Oliver Lucas

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I have been wanting to write this post for a while now, but finding the time has been difficult. I’m currently typing this with one hand. During my pregnancy, I loved nothing more than to read about birthing stories and basically anything that had to do with pregnancy/postpartum. I’m sharing with you the Cliff Notes of Oliver’s birth, but what I really want to share are the items which I totally needed and/or use currently and make/made my life that much easier. This isn’t a “Top 25 Things to Register For” kinda list, but rather a simple, realistic solution to some of life’s challenges. Still typing with one hand…

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Oliver Lucas was born on Tuesday, May 24th at 5:58 am at the Brooklyn Birthing Center at 7 pounds and 14 ounces and 20 1/2 inches long. But before I continue, I feel I must backpedal. The first five months of my pregnancy I was seeing a gynecologist and going to my monthly appointments. I didn’t do any research on doctors, I just continued seeing the doctor I’ve been seeing for years. Then one day at work, a coworker of mine asked me during lunch if I had researched the hospital. I thought, No, but I’ve visiting people there in the past and the rooms are super cute! That question (and I suppose the fact that I was now 20 weeks pregnant and it started to feel more real), triggered me to start reading up on all things delivery.  The more I researched, the more I knew I wanted a very hands off approach. I began to read others’ birthing stories. I began to research midwives. I’ve always been interested in home births, but Justin and I were in the process of buying our first home, and not knowing if we would be in our new house or not during the birth was too much of a gamble. After a lot of reading, I decided to go to an orientation at the birthing center and afterwards, I knew that was the right choice for me.

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Towards the end of my pregnancy, I started practicing breathing techniques and listening to relaxation music. From my research, and talking with the midwives, I knew that I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible. Oliver’s estimated due date was May 23rd, so true to form, I woke up at 2am on Monday, May 23rd with what felt like slight menstrual cramps. When the second one came about 10 minutes later, I started mentally keeping track to see if these contractions had a pattern. Sure enough, they came about every 10-12 minutes. Since they were not painful, and because I had read enough literature and spoken to enough people, I knew I needed to go back to bed in order to conserve my energy for later. At 6:30, I woke up and told Justin what was going on. Being a teacher with a not-so-great maternity leave policy, I was still going to work. And since I wasn’t absolutely sure that this was labor (I was expecting to deliver late since the average pregnancy for first time moms is 41 weeks and 3 days – 10 days past the estimated due date), I decided to go to work. I kept a log of my contractions/surges and Justin continued updating my midwife. The contractions were pretty consistent throughout the day, about every 8 minutes, give or take. Towards the end of the workday, I started getting a little nervous about driving home, so I went to speak to my principal about skipping the professional development meeting after school. I explained to her what was going on, and she said, “Why don’t you go home right now?”

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Once I got home, I began listening to my relaxation music and sitting on my yoga ball. (I highly recommend sitting on a yoga ball during pregnancy and labor, although once my labor really started kicking in, I wanted nothing to do with it!). My contractions were a little more intense, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I made sure to keep my energy up by eating snacks. Around 5pm, Justin and I went for a walk around the block. It was then that my contractions became more severe and during the three contractions I had on the walk, I would need to stop talking and bend over to let them pass. When I got home, I took a shower and yelled to Justin each time I had a contraction so that he could log them. They were happening every 3 to 5 minutes and lasting about a minute each. I continued listening to my music and alternating between my yoga ball and my bed. At around 8:30 pm, Justin called my midwife. She wanted to speak with me in order to gauge from my voice how I was feeling. We determined that I would continue laboring at home and would continue to update her.

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About an hour later, I told Justin I needed to go in. The one thing I was nervous about during my pregnancy was driving to the birthing center while having serious contractions. Well, we were driving to the birthing center and I was having serious contractions. It was only 15 minutes away from my home, but I had about 6 contractions on the way there. For some reason though, I was imagining the situation to be a lot worse. I was 7 centimeters dilated when we arrived. I remember reading about other people’s birthing stories during my pregnancy and paying extra attention to the birthing positions they mentioned during their labor, but the truth is, when you’re in labor, everything just comes naturally and your body goes how your body wants to go. Throughout the night, I would labor in and out of the tub, staying in there for an hour or so at a time. The midwife, her assistant, and the student midwife would occasionally come in and take the baby’s heartbeat, but other than that, they allowed Justin and I to be by ourselves and labor the way we wanted. The position that I found my body going into most was being on all fours and rocking my body forward and backward. Ultimately, this was the position I was in when I gave birth, but other positions I found myself in were sitting on the toilet bowl, leaning over a counter, squatting, and placing my hands on each side of the doorway and leaning in as if I was doing a wall push-up. Laying on my side was torturous although some people swear by it! I’m not sure what time it was when I felt the need to push, but I remember finally asking for advice on how to do it. I remember feeling so thankful to the student midwife for giving me advice on that because I finally started to feel progress. I was laboring  on the toilet bowl when the midwife asked if I could make it to the bed. I knew then that this baby was coming soon. I waddled to the bed and sure enough with a few more pushes, Oliver Lucas dropped into our lives.

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The birthing center allowed me to go home after 4 hours so I could recover in the comfort of my own bed.  I think because I had such a smooth, easy pregnancy, I didn’t give much thought about postpartum and recovery. I truly thought I would be working out again just days after delivering, since after all, I was going to the gym up until the day before I went into labor.  Knowing what I know now, the healing process takes time and you need to give your body the time it requires to heal itself. Of course everyone’s body is different and everyone heals differently. I started going for short walks about 4 days after labor. For my healing process, this was too soon and I wound up prolonging the healing stages and causing myself more pain. Around the tenth day postpartum, I finally told myself that I needed to take it easy, and by doing so, my body began to heal much better.

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I know a bunch of people who are expecting their first child, so I had them in mind when I wrote this next bit. Having these items have helped make this life changing journey that much smoother.

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Loose button down shirts if you’re breastfeeding. I did not have any, and so I was wearing heavy zip-up sweatshirts during 85-degree days in May when family and friends would come over to visit. Around day 3, I got smart and went online to order these pajamas. https://www.victoriassecret.com/sleepwear/pajamas/the-mayfair-boxer-pajama?ProductID=283188&CatalogueType=OLS I loved them so much I ordered two more pairs in different patterns. Having them on day 1 would’ve helped greatly. (I’m actually wearing them now, and still typing with one hand…)

Depends or other disposable underwear were essential during the first week (or two – I can’t remember!). My midwives put it on my list of what to pack. I didn’t think they were necessary. After all, having a super large pad would be enough, surely? No. Thank goodness for the conversation I had with my coworkers that Monday when I was in early labor. We were talking about disposable underwear and they highly recommended them. I went out on my lunch break and bought a pack. Best decision I ever made. At one point during recovery, I was holding Oliver and the only thing we were both wearing was our disposable underwear. Thankfully, Justin did not take a picture.

Super absorbency pads and witch hazel to go inside your fashionable disposable underwear. Once Oliver was born, the midwives escorted me to the bathroom and gave me a frozen pad soaked in witch hazel. The pad is needed and the witch hazel added temporary relief.

Sitz bath and epsom salt for soaking. The warm water along with the salts helped sooth aches and pains from stitches and other ailments… I also liked adding lavender to the water. Oddly enough though, at around day 10, this same bath that gave me so much pleasure began causing me more pain than not, and I would get contractions from using it. However, it was very nice to have for the first week and a half.

Tube socked filled with rice as a DIY heating pad. This was also on the list of things to bring with me. Although I didn’t use it at the birthing center, it came in handy during earlier stages of labor but especially the weeks after delivery. The rice stayed warm for a long time and helped soothe the pain from those contractions that linger for a couple of weeks postpartum.

Nursing cover if you’re planning on breastfeeding. I bring this coverup everywhere and have used it at family functions, on the beach, and those impromptu spots (like the boardwalk) when you’re walking your baby in the stroller and he has a melt down. I have this one and I absolutely love it. http://www.buybuybaby.com/store/product/b-b-au-lait-reg-muslin-nursing-cover-in-isla/1042424345?Keyword=cover

Speaking of feeding, the Boppy is a favorite of a lot of people, including myself. It’s a great rest for your arms when you’re feeding the little one, but it is multifunctional depending on the age of your baby. It also allows me to multitask; I can feed the baby as well as feed myself, type and use the computer, etc.  http://www.buybuybaby.com/store/product/boppy-reg-infant-feeding-support-pillow-with-peaceful-jungle-slipcover/1042734666?Keyword=boppy

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Ergobaby carrier to help you to do the things you need to do while still keeping the little one happy. I made the mistake of taking Oliver food shopping at around 2 1/2 weeks old. We took him in his stroller and he screamed most of the time. After that, I smartened up, and have taken Oliver to multiple stores and he’s fallen asleep almost every time. It is also super helpful if you have a dog that needs to be walked and you need to take the baby as well.

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Ok, so this canopy is not a complete necessity because you can use a regular blanket, but having these two little loops on top really keeps the blanket in position which helps to keep the baby in the shade. Since the carseat is his stroller seat, I use this every single day on our walks. http://www.buybuybaby.com/store/product/aden-reg-by-aden-anais-reg-car-seat-canopy-in-dove/1045143618?Keyword=aden+and+anais

I started pumping when Oliver was around 4 weeks old. The breast pump is the sole reason I am able to run to the gym or out to dinner with the husband. Without it, I would be a complete hermit.

Baby's first time drinking from a bottle!

Baby’s first time drinking from a bottle!

And while these two products are not for the postpartum mama, I figured I’d mention the only two baby products I own: Earth Mama Angel Baby Shampoo/Body Wash and Maty’s Baby Ointment. Although I haven’t tried any other products (so I’m a bit partial and welcome other recommendations), I really like the shampoo/body wash combo from Angel Baby. It’s delicate, calming (I use the lavender scented one), and of course free of harmful chemicals. As for the Maty’s ointment, I used it in the beginning when Oliver had a slight irritation on his skin and it worked instantly. I haven’t used it much since, but it’s nice to have just in case.

Please comment below if there are other things you feel a first time expectant mom should know about! (If you don’t see the comment section it’s because you need to click on the title of this blog post so you’re not on the homepage.) I’d love to hear them too since I’m a newbie on this crazy, awesome journey.  ❤

Oliver with his great-grandparents.

Oliver with his great-grandparents.

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When he had hair…

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DIY Ideas From My Baby Shower

My baby shower was three weeks ago and it was a beautiful day. The people, the weather, everything. Although it would have been less stressful to not have known about it, that’s just not in my nature. So not only did I want to know when it was, I also had to plan and decorate it as well. And THAT was so much fun for me. I looked for months on Pinterest searching for ideas from centerpieces to ceiling lanterns. After talking with my friend Becky about it one night, she mentioned I should do a surf themed shower, and that’s how it all began…

witkowskicopyI knew I wanted colors like turquoise, brown, and cream, but finding the right shade of orange and green was a little trickier because I really didn’t want it to look too bright or circus-y. But that’s what Pinterest is for.

I found this great site that sold party supplies for a lot cheaper than the well known suppliers. What I loved about them was that they had about 8 shades of each color, from Caribbean blue to navy blue and so on. You could also choose the size; I decided on 20 in diameter paper lanterns. In retrospect, I would have ordered a variety of sizes and hung them at different lengths, but they looks super pretty anyhow.

I found this great site that sold party supplies for a lot cheaper than the well known suppliers. What I loved about them was that they had about 8 shades of each color, from Caribbean blue to navy blue and so on. You could also choose the size; I decided on 20 in diameter paper lanterns. In retrospect, I would have ordered a variety of sizes and hung them at different lengths, but they look super pretty anyhow.

IMG_2723My friend Becky also happens to manage a bar and was able to get her hands on dozens of empty liquor bottles. When I told her my idea for the centerpieces, she dropped off 3 cases of empty bottles to my house one day, and because I’m such a procrastinator, they stayed outside my house for a good 2 months until the weather became nicer and I finally decided the time had come to decorate those bad boys. I bought spray paint and Goo Gone remover at Michael’s craft store. I had read someone else’s blog post about how miraculous this Goo Gone was, so I thought this would be a cinch. No way. This was such a pain in the ass. Although they came out so so great, you would have to pay me big bucks to do this again. Perhaps it was the quantity that put me over the edge. Or the fact that I was 9 months pregnant when I did this. Either way, it was an arduous task and not one for the well-manicured. Luckily for those brave ones who would like to do this anyway (and it really was not that bad, just tedious), I documented the progress in photos, so please enjoy.

When picking bottles, try to choose ones that only have a front label - it'll save you some time!

When picking bottles, try to choose ones that only have a front label – it’ll save you some time! These bottles were left to soak in a cooler overnight. The longer they soak, the easier your job is.

After you scrape off what you can, apply the Goo Gone and let it sit for a few minutes. I poured my Goo Gone into a spray bottle for a smoother application.

After you scrape off what you can, apply the Goo Gone and let it sit for a few minutes. I poured my Goo Gone into a spray bottle for a smoother application.

Treated with Goo Gone. Scraped and then scrubbed with soap and warm water. Oh vey!

Treated with Goo Gone. Scraped and then scrubbed with soap and warm water. Oh vey!

When spray painting, less is more. It's a lot easier to apply multiple coats than to wipe off drips and try to even out the paint.

When spray painting, less is more. It’s a lot easier to apply multiple coats than to wipe off drips and try to even out the paint.

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Initially I was just going to spray paint and that was all. However, I find the more you tap into your creativity, the more the ideas start to flow. So when the bottles were dried, I started playing around with the supplies I had in my house. All of these shells are pieces that I have collected here at home in Rockaway Beach, but mostly in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama.

Initially I was just going to spray paint and that was all. However, I find the more you tap into your creativity, the more ideas begin to flow. So when the bottles were dried, I started playing around with the supplies I had in my house. All of these shells are pieces that I have collected along the way, some here at home in Rockaway Beach, but mostly brought back from Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama.

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I came across very eye-catching surf board banners during my search, but each time I had to just keep saying to myself, I can totally make that. And so…I did.

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I bought a book of craft paper at Michael's craft store. Then, I drew a picture of a surf board on card stock, cut it out, and traced it onto each patterned piece of paper. Next, I punched two holes into the top of each surfboard. Lastly, I weaved twine through each piece.

I bought a book of craft paper at Michael’s craft store. Then, I drew a picture of a surf board on card stock, cut it out, and traced it onto each patterned piece of paper. Next, I punched two holes into the top of each surfboard. Lastly, I weaved twine through each piece.

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All of the painted shells were done by the talented and adorably cute Justin!

All of the painted shells were done by the talented and adorably cute Justin!

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No party is complete without cake. Or in my case, cupcakes! I ordered these cupcake holders on Amazon, but also came across them in Party City for a fraction of the price. The candy surfboards were also ordered on Amazon. With a little crushed graham cracker acting as sand and some shredded coconut for white wash, these darlings were complete.

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Unfortunately, I don’t have a close-up of the cupcakes with blue icing and coconut, but you could imagine for yourselves!

All in all, it was such a special day. I’m not always comfortable being the center of attention, but my friend Jean was right. She said there’s something really sweet and special about a baby shower, and she assured me that I could handle it. Well, I was overwhelmed with joy and love that day. I may not be able to handle another party centered around me anytime soon, but give me a job as planner/decorator, and I’m in! Here are some other pictures from this beautiful day.

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Justin must’ve painted about 50 shells, but with the craziness of the day, I never got a chance to take photos of some of my favorites. However, our cousin Jackie sent us a pic of a couple of them!

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These were created by my thoughtful friend, Jenn.

...and these by my other sweet friend, Lauren.

…and these by my other sweet friend, Lauren.

This amazing clothes line was created by my group of friends and completely made my heart melt.

This amazing clothes line was created by my group of friends and completely made my heart melt.

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Doubled Dipped Pecan Clusters And Just A Few Random (Pregnancy) Thoughts!

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Thanks to some of you who reached out to me, I was able to see that this recipe (posted last year) was no longer available. I wasn’t able to retrieve it, so I decided to remake it using pecans instead of walnuts. You can find the recipe for these raw, vegan, caramel clusters beneath these random pregnancy thoughts by yours truly.

  • I’m trying to drink lots of water – I carry around my 74 oz water jug at work and at home, and now it’s just a habit to take swigs of it throughout the day. I try to drink one and a half of these a day.
  • Umm, maternity pants are the greatest invention ever and I want to wear them for the rest of my life! I feel like I’m wearing leggings everyday. On a similar note, I was not loving the belly band so much. It’s useful in that it’s economical because you can still wear your old pants, but I felt like I was walking around with my pants around my knees all day long. Really cute.
  • I dowloaded all of my pictures from my camera onto my computer and then saved them to shutterfly. I figured what better time to do it before I’m busy with baby? And now it won’t take 10 minutes for my camera to upload the thousands upon thousands of photos I had (most of which were food photos – 34 pictures of hummus? I’m such a loser!).
  • I can’t wait to get into the new house where the lighting is so much better! I have so many food blogging ideas of which I can’t always do in my dark apartment.
  • Knowing how loving and affectionate Justin is with me, I can’t wait to see how in love he will be with the baby❤
  • I haven’t had crazy pregnancy cravings like ice cream and pickles. I have my usual cravings, but if it’s something that’s not good for me and baby, I will usually just let the craving pass or make a healthier version. Of course, this doesn’t happen 100% of the time. Some things I have been loving though are sorbets like this one. My current fav is strawberry. I’m also loving orange juice (and I make sure to drink it with my prenatal vitamin since the vitamin C helps the body to absorb the iron better). I’ve also been substituting orange juice for almond milk when I make my after dinner sorbets and they’re soo delicious. I don’t even need to add in maple syrup because the juice adds that extra sweetness. Cereal! I’ve never been the biggest fan of cereal in the morning. I just felt there were so many more interesting choices. But lately, it’s all I want. And it has to have banana in it! Of course, I’m still loving bagels and I eat them about 2-3 times a week. Sometimes more…
  • Speaking of iron, I’m supposed to take an iron supplement because of my slight anemia, but I haven’t gotten around to that yet!
  • As for packing lunches for school, I’m obsessed with coconut milk yogurt (So Delicious‘s Greek Style is my favorite), granola bars, oranges, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and Amy’s frozen vegan wraps are my go-tos. Those sound like a week’s worth of lunches, but I actually pack all of them in my bag each day : ) The peanut butter and jelly sandwich usually doesn’t stay in my bag long – I usually eat half of it for breakfast and the other half with my yogurt and granola for lunch. On those days, I’ll leave the Amy’s wrap home.
  • I like the Honest company’s prenatal vitamin because it’s made with whole-food based ingredients.
  • The midwives at my birthing center are a lot more strict than I am with this pregnancy and they require me to take all of these classes like breastfeeding and natural childbirth. I suppose when she was telling me to register for these I thought she was just suggesting them; however, at my last appointment I found out she was dead serious and I felt like a student getting in trouble by the teacher. So long story short, I have my breastfeeding class on Wednesday evening and made the childbirth education class for April. Sometimes I need a push in the right direction because I tend to take quite the laissez-faire approach to life! Another thing I was supposed to do was find myself a pediatrician, so if any of you local gals/guys like yours, I’d love to hear from you!
  • I am still going to the gym about 3-4 times a week; however, the feeling is not as rewarding since I’m sweating way less and just getting bigger. I continue to go though for the long term benefits and because it does help boost my energy and keep everything else in check…digestion, mood swings, obesity (ha!)…
  • Would love to hear from anyone who can relate – my skin gets itchy/tingly at nighttime. A few times I had to get up and take a shower just to stop myself from going insane. I’ve read up on it but most accounts are about itchiness in contained areas, like the stomach and breasts. This is not the case for me as my whole body becomes irritated and I’m just curious if anyone else knows what I’m talking about…
  • Now that I’m a couple of weeks into my third trimester, I do feel a bit more fatigued than my second trimester, but I’m still able to go to sleep early so this isn’t such a calamity for me.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dates
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 cup cacao powder
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

Steps:

  1. Blend the dates until gooey. Soaking them for 30 minutes helps create a creamier mixture.
  2. Combine the date mixture with the chopped pecans and form into clusters.
  3. Melt the oil and combine it with the cacao and maple syrup.
  4. Dip the clusters into the chocolate sauce and refrigerate for about an hour. Repeat the dipping for an extra chocolatey sauce!

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