Gorilla Carrier and Other Dad Approved Gear

Birth of My Son 6
This is my husband, Dylan.

I’d like to give a shout out to him, because he’s an amazing dad.

He LOVES being a dad, and he loves spoiling our son.

For example, he’s the guy that will sneak toys into the shopping cart at the store. Then of course the baby drools on them or puts them in his mouth and I have to buy it.

Or he’s the one who gets excited that I got him a glow in the dark pajama set and can’t wait to put it on our son.

Onward with the post.

My husband has been very active in parenthood. Here are the 4 items that he loves to use and actually brags about using to his friends.

#1 The Gorilla Carrier

Gorilla Carrier Baby Gear

Okay. So my hubby and I are avid hikers. We live in the great northland, and pretty much every Sunday you can find us on the trail. So as soon as our baby was able (6 months!) we wanted to start getting him out there.

Prior to this we were able to go on nice long walks with our stroller which we LOVED, but it just wasn’t the same. And the front carrier (we had a Baby BJorn) just wasn’t comfortable when used for a long period of time (and we love long hikes).

We LOVE the Gorilla Carrier we ordered off of Amazon. We had a choice of 3 different colors, and I let my husband pick since he’d most likely be the primary carrier.

He was SOOOOO excited to take it out. He also loves just walking around town or through the mall with it on. Seriously!

It has cool features like a ton of storage space, a removable backpack, and a sun/bug cover.

It’s easy to get on and off, and our little guy loves it (in this picture he had just woke up from falling asleep in it)!

Gorilla Carrier Baby Gear Family

#2 The Baby Ball Pit

Ball Pit Baby Gear

We got this baby ball pit as a baby shower gift from our gift registry on Amazon, and my husband thinks it’s the coolest thing ever. It’s basically an activity gym, but the sides come up and you can fill it with the plastic balls! It’s great! Our son can spend a lot of time in it without getting bored.

Ball Pit Baby Gear 3

Plus it lets him practice grabbing, pulling, and moving objects around.

#3 Exersaucer/Jumper

Baby Toys Jumper Exersaucer Walker

These are the BEST for when you just need to put the baby down for 5 minutes and get something done without worrying. He’s at the age now where he rolls/pulls/kicks/slides so you cannot leave him alone in anything!

HOWEVER this jumper keeps him stationary. He can warm up lunch or make coffee or go to the bathroom and not be worried about the baby rolling into something or falling off of anything.

Also, he LOVES it. He can spend 20 minutes easy in it. PLUS it counts as Tummy Time (anything that exercises their back and neck is considered tummy time).

#4 The Baby Backpack Diaper Bag

Baby Registry Backpack

My husband chose this diaper bag backpack to put on our gift registry, and he was SO EXCITED when we got it. He actually WANTS to be in charge of the diaper bag, and he isn’t embarrassed about going out in public with the baby by himself.

So many diaper bags are geared towards women, and this one is gender neutral.

It has PLENTY of storage, it’s comfortable, and we LOVE it.

It also comes with a changing pad, which is pretty cool.

Thanks for reading!

Hopefully your hubby or man enjoys these products as much as mine does!

 

How I Created a Breastmilk Stockpile

So my son Vincent just turned 6 months old last week.

He’s healthy (20lbs, 27 inches) and happy (see below for smiling adorableness). My doctor is completely thrilled with his development overall.

I love being his mom, and I have loved nurturing him and taking care of him.

Along with that, I love knowing that my body has produced enough nutrition to allow him to thrive.

However, in my journey of motherhood (he’s my first baby afterall) I have learned that breastfeeding is not for me, at least not this time around (see previous post on Exclusively Pumping). However, I still wanted to provide him with the best nutrition possible.

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I’ve been exclusively pumping for about 3 months now. That means that instead of breastfeed, I pump and feed him with a bottle (or he gets bottles of breastmilk at daycare which I send with each morning).

Again, I LOVE knowing that my body is taking care of him. However. I HATE PUMPING.

This isn’t surprising since I’ve never once heard a mom say “Yes, pumping is AWESOME!”

No. It’s time consuming, tedious, boring, and uncomfortable.

I figured this out after only pumping a few times.

So, I created a goal for myself.

By the time my son was 6 months old I WANT TO WEAN MYSELF OFF THE PUMP but still HAVE ENOUGH FOOD/ BREASTMILK FOR HIS FIRST YEAR.

In other words, I needed to create a stockpile. 

As you can see, I achieved my goal. I have done the math, and if I begin to wean myself now (a process which usually takes a few weeks to do it properly) I can be done pumping by the time my son is 7 months old, but still have enough food to HOPEFULLY make it to his first year without using formula or other substitute.

breastmilk stockpile deep freezer.jpg

(deep freezer full to brim – I also have a good pile in my regular freezer)

How did I achieve this? Well, I’ll fill you in.

Whether your baby is 6 months old or you are preparing yourself for your future little one, you can start your stockpile now. HOWEVER I will say one of my benefits was starting early because I was able to train my body right away.

Tip #1
Start Pumping Early

I started pumping when my son was about a month old.

The doctors recommend waiting to pump/bottle feed until a child is about 8 weeks old, because it can take about that long for your milk supply to figure itself out and that’s about the best age (so they say) to introduce a bottle to avoid nipple confusion (which my son got anyways even though he didn’t get a bottle until about 9 weeks old).

Why did I start pumping so early?

Well, I wanted to train my body to produce enough milk for me to both nurse and pump. As previously stated, your body takes a couple months to sort out its supply (as in how much to produce for each feeding and how often your baby feeds).
I knew I wanted to create a stockpile for daycare or for trips out of the house in the future, so I wanted to start pumping and freezing milk.
Since I started pumping early, my body was trained to think thats how much milk I needed to produce.

The only potential downside to this method is that you create an oversupply. You are telling your body to make more milk than necessary.

An oversupply can lead to a fast let down, clogged ducts, or foremilk/hindmilk imbalance.

To help avoid this, you need to get on a set pumping schedule, and it can help to pump first BEFORE feeding your baby so your baby doesn’t have to deal with the fast let down. Also, I recommend only pumping twice a day (unless your supply is extremely low). I usually aim to pump 4oz on each side per session. I freeze my milk in 4-5oz bags, so essentially pumping twice a day I freeze 3-4 bags of milk.

Tip #2
Get a great pump like mine.

I have the Medala Pump In Style. It’s quick – usually only takes about 15 minutes for me to completely empty both breasts, sometimes only 10 – and I’ve NEVER had an issue with it.

Pumping Medala Pump

I just have to wash all the parts regularly (I wash them quick with soap and water after every use and sanitize the equipment thoroughly almost every night) in order to prevent mold.

I have talked to moms about their pumps, and no one every raves about them. I totally brag about mine to my friends, and I plan on keeping it for baby #2 !

Seriously, you want an effective, easy to  use pump so you don’t dread pumping and so you can pump quickly and move on with your day (or to caring for your little nugget).

Tip #3
Pump in the morning

Your supply is highest in the morning, so the morning is the best time to get a routine going and get used to your pump. I could usually feed my baby then still pump 4 ounces on each side.

I tell all my friends if they are going to pump only once a day, do it in the morning. Your supply will always be lowest at night, and trying to pump in the evening can be extremely frustrating.

If you have a goal in mind like I did, it can also be EXTREMELY helpful for creating and maintaining a large supply to pump in the middle of the night.

My little nugget typically woke up around 2am, and I’d nurse him. When I was done I would pump the side he didn’t finish nursing on (usually at night he’d only do one side) and get about 4-5 oz. Early morning-mid morning (2am-8am) you are going to get the highest amount of milk.

Once my baby started sleeping through the night (around 4 months old) I still got up and pumped around 2am every night for about a month to help build my stockpile. It was a pain, and I admit that, but now, like I said, my little guy is 6 months old and I’m ready to start weaning off the pump. I will no longer be a slave!!

Tip #4
Get on a set schedule for feeding and pumping

Your body will thrive under a routine. It’s seriously creepy/amazing.

For example, this was my feeding/pumping schedule for my first 3 months

5am-feed
8am-feed/pump
11am-feed
2pm- feed
5pm-feed
8pm-feed
11pm-feed/pump
2am-feed/pump

You can do different variations of that. However, I recommend pumping at least once in the very early morning, and again whenever you start your day. Your supply is best then.
I always pumped late at night too to try to increase my supply (since it’s always lowest at night). But that’s your call.

The strange/creepy thing is that seriously like clockwork I can feel my boobs start to letdown/leak at around 11am every single day, and again around 2…etc etc…. They know they’re going to get used soon. Your body thrives on a schedule, and your body “remembers” how much milk to produce when. If you stick on a routine of when you pump, you will train your body to have that much milk ready for you. Crazy! But it works!

Note: I was fortunate enough to work in an environment which made pumping at work on a schedule fairly easy.
Be preemptive though. Talk to your boss before returning to work about your ideal schedule. THE LAW SAYS THEY HAVE TO LET YOU PUMP! KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
Yes, it’ll be a pain some days. But trust me, it’s worth it.
Also, keep your work schedule in mind when you are creating your pumping/feeding schedule.

It also helps to have a manual pump like this one:

Baby Registry Manual Pump

Why? Sometimes it’s really tough to coordinate finding a place/time to pump with your electric pump. For example, a long drive or going to a concert and dinner. If you want to maintain your schedule, you’ll need to pump. Having a hand held/manual pump can be a major life saver. They’re tricky to use the first couple of times, so I recommend practicing before you actually need to use it, but you get the hang of it pretty fast.

Tip #5
Stay Hydrated and Eat Right

It’s SO HARD, even on maternity leave, to have time to take care of yourself. You’ll be either holding a baby, trying to get a baby to sleep, or feeding a baby 99% of your time. And when you’re not, you’re probably trying to sleep.

MAKE SURE YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.

Breastmilk is basically water, fat, and protein.
I could EASILY notice a difference in my pumping on days I wasn’t drinking water or would forget to eat. Seriously.

I never made any special breastmilk increasing meals, but I made foods that were easy but full of protein. I also stocked up on gatorade and powerade or vitamin water (whatever was on sale at my gas station or grocery store) and tried to drink at least 2 of them a day.

My favorite easy snack was just dipping apple slices in peanut butter. I also ate a lot of peanut butter toast. Anything that you can eat with one hand that isn’t hot (in case you spill on the baby you’re holding) is the best.

When my husband got home from work, he was in charge of dinners. We ate a lot of chicken (cheap, easy to cook, full of protein) and vegetables (we love brussel sprouts, potatos, and carrots).

We also tried to make foods which would create a lot of leftovers for us so that way I could have easy lunches when I was home with the baby. You won’t have much time for cooking, so having easy meals will help you continue to eat.

For example, usually once a week we’d make some form of pasta (which is always enough to feed an army). We’d have enough leftovers for a day or two. Then we’d make something else leftover-focused such as stew or enchiladas (my personal favorite) or meatloaf. Again, I’d then have leftovers for a day or two. It was a good system.

I was also fortunate enough to have an amazing mom who made a few freezer meals for us while I was in the hospital (she came and stayed at my home for about a week) so when we were really in a pinch we could throw something from the freezer in the microwave. She made us pulled pork, chicken wild rice soup, and lasagna.

Tip #6
Pump for at least 15 minutes OR until you hit your desired amount. 
I always aimed to pump about 5 ounces on each side.

If you’re trying to increase your amount- for example if you are only getting 2 ounces- don’t get discouraged. Keep pumping for a few minutes even after you get your last drop. Your body will learn that you need “more food” for your baby and respond appropriately after a couple days.

Tip #7
Get comfortable and relax

One of the best things I ever did was go hands free. Get a hands free bustier for your pump like this one:

hands free pumping

OR make your own by cutting holes into a sports bra or belly band.
Either way, having your hands free to eat lunch, flip through a book, or scroll through your phone makes pumping so much more enjoyable.

Another tip is to get a comfortable chair and set up a special pumping zone. I have a great glider, and I keep a small end table next to it stocked with my pumping essentials as well as usually a book. I always bring some water with me or sometimes a snack. I also keep a baby bouncer like this one:

Baby Registry Baby Bouncer

in front of my glider. That way if my baby is awake I can put him near me and still talk to him or sing to him or watch him play with toys.

Often thinking of your baby or even looking at pictures, and especially being near your baby, can increase your production.

Finally, relax. Being stressed out about pumping is going to do you more harm than good. Trust your body.

Along with this, pumping shouldn’t hurt. Don’t use the maximum setting, just use whatever setting is comfortable (I’m just barely past medium). Make sure your shields and all equipment are the correct size and set up correctly as well.

Thank you for reading! Hopefully you enjoyed my tips! Feel free to share yours as well!

Top 8 Baby Toys for 6 Month Old

So my son Vincent (or “Vinny” as I call him) is 6 months old!

HOLY COW.

As the mother of an average, healthy (somewhat larger than average) baby, I would LOVE to share with you the toys and gear that have made both baby and I’s life enjoyable so far.

  1. The Activity Gym. If you don’t own one, get one. Seriously. As early as his first day home from the hospital, we used this Activity Gym for tummy time and play time. Before, he used to just stare at everything and make little adorable noises. Now, he reaches for things and swats at things, and has even started rolling over! We even ended up getting a second Activity Gym/Ball Pit because we loved it so much. My husband LOVES the ball pit and plays with the baby in it quite a bit.Baby Toys Activity Gym
    Vincent and his Activity Gym

    Baby Toys Ball Pit
    Vincent and the Hubby’s favorite – the Ball Pit/Activity Gym Combo

  2. The Bumbo Seat. We also have the tray. It’s perfect to use in combination with the Activity Gym. It gives baby a different perspective on the world (he has a small world so far) and helps give him some much needed head/neck exercise. We started putting him in it at around 4 months old. He’s at the age where he is trying so hard to sit up on his own (sometimes we surround him with a Boppy Pillow to get him some more core practice) so he really enjoys being able to sit up like a big boy.Baby Toys Bumbo and Links
    Vincent Chillin in his Bumbo Seat under the gym (and flicking us off accidentally)
  3. Links. These toys are so cheap but so entertaining for him. Plus, they’re portable (we attach them to his Activity Gym, his Exersaucer, his carseat, a shopping cart..etc) and they are easy for him to hold on to. He is very into grabbing anything and chewing on it right now. Links usually come in a variety of textures, so he loves gumming them.  You’ll see in the photos above the links hanging from the gyms. Here they are pictured on their own.Baby Toy Links
  4. Easy to Grip Toys like this Ball. Again, his favorite skill lately is reaching for things and putting them in his mouth. I don’t really want him chewing on anything furry or that he could choke on, so toys like this are great. He can hang onto them easily.
    Baby Toys Ball
    Vincent practicing his grip on his Ball before dinner
  5. Exersaucer/Jumper. Both at daycare and at home, this is his current favorite toy, and it is my savior. Whenever I need to do something like the dishes or make lunch, I can stick him in this jumper for 15-30 minutes (sometimes longer) and he is completely content and safe! Plus, it’s good exercise for him!

    Baby Toys Jumper Exersaucer Walker
    Vincent enjoying his jumper

  6. Board Books. It is NEVER too early to start reading to your kids! We read at least 2 books before bedtime, (our favorite is Goodnight Moon and Time for Sleep), and usually a couple more during the day. I recommend board books over paper pages because a) your baby will put everything in his mouth and they are more sturdy b) they are harder to wreck if your baby gets a hold of them.Baby Toys Board Book.jpg
  7. Crinkle Toys like This Giraffe. This is our favorite toy to bring with to restaurants or in the car because it’s small but it keeps him occupied! I got this as a gift from a friend, and for whatever reason our baby is endlessly entertained by it!

    Baby Toys Crinkle Giraffe

  8. The Bath Tub. Okay, so this isn’t technically a “toy”, but giving your baby a bath is one of the most fun things you’ll do. Plus, if baby is fussy, sometimes giving him a bath will relax him or at least distract him. I love this tub we got off of Amazon! It’s a “grow with me” style, so it works for them as infant all the way until they are big enough to sit up in the tub by themselves (well, under supervision).

    Baby Bath Tub Toys

Please feel free to share any other toys you recommend!

Pumping Exclusively – Why I Do It and How to Make It Enjoyable

My short story on why I pump, plus tips for pumping and enjoying pumping and products that will help!

Vincent was born this past October, and he is now almost 6 months old (where does the time go?!?!?).

Prior to his birth, I attended breastfeeding classes and also read up a lot on the benefits of breastfeeding and what to expect.

Turns out – shocker – breastfeeding is REALLY HARD.

My baby was born, and the first thing the doctors want you to do after he gets all checked out and you get a snuggle time is to try to get him to eat.

He grabbed on (with the nurses help) and my first thought besides “he’s so cute!” was “crap this hurts!”.

He ate well, and I was told by multiple nurses that my baby had “a good latch” so I was pleased, but by day three in the hospital my nipples were literally bleeding, and my toes curled and my eyes watered every time I had to feed my little nugget. It just wouldn’t stop hurting.

We went to the doctor for his 4 day follow up appointment, and I was pleased to hear that my son had regained to his birth weight (just an FYI, babies pretty much always lose weight in the hospital, and doctors want babies back up to birth weight by two weeks old, if not sooner). So obviously he was eating well and doing a good job. I explained to my doctor though about my pain, and she looked at my breasts, and she gave me a nipple shield.

LET ME TELL YOU that if you do decide to breastfeed for the full year or two years or whatever you decide, GET A NIPPLE SHIELD. It was night and day for me! I ended up buying a second one so I could always have a clean one handy. This is the Nuk Barely There Nipple Shield (with case) and it’s what I bought and used. Cheap and totally worth it!!

Pumping Nipple Shield

It took a couple feedings, but my baby was a champ and figured it out. Basically it goes on your breast just like it says, as a little barrier between your boob and their strong mouths, and it gave my breasts a chance to heal. FINALLY. After about 2 weeks of using the shield, I got off of it, and my breasts no longer bleed when I nursed.

I was so relieved, because everything I read and everything everyone says is that breastfeeding is best. Plus, I really liked the bonding experience between my son and I. It was something I could do that no one else could for him.

About a week before daycare (he started daycare at 12 weeks old) we decided to introduce him to a bottle. Partially because we wanted to make sure he would eat at daycare, and also because my husband was really excited to finally be able to feed our baby.

We did a little research, and we ended up buying a box of AVENT NATURAL FLOW BOTTLES AND NIPPLES. We started with the newborn/size 1. There are 2 bottles with size 1 nipples that each hold about 4 ounces (more than enough for a newborn-4 month old, then you might have to go bigger). We were told by our hospital, and by my online research, that these bottles did a good job replicating the shape and flow of a natural breast.

Pumping Bottle Avent Natural

I then pumped a couple of ounces, and we put it in the bottle “fresh” so it would still taste the same.

It took a couple of feedings (we fed him one bottle a day over the course of those two weeks) but soon he was drinking bottles like a champ.

The trick is to make sure he takes the nipple deep into his mouth, like your breast nipple, and also trying to keep the bottle horizontal rather than vertical. If you tip it too high the baby can 1) become overwhelmed by the quick milk flow 2) drink too fast and get gas/tummy aches.

I was still breastfeeding every 2-3 hours, and for the most part it was still going well. I definitely started to feel a bit like a human pacifier, especially in the evening when it felt like all he wanted was to suck on me from about 4-7pm. It also makes it a little difficult to hang out with family and friends or go out in public when your child needs your body every couple of hours.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem when other women breastfeed in public or in front of their friends. It’s just something I never felt 100% comfortable doing. I didn’t like feeling like people were staring at me, and plus, my baby would usually make a mess so I would end up walking around with wet clothes.

Breastfeeding turned me into a bit of a homebody, which the first month or two was fine, but after about 10 or so weeks, I was ready to get out of the house a bit more.  However, I really wanted to do what was “best” for my son, and so I continued to breastfeed and spend 99% of my time taking care of him.

I was completely devastated when I had to return to work. If my husband and I could afford it, I would gladly be a stay at home mom. I loved it. I loved my maternity leave and I didn’t want it to end. However, I returned to my job as a preschool teacher, and my son went to daycare.

After only about a week of daycare, we were back to square one with breastfeeding.

Now, this post isn’t about bashing daycare, because I totally respect and like the people who take care of my son from 9-5. However, most daycares are overwhelmed by the number of their kids, so it becomes necessary for babies to eat as fast as possible so they can move on to and feed another screaming hungry baby.

Whatever happened, he was no longer a pro-breastfeeder. His latch had changed. I was back to having tears well in my eyes every time I fed him at home, and sometimes I could tell he was getting extremely frustrated too. He got “nipple confusion”. I know some doctors and people tell you this can’t happen, but it totally did. He didn’t understand anymore how to get milk out of my breast efficiently.

After about a month of a lot of crying and frustration, I GAVE UP USING MY BREASTS.

The decision was not made lightly, and I cried over it. But I wasn’t enjoying feeding my son, and he wasn’t enjoying being fed, so what was the point? I didn’t want to use a nipple shield forever, and I wanted feeding him to be a bonding, enjoyable experience again.

I DECIDED TO PUMP EXCLUSIVELY.

What does this mean?

It means I pump my milk and feed him with a bottle instead of my breasts.

He’s still getting the best nutrition he can, and he’s gaining weight, and he’s completely healthy. He just had his check up a couple weeks ago and my doctor can’t stop raving about how “normal and healthy” he is.

I had ordered a breast pump right after he was born with the mentality of pumping while at work and to build a small stock pile for daycare/low supply days. I had already been pumping at home about twice a day to make my stockpile and for my husband to feed him a daily bottle, and I had been pumping at work twice a day as well to maintain my supply,.

This is the breast pump I use (6 months and going strong) and I have had zero issues. It’s called the MEDALA PUMP IN STYLE.

Pumping Medala Pump

The only negative is that it’s kind of bulky to lug around, but honestly I’ve seen a bunch of pumps and it’s about the same size, if not a little smaller, than others I’ve seen.

The Medala Pump In Style is quick (I can pump in about 10 minutes), efficient, easy to clean, and easy to use. I recommend it to all moms who ask me what I use to pump.

How to Pump Exclusively

It’s actually a lot easier than it sounds, and now that I’ve been doing it for about 3 months I actually really enjoy it. I think with baby number 2 I’ll probably do the same thing, because it’s become so easy and convenient.

I don’t have to worry about if I just a had a beer and am unable to feed him, I don’t have to worry about where I am when I feed him, I don’t have to constantly undress to feed him, and anyone can feed him now – not just me. At first I was kind of bummed, but honestly it’s a lifesaver to be able to give a bottle to my husband and say “I’m going to go grab coffee and read”.

Finally, I’ve been lucky enough to have a great milk supply and a deep freezer, so I can actually probably start weaning off pumping and still have enough milk to get him through a year old (my goal).

Now, in order to pump exclusively it’s pretty simple.

You need to pump about as often as your baby eats (for most every three hours) and you need to pump as much as your baby eats (or more).

So here is my sample schedule for when I first switched to pumping exclusively.

I had to pump at:

5am
8am
11am
2pm
5pm
7pm
9pm

Then I would also usually pump once over night. Baby usually woke up between 12-3, and after he was fed I would pump for about 10 minutes.

Now that he’s older and also has started not needing to eat in the middle of the night, and we started introducing rice cereal and blended food, I have now started “dropping” pump sessions.

I no longer pump at 2 am or 5 am.
Again, the rule is, you should pump as often as your baby eats. Once your baby no longer eats at midnight or five am, you no longer need to pump around those times either.

The exception would be if you are trying to increase your supply, in which case the more you pump the better.

My son right now eats about 6 ounces at a time, so each time I pump I always try to get at least that. However, most pumping sessions I make closer to 10 ounces, so I am able to freeze a few extra bags of milk each day in my deep freezer.

I use the Up and Up brand from Target. They’re cheap and good quality. They run out fast at my store, so I always buy a bunch at a time. I’ve never had a single one leak or become damaged. I even reuse the bags a couple times and still never had an issue.

Piece of advice? Buy in bulk. 50 bags sounds like a lot, but it’s not. Like with most things, the more you buy the more you save. And it really sucks to run out.

I prefer the bags over the bottles, personally. It is nice to have bottles though occasionally. Why? The bags you pretty much have to transport in a cooler, but you can put the bottles just in your bag as is (if it’s not a long trip) without worrying about them getting popped or poked. Plus, the bottles are reusable forever, not just a few times. I have both, I freeze extra milk in bags, but typically when I send my baby’s milk to daycare I send fresh milk in bottles which I carry in my work bag, and they rinse them/clean them at daycare after they’re used and send them home with me.

Tips for Enjoying Pumping

  1. Get a comfortable glider/rocking chair. Probably one of my favorite gifts I got was a glider from my parents. You’ll be spending A LOT of time sitting and feeding baby, you may as well be comfortable!!!

    Pumping Glider and Ottoman

  2. Get a Boppy Pillow. Seriously. They seem so dumb but they are excellent back rests or neck rests.
  3. Get a baby bouncer. My baby sits in the bouncer in front of me while I pump (it’s really impossible to hold a 5 month old baby and pump effectively – he’s too wiggly!). It’s nice because he’ll stay content and happy and in one spot, and I get a foot rest too! This one is by Ingenuity, and it vibrates and bounces and plays music.

    Baby Registry Baby Bouncer

  4. Get an amazing pump. Like I said earlier this post, I love my Medala Pump in Style. I recommend it to everyone.
  5. Go hands free. I actually made my own hands free bra by cutting holes in a sports bra. However, you can buy them for a reasonable price too, and for baby number two I probably will. Pumping is so nice when you can use a remote, check your cell, or tend to your baby easier. This is the
  6. Get a manual pump. These are saviors! For example, I recently went on an extended girls day/night and did NOT want to lug around my electric pump. I brought my handheld pump and a couple small bottles with me in my giant purse, and I was able to discreetly pump in the car between venues. Another reason for these? Long road trips. Great investment They take a little practice, but they are worth it. This is the Medala Harmony Manual Pump. It’s worth it.

    Baby Registry Manual Pump

  7. Keep your pump parts clean! Get a good routine down and stick with it! Your baby is going to be eating what your making, you want to make sure everything is sterile. I use the microwave sterilizing bags called which are super quick when I’m at work. At home I typically boil my parts at least once a week as well, or I soak them in warm soapy water and vinegar (vinegar kills mold) and let them air dry.
  8. Keep a routine. Your body is very conditioned. If you pump the same amount at the same time every day, your body will produce consistently. If you’re constantly changing it up, your body isn’t going to know how to react. I have kept my same routine for the past 4 months and have had zero issues with supply.

Feel free to share with me your experiences and tips!

Baby Registry Must Haves

My son Vincent is now 6 MONTHS OLD!

Now that I’ve finally gotten into this parenthood things, here’s my list FROM EXPERIENCE of things I (and my husband) are SO GLAD we got as gifts, some things we wish we would’ve received and ended up buying ourselves!

  1. The DIAPER BACKPACK. THIS WAS AND STILL IS MY HUSBAND’S FAVORITE GIFT. He likes it because it doesn’t look girly. He actually LIKES being in charge of the diaper bag.
    Baby Registry Backpack
  2. The BOPPY LOUNGER. Everyone gets a BOPPY PILLOW (and you still totally should because they are amazing if you are breastfeeding), but the BOPPY LOUNGER is something your baby will love to chill in! Mine sat there while I was pumping, while we are all just hanging out in the living room, or just when I needed to put him down for a few minutes. It’s safer than the BOPPY PILLOW if they fall asleep on it (baby’s can suffocate on the pillows from head positioning) as long as they can’t roll. PLUS they are a totally cute prop for photos!
    Boppy Lounger Baby Registry
  3. A BABY SWING. We didn’t get one from our shower. Why? Well I didn’t want one. I was worried about safety/babies sleeping in swings. Plus, I was like, they’ll only fit in it a few months, so why bother? BIG MISTAKE. We ended up buying a swing. THIS ONE. BABIES LOVE THEM. Plus they’re so convenient. They’re easy to set baby in for five minutes while you grab something, make coffee, or eat breakfast, or you just need a break from holding baby. HEAVEN. The only downside for me was BATTERIES. Our batteries died so fast!! STOCK UP.
    The swing doesn’t need to be fancy or play music. As long as it’s compact (folds up easy and is easy to move) and swings, you’ll be good.
    Baby Swing Baby Registry
  4. BUMBO SEAT. My baby LOVES IT. Babies love to sit up and see the world (once they are able to- obviously you don’t put a newborn baby in these). My little guy would get sick of being on his back all day, and if I put him in his Bumbo Seat that he would stop crying and be like “whoa, what the heck happened?” and stop. Plus, he looked so cute in them. AND it counts as tummy time! Basically any time a baby is working his neck/isn’t on his back it counts as tummy time! NO FLAT HEADS. I haven’t used it yet, but I also bought the TRAY that goes with it. My little guy has grown A LOT and is going to outgrow that chair and tray before he starts eating solids. HOWEVER you could use the tray to set toys on or something! Or, if you happen to have a normal sized baby rather than my giant baby, than you could use the Bumbo seat and tray for snack time once he’s old enough!
    Bumbo Seat Baby Registry
  5. If you are looking to get some sleep for you and your future baby, this ROCK AND PLAY (little lounger) will be your savior. This is the one I registered for and received, and we are still using it! It’s small enough that it fit right next to my bed (for easy nighttime feeding and for when I want to check on him every twenty seconds) and it’s super portable, so I am able to move it to any room in the house or bring it with if we are going to my parent’s house. I’m working on getting my baby now to sleep in  crib since he’s outgrowing the ROCK AND PLAY, but he just likes it so much better than his crib! I think it’s how cozy and safe he feels in it. He’ll sleep a solid 5-7 hours at a time in his Rock and Play at night! Score!

    Baby Registry Rock and Play

  6. A requirement for coming home from the hospital is a CAR SEAT . HOWEVER if you’re really looking to be savvy, I recommend getting a CAR SEAT and STROLLER COMBO like this one. It is so convenient! The car seat is EXCELLENT and easy to use. It fit into our small car, and I love the color choices! The stroller is super compact and easy to use as well, and as he grows out of the infant car seat (which mine almost has) you can use the stroller without the car seat up until he’s a few years old/hits the maximum weight limit. We use this almost every day going for walks or when I need to run a fast errand. We didn’t get one for our baby shower, so we had to order our own. It is one choice I am very glad we made.

    Baby Registry Stroller Car Seat

  7. A TUB is a must. Not only is it really fun to give your baby a bath (once he loses his umbilical cord/you get the okay) it’s also necessary. Your baby will have blow outs or spit up all over himself, and you don’t want to walk around all day with a stinky baby. Trust me. It’s so much easier to use a tub rather than a sink or a big bowl, and, like I sad, it’s way more fun! We got THIS TUB for our baby shower, and we love it. It’s a “grow with me” style, so it has a “setting” for each growth stage. For newborns/infants, he lays on a hammock-like thing in the tub suspended in the water. Mine is currently on the next “phase” in which he sits in a support (kind of like a bumbo seat in the tub). He LOVES it! He actually just started laughing not long ago, and he is all smiles and laughs when he gets to be in this tub! Once he’s strong/big enough, the next phase is for him to sit in the tub on his own. This tub fills up quickly, so it won’t waste your time, it has a drain, and it’s easy to clean!

    Baby Registry Tub

  8. A HALO SLEEP SACK was my best friend the first several weeks. It was the only way my baby would sleep without being held 24/7. Almost all babies LOVE to be swaddled. They’ll show you how to swaddle babies with blankets at the hospital, but I was never really good at it, and I was constantly worried he’d come unwrapped and suffocate on the blankets at night. The Halo Sleep Sack is easy to use, and, like I said, it WORKS. My hospital gave me a newborn Halo Sleep Sack, but my little guy quickly outgrew it. So I ended up ordering the next size up from Amazon! He just recently grew out of it (he’s a big baby though, so most babies could probably still be in it after 6 months old). I would’ve loved to have another newborn one though, because there were several times it was dirty/in the wash and I wished I had a spare!
    It’s great because it’s also in the “grow with me” style. You can slowly train your baby to be unswaddled by leaving one arm out at a time, both arms, and then eventually not using it at all. My little guy would probably still be using it if he wasn’t so big. *sigh* I recommend ordering more than one Halo Sleep Sack. Why? Your baby will pee, poop, or spit up on it, and you’ll want a back up so you aren’t rushing to do laundry just so your baby will sleep!

    Baby Registry Halo Sleep Sack

  9. My ACTIVITY GYM is my favorite baby toy. This is the best! My baby, especially once he hit about 3 months old, could spend 15-20 minutes a time laying underneath it and staring at all the toys. Now, he even grabs and pulls on them. It also makes for a good tummy time mat and encourages them to lift their heads to look around. I literally use mine every day. I use it with my Bumbo Seat. I’ll sit him in the Bumbo Seat under the Activity Gym so he can look around from a different position. He loves it!

    Baby Registry Activity GYm

  10. A BOUNCER is a game changer. Like the swing, it just provides you the oppurtunity to do things with two hands every now and then! For example, I’ll put his bouncer at the foot of my Glider (which you should get for your nursery too) and bounce him while I pump to keep him happy and entertained. I also used it when my husband were just relaxing on the couch and my arms got tired of holding him. We could stick him in it and he’d be content. Finally, it also comes with me in the bathroom when I need to shower! It’s easy to move around from room to room, so I could position him in it so he could see the bathroom curtain and he could hear me talk in the shower.

    Baby Registry Baby Bouncer

HONORABLE MENTIONS

These are 3 other items that would definitely make my top 20 if I had made a Top 20 List!

  1. High Chair. This is the HIGH CHAIR I purchased and so far I love it. It is easy to use, and again it is a “grow with me” style. It’s easy to clean, not heavy, and my baby seems to really enjoy it. He sits in his high chair for every meal now (he just started eating blended foods such as mushy peas or bananas) or sometimes I’ll stick him in his high chair while I’m doing dishes or cleaning and just throw some toys on there to play with. Very convenient. You don’t need this item immediately though, because most kids aren’t strong or large enough to sit in them until 4-6 months old.

    Baby Registry High Chair

  2. Manual Breast Pump. I still don’t own a HANDHELD/MANUAL PUMP, but I often wish I did! I have an awesome electric pump that I got free from my health insurance (THIS IS THE PUMP I OWN AND LOVE CURRENTLY) but there are several cases in which I have wished I had a handheld/manual pump. When, you ask? Well, a few weeks ago I went to a concert with some friends. I pumped right before the show, but the show was 4 hours long. My friends wanted to immediately go get food and drinks after the show. However, I couldn’t because I needed to go pump. My chest was uncomfortably full, plus the doctor recommends that to maintain supply I pump every 3-4 hours. I hadn’t lugged my big electric pump with me, and even if I had it would’ve been impossible to just conveniently use. If I had a handheld pump I could’ve just pumped in the car fast or in the bathroom. Another reason – long car trips. I don’t go on many, but there’s been a few times I’ve wished I could pump in the car because my road trip is 3-5 hours long, and I don’t want to have to have my husband and I pull over and find a place to pump. I think if I do get one, THIS is the one I’m going to purchase. My friend owns it and raves about it.

    Baby Registry Manual Pump

  3. Jumper. I also currently do not own a JUMPER, but my son LOVES sitting in the jumpers they have at daycare, so I really want to get one! Plus it’s another place to put your child where they are safe and stationary so you can use two hands! Especially now that he’s getting bigger, he is starting to get bored of the swing. He likes to be busy! This is the one that I plan on ordering! It’s the one he has at daycare and plays with a lot!

    Baby Registry Baby Jumper

 

Thanks for checking out my list! Let me know your thoughts or share your suggestions!

How To Plan Your Wedding in Just 9 Months!

22 Steps to Planning  a Wedding in 9 Months

I was engaged in September, and wanted to get married that following summer. Here’s how my husband and I planned an amazing wedding in just about 9 months!

First, a little back story. I’m a teacher, so the easiest time for me to get married is the summer. My husband and I talked and we knew we didn’t want a super long engagement. I love to plan and move quickly, and I think having to wait so long would have driven me crazy! Plus, we were just about to move to a new city together, so it felt right to start our new life as husband and wife.

These were the steps I followed (with the help of my family and friends and husband) to plan an amazing wedding in just about 9 months.

**note: I’m working on a follow up blog breaking down prices and budgeting and how much I spent on my amazing wedding

  1. GET ENGAGED. Simple enough, and an obvious first step. I just figured I should put it on here. Make it official that you’re getting married (HE PUT A RING ON IT!). Make sure you take pictures on the big day, whether they are selfies or just pics of the beautiful rock. You’ll want to document it! Plus they’re fun to use for save the dates with/instead of Engagement Photos (see next step).
    side story: My husband popped the question at Split Rock Light House on our 3 year anniversary weekend. 🙂

    Wedding Plan 9 Months 13

  2. TAKE ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS. These sound like a waste of time and money, but you won’t regret it. If you’re like my man and I, you probably have very few good photos of the two of you. You’ll want them for save the dates, wedding decorations, invitations, and just in general to celebrate you two as an official couple. I treasure my engagement photos! It was the first time, even after 3 years together, that we actually got dressed up and took photos together! One of my friends is a photographer on the side, so we enlisted her to do our engagement photos. She did them for free and we gave her permission to use them in her portfolio. Deal!
    Side note: A lot of professional photographers offer deals if you book them for weddings of doing free or discounted Engagement Photo Sessions. Even though I love our photos, it would’ve been nice to get a chance to work with our wedding photographer early on for a photo session just to get a feel for how the wedding day would go, and to get some nerves out of the way. If you’re like me, you don’t get your photo taken professionally very often (or at all).

    Wedding Plan 9 Months 12

  3. FIND A VENUE FOR YOUR WEDDING. Sometimes this is the same place as your reception, sometimes it’s not. In our case, I had always wanted an outdoor wedding, but I knew we didn’t want an outdoor reception. So we wanted to find a state park or venue to get married outside, then we would find an indoor venue for a reception. If you want to get married in a church this is usually even more crucial to figure out early, as they often book out even farther in advance. Church services are also quite a bit longer, so most churches will only do one or two weddings a day, but state park weddings usually only let you block out 2-3 hours, so they can fit in multiple weddings in a day. We started looking for venues about a week after we got engaged, and we spent 3 or 4 weekends straight touring places and finding out their availability. If you find one you love and it has a date you want, be ready to fork out some money up front to reserve your date. Then make sure you get your reservation in writing.

  4. FIND A VENUE FOR YOUR RECEPTION. After we nailed down a wedding venue, it was time to find a reception hall. It obviously had to have the same date available (June 27th in our case), but it also needed to be close to our wedding site. We didn’t want guests to have to travel long distances between the wedding and reception, and we also wanted to make sure they were close to hotels/places to stay. We ended up finding a venue about 10 minutes away from our wedding site, and it was just blocks away from 3 hotels. Perfect! Again, do this ASAP. It’s amazing how far out places book, so the sooner your start looking the less stressed you’re going to be. Again, be ready to drop money up front, and make sure you get everything in writing.
    This was my husband’s favorite part of wedding planning. We had fun going to venue to venue- sometimes 3 or 4 in a day, and comparing each of them. It was like a giant date day, and it was fun to picture our big day at each place

    Wedding Plan 9 Months 3
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  5. SEND SAVE THE DATES. Even if it seems “too early” do it. So many people, like nurses, doctors, policemen, etc need A LOT of advance notice to be able to attend something like a wedding. Even my husband, who manages a store, gets only so many hours of vacation time. He will make sure he sets them aside if he gets enough notice, but it’s happened before that we’ve gotten word about a wedding about 2 months prior and he wasn’t able to attend because he had already used up/made plans to use his time. If you want to guarantee people can come, especially people who will need to travel or who have very demanding jobs, give them a lot of notice! We sent save the dates out early November, about 7 months before our wedding. Plus, it’s a great excuse to show off your adorable engagement photos!! I ordered mine through Wedding Paper Divas, and it was SO EASY and relatively inexpensive. You only get married once, may as well have fun! Make sure you order a few extra. You’ll want to keep one or two for keepsakes.

  6. BRIDESMAIDS/GROOMSMEN/ATTENDANTS. This one isn’t a necessity at this point, but odds are at least 1,000 people are going to ask you about your wedding party, so you may as well get it out of the way. Plus it’s fun to have people to share all your wedding fun with and to enlist in your battle to complete your wedding to dos. My sister-in-law/bridesmaid was INVALUABLE. She had been in several other weddings, so she had a lot of contact info and also a lot of valuable advice. Also, the sooner you choose your bridal party the sooner they can start planning things like showers, parties, or any other things you need them to do (my attendants helped make some of our handmade wedding programs, for example). Plus, it’s fun to ask! I made fun cards and stuffed them with glitter and mailed them to all my bridesmaids. They were so excited. My husband just sent text messages to his groomsmen, but he was still excited to ask them. Men.

    Wedding Plan 9 Months 7

  7. FIND A CATERER. Aside from having a place to get married, your other main necessities are food, beer, music, and photos. Get those done ASAP. Our event center offered catering for a fee,, so that saved us the work of finding one. It was a bit pricey, but it saved us a lot of time and stress. If your hall doesn’t have a caterer in house, usually they have a list of 2-5 catering places in the area to chose from. They’ll give you menu options (usually) and you can also (usually) schedule a day to sample their options. My husband and I didn’t end up sampling because we just never found the time! We were living long distance from each other at the time, so it was tough to coordinate schedules. Luckily, our meal turned out fantastic.
    Along the same lines of catering, you’ll want to figure out where you’ll be getting your cake/dessert from. Again, our reception hall had this service in house. We ended up doing a very small, beautiful, ceremonial (cake-cutting) cake just big enough for 10 people to eat (it was delicious though). Then we did a chocolate fountain as the main dessert for guests. I didn’t try any because I was terrified of getting chocolate on my white dress, but my guests all told me it was phenomenal.

  8. GET A BARTENDER/LIQUOR LICENSE. If you are getting married in a place that doesn’t have an in house bartender/bar like ours did, you’ll need to apply for a liquor license and find a bartender (who also has appropriate licensing). Some places also require you to hire security if there is going to be alcohol on the premises. This is stuff that YOU NEED TO KNOW and get done. Do not wait til the last minute- and for weddings “the last minute” is basically 3 months before the wedding. It flies by. Again, we opted for the convenience of having an in house bartender, so that saved us a lot of time and stress. My brother in-law however is finding out the hard way that waiting until the last minute (about 4 months away from the wedding) is NOT a good way to find a Bartender and figure out the liquor situation for your reception. People are going to be looking forward to getting their drink on – make this a priority!
    Side note, a lot of bars offer different pay rates. For example, you can provide a cash bar (where people buy their own liquor) and free kegs (that you supply), or you can pay for up to a certain dollar amount, and then after that amount is reached people are on there own, or you can do drink tickets, or you can pay for a certain amount of time (you’ll cover all drinks from 6-9pm for example). My husband and I did the last option. We covered drinks for cocktail hour (5-6) then again after dinner for a couple hours (from 7:30-10pm).

  9. GET A DJ/FIGURE OUT YOUR MUSIC. I know some people opt to just play music off an ipad- DON’T! I have now attended two weddings where the electronic device hit a problem – a dead battery, no wifi, etc. A party sucks without music. I’ve also been to a wedding where the speakers were weak and didn’t even come close to playing music loud enough to dance to. DO NOT MAKE THIS MISTAKE. If you are dead set on supplying your own music, whether it’s to save money or because you just want to make your own custom playlist, make sure you check wayyyyyy ahead of time that your device will work. Go and practice using it at the venue. Make sure you know how it all works and hooks up. Make sure the speakers are high quality. DOUBLE CHECK. You do not want to stress on your wedding night that your music isn’t working.
    I personally loved having a DJ. We communicated via email about a suggested playlist (I gave him a list of about 30 songs that were “must haves”), and we were able to iron out a timeline for the reception. He introduced/announced us as husband and wife and gave us an awesome grand entrance. He introduced our first dance, my father daughter dance, and he cued us to cut the cake and do a garter toss. It was nice to have someone other than myself be in charge of our “timeline” and make sure we were staying on track. We also made sure he took requests.
    You can find a lot of reasonably priced DJs online. Or just ask around! This could be a fun thing to a put a bridesmaid in charge of. Or your groom! My husband had a lot of fun helping me come up with a playlist of music for our big day, and he was really excited about our DJ.
    Side note: we also gave our DJ some guidelines of songs to not play. For example, we didn’t want any super inappropriate songs until after 10:00pm (so as to not make some family members feel uncomfortable) and we also had some songs we hated (like the chicken dance or YMCA) that we did not want played.

  10. GET A PHOTOGRAPHER. Shop around! Ask friends for recommendations. We found ours through my ever helpful bridesmaid/ sister-in-law. She had been in a few weddings and had met this photographer, and then had used her for her family photos and her daughters grad photos. Our photographer gave us a deal since we were a referral. We met up for coffee (my husband, a couple bridesmaids, the photographer and I) one day and went through my Pinterest page of ideas, and she showed me her portfolio. We hit it off, and the price was right (we had shopped around). Photographers also book out pretty far, and they also usually ask to be paid a chunk up front. It’s nice to get that out of the way.
    You’re going to be spending a lot on your wedding and the day is a blur. You are going to want a great photographer to capture it on film. If you wait too long, you’re going to get stuck with an amateur, or you aren’t going to have time to meet with and communicate with your photographer ahead of time. Ours came with to the rehearsal to take practice shots, and she even attended our rehearsal dinner. We went over a timeline so she knew where to be when, and she was able to meet key people (parents, siblings, etc) so she knew who to grab for photos on the big day. Definitely a lifesaver! GET A GREAT PHOTOGRAPHER.

    Wedding Plan 9 Months 9

  11. GET A DRESS. Some people get this years ahead of time. I don’t think that’s necessary, but you do want to get it AT LEAST 6 months (more if you can) ahead of time. I got mine about 8 months before my wedding. It took about 2 months to order it and have it get in, then I went in for a fitting and it needed to be altered which took about 2 months, and then I tried it on again, and it had to be altered AGAIN which took another 2 months. If they would’ve screwed that up I would’ve needed even more time or had to pay for a rush fitting/delivery. You want to save yourself that stress. I was stressed enough, and I had a little time to spare! Get it so you have enough time to deal with alterations (you might need more than one, like me!) or other mistakes that could happen (it gets spilled on or you gain/lose weight). Along those lines, try it on about a couple weeks before your wedding to make sure it still fits! You do not want to try it on the day of and find out it won’t zip or something is wrong or it’s falling off!
    Also, thing about where you will be keeping the dress before your wedding. I kept mine at my sister in laws house so that way I wouldn’t risk having my husband find it. She also doesn’t have any pets or little kids who could happen upon it and wreck it.
    One of my coworkers told me she accidentally left the door of her closet open one day and her cat got in and scratched up her dress!!!! Another friend told me she had laid the dress out on her bed the night before, and left the room quickly. When she came back her dog had jumped on it and caused a rip! PICK SOMEWHERE SAFE TO KEEP IT! You’ll probably have to have someone hang on to it for a few weeks up to a few months depending on how alterations go.
    By the way, this was also my favorite part of wedding planning I think. I brought my mom and all my bridesmaids, and we spent a whole day shopping. I ended up buying the third dress I tried on (I tried on probably 8 or 9 total).
    Another tip- after you buy your dress, STOP SHOPPING. You do NOT want to deal with returning a dress. I didn’t. I loved my dress and immediately stopped googling/pinteresting gowns. However, my friend made the mistake of going dress shopping AGAIN after already buying a dress, and it was a huge fiasco. Most dress places do NOT give you any sort of refund. You’re either stuck paying for two dresses or “regretting” your purchase. No fun. If you find a dress that you can’t stop smiling in, get it. Then STOP LOOKING!
    TIP for dress shopping: bring shoes and bra similar to ones you’ll want to wear on the big day so you can get the full picture, and when you get it altered you’ll know what to do as far as length (i.e. if it’ll work with your heels).

    Wedding Plan 9 Months 1

  12. BRIDESMAID DRESSES. Same as above. Although not as intricate, these too will probably need to be altered at least once. For example, my sister ordered a size 8, because a 6 was too small. The 8 was too big, but they always tell you to go witht he bigger size because it’s easier to remove fabric than it is to add it. So once they got it, they had to try it on and alter it/hem it which took a couple months. Make sure your bridesmaids stay on top of this! My younger sister totally stressed me out because she didn’t even try her dress on after picking it up, she just assumed it would fit! I found that out about a month before my wedding. I forced her to try it on. Luckily all she needed was a good bra and it fit perfectly.

  13. GROOMS TUX/GROOMSMEN. Luckily for men, they don’t usually need drastic alterations, so this isn’t as immediate of a need. They take their measurements, find their size, and maybe just need to hem a pant leg. However, it is still nice to get this out of the way. Even more important if you have a specific color/style in mind. Especially if you have a larger wedding party, they might need to order a shirt or pant in which might take awhile. For example too, my husband has very long arms. They had to order in a size larger than necessary and alter it to fit his torso so that way it wouldn’t be too short in the sleeves.
    SIDE NOTE: Make sure the men remember to pick up their tuxes at least a couple days before the wedding so they can try them on and exchange/fix any problems! You don’t want to pick them up the day of and find out they accidentally gave you the wrong size or color!

    Wedding Plan 9 Months 6

  14. MAKEUP/HAIR. Luckily there are A LOT of choices for hair and make up artists. You can go to a salon or have someone/a group of artists come to you (if your venue provides a place for you). For example, my reception hall had both a bridal and groom suite, so we showed up there in the morning, we had hair and make up come to us and we got ready, then went to our wedding site (most of us carpooled- the men left first and got set up so we wouldn’t run into each other). Then after the wedding we went back to our reception site. It was very convenient. We were all able to leave our stuff in the suite (it locked up) and it was nice not having to arrange travel between several different places. Granted, I was also apart of a wedding in which we went to a salon to get our hait and make up done, and that was really fun too. However, we then had to get dressed at a second location before heading to the wedding (we stopped at one of the bridesmaid’s houses). It worked out, but I think I preferred my wedding- it was nice to be able to do it all together in one location. It was like a big pre wedding party. I ended up hiring 2 hair and make up ladies, and I had to play them a flat fee for travel and for my hair and makeup. Then each of my bridesmaids paid for their own hair and makeup. However, I wish I would’ve had the money to pay for that for them. I got my bridesmaids their shoes and earrings though, so I guess that sort of makes up for it. Also, I had shopped around a lot and got a pretty good deal. Check out salons, facebook, or, just go by word of mouth. Mine were great. I didn’t meet them prior to the wedding, but we communicated via email and phone conversation about the details (the hair styles I wanted and I emailed pictures of makeup I wanted. I also got to view their portfolios). They were very easy to get a hold of and since I had heard of them via word of mouth from friends I trusted I knew they had a decent reputation.

    Wedding Plan 9 Months 5

  15. PLAN SHOWER and BACHELOR/BACHELORETTE. Granted, you don’t plan the actual events. But you should pick the dates for these well enough ahead of time so that people have to time to take the time off work/save money/get you a good gift. I picked my shower date about 2 months before my shower. Same with the Bachelorette. Other than the date though, I mostly just had to show up. Make sure you keep on your hostess’ though. My mom, who is amazing, is also really bad and being punctual. I was so stressed out that she wasn’t going to get invites out with enough notice for people to come. I constantly was asking if she just wanted me to send them. Luckily my sister/maid of honor was super excited about the bachelorette so she basically had it all planned out wayyyyy ahead of time.
    Typically most people do their shower about 4-8 weeks before their wedding, and their bachelorette 1-8 weeks before the wedding. Some people do both the same day. It’s whatever works for you. If you have a lot of people that have to travel a long ways to both events, it might be nice to do it in one day. However, I broke mine up because it was fun to have an event to look forward to, and luckily most of my guests lived close enough that travel wasn’t a concern. I wouldn’t do your party the night or two before your wedding. Hangovers are real. Or you could fall off a bar and get a bruise or trip or get sunburned (depending on whatever you’re doing) or lose a wallet. You want to have time to recover from anything.

  16. PLAN A REHEARSAL/REHEARSAL DINNER. Most venues give you a set date/time ahead of time that is a day (or a few days) before your wedding for your rehearsal, so make sure you know this information and pass it on to any necessary people such as your officiant, flower girl, ring bearer, bridal party, ushers, etc. Some people think the rehearsal seems pointless, but it’s necessary. This is where a personal attendant comes in handy. Make sure she pays extra attention during rehearsals so she can help with any questions on the day of. Also, make sure you bring your slideshow, music, microphones, anything you’ll need for the ceremony to be successful to test them out. This is the mistake I made. We didn’t practice with the music, so my DJ (nephew) actually ended up playing the wrong song for me to walk down the aisle to. It wasn’t a big deal, and nobody else knew except my husband that it was wrong, but still! At least it was still an appropriate song (it was on a playlist for the pre wedding/post wedding time). It could’ve been a lot worse though! I do wish I had practiced walking down the aisle to my music though instead of just counting on it being simple.
    As for the rehearsal dinner, usually the groom’s parents host or arrange this. But get this figured out ahead of time! Don’t just assume they’re going to do it. Ask. It doesn’t have to be fancy. My in laws ordered a bunch of pizzas and a lot of beer and we gave the bridal party their gifts and talked and laughed and got excited for the big day.
    If your family wants to arrange for something rather than host, make sure they make reservations ahead of time if it’s a large (more than 6) group of people. Don’t just show up at a restaurant with 30 people and expect it to go smoothly!

  17. DECORATIONS. This was the part of the wedding that I thought would be a big deal but wasn’t. We got some really cool centerpieces (which the reception hall provided for a small additional fee) and then we also got a few things here and there (A few framed engagement pictures, Glow sticks that we scattered on the tables and in vases, Candy dishes filled with purple Hershey Kisses). Overall though, we were really lucky. We picked a really cool Reception hall that wasn’t really in need of a lot of decorating. That’s also the added bonus about getting married outside. The only thing we needed to get was an aisle runner and a few flowers that we put along the aisle and some tulle to decorate the altar area. I saved a lot of money because I got minimal flowers as well. Some people go all out and get a FLORIST and spend butt loads of money for fresh flowers. The only fresh flowers we had were our bouquets and boutonnieres. That was it. We used fake ones for our aisle and for decorating. However, if you do want a florist you need to meet with them way ahead of time so they have time to make sure they have your flower in stock. I met my florist about 3 months prior to my wedding. We talked about the weather factor (which flowers would survive the heat) and also about my color scheme. She showed me lots of samples, and then pretty much I left it up to her. She emailed me a couple weeks prior to the wedding to confirm the number of bouquets and boutonnieres needed, and she sent me a picture of one she had done as a sample. Like I said though, you don’t necessarily have to have a florist. A lot of people simply make their own bouquets with fake flowers or scavenge farmers markets the day of. I’m not that talented.
    In my other blog post you’ll see some tips on decorating, but here’s a small tidbit: hit up thrift stores, craft stores, and even the dollar store. You’d be surprised where you find the most awesome stuff!

    Wedding Plan 9 Months 4

  18. SMALL DETAILS. This is where you would want to work on a slideshow (pictures of you and your hubby), get gifts for your wedding party, figure out if you want an autograph book, get a cake topper and a cake cutter, party favors, props for pictures, getting candies or frames, etc. These were my favorite things to do besides dress shopping actually! These were the cute, fun, personal details. There are so many websites filled with ideas, and there are so many things that are simple but amazing personal touches. This is another area where you can enlist your bridal party or husband. My husband made “minibar in a jar” gifts for his groomsmen, and I got shoes and jewelry for my girls (the shoes I had paid for ahead of time when we had gone shopping, but they unwrapped the jewelry at the rehearsal). One of my bridesmaids and my mom and I spent a weekend making my wedding slideshow and going through old but adorable photos of my hubby and I as kids and teens (which his mom had given me). One of my other bridesmaids went on the hunt for purple wrapped candy and stocked me up. There are so many ways to include people (and save some money!).

  19. TIMELINE of WEDDING and RECEPTION. This is IMPORTANT but hard to do way ahead of time.This means, nailing down what time you and your bridesmaids and the rest of your wedding party all need to be where. This includes from the moment you need to start getting ready until the time the party ends at the end of the night. This is also when you break down your wedding and reception into steps. See other posts. Its smart to give copies of these to all members of the wedding party as well as your photographer so they know where to be throughout the day.
    ALSO make sure you have rides/parking for wherever you need to be! One of our groomsmen didn’t get the memo of where to park at our reception, and we were almost going to do our grand entrance without him because we were waiting so long.

    Wedding Plan 9 Months 8

  20. VOWS/SPEECHES. Make sure you have your vows written if you’re writing them. It’s also smart to write a “welcome/thank you speech” to deliver to your guests at the beginning of your reception. Don’t wait until the night before. Do it at least a few weeks before, and ask a  bridesmaid/groomsman to read them over! My husband and I each wrote our own vows and gave them to the best man. He read them over to make sure they were a similar length and style and that they were well written. I practiced delivering my vows to my mom a few days before the wedding so that way I wouldn’t be too jittery the day of. My husband practiced his with our dog. Whatever works.

  21. RSVPS/FIRM UP DETAILS. Count your RSVPS and give your number to your bartenders/caterers/wedding venue. Also, go over any last minute details and get confirmation from your photographer, caterers, bakers, ministers, DJ, that everything is going to go as planned. Most venues/caterers/bartenders want final numbers at least 2 weeks prior.
    Again, make sure everyone knows where to park and how they are getting from place to place.
    ANOTHER THING TO CONSIDER that I didn’t have a specific category for: make sure YOU KNOW where you will be staying the night of the wedding and how you are getting there. My parents paid for a night in a hotel for my husband and I, and my younger sister was kind enough to drive us there so we wouldn’t have to worry about a taxi or finding a sober ride.
    TIP FOR RSVPS. Have them sent to someone organized and reliable. Mine were sent to my sister in law. She’s super organized. She did the counting and everything. One less thing for me to stress about!

    Wedding Plan 9 Months 10

  22. PAYMENTS. Pay as much as you can ahead of time so you aren’t ruining your wedding night worrying about paying people. Most venues and officiants and anything wedding related will ask you to pay ahead of time anyways, but if they don’t ask if you can.
    Get receipts/confirmation of all your payments and purchases. You’ll want them in case something goes wrong and to validate that you were charged correctly.

    ENJOY!!!! On the big day make sure you just do your best to live in the moment. It’ll be the fastest, most fun day of your life so far! GOOD LUCK!

 

Wedding Plan 9 Months 2

15 Things You Need in Your Hospital Bag

15 Things You Need in Your Hospital Bag

PLUS 

a few things you can definitely do without

As a happy mother to a healthy 5 month old son, I have lived through labor at a hospital.

My husband and I attended parenting classes, and I scrolled through Pinterest avidly, and we packed our hospital bags weeks ahead of time.
However, the best teacher (as always) is EXPERIENCE.

After my experience, here is my list of what 15 things (in my opinion) you will need:

  1. BLANKETS! The hospital has great pillows (at least mine did) but their blankets were not comfortable, at least not for me. They weren’t very thick or soft. Plus, after hours of labor, I would’ve given anything to curl up under my soft comforter.
    Also, if you ask my husband, he could NOT sleep at the hospital. They didn’t provide him a cot- just a recliner. And he said it would’ve been so much more tolerable if he would’ve had his own comfy blanket.
  2. PHONE CHARGER! You will be taking so many photos and getting so many phone calls, that sucker is going to die. Be prepared.  Maybe even buy an extra charger to put in your bag, 
  3. PHONE/CAMERA! Given. You’ll want pictures and videos of your big day! And you’ll want to spread the news!
  4. SHAMPOO/CONDITIONER! Hospital shampoo and conditioner is not nearly as comforting as your own. I was so proud of myself for packing to go containers of my favorite stuff. After hours and hours of labor, that first shower is HEAVENLY, and it felt better after I came out smelling and feeling fresh. I even got a compliment from my nurse about how refreshed I looked.
  5. LOTION! As previously stated, hospital stuff is okay, but it’s not as nice as your own. Labor, even with an epidural or drugs, is so taxing on your body. It feels so good when you get a minute to do something simple for yourself – like shower or brush your teeth or put on lotion. Take advantage!
  6. SNACKS! I underestimated how much I can eat in just a few days, and we ordered a ton of room service. It was good food, but it would’ve been nice to just be able to whip out a bag of chips or something and snack on them while my family was visiting or when I was up at 3am nursing a baby. Especially since ordering room service always takes a bit of time, and (in my opinion) it’s kind of awkward to eat a full meal in front of guests. Plus, there is no such thing as eating a hot meal once you have a baby – even a newborn. You’ll be constantly either nursing a baby or entertaining guests. So bring snacks/foods that don’t need to be cooked to taste good. Apples, bananas, chips, etc. Bonus points for snacks that can be eaten with one hand (poptarts, granola bars, etc). WARNING. Don’t bring anything with nuts. Some hospitals won’t allow them.
  7. COMFY CLOTHES and DARK PANTS/SHORTS! Gross but true fact- you will lose a lot of blood. You will be leaking fluids out of every surface. You will be wearing nursing pads in your bra, and you will be wearing giant hospital underwear and giant pads and ointment etc. inside of them. You will not be able to wear fitted clothing, and you won’t want to. I was most comfortable in a tank top, my own comfy bathrobe from home, and black sweat pants. I wore a variation of that outfit everyday.
    Plus, when tops are stretchy/comfy they are easier to nurse in!
  8. PERSONAL HYGIENE NECESSITIES! Deodorant. Toothpaste. Hairbrush. Toothbrush. I feel like these are obvious but my list would be incomplete without them.
  9. WHITE NOISE MACHINE/MUSIC/FAN! Hospital rooms are either crazy quiet or crazy busy. Either way, if you want any hope of sleep, you want noise! Otherwise all you will do is concentrate on your baby’s breathing or the constant footsteps or machine beeps. You will barely be sleeping as it is- do what you can to change that!
  10. BABY CLOTHES! You will want a couple cute outfits to show your baby off in when you have visitors. One of my favorite things was getting my baby dressed for the first time! You won’t need too many outfits, maybe two or three. They aren’t big/messy enough to wreck outfits yet. We just brought one for each day.
    SIDE NOTE. I learned that pretty much every baby will be born as a size “newborn”. Newborn is up to 10 lbs in baby clothes. I had packed a bunch of different sizes because I was worried that he wouldn’t fit into newborn clothes/diapers, but the nurses informed me that pretty much every baby will be size newborn at least for a week or two. 
  11. PAPER/BABY BOOK/FOLDER! You’ll get a lot of really great mementos from the hospital. You’ll get the umbilical cord clip, you can get footprints of your baby, you can get a print out of your contractions/heart beat monitor, pictures of ultrasounds, etc. Bring something to safely store these in so you aren’t just shoving them in a duffle bag! They also gave us an extra copy of my baby’s footprints, and I brought a blank white sheet of paper for my baby book for him to get his hand prints and foot prints put on.
  12. AN EXTRA BAG! If you are like us, you are going to get presents and a lot of baby gear (both from guests and from the hospital) as well as stuff to take care of you (ointment, bandages, etc). We needed an extra bag just for all of that stuff!
    This was my husband’s FAVORITE FAVORITE FAVORITE baby shower gift, and he still uses it DAILY . It’s a diaper backpack!!!!!
  13. CASH! Vending machines. Parking lots/meters. These things (usually) take cash only. Keep some in your bag.
  14. FLIP FLOPS/GRIPPY SOCKS! I lived in my fuzzy, grippy socks. But flip flops would’ve worked too. One of those situations in life where you don’t quite feel comfortable/sanitary walking around barefoot but you don’t want to wear tennis shoes when you are in total lounge mode.
  15. BATHROBE! Probably the best thing I packed.

 

Things I packed but I didn’t touch:

  1. MAKEUP! I thought I would want to get all dolled up for visitors, but in reality I was too exhausted to even brush my hair. Plus, your baby doesn’t care what you look like!
  2. CUTE, FITTED OUTFITS! As previously stated, these were impractical and also unwearable.
    Fun Fact. You’ll still look pregnant for several days/weeks after you give birth and will still need to wear maternity clothes.
  3. BOARD GAMES/CARDS! Yeah, you aren’t going to play those while you’re in labor. And after the baby has arrived he/she will suck all your attention (in a good way). Save the space.
  4. DIAPERS/WIPES/BABY SUPPLIES! All you will need are a couple outfits. The hospital will supply you with more than enough diapers, wipes, ointment, and anything else you’ll want. I even got to take home a bunch of blankets, wipes, diapers, etc. Again, save the space! Just pack a couple cute outfits!
  5. PACIFIERS! Turns out, you aren’t even supposed to give a baby a pacifier until they are at least a month or two old. It’ll interfere with breastfeed.

IMPORTANT
I didn’t include this in my list because it wouldn’t technically go in a bag, but:
You will need a safe, non-recalled, non-expired car seat in order to leave the hospital. They will have you bring it to your room and approved by your nurse/doctor. Do not forget this!

Good luck! Please feel free to share any other tips you have!

Things You Need for your Hospital Bag 1
My husband, baby, and I at the hospital.