Lessons Learned as a New Mama

Almost six months ago to the day, I was headed to the hospital anxiously awaiting the arrival of our little girl and about to enter into a new chapter of life. I was excited, scared and quite frankly, had no idea what to expect.

Since then, I have learned an awful lot about myself, life, our marriage and one beautiful little girl. So in honor of Mother’s Day, I’ve compiled a list of things I’ve learned thus far in my six short months as a mama-some serious, some comical and overall, a compilation of the last six months.

  1. The days are long, but the months and years are short. That statement could not be more true.
  2. It is possible for more than your heart to hurt for someone. In fact, your boobs can too.
  3. As much as you want to fill up others’ cups before your own, you have to remember to put yourself first from time to time.
  4. Motherly instinct kicks in even for the soundest of sleepers.
  5. Blow drying your hair is a luxury.
  6. Plans must be made in three-hour increments.
  7. Learn to laugh at yourself, even in the most ridiculous situations.
  8. There is no amount of spit up, drool, poop or pee that will ever phase you anymore.
  9. You will never forget the nurse who takes you to the bathroom for the first time after being in labor.
  10. Continue to live your life, and you will figure out how to do it with a baby, even if that means long car rides, airplanes, concerts, hikes, etc.
  11. Sucking snot out of your child’s nose with a tube is not weird but a frequent occurrence.
  12. You will learn to appreciate your own mother in so many more ways.
  13. There is an unspoken Mom understanding that all mothers secretly communicate during unfortunate situations.
  14. The “no shopping carts allowed in the bathroom” rule doesn’t apply to those pushing around a sleeping baby and shopping alone.
  15. Breastfeeding is hard. For something so natural, it’s not, but if you stick with it, it’s worth it. Your baby appreciates you.
  16. And on that topic, breastfeeding will completely deflate your boobs, but on the bright side it is the fat whisperer. Weigh the options.
  17. It is 100% OK to cry on your first day back to work after you drop your baby off at daycare. Almost everyone does.
  18. Make time for you and your husband because it’s easy to get put on the back burner.
  19. An SUV is absolutely necessary because when you travel anywhere, you basically pack up your entire house.
  20. You will learn the definition of “enjoy the small things” because even the smallest of changes and accomplishments will bring joy to your day.
  21. There is no better feeling in the world than a baby falling asleep on your chest.
  22. Their life has just begun but so has yours.
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Product Pick: The Perfect Summer Shoe

I’ve found it! This one staple shoe (OK, maybe not only shoe since “one” and “shoe” never belong in the same sentence anyways…) is exactly what you need for the transition from spring to summer.

Introducing my new obsession, the Women’s Matti Heeled Buckle Ankle Strap Sandal from Universal Thread. First of all, can we take a minute just to applaud Target for its Universal Thread line? Seriously, if you haven’t checked it out yet, you need to. I own pretty much everything in it.

I own these shoes in olive, and they are perfect for every occasion and every situation. Since becoming a mom, I have really struggled with heels. I have always been a heel girl, but trekking down the stairs to daycare or getting up and down from the ground with a little one wearing sky-high stilettos isn’t quite as practical as it used to be. That’s why I love these sandals. They have that chunky heel that is very in with just enough height to make it feel like I am actually wearing heels (because I despise kitten heels), but they are comfortable enough to Mom so hard in.

And in addition to that, I’ve always had to rely on flats while working events because I average 15,000+ steps during large events, and heels just don’t work with that kind of mileage. But these! These are so comfortable and still offer the heel option.

They’re available in black and olive, but I love the olive because it serves two purposes. It’s just enough color to add a little pop to a monochromatic outfit but still neutral enough to wear with lots of outfits.

So, moral of the story is if you don’t own these, you need to go buy them!

Traveling With Baby

I’ve been a little quiet on here lately because….well, I’ll be honest, life. We traveled to Wisconsin for Easter, I’ve worked every weekend of April so far with wedding season hitting the ground running, we were in Orlando for a conference last week, you get the idea.

But after traveling with a little babe for the first time, I was inspired to share some ideas I had about traveling with a little one. Before we left, I scoured the Internet for any advice I could find from other moms and I’ve had lots of new mamas say they were headed on trips soon, so I’m hoping you can learn a thing or two from our travels.

How We Navigated the Airport:

1. First and foremost, make sure you pack your baby’s birth certificate! Even if they are traveling with you on your lap, you still need their birth certificate as verification. Had I not read this online, I would have never known this and we would have been screwed. You can also go ahead and add your little one to your reservation online prior to getting to the airport to speed up the process. But if you forget, don’t worry. You can also do that at the airport when you get the birth certificate verified.

2. We were headed to Orlando where we were going to be hitting up some of the parks, walking a convention center and being out and about a lot, so I wanted to make sure we were prepared. That meant a lot of carry ons and a lot of bags. We felt a bit like a three-ring circus but after arriving, we were so glad we lugged everything there, and we definitely weren’t the only ones.

We flew Southwest, which was great because each adult was allowed two checked bags and two carry-ons.

  • We packed P her own suitcase, one for me and one for Ryan, and we checked all three of these bags.
  • We gate checked her stroller and car seat (check out these great products to make this process much easier!)
  • Then, we carried on her diaper bag; another bag with some reading materials for ourselves (if we got a few minutes on the flight while P was sleeping), additional toys for her, my clutch  and necessities, such as gum, hand sanitizer, etc.; and lastly, my pump bag, which also had a mini cooler full of breast milk.

3. Security was actually a lot less stressful than I anticipated it to be. First of all, give yourself plenty of time when you arrive. We arrived 2.5 hours early, which allowed us to check in, get through a busy security line, feed her and change her diaper all before we had to board. While in line, I transferred P into our Ergobaby 360 carrier since we had to collapse the stroller. We sent the stroller and car seat on the conveyor belt, and I carried P through the metal detector. I made sure to mention to the staff that my bag contained a pump and breast milk, so they knew ahead of time that they would have to look through the bag and test the milk.

4. When you have a little one, you get to board relatively early, which allows you to have first dibs on seats and overhead storage and to get on the plane without people breathing down your neck. That was helpful to also feel very settled in prior to take off.

5. And finally, the take off. Obviously, the air pressure is something completely new to a baby, so make sure there is something for them to suck on while taking off. Whether it’s a pacifier, a bottle of milk or even your nipple, make sure they are swallowing to help with the change in pressure.

My Must-Have Products for Traveling With A Baby:

Keep in mind these might be specific to a warm location and not applicable to all destinations, but for a trip that included a pool, lots of walking and sightseeing, these were definitely my must-haves.

  1. Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Travel Bottle & Food Warmer, Target, $12.59
    I’m not going to lie, this is pretty much a glorified thermos, but it has come in handy for both car tips and plane rides.
  2. Baby Trend Snap-N-Go Stroller, Target, $69.99
    This was a last-minute purchase I actually made through the Facebook Marketplace, and boy was I glad I did! My original plan was to bring our regular stroller, but I thought this would be super easy to use to navigate the airport and it ended up being great on all aspects of the trip. First, because P loves her car seat, so being able to pop the car seat on wheels kept her super comfortable. Secondly, it allowed us to transfer her from car to stroller even if she was napping without interrupting her. Lastly, it’s lightweight, adapts to a variety of car seats and was easy to fold up to throw the in the car and store in the hotel room.
  3. Bumbo Floor Seat, Amazon, $49.99
    Yes, pretty much everyone owns one of these, but it was not on my original packing list. Having this on the trip was great because it gave us a spot to set her down that still allowed her to play on her own and didn’t take up too much space in a suit case. It was also great out at the pool, which I never originally thought about. I was able to sit her on a lawn chair next to me in the shade while I got some sun. Plus, it’s waterproof and I was able to wipe it off after she had sat in it wearing sunscreen.
  4. Battery-Powered Clip On Fan, Target, $9.79
    I snagged this idea from another blogger, and I am so glad I ended up bringing one. It allowed us to be able to enjoy the pool or a midday walk, and P could nap or keep at a comfortable temperature.  With the battery operation, it was portable and we could use it anywhere. With the clip, I was able to clip it on her stroller, car seat, etc.

I read it on countless blogs, but I really didn’t believe it until I had experienced it myself. When traveling with a baby, you just have to roll with the punches. Take your time (by giving yourself a little extra time) and keep in mind that most people at the airport have been in your place at one point. We had tons of people who offered to help or gave me words or encouragement from their own experiences. We lucked out and Parker was great, so hopefully you have the same outcome with your little one!

Thank Goodness for Eazy-E

Photo source: Genius

Alright, I’m sharing a mom fail here. Or maybe it’s not a mom fail because it works? Regardless, it’s not a proud mama moment. Our sweet little Parker does have the occasional freak out. It’s usually related to gas or tiredness, but sometimes we just can’t shake whatever is bothering her.

We aren’t quite sure how we discovered this magical trick. I think it’s because Ryan raps when he’s walking around the house and makes up new words for rap songs about Parker. But what we can’t figure out is why she is so particular about one song choice: Real Muthaph***in’ G’s. Yes, I wish I was kidding. No, I am not.

So, I admit. I occasionally let my 4th month old daughter listen to the unedited version of Eazy-E’s song (Don’t worry, we tried to find the karaoke version, and it still has swearing in the background, so not much better…). She can be absolutely freaking out and by the time the song gets to the first beat transition, she’s silent. It’s quite hilarious actually. At first, I thought it was just a coinsidence, but we’ve tried it with other music and rap songs, and she likes straight up ’90s gangster rap. Who knew my daughter would appreciate that!

Stay tuned to my Instagram to see the the magic happen for yourself: @kristi_uncorked.

The Girl With A Different Plan

I make plans for a living. Each and every event I coordinate has a set-up plan and a pre-planned menu and a timeline and plan for the back-up plan. Pretty much all I do is plan!

So, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that for the birth of my daughter, I had a very set plan in mind. (Don’t worry, this birth story doesn’t get too graphic.) She was going to come exactly on her due date because that’s how Mom does things, and I was going to have a vaginal birth and was fully prepared to have an epidural. As much as the nurse in our birth class encouraged us to keep an open mind, I was focused in on my birth plan.

Sure enough, 39 weeks came along, and my doctor asked me about a plan should we go past her due date. Of course, I was thrilled to have that conversation,  but I had a feeling she would be here on, if not before, her due date. WRONG. Her due date came and went, and on the 15th of November, I was admitted into the hospital to be induced.

I shook that off because at least we were starting my back up plan. This was a pre-discussed option that my husband and I and doctor had talked about in great lengths. Everything was going to be just as I imaged it within the last week…until we found out Parker was OP (in the occiput posterior position), which meant she was facing up instead of down. My doctor warned me it was going to be hard to get her to come out in that position, but I was determined! Because that was the plan.

So I pushed and I pushed and I pushed for over an hour before her heart rate started to drop and my doctor explained to me that I could keep pushing, and there would be the possibility of me having to be rushed down the hall to the operating room, or we could decide then to have a c-section, and I could very calmly be walked down the hallway.

At that moment, my plan exploded. It got thrown completely out the window because never in a million years did I plan on having a c-section. However, I knew that’s exactly what I needed to do to ensure a safe delivery of our little one. So there I laid in what looked like the set of Grey’s Anatomy with a team of doctors around me and looking at my husband, I tried so hard to hold back tears. During the past 9 months of my life, I had a vision of how this day was supposed to go (well, technically 2 days prior since we surpassed her due date), and this wasn’t it.

When you have a baby, you are taught so much about this new human being: what they like and don’t like, what makes them happy, what makes them angry, what types of products they prefer, what facial expressions mean certain things, etc.

But on that day, my little girl taught me the most important lesson of all. Starting that day, she taught me to let go of my fears and be OK with no plan. As perfect and polished as things can be with a plan, it’s the unplanned that make life so special. It’s those random winter days that Columbia is supposed to get yet another ice storm and daycare is closed that allow you to have a surprise day at home in your jammies together. It’s the frustrating moments when you’re running late for work and she decides to poop right after you have her in the car seat but that also make you giggle because of course it would happen that way. It’s the Saturday mornings when Dad brings his to-go mug of coffee into her room to play with the two of you because he decided his crew can take care of things and he’s not going into work.

These. These are the moments that I will look back on when I’m old and sitting on my back porch enjoying a nice sunset. These unplanned days will be the days we will joke about with her at her wedding. These are the days that contain irreplaceable memories, and the best part will be they were all unplanned.

This or That: Pacifier or Thumb Sucker

Dum, dum, dum…the dreaded debate! I will admit. I was adamant about making sure Parker got hooked on a paci (our term for pacifier) over her thumb. I’ve heard horror stories about thumb sucking children whose teeth were all jacked up or took serious bribing to stop the bad habit.

I have vivid memories of my younger sister getting bribed with a light-up, singing electric toothbrush when we were younger if she was able to stop sucking her thumb. Our mom put it on the top shelf in the bathroom closet, so she could see it, and it could be used as motivation for her to stop. That was after the finger nail polish remover and putting her hands in gloves…nothing was working! Alas, the toothbrush did the trick.

Even before Parker arrived, I felt like I was getting everyone’s opinions about this thrown at me. First, it was our birth class telling us that pacifiers confused breastfeeding babies and it should be introduced weeks after they are born. Then we were given an abundance of free pacifiers at the hospital (the same people who told us not to introduce them yet…). And as soon as she arrived, we found her sneaking her thumb in her mouth. Everyone was giving us the “don’t let her do that speech.” What’s a parent to do?

So on a united front, Ryan and I decided that we wanted her to suck on a paci. You can throw away a paci but not exactly get rid of a thumb, right? That was our argument. Plus, the looming need for braces in her future (since I wore braces myself) haunted me in my sleep. And it worked…to start. Parker got hooked on the paci. But not just any paci. It was a paci saga there for a while. She didn’t like any of the usual brands: no Philips or Avent or even the Wubbanub was good enough for little Miss P. She got hooked in the Nip brand pacifier, not to be confused with Nuk, which are almost impossible to find unless you order them online from Germany (yes, Germany…apparently Parker has expensive taste) or stumble upon them by happenstance at a store who has a specialty shipment in.

So, that was fun trying to chase down enough of those to have one in ever room since you can never find a paci when you need one (thank goodness for Amazon Prime!). And then all of a sudden, the thumb began appearing more and more. First, it was in her sleep, and who could blame her? It was comforting and oh so cute to see her snoozing and sneak it in. Then, she started pushing out her paci and replacing it with her thumb. We fought and fought it until finally we just gave up. Parker is a full-blown thumb sucker!

The girl is actually quite talented. She’ll even try to suck her thumb while nursing! And as much as I thought I would be mortified that she was sucking her thumb, I’ve actually started to like it. Why? First of all, it’s cute. Just the pure innocence of thumb sucking and the nostalgia of my younger sister snuggling her silk-lined blanket with her thumb in her mouth is enough to make me smile.  But the selfish parent in me loves the self-soothing aspect. There’s no crying in the middle of the night because her paci fell out and no clips on her clothing to keep it close when she’s in the car seat. It’s just always readily available.

So if you are a thumb sucking-shaming parent, shame away. I have fully converted into a thumb sucking supporter. What’s your take on the debate? I’d love to hear your argument!

Product Pick: Tory Burch Travel Pouch

First things first! No, I am not a fashion blogger nor am I pretending to be one. I just had to share this product with you all because it’s become an everyday staple in my life whether I’m running around in my Mom jeans with my daughter or running a 300-person event.

My sister got me this pouch for my birthday and at the time, I thought it was cute and could see myself using it when I wanted to add a fun punch of color to an outfit, but now that I don’t have enough hands to carry yet another bag, it has become a MUST HAVE in my wardrobe.

I find myself most frequently using it when I’m running around with Parker. We received this super cute diaper bag for her shower and once I have that, her car seat carrier, my phone and car keys, I’ve run out of hands to also carry a purse with. It’s perfect for popping in the diaper bag because it’s not too big. But it’s decent enough in size to be able to hold all the essentials of a wallet along with my favorite lip gloss, cell phone and hand sanitizer (because with flu season, I just can’t go without it).

I also love it on days when I work weddings or big events. I usually pack a bag in the morning with a change of clothes and makeup for touch ups because let’s be honest, you can’t do event set-up in a dress. So, this is the perfect bag to throw into a larger bag and be ready to go for the whole day.

The one I currently have, I couldn’t find still for sale, but I found a few other options I thought I would share with you. All are at different price points, so you can find one that matches your budget best. Happy shopping!

Turn-lock Envelope Pouch, Tory Burch, $198

Lauren Clutch Wallet, Hobo Bags, $87.80

Zip-Top Charging Wristlet Clutch, Old Navy, $22