As hard as I tried, I just couldn’t pull together a post this week. I’m not quite sure how I made it to Friday, but goodness gracious I’m thankful that the weekend is finally here! So, in lieu of a post, would it be okay if I just share this photo of my little family at Sky Top Orchard a few weeks ago?
This day is such a happy memory for me—the perfect fall outing: getting some fresh, fall air with baby Ben, picking apples, eating too many apple cider donuts and drinking the best apple cider slushies.
Have a fabulous weekend and a Happy Halloween, Friends! I’ll try to get it together by next Friday.
Happy Friday, Y’all! Let’s just dive right in. Shall we? This week I’ve shopped the heck out of the internet and rounded up some of my favorite fall pieces in my favorite fall color combo: Blush & Burgundy. Like salt and pepper, chips and salsa, peanut butter and jelly, wine and cheese, biscuits and gravy, these two just belong together. (I really tried to come up with a inedible example but I seriously couldn’t…and now I’m hungry.) Last fall I bought a dreamy, burgundy, suede moto jacket—it was one of the best things I bought all year. And so, this year I can’t wait to wear it again, but this time I’ll be revamping the look by pairing it with a lightweight blush sweater, loafer, or statement earring. Also, while you’re in the shopping mood, if you haven’t already, check out my Fall Fashion Wish List post for some more fall fashion inspiration.
Does anyone else quote Shelby from Steel Magnolias in their head when they hear the word blush? (“My colors are blush and bashful, Mama!”) Ugh, good movie. Especially if you need a good (ugly) cry.
PSA: #6, the blush bomber, is one of my absolute favorite looks in this post and right now it’s 50% off. Go get it!
SHOP THE LOOK: 1.Topshop Soft Touch Cap | 2.BaubleBar Sohvi Tassel Drop Earrings | 3.H&M Ankle Boots | 4.Topshop Zip Pocket Boyfriend Coat | 5.Lush ‘Whitney’ Bell Sleeve Woven Shift Dress | 6.Topshop Textured Lightweight Bomber Jacket | 7.Topshop LEXI Retro Sunglasses | 8.BaubleBar Piñata Tassel Earrings | 9.Sam Edelman ‘Therese’ Leather Loafer | 10.H&M Long Sleeve Jersey Top | 11.H&M Cashmere Scarf | 12.Topshop Faux Fur Pom Bag Charm | 13.Smashbox Lipstick in Screen Queen Matte | 14.H&M Handbag | 15.Charlotte Tilbury ‘Cheek to Chic’ Swish & Pop Blush | 16.Bobbi Brown Wine Eye Palette | 17.Guess Knit Pom Beanie | 18.Michael Kors Rose Gold Bracelet Watch | 19.Topshop Ruffle Yoke Jumper | 20.H&M Slim-Fit Pants High Waist | 21.H&M Viscose Blouse | 22.Nike Air Max Thea Ultra Premium Sneaker | 23.Hinge Knit Scarf | 24.Deux Lux Hudson Camera Bag Crossbody | 25.Nike Air Max Thea SE Sneaker | 26.Topshop Long Sleeve Ribbed Hybrid Jumper | 27.Topshop Utility Peg Trousers
You might have noticed that I didn’t get a post up last week. Of course I have a good excuse though. My maternity leave ended and it was my first week back at work. And while I’m learning how to balance being a mom, work, blogging and everything else, in the first week, I just couldn’t make it all happen. Also, my mom was in town for a visit. Our time together, especially now that I’m a mom myself, is always so special to me. Without fail I cry every time she leaves. The woman is truly the best—she cooked all our meals, did the dishes, folded laundry, and rocked my crying baby to sleep. It was exactly what I needed last week—there’s no way I could ever thank her enough. Watching her spend time with Ben warmed my heart!
Hey, remember those Hello Fall posts I’ve been promising for weeks, well here we (finally) go! This week I’m starting things off by sharing my fall agenda. Like every year, I’m so excited for this season and some of my favorite fall activities. So, grab that PSL and settle in…it’s about to get reeeeeal basic around here.
CATCH UP ON MY READING LIST
I love reading. Pre-baby, I was on a book-a-week pace. But lately, I just haven’t been able to find the time. One thing I love about fall, because deep down I’m a homebody, is that everything seems to come back inside. After a summer of outdoor adventure, we find our way back into the home for low-key, cozy evenings and weekends. There’s nothing better than curling up with a good book. Hopefully, I will find some time to tackle my growing reading list starting with this one from Thyme Is Honey. What are you reading?
ENJOY WARM DRINKS
This is the time of year when I trade in my go-to, iced coffee for something a little warmer. Apple cider, pumpkin spice and hot chocolate—I love them all. Lately I’ve been getting my fix at home with flavored creamers, but I love treating myself to a seasonal specialty drink now and then. The other weekend I found a Hazelnut Pumpkin coffee at a local coffee shop. The perfect combination of two of my favorite flavors.
BAKE ALL THE SEASONAL TREATS
My mom made this apple pie last week and I savored every last slice. Although I’d much rather have her bake for me, I would like to try my hand at some fall baking this year. If you’re looking for a quick and easy fall treat, the pumpkin bread mix from Trader Joe’s is delicious. But, if you’re feeling more adventurous maybe try tackling a few of these 65+ pumpkin recipes from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
REFRESH MY FALL WARDROBE
Now that I can fit into my non-maternity clothes again, I feel like I’m rediscovering my fall wardrobe. But, it never hurts to add a few new pieces to the mix…just to refresh things. Right? Last September I found this amazing Madewell sweater at Nordstrom. It’s seriously the softest, coziest sweater ever! But, great news, this year, although that sweater is still available, there’s an equally cozy version that’s half the price! So, I just might have bought it in multiple colors. It’s so easy to throw over any outfit and in this mild North Carolina weather, I can probably get away wearing it as a coat for the next month or so. You can find the rest of my fall fashion picks here.
FIND A FALL HAIRSTYLE
Well, I finally did it. If you’ve been following HF you know I’ve debated cutting my hair for a while now. And a few weeks ago I finally went for it and chopped about 5 inches. Verdict? I wish I had done it sooner. It’s so much easier to manage, especially now that extra time to get ready doesn’t exist anymore. Allison Webber at Element 5 Salon is my new go-to girl. She posted this pic of my hair on Instagram. Go see her if you live in the South Charlotte area!
TRY A DARK LIP
Check out Allure’s guide to the “25 Best Dark Lipsticks to Wear All Fall Long” to find your perfect shade.
APPLE PICKING, CORN MAZES & PUMPKIN PATCHES…
These are a few of my favorite (fall) things! Last weekend we went apple picking so I’ve checked that off the list. This weekend we’re headed to the nearby Hall Family Farm to find baby Ben’s perfect pumpkin!
FIND FALL-INSPIRED DECOR
It doesn’t take much to transition your home from summer to fall—a flannel throw, a few decorative pumpkins, or a fall-inspired centerpiece for your table. Target is my favorite place to find seasonal, decorative touches for the home and right now just about everything is on sale! (I don’t know about you, but I can spot those red clearance stickers from a mile away!)
PICK A FALL SCENT
The 3-wick candles from Bath & Body Works are seriously the best. I usually pick one up each fall and winter. Last year I loved the “Tailgate” scent, and although it didn’t smell like any tailgate I’d ever been to, it definitely gave me all the fall feels. This year I’m loving the Leaves candle—it’s a combination of crisp red apple, golden nectar and warm clove spice and it definitely smells like fall to me.
I know I told you last week that my Hello Fall series would begin today, but that was until I realized that this Friday marks 2 months with my sweet baby boy, Ben, and, that I’ve officially reached the end of my maternity leave. So, it’s a little bit of the perfect storm today and I’m feeling ALL THE FEELS. Instead, I want to do a catch up post and share what life has been like the past couple months. (Next week, Hello Fall for real!)
I was going through every picture on my phone the other night. It’s funny, no matter how tired I am in the morning, some nights I just can’t get myself to turn off and fall asleep. My mental to-do list plays on repeat and my mind races—did I do enough today? Maybe I should have read to the baby? Did I forget to read to him? Because, I said yesterday that I was going to read to him. Did we do tummy time? I think we did. We’re definitely doing tummy time tomorrow. And we’re going on a walk. A long one. I’m not afraid to admit that there’s a learning curve to motherhood, and I’m not sure if I’ve caught on just yet. I’m trying though. And it’s definitely getting easier. I think?
So, anyhow, back to the pictures on my phone. As I scrolled through 17,612 photos (that’s not an exaggerated number—that’s how many pictures I have on my phone. It’s a real problem), I eventually found myself back in July, before Ben arrived, very pregnant and nervous about impending parenthood. How was that only two months ago? I know in the big scheme of things two months is a short amount of time, but so much has happened in those two months that I can’t help but feel like that pregnant me, in those pictures, is so far away now. It’s almost like on July 31st my life got split into two separate parts—my life before baby and my life with Ben. And two months in, I’m having trouble remembering what that other life was like. One thing I’m pretty certain of, that me was well-rested and probably smelled much better than this me. I think most new moms would agree once the baby arrives, everything else gets a little unbalanced. I’m trying not to be too hard on myself though. I’m trying to allow myself to enjoy this time—even if it means that I still haven’t sent out his birth announcements nor thank you notes from my baby showers.
Because on the other hand, I feel like it’s all flying by too fast. When I look at pictures of Ben at the hospital and I see how much he’s changed and grown already, I feel a little sad that that time is gone. He’ll never be that tiny again! (Insert ugly cry face) Am I crazy? Can I still blame it on hormones? Okay good. Especially lately, as I mentally prepare to go back to work and try to visualize what life will be like as a working mom, I’m trying to soak up every minute—because I can’t help but feel like it’s all about to change yet again.
Since having Ben, I think about and see the world differently. Everything seems exponentially more important than it did before—what I eat, what he’ll eat, how I treat people, how people treat one another, the current state of the world, recycling, this election. The list goes on and on. I feel this immense responsibility to protect this perfect, little person. It’s enough to stress you out a little. So, the past few months, in order to stay sane, I’ve celebrated the little things—reading a few pages of a book, putting on mascara, finding time to blog each week, getting out of the apartment, managing to have a cup of coffee while Ben naps, showering.
Ben is the sweetest baby. (Doesn’t every mom think that though?) He gives me the biggest smiles in the morning—which makes the fact that we haven’t slept through the night yet, much more bearable. It could just be the milk he likes, but I’ll take it. He loves to “talk.” This month he’s started making so many new sounds. He’s much more alert and makes eye contact when you talk to him. His neck strength and control has really improved. And, at the risk of sounding crazy, I swear that lately he’s started “kissing” me. When I hold him up so we’re face to face, he’ll rub his mouth back and forth along my cheek. I get that this probably means he’s hungry, but I’m calling it a kiss. Just let me have this.
Hello, fall! You beautiful time of the year, you. I know I’ve said it before, but fall is my absolute favorite season and yesterday marked the beginning of it. Don’t get me wrong, summer can be great—a time to get outside, enjoy the sunshine, maybe take a vacation. But fall offers cooler weather (read: less sweating), cozier clothing (read: clothes that hide “things”) and pumpkin everything (read: yum). So, fall wins.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting a Hello Fall series to celebrate all the best things this wonderful time of year has to offer. But, before we get into that, I’m sharing with you my favorite drugstore beauty finds. I love a long stroll around Sephora. (Because let’s be honest, a trip to Sephora is never short.) But, I don’t exactly love how much I usually spend there. (Because let’s be honest again, you went in for one thing, but you found ten others that you needed.)
Some of these budget-friendly products, like items 11 and 13, are tried and true favorites that I’ve used for years and years. And others, like items 17 and 15 are new finds that are fast becoming go-tos. The best news is that all of these products are under $11! The most expensive item on this list is number 14, the foundation—but, it’s hard to find a good quality foundation for any less AND it’s still under $11. You can find all these items at Target, and most of them at any other drugstore.
e.l.f. Eyeshadow Palette – Mad for Matte | I’m a big fan of the Urban Decay Naked eyeshadow palette, but this similar version by e.l.f. has more colors that I use for everyday and it’s a fraction of the cost.
L’Oréal Paris Magic Lumi Highlighter – Fair 860 | This is another big savings dupe in my makeup bag. Mister Light highlighter by Givenchy is amazing, but you can easily get the job done with this much more affordable, highlighting pen from L’Oréal.
Simple Kind to Skin Cleansing Facial Wipes | I love washing my face with my Clarisonic. It’s one of the best parts of the day. Is that sad? But, sometimes, especially since having a baby, I’m just too tired to go through my normal cleansing routine. That’s where these Simple wipes come in handy. They take off all your makeup and leave your skin feeling clean and refreshed.
Revlon Powder Blush – Mauvelous | In the summer I usually wear bronzer for color, but when fall rolls around I like to transition to blush. This blush is the perfect shade and offers just the right amount of rosy.
SUAVE Kids Purely Fun Detangler | Yes, I use a detangler made for kids. But, it gets the job done, smells good and it’s inexpensive!
Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover | A little bit of this stuff on a cotton ball and you can say goodbye to mascara, eyeliner and raccoon eyes the next morning.
Rimmel Exaggerate Eye Definer – Blackest Black | I don’t have strong opinions on eyeliner—they’re all about the same in my book. But, I usually tend to gravitate to this eye defining version from Rimmel. I really like the blending sponge on the end too.
Maybelline Baby Lips Lip Balm | The clear version of this balm is a great moisturizer—it’s not sticky and it leaves your lips feeling smooth and hydrated.
Sonia Kashuk Blending Sponge | I love beauty blenders—especially for my under eye concealer. There are a lot of affordable versions now, like this one by Sonia Kashuk for Target. You can also find them at T.J. Maxx and Marshalls.
essie Nail Polish – Berry Naughty | This rich burgundy nail color is perfect for a fall mani or pedi.
TRESemme 24 Hour Body Finishing Spray | This is my all-time favorite drugstore beauty product. I’ve been using it for about 10 years now. It’s hands down the best hairspray and finishing spray I’ve tried. Trust me when I say, if you’re heat styling your hair and hoping it doesn’t fall flat, you need this finishing spray in your life. It offers just the right amount of hold and a ton of volume. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find in stores but you can always buy it online. Do it.
e.l.f. Studio Contouring Blush & Bronzing Powder – Turks & Caicos | I still don’t really know how to contour. I’ve watched plenty of YouTube how-to’s though and it seems using a powder is the easiest method for beginners. I tried this blush and bronzing contouring duo and it seemed to get the job done. I think? I’ll have to find a different option or color combo for fall though.
Rimmel Stay Matte Powder – Transparent | I’ve used this pressed powder for a long time. I tend to have oily skin, so the matte finish really takes care of unwanted shine. It comes in a lot of shades but I just use the transparent version.
L’Oréal Paris Infallible Matte Foundation – Shell Beige 102 | I’m convinced that I’ve tried just about every drugstore foundation. When I’m willing to spend a little more money or if I’m going somewhere special, I use Make Up For Ever’s HD foundation. But, for everyday purposes, Infallible Matte is perfect. It offers great coverage and doesn’t feel too heavy.
Maybelline Color Sensational Vivid Matte Liquid Lip Color – 10 Nude Flush | Word around town is that these matte liquid lip colors are a great dupe for Kylie Jenner’s popular lip kit colors. I usually like a more glossy finish but this matte color goes on smoothly and doesn’t dry out my lips.
L’Oréal Paris Double Extend Mascara – Blackest Black 575 | This is the best drugstore mascara. There, I said it. The primer lengthens your lashes like none other.
L’Oréal Paris Pure-Clay Mask Detox & Brighten | I included this face mask on my Friday Favorites post a few weeks ago. It’s worth mentioning again though. I’ve been using it 3 days a week and I love the way it makes my skin feel and look. It’s a great substitute for those pricey masks you can buy at Sephora or department stores.
L’Oréal Paris True Match Concealer – Fair/Light | A great concealer is one item I’m willing to splurge on a little. Lately I’ve been using IT Cosmetics’ Bye Bye Under Eye, and NARS is a tried and true favorite. If I’m going to go the drugstore route though, this True Match concealer by L’Oréal is the best I’ve found. It covers and blends nicely.
Enjoy the first weekend of Fall. See you next Friday! xx, Devon
This week I decided to do something wild and crazy. I tried on my pre-pregnancy jeans. Oh, you know, just for fun. The good news is I didn’t cry. However, I’m about 2 to 3 disciplined weeks + a juice cleanse away from fitting back into them. A little over a week ago, my doctor gave me the okay to start working out again. In my last few months of pregnancy I had big plans to hit the ground running when I got that green light, but that just hasn’t happened. Baby Ben and I do have plans for a daily walk around the neighborhood…we’re just waiting for the fall weather to show up. Come to think of it, I haven’t worn pants without an elastic waistband since about January. So, the prospect of wearing “real” clothes again this fall is really exciting. Since I don’t have much time to go shopping these days, I’ve been scouring the online shops to bring you my fall fashion wish list. And y’all, can we just take a moment—chokers and flare jeans are back! There are some really good sales below, so be sure to check them out.
SHOP THE LOOK: 1.H&M Flare Jeans | 2.H&M Handbag | 3.Topshop Velvet Embroidered Bomber Jacket | 4.Bauble Bar ‘Duchess’ Velvet Choker | 5.Bauble Bar ‘Ariadne’ Bib Necklace | 6.H&M Flannel Shirt | 7.H&M Jersey Top with Lacing | 8.Topshop Double Buckle Western Belt | 9.Bauble Bar ‘Piñata’ Tassel Earrings |10.Kate Spade ‘Carima’ Loafer Flat | 11.H&M Merino Wool Turtleneck Sweater | 12.H&M Slim-fit Pants | 13.Topshop Textured Lightweight Bomber Jacket | 14.H&M Shoulder Bag | 15.H&M Felt Hat | 16.Sam Edelman ‘Reyes’ Bootie | 17.Topshop Ditsy Plisse Wrap Dress | 18.Topshop MOTO Rip Lucas Boyfriend Jeans | 19.Topshop ‘Kimi’ Loafer | 20.H&M Knit Sweater | 21.BP ‘Lookout’ Round Sunglasses | 22.Vans ‘Classic’ Slip-on Sneaker | 23.H&M Oversized Sweater | 24.H&M Joggers | 25.H&M Printed Sweatshirt | 26.Topshop Faux Leather Biker Jacket | 27.Dolce Vita ‘Neely’ Over the Knee Boots | 28.H&M A-Line Suede Skirt | 29.Adidas ‘Stan Smith’ Sneaker | 30.H&M Shoulder Bag
As I’m sitting down to work on this post, I’m trying to remember what I did this week. It’s kind of fuzzy, but I’m sure there was a lot of coffee, laundry, diapers, bottles, maybe a nap? And hopefully at least a shower or two? I can’t be sure. I almost can’t believe it’s the end of the week. Why can’t work weeks fly by the way maternity leave weeks do?
I noticed this week that as a new mom, I spend most of my time multitasking—and not very well I might add. I could be checking email on my phone while I pump, squeezing in a few squats while I wash bottles, and having heart-to-heart conversations with Riggins, apologizing for being neglectful and promising it won’t always be like this, while I fold lots of tiny clothes. It seems like nothing, besides baby Ben, gets my full attention these days. But, during his naps, I’ve put together a little round-up of some Friday Favorites.
Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer
Have you seen the IT Cosmetics infomercials? Or, maybe you’ve paused on QVC while the company’s founder, Jamie Kern, demonstrates how well their products cover her rosacea? (Don’t worry, it happened to me too…she really sucks you in, doesn’t she?) I finally decided I needed to try it for myself. Since I haven’t been getting much sleep lately, the IT Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer’s promise that “it’s your 8 hours of sleep in a tube,” really spoke to me. You can find a shade that works for you on the IT Cosmetics website or at Ulta—I wear light. The verdict: It really lives up to it’s claim—it lasts all day, gives FULL coverage, brightens under eyes and hides the dark circles. It also offers anti-aging properties, so maybe it’s doing a little somethin’ somethin’ extra while you wear it.
Thai fried rice
This delicious dish comes from one of my absolute favorite blogs, Iowa Girl Eats. Cafe Chili, a restaurant in Brooklyn near where my parents live, serves a similar dish called tropical fried rice. Just like in this recipe, it has pineapple and shrimp, a delicious combination—it’s so good!
Haircut or nah?
It’s that time of the year again. The time of year when I endlessly debate whether or not I should cut my hair. (You thought I was going to say the time of year when Pumpkin Spice Everything returns, didn’t you? Don’t worry, that’s next. #basic) I’ve probably had the same style and length, give or take an inch or two, for the past five years, so I’m really feeling like I need a change. But, haven’t you heard me say that before? At the beginning of the year, I told myself I would wait until after the baby came to cut it. I figured it might be a nice change when I had less time to get ready—something low-maintenance and maybe add some layers? Plus, I had dreams of a post-hospital Kate Middleton blowout. Who was I kidding? In reality post-hospital look was more like a post-gym ponytail. So, friends, is this the year? Just in case I created a whole Pinterest board of potential looks. What do you think about this one found on Refinery29?
This is not a drill. It’s back!
Pumpkin spice everything season. It’s still 90-some degrees in Charlotte, but I don’t care, if Starbucks says its fall, then it’s fall. Check out Delish’s list of “91 Fall-Flavored Things You Need to Get Your Hands On.” That’s right, 91. Ugh, I wish I didn’t love you so much, PSL.
Face masks for less
I love a good face mask, like the masks by Glam Glow and Fresh, but they’re expensive! I tried L’Oreal’s new Pure-clay Mask and was pretty impressed. After letting it sit for 10 mins, my skin felt soft and smooth. Plus, they’re about $10, a fraction of the price of most masks you’ll find at Sephora.
Let’s be nice to ourselves
I’ve been a little down about my post-baby body this week. Although I know the extra weight and stretch marks are a result of carrying the sweetest baby boy for 36 weeks, it’s hard to feel like myself when I look in the mirror lately. I came across this thoughtful reminder on Instagram and it gave me a little perspective—so, I’m trying to focus on the positives instead.
These Roshe Run Nikes
Mike bought me these sneakers at the Nike outlet a few weeks ago. He has a similar pair that I love, and I’ve been on the hunt for some like them ever since. They’re so comfortable and go really well with my I-may-or-may-not-be-on-my-way-to-yoga-look that I’m currently wearing on repeat these days. (Just so we’re clear, my yoga pants have never seen the inside of a yoga class.)
September 8, 2012
Yesterday Mike and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary. It’s crazy to think about how much has happened in the past year. And through it all, I feel so fortunate to have a man like Mike by my side.
While I was pregnant I read a lot of birth stories on mom blogs. Some terrified me and others put me at ease. However, my biggest take away from all of it, which I found reassuring, was no matter your delivery experience, once you meet your baby, the fear, pain, months of morning sickness, swollen feet, sleepless nights and back pain cease to matter anymore. And now that I’ve been through it, this is true. I think most women who are uneasy and scared about the actual labor and delivery part of pregnancy feel nervous because it’s not something you can prepare for. Even if you talk to every mom you know, everyone’s experience is different and until you go through it yourself, it’s hard to anticipate what it will be like.At my 35th week doctor’s appointment everything seemed pretty routine. I was feeling fine, not having any unusual pain or symptoms, but my blood pressure was high. As a precaution, the doctor took some blood tests and said she would call me the next day if anything seemed concerning. Although it was the first time throughout my pregnancy that my blood pressure had been elevated, she didn’t seem too worried, so I didn’t think much of it.
The next day I had almost forgotten about the tests all together. Mike had gone to work from a nearby Starbucks. It was around 5:00pm and I was walking around the apartment sans pants (because when you’re 35 weeks pregnant, pants are optional), looking for something to snack on when my phone rang. It was my doctor. I can’t remember all the details of the call because somewhere after she said, “I don’t want you to panic, but I want you to pack a bag and head to the hospital,” I’m pretty sure I blacked out. But the gist was: due to the results of the blood tests, she was concerned that I may have preeclampsia and therefore may need to be induced, so she wanted me to go to the hospital for monitoring and more tests.
My immediate reaction was to hysterically panic and call my mom. I managed to relay the few details I remembered to her, the whole time pacing my apartment looking for things to throw into my hospital bag. I tried not to go over the laundry list of things I had planned to do in the next few weeks: putting together the bassinet, organizing the baby’s clothes, installing the car seat, lining up a newborn photographer, writing my baby shower thank you notes, wrapping up all the loose ends at work, and maybe most relevant in that moment, packing a hospital bag. Once she calmed me down, I called Mike. Taking a cue from the doctor I lead with, “I don’t want you to panic, but…” I left out the induction part though.
You know all those checklists of what to pack in your hospital bag? In that moment, all of those suggestions went right out the window. I threw the most random things into a bag and once Mike got home, we left for the hospital. We were shown to a room, I changed into a hospital gown, and the blood tests and monitoring began. Since our families are long distance, my mom called close family friends who live nearby and they met us at the hospital. It was nice to have some familiar faces to keep us company and take my mind off of the panic I was feeling. Turns out, other than the tests, nothing much happened that night.
I stayed in the hospital for the next 4 days. Although I didn’t have the typical signs and symptoms of preeclampsia, a condition in pregnancy marked by high blood pressure and swelling brought on by fluid retention, and my blood pressure had since returned to normal, my liver enzymes were elevated and continuing to rise each day. The doctors on call spent a lot of time trying to figure out what could be going on. The baby’s heart rate was strong and they kept telling me that he was doing great, but my liver was definitely a cause for concern. Since I wasn’t feeling sick, this made my situation even more confusing.
I spent the days trying to distract myself—napping, watching movies, texting friends and family, trying to relax and not get frustrated that I wasn’t quite sure what was going on with my body. I worried about the baby’s health and what the possibility of an early delivery would mean. In preparation for this, I was given a steroid to help the baby’s lungs develop more quickly. Towards the end of the week, although I still felt unsure of exactly what was going on, it seemed the plan would be to stay in the hospital, where I could be monitored, with hopes of reaching 37 weeks before I was induced. But in the meantime if my liver enzymes returned to normal, I might be able to go home and finish my pregnancy as normal. I held onto that hope.Mike was a huge help while I was in the hospital. He kept me company during the day, calmed my fears when I started to worry about the baby, brought me meals so that I avoided hospital food, ran home in the evenings to check on Riggins, and helped to cross a few items off that to-do list I mentioned—preparing the apartment for the baby’s early arrival.
I met with GI specialists and had an ultrasound to see if maybe it was my gallbladder. Once that was ruled out, I had another ultrasound to check on the baby. (They told me that he had hair, probably weighed 6 pounds and 8 ounces, and that he had a “good sized head.”) Each day it seemed the possibility of one thing or another was ruled out. Thankfully, I was still feeling fine.
My last pregnant, no makeup, mirror selfie
That Sunday morning the doctor came in and announced that he was calling my symptoms an atypical case of HELLP, a form of preeclampsia, and that since my liver enzymes didn’t seem to be improving, but only getting worse, they would start inducing me at noon that day. I looked at the clock right away—that gave me two hours. Mike had run home to take care of our dog, Riggins, so again I had to call him with the news, “I don’t want you to panic, but…”
As planned, the induction began at noon. (Just as a side note, I’m not going to get into too many of the details, but I also totally understand if you’re not interested in hearing about things like cervix dilation—feel free to skip ahead if you need to.) First, I was given Cytotec to help soften my cervix and dilate to 2 or 3 centimeters. After that the Pitocin started and the contractions started to get more intense—2 to 3 minutes apart and lasting for about an minute. I felt the contractions mostly in my lower back. I had read that it helps to walk around, but I had to be strapped to the heart rate monitor, so I didn’t really have that option. Around 5 centimeters I was given an epidural. After that, I didn’t feel much. At one point the nurse told me I was in the middle of a big contraction and to be honest I couldn’t feel a thing. A few hours after getting the epidural, I noticed the effects were starting to wear off. I could feel contractions again and the discomfort had returned. I told my nurse and the anesthesiologist came back to check on me. He upped my pain medication and after that I felt much better.
When I was given Pitocin to move labor along, the doctor noticed the baby’s heart rate would drop and then they would have to move me around to help it come back up. Since I already had my epidural, it was really hard for me to move or use my legs—making this whole process really difficult and uncomfortable. They stopped the Pitocin for a while to see if I would continue to progress on my own. But the progress was slow. I was also feeling really nauseous, which made matters worse. This cycle went on for what must have been a few hours, until the doctor determined the pattern wasn’t safe for the baby and that a c-section would be necessary. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t panic a little. I didn’t really have a birth plan, but the past few days and labor certainly weren’t going the way I had envisioned.
After the doctor decided on a c-section, everything moved really quickly. Mike was given scrubs to change into, multiple nurses came into the room to prep me, and then before I knew it I was being wheeled down the hall to the operating room.
I honestly don’t remember a ton of details from the c-section. It was kind of like an out of body experience. I know that I didn’t feel any pain, just some pressure. I remember the anesthesiologist stroking my hair. He jokingly asked if I wanted him to let me know when the doctor started the incision. Call me crazy but I told him yes. Then he said, “Oh, he started a while ago, he’s almost done.” Mike was squeezing my hand and telling me I was doing a great job. And then a nurse from somewhere beside me told Mike to get his camera ready and that’s how I knew our baby had arrived.
Nurses quickly carried him over to a table slightly over my shoulder and then just a few seconds later I heard his cries. I was so relieved and happy. I wanted to hold him right away although I knew I wouldn’t be able to. Mike walked between the baby and me taking pictures and giving me updates. He’s 5 pounds and 11 ounces. 19 inches long. He has dark hair. He already peed on the nurses…twice. Before they took him to NICU, they brought the baby over to me. Even though the whole thing is a little bit of a blur now, that moment is still so clear. Ben’s eyes were wide open and we stared right at each other. I repeated, “Hi Baby, I love you,” until they had to leave with him.
The next day was a little rough. I was really out of it, very nauseous and missing my baby. Since I was sick, I wasn’t able to see him yet. Mike went to check on him a few times and would report back that he was doing well. Around 6pm that evening, after I was feeling better, I was finally wheeled over to the NICU. Just about that same time my mom and sister arrived at the hospital. We sat in a little room and I held him for the first time. Before I went back to my room that night, we worked on our first feeding.I won’t get into breastfeeding in this post. But, I will say, it’s hard! A lot harder than I was prepared for it to be. I went back to see Ben for a few more feedings that night and by the next morning, based on his progress, he was able to leave the NICU and stay with me in my room.
We stayed another two nights—working on feedings, napping, spending time with visiting family and really getting to know each other. I quickly learned Ben’s “I’m really hungry,” cry, decided that he looks a little like me and a lot like my dad, and discovered that seeing your husband, parents and sister hold your baby for the first time is probably the best thing ever.On Wednesday, three days after having Ben, we were finally able to go home. I felt ready, especially considering at that point I had been there a full week. Just in case this finds its way into the hands of a mom in Charlotte, North Carolina, I want to point out that all the doctors, nurses and specialists I met at CMC Pineville were truly amazing—especially the nurses. I actually still miss most of them! If it were acceptable to go by the hospital and just hang out with them, I would. They were so kind, warm and friendly, always making me feel comfortable and taken care of.Okay, this post got long but I guess there’s no quick way to share a birth story. I wanted to give an update on what the past month with Ben has been like, but I’ll save that for another day. If there are any expecting moms out there who searched “birth stories” and came across this post, I want to leave you with one thing. Yes, labor is not the most comfortable experience, parts of it were painful, and your experience in the delivery room doesn’t always go as planned. But, if you focus on each contraction, each step in the process, helping to get you closer to meeting your baby, it helps. And, once you’re in that moment, although the fear may not go away completely, you’ll find a little extra strength to do what you have to do, to bring that little one into the world. Also, ice chips, an epidural and a supportive partner make all the difference—but, that’s just my opinion.
Wow, long time, no talk! I clearly broke my weekly posting streak. But, I promise that I have a pretty good reason for the 4 week hiatus…
I had a baby! Hello Friday Friends, I’d like to introduce you to Benjamin Asher. Our tiny guy was born a whole month early on July 31st at 4:18am and Mike and I are head over heels in love with him.The past month has been the best of my life. It has also been completely scary, a little overwhelming and totally disorganized. In just a short time, becoming a mom has taught me so much about myself—it’s tested my patience and proved my resilience. Motherhood has quickly forced me to let go of any and all control, plans, and the hope of ever having a good night’s sleep again (thank god for coffee and full coverage concealer). In my moments of doubt, when I’ve questioned whether or not I have what it takes, or if I’m doing a good job, I’ve found comfort and encouragement in my new personal affirmation, “This moment will not last forever. It is okay and I will be okay.” Everything about this past month has changed the way I see myself and the world. Although I certainly don’t know what I’m doing and each day is a learning experience, it almost feels like I was put on this earth to be Ben’s mom.Watching Mike become a dad has brought me more joy and happiness than I ever thought possible. I know lots of people say this but honestly he’s a natural. He has very little experience being around babies and yet he’s transitioned into the role seamlessly—I think even better than I have. We’ve shared so many moments where we just look at Ben and marvel in the fact that together we created this precious, beautiful life. My heart absolutely burst seeing my parents, sister and in-laws hold Ben for the first time. Ben has been welcomed into our family with unconditional love. I can’t wait for him to meet the rest of our family.
I want to take just a minute to thank all of our family and friends for the outpouring of love and support. It’s very humbling. Mike, Ben and I are very lucky to have such amazing people in our lives. Every gift, card, phone call, visit, text, words of encouragement and congratulations, has meant the world to us.
This week, I wanted to share a little bit of my birth story and catch you up to speed on what life has been like since baby Ben came into the world, but truth be told, I’ve struggled with finding a balance between #momlife and blogging (or anything else for that matter). I know pregnancy brain is real, because I lived it, but I figured it would go away once the baby arrived. Not true. I can’t seem to focus on much lately and my days are all starting to blend together. Most days, by the time I manage to pull myself out of bed, away from my napping baby, and reheat my coffee no less than 5 times, the morning is completely gone and the rest of the day quickly flies by too. We’re in that endless routine of feedings, diaper changes, pumping, baby laundry, cuddling and naps. And although I’ve tried to master the “nap while the baby naps” concept, I find myself watching him sleep or scrolling through the photos of him on my phone instead. I’m so creepy and I don’t even care.I’ve spent lots of time lately thinking about how having a baby and becoming a mom will alter the future of Hello Friday. I want to stay committed to my weekly posts—blogging is something I really enjoy and most weeks it’s my only creative outlet. But, I think undoubtedly, since my life has totally changed, some of the content I post will change too. Regardless, I hope you still stop by and continue to join me on this journey.
Over the next few weeks, like I mentioned, I’ll finally share my birth story and the details on our new normal. I’m also looking forward to showing you some of my favorite mom and baby must-have products.
This week I discovered something close to cruel and unusual punishment, being almost 9 months pregnant during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. The sale opens up to the non-Nordstrom card-holding public today! Sure, shopping shoes and accessories are options (if I go early, before my feet swell too much), but since there’s really no trying-on for this mama, I’ll mostly be sitting this one out. I’ve been browsing the sale online though, and there are a few deals I just can’t pass up—mostly basic tops and a pair of jeans that I may buy, hoping I can squeeze into them by the end of the year. And who knows, maybe they will be a little motivation to shed the baby weight. Sweet, sweet ice cream, I’ll miss you come September!
Do me a favor and shop the sale for me? Here are my Friday Favorites for this year’s #NSALE.
Lace Up Pointy Toe Flat
This bordeaux color is great for fall and these pointed toe, lace up flats by Halogen are right on trend.
It’s not just clothing and shoes on sale, Nordstrom also offers discounts on many household items and gifts. This set of six, stackable bowls by Gibson comes in 3 different ombre-style colors: blue, gray and pink.
I love these straw baskets—I can picture them in a kid’s room to hold stuffed animals and toys, or in the living room to hold throw blankets or magazines.
I’m loving this ankle-length denim trend—its perfect for showcasing a fun, pointed heel, lace up, open-toe, or bootie. (From left to right): AG ‘The Legging Ankle Jean’ | PAIGE ‘Transcend – Verdugo’ Ankle Skinny Jean | Vigoss ‘Thompson’ Distressed Skinny Jeans
Deep-V Neck Tee
This basic, deep-v neck tee would look great under a long cardigan, blazer, bomber or moto jacket. This particular look is from Lush.
Faux Leather Moto Jacket
I spent most of the last fall/winter seasons in search of the perfect moto jacket. There are lots of options offered at this year’s #NSALE. I particularly love this ‘Easy Rider’ Faux Jacket from BLANKNYC.
Crossed Front V-Neck Top
The details of this Lush blouse give an otherwise basic piece a little pizzaz.
Although they’re everywhere come fall and winter, it can actually be hard to find a great bootie. I like the look of this sand, suede pair from Treasure&Bond.
A Sleek Shoulder Bag
The metal details make this simple, black shoulder bag sleek and stylish. This bag by Vince Camuto is perfect for everyday or a night out.