The top 7 apps & websites making a working mom’s life easier

Moms are busy. Really busy.

Add a JOB to the mix and it’s a wonder we get anything accomplished each day. {Ignore that pile of laundry in the corner.}

I’m always looking out for the best resources for working moms that make my life just a little bit easier. That means fewer to-dos, and more time back in my day for the things I really care about.

I’ve rounded up the top seven apps and websites that all working moms need to know about to rock it at work and at home all from your smart phone.

theSkimm

online resources for working moms theskimm

As someone with an interest in current events, but very little time to actually stay current, I rely on theSkimm. Their tagline promises to “make it easier to be smarter” and it does just that. In the time it takes me to nurse Audrey in my bed in the morning, I get briefed – and entertained – on the latest happenings around the globe. If time allows, I can dive in deeper to the news stories via the links theSkimm provides. If I have a hungry toddler begging for breakfast or a pressing work issue, I can come back to it later or wait until the next day.

Target

online resources for working moms target

There’s a reason moms are known for loving Target. Affordable prices, cute items, a Starbucks by the front door? Yes, please. But as much as I love the store, going there with all three kids in tow is pretty stressful. So I’ve turned to the Target & Cartwheel app. After I had Audrey, I was feeling a little down about not fitting in my usual clothes. Using the Target app I was able to skip the store, order a variety of items in a variety of sizes and try them on in my own home. Read: without the unforgiving lighting of a department store dressing room! I scored free shipping, and an easy in-store return that I completed with only one baby and no toddlers {and picked up my latte on the way out}.

Amazon

online resources for working moms amazon

When I went on bedrest with Audrey I knew I was going to need help when it came to errands. It was right before the holidays and I needed to do all of the Christmas shopping for our family. I quickly turned to online shopping and fell in love with the convenience of Amazon Prime. I was officially converted into an online shopper.  The real game changer was when my husband gave me the Amazon Echo Dot a few months later. This product tells me the weather so I don’t have to track down my phone, confirms my calendar appointments, adds things to my shopping and to-do lists, and even orders stuff through my Amazon Prime account all with simple voice commands. Plus, Daphne has learned how to ask for some pretty fun family dance parties. “Alexa, play the Trolls soundtrack…”

InstaCart

online resources for working moms instacart

The other thing I had to figure out while I was on bedrest was the groceries. Luckily, I found the InstaCart app. It’s like the Uber of groceries. Pick your local store, select your food items, and schedule a delivery time that works for you. The app even has great features that allows messaging back and forth, like if you have really picky eaters who only eat a certain ripeness of banana {Henry}, or if the store is out of an item. It’s so simple and convenient, that I was able to order groceries for my family while still in the hospital after giving birth. Someone took care of the shopping, and delivered the groceries my husband at home with our older two.

76th & Newbury

We didn’t find out the gender with our last baby, which made setting up a nursery a bit of a challenge. I knew our new bundle would be in our room for the first few months, so I didn’t worry…until she was born! I realized I was crazy to think I would be able to go out and shop for her room with three kids. And I was already feeling badly that she didn’t have a beautiful room to come home to like the others did. Luckily, 76th & Newbury provides completely custom artwork for the home without leaving the house. I was able to create prints just for Audrey that matched her bedding perfectly. I was super impressed with their customer service. Through my many rounds of edits to make sure it was just right, they always made me feel like the project wasn’t done until I was completely happy.

Poshmark

online resources for working moms poshmark

My husband discovered this app after cleaning out his closet and uncovering a bunch of hardly worn clothes and accessories. Poshmark keeps the clutter at bay while earning a few bucks! Since becoming a mom, I’ve always been into shopping at Consignment events like Just Between Friends. But now that I’m on the other side with some of our items, the cleaning, sorting, tagging, dropping off, etc. overwhelms me. In the Poshmark app, you snap a pic from your phone, add a description and price. Once the items sells, you simply print the shipping label and drop it off at a nearby UPS and wait to collect your cash. My husband has sold random things from jerseys to watches, and I’ve already had great luck in the maternity and children’s sections!

Greetabl

Greetabl calls itself “the total gifting experience made easy.” And I’m totally obsessed. I’ve sent it for every reason you can imagine – babies, birthdays, losses, and just because. I love it for those times when a full blown gift may be a little much, but a card doesn’t seem to say quite enough. With each box I’ve sent, I was able to customize with photos and patterns, and add a small gift -such as chocolate or handmade soap – with just a few clicks from my phone. It’s the perfect gesture for letting friends and family know I’m thinking about them even when life gets in the way.

Best Resources for Working Moms

What are your favorite online resources? How do they help you keep your life organized and simplified as a working mom? Tell me in the comments!


The links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Quit trying to do it all

They say “quitters never win, and winners never quit.”

Well…

Today I’ve decided that I quit.

It wasn’t an easy decision. I mean, it stinks. I’ve been doing it for 5 years! But enough is enough. And I’m happier for it.

I’m talking about cloth diapering.

Don’t get me wrong, it was great while it lasted. Many of the cloth diapers were gifted to me at my first baby shower before Daphne was born. The adjustable buttons allowed these green alternatives to grow with each of my first two children. These puppies saved me a fortune on disposables over the years. As long as you don’t hate poop or laundry, cloth diapers are an amazing alternative.

Until you have three children.

I literally cannot wrap my head around something that cannot be thrown in the garbage in the middle of the Houston Rodeo or at the neighborhood playground.

Our busy family is on the go. All. The. Time.

And so after only one week of cloth diapers, I’m calling it quits.

I could look at this as a failure in my efforts to be green and, more importantly for my family, save money. Plus, I did it with my first two children, how could I not just keep it together for my third? Yet…

I see it as a total win.

I’ve won back more time with my family or to work on my business, even if it is just minutes each day – it all adds up! I also ditched one thing from my daily to-do list and freed up our washer/dryer for the mountains of clothes my family of five creates.

Quit trying to do it all.

Seriously. Why are you doing it to yourself?

While I’m a huge advocate of having it all, doing it all is just crazy talk. In fact, even trying to do it all will probably prevent you from feeling fulfilled because you’ll be so dang tired all the time.

The biggest thing moms forget is that in order to truly feel happy – and feel like we have it all – we have to let go sometimes.

Maybe it’s not taking on that volunteer gig. Perhaps it’s knowing when to hire someone to clean your house or mow your lawn. Other times it means knowing when to straight up quit, like I did.

Are you doing something that doesn’t bring you happiness or taking on way too much right now?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, I encourage you to find something to cut out.

You’ll be the winner in the long run.

Do you want to try cloth diapers? Target now carries my favorite brand, bumGenius. Comment below if you’re a first time user…I’ve got tons of tips to get you started like a pro!

 

Podcast Prep – Can moms really have it all?

I’m super excited to share with you some exciting – and slightly terrifying – news.

I’ve been invited to speak on not just one, but two podcasts in the next month!

First up, the Extraordinary Moms Podcast.

I was invited to share my pursuit of a work life balance after being introduced to SoCal mom Jessica by a mutual friend. Not unlike my Working Mom Wednesday blog posts, Jessica celebrates motherhood by inviting moms onto her show to tell their stories.

In a few weeks I’ll be sharing my spin on the whole “mommy blog” thing on The Blog Chronicles with Matthew Loomis. Fun fact: I set up this blog using Matthew’s easy to follow steps!

moms have it all

Once I got past the initial “what the heck am I going to talk about” nerves, I realized how pumped I was about sharing my mompreneur journey.

After all, I shouldn’t run out of topics about my life, right? We are all experts in our own experiences!

What makes me a tiny bit terrified; however, is finally sharing my beliefs on the controversial “having it all” debate.

Can moms have it all? Or can’t we?

After a year of pursuing it, I’ve come to my own conclusion and I’ll be diving into what I think on these podcasts!

Have you done anything recently that terrifies you? Let me know how it turned out!

P.S. I’ll be sure to share the links on my Facebook page when each interview is published!

When you’re not losing the baby weight

I’m wearing yoga pants again today.

Yes, I’ve bragged about wearing activewear on a daily basis since I started my own home-based marketing company before. {They are sooo comfy.}  But, if I’m being honest, today I’m wearing them because nothing else fits.

I’m having a hard time losing the baby weight.

After I had my oldest daughter, I was one of those obnoxious moms that went home in her normal clothes. I told everyone it was my reward for having such a terrible pregnancy filled with morning sickness.

When my son came two years later, I got a little overconfident. I packed a pair of my regular ol’ jeans in my hospital bag. On the day I was discharged, I had to send my husband home to get a pair of sweatpants for me to wear home, because I couldn’t get the jeans over my butt. #embarrassing

Within a month or so, I was back in my usual wardrobe, although my shirts were much fuller than before thanks to what I lovingly refer to as my “temporary boob job” from breastfeeding.

It’s been nearly three months since Audrey joined us and it’s been a real struggle for me. Even though my husband, our children’s preschool teacher, and the checkout lady at the grocery store are constantly telling me how great I look for just having had a baby, my confidence has taken a dramatic dip.

It isn’t about what the scale says {although doesn’t feel so hot either!} so much as the fact that I’m far from returning to the clothes in my closet.

So far that I’ve already invested in a new pair of jeans a size {okay two sizes} up.

A lot of photos on social media have gone viral lately of women proudly showing off their postpartum bods, which I think is sending a wonderful message. While it doesn’t help me fit back in my normal clothes any faster, I think it’s great that we’re celebrating instead of shaming stretch marks.

Here’s what else I’m celebrating to take my mind off my closet…

I’m healthy

There’s been a lot of spinach and kale coming into our house since our baby was born. Oftentimes they’re serves alongside a chocolate chip cookie {or three}, but I believe that a part of being healthy is being balanced.

I’m active

What mother of three isn’t? We ride bikes, play outside, and walk to the park every day. I’ve even been able to go for a few runs {sometimes even without the stroller!} and I am getting faster and going a little bit farther each time.

I’m strong

Audrey is one of those babies that wants to be snuggled. All the time. I’ve got a wrap and a carrier and I’ve almost always got one of them strapped to my chest with a baby inside. Add a thirty pound toddler on one hip going up and down the stairs and that’s one strong mama.

I’m amazing

The truth of the matter is that as a nursing mom I’m still very much eating for two. The calories that come and go from breastfeeding are important for me and my baby. And that’s pretty incredible regardless of my size.

Eventually the day will come when I can fit in my clothes again. Or it won’t and I’ll slowly accumulate items in my new, healthy size. Either way, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll still pick out the yoga pants.

Did you have a hard time losing the post-baby lbs? Tell me what worked for you in the comments!

Get the pedicure

Last weekend was nuts.

I was pumping multiple times a day, working ahead on some projects for the following week, and trying to find clothes that fit my postpartum body to pack for an out of town event.

This work event just happened to be in Destin, Florida, and I desperately needed to get a pedicure for my soon to be exposed toes.

But I had a million other things to do and the thought of leaving my kids alone with my husband for even one extra hour before heading to the beach days later seemed so unreasonable.

This is a situation I’ve found myself in many times before.

I need to do the laundry, take the kids to get a haircut, go to the grocery store, finish client projects, sweep the floors, strategize some upcoming business initiatives, and clean the toilets…

Seriously, who has time to get a pedicure?

That really got me thinking.

I need to do so many things. {At least I think I do.}

But what about what I need?

In this case, a pedicure to bring my feet out of hibernation. But sometimes it’s lunch with a friend, time to exercise or just a quiet moment alone.

Why do we, as mothers, hesitate to do things for ourselves?

Mom guilt.

Surely it would look bad if I went a did something for myself before every tiny thing at home is wrapped up, right? I mean, I’m leaving town for crying out loud.

Except here’s the thing – the long list of to-dos is never really done. And by not taking care of numero uno, we just ware ourselves down with all of the other stuff. Even the flight attendants remind us before take off that we need to put on our own oxygen mask before assisting others.

Full disclosure: I’m writing this post from a 3 bedroom penthouse suite at a resort in Destin, Florida.

And I absolutely refuse to feel guilty about it.

Why?

Because it’s great for my personal and professional development.

I have a husband whom I trust completely with our three children.

Everyone will be alive and well when I return home. After a week, they won’t even remember I left in the first place.

And I would have a lot more regrets if I’d chosen not to attend.

So while I acknowledge that mom guilt is definitely a real thing, I’m also declaring it only as powerful as we allow it to be.

So before my trip, I decided to kick mom guilt to the curb in four easy steps.

  1. It’s easier said than done, but stating that you refuse to let guilt take over is the first step. Like most things in life, it’s a choice.
  2. Address why you felt it in the first place. For me, it was the idea of asking my husband to step up one more time right before leaving town.
  3. Find a way around it and make your own reality. I could have filled my day with housework and packing, and then been upset about my ugly feet later. I could have resented my husband for “not letting me go” even though I’d never asked. Instead, I ditched the housework, waited until the older kiddos were napping {aka pretending to sleep while quietly destroying their bedrooms} and took the baby with me to the nail salon.
  4. Give yourself grace. Did I get to every single thing on my list before heading out of town? No. But it’s been a week and I still haven’t. But I did give myself a pat on the back for doing something I normally wouldn’t have done for myself and for feeling really good about it. For the record, my toes look fabulous, the baby slept the entire time we were at the salon, and my husband barely noticed I’d left the house, let alone the remaining chores.

Mom guilt, be gone!

Who’s with me?

Go out and be an awesome mother, wife, colleague and friend. Just please remember to fasten your own oxygen mask first.

When you’re done having babies

Dear mama,

You are done having babies.

I know part of you is really sad about this.

The oldest two are hardly babies anymore, and your newborn is no longer a newborn. Time sure seems to speed up with each child, doesn’t it?

You’ve breathed in every moment with this precious last one and I know you’ll continue to cherish these early years.

I know part of you is really sad about this, but I also know that part of you is a little relieved.

Pregnancy was never very fun for you. It’s okay to feel a little excited even now that you can kiss the days of constant nausea goodbye.

In fact, you can say goodbye to those maternity clothes, too. Sure, they were comfy, but they just remind you of back pain, heartburn and hovering over the toilet.

So go on. Find an expecting first-time mom and just give them to her with a knowing smile. The same way they were passed down to you.

And it’s okay if you’re not quite ready to get rid of any baby clothes just quite yet. You hold on to them as long as you need to. I know there will be times when you ache for the days of snuggling up with a newborn.

Just don’t get any ideas, because you are done having babies.

It’s almost funny to think about how quickly this all happened.

From the moment you got married, people have been asking when you’d start having kids.

As soon as you birthed that first sweet baby, those same well-meaning folks were asking when she’d get a brother or sister.

And then the questions stopped.

But your baby itch did not.

Do you remember when you started telling people you were pregnant with number three? They start to look at you like you’re nuts!

Today, you are officially outnumbered and yet your hands feel as full as your heart does.

And it feels good.

You truly feel as though your family is complete.

But just remember, while you’re done having babies, you have a lot more parenting to do.

Stay strong, mama.

Welcoming my last baby

last baby

Unless you are personal friends with me on Facebook, you may be wondering where in the world I’ve been these last few months.

You know I was expecting and that my business was taking off. But to be gone for so long, because of a baby and some new clients?

I’ll have plenty to say on all of that later this week…

Today I just want to share with you all the feels over welcoming the newest addition to our family, our rainbow baby, and our last baby, Audrey Mae.

last baby

Yesterday this sweet little girl turned one month old.

And I cried all of the tears.

Such a milestone might not seem like that big of a deal, but for this mom of three, it’s huge.

When our oldest, Daphne, was one month old I was barely coming out of the new motherhood fog. Luckily, she was an easy baby, so most of our adjustments didn’t come with a side of sleep deprivation. Every day with this baby with new and exciting, because everything we experienced with her was a first.

After Henry arrived, the first few weeks were a bit chaotic, but the days of midnight diaper changes and on-demanding feeding with his sister weren’t so far behind us so it was a bit like relearning to ride a bike. This middle-child-to-be had plenty of firsts, too. It turns out, boys and girls are very different. By one month, we were finally starting to hit our stride with juggling two.

But with Audrey, things are different.

Because with my last baby, I won’t just be celebrating her firsts.

I’m also mourning the lasts.

Yesterday was the last time a baby of mine will turn one month old!

last baby

It’s so hard to believe, because I remember her being born like it was yesterday.

She decided she was ready in the early hours of the morning and woke me up. After a shower {clean!} and a quick bite to eat {fuel!}, we made it to the hospital.

We didn’t actually know that she was a she at the time. For our final love bug, my husband and I decided that since we were already equipped with the clothing and gear for a boy or a girl, we elected to keep this one a surprise {which ended up being much easier than this planner had anticipated, and totally worth the wait}.

I had a hunch this little nugget would be exactly what big sister wanted, another girl. For starters, I was extra sick this pregnancy which landed me in the emergency room, just like with big sister. The final icing on the cake was once we were admitted to the hospital, our L&D nurse’s name was Jacqueline, which was my front-running girl name going into the hospital. If that wasn’t a sign!

Dad refused to commit to a gender guess. {I think he just didn’t want to be wrong…}

I had already labored to the finish line by the time I was able to get an epidural, so within 15 minutes the doctor and nurses had flooded into the room for the big finish.

With the pain relief kicking in, I can truly say I enjoyed the delivery. It cracks me up now, but I was holding conversations with the people in the room between the three rounds of pushes until we finally got to meet our – surprise! – girl.

You know how when you get married everyone tells you to try to slow down and enjoy the moment, because it will go by so quickly? That is exactly what I did when my last baby was born. I noticed who was in the room and watched my husband as he gazed down at our newborn. I looked the doctors and nurses in the eyes and thanked them silently. Then I finally held my tiny creation, this amazing miracle I had grown and delivered into the world, and breathed in every ounce of my new daughter. And I cried.

After looking at our precious baby, we felt she was already our Audrey, as if she had named herself! Her middle name didn’t come quite as quickly. In fact, if it weren’t for birth certificate paperwork we may still be deciding!

Big sister’s middle name is her Godmother’s middle name, and big brother’s middle name is his grandfather’s name. Not wanting to stray from the family ties, we settled on Mae….my mother’s grandmother’s name and a true Matriarch.

last baby siblings

In most mommy circles, “baby brain” is a real deal thing. And the more kids we have, the worse it seems to get!

I know I won’t always be so observant, so present to take it all in.

And unlike the firsts that seem to be so obvious, it’s easy to forget to slow down and cherish the lasts.

Happy one month to my sweet girl, my last baby!

{All images courtesy of Haven Photography}

Why I’m not buying my kids birthday presents

It’s a big week in our house. My son Henry turns two years old tomorrow and on Saturday my daughter will be four. This weekend we’re throwing a joint birthday party {something I intend to do for as long as I can get away with it}.

Daphne is incredibly excited. She keeps going over the guest list at the dinner table and has already brainstormed where she’d like to host next year’s birthday party {at home} and her 17th birthday party {at Gymboree…I’ll be sure to remind her of that when she’s seventeen…}.

birthday party

Ever since Daphne’s first birthday {an over the top ONEderland theme complete with a professional photographer and the photos to to prove it}, I’ve made a pretty big fuss over my kids’ birthdays. {Although this year I did decide to trade in the DIY house party for a venue rental. It’s a tad more expensive, but way worth the time I’m saving not cutting out Etsy bought theme designs.}

I have no doubt that this year will be something she’ll continue to talk about for a long time. Bowling, balloons and a birthday cake {that she picked out} with friends is a pretty big deal for a little kid!

As much as I love a good celebration with family and friends, I far from splurge when it comes to the presents. We already have a house full of too many toys. As a mom, I’m in the business of making memories. That doesn’t happen over a bunch of stuff, it happens when we do stuff together.

Birthdays are no exception! In fact, they are the perfect opportunity to create those Insta moments you’ll be talking about years down the road. Here are my tips for making the most of your kids’ birthday presents….or lack thereof.

10308553_10101014577720156_4626342865524545868_n
Daphne {3} and Henry {1} at their Toy Story themed bash last year.

Buy Experiences Not Things

Have you ever been home with a bored kid? It’s the worst. They become whiney and needy and you’re looking around at a mountain of toys wondering how boredom is even possible. It’s because they need something to do.

Research has been telling us for years that spending money on new experiences yields more happiness than spending it on new products. It isn’t a new concept, but for some reason I think we have a more difficult time applying it to young kids.

In lieu of gifts for Christmas and their birthdays this year, we’ve opted for a Wonderscope membership and zoo membership. Then the important part is to get out there are actually use them. I feel happier already!

Ditch the “No Gifts Please”

Have you ever gotten an invitation to a birthday party or shower that says “no gifts please” or “your presence is present enough” on it? {Guilty of sending, BTW!} While it may be incredibly well intentioned, it can be confusing or even stressful for your guests.

When it comes time for the event, you have the rule followers strolling up to the door next to the etiquette police with a perfectly wrapped package in tow and suddenly the empty handers feel badly.

The reality is, people like to bring gifts! And, truth be told, no one wants to be the only one showing up without one. I say, let them.

Teach Gratitude

Since you have all of these thoughtful friends coming with gifts, you have the perfect opportunity to teach your little birthday darling how to be appreciative. First, start with basic manners. No matter what anyone says, hand written thank you notes have not gone out of style.

Second, consider using the presents as leverage to purge some of the gently used toys collecting dust around your house. Allow your children to be a part of the process. They can help decide which items get donated and even go with you to drop them off at a local charity.

I’m looking forward to splurging on donuts for breakfast tomorrow morning with Henry before heading to the zoo for his big day. While my now two year old may not recall every detail, I still know our family’s birthday week memories will last longer than the four minutes he would have spent playing with a new toy before tossing it aside.

What do you think of the rising trend of “no gift” and charitable gift parties?

My miscarriage story: I’ll always remember you

miscarriage due date

This Thursday is the due date of my miscarried baby.

When you’re pregnant, your growing belly is an obvious indicator for the people in your life to check up on you. How are you feeling? Getting any sleep? Are you ready?

But when you lose your baby, there’s no easy way for those closest to you to remember an important day is approaching.

For nearly a month now, I’ve felt nothing short of emotionally unstable. Even the quickest thought about my baby will leave me in tears.  I haven’t been sleeping well. I’ve felt anxious and ready for the due date to come and go, hoping that with it some of my grief will also finally pass.

I remember taking the pregnancy test at my parent’s house. I was dropping off my kids so my husband and I could go on a quick weekend getaway. I was bouncing around the bathroom just feet away from my entire family trying to keep quiet while I waited.

I remember smiling after registering the pink plus sign, and then feeling so proud of myself for keeping it a secret from my family while I said my goodbyes before heading out to pick up my husband from work and hit the road.

I didn’t tell him the entire three hour drive. I thought about it a million times, but this was pretty big news and I honestly wasn’t sure how he was going to react. The last thing I wanted was for him to drive off the road. While we had been talking about baby number three for a little while, we were intending to wait until our other kids were a bit older.

I remember his reaction when I turned down a margarita {my favorite} when we went out to dinner later that evening. I told him to drink up, because he was set with a designated driver for another nine months. He laughed. He asked if I was kidding. Then he shuffled between excitement and panic throughout dinner before settling on genuine happiness. It didn’t take us long to start throwing out baby name ideas.

I remember the first time I woke up and ran to the toilet to vomit. Just like my two other pregnancies, morning sickness came early and aggressively. I quickly got back on my anti-nausea meds that I was all too used to and settled into a routine of puking and rallying to head to work or chase my kids.

I remember my neighbor coming over after work with her two kids so that our children could play together and she could supervise while I lay on the couch trying not to throw up on myself. I was so happy that I had someone I could count on when my husband wasn’t home.

I remember when I stopped being able to make food for my family because the odor was unbearable for my pregnant nose.

I remember thinking it was amazing that my husband had to take care of our kitties’ litter box. It was a small consolation prize for all of the vomiting I was doing.

I remember when I called to make my first doctor’s appointment and found out that they no longer accepted our insurance. I was incredibly frustrated. This was my third child. The last thing I wanted to do was start over with someone new. What choice did I have?

I remember the doctor’s appointment like it was yesterday. It was my first time at a new OBGYN. It was supposed to be a 12-week check up. I was feeling pukey, but fine. Within the first few minutes of meeting me, the doctor had to give me the worst news of my life. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I felt worse for her or me.

I remember thinking how crazy it was that my husband had made accommodations at work to be at that appointment with me. He went to maybe three other appointments between our daughter and son, and most likely just for the ultrasounds. But for some reason, he was with me to receive the devastating news. I remember being so thankful that I didn’t have to sit in the room by myself. Or drive home.

I remember struggling to decide if I wanted the baby to pass naturally or if I wanted to have the procedure done. How was I supposed to decide something like that? What way would you like to lose your baby? Quickly or slowly? Risky or messy? I remember thinking that it was the worst day of my life. I felt sorry for myself. I finally decided to have the procedure. I wasn’t going to begin any sort of healing process with the baby still inside of me. I couldn’t change what had happened. I wanted to move on. My husband called the doctor for me and scheduled an appointment for the following morning.

I remember my three-year-old cuddling with me in bed. She cried with me and asked if she could touch my tummy and say goodbye to the baby. She told the baby she loved him. I’ve never been so amazed by my daughter – her maturity and empathy – as I was that night.

I remember not sleeping. I was scared for the surgery. I was nervous about something going wrong and thought of my two beautiful, healthy children being without their mom.

I remember being surrounded by women. My doctor, the nurses, the anesthesiologist. All women. Several of them grabbed my hand as if it to say they’ve been there. It will be okay. It was overwhelming.

I remember giving my baby a gender and a name. I talked to my husband about it. We understood that we both needed to grieve in our own ways and that naming our baby was a connection that made the loss more difficult for him. It made it easier for me, more personal, so I keep it to myself. It’s just between me and my baby.

I remember going back to my parent’s house after the surgery so that I could rest. Like my pregnancy, my miscarriage became incredibly public. Not because of any decisions I felt liked I’d intentionally made, but when you’re as sick as I am during pregnancy it’s pretty hard to keep hidden for long. Just days before my doctor appointment, I finally put our pregnancy out there on social media, but it was hardly news to anyone at that point. I sat in the dark in the guest room of my parent’s house composing an email to my coworkers. I shared the email on my Facebook page. It wasn’t news I wanted to share for my own benefit. I was trying to prevent an awkward foot-in-mouth moment for everyone in my life.

I remember going outside to play with my kids that afternoon when I got home. Surprisingly, my nausea and exhaustion subsided immediately after the procedure. I wasn’t pregnant anymore.

In the days that followed, I received hundreds of private messages, phone calls, emails and text messages. Dozens of women reached out to offer sympathy or even share their own miscarriage stories with me. Some I knew about and others were complete surprises. It was strangely comforting to not feel so alone. As my mom said, “it’s a really big club, but one I’d hoped you would never have had to join.”

I remember secretly wishing that people would stop saying things like, “God has a plan for you” or “everything happens for a reason.” The truth is, while I’ve attempted to console friends with those same cliches, I just wanted to feel sorry for myself. I wanted to be sad. And angry. And confused. I wanted someone to say, “this totally sucks.” I didn’t want any reasoning. An explanation wasn’t going to bring back my baby.

I remember thinking that life is uncertain. All of the plans we had made for the new baby over the months we knew about him shifted out of view. This lack of control gave me an inexplicable amount of courage; I quit my job the next week. {Something I had been thinking about for months but was too afraid to do until the timing was “right.”}

I remember the first time I brought up my miscarriage casually during a conversation with friends. I could see them growing uncomfortable, shifting eye contact or body language, not sure how to respond. But I still did it. It helped me to acknowledge what had happened.

I remember the first time I felt simultaneously happy and heartbroken. With each baby announcement or gender reveal photo that pops up on social media, my body aches a little bit and I wonder what if my baby’s story had played out like that. It’s strange when someone else’s joy can bring you joy and pain, but I’m getting used to feeling it.

I remember when I got to hold my neighbor’s new baby for the first time not even a month ago. We told each other we were expecting at the same time last summer. We were supposed to go through out pregnancies together, our babies’ births together and all of the milestones to follow. Except I won’t. Her son is healthy and beautiful and I am so happy for her. But it also reminds me that I am sad for me.

Throughout the last seven months, I’ve come full circle. I had stopped crying every day and now I cry every day again. In the months in between, there were even some days with the chaos of day to day life that I didn’t think about my miscarriage at all.

It really had gotten easier, but then my due date crept closer. The day that would remind me of the baby that I’d lost. The baby that I will always remember.

 

I bought my kids’ Valentines for school, and that’s okay

Valentines

Have you been on Pinterest lately?

It’s brimming with the sweetest Valentine’s Day crafts for you and your cuties to do together. Even my Facebook news feed has been full of links to videos and blogs with heart-inspired DIY.

Last year, I spent a full episode of The Bachelor cutting out little tags I’d printed that read “Sip-sip horray! It’s Valentine’s Day!” and fastening them to crazy straws. My daughter was two and half and not exactly a huge help. But I didn’t mind. They were adorable! The kids were going to love them.

And they did. But they also viewed the darling tags I’d spent hours on as an obstacle to getting to what they really wanted: the straws. The tags ended up in the trash.

Would I have done it all over again? Absolutely! It brought me joy to feel as though I was doing something special for my daughter and her friends.

Here’s the thing.

Rather than spending hours painting, cutting, glittering, sticking and/or packaging with Daphne this year, I decided to swing by the store and let her pick out a bag of prepackaged snacks for her friends.

And that’s okay.

The truth is, I have a love/hate relationship with DIY. As in, I hate that fact that I love it, because I’m not particularly good at it.

Whatever the craft, recipe, fill-in-the-blank, the photos always look so perfect. The directions make it seems so quick and simple. And it should definitely be less expensive than something store bought if I’m making it myself, right?

Well, if you’re not a regular DIY-er {I’m not}, you probably don’t already have a craft room full of supplies to pull from {I don’t}, which means you’ll need to hit up Hobby Lobby before you get started. Consider how those little buttons, stickers, clothes pins, and ribbons add up and try to think of ways you may use the leftovers so you don’t waste, or you could end up spending way more than you’d planned.

And then comes the actual Doing It Yourself….Is it just me, or does it rarely look as good as the example? I usually end up disappointed or frustrated or regretting that I didn’t just go buy whatever it was that I was attempting to create myself.

As moms, we put a tremendous amount of pressure on ourselves to be perfect parents. But parenting isn’t a one-size-fits all job description. And social media has only perpetuated the idea that the grass is greener in other moms’ yards.

While I’ve loved looking at the beautiful photos online of Valentine’s Day crafts, I’m also comfortable in sitting back and saying I don’t have time for that. And knowing my kids aren’t going to be worse for it.

Are you a DIY mom? I totally envy you, especially if it comes easily for you! Handmade gifts are cherished because they are personal. Kudos to you for your artistic vision and patience. I’m sure your kids will inherit both from the time you spend creating together.

But this year, I’ve aligned myself with the store-buying Valentines moms.

My daughter was so proud to pick out her treats for her class all by herself. She even gave me an unprompted hug and thank you! And while I cannot be certain, I’m pretty confident that she wouldn’t have done the same if I’d spent hours cutting out tags again.

Plus, the time not crafting was spent riding bikes around the neighborhood and playing outside with my daughter instead.

This Valentine’s Day, I wish you a stress-free day to cherish your family and friends and do something together that you all enjoy. Whether you spend the day crafting, shopping, riding bikes or just sitting at home, make sure you’re surrounded by those you love