Pregnancy hormones are making me crazy

I always thought movies and TV shows exaggerated pregnancy hormones. “Get out of my f@#$*&^ car!” Katherine Heigl’s pregnant character tells Seth Rogan’s character as they’re driving down the road in the movie Knocked Up. There’s no way it’s this extreme, I thought as I watched years before I became pregnant.

As it turns out, it wasn’t that off base. I’ve experienced this same type of rage while pregnant and in the months following. And that’s not the only emotion I’ve felt. Sadness, irritability, and thankfully, happiness too—these are just some of the ups and downs that together have made pregnancy and postpartum one wild ride.

During my first pregnancy, I felt a lot of anger. I don’t know if it was the testosterone running through my body since I was having a boy or what, but I remember feeling unjustified rage over things that didn’t really matter. The worst incident had to be when I insisted my husband take us back home on our way to a BBQ. Why was I so hell-bent on getting back to the house? Well, I couldn’t bear being seen with him in his current outfit. I mean, who wears a winter sweater with flip-flops and a dirty baseball cap? As we were driving there, I told him if he didn’t turn the car around and return home to change clothes, I would open the door and tuck and roll. TUCK AND ROLL, I shrieked.

Who was that person?

I thought for sure I would feel like myself again once the baby came, but it took several months before everything leveled out—and I credit my exercise routine with FIT4MOM for helping me get my sanity back. It was during the postpartum period that I had what my mommy friends and I now refer to as my “silhouette moment.” I was thrilled when I saw a local silhouette artist was coming to my favorite consignment shop and immediately signed up my baby. Many of my friends had silhouettes of their children done at Disneyland, but we didn’t have any plans to go there until kids were older. This seemed like the perfect opportunity.

After making my baby sit patiently for the artist to cut out his likeness on black silhouette paper, she told me there was a flaw in the original so she was going to give me the copy, which was a mirror image. Apparently, I misunderstood because I thought she was saying I was going to get an extra one, since one was flawed.

“No, you have to pay for that one if you want two,” she told me.

“But you just said it’s flawed, so why can’t I have it? Won’t you just be throwing it away?” I asked.

“Oh no, I’ll use this for advertising,” she told me.

Frustrated, I walked out of the store. As I was buckling my son in his car seat, I decided that wasn’t acceptable. I marched back in there, guns blazing, and firmly told the woman that I would be taking the other silhouette for free because she did not have permission to use an image of MY son for advertising. We went back and forth, and the exchange became heated. Sure, I was arguing against her using a solid black cutout of my son’s profile, which was virtually unidentifiable. But he has one freaking cute profile. Have you seen his button nose?

In the end, the artist ripped up the silhouette and threw it in the trash, and I dropped to my knees to pick out each tiny piece. I was then escorted out of the store as I felt the judging eyes of several moms waiting their children’s turn.

“I’m going!” I said with my baby in my arms as the manager swiftly shooed me out.

I’ve never felt so crazy before in my life.

Fast forward to more than a year later, and here I am, pregnant again. This time, it’s not rage I feel primarily. Most days it’s sadness. Logically, I can tell you that I have more than enough reasons to be very happy; nonetheless, I have a cloud overhead that I can’t seem to shake.

The tears also come more easily with this pregnancy—maybe because of the additional estrogen due to this baby being a girl. On a recent trip to the store, I just about lost it after having to ask three different employees to help me bring a mattress to the front.

“My cart is full, I have a toddler, I’m very pregnant, and I have to pee,” I explained after they said no. Not one minute later, my raspberries rolled out of the container onto the floor, and my eyes immediately welled up with tears.

That’s when a woman, bless her heart, swooped in and said she would not only go get the mattress for me, but she would also get me a new container of raspberries. When she met me at the front with both, she gave me a hug and told me everything would be okay.

This woman saved me that day.

While it can be easy to make light of these situations, particularly after they’re over, the truth is postpartum anxiety and depression is real and can be debilitating for some women. It’s something we rarely talk about but should. If my hormones don’t level out for me after this baby like they did last time, I plan to discuss a treatment plan with my doctor that involves more than exercise. There is no reason to feel shame about that, and if you’re in this boat too, I encourage you to do the same.

And mamas, let’s save the judgment. Instead, let’s be the woman who hugs the mother she sees struggling in the store or wherever she may be. Who knows? Some day you may have your own silhouette moment or feel the urge to tuck and roll, but know that there is a village of mothers who are here to catch you when you fall.


How To Buy High-End Baby Clothing Without Breaking the Bank

When our son was born 18 months ago, my preference for high-end clothing brands shifted from buying items for myself to purchasing clothes and accessories for him. Specifically, I developed an affinity for just about anything European or vintage. Peter Pan collars. Knee socks. Oxford shoes. Hand-knit gnome hats. Swoon!

Lucky me, I fell into the small percentage of American women who actually receive maternity leave, and not just any maternity leave—PAID maternity leave. What happens when you have a sleep-deprived new mother up at all hours of the night breastfeeding with a disposable income? I’ll tell you. Packages start arriving day after day, and you have zero recollection of having ordered the items.

Did I click purchase in the middle of the night again? And these weren’t small purchases. $100 for a European sweater set that he’ll wear one time? Sure. $55 for a knit hat from the UK? Why not? The charges kept adding up, but with my cushy job at a major tech company and plans to return to work in a few months, I didn’t bat an eye.

That’s all changed now that I’m a Stay At Home Mom relying on my husband’s salary for our soon-to-be family of SEVEN. Yes, I said seven. That’s five, count them, FIVE kids. Not to mention the two dogs that are basically the size of horses.

Because my fancy tastes haven’t changed, I’ve had to find creative ways to fulfill my desire to dress my child in completely impractical European outfits solely for the photo op. In case you too have lavish taste for your child, or simply want to buy things that are higher quality and last longer than your average kids’ clothing, here are some tips to do so without breaking the bank:

  • Shop an app called Kidizen, where moms sell all sorts of brands at reasonable prices. I’ve found several pieces for Baby A from my favorite European brands. I’ve also found several NWT (that stands for New With Tags for all of you new used clothing shoppers.) shoes from See Kai Run. For something they can grow out of so quickly, this makes way more sense to me than paying full price. Bonus, you can re-sell the items on Kidizen when you’re finished!
  • Check out Instagram for mamas with similar styles to yours who are reselling their kids’ clothing. I have a friend who regularly finds deals this way.
  • Ebay is a great option for shoes.
  • Don’t forget about Etsy–I recently found a great deal on a vintage button down for Baby A and a Christening outfit!
  • Look for Buy, Sell, Trade groups on Facebook for your favorite brands. I found a national and local one for Hanna Andersson (HA) and Mini Boden, two of my personal faves. If that’s your jam too, do a search and request to join. There is a ton of great stuff on there!
  • Keep an eye out for garage sales, especially in neighborhoods where parents are more likely to shop the high-end brands you prefer. I scored big last weekend when I found a MASSIVE Hanna Andersson garage sale. I dropped a few hundred dollars for what was easily more than $1,000 worth of kids clothing—all in excellent condition.
  • Find a local consignment shop. If you’re a Seattle area mom like myself, I prefer this one on the Eastside. It can be hit or miss, and finding a quality brand like HA is rare, but it can happen! As proof, I scored an amazing LIKE NEW HA snowsuit for my son.
  • Look for local consignment sales like Just Between Friends. The Issaquah one is coming up THIS weekend!
  • If you’re not into buying used clothing, wait to make purchases when the sales are BIG or you have coupons. Yes, it can be annoying to receive regular emails from stores, but you don’t want to miss a sale of 30-40 percent off like HA had last week. If you miss those, you can always buy clothes off season, and there are always the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, which is when I purchase our Christmas jammies each year.

Happy shopping, mamas!

Confessions of a Pregnant Woman

After the same ad kept reappearing on my Facebook feed almost daily, I decided to click the “hide” option. It wasn’t just that it continued to pop up on my feed that irritated me—I also couldn’t stand what it said.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love being pregnant,” the sponsored ad said, “but it isn’t always a walk in the park.”

What was it about that line that got under my skin so much? Well, what if you don’t “love being pregnant?” I thought to myself. Why do you need to caveat that you love being pregnant before talking about uncomfortable changes and aches to your body? What is it that makes us as women feel like we have to say we love being pregnant, whether we do or not? Like we’re some monster if we scream from the rooftop,


Clearly, that must mean that you’re a horrible person who doesn’t deserve to be pregnant in the first place, let alone experience the miracle of life at the end of the 40 long weeks.

Maybe the woman in the post truly loves being pregnant. I know those mythical creatures exist. I’m, however, not one of them.

While I had next to zero complaints or problems during my first pregnancy—until of course the very end when no one in their right mind can be comfortable that size—I still hated it. I hated the feeling of being out of control of my body as it changed in ways I could never imagine. I hated feeling like I was sharing my body with someone, but most of the time it felt more like something.

“When he starts to kick, it will feel real to you, and you’ll love it,” friends told me.

I must admit, when it happened I was legitimately freaked out. Was this a baby inside me or an alien? Only time would tell.

With this pregnancy, I thought surely I would feel differently. Now that I’ve confirmed that it was not in fact an alien and experienced the joy of my son, I thought for sure I wouldn’t feel like I had a foreign visitor inside of me this time.


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Stephanie Rubyor managed to make me forget about the stretch marks and discomfort long enough to feel beautiful, and dare I say, glowing in my maternity session.

I still feel weird about it. And it’s not just that. This pregnancy hasn’t been an easy go around. Perhaps it’s the old wives tale of girl vs boy, but my first trimester was wrought with morning sickness and exhaustion not to mention enough tears to fill the Atlantic Ocean. I’m also not one of those women who feels the most beautiful she’s ever felt when she’s pregnant. You’ve heard of those people, right? You know, the ones who are glowing.

I’m here to tell you that passing gas without so much as a two second warning or peeing a little when you sneeze are about the last things that make you feel sexy.

Oh, and remember that blog post I wrote bidding farewell to my voluptuous breasts when I stopped nursing? Well, they’re back. In full force. And don’t even get me started on what my nipples look like.

So why am I putting myself through this again, you ask? You see, the thing is, it really is all worth it in the end. The moment you see your baby for the first time tops my list as the most incredible moment in my life. Bringing Baby A into this world is my proudest accomplishment, and I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to do it again in just a few months when we meet our baby girl for the first time. (Someone remind me of this post when I’m several hours into labor hating life and wanting to give up, okay?)

I love the end result, but I’ll be damned if I tell you that I love being pregnant.

To the stepmom bringing home her first baby…

I see you holed up in the dark nursery with your tiny newborn and sore nipples, learning how to breastfeed. You don’t have the option to sit and let it all hang out on your comfy couch in front of the TV like other new moms because you have a teenage stepson and that’s just weird.

I see you biting your tongue and clenching your fists every time your step kids want to hold your tiny, fragile bundle of joy. Did they wash their hands? Why do they need to hold him at all? Don’t breathe in his face! Don’t touch his face! Only touch his feet!

I see you guzzling down the diet soda as you figure out dinner not just for you and your husband, but for your growing stepchildren too. You wonder what it would be like to only have the stress that comes with a new baby instead of also feeling the weight of managing a household of six—the meals, the basketball games, the laundry.

Postpartum hormones alone are enough to make a woman feel overwhelmed, but throw in the complicated feelings of a blended family, and that is MORE than enough to make a woman feel completely CRAZY.

I am here to tell you that you are not crazy. You are going to feel a lot of different emotions when you bring your baby home from the hospital. Some of these feelings may even come as a surprise to you because you have a positive relationship with your stepchildren. You may feel like you walked into the hospital to give birth feeling one way about them and walked out hours (or days!!) later feeling a completely different way toward them.

You may not feel like sharing your baby. That’s okay. You may also be mourning the life you thought you would have – you know, the one where you get married and experience parenthood for the first time with your partner. It’s okay to be sad that he’s already done this before.

But mama, it will get easier. Your hormones will gradually level out. Your baby will become sturdier, and when you’re ready, you’ll let others hold him so that you can do things like brush your teeth and wash your hair. Now that’s a benefit most new mamas don’t have! Oh, and remember how you were sad that your husband has done this before? Now you are thankful that you have a partner who already knows what to do and is comfortable with a teensy tiny baby.

Not only will you start to find a groove, but you’ll also find sweet moments of joy. When your stepson makes your baby giggle like no one else can. When you find your 11-year-old stepdaughter is more nurturing than you ever knew. When your 14-year-old stepdaughter steps up and shows leadership. When they fight over whose turn it is to change the baby’s diaper or help with his bath. When you’re all on the floor, cheering him on as he takes his first steps. When they come home from their bio-mom’s house and can’t wait to see their baby brother.

I won’t lie to you. Blended families are no joke. It can be a lot to juggle, especially when bringing a tiny human into the mix. But I am finding that in between the moments of chaos, they can also be wonderful. The bond between siblings transcends DNA and in our case, a several year age gap, and it really is something special to witness.

So hang in there, Mama Bear. You’ve got this.


My farewell to breastfeeding

Dear Double D’s,

You should win an award for best disappearance act. You left as quickly as you came—seemingly overnight.

We had a good run. Nearly two years, in fact. I remember the first time I saw you. I did a double take that morning in the bathroom mirror. Are my boobs bigger? I must be imagining things, I thought to myself. When I saw two pink lines on the pregnancy test, I knew I wasn’t.

Over the next nine months, I watched you enlarge several cup sizes. For the first time in my life, I experienced what it was like to have Victoria’s Secret-sized breasts.

“Enjoy them now!” People said. “Some day they’ll shrivel up like mine did after kids!”

We went through an adjustment period after the baby arrived. You were sore as Baby A tried to figure out how to latch. It took several visits to the lactation consultants and an ample amount of nipple butter, but we finally figured it out.

That first month, it felt like all I did was breastfeed. Hours never went by so quickly and yet so slowly before in my life.

It took a while for you to regulate your flow. The first night Baby A slept 12 hours—the only night he slept that long until he was 10-months-old—I was awake pumping because you were hard as rocks and about to burst. It also seemed I was leaking everywhere. I found breast milk in random places all over our house. Crusty white spots on our leather sofa, even where I hadn’t sat but had apparently walked by naked at some point. Getting in and out of the shower was a feat in and of itself. I raced in after undressing while you sprayed milk all over the bathroom floor. With force like that, I could become a volunteer firefighter.

My goal was to make it one month nursing Baby A. That was the amount of time I had read was most beneficial for the baby.

“You may enjoy it,” people told me.

I faked a smile and said, “Yeah, maybe.” There was no scenario in which I could ever imagine enjoying breastfeeding. Just thinking about it made me uncomfortable.

When we reached one month, however, we were in a groove. You adjusted to just the right amount Baby A needed, and when he slept longer stretches, I didn’t need to pump anymore. I decided to keep going until six months.

Six months came and went. You were still coming through for us—producing the right amount for Baby A. You were a reliable companion and gladly came along with us wherever we went. I loved the convenience of not having to prepare or wash bottles. We were all happy with our arrangement so I decided to continue to the one-year mark.

But just after Baby A turned 9-months-old, our relationship hit an unexpected rough patch. I suffered a bout of food poisoning that was on par with childbirth pains, and due to severe dehydration, your milk production took a serious hit.

I hung on to Baby A’s nighttime feeding for a few more weeks, but I knew I was delaying the inevitable. There wasn’t enough in there for my growing boy. I broke into the freezer stash I had so diligently pumped while on maternity leave, and soon, I started adding in formula.

It’s been two weeks since Baby A has nursed, and today I looked in the mirror to see that you are gone too. In your place, are two freakishly small breasts—more like chicken nuggets—that I don’t even recognize. So much for my Victoria’s Secret modeling dream.

Although our end was abrupt, I want you to know that I’ll always cherish the time we spent together. Even more so, I’ll treasure the bond you created between Baby A and me.


Mama Nuggets


4 Parenting Things I Swore I Would Never Do Before I Became a Mom

I’m only nine months into this whole parenting thing, and I’ve found myself doing things I said I would never do. Turns out, it’s a helluva lot easier to have opinions from the outside looking in, but when you’re here, in the trenches of motherhood, you do what you gotta do.

 1.  Co-sleep

“We should just put the crib in our room,” my husband said. “He’ll be in here most of his first year anyway.”

“No way,” I said firmly. “I will not be one of those moms who let her baby sleep in her bed.” My sister was one of “those moms,” and I vowed to be different. We would sleep train our baby as early as possible, and we wouldn’t give in and pick him up when he cried.

Fast forward to now. Baby A is almost nine months old and still sleeping in our bed.

And do you want to know something? I freaking love it. Sure, some nights are difficult, and sometimes I want to punch the moms that post a photo of their 6-week-old baby on Instagram with the hashtag “12hoursandstillsleeping.” But every morning when Baby A wakes up between Ryan and me, happily babbling and smiling, we soak it in. We stay in bed just the three of us for an extra 15-20 minutes and sometimes longer on the weekend. It’s our favorite time of day.

This is what works for us. Turns out there are some benefits to it as well. It’s taken me a while to feel comfortable saying that without feeling anxious that I need to sleep train him soon or his sleep will be ruined forever or God forbid be pegged by moms in the Cry It Out Camp as being weaker. How about none of us judge each other and we accept that we all do what we need to do to get through these early years.

Crazy hair after coming out from under the breastfeeding cover at Anthony’s restaurant

2.  Breastfeed in public

Early on in our relationship, Ryan and I were on a double date at Olive Garden (hey, I know it’s not real Italian food, but those breadsticks! Am I right?!) with a guy from work and his wife. Midway through dinner, she began nursing her newborn under a cover at the table.

“You guys don’t mind, right?” Our friend asked.

“Of course not,” Ryan quickly replied.

I bit my tongue. Afterward, I told Ryan how uncomfortable I was when she nursed her baby as she talked to me. Couldn’t she feed her in the privacy of her home before dinner so she wouldn’t be hungry when we were out?

Ryan simply said, “You’ll feel differently some day when we have a baby.”

Another point for Ryan. Again, I realize how judgy and naïve I was pre-baby.

First of all, I had no idea that newborns literally eat ALL THE FLIPPING TIME. I remember feeling like all I was doing those first several weeks was nursing Baby A. The only way to avoid having to nurse in public would be to never leave my house! And that obviously wasn’t an option if I wanted to keep my sanity.

The more I nursed Baby A the more my breasts felt utilitarian and functional—not sexual or inappropriate at all. I will never stop being amazed at the human body and what it can do—growing a baby and then providing nourishment and strength through breast milk. Incredible!

I’m happy to say Baby A enjoys nursing wherever we happen to be when he’s hungry while I enjoy a slice of humble pie.

3.  Make my own baby food

This sounded way too crunchy and hippy to me. I planned to buy the pouches. When would I find the time to make baby food anyway? Fast-forward a few months to when I became a Stay At Home Mom and realized A. those pouches are pricey and B. I actually have time to make baby food.

So I dusted off Ryan’s food processor and started pureeing away! It’s been fun to try various combinations and watch Baby A experience new foods. We still buy pouches to grab and go—and because sometimes I don’t feel like making food even when I’m home—but I try to occasionally make our own purees to save money and do our part to help the environment. As it turns out those pouches may be organic, but they’re not so eco-friendly, according to this Huffington Post article.

I learned that making your own food isn’t crunchy and hippy at all—it’s just sensible.

4.  Take my baby to a restaurant

How rude of people to take babies to restaurants. Can’t they get a sitter? So disruptive! Why are they even going out to eat? Stay at home with your baby.

Man, I was a B.

As it turns out, when you have a baby, you still like to eat at restaurants. When your baby is tiny and needs to eat every few hours, it makes the most sense to just bring the baby with you. He’ll probably sleep most of the time anyway!

When Baby A was only a few months old, we took him to several nice restaurants. I was always a bit nervous going because I was afraid of getting the stink eye from strangers if he disturbed them—you know, people like me who thought there was no place for babies in restaurants.

Then I decided to stop caring. I needed to get out. If for some reason he was extra fussy, I would take him out of the restaurant. Thankfully, he always quietly slept or nursed.

Now that he’s a bit older and louder, we probably won’t take him to quiet dinners at fancy restaurants as frequently, but you can bet your ass we’ll still be going out to dinner. Instead, you’ll find us enjoying a basket of bottomless fries at Red Robin.