budget | parenting | pregnancy

Guest Post: Top Tips for Thrifty Moms-To-Be

By on October 1, 2020

I am so happy and excited to feature this post by Emily Graham. You can find this budget-friendly article and plenty of other wonderful content on financial wellness at mightymoms.net.

When you’re expecting a new addition, it’s natural to want to splurge on every little thing for your bundle of joy.  However, the last thing you want to do is feel distracted about finances.  Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to prepare for your baby without overspending.  These thrifty tips will have you not only ready for your baby’s arrival but will ensure you’ll be able to focus on every precious moment.  

Take a breather

One of the simplest things you can do for yourself in preparation for your baby’s arrival is to spend time relaxing.  According to research, relaxation helps expecting moms reduce their stress and anxiety levels, feel more energized, and stay in a positive mindset.  Try doing some meditation exercises to help you focus and let go of tension.  Just 10 or 20 minutes a day can help you feel better, and it’s a simple and free addition to your lifestyle.

Revamp the reveal 

Gender reveals come in all shapes and sizes, and with a little ingenuity, you can create a celebration that is inspired, entertaining, and memorable.  For instance, a photo shoot can be terrific fodder for a unique gender reveal.  You can get packs of pink or blue gum, then take pictures blowing bubbles in the appropriate color and post them on social media.  If you spend a weekend at the beach, you could even take advantage of the photo op by writing in the sand, “It’s a boy” or “It’s a girl!”  It’s not only clever and affordable, but it also takes less time and energy than a party.  

If you’re ready to party down while pinching pennies, think about fun things like creating a paper maché volcano that erupts pink or blue “lava,” or cupcakes with appropriate colored filling.  You could even have a fiesta and fill a piñata with colored candies.  The key is to have fun with whatever you do!  

Baby and big kid

Setting up your baby’s space is super exciting, and it’s easy to get carried away with everything there is to buy.  How can you stretch your pennies with a whole room to redo?  Actually, there are some pretty clever solutions for the whole shebang.  The key is to think in terms of versatility.  By choosing decor that will be adorable now and remain appropriate later, you can create a beautiful nursery that adjusts as your little one grows.  

The first place to look is your furniture.  It can add up quickly if you need to buy all new bedroom items as time goes by, but with things like convertible cribs and a dresser that doubles as a changing table, you can stretch each piece’s usefulness along with your pennies. If buying brand-new furniture busts your budget, consider furniture hacks to create a cute and comfy nursery. 

For moms-to-be on the go

For some moms, the arrival of a little one is mixed in with other things that are keeping you on your toes, such as work, school, and even other little ones. How can you prepare and save money when you barely have time to stop? Perhaps you could have a pregnancy subscription box delivered right to your door? There are boxes tailored for each trimester such as The Stork Bag and BumpBoxes, and both are filled with items you need (and didn’t know you needed) that are delivered right to your door.

The nursery is another area that takes a lot of time to get ready. Try to dedicate each weekend or free time you encounter to nursery prep. Shop online as opposed to in-store, and take advantage of store pick-up and delivery. Create some sort of timeline for when you want things done, but don’t fret if you can’t stick to it. In reality, as long as the baby has a safe space to sleep, you can forego the nursery altogether, saving both time and money.

Find alternative ways to save

There are plenty of other budget-conscious ways to save for your baby’s arrival. You can lower food costs by bringing lunch to work every day or preparing meals in advance to avoid pricey takeout food. Consider the cost of entertainment and whether you can stream your favorite TV shows and movies instead of subscribing to cable. When shopping for maternity wear, look for deals at places like Target and Old Navy. You can even buy baby clothes used! Of course, there will be some items that you don’t want to scrimp on. For example, when it comes to hospital wear, nursing bras, a breast pump or a baby sling, you want a quality item that won’t fall apart easily, especially if this is your first pregnancy and you plan to have more children. 

There are plenty of ways you can prepare for a baby’s arrival without going over your budget. Take some time to relax, be creative with your gender reveal, and when you put your nursery together, aim for items that grow with your baby.  Being frugal will allow you to not only save money, but limit stress in the long run.  You’ll be relaxed and ready to enjoy every moment when the big day arrives!

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c-section | pregnancy

Welcome to the World, Little One

By on June 24, 2019

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After a short blog hiatus, I am back. In this post, I’m sharing Mira Ingrid’s birth story. I love writing my kids birth story while it is still fresh in my memory. All of my feelings are still close at heart. I find my 13-year-old still loves to hear his story, so writing it in mama’s words is a nice memento.

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The Planner

My pregnancy with Mira was my easiest one. My other two were delivered early due to complications from preeclampsia. This time we made it through all of our prenatal appointments, nothing alarming or risky. We had a plan for this birth. A planned c-section, the date chosen by our doctor. She was delivered at exactly 39 weeks. My bags were packed weeks in advance (just in case), and we loaded the car the night before my surgery.

May 20th was the date, and our surgery time was 7:30 am. We woke up that morning at 4:00 am, I had my shower, my husband made his coffee and we left the house around 4:45 am, not disturbing the other kids or grandma who was holding down the fort while we were away. We were at the hospital by 5 am.

As I said, my other births were emergency c-sections and totally had that feel. Emergent. This time we walked into Labor and Delivery and were greeted by name. The nurse walked us to our room, had me change clothes, give a urine sample, and I was hooked up to a fetal monitor for a half an hour or so. I filled out all of the required paperwork, had my IV inserted, and waited patiently until my doctor and anesthesiologist came in to talk before we walked to the operating room. I was also given literature on donating my placenta, which I chose to do since I had no other plans for it.

My husband was given his surgical suit and was told to put it on while they prepared me in the OR. I walked myself in the OR with the anesthesiologist and my nurse. It was nice to be aware of what was going on, seeing all of the surgical instruments, the chart with my information on the wall, and my catheter was not inserted until I was numbed with the spinal. Another huge difference– spinal anesthesia vs. epidural. It was an easier insertion and I felt less “drugged” afterward.

I did feel sick from the IV antibiotics and had the feeling for about 30 seconds that I would pass out and throw up, which was remedied very quickly by adding another med to my IV.

Surgery started roughly at 7:30 am and the baby was born before 8 am. My doctor talked to me throughout the process. After the baby’s waters were broken and right before she was born, my husband said my entire bed was shaking and the doctor had to stand on a stool to pull her out. Apparently, she was lodged into my pelvis pretty tightly and took some extra work to dislodge.

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Expect the Unexpected

I heard her cry, I knew she was born but we did not hear any updates from the nurses or doctors behind the drape. I’m not sure how many minutes we waited to hear an update, but it seemed like an eternity. Finally, the pediatrician and 2 nurses walked past us and told us she had swallowed some fluid and had to go to the NICU for some extra care. The other staff reassured us that she would be fine with her care in the NICU, and the anesthesiologist joked that she drank the jacuzzi water.

My husband and I waited for the rest of the surgery to be finished, and my doctor was still very gracious and talked us through his processes. He told me how much longer, and what he was doing as he finished up with my tubal ligation. After all was said and done, I was cleaned up, my doctor joked that he received quite the work out from Mira’s birth and he left letting us know he would be around later to check on me. Gus was finally able to leave to see Mira in the NICU, which was very close– the next room over and he came back with some photos so I could see what she looked like as I moved to recovery.

The rest of the day was a blur, I can’t recall the time frame although I know I texted my friends, made a Facebook post and I ate lunch without a problem. Gus went to visit Mira many times throughout the day, he wasn’t allowed to hold her and I wasn’t allowed to nurse her until her breathing regulated and her x-rays and bloodwork were clear.

This NICU stay was a hiccup in our “plan” but not traumatic. After being informed by the staff and some personal googling, I knew all would be well and we would be okay. I made sure to start pumping my breastmilk right away and my husband was awesome and would deliver it to the nurses every 2 hours. Sometime later that evening, I was told my catheter would be removed and I could get up and walk. At that moment, I was in pain and didn’t believe there was a way I could ever get out of bed. I cried to my husband that I couldn’t handle anymore and after that moment of self-pity passed, I sucked it up and went for it so I could make my first visit to meet my baby face-to-face.

It was difficult emotionally not to be able to put her to my breast and feel her skin-to-skin, but ultimately I knew this was how it was going to be, so I just made friends with my breast pump so that I wouldn’t have any supply issues or have to supplement her with formula. Thankfully, the rest of our stay was smooth. I was able to start breastfeeding her within 36 hours and she was good at latching and making progress. We both were discharged a little more than 48 hours later and went home to find our new rhythm as a family of 5.

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Feeling Supported

5 weeks have passed, life is taking on its new form and we are finding our groove and figuring out this little human. We had a ton of support in the first few postpartum weeks. We had wonderful friends and neighbors prepare food, grandmas visiting to help with the other kids and visitors stopping by to show their love and care. All of these actions have been much appreciated and really helped us adjust and bring a sense of ease in the first few weeks.

We are in love and feel loved. Sometimes we are tired and fumble through our days but all in all we are living our dream and are blessed beyond measure. Life is good.

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musings | pregnancy

The Final Countdown: The Last Month of Pregnancy

By on April 30, 2019

0613D5A8-614A-4312-86CC-C94BC12556FC Wowza! Only 20 days until the scheduled birth of our baby girl. I have neglected this blog as I focus on my business in these final days. I feel ready to go, this has been the easiest pregnancy I have had so far, and it feels I will probably go full-term. That will be a new experience for me since both of my boys were born early.

One thing that I have been drawn to is belly casting. My husband and I finally took the time to cast my 36-week pregnant belly over the weekend. It was a wonderful project for us to do together and a fun way to memorialize my final pregnancy. I do not have anything else to do in the house to prep for baby– I went through my major nesting phase during the 2nd trimester. The 3rd trimester has been ALL work and spending as much time as I can with my other two kids individually.

Giving myself permission to slow down is sometimes difficult– however, my business projects have been timed appropriately to sit with my feet propped up in front of a computer.

It is so funny how I’ve had a different method of documenting my pregnancy with each child. My oldest had the most comprehensive (of course). I kept a pregnancy journal, a meticulous baby book (until age 5), photo albums and a baby box. The middle child had everything natural birth related– birthing center, hypnobirthing classes, regular prenatal massages and chiropractic adjustments, vision boards, affirmations and a box for all of the memorabilia.

The belly cast has been a fun project to spark creativity. In this 2-D age, it was nice to have a 3-D medium. It is also nice to pull out paints and create. This isn’t something I do often but is helping the week pass and takes my mind off of my physical discomfort and lessening mobility.

Mira has had a space in my blog, social media and a now a belly cast. I’ve done much less prep and a lot more mental relaxation. It is so weird how age, time, and experience changes the process. The sentiment remains the same. I treasure these moments and look forward to meeting our girl.

 

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pregnancy | toddler

You’re Going to Be a Big Brother

By on April 5, 2019

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One of the most perplexing things about being pregnant with baby #3, has been how to prepare or introduce the new baby to Ezra. I know that siblings have been introduced into families since the beginning of time, and I should not over think it. It is just a difficult transition in my mind when he has been the “baby” for the last 2 years. My older son was 11 when he learned he was going to be a big brother, so logic was in place and the preparations were easy.

My 2-year old seems to have a vague concept of there being a baby in my tummy. He attends prenatal appointments, hears baby Mira’s heartbeat, and has seen her on the “TV” screen during our ultrasound scans.  But, does he really “get it”? Probably not, is my opinion.

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How have we been preparing?

Reading + Repetition

I ran across a beautifully illustrated book, Mama’s Belly by Kate Hosford which we have been reading frequently. Over the months since we have introduced the book, he seems to make the connection that his mama’s belly is “rising up like a wave”. He will now point to my breasts or belly when asked where his baby sister is.

I do not buy multiple books about the same subject, I tend to find one we love and read over and over. I have heard many times that we tend to learn by shock or repetition, so for a toddler, repetition seems to work well.

Attending appointments

As I mentioned above, Ezra has attended most of our OB appointments. Our doctor is great about talking directly to Ezra and showing him the doppler and explaining it is the new baby. Again, I am not sure he “gets it”, but the repetition and expansion of my tummy may be helping him grasp the concept. Also, the familiarity of seeing the doctor and the office may make my hospital stay less of a shock.

Videos

We are not big proponents of tv time with Ezra. When we do allow screen time, we try to keep his exposure to “quieter” cartoons like Little Bear. However, Daniel Tiger Season 5 deals with Daniel becoming a big brother. We have watched these episodes multiple times as a teaching tool.

Visiting Other Babies

Luckily, we are in an environment where we have many friends and acquaintances who have new babies. We have been exposing him during story times, play dates, and even when we are walking in the store we will point out the new babies and explain that he will have a new baby soon.

Preparing the House

As we have set up the room (which he will be sharing eventually), we have explained who the new items are for. Her clothes are in the drawers and closets, so he sees them often and we have even installed her car seat to establish the new seating routine in our van.

We have also introduced more stuffed animals into his life, and he is bonding with them. With the animals, we reinforce “gentle touches” animals so that he can make a similar connection with the new baby.

 

 

There are many blogs and articles with tips and tricks to introduce a toddler to a new baby. We are doing these small steps to include our toddler in the process. Ultimately, we will allow it to unfold naturally and deal with the transition as it comes. Our childcare comes a few days before our scheduled birth-day, so that will be another aspect we will talk up and make exciting! A sleepover with bestemor and big brother! How have you introduced a new sibling? Any tried and true tips?

 

 

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pregnancy | women's health

Third Trimester: Woes and Remedies

By on March 16, 2019

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I am now a week into the third trimester. I can feel my body starting to slow down. My mental clarity and creativity are downshifting. Daily I have more aches and pains, and general discomforts. I am trying to work *with* my body. The show must go on in our family and in work. I can not just pack it up and nap for 9 more weeks. Life is actually busier than ever too. Chasing a 2 year old is no joke, my teen is wrapping up his final weeks of 8th grade, and we have work plans on the schedule until birth-day.

Mental Fatigue

Pregnancy brain is REAL! The physiological hormone changes reduce the amount of gray matter in a woman’s brain. I’ve left car doors open while taking yoga classes, put groceries in the wrong spot, forgotten to trim one toenail, and the list goes on. Clumsiness is also possible as weight is distributed differently in the body, and again HORMONES.

  • Utilize your phone to keep your brain going- Take notes on a note taking app. When you feel creative or have a brilliant moment, record it as soon as it occurs. Set alarms as reminders to do things (ahem, pick kid up from school).
  • Prioritize and Focus- For me, I have several goals that I would like to achieve before May 20th. I have my day plotted out on multiple calendars so that I know exactly what steps to take daily and I can check it off as I go. It is a structure and a discipline, and it keeps me accountable for my to-do lists.
  • Rest- This is tough for me. What I have done is know that I am in my peak performance hours when I wake up until between 12-2. I am now giving myself permission to relax, nap, or just prop up my feet for a few when I feel the slump. Often, during the third trimester night time sleep is disturbed as well, so a rest may be necessary to take you into the evening.
  • Minerals- Minerals are an important supplement for every stage of life. Our soil is deficient, our food travels a long way to get to our plate, which reduces it’s natural vitamin/mineral content.

Aches and Pains

  • Chiropractic care-This pregnancy and my last I utilized chiropractic care to rid myself of many aches and pains. It is incredibly useful to keep yourself aligned as body weight and posture shifts and changes. I look for a chiropractor that uses torque release or activator methods of adjustment.
  • Massage- So, my husband is my current massage therapist and I have been so incredibly pleased with his work! During my last pregnancy I had prenatal massages pretty frequently. This time, it isn’t in our budget or schedule so he is doing the work. It really helps keep tightness at bay and promotes relaxation.
  • Collagen- Again, I sing praises of my collagen. I feel much better in general, and collagen is a wonderful support for skin, hair, nails, and joints.
  • Essential Oils- There are many, many oils for physical discomforts. I could write an entire blog on just recommendations for that. I will narrow the list down to my two personal go-to’s. I love the blend Deep Relief and the single oil Copaiba. I use roller balls on the bottles and apply directly to where I feel the discomfort. If you have not purchased oils before, understand how to get them here for 24% off.

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Leg Cramps

  • Again, the beloved minerals. A friend of mine reminded me of this yesterday. She recently had her baby girl and said her cramps disappeared when she added minerals to her regimen. I did it myself last night and viola! A night charley-horse free!
  • Magnesium + Calcium is also known to be helpful. Finding magnesium in the citramalate form seems to work the best for me.
  • Hydrate drinking 3-4 quarts of water per day during pregnancy means you are adequately hydrated. This is probably the first pregnancy that I have actually managed to do it. Hydration is important for every single bodily function!
  • Foot Soak. I like to do this with about a half cup of Himalayan pink salt with a few drops each of geranium, lavender and cypress essential oil.

Varicose Veins/Hemorrhoids

During pregnancy these are related maladies, and are often linked to constipation. Heredity also plays a role in this issue.

  • A diet high in fiber and an adequately hydrated body can help relieve some of the pressure that is intensified by a sluggish colon and extra uterine weight.
  • Essential oils- Diluted lavender or helichrysum is wonderful for hemorrhoids. And a blend that is known to help with varicose veins: 30 drops of cypress, 20 drops of lavender, 10 drops of lemon and 20 drops of lemongrass with 60ml of fractionated coconut oíl.
  • Compression stockings- these can be helpful, as long as they are not cutting off circulation. The compression from the stockings will help recirculate blood flow so that it is moving toward the heart, and moving out of the lower extremities. Some insurance companies will cover the cost too, and can be ordered through sites like aeroflowbreastpumps.com.
  • Change your position frequently- avoid sitting or standing in the same postion too long. Take breaks, shift your position and avoid sitting with crossed legs, or with legs tucked under you.
  • Elevation- elevating legs periodically throughout the day can also help with circulation.

Heart Burn

Argh, this is one of my biggest complaints. I have tried all of the remedies during my 3 pregnancies. The things I have found the most useful are:

  • A natural alkalinizing supplement- I can drink this and immediately feel relief.
  • Eating smaller, more frequent meals- I have to be very mindful of my eating patterns, and what I am consuming. I avoid acidic or spicy foods and make sure I have digested before lying down.
  • Essential oil- Peppermint oil is helpful as well. I will apply on my esophagus where I feel the burn, and sometimes will ingest a drop or two of peppermint vitality.
  • Digestive enzymes- these are also a nice supplement to add in to aid in the digestion and assimilation of your food.

Pubic Bone Discomfort

The hormone relaxin is something women naturally produce during pregnancy to aid in pelvic joint mobility, so that the baby can fit through the pelvis at birth. Sometimes the joints become misaligned and the pelvis too loose which can cause tremendous discomfort. This pregnancy is the only one where I have experienced this and my go-to remedies are.

  • A yoga therapy ball-. I can put this where I feel the discomfort a few minutes per day. This will relieve some of the pressure.
  • A SI belt this is designed to support the sacroiliac joints and will relieve instability in the hips.
  • A chiropractic adjustment- again a chiropractor can adjust the pubic bone or any of the surrounding areas that are misaligned and causing discomfort. Just look for someone who is well versed in prenatal adjustments.
  • Ice therapy- icing can be a great relief. My husband suggests it all the time, and often I ignore him. However, when I actually listen, I feel relief for quite some time. It is also nice to ice after a chiropractic adjustment or using the yoga therapy ball.
  • PT- Some women need to see a Physical Therapist, and finding one that is well versed in pelvic floor therapies is ideal.
  • Homeopathic Remedies- I have heard several midwives suggest the homeopathic remedy of Rhus Toxicodendron 30C from Boiron. This can be found in health food stores, or online. I have never actually tried this myself, it is just something I have heard from multiple people in the birthing community.

Pregnancy is a time of tremendous change, and the female body is amazingly adaptable. Many of the typical complaints rebound very shortly after delivery. In my opinion, it is lovely there are so many natural remedies out there to help us along the way. I always opt for natural choices over medications and synthetics, and I’m even more hypervigilent about this during pregnancy.

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