Friday, May 31, 2013

newborn essentials


With many of my friends and family members all expecting new bundles of joy, (or those of you looking for great eco-friendly gifting options), I have created a list of a few of my most used items in those first few weeks.  It's certainly not everything, but it's a very good start to some of our most used, tried and true essentials.  I'm sure I'll have more to add, and would love to hear some of your favorites, too!

feeding:

I am happy to report that Alba is a fantastic sleeper at night, and I think that has something to do with her nursing around the clock during the day.  While I've been at home, I've been pumping with a Medela Pump-In-Style Advanced to try and stock up our freezer before returning to work.  When I do end up getting a few hours out, the bottles from Life Factory are eco-friendly, durable, and some of the best I've used through two babies. And of course, who wouldn't love these handmade cloth bibs?

sleeping:

The most complimented item we've ever gotten are the bamboo swaddles from Aden + Anais.  I admit, I loved them so much that I bought three sets of them (and am already planning on getting more).  Alba prefers co-sleeping over her bassinet, just like big sister did - but, this moses basket I found at Giggle is a perfect companion when I need to have her within sight for day sleeps.  For those unexpected chilly Chicago nights, we've all enjoyed snuggling up with "baby's special blanket," a hand-knitted gift from the best of friends.

wearing:

Everyone knows about NatureBaby because they are some of the most trusted, beautiful, natural children's clothing brand.  I especially am fond of their booties!  Footed sleep-and-plays are another must in an air-conditioned apartment, and our favorites are the silky soft organic cotton of KicKee Pants.  I recently found the adorable shop Wolfechild, and fell head over heels with everything there, but especially these wool turbans.

gear:

One thing I've learned after having two babies of my own is that most newborns prefer being in your arms over any other contraption.  Now, with a rambunctious two year old running around and getting herself into mischief, I have to be constantly on the look out.  I would never, I repeat... never get anything accomplished around the house if it wasn't for our linen sling from Sakura Bloom.  Though, I shouldn't fail to mention our Ergo carrier that we use for longer walks or hikes - relief for your back!  I'm a huge fan of wearing my children, and more importantly, they seem to love it too!  For bathing, the natural French brand Mustela is a top pick for us, as well as the Puj tub for when I'm not taking a bath with the girls.

It was much easier preparing for baby this time around as Erick and I found we had already figured out what worked and what didn't with Sofia. We have been so lucky with friends mailing care packages, handmade gifts, hand-me-downs, and other goodies for us.  It's truly heartwarming.  I'm hoping this list can spark a few ideas for those of you looking for some.

It's a a hard thing sometimes, planning for baby isn't it?

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

21/52



"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Sofia  -  Looking on to one of her most favorite stores in the entire world, "Targeet"
Alba  -  Getting a proper diaper change in the back of the car

This week's portraits were late, but with good cause - they are film portraits and needed to get processed and scanned.  I've had the itch before, but medium format has been tugging at my heart strings again so, out came our trusty Nikon 35mm to help ease my longing.  There is just something so magical about not knowing what to expect when you get your negatives back, about sustaining yourself from the instant gratification of a digital portrait. It's pretty neat, I'd say.

linking up with jodi

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

slow days


These days, though blissful and dreamy, seem to have a much slower pace.  We are all taking time to get to know one another, to find our new rhythm, and learn how to fill our new role as family of four.  Five straight days out of the week Erick is working and I'm left alone with one completely rambunctious toddler and a little dove, still so very new.  I try to stay in bed most days (if I'm lucky enough to do so!) and nap with my two girls, read stories, catch up on emails and comfortably nurse.

My mother brought us a few wonderful, home-cooked meals, friends have dropped by with gifts and treats, we've received so many beautiful and thoughtful well-wishes from near and far.  My heart is warmed, and though I may not have had much time to comment or respond, I have read each and everything that has been said, and opened up each package sent with a squeal of delight. We are all individually overwhelmed with gratitude!

On Wednesday, the sun was shining a bit brighter and I caught a wind of energy.  I made a batch of mixed berry scones and complimented a bit of quiet time with a cup of my favorite Paris tea.  I go to bed each night and wake each morning with a newfound mission to live each day to its fullest potential, no matter how redundant it may seem.  I am lucky to have time I can spend at home for a few weeks, and not once do I forget just how important that is.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

20/52


__

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Sofia  -  Giving hugs to your best friend in the whole world, Violet.  I don't think she likes my camera much.
Alba  -  Sleeping soundly in the spring breeze, wrapped in a single layer of linen, close to my heart.

It has been a busy week filled with the perfect combination of visitors, quiet time alone, beautiful spring weather, family and friends.  I am enjoying my newborn bubble and staying close to home. As much as I've been itching to get out and enjoy the weather, we've been taking it nice and slow in regards to introducing Alba to the world around her.  I've been very lucky to have some wonderful people taking care of me, and it has made the transition into being a mama-of-two significantly easier. We are so very grateful and lucky to be surrounded by such a loving village.

linking up with jodi

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Friday, May 17, 2013

stories of birth : christine fadel



Today i have the wonderful opportunity of sharing a very special birth story from Christine Fadel of The C-Word. Having been so moved by my own recent experience and realizing the sheer power of it all, it only made sense to continue to spread the unique stories of strength from beautiful women around the world. Christine lives with her family in New York City. Her original birth story can be viewed on her blog, here.




what is the most memorable part of your labor and birth experience?

"As far as the most memorable goes, it would probably have to be that my water broke in a bar. I just HAD to have a burger that night for dinner and my husband wouldn't dare say no to me in my current state. I really felt like someone was playing a cruel joke on me. I was an agitated 41-week pregnant woman and I had just been told by my doctor that very morning that I would need to be induced- something I was very adamantly against. I spent that entire day wrapping my mind around the fact that my birth experience wasn't going to be what I had hoped for. The second that I came to terms with the new change in plans, Marlo proved to me (and everyone else in that restaurant) that I was no longer in control."


what didn't you expect?

"Honestly, all of it. I didn't expect things to happen so very quickly. Again, after being told by my doctors that I would need to be induced, I didn't expect that once my water broke, my contractions would start immediately at one to two minutes apart. There were no mild contractions and time to pack a bag like you read about in all of the books and hear from your friends. It was mayhem from the moment that the triage nurse told me that I was probably going to give birth on the toilet. I went immediately into an intensely active labor. Once we arrived and got checked into the hospital, I didn't expect to dilate from zero to seven centimeters in a little over an hour. I also didn't expect to demand an epidural- I really wanted to attempt a natural childbirth. Then again, I also didn't expect to be the woman that wouldn't allow people to speak in my presence when I was having painful contractions every forty-five seconds."




what advice would you have for first-time moms?

"When I was pregnant, I was the first of my friends to have a child, so I didn't have a ton of people in my ears telling me all of the what-if's, horror stories, or what they did, and what I should do; which, in hindsight, was a huge blessing. Now that a few of my friends have had babies, my advice to them is to pick and choose wisely who you go to for advice about pregnancy and parenthood. Also, always prepare yourself for a Plan B. Luckily, my Plan B turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Almost immediately after Marlo was born, I had a postpartum hemorrhage. And without going into too many details, I will just say that I was very thankful for the decision to receive an epidural, because if I hadn't, what they had to do to stop the bleeding would have been more painful than the actual childbirth."


how has the experience impacted your life?

"In every way imaginable.  It's changed the way that I see myself- how strong I am, mentally and physically. It's given me an entirely new respect for my body and what it's capable of. There's absolutely no room for body bashing when you've just grown, birthed, and are now feeding a human with your body. It made me realize just how much love I am able to give to someone. It's impacted the way that I see my own mother, for how selfless she was in raising me. It's completely changed the way that I see my husband and how much value I place on our relationship. I've always loved and respected him as an individual, but creating a human with him? It just changes the dynamic. It really made me aware of the depth behind the word family and how important these two people are to me. And, I've never been religious but it made me believe in a much bigger picture and a plan for my life that I don't have control over. It made me much more thankful just to wake up every day."



( all photos courtesy of smitten & hooked photography via: christine fadel )
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Monday, May 13, 2013

bathe








first bath, mother's day 2013

we bathed you in the afternoon sun, warm and snuggled between layers of terrycloth.
your sister gently helped shampoo your hair and wipe the bubbles from your skin.
your papa took your photo as i held you between my hands, still so very little.
your lips, softly open. your eyes, gazing outwards toward the shining sun.
we live for the simple moments - there is no other way i could have imagined this day.
just as it is, just as you are.

a mother.

it's my most favorite thing to be.

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

19/52



"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Sofia  -  When you start to get tired, you fling yourself on the floor in exasperation.  Oh, the life of a toddler...
Alba  -  Five days new, and already so infinitely curious.

It has been such a monumental week for me - gearing up to celebrate my first mothers day as mum to two beautiful girls, changing the wording in my 52 series from "child" to "children," managing naps and feedings and diapers for two, and enjoying every last minute of it.  My heart could burst of happiness! I have never felt more incredible in my entire life.

linking up with jodi

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Friday, May 10, 2013

the birthing of alba mae










From the beginning, this pregnancy seemed so much the same, yet so distinctly different all at once.

I didn't get sick, I wasn't too turned away by my favorite foods, I had occasional heartburn here and there and overall, was able to relax and enjoy the experience.  What was strange was how differently I was carrying - having been told more times than I could count that I had looked as if I had "swallowed a basketball".  I think I was persuaded a few times in my head that maybe this was different, maybe it really was a baby boy.  Yet still, in my heart I had an overwhelming intuition I would be holding another little girl in my arms, someone so very similar to her sister yet so distinctly different all at once.

My little may flower.

Saturday night, the air was warm and sticky.  Sofia, Erick and I read stories by a big window fan in her room trying to distract ourselves from the heat in our upstairs apartment.  We finally caught the ice cream truck in time and Sofia ordered her first cone from this neighborhood novelty - vanilla with sprinkles (of course!)  That night I had felt an incredible urge to go the bathroom and stay there.  I had started having contractions, not much stronger than the Braxton Hicks I would have on a regular basis and still very inconsistant.  I had my hopes up, but shortly after the contractions had died down and we all went to bed.

I woke up the next day feeling an overwhelming sense of calm.  I woke unhurried, ate a large breakfast and headed off to work.  Making it through the days became increasingly difficult and I was happy the moment I was able to clock-out and head home.  Erick had gone to see an action movie with one of the 'guys' so, naturally Sofia and I had a date of our own, cuddled on the couch watching the most cliché chick flick a pregnant mama could watch: What To Expect When You're Expecting. It was perfect. While she usually has been transitioning to her big-girl bed, I felt the need to cuddle my little girl.  The movie ended, we headed to bed and shortly after Erick had joined us and we snuggled warm together.

Around 4:00 AM, I woke to cramping.

This was immediately different, as I had never awoken from any type of pain in my pregnancy before.  The cramps seemed mild and period-like and continued on like this for another hour.  At 5:00 in the morning I had decided to get up and try to use the bathroom, when I had wiped, I saw blood and quickly realized that labor was imminent.  I woke Erick up with the biggest smile on my face and told him "this was it, we could be having our baby soon!" not sure whether it would be today or tomorrow, but I knew it was time.  I couldn't sleep.  I took a photo of my sleeping Sofia, wrote a blog post, washed the last of my baby linens in natural detergent, soaking up every sweet smell and imagining our newborn swaddled tightly in my arms.  The cramping continued and so did my urge to clean.  My dishes were washed, my stove and sink bleached, my energy levels soared to heights I hadn't seen in 39 weeks.  I was alert and calm.

I brewed a piping hot pour-over of my favorite Uganda beans and lit incense.  I focused my attention inwards, staying in tune with every change my body was experiencing.  Erick woke up for work and asked if he should leave. Thinking I would have a few hours of early labor before contractions got intense, I sent him on his way.  I cooked breakfast for Sofia and tried to rest.  Not long after Erick had left, the cramping had turned into distinct contractions and I decided to phone the midwife on call.  In the time she had talked to me, I had two contractions I was unable to talk through and was advised to start packing my bags and get ready to head in.

I drew a warm bath and immediately requested Erick come home from work.  It was around 9:00AM.  While the bath was filling up, the contractions started coming every 5 minutes and Sofia watched as I breathed deeply, clutching to whatever was in sight. While trying to undress, a few contractions had brought me to the ground on all fours, focusing deeply to ride out each wave. Sofia naturally did what any toddler would do, and climbed on my back as I was on the ground looking exactly like we were about to play "horsey" and then promptly told me to "giddy up!"

It took all the strength I had, but I laughed. My girl.

She joined me in the tub, quiet moments in the morning her and I.  She took her teacup and gently poured water over my belly as I quietly breathed. We held on to each other, embraced in the warm water and I closed my eyes.  I was doing this exactly as I had always imagined I would.  I had the most important person in the world taking care of me.

Erick came home and got Sofia dressed and ready to see Abuela, and I spent the next moments trying to pull myself from the comforting buoyancy of the water.

Getting dressed seemed impossible, as did mentally checking-off my list of things not to forget when heading to the hospital.

It was sometime after 10:30 in the morning, I had kissed Sofia goodbye silently between some of my strongest contractions yet.  We headed into the car in what seemed like the longest 30 minute drive to the hospital.  Every bump in the road, every red light was a mental challenge I had to make my way through.  At one point in the car I remember looking over to Erick and telling him straight to his face "I don't think I can do this," to which he replied without hesitation, "Yes baby you can. You were made to do this."

We pulled up to the hospital valet and my contractions were coming three minutes apart.  Though I'm not much of a runner, I expect this is what those last few miles of the marathon feel like - talking to yourself in your head and reminding yourself you can make it through, yet physically pacing yourself to the finish line.  Erick must've known the way I had flung my arms around his shoulders and leaned deep into each pain, eyes closed, breathing deeply and nearly silent.  Focused.

The nurses in triage were asking me every question imaginable, I had to sign papers, photocopy my ID and insurance card, get weighed, take off my clothing.  The next set of contractions I was feeling were intense, my deep and quiet breaths had turned into audible low noises like my body was pushing air out of my lungs.  This was different.  I didn't think it was physically possible to walk anywhere else, to get myself on a table for my internal exam to see just how much progress I had made laboring at home.

A complete 10 centimeters.

If I wasn't so completely inward focusing on my body, I would have hugged and kissed the nurse who just told me.

The next few minutes were a blur. Nurses everywhere were rushing around me speaking about how we needed to get me to a room - and quickly.  I started making those same primal noises during my contractions and I realized my body was involuntarily pushing.  Moving our baby closer and closer to this earth.  My eyes stayed closed as I felt the air caress my face as I was wheeled quickly down the hall.  On the way to our delivery room I was told to pant like a puppy if I didn't want to have my baby in an elevator.  I wanted to listen, but my body had already known what to do and was following through in its plans.  There was no time for a waterbirth, no time for a tub.

Soon I heard the soft, sweet voice of my midwife Carol telling me the hard work was over, that it was time. She told me our baby had a beautiful set of hair. I smiled.

They dimmed the lights, I held on to Erick's hand tightly and at 11:36 in the morning, only a half hour after barely arriving to the hospital, she was born.  She was a girl, a beautiful baby girl.  Our Alba Mae. Perfectly pink, vernix coating the ends of her thick hair with the sweetest cry I had ever heard. They placed her naked on my chest and I told her over and over how much I loved her.  Erick and I kept looking at each other in complete shock at how fast it had all happened.  I asked him if I was dreaming, the rising and falling chest on top of my own reminded me that I wasn't.

I finally understand why some women describe their births as blissful or joyous.  There is no doubt that I was in pain during my later contractions, but as a whole, it was a mental and physical challenge I found to be strangely enjoyable and positively rewarding. High on the magical hormones of motherhood, I was determined to be home in my own bed as soon as they'd allow it - we spent one magical night watching the sunrise in our beautiful hospital recovery room, and once we all checked out healthy, we immediately headed to our nest. Ready to start our lives together.

Recovery has been a dream, almost too good to be true. I am free of pain and positively glowing. Sofia is adjusting beautifully, just as I knew she would. She has the biggest heart, and one that has seemed to double in size for her new baby "seester".

Our two beautiful girls, our hearts outside of our bodies.

Living, breathing miracles.

more photos

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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

little may flower


At 11:36 AM with three sets of good pushes, Alba Mae said hello to the world.

It was Monday the sixth of May, her hair in dark brown mops with Papa's eyes, Mama's lips.

We are home safely and adjusting to blissful life as a family of four.

(Thank you all for your well wishes, happy vibes, and congratulations over the past few days. Our hearts are full! I'm sitting here shaking my head on how I haven't updated my maternity series in a while, and look here we are - baby in arms! I have much more to share with you over the coming days about this incredibly empowering experience... for now, I'm off to have more squishy newborn cuddles. Bliss!)

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Monday, May 06, 2013

6:00AM


Everyone was sleeping, I was anxiously tossing and turning in the quiet of the morning.  The sun was barely peeking its way through our window, the air was perfectly cool.  I tip toed to the bathroom, making my way through another contraction.  This could be the day.  I am putting my last load of baby's laundry through the wash, my sink and dishes have been cleaned.  This has been a morning I want to always remember, especially because I think it is leading to a very special someone's imminent arrival.

Friends, I may just be going in to labor and delivery sometime today!

I have the biggest smile on my face and am shaking a bit from nervousness and excitement.  Birth is the most empowering, difficult, and incredible journey I have ever taken and I can't wait to do it again.  If you're following along on Instagram or Twitter, we should have more up-to-date happenings as things progress!

Oh my goodness, this is happening!  Baby De La Rosa, we cannot wait to meet your beautiful face!

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Saturday, May 04, 2013

18/52


"A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2013."

The warm weather means eating cake outside in your nicest sundress, still a bit runny-nosed from your quick bout with a cold.  My little girl, my baby, is less than a month from being two years old.  Sometimes I can't wrap my head around that thought, so I've been pleasantly distracting myself with moments like these as much as I possibly can.

linking up with jodi 

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Thursday, May 02, 2013

it's baby month!


Hi to all of you!  While I don't normally feel the need to apologize for my absence here, I know how busy we've been lately and the embarrassing amount of weeks we've let slip by as our maternity series comes to a close. Life, as Tahnee puts it, has been taking up all my attention with both the "everything and the nothing," and we are quite busily, and me not so patiently, waiting.

I hope soon to have an announcement on our little bebe's arrival, as well as some refreshed content when I slowly get the opportunity to write again.  There have been so many great things floating around the web that are definitely making this waiting game easier for me, so what a perfect opportunity to share a bit of spring-time goodness with all of you:

• This curried, split-pea soup with coconut milk
• A beautiful dreamcatcher made for a special baby bird
• An incredibly written article on getting to know yourself better
• Gorgeous baby shower decor that I would keep in my home every day
• A woodland-inspired nursery mood board
• The perfect case of autumn nesting - how I'd love to cozy up in Gaby's beautiful space
• Some of my favorite lessons in parenting
• All about juicing in bulk
• The whole food and real food debate explained in a down-to-earth way
This post makes me miss going to bikram class
• And if you're not already reading Abby's 'Single Lady Wednesday', you're in for a treat

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