Friday, May 30, 2014

Working Mom Series | Raising a Baby With a Husband Who Travels + Five on Friday!

Happy, Happy Friday to you! This has been a l-o-n-g week and I'm definitely glad this beloved day is here. 

I'm mixing up my Five on Friday post this week to cover the Working Mom Series, too…so apologies that this post is so long today! 

Thanks, as always, to the lovely hostesses of this link-up: A.Liz Adventures, Carolina Charm, Hello! Happiness and The Good Life Blog

Thank you all for joining me this week for my Working Mom Series! If you missed them, you can catch up here, here and here. Today I'll be discussing how I raise Walker solo sometimes since Brandon travels for work. Be sure to scroll down and check it out below! 

While I'm not a huge fan of the Kardashians by any means, I was very impressed that Kim K. covered it all up during her wedding to Kanye West. {Which, BTW, can this please be her last marriage and if not, can she just get married at the J.P. like the regular folks on their third PLUS marriages?!} 


This little fella has his shots today and this mama is not excited about it in the least. The two-month shots were basically awful and I felt so bad for Walker when he was screaming on that table, so my prayer is that he takes them a little better today. Either way, we're prepared with baby Tylenol in the waiting room, a bottle for right after and Daddy coming along for the ride this time! 

Other than Walker's shots today, we have absolutely NOTHING going on this weekend and I am thrilled. I feel like May is seriously the busiest time of the year with end-of-year stuff {parties, recitals, programs, graduations, etc.}, so I'm very much looking forward to a {hopefully} more relaxed and slower June. Here's hoping! 

I have always loved this quote by Maya Angelou, and thought it was appropriate to share with her recent passing. It is so true! The way you make people feel says a lot about you as a person. 


And now moving on to the final post in my Working Mom Series! 

Brandon travels for work. When he took this job, we knew he would be traveling once a month every month. 
The schedule and duration is never the same…so don't get any ideas out there, creepers. 

That said, I knew what I was getting into when he signed on for this job when I was pregnant. But I had no idea just how hard it would be. I thought that it was hard to take out the trash, take care of things around the house that needed to be done and get myself out the door when I was pregnant. Oh, heck no. 

Now that I have Walker, it's definitely not as easy. Here are some tips as to how I deal with being a single mom once a month {which, BTW, I have major respect for full-time single moms!}: 

1. Plan, plan, plan
Like I said earlier this week, do as much as you can the night before. Before Brandon leaves, I always spend about an hour getting as much done as I can: laying clothes out for both Walker and me for the week; doing laundry; going to the grocery store; and even doing menial tasks like ensuring we have full rolls of toilet paper in the bathrooms. 

When you're on your own with a baby, even tasks that seem simple can take you twice as long. 

2. Get up a little earlier.
I get up at the same time every day when Brandon is here, but when he's not, I give myself a little more time in the mornings. When he is here and Walker decides to wake up a little early, Brandon can go in and change him and entertain him while I finish getting ready. When he's not here? It's all on me. So I get up a little bit earlier to ensure I have time to get completely ready before I wake Walker up {or he wakes up himself}. On this same note, I leave my house a little early to give myself enough time to get Walker to day care and me to work on time on my own. 

3. Don't try to cook.
I tried this while I was still on maternity leave and it was absolutely pointless. Obviously when Walker is older, I won't be able to get away with frozen dinners, but while I can get away with it, that's what I do. When he's gone, I'm all about sandwiches, grilled cheese, frozen dinners and anything quick and easy. 

4. Use bedtime to your advantage. 
Once Walker goes to bed, I use that time to make bottles for the next day, pump, do any work I need to do and get prepared for the next day. I never want to miss out on time with Walker since I don't get to see him during the day, so I use bedtime as my "go time." 

5. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
I have my mother-in-law on speed dial, but especially when Brandon is out of town. My in-law's don't live too far from us, and if I need my mother-in-law to help me with something while Brandon is gone, she is more than happy to oblige. Whether it's having us over for dinner; picking Walker up if I have a late meeting; or just calling to check on us, it's so appreciated. But on that note, don't be afraid to ask -- or say -- that you need help. I always have a problem admitting I need help, but I have had to resign myself to being vulnerable and doing it. 

6. It's okay to cry.
When I was on maternity leave, Brandon traveled and one day, Walker was screaming his head off. It was mid-week, and I was just done doing it on my own. I called Brandon in tears, heaving and sobbing because I was so overwhelmed. While I know he didn't enjoy hearing that when he was 2,000 miles away and couldn't do anything to help, he is my best friend and I just had get it out. It's okay to feel vulnerable, but you have to get those tears out and then buck it up for your kid(s). 

7. When your husband gets home, get out. 
While I know Brandon is tired from his work trips when he gets back, I need some time away, too. Once he's unpacked, laundry has been done and we've caught up, I'll go get a pedicure, go to the grocery store, run some errands or simply go drive around. It's nice to have a change of scenery and be child-free for a few minutes. You will come back so refreshed, I promise. 

Do you have any tips I left out?


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Working Mom Series | Tips for Pumping at Work

Thanks for stopping by again today for the third installment of my Working Mom Series! If you missed the other two, you can check out my tips for preparing to go back to work after maternity leave here and how we get out the door in the morning with a baby here

Today I'm going to discuss the always fun {hence the sarcasm} topic of pumping at work. 

I returned to work one day shy of Walker's three-month birthday. When I went back to work, he was still exclusively breastfeeding and only took a bottle once in a blue moon. I had no idea what it would be like to pump at work. I always thought I'd be super great at it and that I'd carve out time in my day to do it as often as I needed to. 

...But once I had been at work for about a week, meetings got in the way, crises happened and I did have to skip a pumping session here and there. Please know that I am by no means advocating for doing that, but I do want to be realistic and share with you that those things do happen. Also, I want to let you know that due to my job, I'm not always sitting behind my desk; I'm out and about. There have been times that I've asked where I can go to pump - but in a discreet way - and have been told I could go in the bathroom. I'm not getting all crazy here, but I refuse to pump in an unsanitary public bathroom. So, I want you to know that I have pumped in a lot of weird places: the back seat of my car, in a colleague's office, in an executive's conference room…the list goes on. But I will do anything for my baby. 

So, in being realistic, I want to share with you my tips for pumping at work. Note that I pump twice a day: around 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. - the times Walker takes his bottle at "school." These times are adjusted if he gets off schedule and eats earlier or later. 

1. Invest in a good pump, either purchased or rented. 
I mentioned on Tuesday that I use the Medela Pump in Style Advanced breast pump, but you can definitely rent a more high-end one from your hospital. Once you have gotten familiar with it, ensure you know how to change all of the parts and always keep some spare parts handy! I always keep a spare set of breast shields, a Ziploc baggie of membranes and some breast pads in my pump bag. You never, ever know when you will need them! 

2. Let a select few people know what you're doing, but don't be gross about it. 
My friend Liz came up with the code phrase, "I have to close my door," for us to use when it's time to pump. In our office, we never close our doors unless we're very stressed out, on an important phone call or are upset. So, when we came back, we were closing our door - literally - a lot more often than normal. We have two {female} interns, and we've let them in on the "secret" of what we're doing when we say, "I have to close my door." That way, if someone walks in and starts to barge into one of our offices, they can stop them. Also, saying, "I have to close my door" is a lot better than announcing to your office staff, "I have to pump now!" Trust me, no one wants that visual. 

That leads me to: Make sure you have some sort of a sign on your door. We originally had one that said, "Please Knock," but a male kept knocking on Liz's door while she was pumping, so we knew that wasn't going to work. I then made one for each of our doors that said - in blood red font and all caps - "DO NOT DISTURB." So far it has worked, but keep your fingers crossed on that one. 

3. Create a screensaver with photos of your baby. 
When I went back to work, I had a major problem with the letdown reflex while I was pumping. I would find it hard to relax in my desk chair and would have to pry myself away from my email inbox so that I could. In order to help my letdown reflex, I made a screensaver of photos with Walker and have it set to start three minutes after any inactivity on my computer. I have found that it really helps when I look at photos of him, especially those from when he was a tiny baby, and allow the sweet memories from when I was at home on maternity leave with him flood through my mind. 

4. Listen to some music. 
My office is teeny tiny and a guy offices right next door. I don't know about you, but hearing a guy's voice - who is not your husband - while you're in that vulnerable state is less than comforting. So, I turn Pandora on and listen to relaxing music while I'm pumping. My favorites are Jack Johnson and Ray Lamontagne because they're soothing and help me try to relax a bit. 

5. Don't look. 
I know it's super hard to not look down to see how much you're pumping, but don't. It only stresses me out if I look down and see that I'm not producing what I should be. I will only think, "O-M-G. I'm going to have to defrost X ounces tonight if I don't pump X ounces here today." Just relax, close your eyes if you can and look at how much you've pumped once you're finished. Worrying will only make it harder to relax, harder for the letdown reflex to occur and just frustrating in general. 

6. Take supplements. 
I take Gaia Herbs Lactation Support pills three times a day, and they seem to help…especially since my supply has significantly depleted since I went to work. I also try to drink a cup of Mother's Milk Tea at work and eat a bowl of oatmeal when I get there. I also have made the No-Bake Energy Bites that have made their way around Pinterest. Anything to help keep that supply up! 

7. Bring an ice pack. 
My pump came with a big ice pack and a storage "cooler." Since we only have a small college-sized community fridge in our office, I store the milk I pump in that small container as opposed to the community fridge. I personally use the Medela 8 oz. pumping bottles {and bring two} and just pump into those twice a day. Since I'm always on the go, it helps, too, to ensure I always have it with me and don't forget it at work. 

8. Sanitize/clean those parts! 
I bring the Medela Quick Clean Microsteam Bags to work and sanitize the parts after my second pumping session of the day. When I get home each day, I wash them in warm soapy water and let them dry on the Boon Lawn countertop drying rack overnight. 

I hope these tips help you out, especially if you have never pumped at work before. It's not easy, but it's so worth it for your baby! Good luck! 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Working Mom Series | Getting Out the Door in the Morning With a Baby

Thank you all for joining me yesterday for the first installment of my Working Mom Series!  Click here to catch up from yesterday, where I discussed preparing to go back to work after baby. 

Once you've done all the preparing you can do, the first test is that difficult return to work…bright and early. 

A few things you need to know about me: I'm a planner {if you haven't picked up on that already}, and I'm a firm believer in doing everything you can the night before to limit chaos in the morning. So if that's not your thing, you might want to run…now! 

Here are my tips for getting out the door in the mornings now that we have a tiny human:

1. Create an understanding.
Just like in yesterday's post, you need to create an understanding with your spouse/significant other. But this time, the understanding is about who will do what with the baby in the morning. What works for us is that I get up at 5 a.m., eat breakfast, shower and get completely ready {save for wearing clothes; I wear a robe}. Then, I'll get Walker up, change him and feed him. During that time, Brandon is getting ready himself. After Walker has eaten and burped, Brandon will take him while I put my clothes on and get other things ready to leave. He'll then get Walker in the car while I load the car. Which leads me to…

2. Pack everything the night before. 
Like I said, I'm a firm believer in doing as much as you can the night before. Of course I realize there will be some things you can't do the night before, such as put the ice pack in your cooler for the pumped breast milk you'll make the next day. {Obviously.} But think about things you can do the night before and just bite the bullet and do it! 

Once I get home from work with Walker, I'll immediately put the milk I've pumped that day into new bottles. Sometimes I'll pump enough for his two bottles at day care the next day; most days I won't. So, I'll fill them up as far as that pumped milk will take me and then put them in the carrying case in the refrigerator. Then, once he's gone to bed and before I do, I'll pump once more to top the bottles off. If even that doesn't fill them, I'll defrost some milk and finish the bottles before I go to bed. It's so helpful to just grab the carrying case and go in the mornings.

Brandon and I both work in a culture where most people bring their lunch each day. While I have access to a microwave and can heat up leftovers if I want to, Brandon doesn't - so it's either a sandwich or a wrap for him each day. Once Walker has gone to bed, I'll pack our lunches for the next day. Of course I don't do this if Brandon is traveling, or if I have a work lunch the next day. But, just like with Walker's bottles, it's so nice to just grab and go in the mornings, whether it's leftover spaghetti or a PB&J. 

3. Lay out clothes for the week. 
This might be getting a little anal retentive, but on Sunday nights, I lay out both Walker and my clothes for the week. Like with the bottles and lunches, it makes it much easier in the mornings if I know what we're both wearing and can just take it off the hanger as opposed to wasting 10 precious minutes deciding what we'll wear. 

While Brandon is watching the baby, I'll take my phone into my closet on Sunday nights, look at my weather app and my Outlook calendar and decide what I need to wear based on those things. If I have an important meeting on Wednesday, I'll lay out a nicer outfit than the white jeans I can pull off on Fridays. I'll then do the same thing in Walker's room, of course noting that he has physical therapy one day a week, so his outfit needs to be more comfy then, etc. 

4. Make sure your car always has gas. 
Because I drive a little further to work {and drive around for my job, as well}, I usually go through about one tank of gas a week. Therefore, I'll make sure that I fill up on the weekends for the week. There's nothing worse than running a little behind in the morning and turning on your car to find the low-fuel light on. {Not speaking from experience there…ha!} Take the five minutes on a Saturday to fill your car up for the week to ensure you're prepared. I like to fill up at my local grocery store's fuel center because it's a one-stop-shop. Plus, the more I spend at the grocery store, the more cents I get off a gallon of gas at their pump. It's a win-win. 

5. Give yourself grace. 
Those first few days are going to be a challenge. Your husband will forget to put socks on the baby. You'll leave your cell phone next to the bed. You'll check the bottle bag five times to ensure you've given your child enough milk. {Trust me…} 

So give yourself - and your husband - grace. Remember that you've never before gotten yourself, your husband and a baby out the door in the mornings to go to work…and at that early hour, too. Don't beat yourself up when you forget a burp rag, or have to stop to fill the tank up with gas on your way to day care, or if you eat a grilled cheese for dinner that night because you're running a gauntlet between the hours of 5-8 p.m. It happens. 

Do you have any tips on how to get out the door in the morning with a baby?

Be sure to tune in tomorrow. I'll be discussing the always-awkward topic of pumping at work! 

See you then.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Working Mom Series | Preparing to Go Back to Work After Maternity Leave

Thanks for joining me for today's first installment of my Working Mom Series! 

Preparing to come back to work after having a baby can be one of the most stressful times in a new mom's life. Personally - and I pray none of you were this way or are doing this now  - but from the time we brought Walker home from the hospital, I was counting down the weeks until I had to leave my baby and go back to work. 

On his one-week birthday, I would think: "Okay, I have 12 more weeks until I'm sitting in my desk chair." And it would just go on each week until "D-Day," as I not so lovingly referred to it. I'm sure - I know - I made my husband miserable with my constant counting down, and I am positive I didn't enjoy maternity leave to the fullest because I was dreading going back to work and leaving my baby. 

However, even though I was borderline depressed about being away from Walker eight hours a day {when I'd never been without him for 12 months…since I'm counting being pregnant with him}, I did do a lot of planning to make the transition easier. 

And here's where my vulnerability and complete honesty comes into play: Are the tips I'm about to share going to make you going back to work any easier emotionally, physically and/or psychologically? No. Big, fat, N-O. Unless you have no soul, it's hard to leave your child in the hands of someone else while you're at work. Mommy can always do it better! {"It" being the operative word.} But don't get me wrong, it is nice to be dressed in "normal" clothes, put make-up on and have adult interaction sometimes. 

I hope these tips make your transition back to work smoother, a little less hectic and allow you to enjoy your maternity leave more than I did. 

So, here are some tips to prepare to go back to work after maternity leave: 

1. Try to go back on a Wednesday if you can.
Personally, I couldn't do this because I work in the school system. Your days are calculated to the "T" and start the moment you go out on maternity leave - whether you've had your baby or not. Since I went into the hospital on a Monday, that meant I had to come back in exactly 13 weeks from that Monday. So, Monday it was. 

But, if you work in a corporate job - or one that has a bit more flexibility with maternity leave - I would suggest going back to work on a Wednesday. Why? Because it's a shorter week, obviously, and gives you some time to ease back into going back to work/dropping your baby off at day care/wearing make-up all week, etc. 

I'm not going to lie, going back on a Monday was pretty tough, especially because I felt like I had accomplished so much on Monday…and then realized I had to do it four more times that week. Try Wednesday if you can.

2. If you're a breastfeeding mom, PUMP. 
Pump, pump, pump while you're on maternity leave. But, don't let the thought of, "OMG I have to pump allthetime!" stress you out. Walker was born Jan. 29, and I didn't start pumping {to save milk for later} until mid-February. Once he was on some sort of a schedule - feeding around every two hours or so - I would feed him, we'd "play," and I'd lay him down for a nap. Then I would pump in between feedings. I'd only get about three ounces total at each in-between-feedings pump, but that's three ounces more than I'd have if I didn't pump at all. The reason my supply was so high is because my body thought I was feeding every two to three hours. And, guess what? We're still using the milk I pumped while I was on maternity leave. {Although that stock is depleting quite quickly.} Yes, it takes about 3.5 of those precious bags of gold to make one bottle, but it's comforting knowing we have it now…because my supply has seriously waned since I've gone back to work. Which leads me to...

3. Invest in a good pump. 
I have the Medela Pump In Style Advanced breast pump, and I've been very pleased with it. If you can afford their ridiculously expensive Symphony breast pump, I would probably go with that one. {My sister-in-law rented this one from the hospital, so check to see if that's an option, too.} Anyway, invest in a good one. Why? Because when you go back to work, you're gonna get real friendly with that little guy. {I'll get more into this on Thursday!} While you're on maternity leave, practice with it! Ensure you're comfortable using it, and be sure you're 100 percent confident on how to change the membranes; wash and sanitize the parts; and make sure to stock up on extra valves, tubing, membranes, pumping bottles, etc.

4. While we're on the topic of pumping, buy clothes that are easy to pump in. 
I'm not saying to go out and spend your entire savings on a new wardrobe, but do invest in some tunic-type shirts that will be easy to pump in at your office. I made the big mistake {"Big mistake! Huge!"} of wearing a dress my third day back at work, and when it came time for my first pump of the day, I was bare-butted on my office chair and praying that no one dared enter my office for fear they'd be scarred for life. I like to now wear skinny ankle capris and a tunic shirt on a daily basis, and if I need to class it up, Loft has great collarless blouses that look nice while also being functional. Also, I'm a big fan of the Basics Stella Maternity & Nursing Bras from Target. They're the only ones that are comfortable and don't dig in to my sides after about 3 p.m. And, with all of these clothes and bras: buy them as close to going back to work - and as close to your post-baby body - as possible to ensure you can wear them well after you're finished nursing/pumping. 

5. Stock up on things you know you're going to run out of quickly. 
Because I knew I'd be running on borrowed time once I went back to work, I made a big trip to Sam's Club right before I returned to work to stock up on things I knew we would run out of quickly. The last thing you're going to want to do after being at work all day is go to the bathroom and find that you're out of toilet paper and call your husband in a panic  begging him to run by the drugstore on his way home! When I went to Sam's, I purchased toilet paper, paper towels, Ziploc bags, detergent {for both our clothes and Walker's clothes}, dryer sheets, K-Cup coffee, peanut butter {because we eat a ton of this in our house}, soap and coffee creamer. I also went to PetsMart and purchased two bags of Oliver's cat food. Of course, these things will vary based on your household and what you do and do not use {and run out of quickly}, but the bottom line is: have your husband keep your baby for an hour and go stock up! 

6. Research meals. 
Say what?! Yes, you read that correctly. Research quick, easy meals that you can make when you get home from work. I spent a ton of time on Pinterest finding meals that had five ingredients or less, as well as easy Crock Pot meals. Before Walker, we definitely didn't eat gourmet, but I had the time to bake something in the oven for 45 minutes. Now? Not so much. I'm a big fan of spaghetti, anything in the slow cooker and of course, any meal that has "Easy" in the title. We are also not above eating hot dogs or sandwiches, and you might just have to let your pride go out the window and eat hot ham and cheese sandwiches on a random Thursday night…

But seriously, Brandon has helped out a lot by cooking every Wednesday night when he's not traveling for work, which has been a huge weight off my shoulders. Typically his meals are a little fancier than spaghetti, which is also a nice perk. But if you're searching for things to make once you go back to work, check out my Slow-Cooker Recipes Pinterest Board, as well as my other ones (Healthy{er} Recipes and Not-So-Healthy Recipes} to see if anything strikes your fancy. 

7. Make a practice run.
Personally, I never did this, but it was advised to me by numerous people. I never did it because I wanted every single second I could have with Walker, but I would recommend it. I was a blubbering mess the day we dropped him off for his first day of day care, and I think my first day back at work might have been a bit easier if I had taken him a day or two before my maternity leave was up. {Remember that you pay for the week at most places if you just go one day, so be prepared for that.} If you choose to be like me and not do this, it's very helpful if your husband, significant other, parent, etc. can go with you to drop the baby off. I cried a lot, and it was very helpful to have Brandon there with me when we walked out and left him. 

While you're on maternity leave, do your research and really think long and hard and pray about where you're going to send your child, whether it's a corporate day care, an in-home day care, a nanny, etc. We had to switch Walker at the last minute because the place we had a "deposit" on, per se, just wasn't the right fit for us once he was born. The place we are at now is a true Godsend, and I'm thankful they had one spot available when I called. A true blessing. 

8. Purchase a bottle warmer. 
This one is given to you directly from my husband! We purchased a bottle warmer right before I went back to work because I finally resigned to the fact that I couldn't - and shouldn't - be the only person in the world who was able to feed Walker. While I adore the fact that I'm the only person who can give him exactly what he wants and needs, it's helpful for someone else to give him a bottle while I take a little break. 

According to my husband: "Buying a bottle warmer gives your man no excuse to not take a night feeding, which is a good break for mom at the end of a long day at work." 

While it took him - and me - a while to figure out our bottle-feeding routine, we've finally gotten into the swing of things. And in fact, because my supply has dropped so much since I've gone back to work, Walker takes a bottle at all but his morning feedings. I pump either while Brandon is giving him a bottle, or after if I've given it to him. I get about half of what I got during a normal feeding, but it's still something and I'll just mix that with one or two bags of frozen breast milk. 

9. Create an understanding.
When I was home on maternity leave, I was responsible for our laundry, picking up around the house, making dinner, etc. But when I went back to work, things became 50/50. Since we both work, both get up at 5 a.m., etc., we both share equal responsibility with both Walker and things around the house. That means that no one is above doing laundry, cooking dinner, doing the dishes, feeding the baby, putting sheets on the bed, or anything else that needs to be done around here. 

Before I went back, we sat down and decided that. We both agreed that whatever needed to be done around the house would get done by the both of us. There are days that our house is a wreck, Walker is screaming and Brandon is vacuuming the floors. There are also days that Walker is happy as a clam and Brandon is entertaining him while I fold laundry, clean the kitchen or pack lunches. But what you have to create is an understanding of grace. There will be times you have no clean laundry, times your house will look like a bomb went off and times you wish you had a Fairy Godmother to come in and wave her magic wand to make it all look better. But there is compromise and that's the best thing you could ask for. 

I hope these things help you some, and I also hope you'll stay tuned for tomorrow's post, where I'll tell you how we get out the door now that Walker is in the picture. 

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend

I hope y'all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! I'm so very thankful to those servicemen and women who lost their lives defending our great nation and allowing us to enjoy the freedoms we so enjoy today. We are truly the land of the free because of the brave. 

Walker and I unintentionally matched, so of course I had to capture a picture. The little man loves looking at himself in the mirror! {And please ignore my ugly brass shower. It's on our long list of things to do to finish updating this house!}

We got out of work an hour early for the holiday, and we met Brandon at home since he had a half day. We're currently working on updating our guest bath, so all three of us made a trip to Home Depot. I used to despise Home Depot as a kid and hated being dragged along, but now I just look in there and see a myriad of projects we could do in our house. So I guess it's definitely a love/hate relationship now! 

After our Home Depot trek, we came home and Brandon made our weekly Pizza Friday dinner while Walker and I got in some good quality time. I love this little chunky monkey! 

Once he was in bed, I had a riveting Friday night of cleaning our bathroom, vacuuming the house and making my grocery list. I am so OCD about making my list and even list it all out in the order of the store. Whatever makes the trip quicker and easier, right?! 

Walker slept in until 7 a.m., which, for Brandon and me who wake up at 5 a.m. every day, was a Christmas miracle. {He slept from 7:30 p.m. - 7 a.m.! Hallelujah!} 

After he ate, he showed off his favorite skill: rolling from his tummy to his back. I might be a bit too excited for Saturday morning here… 

We had a plumber at our house Saturday morning to finish off some things in the guest bath, so I ran out to grab Chipotle for lunch. Of course my husband asks me to order the "Queso-rito," which is a burrito wrapped in a cheese quesadilla {as opposed to a regular tortilla}. That thing was disgustingly huge, so of course I had to take a comparison picture for posterity. He didn't finish it, but y'all…yuck

One thing I love about the weekend is that I get to cuddle and snuggle with Walker, and I sometimes even let him nap on me. Poor guy was majorly tuckered out and took a big, open-mouthed nap. 

That evening, we FaceTimed my aunt, who was staying with my great-grandfather, Paw-Paw, for the weekend to celebrate his 96th birthday. For the first time, he got to "see" his great-great grandson! He loved the technology and I am so very thankful that they got to interact. My sweet Paw-Paw fought in WWII and we are just so thankful for him! 

Once the buglet was in bed, we made my mom's famous two-ingredient sangria! It is absolutely the easiest sangria recipe in the world: blood orange punch and a bottle of sweet red wine. {You can also fancy it up with oranges and grapefruit if you want, which is obviously what we did here.} 

Since we were making it for my in-law's Memorial Day party, I bought a table bottle of sweet red wine, but I would typically only use a regular bottle. 

All you do is mix two bottles of blood orange punch {equatable to 16 oz.} with one regular bottle of wine. Since we used the table bottle, we used all four bottles of punch to the one bottle of wine. It's so good and easy! 

I made this for supper and just loved all the yummy summer colors on my cutting board! 

Since we were up with Walker at 7 a.m., we decided to go to the early service at church. Our pastor is currently in the middle of a series on the book of Ruth, which we are just loving. 

After church, we all relaxed, rested and enjoyed a Salty Dog on the porch before the rain set in. 

Brandon grilled steaks, I made Crock Pot creamed corn and baked potatoes and we cozied up on the couch to watch "Saving Mr. Banks," which was precious. 

My in-law's have an annual Memorial Day party, so we made the quick trip to their house to join in on the fun. Since my mother-in-law recently had knee surgery, it most definitely wasn't as big and done up as it usually is - and was only family this year - but it was still great to see our family! 

Walker wasn't entirely too thrilled about the idea of pictures, but I just love his sweet Janie and Jack outfit! 

My in-law's have the best magnolia tree in the backyard, so of course I had to get a picture of Brandon and Walker in front of it. 

…and one of Brandon, Walker and his dad inside. Do they not all look alike or what?! It's insane to me. 

After we had lunch and visited, we headed home to get Walker fed, bathed and in bed. 

It was a lovely weekend and I'm so thankful for the extra day of rest! {Trying to finish the last two weeks of school strong!!!} 

Also, I hope you stay tuned for my first installment of my Working Mom Series tomorrow! 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

I'm Excited to Announce...

Thanks to some collaboration with my friends Liz and Savannah, I'm excited to introduce you to a new series of blog posts I'll be authoring this week: the Working Mom Series! 

Those of you who have been or currently are a working mom know it can be a daily battle in a variety of ways: emotionally, physically and psychologically. So, I thought I'd share with y'all four days of posts that cover a variety of topics about being a working mother*. 

So, stay tuned throughout the week, where I'll discuss:

1. Tuesday: Preparing to come back to work after maternity leave

2. Wednesday: How we get out the door in the morning now that we have a tiny human

3. Thursday: Tips for pumping at work 

4. Friday: Tricks for raising a baby with a husband who travels for work (plus my weekly "Five on Friday" post) 

I hope you'll read along with me, and I also hope that you join in on the conversation! Happy Sunday!

{*Not to leave you out, stay-at-home-moms! I've just never been one - save for maternity leave - and don't want to write about something I can't relate to. But I hope you'll still read along!}

Friday, May 23, 2014

Five on Friday

Happy Friday, y'all! 

Thanks to the hostesses of this weekly link-up: A. Liz Adventures, Carolina Charm, Hello! Happiness and [the good life blog]

Now that I've been back to work for almost a month, I think we've finally perfected our routine, which isn't saying that much. I feel like we're running a gauntlet every day between the hours of 5-7 a.m. and 5-8 p.m. and that an episode of "Survivor" could likely be filmed in our house between those hours; every man for himself! 

Brandon has really been able to help me a lot, of which I'll forever be grateful. He wakes Walker up in the morning, gets him changed and brings him to me to feed him; we switch nights rocking him and putting him to bed; he gets him dressed in the mornings after I feed him while I run around like mad trying to get everything ready to get out the door; and he has even taken up cooking a meal every Wednesday! {Love that last one.} 

Anyway, Walker was all kinds of off his schedule the other day, and instead of me feeding him at 9:30 p.m., I defrosted a bottle and had Brandon feed him while I got in bed. {Selfish, yes, but it was necessary!} I'll tell you what, there's something a little heart-melting about seeing your husband feed your son on the monitor! #sappymoment

Memorial Day last year was when I sipped my last adult beverage before finding out I was pregnant {I found out I was pregnant the next day!}, so I'm thrilled that I can have an adult beverage this year knowing I'm definitely NOT pregnant! Ha! Anyway, I'm planning to make a big pitcher {or two, or three…} of my mom's famous 2-ingredient sangria this weekend! It's so yummy; you should try it! 

So random, but I saw this on Pinterest and busted out laughing at my desk yesterday. Too funny! Love me some William, Kate and George! 

Speaking of Pinterest {seriously, what did we do before Pinterest?} I think this is a sweet Teacher Appreciation Gift. I know I totally missed the actual Teacher Appreciation Week itself, but I feel like I need to get something for Walker's "teachers" for the end of the year…even though he's definitely at day care year-round and isn't switching up his class until late fall/early winter. I mean, everyone else is doing it. Is that weird? {Also, I totally hear my Dad right now: "If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you jump, too?"} 

This is totally how I have felt all week {it's been a rough one, y'all!} and Walker just hit the nail on the head with his expression about this week. #gladitsfriday

But seriously, I hope y'all enjoy your long weekend! 

Happy Friday.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Walker's Birth Story

Nearly four months later, I've finally gained the courage to write out Walker's birth story. 

I've been hesitant to write this out because I never know what some people want to read and what some people don't; and I've teetered on the line between sharing too much and sharing too little {and using gross words no one wants to read…like, ever}. But, thanks to my friend Liz, I've decided that now's as good of a time as ever…and I feel like writing it out will ensure I don't forget the little details. 

I promise you I won't get too graphic or share too many personal details. But, if you're interested, here's Walker's birth story. 


My due date wavered between Thursday, Jan. 30 and Saturday, Feb. 1. I had my regular OB appointment on Tuesday, Jan. 21. While at my appointment, my doctor told me I was ready to be induced, and asked how Monday, Jan. 27 sounded to me. {She thought Walker was going to be bigger than he was, and I was just so done with being pregnant at this point that I was absolutely elated.} I got in the car, called Brandon and said, "Well, looks like we're having a baby on Monday!" He nervously laughed and kept repeating that he couldn't believe it. 

The next few days, I wrapped things up at work and even worked from home on Monday. I took my time getting ready Monday afternoon; straightened up the house; and made sure our hospital bags were packed and re-packed. Brandon came home, we had dinner at ZoĆ«'s Kitchen, and then drove to the hospital. 

When we got into the hospital's parking lot, I was a mess. I was a mixed bag of nervous, anxious, excited and flat-out scared. Before we got out of the car, I asked Brandon to say a prayer over us, the doctors and the baby…and he did, grabbing my hand in the process. Then, we got out of the car, hauled our loads of stuff into the hospital, and began our waiting game. 

Liz had had her daughter, Peyton, early that morning, so we visited them while we were waiting for our room to get ready. Seeing her and knowing she had gone through the process made me feel much more at ease, and I loved getting to hold her sweet daughter while dreaming that our son would be here so soon. 

After we said goodbye to them, we took our last picture as a family of two and began the paperwork and induction process. Truly, the worst part of it all was the IV and blood pressure cuff. I was given Cervidil around 9 p.m. and then tried to get some rest, which of course was nearly impossible. 

At 7 a.m. on Jan. 28, Brandon and I both woke up {if we were truly ever asleep!}, got showered, and then it was go-time. They began my Pitocin drip around 8 a.m. Brandon went down to grab a quick breakfast in the hospital cafeteria once everything was settled, and I just played on my phone and watched TV. 

I was totally fine until about 11 a.m. The contractions were bad, but nothing I couldn't breathe through until then. I went into this pregnancy and birth process knowing I was going to have an epidural, so it came to no one's surprise when I wanted one a few hours after the Pitocin started. The nurse told me the anesthesiologist was finishing up a C-section and would start another one soon, so if I wanted one, now would be the time. {Apparently it was a very popular day to have a baby, according to the nurses and my doctor!} I was a 3 when I got the epidural and didn't even care. 

The anesthesiologist wheeled his cart in, and it was at that point that I was very shaky and cold from the Pitocin. Even my nose was cold to the touch! When I get nervous, I shake uncontrollably, so when they raised the bed to give me the epidural, I was a blubbering mess. I was crying because of the pain, shaky because of my nerves and the medicine, and scared of the unknown. {I had never even had a hospital stay at this point in my life!} I was very thankful, however, that Brandon was allowed to stay in the room and that the head nurse of the maternity wing was on-call and was my "nurse" during the epidural. The nurse held my upper body into hers, and Brandon was able to hold my foot and stroke my leg. 

It's true what they say: once you're numb from the initial shot, you feel nothing. And it's also true what they say: at that point of so much pain, you don't even care about the initial pain because you know it's going to feel so much better soon. And it did! 

After I got the epidural, life was grand. I was much happier, conversational and friendly. My parents, brothers, sister and aunt were even able to come in and talk to us, which made the time go by much quicker. I was progressing, but very slowly. 

My doctor came in and broke my water, and I continued to progress, but again, very slowly.  {I'm so thankful my doctor was on call during Walker's delivery!} S-L-O-W was the name of the game for me. All afternoon and evening, I was making progress, but not much. I stayed at a 7.5 for about three hours, which was very frustrating. My doctor and nurses moved me to different positions to help move things along. They helped, but again, it was just a slow process. 

I was very saddened when the day shift nurse said to me {quite rudely}: "Well, if you don't progress, you're gonna have to have a C-section." I was devastated. I knew I didn't want to have a C-section, but also knew that if it was in the best interest of both my baby and me, that I would do it. I cried so hard in that hospital bed. Brandon prayed over us, and we knew that we would do what we needed to do for our family. 

Enter shift change. AKA: the best thing I could have ever asked for. My night nurse was a gift from God. She was an older African-American woman, and she sauntered into my room, looked me dead in the eye and said: "I'm taking the C-section hat off. I'm old school, and we're having this baby tonight!" She worked with my doctor, continued to put me in different positions, and finally, at 10:30 p.m., it was time to push. 

It was during this time that I got nauseous. I never got sick, but I do remember asking for something in my IV to take my nausea away. I also had to have an oxygen mask on because I was in labor for so long, was so tired and they wanted to ensure that both Walker and I were getting enough oxygen. And then, the throngs of nurses poured into the room, the big lights were turned on and it was time. 

I pushed for a little under an hour, which was seriously exhausting. I was so ready to meet our sweet boy! The nurses and my doctor kept making bets as to the time he'd grace us with his presence; ha! I later heard that my family was doing this in the waiting room, too!

And finally, at 12:03 a.m., Walker McKay Whitacre was born! He weighed 7 pounds even and was 20.5 inches long. 

They placed him on my chest immediately while they cleaned him off and Brandon cut the cord. I couldn't quit crying and just kept repeating to him over and over, "Happy Birthday!" Then I looked up at Brandon and noticed he was crying, too, which just made me cry even harder. Seeing my precious son on my chest was the best moment of my life. 

They noticed he was crying, but not very loudly, and it was determined that he had swallowed some fluid and was grunting really hard to get it all out. They quickly weighed him and then whisked him off to the NICU to clear out his lungs. I was so scared and nervous, but Brandon followed them with Walker and took our families to look at him through the glass once he was in the regular nursery. It was so strange to not be able to immediately hold my baby for a good, long time at first, but I knew they needed to clear his lungs…and fast. 

After I was cleaned up, my sweet nurse brought me the biggest turkey sandwich I have ever seen, and I threw that - along with a ton of water - down like there was no tomorrow! It was about 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday at that point, and I hadn't eaten since about 6 p.m. Monday night! I was hungry!

Finally, they brought Walker back to me and I just kept staring at him. Every time I would look at him, I would just cry. I never knew what it felt like to love someone this much, in such a different capacity than the love I feel for my husband. It makes my eyes well up with tears just typing this out. 

They then wheeled us down the hall to our postpartum room, where I got to nurse Walker for the first time. He latched on immediately, though it hurt like all get-out, and quickly became a champ in that department…and for that, I am thankful. I know that's not always the case.

We didn't get to sleep until about 3 a.m., and even then it was a pretty rough night. Walker was not a huge fan of that little box bed they have them in, and he slept on my chest with a Boppy around us all night. 

We had a good amount of visitors in the hospital, and it was so amazing seeing my family loving on my baby. Brandon changed his first diaper, and he continued to nurse well in the hospital, although the pain didn't subside for me in that department until he was about two weeks old. 

We were able to go home on Thursday afternoon, after much begging from me. We weren't supposed to go home until Friday {since he was born after midnight}, but I begged and pleaded since we had been in the hospital since Monday night. After being discharged, we took this adorable, sweet, tiny little boy home to begin our lives together. 

I am so thankful each day for Walker, the boy who made me a Mommy. While the past four months have been full of challenges, exhaustion and yes, even tears, they've also been filled with the most joy I've ever felt in my life. Being Walker's Mommy is a privilege and I'm so thankful that God blessed us and entrusted us with his life. 

"For this child I prayed, and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him." 
-1 Samuel 1:27

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