Baby Registry Regrets: Getting the Scoop from Seasoned Mamas

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Pekic/iStock

I still remember how overwhelming it felt registering for baby number one. When you don’t know what you don’t know…it can feel almost paralyzing trying to make decisions.

Like…how do I choose from literally three gazillion types of baby bottles? What’s up with all the different breast pumps, let alone all their accessories? And are the more expensive car seats and strollers actually better – i.e. will they keep my baby safer?!

Ultimately, I avoided big box stores like the plague and went straight to a local boutique here in Portland that helped me streamline “needs” from “wants” and cut out most “totally unnecessary crap” (i.e. a wipe warmer – don’t waste your time or money).

That strategy helped, yes, but now that we’re prepping for numero dos (and especially since s/he is coming a mere two years later), there are still some things I wish I would’ve known – like to buy a stroller and a monitor with the capability of converting for two.

Hindsight may be 20/20, and it’s true that each family and baby is different (so there will always be some tweaking)…but I thought it’d be fun to ask some seasoned mom friends (with two to four kiddos each!) for their regrets, wish lists and best advice when it comes to gearing up for that little person who’s about to enter your life…

First up, moms share their “woulda-shoulda-couldas” learned along the way. 

REGISTRY REGRETS

Feeding Time

“I would have held off on buying baby bottles and borrowed some to try. We ended up going through six types of bottles before we found one baby would take. Now I have a lot of extra bottles.”

Bottles! Each baby is different. You may need one bottle of a few kinds to try out before something really kicks in.”

“I wouldn’t bother with a bottle warmer. It’s better they don’t get used to warm milk so they are more likely to take milk cooler when you’re on the go.”

“Most of my registry “regrets” come from preparing for things that ultimately didn’t happen. I prepared for vaginal births and breastfeeding…I had two c-sections and boobs that didn’t work. I had ALL the breastfeeding/pumping supplies and didn’t need anything. ”

Breastfeeding stuff. I think that is good to have nourishing cream, pads, etc…but it ultimately it’s hard to buy all the stuff only to realize you can’t.”

“The one thing I regret not registering for was baby formula. I was not able to produce milk, and we had to go to formula sooner than planned. We did not know how expensive formula was before we had to get it. If people put it on their registries and end up getting some and not using it, they can always donate it!”

Catching Some ZZZ’s

“I wouldn’t have invested in a convertible crib. With two kids two years apart, we didn’t want to buy two cribs. So instead of being able to use the toddler bed, we ended up just moving our two-year-old into her big girl bed by the time baby came.”

“I wish I would have registered for the Baby Bijorn Travel Crib – two kids in, and I still wish I would gotten that!”

“We ended up needing a camera I can access from my phone. I love that I can see her at work, plus if the monitor is in the other room, I can just check my phone.”

“A camera monitor! With multiple cameras! I thought I would always be by his side.”

Keeping Warm & Cozy

Clothes. That’s the fun thing for people to go off-registry for, but it’s impossible to know what will fit when (my four kids ranged in weight at birth from 6#8oz to 9#11oz and grow at remarkably different paces).”

“Fancy swaddles. I didn’t realize I had a child that would only be lightly swaddled for two weeks before moving to a sleep sack.”

“Please NO more blankets. I have about three favorites and two huge bins full of them!”

On the Move

“I wish I would have bought a stroller that converted to a double from the beginning. We knew we wanted at least two, but it never dawned on me to have a stroller that accommodated both of them.”

“I didn’t even know that they made convertible strollers… that would have been good to know!”

“I don’t suggest a double Bob. They’re huge, and running with two in tow is actually a challenge.”

“I would get a different car seat – one with more easily adjustable straps!”

“I wish I hadn’t registered for a pee pad for/under the car seat. When I had the baby car seat safety class in the hospital they scared me into not wanting to use them.”

Next up, moms weigh in on what they found to be the most lifesaving products when it comes to keeping baby happy. 

NEWER MUST-HAVES

Items Getting Rave Reviews 

“I would definitely get a Dock-a-tot! I co-slept way more then I expected (aka I said I would NEVER do it…ummm yeah that lasted like two hours).”

“I literally put my son in a short basket in the middle of the bed. It had a tight sheet on it and was like $10 on Amazon.”

Dock-a-tot! I am obsessed with ours and tell all of my friends about to be moms to invest in one.”

“I wouldn’t have been able to live without our Nest camera for a monitor – easy to access from my phone from anywhere, and we pack it with us whenever we sleep somewhere overnight.”

“Definitely a Rock-n-Play…we have two one upstairs and one down. And a white noise machine…for keeping #1 asleep at night when #2 is fussy!”

And finally, moms get real with what helps the most when it comes to transitioning into parenthood.

FROM THE MOUTHS OF MAMAS

Most-Appreciated Items

“Consider neutral colors of items like seats, sleep sacks, Boppys, etc. that work for both girls and boys.”

“My recommendation would be to lock in as many hand-me-downs from co-workers/family/friends BEFORE setting up a registry to know what things might be available.”

“While all the frou frou stuff is undoubtedly appreciated, money is the best gift ever. I ended up not needing most, if not a lot, of what I received as gifts…and the toys we got were destroyed within the week if not ever played with again out of boredom.”

Target and Amazon gift cards were the most appreciated gifts because I was able to chose things myself when I needed them.”

Gift cards to restaurants were great because I couldn’t cook since I had a c-section. It was hard to move, and my recovery was long!”

Starbucks gift cards were awesome since I needed help staying awake to take care of big brother while the little one slept.”

Gift certificates to Buy Buy Baby or your favorite local baby store go a long way.”

“It would have been nice to have more bed sheets because my kids always threw up or soiled our sheets while we were co-sleeping. I never had enough!”

“The best registry gifts are when several people go in on an expensive item, like a dream stroller (note: those HUGE strollers are great in the city…suburbia so heavy to get in the car), a nice car seat or a nice high chair.”

“It’s worth it to acknowledge that the first few months are full of emergency Amazon orders so gift cards are a great idea!”

“I am almost certain that I’ve made a purchase from Amazon every day since my daughter was born. So, gift cards!”

“A baby nanny. I see celebrities have them, but give the baby nannys to us common folk!”

“You don’t need as much STUFF as you think you do. Get gift cards and diapers, the rest will work itself out!”

First-time mamas and repeat mamas-to-be, hopefully you’ve been able to glean some good information from the wisdom of these seasoned pros! 

Do you have any registry regrets that didn’t make the list? What about newer products you can’t live without? Or advice for mamas who are navigating their registries for the first time?

 

 

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StitchFix (Maternity!) Shipment No. 15 Review

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Well hey, StitchFix, it’s been a while! But with baby on board these past few months, I’ve been waiting until now to update my maternity wardrobe.

I kept all the items from my last fix (read about it here), so I tried to be just as specific this time around with my requests – namely, a pair of fun jeans and a dainty-yet-unique necklace, plus a few tops and sweaters to use as the bump grows.

New to StitchFix? Read all about how it works here

Now let’s take a peek at what showed up in this month’s box…

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First up was the Just Black Maternity Andrea Released Hem Skinny Jean ($88).

At this point (17 weeks along) forgiving waistbands are essential, so these immediately caught my eye.

I’ve got a few pairs of standard blue and black denim from last round, but this time I’m all about color – especially as we enter the dreary Portland winter months.

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Next was the Romolo Munroe Feather Pendant Necklace ($28).

Pretty basic, yes. But I like the beaded detail on the chain, it’s a perfect length and it’ll add some interest to outfits without overwhelming them.

Plus, I’m not a fan of A) much or B) big jewelry, so this will be a great staple for accessorizing.

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Third was the Skies are Blue Olivina Hooded Slub Knit Cardigan ($58).

It’s got a classic color and shape, plus the open design is good for all stages of pregnancy and beyond.

The sleeve detail on the bottom threw me a bit, though – it’s a spandex-type material that goes maybe a quarter of the way up your arm – but maybe it’s good for keeping sleeves pushed up?

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After that was the Kensie Lona Zipper Sleeve Pullover ($68).

To be honest, this was the only piece that didn’t thrill me straight out of the package, but I withheld judgment because you never know until you try it on.

The color is mix of gray, taupe and green, which is kind of ‘meh,’ though, plus the shape is a little boxy for my taste…but we’ll see.

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And last but not least was the Loveappella Maternity Jillyen Roll Cuff Knit Top ($48).

As soon as I pulled this top out of the box, I knew it was my style – casual and sporty.

The material looked a tad see-through, however, so I definitely wanted to see how it looked on before deciding.

So what did I end up keeping?

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Once again…everything!

Here’s my reasoning: The jeans and short-sleeved top were no-brainers. I don’t currently have anything like the hooded sweater (which is great for fall layering!) or the necklace.

And the sweater I was so-so about? Factor in the 25 percent discount if you purchase all five items, and it made sense to keep the whole box.

Well played, StitchFix, well played!

Want to try StitchFix? Use my referral link to fill out your style profile and get started.

Disclosure: This is *not* a sponsored post; I pay for StitchFix on my own, and since I love the service, it’s fun to share my experience. If you sign up using my referral link, I’ll get a credit…so thanks in advance for fueling the next fix! 

Recipe: No Added Sugar Banana Zucchini Date (Smash!) Cake

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They say that with age comes wisdom. But, for me, it took being responsible for another little life to finally smarten up about my eating habits.

Sure, Ben and I have always tried to eat healthy, which mostly meant forgoing sugary treats until we’d eventually cave into temptation…only to start a cycle of guilt, restriction and inevitable relapse.

But it wasn’t until I got pregnant that I decided to cut myself some slack and relax when it came to cravings. Although with space in the belly at a premium, you’ve got to make every calorie count.

When I stopped thinking of foods as “good” and “bad” and started judging them on their nutrient density, I felt empowered instead of deprived. Not to mention it felt great to fuel my body — and my baby — with whole foods that would help both of us thrive.

Enter Bard Valley Natural Delights Medjool dates. I’ve partnered with them this year to help our family make the swap from refined sugars to a more natural alternative: whole foods that the body can recognize and pull nutrients from.

My 2015 almond milk experiment started what has become a passionate love affair with these little gems. Medjool dates deliver sustained energy from their combo of fiber and natural sugars, plus they’re packed with potassium to support muscle fuel and recovery.

So Wyatt’s first birthday “smash cake” became an experiment of sorts in substituting date paste for processed sugar. It may have taken me a few attempts — the first was too moist, the second was too dense — but the third time was a charm, as you can see from the shot below.

This recipe works for birthdays, but I think it’s even better made into muffins for a quick energy boost throughout the day. Finally, you can have your cake — and eat it (along with some very valuable nutrients), too.

No Added Sugar Banana Zucchini Date Cake

Ingredients: 

  • 2 small zucchinis, grated & squeezed dry (about 2 cups)
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup date paste
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and grease muffin cups with coconut oil (or use muffin liners).
  2. In large bowl, mix together zucchini and banana. Add eggs one at a time.
  3. Blend in date paste, peanut butter and vanilla.
  4. In small bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add slowly to wet ingredients, stirring to incorporate.
  5. Spoon into muffin cups, filling each 3/4 of the way.
  6. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into muffin come out clean.

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Give it a try, and let me know what you think!

October Goal Check-In

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The end of October is always a little bittersweet, isn’t it? As exciting as it is to really settle into fall and celebrate Halloween, now we’re suddenly barreling towards the holiday season and a brand new year is just around the corner.

And has anyone else seen all the holiday commercials already?! I’m the first to admit I’ll be cranking up the Christmas tunes before too long…but October 26 was just too soon to start seeing ads about Santa and stuffing stockings.

All that aside, I’m still focused on sticking loosely to my 2016 goals before setting new intentions for 2017. So here’s an update:

1. Health & Fitness: In terms of a typical week, I’m now trying to move at least four or five out of the seven days. With a baby’s schedule and Portland’s rainy season to factor in, this means taking whatever I can get whenever I can get it: Namely stroller jogs, treadmill runs, cross-training on the Nordic Track (yes, you read that correctly; it was left behind by the previous owners of our house), plus a smattering of free weights.

And as much as I miss the accountability of a training schedule, it’s been refreshing to exercise for general fitness for a change. If there’s a day where a workout just doesn’t work out, it’s a relief at the moment to be able to take it in stride versus fretting about getting behind schedule.

2. Training: Speaking of schedules…just last month I mentioned there wasn’t a race on the horizon, but that may soon change because I’m mulling over a potential spring marathon. It’d be a change of pace from my usual summer training cycles focusing on fall races, and this time I’m also considering working under the general guidance of a coach to train smart and stay healthy while ramping up mileage.

3. Community: Our 2016 Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season has officially ended, and we celebrated with our annual party at Title Nine Portland on October 24. In addition to a fantastic group of community members joining us this year, I’m proud to say that we also managed to raise nearly $3,000 for Breast Cancer Fund.

As for next year, we’ll be changing things up a bit, so stay tuned for details! We’re opening applications for team leaders for the 2017 season in early December, so if you’re interested in getting involved with a dynamic group of women who are making a difference in the Portland area, along with getting in some great workouts and making new friends, like our Facebook page for updates.

4. Career: This has been an area where I’ve been feeling reenergized as of late. First, Fit4Mom Cedar Mill hosted a very cool “Mindful Mamas” event this month where we worked out together and then sat down with a life coach to talk about time management and priorities. Lesson learned: Make sure what you’re spending your time on is truly aligned with your goals.

Second, I signed a new boutique fitness client in the Portland area, and we’ve been hard at work on messaging, positioning and PR planning. I love working with business owners who understand the importance of connecting — not only with clients to help them get fitter and feel healthier, but also with the community to give back. So inspiring!

5. Life: Finally, I need to do a whole in-depth post on the glory that is ‘sleep training.’ But for now, I’ll just say this: If you’re having any trouble getting your little one to sleep — whether it’s through at night or just for regular naps, it’s a total game-changer. I’d go as far as to say it’s the best baby-related investment we’ve made because it provides the confidence to do what you need to do to help everyone get some more zzz’s.

The woman we worked with was simply amazing (parents, ping me if you want an intro), particularly because she specializes in minimizing the amount of crying during the process. I had heard horror stories of people having to camp outside of baby’s door enduring hours of screaming, but our experience was quite different. We had a total of 12 minutes of crying in protest the first night before Wyatt slept 12 HOURS.

There’s a lot that goes into it — both in terms of preparation and consistency in order to develop new habits, plus (duh) you’ll still have the usual hiccups now and then — but, overall, it’s been nothing short of life-changing. Chronic sleep deprivation (seven months, in our case) can leave you in a pretty dark place, so it’s pure joy to finally come into the light at the end of the tunnel.

Ready or not, here we come: Are you excited for the final stretch of 2016?

August Goal Check-In

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Hello again! After a few weeks of radio silence (aka first break from blogging in three and a half years), I’m finally coming up for air.

Truth is — and this is hard to admit — I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed at the moment.

While I typically pride myself in being able to divide and conquer (attributed, no doubt, to all those years putting out PR fires), I just haven’t been able to feel like I can get my head above water lately.

But the first step is admitting you need help, right?

So I took a hard look at things over the past few weeks, re-prioritized goals and am narrowing my focus when it comes to where I’m spending energy. Which means that my monthly goals have changed, and this check-in will look a bit different going forward for the remainder of the year.

As in, I’m going to quit beating myself up for not nailing my original goals this year; instead, I’m going to get real about how things have changed and celebrate what IS working.

For starters, training has taken a backseat. With everything else going on this summer (i.e. travel, moving and still trying to get Wyatt on a schedule), I simply don’t have the mental or physical reserves needed to get into marathon mode.

I did go back and forth trying to figure out how to train just enough to be able to complete 26.2 because I’m familiar enough with the distance…but ultimately came to the conclusion that doing something just for the sake of doing it won’t be as fulfilling as committing to doing it well later.

There will be more marathons. Just not this year.

Next — and it’s only taken me six months to realize this — it’s pretty damn near impossible to get any work done while home with a baby. Veteran moms, I’ll pause for a second here for you to stop laughing…but I had learn this on my own!

I don’t have full-time SAHM status, so the search is on for a part-time nanny to allow me to carve out regular work hours each week. That lovely #momguilt kept me from acting on this sooner, but I believe it’ll set a good example for our kiddo(s) and allow me to be a better mom in the long run.

And, finally, after fighting the good fight when it comes to infant-(lack of)-sleep, Ben and I are waving the white flag and hiring a sleep trainer. This is a delicate subject, likely fodder for another blog post, and although we’ve made some progress on our own it’s time to enlist help from a pro to get a decent night’s sleep.

In terms of what has been going as planned, Team LUNA Chix Portland Run is knocking it out of the park. Despite our usual location being closed for construction, our community rallies each week — and we managed to hit our season goal for fundraising for the Breast Cancer Fund this month. Boom!

Work-wise, I have yet to dedicate as many hours to growing my business as I’d like since Wyatt came along, but I’m fortunate enough to have a pretty awesome roster of repeat clients who want to collaborate on upcoming projects. So it’s there for the taking, as soon as I get the nanny situation sorted out.

Workouts are nowhere near what they used to be in consistency, variety or intensity, but I am getting back on track after our move and making it a point to explore our new ‘hood. With baby-in-tow it’s just easier now to take a stroller jog or hit up our makeshift home gym when if he’s sleeping.

Being in the ‘burbs has definitely been an adjustment after years of city living — i.e being a block away from everything before, whereas now the closest stuff is a 15-minute drive — but the trade-off for a little more breathing room was a no-brainer.

So rather than gunning after my original goals, I’m finding peace with discovering the new normal and what progress means for me, personally, as well as us as a family this year.

In fact, that seems to be a pretty fitting mantra — both literally and figuratively — when everything’s in flux, as it is now, and my Type A tendencies have me white-knuckling the ride:

When one door closes, another one opens!

Have your goals evolved this year? And how are you defining success as they change?

10 Ways Having a Newborn is Like Reliving Your College Experience

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From sleepless nights to getting schooled in all sorts of subjects, life with a newborn bears a striking resemblance to those good ol’ glory days of college. So I thought I’d share my top 10 ways having a baby is like starting freshman year all over again.

10. Mounting Expenses. Back then you spent your money on books, meal plan and extracurriculars. Now you’re draining your bank account on books, take-out and just about any gadget and/or invention under the sun that promises to help baby sleep.

9. Boot ‘n’ Rally. Popular among frat boys. Also babies.

8. All Nighters. The only difference? In college, you could sleep in ’til noon the next day to recover. With babies, there’ no sleeping in again. Ever.

7. Roommate Issues. It’s the luck of the draw. Some go with the flow and are easy to get along with. Others? Messy, loud and up at all hours.

6. Weight Gain. Packing it on, freshman-style, is a lot of fun thanks to beer and late-night snacks. With pregnancy, it’s more about the pesky final 15 that seems to linger postpartum.

5. Boobs. They’re endlessly fascinating to both hormone-riddled young men and babies, alike.

4. Knowledge. Talk about theory all you want, but there’s a big difference between book smarts and being able to apply that knowledge in the real world — or with a real human.

3. Hormones. Both teens and pregnant women are vying for front-row seats on the emotional roller-coaster.

2. Life Lessons. Just when we think we’ve got it all figured out, life has a way of showing you that you truly don’t know what you don’t know until you’re in the thick of it.

1. Growing Up. There’s a good chance you’ll be forever changed for the better after each experience.

Anything else you’d add to the list? 

July Goal Check-In

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Ever look back and marvel at how far you’ve come — yet realize how much you’ve veered off course?

That’s pretty much how I feel about this year’s goals at this point, but that’s the name of the game now: learning how to roll with the punches and adjust (and re-adjust) expectations. Chalk that up to another lesson of parenthood.

Regardless, one day at a time and one foot in front of the other, the important part is that we’re making progress, right?

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working in 2016.

Here’s where things stand currently:

1. Health & Fitness

We’re still working on getting a daily routine down (naps, anyone?), but I have gotten good at making little workouts happen in the nooks and crannies of our days. Even if it’s just a walk with the stroller, a stroll with the baby carrier or some at-home body weight exercises designed by one of my favorite trainers, I try to get at least 30 minutes of activity on the regular.

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In the absence of a regular fitness schedule, however, I’ve realized it’s also come high time to revamp my eating habits. Up until now, I’ve been using breastfeeding as an excuse reason to be more lax than usual…

But now that Wyatt’s getting more mobile, energy is the focus so I’ve been supplementing with Forelle, a new meal delivery service here in Portland that specializes in raw, plant-based meals  using whole, organic and seasonal ingredients that are sourced from local suppliers. Clean eating feels good again, even if it’s only for a few meals a week!

2. Training

Now that we’re creeping up on six months where I have yet to get a full night’s sleep, I’m starting to re-think the plan for this fall’s marathon. Although mileage is now up to double-digits on weekend runs, operating in a state of chronic sleep deprivation is hardly conducive to smart training — i.e. the last thing I want to do is get injured in the process.

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The good news is that my average pace per mile has been dropping steadily as I’ve been increasing distance each week. The bad news is that I’m nowhere near the kind of mileage that’s considered preparation for 26.2.

Walk/jogging is an option, for sure, but there’s something to be said for training properly for a race so you can enjoy the whole experience. Needless to say, I’ve been mulling over my options, so stay tuned.

3. Community

This month we switched things up at one  of our weekly Team LUNA Chix Portland Run practices and held a scavenger hunt with some of our favorite fitness stores and studios in the area (shout out to Bar Method, Barre3, Burncycle, Lucy, MUV, Revocycle, Title Nine, YAS, YoYoYogi and Zest Nutrition). Between bags of bars, coupons for free classes and all kinds of raffle prizes, everyone walked away a winner!

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But what I really want to address this month in terms of community is the fitness scene here in Portland. What I love about it is that there’s much more camaraderie than competition — to each his own with workouts, so there can (and should) be room for everyone to play.

However, this past month I witnessed something happen to one of my favorite studio owners that made my blood boil. Rather than go into a rant here, though, I’d just like to take the opportunity to commend the people and places who pitched in and redeemed our faith in the Portland fitness community — namely Industrial Barre and PureBarre Bend — as well as those who stepped forward and asked how they could lend a hand to a fellow small business owner in need.

That’s how it should be, folks!

4. Career

My consulting work with Pulse Creative continues to be a juggling act, schedule-wise, but is so worth it. Aside from working out, it’s the other small piece of my day where I can feel like the old ‘me.’

And what’s nice, I’ve learned, from having less time is that you get to prioritize projects — i.e. partner with great people and do only work that you love. Which makes the time spent doubly enjoyable!

5. Life

Finally, as I mentioned last month and the previous month, life hasn’t been without its lessons since Wyatt came along. The latest of which is:

It’s no longer about you. 

Well, duh, you’re probably saying. Anyone over the age of five knows this. 

But after years of being able to do what you want, when you want and how you want — from things as simple as setting sleep hours and eating regular meals to more complicated things such as work/life balance, training for events or, heck, even a date night with my husband — it can be a hard pill to swallow in the adjustment as a first-time parent.

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And what initially felt like a tug-of-war to not forget about what makes me ‘me’ or what makes Ben and me ‘us’ has become, well, a more comfortable shade of normal. It may have taken a handful of months and some newfound perspective — or maybe it’s just that there’s a flicker of light ahead at the end of the newborn tunnel — but I see now that it’s less about losing something and more about adding pieces to the puzzle.

What that bigger picture is, we don’t know yet; we’re still very much in the thick of it. But the prospect of creating it together, all three of us, is pretty exciting.

How are your 2016 goals coming along?