Newborn pics + 5 favs (baby edition)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I'm so glad that in the haywire that ensued after Stephen Gabriel's birth we somehow made time for newborn pictures. It's such a fleeting time and I feel like I missed some of it with the afterbirth, move, and orientation so I'm glad we have these photos to capture some of the indescribable sweetness that comes with the newborn phase (the sleepless nights are worth it). Little Stephen has gone from 6 pounds, 3 ounces when we brought him home from the hospital (down from his original birthweight of 6 pounds, 11 ounces) to his current two month weight of (drumroll) 12 pounds, 2 ounces! So all those late night feedings are doing something :) I can't get over his growth chart (proud docta momma) which shows a steady incline from the 9th percentile, to the 27th, to the 54th. And if you make it through these gazillion pictures (it was so hard to choose just a few!), I shared my five favorites for the newborn phase at the end of this post. Also, if you are wondering about my sweater (drapey but not sloppy = a postpartum lifesaver) it's this one.

All photos by Vafa-Coffman

So after my vast experience of two months (ha), I can now share my 'wisdom' on my five favorite things for the newborn period. The truth is, they really don't need much and there are definitely things that we got that were totally unnecessary (although that doesn't include the notorious wipe warmer, which I still love contrary to popular belief). These five essentials though I would 100% buy or register for over (and over) again.

1. Aden By aden + anais Muslin Swaddle Blanket 4 Pack, Safari Friends: There's nothing I can say that truly sums up how wonderful these are. Yes they're pricey, but the gazillions of moms who love these can't be wrong. They are perfect swaddlers (those silly flannel receiving blankets never cut it for our little houdini), burp cloths, breastfeeding covers, sun protectors/insect repellers when draped over a car seat, etc. etc. They also come in the very cutest patterns and get softer with washes.

2. Summer Infant SwaddleMe Adjustable Infant Wrap, 2-Pack, Woodland Friends: My sister-in-law recommended these and my mom gave them to me as a Christmas gift after we found out we were pregnant. Somehow I forgot about them in the craziness after he was born and just starting using them a few weeks ago... and they are gold. I first was using the Halo sleep sacks at night but they were waaay too hot, then I was using the muslin swaddle blankets but the extra steps to swaddle started driving me crazy when the little man went through a wake-up-every-hour phase at night. These swaddle sacks are perfectly lightweight for summer, so soft, and super easy to use.

3. Boppy Pillow with Slipcover, Lots O Dots: This kind of goes without saying since almost everyone loves the Boppy. We used this from Stephen Gabriel's very first days of life and we love it both for breastfeeding and for holding the little guy. My mom birthed eight kids without a Boppy and after she saw me using it proclaimed that she had no idea how she did it.

4. Fisher-Price Deluxe Newborn Vibrating Rock n' Play Sleeper, My Little Snugabunny: those of you who read this post know about my love/hate relationship with the Rock n' Play. I question whether it meets safe sleep standards (although absolutely no judgement on anyone who uses this as a sleeper - we did for almost a month and I have tons of friends who do so I'm probably just being paranoid) and little Stephen also had some sleep problems that I don't think were helped by this. All this being said, this sleeper is gold still for daytime naps, occasional playtime (or to put him in while I'm showering, etc.), and I think helpful for his mild reflux. It also folds up which is really nice for the traveling we've done.

5. Graco Duo 2-in-1 Swing and Bouncer - Sweet Pea from the Sprout 'n Grow Collection: I saved the best for last. This was actually something that I didn't register for, but one of the residents in my class loaned me hers after insisting that it was an essential. Stephen Gabriel I so wish that we had registered for this in place of our bouncer, which he hates, not to mention that this doubles as a bouncer in case he ever has a conversion. After we discovered this awesome swing, Stephen and I could actually sit down and eat dinner together again. He occasionally naps in it too.

Those are my five, although I'm sure that some of these are baby specific and there are probably other items that more experienced moms swear by for the newborn phase. Linking up with Heather for Five Favs.

Savoring it...

Friday, July 18, 2014

We packed Jr., as Stephen as started affectionally calling him despite my protests that it just might stick and I really prefer Stephen Gabriel, in the car last week for a spontaneous trip to visit my family in the town where I grew up, the place that I'm convinced is the best place in the world during summertime. Sadly it was a little cold but that didn't stop us from reveling in the green grass and fresh air and crystal clear lake views. We also were able to go out alone a couple times while my mom watched the baby, always briefly of course but I'm convinced that a little time with just the two of us is important before I go back to work.

It didn't really make sense to make the trip since we'll be going back next week for my brother's wedding, but little Stephen is more than used to long car trips by now (move to Minnesota at 2 weeks, wedding in Detroit at 3 weeks, and now two more trips to northern Michigan at 8 and 9 weeks) and he doesn't seem to mind (as long as we have his tunes). 

I'm really trying to ignore the fact that each day that passes brings me closer to the inevitable day in August that I go back to work (officially, since I've already been back for quite a few days of orientation and training) and instead savor each day that I get to spend with the little guy. It's hard though, because each moment seems so fleeting and every day he grows and changes...I just hate the thought of missing any of it.

One of the things that makes me feel the saddest is thinking of him waking up at night without me there. As an ER physician, I'll be doing lots and lots of late evening and night shifts (next month is a lighter month and 16 of my shifts are late evenings or nights). Last night when he woke up at 3 a.m. I snuggled him close, his head fitting perfectly in the crook of my neck, and tried not to think about the nights at 3 a.m. when I won't be home.

And he 'turned' two months this week! We go for his check up today and I'm waiting anxiously to here how much he's grown...he's definitely come a long, long way from the fragile 6 pound, 3 ouncer that we brought home (I'm pretty sure that he's jumped at least three curves on the growth chart). He's so interactive lately, looks right into our eyes and smiles, and I'm loving every bit of it.

I promised myself that I would never do posts on "mom" style (it just sounds so old) but the truth is, lots of things do of which is gravitating toward more practical shoes that aren't too 'mom-ish' ha. These have been quintessential to my summer uniform.

And the top I'm wearing in this post is from J. Crew Factory, another great postpartum one. It's currently on clearance here.

That makes seven, so I'm linking up with Jen.

5 Favs: J. Crew edition

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

J. Crew is still running a huge sale (40% off all final sale items and 40% off select summer items) and five of my favorite things are on super sale:

1. Downtown Field Jacket (worn here): This jacket is timeless and uber flattering...I love the navy and gold buttons (this is one of my sister's favorite things to borrow out of my closet).
2. Boyfriend Fatigue Jacket (worn here and here): You can't go wrong with a pretty and structured military jacket in a classic shade of green.
3. Linen Baseball Tee (worn here): J. Crew's linen tees are light and airy for summer, and I love the pale pink/grey color scheme.
4. Skinny Zipper Pants (worn here and here): I already wrote all about my love for them in my post here. It's tough to find flattering and comfortable pants postpartum, but these work thanks to the stretch and the mid-rise. They can be dressed up or down and the 'pearl' color pretty much goes with everything.
5. Linen Lace-trim Tank (worn here): Another pretty and comfy top (I have the heather grey/champagne)...and it will transition easily to fall with a cardigan or jacket.

I also realized that my favorite cardigan (ever) is part of the sale...the mixed tape cardigan is a closet staple in a great length (hits just past the hip on me) and fit (the arms are nice and snug...I hate cardigans with baggy arms!). I own it in black and ivory, and wore it here and here.

Linking up with Heather for Five Favorites.

On being parents (+ what I wore Sunday)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

It's so funny how Stephen and I used to go on dates all.the.time before the babe was born and we totally took it for granted. That along with watching movies, free time (reading blogs for me, playing computer games for him ha), and sleeping. Our lives are changed forever, harder but completely for the better of course. It makes the time together seem sweeter (although the two times we've been out alone since he's been born I've constantly texted my mom to make sure he's ok...maybe that'll change eventually?) Also, coming home to this face is the best:

It's crazy how much being parents has enriched our relationship. Little Stephen Gabriel has made us laugh harder than we've ever laughed (although there have been tears too, at least on my part) in his short life and we just love our little guy to pieces. And seeing Stephen as a dad has made me love him in a way that I didn't know was possible.

Linen lace tank: J. Crew (on super sale!)
Pants: J. Crew (on super sale!)
Cardi: J. Crew
Sandals: Sam Edelman

Working out post-baby {guest post by Regina}

Friday, July 11, 2014

 Regina blogs over at Good One God and she has a gift for writing hilarious pieces about motherhood, as well as great posts on style and exercise. She is currently my hero as I delve back into exercising after baby...I mean, the girl ran a triathlon while she was breastfeeding!!:

The first post-partum workout is as frightening as the first time I attempt to wear my normal jeans. No matter how hard I try, my backside and stomach won't allow it. Yet, when both pivotal moments are approached with patience and proper technique a normal sense of self and a fully buttoned pant can and will be reclaimed and better than ever. As a mom of three with another on the way, the following are my tips and tricks to not just get back to the level of fitness that existed pre-pregnancy, but continue to grow with a stronger mind, body, and spirit while our newest bundles watch from their bouncy chair. 

It's mostly mental
One of my least favorite pop-culture paparazzi questions thrown at the rich and famous, and thus, imprinted on the body images of the normal is "How do you plan to lose your baby weight approximately 10 minutes after birthing that baby?" Offensive on so very many levels, the concentration on the physical appearance of moms, new and old, reduces all the incredible things of which our feminine figure is capable  and makes it much more about who can get back in shape fastest and with the best new nursing boobs. For me, post baby workouts, and all workouts for that matter, should be about function and strength so as to fulfill the duties of our lives with confidence, comfort, ease, and fun. Flat abs are a just a bonus. The way I see it, maintaining a healthy mindset that concentrates on health and strength, rather than looks and one day buttoning our pants, is a much more efficient way to actually get to the point of buttoning our pants and then running in them. 

Practice during Pregnancy
Muscles have memory, and do want to "get back" to their natural state. One way to ensure that they get their faster is by maintaining a comfortable level of fitness during pregnancy. My favorite, and most joint friendly recommendation is swimming. My particular masters team is coached by the "Killer Whales." Little did they know just how literal my current shape would take its name. Keep an eye on rapid heart beat, rapid breathing, too much exercise induced sweating and waddle along to your favorite tunes. Abs are not off limits! Try sit-ups or burpees, squats, walking, jogging, yoga, pilates, zumba, or whatever your two little heartbeats desire. 

One of my favorite parts about being a mom is how much motherhood has inspired me to make new fitness goals, and grow in gratitude for the ability, albeit amateur and horribly uncoordinated, to do them. Take an opportunity away from me during pregnancy (skiing, comfortable running, hot yoga, etc. X 8 million) and I'll finally realize all the fun things that I do want to try. While at certain points in my post baby recovery, adherence to goals has left me much too tired and even injured, choosing reasonable goals to aspire towards has also been helpful and fruitful. For instance, while still pregnant, I might sign up for a race months and months away, pick a particular time goal for a 5k, or decide that I'd like to complete a new exercise or difficult movement by a certain date to keep me grateful for all the fun things that even a very short and uncoordinated mom can do. 

A Serious Six Weeks

If we consider labor to be what it is which is the equivalent of at least one but potentially 8-10 marathons, the thought of taking off several weeks in a row might sit better and help us do the same. Carrying and delivering a baby takes a serious toll on ligaments, joints, and internal muscles whose presence may have otherwise gone unnoticed until motherhood unleashed their beast and made it nearly impossible to sneeze without crying out in anguish. While each woman will heal at a different pace and might even get the doctor go ahead to resume normal activity, the postpartum body tends to communicate its needs and desires much more clearly than we might want. In my experience, if bleeding continues activity should not. If it hurts, it isn't healed, and working out with a body not totally healed only leads to injury and more pain. As well, if more children are desired, keep in mind that recovering well after the first and second can aid in a happier, more stable pregnancy and recovery for the children to follow. 

Baby Steps for the Baby Mama
After delivering my second baby I was so over eager to work out that I drove to the track 10 minutes after my doctor gave me the go ahead to begin normal activity. I told myself I would run 3 miles at my pre pregnant pace. After one successful lap, I left crying, hurting, and TMI!!! bleeding again. Start slow and stay there!!!! Pelvic exercises like kegels, light pilates, and lots and lots of stretching will allow the uterus and abdominal muscles to prepare themselves for normal activity. Shocking them only makes them mad! 

Strength Train with a Guide
If possible, work out with someone that knows how to to ensure gaining strength instead of sore muscles. 

Anticipate Work out Interruptions and/or Cancellations
A crying baby, messed up nap, bad feeding, 18 loads of laundry, meals that need to be made, other kids, baby up all night, bad mood, colic, clothes that are too tight, messy house, accidental flood, crayon on the walls, nap protests, thrown pasta, breast milk ruining a sports bra are all valid and probable reasons why you might cancel your workout. Its ok. 

Stay at Home or Join a Gym with Childcare
There are tons of floor workouts to be done in 10 minutes that will get a heart rate up while the kids play (or destroy something- it can happen quick).

There are also great babysitting places at gyms!  Find what works and have a blast doing it. 

Have Fun
The responsibility of bringing a new life into this crazy world is inherently stressful. Allowing fitness goals to be a source of stress is a great way to go completely crazy, and hate every minute of getting in shape. Finding things that are fun FOR YOU will relieve stress, increase endorphins and allow for mental rest. For some of us though, fitness will never be fun. It can, however, be a source of spiritual edification and personal growth. By reaching goals and feeling good about ourselves, we moms will be better, stronger, faster, and all that other stuff printed largely on athletic Tshirts.

Wearing lately {+ my favorite pants}

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Getting dressed postpartum is hard. I made the mistake of trying on a pair of pre-pregnancy jeans a week after giving birth (don't do it). Four weeks out, I had dropped 20 of the 28ish pounds that I put on while pregnant but my loose jeans pre-pregnancy still wouldn't cut it. And now, 6 weeks later, I can get them on and button them (barely) but they just don't fit like they did before. I started exercising again last week: so far I've tried zumba, hip hop aerobics, and cardio-boxing along with this dvd a couple times a week (funny story that this is the same dvd that I did with my mom after she gave birth to the youngest two of my 7 siblings). Still though, it's going to be awhile before my clothes fit like they used to, and that's ok.

So I decided to pick up a couple pairs of pants and tops that fit well now. It's good for my psyche and body image in this somewhat rocky time ha...

Pants: J. Crew 
Top: J. Crew

These are the J. Crew skinny zipper pants, which are on sale today for $25 (gasp). I first saw them in this picture:

I kind of fell in love with the whole ensemble, the gorgeous blue tunic (also on super sale today) and the perfect pants. I didn't think that they'd work for me now, but I ordered them in the larger of my two J. Crew pant sizes and hoped for the best. I was shocked when they arrived: they fit beautifully (I mean, as beautifully as pants can 6 weeks postpartum) with (almost) no muffin top, just enough stretch, flattering back pockets...aaaand I may have picked up another pair today (but seriously, $25!)

These Splendid tunics are part of the very few shirts that I owned pre-pregnancy that are flattering right now, and I've been wearing them nonstop:
On left:
Tunic: Splendid
Jeans: old, current version from J. Crew Factory
Sandals: Birkenstocks

On right: 
Tunic: Splendid
Sandals: Sam Edelman

These tunics definitely fit me differently than they did before I was pregnant, but they are drapey, which is always good post-partum, and they are long enough which has been an ongoing problem for me since I started breastfeeding. They're on sale right now here in lots of colors but they're still kinda pricey (I found mine on sale at and on Ebay).

I know it's been said before, but I'm trying to appreciate my body for the incredible feat that it's accomplished: birthing a human being (sans epidural, no less - although whether that was a good idea I'm still wrestling with in my mind ha). So I will forgive my stretch marks, soft belly, and "extra curves" and marvel in what my body has done. In the meantime, I'm trying to eat healthy, exercise and dress in a way that is flattering now. And at the end of the day, what really matters right now isn't worrying about my clothes or counting calories, it's reveling in this sweet little guy and relishing every moment with's amazing how much joy a person so tiny can bring.

Last week, in our 4th of July best!

Linking up with the Pleated Poppy and Agi.