A Symbol of Change

As I sat in our master bedroom this morning, nursing Katie in our large, navy chair while listening to the rain drizzling on our tin roof,  I sit in marvel and amazement. We are going through a season of change as we embrace our role as parents.  We never planned to have our master bedroom be the nursery for the first few months, in fact, we have a finished nursery just steps away that has barely been used.

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In fact, I spend hours each day in this corner, staring down at the little face as I feed her.  In the early weeks, when Katie was losing weight and needing constant attention, our bedroom became “home base”. The bay window nook quickly became a nursery nook, complete with bassinet, nursing station and pumping supplies and our long dresser became the changing table. While there are so many things that reflect the change we are going through, nothing symbolizes this more than our dresser.

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This Pottery Barn dresser was one of the first joint purchases Bo and I made together. I remember searching and saving our money for months, nine years ago, to buy a bedroom set for our first apartment in New York City.

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Two years ago, when we moved into this apartment, I spent hours on Pinterest, design and lifestyle blogs and flipping through the pages of design magazines searching for inspiration. I wanted this dresser to be the first thing that greeted us when we entered the master bedroom. The dresser was styled, always polished in immaculate style and adorned with fresh flowers, a blue and white vase, my favorite candle, and a perfectly angled framed photograph. Even when other parts of our bedroom, including the dresser drawers, were a mess, I kept this bedroom centerpiece dusted and organized.

Now, as I look at the dresser, I see clutter and chaos. But, the change that has happened over the past eight weeks is that this clutter doesn’t stress me out or cause anxiety. Instead, in this chaos, I find happiness as each item that is covering the once stylized dresser is a symbol of this season of change.

First and foremost, I notice the diapers. Once perfectly organized in an adorable bag, the clean ones are now over flowing from the bag while a single used diaper sits on the edge of the pad.  I smile at the neatly folded, wrapped and sealed dirty diaper. Within the first few days, we learned that the tighter you fold them, the more we can stuff into the diaper pail. The tight fold also means that less odor seeps out of them after changes.

Then, I see Katie’s outfit from yesterday. I remember during the first week, when our small daughter seemed so fragile, that I was scared to change her outfit. I told my mom that she’d most likely see Katie wearing only kimono tops as these didn’t require me to pull anything over her head. Now, I laugh to myself as yesterdays outfit not only went over her head but it was also outfit number two as I quickly changed her after our morning burp session resulted in more than dribbles. In my opinion, after a few hours, dry formula and milk smells worse than a dirty diaper and therefore can sometimes mean that we change outfits more than once a day. But, now that she’s almost eleven pounds and not nearly as fragile, I no longer fear outfit changes.

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Next, there is the pile of burp cloths. They don’t match and there is a mix of styles, prints, sizes, and brands. The first week, I thought that the six burp cloths we’d received from friends and family at our baby showers were more than enough. In fact, I told my parents they could take a few home to Savannah. My dad laughed and told me that when I was desperate for more, the Gerber cloth diapers serve as inexpensive, wonderfully large burp cloths. Now, we have more than twenty burp cloths including these Gerber ones and yet every time I go to burp Katie, I feel like the pile is running low.

Finally, there is a crumpled to do list. Each morning, I take a few minutes to jot down the things I want to accomplish, knowing that I may only get one or two done each day. As I’ve mentioned on here and to friends and family, once upon a time I thought I’d spend her long naps reading, cleaning the house and making her newborn scrap book. Instead, I’ve come to realize that those long naps quickly evolved to multiple, shorter naps many of which are shorter than expected.  Katie loves to play and interact, rarely wanting the nap that she so desperately needs. My sole purpose and goal of maternity leave are to nurture, love and support our growing girl. So while the pile of clothes may go unfolded and the library books were quickly returned, each day that I see her smile and personality come out more and more, I know that I’m succeeding. I still make this list, not to cause anxiety, but to help keep me organized so when I do have a few spare moments, I remember the most important items that day, which sometimes may be to pay the rent, submit bills to insurance, prep dinner, or remember to buy milk. It’s a good thing that I remember to include “make Katie smile” at the top of the to do list each day.

Who knew nine years ago, when Bo and I purchased this dresser, that it would one day come to represent one of the most wonderful seasons of change we’ve experienced?

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Eating Healthy Even During A Stressful Time Period

This post is sponsored by The Quaker Oats Company, but as always, the opinions are my own.
 

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Now that I am a mother, I am definitely having to adjust my personal expectations of what I can
accomplish in a day. Historically, I was the queen of to-do lists. I gained great pleasure from making a list
of the things I wanted or needed to do each day, as soon as I woke up, and then throughout the day,
checking everything off the list. My mom and others warned that once our daughter arrived, especially
during the first few months, I’d need to adjust my expectations. Hoping to accomplish multiple things,
especially if they were involved tasks, would be very difficult as so much of my time would be dedicated
to feeding, pumping, cleaning bottles and snuggling and playing with Katie. As I’ve shared in other posts
and on social media, I have started to understand the wonderful demands newborn life brings; and have
therefore only committed to a few things each day, outside of Katie’s care and needs, which include
showering and making sure that I prioritize getting enough to eat, especially as I’m trying to increase my
breast milk supply.
 
I have never been one of those people who forgets to eat or who loses weight during stressful times.
Instead, I have photographic evidence and memories that show that anytime life gets stressful, I turn to
comfort food. Senior year of high school during college application process, red licorice was my comfort
food and it fueled one too many late night sessions of answering application questions or studying for
AP exams. More recently, during wedding planning and job changes, I turned to easy options like take-
out, and delivery. Over the past few years, I’ve made a conscious effort to find a more moderate,
balanced approach to food even during stressful or busy times.
 
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Therefore, when my friends at Quaker told me about their new product, Quaker Overnight Oats, I was
very excited. A convenient, nutritious and hearty option that can be prepared ahead so it is ready and
waiting in the fridge for breakfast, an afternoon snack or even a late-night feeding session. I’ve found
that since having Katie my hunger has been all over the place, with my stomach growling the most
during the early mornings, late evenings and middle of the night.

Available in four flavors, Toasted Coconut & Almond Crunch, Raisin Walnut & Honey Heaven, Blueberry Banana & Vanilla Bliss, and Orchard Pecan Peach perfection, each one has a mix of oats, fruits, quinoa,
flaxseeds, and nuts – has the nutrition to help keep me fueled. Unlike many products on the market
today, there are no artificial flavors or added colors! In addition, it has at least 11 grams of protein
(when prepared with 1/2 cup of Vitamin A and Vitamin D Fortified Skim Milk) and 300 calories or less
(before dairy or non-dairy option is added). But, not to worry. If you prefer to make it with almond milk,
cashew milk or any other non-dairy options, the Overnight Oats still turn out perfectly!

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In order to prepare the Overnight Oats, you simply open the individual cup container, pour your choice
of milk to the fill line, cover with the lid, put in the refrigerator and let the flavors and ingredients
combine for 6+ hours (no longer than twenty-four hours). I’ve been preparing two at a time, enjoying
one in the morning for breakfast and then snacking on the other one either throughout the day or
during my late night feeding session. If you want more protein, you can mix in some Greek Yogurt for an
even creamier texture. 

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While I’ve made mine with 1% milk and almond milk, I’ve preferred the 1% milk as it seems to have
turned out a bit creamier. My favorite flavors are the Toasted Coconut & Almond Crunch as well as the
Blueberry Banana & Vanilla Bliss.
 
A delicious and refreshing breakfast for these hot summer days, this is perfect for anyone who needs an
easy, quick option for breakfast.
 
Thank you to The Quaker Oats Company for sponsoring this post.

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Taking 30 Minutes For Me

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Now, more than ever, I’ve found that taking 30 minutes to relax and rejuvenate each day allows me to be the best version of myself. I was told by multiple parents that it’d be hard, especially during these first few months, to find time to do much more than shower each day but, if possible, take 30 minutes to invest in myself. I took this advice to heart, and thanks to Bo’s support, have been able to enjoy at least 30 minutes each day the past few weeks to relax and disconnect. This is the one time each day when I allow myself to be free of a to-do list, any household chores and just indulge in my favorite things.  After seeing a few other people share their self-love or self-care routines, I thought it’d be fun to share mine.

By 9:30 most nights Katie is fast asleep in her bassinet and I am able to transition my mind to relaxation. I head downstairs and pour myself a glass of wine, before going back into our bedroom. I often reach for an oaky Chardonnay or a fruity Pinot Noir and am working my way through the bottles we bought during our Babymoon in California. Once I’m back upstairs, I light my favorite Diptyque candle and then change into something more comfortable. After wearing a nursing bra and clothes that are nursing-friendly but not necessarily the most feminine or flattering, I spend my nights in something a bit more feminine. When Lively offered to send me a pair of set of their matching bra and underwear, I laughed, thinking that there could be no worse time to offer lingerie to a woman. In fact, I dreaded taking them out of the bag, fearing the way my post baby body would feel in the black bra and underwear. Much to my surprise, I’ve started wearing them multiple nights a week as the silky, soft bra and underwear set is feminine but comfortable. The bralette is a perfect sleeping bra while the mesh trim makes it more fun than anything else in my drawer. Want to try Lively? You can use code AMB-healthyhappier to receive $10 off your order! 

The next order of business is trying to get my skin in order with a combination of brightening potions. A few nights a week I apply the Beauty Counter Brightening Face Mask while the other nights I apply the Brightening Facial Oil followed with a night moisturizer and eye cream. While I’d love to use one of the many stronger brightening products (specifically Rodan+Fields Reverse) you all recommended, most of them aren’t recommended for use during breast feeding due to the retinol. If you have another recomendation, please let me know as I’m tired of this pregnancy mask! I have also started using a moisturizing hand cream each night since the daily bottle scrubbing has started to wreak havoc on my hands.

Finally, I squeeze in 15 to 30 minutes of reading before going to sleep. While I initially found myself reading parenting and baby books, I have decided to switch gears and save those for daytime while my evening reading is strictly reading for pleasure. The stack of books next to my bed is embarassing and clearly points to a naive new mom who thought she’d spend all her nursing hours reading, only to realize that her baby currently requires two hands to hold and cuddle while nursing.  These are the books I’ve renewed multiple times at the library and am finally finding time to read now that Katie’s sleep is allowing me this nightly routine.

What books are you loving right now? What is part of your self-care routine?

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