Packing for the Hospital

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It’s hard to write about anything else on here lately besides baby stuff and impending motherhood. It’s kinda on my mind a lot. I will be 37 weeks tomorrow and anything is fair game at this point. I read somewhere that you should have your hospital bag packed and loaded in the car at 35 weeks which seems a little extreme to me. For my own sake, and maybe for someone else out there, I’ve laid out a few basics and essentials that are going in my bag (the contents of Alan’s bag are not yet determined, and we haven’t rounded up hospital snacks yet either) that will help me in labor and in recovery.

I want to mention just right off the bat that the plan right now (and I know plans often don’t go according to plan) is to labor at home for as long as I can (comforts of home include a ball, our entire streaming library, the cat, etc…) and go into the hospital when necessary, where I will labor and deliver unmedicated. That’s my hope. We’re grateful to be birthing at a place that will allow us to have snacks, dim the lights, wear whatever I want, a tub, a ball, aromatherapy… Basically any tool you could need. The only anxiety I have is that I don’t know when it’ll happen, but I’m not scared about birth because it’s one of the most natural things a woman will do. I want to be an active participant in this process! And I hope it goes good so I can write about it here afterwards. Namaste.

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  • Laboring clothes. What seems like forever ago, I was reading The Fresh Exchange’s post about what was in their hospital bags, and she said she’d bring her own clothes to labor and deliver in, which I thought sounded rather precious at the time. Now I understand that it’s an option that comes highly recommended by doulas and midwives: labor in your own clothes. You could wear the hospital gown, sure, but those are for the sick, and you’re not sick, you’re having a baby. Many “what to pack” lists will have a bathrobe on them. I don’t like bathrobes and don’t have one, so I thought I might just use a cardigan, until I found this ultra cozy sweatshirt-bathrobe hybrid from H&M. I also got a t-shirt dress, for modesty. I also have a pair of cozy socks. Everything is cozy.
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  • Tech supplies. One of the last things on my to-do list is to show Alan the ins and outs of DSLR use so he can take some candids during labor and afterwards. I’ll probably also want to take some portraits of the fresh baby too! I also have some spa/meditation playlists saved on Spotify I’ll be pumping through the hospital-provided speakers (I also have my Skyrim soundtrack OF COURSE). Other comfort measures we’ll be using is ambient lighting, aromatherapy, and hydrotherapy. Call me crazy, but I’m kind of looking forward to seeing how it all goes.
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  • For postpartum clothing, I have nursing tanks and bras, as well as maternity leggings and shorts (I’m really not a gown girl and prefer to keep it tight). I have a cozy cardigan as well! These will be my clothes for recovering in the hospital, and my “going home outfit.”
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  • For during and after labor, I have this toiletries bag of essentials, including face mist (it’s heavenly!), Burt’s Bees (I’m told delivery rooms are very dry), hair ties, lotion, soap, cucumber face wipes, and a tooth brush.
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  • My trusty water bottle will be at my side the whole time. Laboring is really intense and it’ll be imperative that I stay hydrated.
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  • Baby needs a going home outfit too! I have a couple little sleep suits (with mitts!) in NB and 0-3 mos, since we don’t know how big this baby will be (I’m guessing it’ll be big – I just found out Alan was almost 11 pounds hahahahaha). I also have a couple little hats and a swaddling blanket from home. They give you that stuff at the hospital, but I figure it’ll be nice for baby to be wrapped up in things from home.
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Bonus Arya lookin’ salty pic. She’s been using my maternity pillow as her own personal nest all these months. Not only will the new baby disrupt her home and her entire life, but I won’t be using the pillow anymore and she’ll have to figure something new out. Poor sweetie.

Baby Party

BABYSHOWER-11A couple weekends back we threw ourselves a little baby party, as a way to hang with a bunch of our friends, eat some good food and for me especially, to decorate the hell out of the house. Man, is there anything more satisfying/stressful than putting together an awesome-looking spread? Plus I was excited to design up some invitations which we sent in the mail and everything. It was all pretty legit (p.s. the tiny cat is absolutely the #1 best feature of the invitation). The script font and botanical illustrations were purchased on Creative Market.BABYSHOWER-1BABYSHOWER-5BABYSHOWER-6The lighting in my house is soooo bad, so these aren’t the *greatest* photos, but I had to get a bunch of this dessert table. I already had all the slab platters and the cake stand (and I used an unfinished slab I still had plastic-wrapped from Michael’s in my craft box to give it a little lift). I got the bunting and table runner from Minted. The chalkboards (also from Michael’s) were leftover from our wedding. The donuts were from Bogart’s.BABYSHOWER-3BABYSHOWER-4I saw something like this on Pinterest and decided to make my own. We weren’t explicitly asking for gifts, and the only group activity we did was baby trivia in the style of a pub quiz (which was hella fun and people really went with it!) but I did mandate that everyone fill one of these out. After the party ended, Alan and I went through and read them out loud to each other. Some of them were sweet and sincere and others were silly and snarky. It was a nice way to wind down from the madness of throwing a big party and see how much our baby was already loved.

For the food, we wrangled Adam, chef extraordinaire (and my sister’s boyfriend), into making some delicious pork sandwiches (and he went above and beyond by additionally providing homemade pickles, cole slaw and ratatouille). WE provided potato chips and Top the Tater, and some potato salad from Target which people said was good (I hate potato salad). BABYSHOWER-7BABYSHOWER-8I got the gold balloon letters on Amazon (they sell pre-packaged “BABY” sets, and I got some 40″ balloons for the yard, not pictured). Everything else I had, apart from the greenery. The night before, I picked up a bunch of Eucalyptus, Israeli Ruscus and Baby’s Breath and put together my own little bouquets for around the house. Cost only about $25 and it really looked lovely. BABYSHOWER-10I know that etiquette dictates that mothers-to-be shouldn’t throw their own Baby Showers, because it looks like a gift grab. Instead, etiquette dictates that you ask someone to throw one for you. Which, to me, seems way more uncouth. “Hey, do you want to spend a bunch of money throwing ME a party?” I had the opportunity to throw a shower on my terms and do it how I wanted it, and it was great! We gave the option for people to bring gifts, but made it clear there was no expectation of them. The flip side of course, was that it cost money, and I was exhausted playing host while pregnant. A few friends even stepped in from time to time to rally people for the group trivia or even give me foot rubs when I had a charley horse! It was all about having the friends we value come into our home so we could be like “Hey, you guys are important, and we hope you’ll be in our baby’s life.” PLUS I was excited to wear a pretty maternity dress and try out a new hairstyle, and I’m grateful to my friend Niki for documenting it!Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 6.05.44 PM

p.s. if you care to see where I got my party inspiration from, I have a little pinterest board here.

Mom Enough?

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Long before I was pregnant, or even had a regular job, I still knew that when I had kids, I would be a working mom. I am a feminist, and while I know that doesn’t mean you’re obligated to work when you have kids, it’s been a motivation for me to be my own person; I don’t want to be solely defined by being a mother. I want to show my kids that there is value in working, and that both mom and dad have an equal role in providing for the household. Plus studies show that mothers who work are generally happier, as they have social interactions outside the home, and aren’t totally bogged down by the stress of raising children full time.

The decks are stacked against women no matter what. Mothers who work, on average, make less than women without children. And we already know women make less than men.  Truly a damned-if-you-do scenario.

This past winter, I had what felt like a pretty solid job, with a solid income, and it lined up perfectly with our plan to start our family. I was 4 months pregnant when they told me at work that the company was putting full time contract workers on a “6 month hiatus” which seemed like fancy speak for “you won’t have a job anymore.” My last day was the day before we left for New Zealand, and since we returned, I’ve had an odd summer of being unemployed but not quite on the job hunt, but in the back of my mind I thought that I would somehow find a job soon and I’d need to negotiate some sort of maternity leave and we’d need to find daycare ASAP.

Daycare, it turns out, is really expensive, and for a good one, the wait list is long. One we were really impressed with had a waiting list for infants up to 12 months out. How do you even plan for that, realistically? Even if we did find care available around February or March of next year, when my “maternity leave” would be over, I don’t even have a job to go back to, and the prospect of job hunting is already stressful enough without a tiny baby in tow. If we got into a daycare and I didn’t have a job, would we just lose our spot for good?

***

On the way home from the daycare center that had the organic meals and cloth diapers and Spanish immersion and 12 month waitlist, I came to a difficult conclusion and said to Alan “What if I just stayed at home with the baby for the first year?” And just like that, I’d become a Stay-At-Home-Mom.

I’m not of the mind that one way is better than the other. Whatever is best for the mom and the dad and the baby is what’s best for them. I always thought that working would be the best for us. After all, it meant better vacations! Cool designer clothes and toys for baby! Regular massage appointments for myself! But now, the choice has been taken away from me, and I’m coming to terms with not being a Working Mom.

And why does it bother me so much? I like working, and doing design, and being creative, but I also enjoy waking up and not showering; just getting on with my day. I like spending time in my home office. I like doing errands, and cleaning the house, and cooking dinner. I’m so excited about getting to spend the precious first year with my baby so closely. So why does it feel like such a defeat?

I feel like the problem is America itself. There is a toxic work culture here. 40, 50, 60 hour work weeks, deadlines, overtime, no family leave, poor health care… It seems like our worth in this country is determined by how we make money. And I’ve fallen into that trap time and time again. It seems like so many kickass women are doing the career and kid thing and being totally awesome and empowered by it. The flip side to that is that doing anything less feels to me that I’m just not measuring up to the modern women in this country if I’m not trying to “have it all.”

Then, I look at the Nordic countries, and I’m filled with envy and longing, because they put the family first. In the Nordic countries, it’s a virtue to have kids and take care of them, and it’s also a virtue to work, but it’s not an obsession. Take a look at the list of the best countries for mothers. Joanna Goddard’s series on motherhood around the world has great insight from women in some of these countries as well: Norway, Sweden, Iceland.

I’d love to hear from mothers who put their career aside for an indefinite amount of time to raise babies. Was it difficult, or the easiest decision ever? Did you go back into the workforce or call it quits for good?

Week in the North

CWC2016-2When you photograph a certain place so many times, it begins to feel more of a task and less of a creative outlet. Just a day before embarking on our annual cabin trip this year, I realized I hadn’t thought about what camera gear I would pack. Last year I definitely over prepared by bringing 4 lenses and a slew of other accoutrements. This year I hastily stuffed my 70D, 24-70 2.8 lens already affixed, into my bag, made sure the 128GB card was clean, and just for grins, threw in my macro lens and a few filters. I packed the tripod too, in case I wanted to get into some night time photography, but pregnancy has me out these days at about 10:30.

Suffice to say, it was a very quiet week on the photography front. CWC2016-1CWC2016-3And that’s totally fiiiine. Anything I would’ve tried to do this year would’ve just been trying to recreate my photoset from last year’s trip, which in my mind, really told the story of what our cabin trips are like well. I have nothing new to say about the cabin this year. It was insanely quiet. In our cabin, one daughter had just had a baby, and another was on the verge. Not a lot of wild swimming or runs or volleyball. Just straight chillin. I assume next year with a 10 month baby in tow I will have a new story to tell and/or not have any time to take pictures.CWC2016-9CWC2016-10CWC2016-11CWC2016-12CWC2016-13CWC2016-14CWC2016-28CWC2016-29CWC2016-30CWC2016-37CWC2016-38CWC2016-39CWC2016-40CWC2016-44CWC2016-45CWC2016-46For my cabin read this year I have delved back into the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Man. Reading these things with knowledge of what’s to come… It’s so frustrating. Ned Stark is SO STUPID you guys amirite?CWC2016-47I kept envisioning a cool bump photo of myself in my swimsuit with my lady prominently featured but I had yet to show anyone how to take a picture with my camera, so I took one myself. My suit is from ASOS maternity. Also: Rocking the top knot these days! CWC2016-48CWC2016-49Little Hattie is a little older and a little more delightfulCWC2016-50CWC2016-52CWC2016-53SUMMER EVENINGS, right?CWC2016-56We also had a new little niece this year, seen here being cradled by Uncle Alan. Thanks for the infant prep, sis!CWC2016-58CWC2016-64On the last day Alan and I took a walk and I got him to take some pictures of me. He had the hat turned around and everything, and his composition is not bad. Just have to teach him about aperture now! I find it difficult to pose and smile for pictures, as I think I have a super goofy smile when I’m forcing it. So he told me some jokes to get me going. You know, like you might a child. CWC2016-66Since getting tattoos and becoming pregnant, even though I’m not at my ideal weight, I feel a lot more comfortable in my own skin, and this summer especially I have been loving just showing off my arms and belly and legs with no hesitation. Early on, my midwife said “birth will be easy for you, because you’re tall!” I don’t know if that’s actually true, but it did give me a new lens to look at my body through, which I’ve always had a rough relationship with. I was like, hell yeah, I’m tall, I’m solidly built. I will birth the hell out of this baby and it will RULE. It’s so, so cheesy, but I’ve really embraced womanhood and body positivity with this little (super kicky) baby inside me.CWC2016-67I now feel a little better about handing the camera to Alan more often especially once the baby is born because I am poorly represented in my own photography and this blog. CWC2016-72For this one I handed the camera to my sister! And of all the shots she took I like this one of us being goofs. CWC2016-73CWC2016-77CWC2016-78CWC2016-80And the sun sets on another year at our beloved cabin. It really feels like it went too fast, and yet I’m still filled with a sense of renewed energy, like most years when the summer winds down. Must be all that Real Simple and Martha Stewart Living I read Up North. I get home and I’m ready to hit the ground running. Why, just today, I had a doctor appointment (which was very good BTW), went to the bank and the post office, and IKEA. I got a whole to-do list for the coming months, until baby arrives. Vacation as reset is always so positive.

🌞

Summer Digs

CWC2015-137Hey, it’s Summertime at last! The weather in Minneapolis has been nice and hot, and I’ve been enjoying it from inside. While I do have difficulty with being out in the heat, just out of sheer intolerance, I love a good casual summer wardrobe. Shorts? I love wearing shorts so much. And this summer is unique for me in that I am expecting a child, so that meant an opportunity to see in what ways I could still dress like myself while wading the hell that maternity clothes shopping.

Luckily, H&M has some pretty good stuff for women in the family way. I like that they don’t look like maternity clothes. They look like clothes I would already be wearing, just with a built-in belly. I bit the bullet one afternoon and ordered up a few pieces I was determined to have as staples, and so far, so great! The denim shorts are actually better looking and fitting than any pair of denim shorts I’ve ever had. And I’ve never been able to get a good pair of black shorts either! SUMMER

In addition to these clothes, all from the H&M MAMA line, I’ve been digging this shirt and this shirt (although mine isn’t plus size, it’s just XL). A good boxy/loose striped t-shirt is a must. I’m also breaking in a pair of Milanos this summer. I feel fresh and casual every day!

Oh, and can’t forget about the Ray-Bans.

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