brand renowned for changing the glasses game, inspired me to review their new Winter collection, I was thrilled. I have been a long-time fan of the brand and somehow never knew they came out with season collections tied to current trends. I am more than impressed with their new specs and can’t wait to get my hand on a few, namely the ‘Louise’ ‘Percey’ and ‘Goodney’ styles. As someone who has been wearing glasses since the Second Grade, I view them as an accessory rather than just necessity. I wear glasses at least three days out of the week so I need them to make a statement but to also be practical.   

If there is one out of the box it-color this season, it’s pink. Shades ranging from nude to dusty rose are popping up everywhere and it’s the trend I most look forward to trying. The Louise glasses fit everything I look for in a pair of glasses. 

Neutral two-toned styles are perfect for Winter and the Percey style fit right in. The shape is a flattering nod to vintage frames while still being modern enough to be taken seriously.

Tortoise frames will never go out of style in my book. The Goodney shape is just too good. Warby Parker nailed the balance of thick and thin with these frames replacing the typical honey-orange tinged shade of typical tortoise with more muted tones in nude shades make these glasses a standout for me. 

Louise image roundup: image via Zimmerman. earrings. shoes.pants.sweater. purse.
Percey image roundup: image via Popsugar. necklace. scarf. boots.sweater.
Goodney image roundup: art via Ethan Cook. hat. watch. sweater. flats.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Welcome, Keogena

Keogena Na'Airah Lynelle Atogwe
7lb  20 1/2"
September 12 2016
one day old

Hi, friends! Our sweet Keogena (Kay-oh-geh-nuh with a hard "g") is one month old and we feel like we've known her for a lifetime. She is the perfect addition to our family and we can't get enough of her newborn snuggles. Now that I know just how fast it goes, I'm savoring every moment of her being this small, snuggly and sleepy. In both of my pregnancies, the thing that most helped me prepare for natural labor was reading positive natural birth stories. I wanted to share mine while it's still fresh to encourage anyone who had a first birth that didn't go as planned that there is hope for the birth of your dreams.

A few days before Oshiolema's first birthday, I stood in my bathroom holding a Clear Blue pregnancy test that read "Pregnant." We were absolutely thrilled, especially since just one week before my husband and I had both just gotten a word from the Lord separately on the same day that our verse for the year was Isaiah 43:19. This verse reads, "For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway in the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland." When we heard those words, we knew He was talking about my next pregnancy and labor. Our first ultrasound revealed a little Lima bean with a flickering heartbeat that stole ours immediately. They declared September 14th the due date and sent us on our way. I had a little extra pep in my step just thinking of how wonderful and dreamy this pregnancy would be. I mean, God had specifically said He was doing a new thing- a new thing in my mind meant "a much easier thing." Oh how wrong I was. This pregnancy was much harder on my body than the first-partially because my body didn't have much recovery time and partially because baby chose to sit extremely low for the entire pregnancy. This left me with alarming vericose veins, swollen discs in my back and round ligament pain rivaling even my worst sports injuries. I had a week long battle with food poisoning cooked up by the devil himself. We had lots of traveling to do and each flight took a serious toll. It was a daily battle to hold tightly to the word the Lord gave us, "behold, I am doing a new thing..." Shouldn't the new thing be a better thing? I often wondered. But I knew that word wasn't written on our heart to trick us or give us false hope. He is faithful to do what He promised. Fast forward seven long months to find a very pregnant mama packing up boxes for a temporary move to Dallas. 

At 35 weeks pregnant I was scrambling to find a midwife, pediatrician and doula in a new city. We didn't have a doula for my first birth and despite my husband being the absolute best birth coach imaginable, we felt we could really use some extra cushion just for added comfort from an expert in natural birth since my ultimate goals were to not have extensive tearing again as well as to shorten labor. Once all those things were in place I felt my whole body exhale. Since Oshiolema was two weeks early and this baby had been perfectly low and in position for labor for weeks already, we were sure I wouldn't make it to 37 weeks. Well we were wrong. My before baby bucket list ended at 37 weeks so each day past it felt like the longest day of all time. My Braxton hicks contractions were nearly as painful as the real thing and kept me on my toes. The day I hit 38 weeks my whole family made the hour and a half drive down to Waco for my baby brothers Baylor game. Within an hour of them leaving, I had my first big contraction. I was had intense cramping, got the chills and became pathetically emotional-bursting into tears when my son gave me a hug and feeling both nostalgic for a time when it was just us with no thought I'd a new baby and so ready to meet our new team member. I called my mom crying to let her know this was it. They left at half time, I let my doula know all that was going on and following her instruction I crawled into bed and kept timing contractions. Strangely enough, they never followed a pattern and after a few hours they stopped altogether. This was my first night of false labor. This pattern repeated every day for the next week leaving me angry, exhausted until finally I just set up camp in self pity. I had the same due date as many friends and one by one, everyone had their baby. By the end I would bitterly let everyone know, "just in case you're wondering, SHE HAD HER BABY TOO." My husband started singing his own rendition of -- "you went and saved the best for last" on a daily basis. (you should go listen to that song. you're welcome.)

her last day in this big ol' pregnant belly

I woke up Sunday September 11th with more energy than usual. We went to church and I found myself sitting through some of the worship because my belly felt heavier than ever. I noticed my contractions coming more frequently than usual but at this point I refused to pay any attention to them. This continued though the rest of the service, through oshiolema's time at the playground and through the afternoon and evening football games. Oshiomogho noticed a change in me and started timing contractions, finding they were perfectly ten minutes apart. They grew a bit stronger but stayed about the same time frame apart. Since my water broke well before I was in real labor last pregnancy, I was struggling to know how I would "know" this was really it. I didn't believe I was in labor, but all the signs were there and thankfully, Oshiomogho was more in tune with me than I was. He told me to get in bed and try to rest through them as he continued to time each one and comfort me with the labor techniques we learned last time around. After a couple hours I simply couldn't rest anymore and each contraction, while still manageable, took all my focus and effort to get through. In the next couple hours things got real. I only felt comfortable hunched over and my contractions were steadily four minutes apart. We texted our doula, Signe, and said it was time. 

She arrived an hour later and for whatever reason Oshiolema woke up screaming for Mommy at this point. This is extremely rare and I truly believe babies know when their Momma is in labor. My labor stalled from distraction and I remember feeling so badly for calling Signe and actually started to believe this was another case of false labor (really, Jill?!) I told her she could go rest on the couch and we'd let her know when things picked up again. Thankfully, once he fell back asleep my contractions returned to four minutes apart and quickly progressed to three minutes apart. After one serious "I will have this baby here on the toilet" contraction, Oshiomogho ran to tell Signe things were changing. All she had to do was look at me and hear my sounds through three back to back contractions and she said calmly but sternly "we need to get in the car." We woke my mom up to give her the baby monitor and the address to the birth center to bring Oshiolema the next day and for some reason it didn't feel real until that moment. We were having our baby and our first baby was going to become a big brother. Oshiomogho finished packing the birth bags that had been packed (and mocking me for a month at this point) and we were off. 

I have to admit, I was terrified to get in the car. My contractions were incredibly intense and only about two positions made them feel manageable. Unsurprisingly, in Gods sweetness and tenderness, I didn't have a single contraction for the 20 minute drive to the birth center. We listened to worship loudly, talked and laughed...and the moment we arrived at 3:30am my contractions resumed. My sister Brooke and her husband Matthew met us there which was so sweet. Matthew stayed downstairs and rested on the couches and Brooke was in the room the whole time, helping and supporting like a champ. I labored for an hour or so, and just like last time the only thing that would get me through each contraction was visualizing my body opening, doing the deep belly breathing I'd practiced the whole pregnancy and tuning out everything but my breath. Finally, it was time to get in the tub. I labored in the tub for my last birth but because I got in too early, labor stalled heavily and I had to get out. This the, I was set on a water birth and had been looking forward to that warm tub since the moment I realized this was really labor. My youngest sister, Becky, had been waiting for "the call" since she moved back to Waco for school and she started the drive back up to Dallas immediately when she got the news. She arrived about an hour before it was time to push which was so special for all of us. At 6:30, I knew it was time. I was exhausted and nauseous but felt so ready and so strong. A series of the most empowering worship songs came on just at that moment and my husband and I were actually singing and worshipping as I was pushing. The presence of God was so powerful through the entire labor, it was everything I dreamed it would be. At 6:50am after a few long pushes, I felt the greatest relief unlike anything else in the world and as I was catching my breath I heard my husband yell "it's a girl!!!" Everyone was bawling, my heart was soaring and the moment I meet my babies will always be some of the most powerful moments of my life. She had an unusually short cord so I couldn't hold her to my chest for a while, but I rested her in my legs in the water and admired this little lady that shared my body for ten months; partially in disbelief that she was mine and partially feeling like I've known her my whole life. She is breathtaking. I kept repeating "we did it" and "it's over" for the entire time I stayed in that tub. It's so surreal, the birth of your baby. It brings such an abrupt ending to such a long and transformative period of your life and immediately starts a new chapter. The switch from pregnancy to parenting is so fast and such a great picture of the selflessness needed to take this job on. 

I laid there on the bed with my love and my sweet nursing baby and was filled to overflowing with praise and gratitude. The Lord said He was doing a new thing and He meant every breath of that truth. I was laughing uncontrollably, walking around, eating graham crackers and sipping pineapple juice an hour after birth. I was giddy at the thought of how "myself" I felt. All the pain and trays and fear of my first birth washed away. Yes, it is a pain that can't be described. Yes, the ring of fire is real and intense. Yes, pushing a baby out of your body is not something one considers breezy, but now when I think of labor I think of this bliss that followed and I can't help but smile. He is so good. 

One of the best parts of the morning was when my mom brought our sweet boy to the birth center. I made sure daddy was holding Kaya so my arms were free to hold him and in he ran with a little gift bag for "our baby," grinning from ear to ear. He was, of course, a little tornado on the bed pointing out all of her body parts and smothering her in kisses. I'll cherish this moment forever- our first moments as a family of four. He absolutely adores his baby sister, his "Daya," and they're best friends already..she just doesn't know it yet(: My mom spent a few moments with her third grand baby and took Oshiolema home for his nap and believe it or not, after a little snooze for my love and a nursing session for me we headed home as well. We spent a total of seven hours in that sweet birth center. My mom had decorated the house in pink as soon as she heard the news and we knew we wanted to have a little "birthday party" mostly for Oshiolema to celebrate and understand how special the day was. We lit a candle on a cupcake, sang Happy Birth-Day to Kaya and said a little prayer. This day is one of my favorites in my 26 years of life so far, I love my Team. 

Im so thankful to my doula and midwives for helping me prepare my body for the marathon of labor. I'm incredibly thankful to my husband for staying sane for both of us in those last few weeks of pregnancy-being a rock of positivity, compliments, bad jokes and full of faith. He is my forever best friend that I get to make and raise babies just doesn't get any better. And most of all, I'm thankful to the Lord. His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts (Isaiah 55: 8-9) and He knew just what needed to happen in this pregnancy to have the birth I envisioned. I pray in moments of doubt or fear or mistrust that I'd always look back on this day and feel just as loved by the King of Kings as I do now.

I am a bloated, sweaty, puffy, zombie-like mess in this video but it is a treasured possession. Even through the ugliest parts, birth is such a beautiful thing. Without further ado, Keogena Na'Airah Lynette Atogwe. Her name means "Beautiful girl who Seeks the Lord." 

Welcome to the World, Keogena from Jill Atogwe on Vimeo.

Monday, August 1, 2016

If Legs Could Talk

For a huge chunk of my life, people used to look at my legs and say "you must be an athlete." If you were to find a photo of me at age five you would see there is a hint of she-hulk in my blood. I was strong from the start with a six pack rippling through my pink leotard and biceps completely ruining my chances with that third grade crush. Even from a young age I wanted to hide certain body parts, very aware that I didn't look like the girls in the Limited Too catalog. These legs, however, always gave me away. I never got used to them-all sharp angles and bulky muscles and a calf muscle that was one part genetics and two parts hard work. They were the product of years upon years of go. Sprinting and dead lifting and squatting and ladder jumping and bleacher running and blocking and on your mark, get set, go. They stood strong and powerful-yet never quite graceful-through dance and cheerleading. These legs happily put muscle to use in soccer, lacrosse and basketball. They were put to the ultimate test in track and undoubtedly the only part of my body that allowed me to survive a college volleyball career. When my neck gave in, my back quit, my shoulder refused and my wrists caved, my legs only grew stronger. For 24 years of my life, I wished I had legs people would look at and say, "are you a model?" or "how long have you been dancing?" I have spent my time since leaving team sports trying to lengthen and elongate muscles to finally escape the legs that make finding the right skinny jeans something like finding a bobby pin when you really need one. I have been trying to change my legs since the moment I realized they didn't need to say "athlete" anymore. I had given up that title and wanted to take on a new one. Casual Pilates partaker? Daily jogger? Healthy but normal? The world was my oyster. This was my chance; my legs could say anything I wanted them to. 

As I write this, my right leg is propped up on a pillow with a surging dull ache and bruise like soreness. A cocktail of water retention and third trimester weight gain create a light padding of soft flesh from top to toe.  Varicose veins run from the base of my calf and wrap all the way up the thigh like purple and green ivy mimicking a snake slowly squeezing and trapping its prey. For this leg, I've been prescribed a routine of careful activity but not too much activity and plenty of rest but not too much rest. They are confined to long, thick, poorly ventilated compression tights and hidden under maxi dresses for the majority of the time. When they are free, however, I no longer hear questions like "what sport do you play?" More often than not its, "does that hurt?" 

Now, when people look at my legs, they will know I am a mother. They will see the tiny fireworks of purple dancing across the backs of my knees and know I have carried life. The swelling should go down, they tell me. You can get surgery, they say. The excess weight will be worked away. The shape will return. They may even rival the strength of their former days. I am confident of this. But I know deep down these legs of mine will never be the same, and for some reason, typing that sentence and swallowing down the acceptance of it has made me cry. Not for the vanity of it all, no it's something deeper. It's skipping the goodbyes thinking you're leaving something to come right back to it only to find out you'll never see it again. 

Motherhood changes us in every possible way, and even if we wanted to go back to exactly who we were once we shed every last pregnancy pound, once our babies are old enough that our wardrobe doesn't have to be limited to stain resistant and nursing friendly, once our swollen faces have returned to normal and our sweet babies sleep long enough through the night that we actually look human the next morning; once every last physical sign of carrying a baby is gone, we realize motherhood is actually written all over us. It's a truth that can be hard to swallow sometimes--especially if, like me, you're not the "I have earned my stripes! I am mother, hear me roar!" type. I can, however, say without even a trace of doubt that when people look at me I want to beam from the inside out with the two things that have changed my life: One, I am a child of God. Daughter of the Most High, saved by Amazing Grace. And two, I am a mother. 

My legs will tell my story. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

33 Week Update

Well, I had great intentions to update you all frequently this pregnancy. Clearly that didn't go as planned as we are currently 7 weeks out from my due date! People warned me how different this pregnancy would be. They said the constant bump photo snapping, baby book reading and rest would be a thing of the past-they were right. We didn't find out the gender so we're looking forward to the surprise of a lifetime very soon. Oshiolema was born two weeks early so I'm prepared for the fact that we could potentially meet our new baby in five weeks or even less! 

How far along: 33 Weeks.
Total weight gain: 30 pounds.

Maternity clothes: There are upsides and downsides to being pregnant in the summer. One of the upsides has to be the clothing options. Since I gave birth in the dead of winter with Oshiolema, getting dressed is just so much easier than it was this stage in the pregnancy last time around! The only actual maternity clothing I've worn this time is a pair of white maternity jeans from JCrew, my favorite Old Navy tees and compression tights made for pregnancy. I wear dresses almost every day lately because it's just too hot and uncomfortable to put on anything else.   

Sleep: I have slept so much better this pregnancy than I did with my first. The baby is so, so active but once I can get some peace and quiet in my belly I'm fast asleep. I'm certainly sleeping much less with a toddler and definitely have some random chunks of the night I'm just wide awake for no reason but mostly I sleep pretty well. Hubs started doing "the early morning shift" a few months into the pregnancy so I can have a little prayer time at 7 and come down to start the day with Oshiolema at 8. This way on those days where  he randomly wakes up at 5 instead of his usual 6:30/7, they head to the park or play in the basement so I still get to rest (which makes me feel so blessed every day)

Currently Missing: Energy, motivation, and the simplicity of not being pregnant. Hopefully that makes sense-growing a life adds a whole new level of self awareness that can be hard to keep up with at times. When I'm not pregnant, things like not having time to have a full meal or not having enough water in a day are a bummer but don't really make a blip on the radar. While pregnant, little things like that will affect my body for the whole day. I think it's just a way to grow in selflessness and awareness before the baby arrives

Movement: I'm convinced I just make really active babies. This child moves all day long to the point that I can feel bruised from the inside by the end of the day. It's pretty amazing and I wouldn't change it for anything! 

Cravings: I unfortunately have more of a sweet tooth this time around than I did last pregnancy and do my best to hold off on a craving until I I certainly have more aversions and things that don't sound good than cravings, though. With Oshiolema, starting when he was just two weeks old I had to cut out just about everything from dairy to soy to gluten and more. This reality put things in perspective that I want to have the healthiest pregnancy possible but still indulge here and there and enjoy this season. 

Symptoms: I have a mean case of varicose veins on my entire right leg and that has been the most challenging part of the pregnancy. They're really unattractive but also really painful and wearing compression tights in the summertime isn't the friendliest pairing. I have also just felt way more pregnant than I am since about the 20 week mark, which I hear is just part of the deal when you have two babies in two years.

Looking forward to: Moving to Dallas for a few months (more details to come) in a few days! My brother and his girlfriend came  to pick up my car and the trailer to drive all the way down to Texas last week so all that's left is jumping on the plane and settling in. I'm looking forward to meeting with some midwives, getting acquainted with the pediatrician and just making it our home for a while.

Exercise: I have been much more active this pregnancy than last time around. Obviously, there's the toddler chasing that keeps me busy. In addition to that I try to do 30 minutes of cardio and a little bit of strength training four times a week and sneak walks in here and there. Staying physically strong throughout pregnancy is really important for me and while it's super challenging at times I try to make it a priority. I have been feeling about 90 years old in my last few workouts though so if you're picturing me in beast mode with a're wrong. Think more Betty White aerobics than Serena Williams training. 
My muscles are pretty soft and I'm carrying a good amount of water weight everywhere but knowing that I'm healthy is the goal.

Favorite moments this week: Well, it wasn't this week exactly but recently I've been slowing down to make intentional memories while we are just a family of three. We try to eat outside in our screened in porch just about every night we're home to make dinnertime special, the three of us make a big breakfast together every Saturday, have a sweet bedtime routine I'm really savoring and so many other routines and traditions that mean the world to us. I am more aware every day that we won't be able to give him our full, undivided attention at all times anymore and while its bittersweet, I'm enjoying the time I still have to do so. 

Also, Oshiolema is only 18 months old so he can't fully grasp concepts like "big brother" and "new baby" but mannnn...dude is obsessed with my belly. Even before I started showing, right when we found out we were pregnant he developed this huge attachment to my bump. He will point to it and say "baby!" no less than a hundred times a day. He rests his head on my belly for comfort, is learning to give "gentle pats to baby" and encourages people to kiss my belly. It's just the sweetest thing and I know I'll be a giant ball of mush when it comes time for him to meet his new little brother or sister for the first time. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Gifts for the New Baby

Newborn gifts have a sweet way of pulling at heart strings (of both the gift-giver and gift-receiver) and I wanted to share a few of my favorites for blessing the new baby. I have to say, putting this baby girl mood board together has me itching for a little lady in my life! Oshiolema will be a fantastic big brother either way and we're so excited to find out just who this baby is very soon.

  1. Fashion Book: I have been a huge fan of all the new fashion infused books for little girls being written lately. This Little Piggy Went to Prada seems like a precious addition to any little girl library. 
  2. The Laundress ‘Just for Baby’ kit: Though sometimes you just can’t beat the classics when it comes to laundering baby clothes, this new brand “The Laundress” Is something I can really get behind. All products are all natural, gentle and non-toxic, which surprisingly isn’t true for the detergent I swore by up until now. The packaging is pretty enough to elevate any laundry room and the signature scent includes traces of vanilla, lily of the valley and lavender- a welcome escape from the poop likely being scrubbed out of the back of that onesie. 
  3. Precious Shoes: Though I am still a fan of Freshly Picked Moccasins, I have been looking for sweet alternatives for the baby shoe collection. These sweet lace ups are completely impractical but I love a bit of an old fashioned look in a teeny tiny shoe.
  4. Non Toxic Teether: We try our best to keep all of the toys in the house non-toxic, BPA and PBA free. Yes We still have enormous plastic toys that just get the job done better than anything else, but I do my best to be especially conscious of all the toys that I know will spend most of their time in baby’s mouth. I don’t like the thought of baby spending hours upon hours every day sucking and chewing a toy unless I know it’s safe. This Doughnut teether is both adorable and completely safe. 
  5. Magnificent Baby Onesie: A friend of mine introduced me to this brand by gifting Oshiolema with a onesie when he was 3 months old. It was just before his first flight and she explained it would be life changing for our trip. She was not lying! Friends, this onesie is magnetic. That’s right. No buttons, no zippers, it’s just a track of teeny tiny magnets that stands between you and changing that diaper. It’s especially helpful on a plane or for road trip travel but just as welcomed for everyday ease. We LOVE our Magnificent Baby clothing and it’s a go-to of mine to gift the new baby.
  6. Hooded Bath Towel: this isn’t a new concept…I just can’t get over how sweet the neon pink stars are.
  7. Muslin Swaddle: Aden + Anias have undoubtedly cornered the market on the muslin swaddle (and for good reason- they are the absolute best in the business.) However, I love seeing small independent companies popping up with limited color ways of swaddles. The fabric is incredible and the prints are just so much fun. Nothing beats a graphic and cool swaddle to drape over baby’s car seat, use a nursing cover, wrap baby in or just have on hand for whatever needs come up. Every newborn needs a great swaddle blanket collection. 
  8. Mommy and Baby Book: I’ve gotta say, I have had a hard time finding sweet books about babies and their mommas. The books I have about Mommy and Baby are either strictly educational about animals or just not very fun to read. This book about a zebra named Ollie seems precious.
  9. Lovie: We were gifted with so many stuffed animals for baby in the months leading up to my due date and though you really can’t go wrong in this department, I found myself especially drawn to things with hand knit details and cool textures that I know baby would love. 

Gown:: I’m so glad my mom talked me out of the original outfit I proposed bringing Oshiolema home in. It had so many buttons and separate pieces that I didn’t even dress him in it until a month later. When I asked her what he should wear she said simply, “a gown.” I was so thankful for elastic bottom gowns in those first few days of life- baby was snug and happy and it was breezy enough to help the umbilical cord stump dry. I would update it with this cool graphic black and white version.
Toxic Free Toys: again, if I know my baby would be endlessly sucking and chewing on a toy I much prefer it be free of all yucky stuff. The rainbow wooden ball toy is so beautiful and fun that countless adults stopped us to ask where we got it. (It looks like a giant bracelet) Grimm has become a favorite brand of mine for toys like this
Black and White Book: I have a huge soft spot for black and white so I prefer things in that color way as it is, but babies actually much prefer black and white to ranges of color. Their retina aren’t fully developed at birth so all the pastel colors we think are so beautiful aren’t quite registered by them yet. This book fits the bill to be able to stimulate baby.
Neutral Sleep Sack: This is a gift for later down the line as Oshiolema slept in a sleep sack from when we finally stopped swaddling him all the way until a couple weeks ago. In fact, we still pop him in a sleep sack every now and then simply because when they’re littler it’s not safe to lay a blanket over them and now that he’s older he’s decided he doesn’t like blankets at all. This striped pattern is perfect.
Modern Memory Book: It is hard enough to remember to brush your teeth in those first few months, let alone trying to remember the little details of the days that make up baby's first year. Modern memory books make jotting down highlights and milestones both easy and something to look forward to. 
Wooden Car:Again, a toy that’s safe for baby to munch on and pretty to look at while they’re too little to do anything but eat it is a win-win in my book
Knit Crown: these crowns serve as beautiful decoration and perfect photo props in those early months.
Passport Cover: Oshiolema has been on upwards of 30 flights in his one-and-a-half years of life and one of the cutest things I've ever seen is a little baby's passport photo. If I know a baby is about to rack up some serious frequent flyer miles, this is the perfect gift. 
Unique Rattle: these knit rattles are so fun- nothin like a baby boy workin’ on his muscles