DockaTot Review

Hello my looooves! Can you even believe we are almost in April? Where the heck did this year go? We’ve been neck deep in home projects, sleep training, croup recovery and party planning. Penelope is about to be 3 and my mama heart is totally in denial. We’ve been doing all of the things- ALL OF THEM- to get the house ready for her big birthday bash! She is finally sleeping in her big girl bed and I couldn’t be happier about it.

We have been a happily, co-sleeping family since Penelope was 6 months old. Co-sleeping is something I never knew I wanted to do. Throughout my pregnancy, I frowned upon people sleeping with their babes and admittedly rolled my eyes every time I saw a co-sleeping Insta family. Fast forward 2.5 years, Penelope is currently transitioning into her big girl bed. Truly, I am grateful for this decision. We tried sleep training multiple times and she just wasn’t ready. When our little big girl was 9 months old, we purchased her first DockATot to be used in our bed. It only took her about a week to sleep throughout the night in her dock. Not sure what a DockATot is? You’re not alone; I had no clue what this contraption was either. A DockATot is a lounger/ sleeper that you can put in your bed and in your child’s bed (not crib) that keeps them comfortable as they sleep: “reinventing the womb.” Its the perfect tool, for lack of a better word, to utilize as you transition a co-sleeping cutie to his/her toddler bed. Each DockATot is made with 100% cotton and offers the perfect amount of breathability for your baby.

When I got pregnant with Juliet, one of the first things I added to my list of must-haves was a DockATot. Watching how much Penelope loved hers made me want the same for Juliet. We were gifted a Deluxe size for our baby shower and THANK GOD! Juliet slept through the night almost right away. We loved her Deluxe size but she got too big too fast. The Deluxe is perfect for babies who are 0-8 months. The size that we bought for Penelope and Juliet’s current size is ideal for 9 months up to 5 years old. Juliet took about a week to get used to the larger size, also. What is it about that first week of something new? LOL. Our plan is to allow Juliet to sleep in her DockATot until she is ready for a big girl bed. First of all, that beautiful Carrara Marble design makes for a cute accessory in our bedroom. Secondly, we like to keep the peace in this house: path of least resistance type of people.

Lastly, I want to say a gigantic THANK YOU to DockATot. First off, for gifting us this beautiful Grand DockATot for Juliet. The design is perfection! Secondly, without DockATot, our transition from 1 to 2 kiddos would have been a lot harder with a newborn who didn’t sleep through the night. From a well rested mama, I owe you my life- ok, not so dramatic- my SANITY!

To shop this beautiful Dock, click here!

May your day be full of love & laughter!

XOXO,

Bre

Post Partum Anxiety

Hello my looooves! This has been such a huge topic recently. Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety are very common. I want you to know that. So, I’ll say it again… Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety are VERY COMMON! Sister, I know if you’re reading this that you, yourself, or someone you love, have been effected by either. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I never expected to suffer from either. With Penelope, I had PPD and with Juliet, I have PPA. Its bazaar how different your body can respond to pregnancy and delivery. This has helped me to realize that I have quite a few deep rooted issues that I NEED to heal from. Thats my responsibility and I’m taking the right steps in doing that.

As I shared on my stories, I have been utilizing a wide array of healing techniques that I think will be beneficial to you. Immediately after sharing, I had quite a few people message me. I feel its my responsibility to share all of this. I hope you benefit from even just one thing.

  1. Keeping a schedule. I thrive when I know what to expect. Anxiety is rooted in fear and worry. Eliminating some of the guessing game is super beneficial. I go to sleep between 930-10 PM and I wake up between 630-7 AM. This is a simple way to get started.
  2. Meditation. Every night before bed, I listen to a guided meditation. I use the Insight Timer App and also Youtube videos. You can find amazing content on both.
  3. When I rise, I immediately drink Natural Calm. This is an anti-stress drink that contains magnesium. Its helped me through the loss of my brother, my miscarriage, my anxiety during my pregnancy with Juliet and now this. 10/10 recommend for EVERYONE! Not just those with anxiety.
  4. Gratitude Journal. I start my morning with a grateful heart. I have a gratitude journal that I like to list 5 things that I’m grateful for. It can be super simple like the smell of eucalyptus to super profound like the love of my angel babies. Anything you can do, first thing in the morning, to start your day off in a positive light!
  5. CBD Oil. This is cannabinol oil. It is derived from the Hemp plant but does not carry THC. You will NOT get high. Or even feel high. I take this first thing in the morning and when I’m feeling really anxious. It allows your body to relax. This is where I buy mine: CBD Distillery You can also learn more on the video on this page.
  6. Nodi Shodhana. This breathing technique helps to harmonize the left and right hemisphere of the bran. By doing the alternate nostril breathing, you are allowing yourself to come into the present moment. BE HERE NOW! As I’ve stated before, anxiety is rooted in fear and worry. “What is going to happen? What am I going to do? How am I going to do everything?” This breathing allows us to be present and know that only this moment matters.
  7. Go Outside. Leave your phone alone. Go outside. Start a garden. Dig for worms. Hug a tree. Collect rocks. Whatever you need to be outside and connected with nature.
  8. Oils. Currently- I am loving Peace & Calming from Young Living. I also love lavender and patchouli. Cedar wood always helps me when I’m super anxious.
  9. Journal. In the middle of super anxious attacks, I get my journal out. I allow myself to write whatever I need to process through. I try not to go back and look as I don’t want to trigger another attack. However, You’ll be surprised what comes up and out when your word vomit in your scared journal.
  10. TALK ABOUT IT. I am blessed enough to have an amazing counselor. I can see her as often as I need. However, I know this isn’t always an option. Seek advice or counsel or prayer in church, in friends, in family or even just your journal. Any way, any how- talk about it.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I am here for you!

May your day be full of peace & Calming!

With love & gratitude,

Bre Sanders

Dearest Momma

Dearest Momma,

From my heart, with love and compassion, I have something to tell you. Something important. I want you to read this, hear it, feel it, and fully receive it! Are you ready? I’m ready! Gorgeous momma, I need you to stop! I need you to STOP looking at your body as something that needs to be worked on. Stop talking about how much weight you’ve lost. Stop talking about how much weight you’ve gained. Stop analyzing your postpartum hair. Stop criticizing your feet. Stop checking the size of your stretch marks. STOP! Stop measuring your cup size. Stop obsessing over your skin. Stop feeling guilty about not nursing. Stop feeling shameful that your house is a mess. STOP IT RIGHT NOW!

Did you get that? Did you fully receive it? Go read it again. And again. Until it really sinks in! YOU DESERVE THIS!

Triggered by the IG posts I’ve witnessed of women picking apart their bodies, my heart broke open and I cried for the first time in a long time. We are mothers, damn it. WE HAVE CREATED LIFE! That is a damn miracle. Why are we so numb to the magic of creation?! I have seen the beauty of life come to life in my womb 4 times now. For that, I am so grateful! Isn’t that the only emotion we should feel regarding our body and our baby: GRATITUDE! This idea that we need to work on our postpartum bodies does a huge disservice to our baby and to our SELF! I am saddened by the thought that we, as women, feel like we need to change our bodies to feel happy, to entice a man, to fit in with other women, whatever the thought may be. Let’s let it go! Let’s join together and STOP the bullshit. We deserve to be fully in love with ourselves. We deserve that!

I am tired of trying to change my body. I AM NOT DOING THAT ANYMORE! My body has given life to 2 beautiful rainbow babies. I am thankful for that. From here on out, my body affirmation is “I am in love and full of gratitude to have this beautiful postpartum body!”

WRITE THIS DOWN: “I AM IN LOVE AND FULL OF GRATITUDE TO HAVE THIS BEAUTIFUL POSTPARTUM BODY!”

Dear momma, I LOVE YOU! You are a gift to this world, a gift to your child and a gift to your self. I will pray every night that our world heals from the images that don’t serve us! You are beautiful and perfect in every way!

May your day be full of love and GRATITUDE!

XOXO,

Bre

Ripple Effect

Wow guys! How long has it been since I’ve actually composed a blog?! DON’T ANSWER THAT! I’m embarrassed. Life has been HAPPENING! And, I’m LOVING IT! Which is why I’m here…

In the past few weeks, I’ve received a compliment that has been making me feel so warm and fuzzy inside. A compliment that makes me so proud of myself and the recent decisions I’ve made! “You look better than I’ve ever seen you!” -multiple people

Guys! I didn’t realize how terrible I had been to my body until I decided to stop being terrible to it. In hindsight, I should have looked in the mirror and fixed the things I wanted to fix 2 years ago. In the throughs of motherhood, focusing on giving Penelope the best start and learning (sometimes the hard way) how to be a mother was all my little brain could handle. However, I have seen the light since then. When Juliet was 3 weeks old, postpartum anxiety ruled my wellbeing everyday. I spent weeks locking myself in the closet, hiding from my tiny humans. (But, thats another blog!) Something had to give! Thankfully, my degree in holistic healthcare led me to some serious soul searching.

First stop… Yoga!

Second stop… Nutrition!

Third stop… Creating a Business!

Self love and self care was necessary to break me free from the ball & chain that was my anxiety. Anxiety that lead me to HATING being a mother, hating being a wife and really wanting to bail… not only on my family but on life. (Seriously- another blog coming!) Once I decided to make some major changes, everything just became easier. Luke & I fell in love all over again. Penelope became the happy, hilarious baby that I loved with all of my heart. Juliet was suddenly an easy baby. This… this is the ripple effect. Once I started to take care of me…. everything improved. My marriage, my ability to be a mother, my relationships with friends (no joke, I rekindled a relationship with someone who I hadn’t talked to in almost 3 years!) and my BODY! Y’all… I actually FEEL SEXY! Which is so powerful for me to say as I’ve always seen myself as a long-legged, awkward turtle. Hahaha.

With all of this, I want to help the moms who I KNOW feel like they’re stuck. The women who know their potential is bigger than what they’re offering to the world. The people who want to expand their minds while LOVING their body!

Email me and let’s do this!

With love!

May your day be full of love & laughter!

XOXO,

Bre

Life With Two

By Emily Kelly

Life with Two

I’m so happy that Bre asked if I’d like to contribute to this series; when you have two little kids two and under, it’s hard to force your brain to think elegantly or coherently after the hours of eight pm. But I’m always glad when I do because I end up learning something about myself. And if we’re not growing, we going backwards, am I right?

I’ve always been the sort of person who dreams up a million dreams and thinks I’m going to conquer demons and cure diseases… a really Type A envisionist-type but not at all a type A in execution; if you know what I mean.

For example, while going through a box of memories stuffed in the closet of my childhood bedroom at home, I unearthed this project from grade 9 where we had to map out our life. Along the timeline I had a couple accolades such as “Wins Nobel Peace Prize” and “Writes a Novel” – all before the age of 30.

Insert rolling on the floor laughing here.

You see, I’ve never had a problem dreaming big; but I’ve also never really felt what you might call “settled.” I went through public school with a few good friends here and there but was never at the centre of those pre-teen parties. Always hanging around the periphery never really feeling like I fit in, I managed to slide by on buying some of the right clothes and not having bad acne, I suppose.

And high school was good don’t get me wrong, it just wasn’t great. It kinda flew by, much like all the phases of my life, but more likely because I still felt this anticipation of all this great stuff to come that has always been promised to me (was it that way where you grew up too? I think it’s part of our generation: “Be all you can be! Be famous! Be rich! Be successful! Don’t let anyone stop you for anything!”)

And college was…better. It was more fulfilling because I remember for the first time in my life feeling like I was really “doing it”; whatever that means. I guess I felt like a kid on a brochure for higher education: books in arm, learning things while I sat around on a green with friends talking about stuff that we all were collectively passionate about.

But it still wasn’t me.

And what does this have to do with life with two?

I guess I’m just beginning only now, at 33 to know what it feels like to have “arrived.” And I know maybe you’re here thinking I’ll be talking about the struggle I’ve had, losing myself to motherhood – up to my elbows in diapers and tantrums (<—— all extremely accurate by the way) but for me, it’s been much the opposite. I feel a restlessness inside me that has subsided. (Please don’t groan audibly yet, I promise I’m [trying to] going somewhere with this).

Today, sitting with my four-month-old on my lap on the rug in my living room, surrounded by those Fisher Price Little People and Brio train parts, my two year-old asked for the umpteen millionth time, “someone’s at the door! answer the door mama.” to her Calico Critter Cozy Cottage. (She had really gotten it in her head that it was the most hilarious thing in life). And I thought this was the most special, cutest thing ever. You I’m sure, think it’s probably just OK, but that moment was golden. It was mine and I was at peace today amidst the chaos that is my life right now.

I guess part of me wishes someone had told me earlier: being a mom can be the best thing ever. And maybe you’ll want to be ambitious and do all sorts of things that will earn you brass plates. But maybe you won’t. And that’s ok too. Because the ernest truth is this: I don’t know if the 14-year-old in me wrote down : “Earn Nobel Peace Prize” because I actually wanted to devote my life to that particular cause. I think there are pieces of me inside that would love to do something to leave a bigger mark on this world (outside of raising good humans) and I hope I still find my way to that pursuit some day in my own timing, but I honestly don’t know if I would have been “happy” pursuing that particular life. I think I thought it would make me happy – to be really dedicated to a cause. But the honest truth is, this is my cause. And life can be accomplished even when it’s so very not. You can pursue all those things and be happy or you can also just be happy in your own home. And there ain’t no shame in that.

Since we added our new little one to the world last May, I’ve been tired and in the trenches, and I’ve come to realize that motherhood is just this slow unravelling of beginning to let them go, bit by bit, little by little. First you are attached by creation, then you are attached as you feed and nurture them, then you can’t leave the room because they’ll roll, or move or get into something; then you drop them off for nursery school, put them on the bus to kindgergarden, send them off to camp, to high school, college, and ya, maybe we’re far from that right now in our house, but slowly, little by little I’m sending them off into the world; this stored-potential of a reaction that is setting off all these other events from now until when they grow and age and leave the planet in their own time. With their own wake of dust in their tracks.

So for now my peace is just sitting in the dust they stir up on the daily. I know it sounds idyllic,and trust me there are days I go into the basement and slam the door and scream in frustration (<— also sadly very true). But for now I’m here. And this, these two, they are my arrival.

My 3 F’s

By Marla Ticknor
In December of 2007, my husband got offered a job in Spokane, Washington that was too good to pass up. I was a Realtor in Arizona at the time so I put the house up for sale and the next weekend we got a great offer. We also found out that same weekend that I was pregnant with our very first child. The process began for our new little family to move from big city, sunny Arizona to a new life in a smaller city with four seasons, where I knew no one.

The moving transition went smooth & we knew we were meant to live here & start this new life. We had always hoped & planned that I would be able to stay at home should we have children. When we moved to Spokane, the transition made it possible & it did make the most sense. I wouldn’t know where to start or who to trust to watch our babies in a new city if I had to work. Pregnancy & birth went well & we were blessed with a healthy little girl, Grace Kay, in August 2008. I had no idea what I was doing as a Mom. I had really never been around babies much & they intimidated me tremendously. I felt like I lacked the nurturing instinct I saw so many other Moms had. I didn’t have much emotional support & wasn’t great at reaching out so I Googled a lot, actually, a ton. My mind was filling with all these opinions of what I should be doing & the kind of Mom I should be. The beginning of guilt, fear & depression was setting in. I found a little solace & normalcy in a Mommy & Me play date group & I joined the YMCA. Little Grace hated the Y. They would have to come get me after 15 minutes of being there. I tried daily for 2 weeks & she didn’t get much better. We bought a treadmill & I resorted to walking on it promptly at 1pm when she went down for her nap. I lost a good 25 pounds & was feeling a little better about myself. Time came for us to think about another child & it didn’t take long before little Olivia Ruth was born, March of 2011.

Once Olivia was born, I was struggling terribly with feeling ‘stuck’ at home. I also gained all that 25# back and then some. By the way, I was already about 30# overweight before having children thanks to our very active social & eating out lifestyle. Here I was feeling stuck now with 2 needy children & feeling fat & helpless on top of it. I was irritable daily. I lost my temper frequently over ridiculous things. Sometimes I hid in my closet & cried thinking it would be better if I wasn’t around. I would beat myself up constantly for not feeling nurturing, for not being a better Mom, for not being able to enjoy my kids. I hated myself. I would go into screaming fits over needing to take care of one of the kids’ needs, primarily my oldest who suffered the most. She was turning 3 & was throwing tantrums just like her Mom was. I didn’t know how to handle myself, let alone this crazy child! She was neglected emotionally in ways I hope we are able to laugh about once she’s older, but it still hurts. I was ugly; I can’t believe I lacked the empathy to pull it together.

One night my husband sat me down. He was firm. I knew it was hard for him. He courageously assured me he loves me but “you need help.” Worst words I ever heard. “YOU NEED HELP” You see, my Mom was diagnosed bi-polar from the time I was 2 years old. I saw extreme depression & extreme, abnormal manic episodes. By the time I was 12 years old, I felt I was emotionally starting to take care of her. I ran away & became a flight attendant at 19 years old, even though I had never even flown on an airplane before. I ran away from the drama, from the guilt of not being able to take care of or ‘help’ her, or my Dad for that matter. Mostly I ran away & lived a fun, adventurous life to avoid my deep fear that I would end up like her. But hearing “YOU NEED HELP” was like sending a huge message “You are becoming your Mom” I cried a river when I sat with the Nurse Practitioner. It was also so hard for me to just be there having to ask for help, I’m super prideful in that area. But I thank God for her to this day for being so supportive & encouraging. She assured me it’s common, all the hormones after pregnancy, lack of support & family around to help. My deep dark secret pain & fears of getting my mother’s illness were also adding to the stress. I was put on anti –depressants & slowly began a new journey.

I had to re-create myself. I was 38 with a baby & a toddler. I wanted so badly to be fit & feel good by the time I turned 40. I found a gym with an amazing childcare both girls loved. Olivia was around 13 months old at the time. I think I used the full 2 hours childcare allowed & would do whatever classes or equipment I could to just ‘get away.’ I was starting to feel better just having a place to blow off steam every morning. I treated my gym time like my job. I lost friends & social life because the gym became my focus. I came up with 3 F’s I focused on to help my personal growth & re-created self: Faith, Family & Fitness. I went to Bible studies & breathed in as much of the Good News I could. I’d soak in it. I became like a soul on fire with my Faith & my Fitness. The 2 worlds seemingly merged as I’d take on running challenges & weight gains & be learning these Bible verses that kept fueling my new passions: “1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” I was in my own zone, didn’t worry about anyone other than my family, & I knew I was already winning the prize. I was seeing & feeling results emotionally, physically & spiritually. I was on the right track.

I apparently was supposed to wean off the anti depressants slowly but I quit them cold turkey. It bugged me that I had to take medicine. While other friends on them seemed to be having issues weaning off them, I was doing great & started to feel more emotionally balanced. I attribute this to the consistent exercise & the focus on building my faith.

It’s been over 5 years that I have been living this lifestyle. Our girl’s are 9 and 6 now. I still focus daily on those 3 F’s that got me through it. I thought about adding a 4th F: Friends, but God has provided me even greater joy in that area. You see, because of my consistency to this routine, I have made both new friends at the gym & created a credibility that intrigues others to join me. It is so exciting to see their growth as well. I didn’t need to add that 4th F because it was already there in the process & it continues to this day.

Through places like my favorite gym, I am challenged to do exercises I didn’t think I could do. I remember 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God gave us not a spirit of fear, but one of power, love & self control” And simultaneously with overcoming the challenging exercises, God has also helped me overcome my fear of getting my mother’s illness through persistent self care & a grace & patience for myself I never had before. I cry more now out of compassion than out of anger or depression. I use any stored up anger for slamming the sledgehammer down on a tire or pushing myself extra hard during a workout. I get up, I show up & I work hard when I’m there. I’m a Phoenix that rose from the ashes of post partum depression but more pivotal than that, I stopped running away from a deeper fear of depression & told it to get the hell out of my life!

The journey will always continue & I will always evolve. I am careful not to Google for help or read articles on parenting or things I ‘should’ be doing. I surround myself with positive people and influences because Proverbs 27:17 “As Iron Sharpens Iron, so one person sharpens another.” If I want to grow & continue to re-train my brain out of that darkness, I need to surround myself with those that can influence me in that same direction, as well.

Keep in mind, my story doesn’t mean my kids don’t still drive me nuts or my past fears don’t still occasionally creep back in; however, I have found a healthier way to consistently cope with my emotions & re-train those negative thoughts. We will all still have bad days, of course, but all we can do is, get up, do our best, ask for help when needed, and most importantly, forgive ourselves if we screw it all up. If we’re lucky, God will give us another day to try again!

I’m Sorry, God, but You’ve Made a Terrible Mistake

By Lindsey Magner

When Bre asked me to guest post about my transition from one child to two, my response to her was “are you sure? It was pretty awful.” Because it was, y’all. It was so awful. And not just the first six weeks. My son screamed 6-8 hours a day for the first 5 months of his life, nursed fitfully and exclusively at night, and was ultimately diagnosed with a laundry list of medical conditions that took over a year to fully address. My husband started an extremely time-intensive and emotionally taxing job a few months prior to Caleb’s birth, went back to work 6 hours after he cut the cord and pretty much only came home to sleep for 18 months. My completely delightful first child trailed me like our dogs as I shushed and bounced and pleaded with her banshee-shrieking sibling. She heard little more than “in a minute,” “not now,” and “here’s another pouch—that’s only your eighth today, right?” I’m pretty sure I heard her call Daniel Tiger “daddy” one day. As for me…well…to be honest, I’m kind of shocked I didn’t hitchhike across the border and take up long-shoring in Nova Scotia.

The Universe is infinitely kind, however, and as any mother with a tough labor or colicky baby will tell you, gives us the gift of amnesia. That degree of sleep deprivation and stress acts as a sort of retroactive opiate. Like, I remember how much pain I was in at the time, but the edges are blurry, the details mostly gone. 

My umbrella memories are: 

1. Crying. Caleb’s, certainly, but also my own. My cheeks were raw and red for months from wiping the steady stream of salt-water that poured from my face, and I remember on several occasions Sadie exclaiming “oh NO, mama! Your eyes is running again.”

2. Doctor’s Appointments. I’ll spare you. There were a million of them. 

3. Helplessness and Despair. When your child is clearly suffering and no one can provide a
solution, it’s yuck-soup the likes of which you cannot even imagine. I swore at a nurse
once. Okay, twice. 

4. Praying. Less “i know there’s a reason for this, and I trust you, God,” and more “HELP ME
FUCKING NOW BEFORE I PUT THEM BOTH IN THE YARD,” but at least I was reaching out. Not claiming to be enlightened here, y’all. Just telling you how it was. 

Sadie had transformed into a toddler seemingly overnight. I knew how fleeting infancy
was, and how soon Caleb would be walking and talking. But there are literally zero instances in which I “wished for time to stop,” and all of that preemptive nostalgic heartache we talk about as mothers. I just wanted the shit-show to be over. My “silver-lining” mantra for an entire calendar year was “it could be worse: at least it’s not cancer. ” And that’s not something I want to lovingly ink into a baby book (which I do not have, by the way). Do I grieve the fact that my son’s infancy was one of the darkest seasons of my life? Yes. Do I lie to myself and pretend that it wasn’t so? I do not. Because the thing about dark seasons is that as they leave us, they provide a lens of perspective through which Life is seen anew. New, clear, and alight with a beauty almost impossible to describe. 

Caleb will be two next month. He has ear-tubes and some food allergies, but he’s otherwise a perfectly healthy, happy toddler. One might think I’d love him less after what we walked through, but I assure you, the opposite is true. I look at him and think “holy ever-loving LORD, you’re the best human ever.” We all feel that way—even Sadie. As I write this, Caleb is sitting stark-still as she puts every hair bow she owns into his crazy curls. Their bond gets stronger and more complex with each passing day. There are things they give each other that neither me nor Sheldon can impart, and watching their friendship grow is one of the great joys of my life. 

My transition from one child to two broke me into a hundred pieces. That’s just the truth. The thing about being in pieces though? When you’re broken that completely, you can’t even begin to pretend to be whole anymore. You have to ask for help and slow down and prioritize. You have to let people see your vulnerability and ugliness and mess. And then comes The Gift: you get the opportunity to put your pieces back together. As I slowly climbed out of the mire, I noticed I was stronger, calmer, more sure of myself as a mother and as a human. I look back at that year and think, “HOW did I do that?” And then I get kind of tickled and excited. Because, know what? I DID. Our toughest day today is a cake-walk compared to an easy day a year ago, and I hold that knowledge close to me. I feel proud of myself and of our family and I feel so much gratitude. I have so much more to offer other mothers who struggle now than I did before Caleb, and I feel the meaning of “love without condition” in the marrow of my bones. Who’d’ve thought that a screaming baby could be the sagest of teachers? 
God’s kind of a badass that way.

By Danielle Reynolds 

All the clichés came true the day I became a mom. The moment I held Jameson in my arms for the first time I felt a love that my heart had never understood before. Our love had multiplied and my world now revolved around this tiny little human. I took my three full months of maternity leave and would spend all day nursing, watching him sleep, and charting every feeding, diaper, and milestone. He would fall asleep on my chest and nothing would get done for the day because I needed to feel his heart beat against mine. I spent endless hours tracing the silhouette of his face in my mind as I watched him sleep, hoping to never ever forget one detail about his breathtaking existence.I just kept blinking and you know how that goes. That sleeping baby started crawling and the sleepless nights were endless. I was a basket case full of worry on constant toddler suicide watch. Our life revolved around his naps and snacks and happiness, and it was my sole purpose to do everything in my power to keep him from crying. It was exhausting work revolving around one little person! Date nights were few and far between because it was just too hard to think of being without him. So the day my husband brought up the idea of having another baby I was a nervous wreck! As much as I missed the sweet smell of newborn heads and a big round pregnant belly, I couldn’t fathom the idea of anything taking my time, love, and energy away from Jameson. It hurt my heart in the guiltiest of ways. But, baby fever is fierce and real and before I could blink again it was time to buy Jameson a big brother tee.

And life just has this funny way of keepin’ on in the coolest way. Now here I stand today, in the aisles of Target leading a herd of boys. While I try to remember my mental list of groceries (because I always forget the hand written list at home!) I have a toddler trying to climb out of the front seat, the middle two boys bickering in the fiercest game of 24 hour debate (middle kids… ya know), and the oldest one talking to me about very teenage things. All voices hum in unison, all needing my very attention, every… single… moment!!!! I want to wave my little white flag and cry overwhelming tears of joy at the same time because I am so blessed, and overwhelmed, and loved, and out of my element, and just where I want to be.

Almost daily I get stopped in my tracks somewhere asking me things like, “How do you do it?!” or “Wow, four boys! You must need a drink!” or “I can barely handle one child…” and so on and so forth. The boys have stopped getting offended and usually just stand there and smile while I reply with things like, “They keep me busy and rich with life.” Or “my heart is so full I don’t know what to do with myself sometimes.” The words always flow so effortlessly off my tongue because I have never meant it more in my life. I sure don’t feel well suited for the job sometimes. I cry, I lose my temper, I don’t have the answers, I panic, and I learn along with them. My boys have taught me so much more than I feel like I teach them sometimes and we are definitely growing together.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that my life would be full of Friday night campouts, Elvis gospel pancake Sunday mornings, pizza parties, endless hugs, leaving the dishes in the sink, taking late night family car drives, family cabin trips, long late night family conversations, board games, s’mores building, soccer games, jiu jitsu class, family pod casts, writing time, and the most enveloping love in so many forms. I have fallen in love with my husband through our journey together raising them in a way my wildest dreams could have never predicted. I see my father live on in each of them in a different way. I am meeting new faces of myself as I approach new milestones with each child in a unique way, and they have inspired me to let go of a lot of things and run after my dreams with conviction. Never have I felt more free in all my life and taking each breath in with more depth. As I grieve each baby face as it fades away, I am falling in love with the amazing humans my sons are morphing into… raising lovers one day at a time.

So when I see a pregnant women I smile to myself and feel a flutter of excitement for her in my belly, because boy is she in for a wild adventure! When I see a mama red cheeked and duking it out with her beautifully strong willed toddler I laugh to myself and miss the days when my boys did that in the store. And when I catch a glimpse of my boys on the swings or running ahead of me on the trail or asleep on the couch with soft faces, I trace those silhouettes into my mind hoping to never forget this breathtaking experience of my beloved motherhood.

& then there were four.

By Cameron Esber 

And then there were four.

It has been almost six months since we have become a family of four. Most days we live in the midst of a pile of toys, with the dishes stacked high in the sink and the kids still in their jammies around noon. We spend our time playing for hours on the floor and laying in bed cuddling for way longer than we should. If you were to knock on the front door you would more often than not catch us being nothing shy of what could normally be considered unproductive. The house is definitely not clean and there isn’t anything checked off the to do list, but who has time for things like that anymore?

Even as I sit here now and write this I am covered in stickers and drinking lukewarm coffee from a rinsed out cup. I have one of the little ones cozied up against me, fast asleep from nursing and another who has turned my once full glass of water into a dinosaur swimming pool. Now, normally I would rush to clean this up, but it’s buying me just the littlest bit of time and any spare time I can get around here I have to take advantage of. Plus, it’s only water.

This is two. This is two kids within two years apart from one another. They are both in diapers and they both basically sleep in our room. There’s not one person who ever told us that this would be easy, in fact most people admitted that the second addition of a baby tends to be the hardest, but I never thought that at times it could be this hard. Some of my days are spent solely trying to get everyone to take a nap and go to sleep. Rocking one and then the other countless times while they take turns waking each other up until I finally take a look at the clock and it’s already 7 o’ clock. Then it dawns on me that this was my whole day and there is no way that I have the energy to walk to my own bedroom, let alone cook dinner or clean up the mess of toys that the day has left behind.

It wasn’t always the plan to have two this close in age. It took us a very long time and many, many failed attempts at trying before we were able to become pregnant with Jaxon. We talked about having another baby eventually of course and knew we wanted more, but we were also under the assumption that each of them would take an equally long amount of time. Turns out, that isn’t always the case. We got pregnant (without trying) shortly after Jax turned one. I had only just stopped nursing and had a few months of my body to myself before having Luella. It was an exciting and equally difficult transition back into pregnancy.

Seeing them now, I am in love with their short age gap. I can already see how close they are as siblings and as they grow up together I can only hope that the bond strengthens, but two in diapers? AND not sleeping? Well, I am sure you can just picture me walking around the house at 4am completely asleep trying to figure out which kid (maybe?) just made a noise and which kid is trying to sneak into our bed for the tenth time.  

Even in hindsight I’m not sure that there was anything that could prepare me for having another child. Even with Luella being such a content and loving baby, it was a tricky balance that I have yet to get under control. However, what I also wasn’t prepared for with the addition of another baby wasn’t how difficult it would be or how little sleep I would get, it was how Jaxon would completely embrace her.

I anticipated jealousy and an unknowing of how to be gentle, but he was more of a natural than even I was when I first had him. He has taught me so much about love and acceptance in the time that he has gained a sister. He approaches her slowly with a smile of excitement on his face and he talks in a whisper so he doesn’t scare her and even when he is driving me crazy because he wants “Lolo” to wake up and play with him, I can’t get over his love.

The love that he had from the beginning is something I could have never imagined and could have only dreamed of. He has wanted to be a part of everything from the start and continues to want to be next to her, hold her, and play with her every day. When she is upset he tries to calm her by patting her belly and if he thinks she is hurt he gives her kisses to make the booboo’s feel better. Out of all of us he is still the only one who can get the biggest belly laughs out of that tiny tummy of hers. She can’t get enough of him and he can’t get enough of her. While I know they will grow up to have differences and have phases of pure fighting, right now is something that feels like nothing short of magic.

They are best friends and make me so proud to be able to raise them together and spend my life with them. These times are definitely tough; there is not one person who would deny that. Even though in the back of my head I constantly struggle with the messy house, the lack of time, and the non-existent routine that we have clumsily fallen into, I wont let it take away how happy I am watching these two interact together. I can only hope that over time we will some how magically fall into a real routine (that happens right?), because watching them grow up together as friends is making up some of the most amazing memories. Those are the memories that I want to hold on to forever and my memories have proven to me once already that I won’t be sitting around with the next baby thinking about the messy house or the sleepless nights and endless rocking I had with my first two. I will remember how much they loved each other unconditionally and how we laid on the floor playing for hours and spent too long watching movies in bed.

I would love to say that this mind frame is deliberate and that we are firm believers of the “the laundry can wait” motto, but that would be a lie. I have always had a hard time watching the house get messier and the dishes stack up higher. I hate when I lose track of time and sometimes forget to make dinner, which happens more often than I am proud of. These duties always sit in the back of my head and most days put a heavy weight on my shoulders. Sometimes it’s an eternal war dealing with the burden and guilt of not being able to take care of the house, be an extraordinary wife and spend all day with the kids.

It could just be pure exhaustion, but even with all those feelings I still haven’t been able give up lounging on the floor or partaking in our marathon movie nights with the kids. That doesn’t mean that I am not still thinking about how I wish I had it all together. How all of this would probably feel so much better if my daily check-list actually checked off something checked off. It’s just that, checking things off a list is a distant memory and having enough time to do anything isn’t our life anymore. 

Post Partum Essentials

Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name?! My loves! I am so excited to be sharing all of the things that have been getting me through the past 4 weeks. I wish I had read blogs like this before delivery. I am thankful that I kind of knew what I was getting myself into this time around. I hope this is helpful to you all too!

In no particular order… LETS GO:

Tucks Pads- The with hazel wipes used for hemmoroids! 🙈 These are great for vaginal delivery resulting in stitches. I don’t leave these on the pad, as the hospital suggests, I use them and then toss them. They do help a lot with the cooling effect that they provide.

Coconut Oil- Once healing begins, itching begins. I had 2 rough nights of serious discomfort until I figured out that I could use coconut oil to provide some relief. Seriously, Coconut Oil, will you marry me?!

Peppermint Oil (also wish I had brought this to the hospital)- Guys, did you know that after an epidural, the last organ to come back to life is your bladder?! Did you also know that if you don’t pee within 12 hours of delivery that they’ll put a catheter in you?! Did you ALSO know that I had to get cath’d TWICE because my bladder failed me?! I was chugging water SO much after delivery that my bladder actually got TOO full and I physically couldn’t pee. Thankfully, my beautiful, lovely, amazing nurse (who actually helped me with Penelope too), brought her secret recipe for peeing on the big girl potty ALL BY MYSELF! Can you tell I just potty-trained a toddler?! Her secret: mint oil. She put a cotton ball full of oil in the bathroom and when I walked in, I almost peed my pants. It was instantaneous that I had to pee. THANK YOU ANGEL NURSE! I love you!

If you’re getting ready for delivery, bring Peppermint oil whether you think you’re going to get an epidural or not. LISTEN TO ME! You can buy some here: 

A diaper basket- This helpful little tip is one I can’t take full credit for. Before delivery, buy a small basket that will fit on your nightstand to store diapers and wipes (& whatever you need). Waking up multiple times a night to nurse and change diapers is so much easier when everything you need is right next to you. I also store extra burp clothes and receiving blankets and snacks in the drawer in my nightstand. SO HELPFUL!


All of the receiving blankets your little heart can handle! When I was pregnant with Penelope, someone told me not to add too many receiving blankets to my registry and I am so glad I did not listen. I use SO MANY receiving blankets, its insane. We legit do laundry every… single… day! They’re just great for everything: spit up, leaky boobs, to lay on the floor/ bed/ couch while you change a diaper real quick, blowouts, boogers, you feel me!

Ashtonbee Silicon Breast Pump: If  you’re planning on nursing, get this. Get this right now. Don’t even finish reading this blog, just GO! I wish I had this with Penelope. This little silicon godsend catches the front milk that leaks and would typically get wasted in your nursing pads. I have used this so much that I already have 18 bags of milk stored. 18 BAGS!!! And, everytime I use this, I get about 2q4 ounces of milk. I am forever grateful to the friend that bought this for me! To buy this gadget, click here.


Nice nails, huh?! 🤦🏻‍♀️

Bellefit Corset- see my previous blog post for all the details on this medical marvel!

Nipple Cream-  I have been using the Bella B Naturals Nipple Nurture cream since Juliet was born and I LOVE IT! I like knowing that all the ingredients are plant-based and safe for Juliet. I am somewhat of a freak about natural products. It makes my hippy, anxiety ridden mama heart happy to know that I’m giving her the best option. I’ve even been using it on my crusty ass lips that still haven’t recovered from pregnancy.

Promise Prenatals- Do you want to get added nutrition for your breastmilk but not get constipated?! Choose Promise Prenatals. Seriously, I’ve been taking their Stage 3 Prenatals & their DHA and I am obsessed. No constipation, easy on the stomach and this tiny human is gaining weight… like, a lot! 😂 
Placenta Encapsulation- Now, I know this is not for everyone and that’s totally fine but these save my life! My milk is full and excessive. My mental health is on the right track. I feel like myself again already. The biggest reason we decided to have our placenta encapsulated (both times now) is because of my mental health. I suffer with PTSD, anxiety & depression and anything I can do to boost my mood, I will try! I highly recommend this to every soon to be mama. It’s amazing!

My biggest recommendation to every new mama is to take it easy in yourself. We put so much pressure on ourselves to do everything and it’s unnecessary. Your healing process is the most important. Take your time. Be gentle with you!

May your day be full of love & laughter!

XOXO,

Bre