Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Breastfeeding Mama's Game Changer

About a week ago, a mama in one of my Facebook groups posted about this silicone breast pump (the Haakaa).  It suctions on to one breast while you're nursing on the other (or, at least, that's the popular way to use it but it can also be used like a regular manual breast pump).  The little bit of suction helps draw out the milk that you normally lose during letdown on the other breast.  I was skeptical about this little invention when several of the mamas started posting pictures of how much milk they were getting each session.

Guys...I can't even begin to tell you the sorcery that occurs when I use this thing.  I only leave it on through the initial letdown, so it's only catching milk for about 4 minutes and I get at least an ounce every time.  Now, that may not sound like a lot but I also don't keep it on during a full nursing session...and all of those 1oz sessions certainly add up.  This is a great alternative to pumping with a double electric pump to start building a freezer stash for going back to work.

My only big complaint is that it's difficult to hold in position while nursing on the other side.  Part of this issue is because I have larger breasts and still need to support the nursing side and part of it is because my son is a mover and kicks at it while nursing so I really have to hold it vs just letting the suction do its job.

The other flaw to this little guy is that the measurements are incorrect on the bottle so it may seem like you pumped 2oz but it's really more like a smidgen over 1oz.

This crazy little contraption can be purchased on Amazon for $24.99 or you can get the knockoff version on Amazon for $12.99.  This thing is a total game changer!!

*This post contains affiliate links.  Zerlar Silicone Manual Breast Pump was purchased out of my own curiosity and I love it so much that I thought the world should know :)

Friday, June 10, 2016

21 day fix and breastfeeding

So I've decided to start the 21 day fix again.  Hunter is three weeks old and we have a pretty good nursing routine down.  Tripp will still be in school until the end of the month and it's grilling season so now would be a good time to make this work.  This pregnancy took a toll on my weight. If we're going by my official August - May gain, I'm looking at about 50lbs.  That is crazy and scary!  I have about 20lbs to lose to be at a comfortable spot postpartum and another 15 after that (which I'll wait until we are done nursing to focus on).

Less than 24hrs before Hunter was born at 39 weeks + 5 days.

My goal is 10lbs before September but I'm willing to hit the pause button if my milk supply tanks because feeding my child is much more important to me than losing the weight.

I've done a bit of research on how to maintain supply while working out.  I'm already two brackets higher than the last time I did the fix because of the weight gain but I also added 500 calories to compensate for nursing.  I will report back after the first week :)

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hunter Daniel's birth story

They say that every pregnancy is different and our newest bundle of joy definitely proved that.

Flashback to September 2015: 
It was 4am on September 19th when we were getting ready to get on a plane to the West Coast for my good friend, Scott's wedding.  As most women who are about to travel across the country around the time of their period wonder, I was trying to figure out how many tampons to pack for our trip when I thought back to when Aunt Flo should have graced us with her presence.  At this point I was about a week late and thought, "Eh, let me just see if there are any pregnancy tests still under the sink just to make sure."  Well, that was a real wakeup call at 4am to have the Clear Blue Digital come back as "pregnant" so needless to say this was not exactly a planned pregnancy.

As the weeks progressed and my pregnancy was officially confirmed by ultrasound I couldn't believe how good I felt.  I started this pregnancy almost 20lbs less than my last one.  I was running about 10 miles a week and eating really well and as a result didn't have any morning sickness the entire pregnancy.  Because things were already so different, we were eagerly awaiting our New Year's Eve anatomy scan.  The big bet was that it would be a girl because of how vastly different it was from Tripp's pregnancy, though Ive always said I'm destined to have three boys.  Sure enough, another boy!  We also learned, as we had anticipated, that I had low lying placenta again so exercise was reduced to just walking and pelvic rest began.

Another big difference this time around is that three of my friends were also due in May so it was nice to experience everything with them.  Unfortunately, I was the last one due in the bunch so when those babies started popping out I was getting antsy.

Monday, May 16th and still no baby :( I went to see Dr. Levat with high hopes that she would do a stretch and sweep to kickstart labor but when she checked me (at 39 weeks) I was 3cm dilated but my cervix was still thick and high.  I was crushed.  We scheduled my 40 week appointment to have a Non-Stress Test and she would check me again before deciding what to do next.  That evening I was so depressed and in a total funk.  I just wanted to meet my baby so you can imagine how excited I was to pass my mucous plug that night and have "bloody show".  I thought for sure it meant baby would be here the next day...but I was wrong.

Tuesday, May 17th contractions started in the evening that were timeable but only while active.  I spent the evening bouncing on a yoga ball and the contractions were every five minutes but as soon as I laid down they slowed and then stopped.  I was crushed.  Life went on like this for two more days.

Thursday, May 19th I decided to pull Tripp out of school a little early to go to the zoo as a family.  I had been having contractions for a good part of the day and just had a feeling that it could be our last day as a family of three.  Around 6pm I started to feel more regular contractions so I started timing them.  After dinner I laid in bed with Tripp to watch a movie and the contractions were still coming...for 4.5 hours I labored at home because I was so afraid that I would get to the hospital and they would send me home.  Finally at 11pm Bob gave me the emotional pep talk I needed and we called his sister to come and stay with Tripp.  Just after midnight I was hooked up to the monitor and as of 1:20am I was 4cm dilated, 50% effaced and at a -2 station so Dr. Levat was called and the instructions were to let me labor on my own until morning or until I asked for an epidural in which case they would check me again.

Friday, May 20th - 7am - Dr. Levat comes in to check me and immediately says "you can't be in labor.  What's going on here?"  I was so discouraged even though I had been having contractions that were about 3 minutes apart, but I was able to breathe through them.  She thought I looked too relaxed to be in labor...but when she checked me I was 8cm, 90%, and 0 station so she broke my water and they prepped the room for delivery.  Just after 8am I was in position to start pushing but stopped after the first round of 3 pushes because there was still a lip to my cervix so it was back to laboring and omg were those contractions super painful.  Dr. Levat was very encouraging that I made it this far without an epidural and was still in good spirits so I decided to continue without it...but then it got too intense.  When she checked me about 30 minutes later you could see the baby's head.  I was 9.5cm, 100%, and +2.5 station so it was definitely go time, but the pain from the contractions was just too intense for me and I asked for an epidural knowing that it was possible I wouldn't be able to get it in time.  Within 5 minutes the anesthesiologist was in the room prepping me for an epidural.  I was so scared that something would go wrong because the contractions were unbearable, but I was told that I have the perfect back for an epidural and he was able to get it in even during a contraction.  I just focused my breathing and tried to put my mind in a different place.  The next big hurdle was figuring out how much to give me.  Because I was so far along, he didn't want to give too much because I wouldn't be able to feel the pushing which could make things way worse so he opted for half the normal dose.  My legs started to get tingly and the contractions went from a 10 on the pain scale down to a 5.  Dr. Levat came back in and asked if I felt like I was ready to push but I just didn't have the overwhelming urge yet.  About 15 minutes later she asked again and I decided to give it a go.  Up in the stirrups I went and his little head was already there.  Two rounds of 3 pushes each and Hunter Daniel entered the world at 9:57am.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Stitch Fix #13 - March 2016 (Maternity Fix)

This month I asked my stylist, Emily, to send me a pair of maternity leggings and dresses that I could wear for baby showers/Easter.

Market & Spruce - Sollas Maternity Knit Top - $38
I wasn't really impressed with this top.  It fit more like a tunic and that's just not my jam.  I like the color but already have a maternity sweater in the same color.  It's certainly soft and comfy, but I just wasn't impressed enough to want to keep it. Returned

Skies are Blue - Abela Open Cardigan - $48
I really love the color of this sweater, but I'm not a fan of the angling in the front that make it longer than the back.  While I do see this as being a very comfortable maternity piece, I don't think it would get much wear post-partum because I prefer my cardigans more fitted than loose. Returned

Rune - Porter Maternity Leggings - $58
Ok, the price is a little steep for leggings, but Holy Crap where have these been my whole pregnancy?!? These are super comfortable, thick, supportive leggings.  I'm not at all worried that they're see through and on me they come up a little cropped but I'm ok with that (my stylist warned me that they may turn out that way because of my long legs).  I've already been living in them!

Gilli - Haven Maternity Textured Knit Dress - $64
This dress is amazing!  The colors are gorgeous!  The fit is perfect and it doesn't feel like it's maternity.  I can definitely see getting a lot of use out of it.  I think if I had sized down I might be able to continue wearing it postpartum but was afraid that it would then be too short with my baby bump.  This dress will definitely be worn for a friend's upcoming baby shower and for Easter. Kept!!!!!

Loveappella Maternity - Hartley Maternity Dress - $68
This dress was very soft, but the horizontal stripes made me feel fat, not pregnant.  I added a belt to cinch the waist which made the dress better but then it became a little too short to wear for work.  It's also a bit thin so I I threw on some leggings underneath which made it more comfortable, but again, not worth me keeping. Returned

If you'd like to try out Stitch Fix -- You can use my referral.  It would certainly be appreciated :)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Stitch fix #12 - February 2016 (maternity)

Another month, another maternity fix.  I was actually pretty excited after my first maternity fix and looking forward to get the next one.  Emily had asked what my 2016 fashion resolution was so I added that to my note.

My note to my stylist:
I would love to keep Emily as my stylist! I absolutely love the olive Greta dress that I received in my last fix.  It's like butter and, not gonna lie, I wouldn't be upset if I received something similar (or the same dress but in a different color).  I've already worn it twice. For 2016 I want to find more reasons to wear my hot pink heels (or turquoise or yellow for that matter) so neutrals that will make it easier for me to reach for those would be nice.

From Emily: I'm so glad to hear that you loved the dress from your last fix!  I'm sending along a few similar pieces for you to try out in this fix, per your request.  The Catina Dress is one you pinned and I think you'll love the fit - it's perfect for wearing with your hot pink heels.  If you'd rather avoid color blocking, try the Blaire Dress for a trendy look that's still neutral enough to wear with other colors.  I noticed you're loving Blazers, so I thought the bright Rebekah would be great to throw on top - I could definitely see Jessica Day in this outfit!  For lounging around at home, I thought you'd like to try the classic Denise Jeans - they have a longer inseam for a flattering fit.  Try them with the Ailene Top for Valentine's Day!  I hope you have the best time trying these pieces on - can't wait to hear what you think!

These were the pictures I got from my sneak peak and I was very excited to see two dresses, one of which is the Greta dress but in short sleeves.

Liverpool - Denise Maternity Bootcut Jean - $78
I really liked the color of these jeans and they made my legs look skinny which was a nice bonus.  I'm not really a fan of bootcut (and these felt more like a flare) and the belly panel was somewhere between a full panel and a demi which seems like it would be weird in another month or two. Returned.

Kensie - Rebekah Stretch Crepe Blazer - $88
I absolutely love the color of this blazer and couldn't believe how great it looked paired with this turquoise striped nursing scarf that I have, but I was really uncertain about the sleeve length.  I'm not sure if that's how it's supposed to land (somewhere between 3/4 and wrist) or if I just have freakishly long arms.  The inside of the blazer is a lovely black and white polka dot pattern which was super cute.  I also know that this blazer has been available at Macys, in the past, for cheaper, though not in this color.  Sadly, Returned.

Madigan - Ailene Lace Sleeve Maternity Knit Top - $54
I was excited to see this lace sleeve top in my sneak peak because I pinned a maternity top similar to it for my stylist to check out.  Unfortunately, what I don't like about the top is that it's not fitted, it's flowy.  If this top were fitted and not a standard maternity style top, I probably would have kept it. Returned

Tart Maternity - Blaire Maternity Dress - $98
I was so excited to see this dress in my fix.  It's a really neat snakeskin type of print in a gray/beige color and it's a longer, sleeveless dress.  Sadly there's a pull near the butt and I felt like it made my boobs look even bigger than they already are.  But how cute is it with this White House Black Market  blazer and my hot pink heels?! Returned

Loveappella Maternity - Greta Maternity Dress - $68
Good 'ol Greta to the rescue.  I hate to say that I'm a predictable creature of habit, but you all probably could've called it from a mile away that this dress would be a keeper.  The material is fantastic.  The color is bold and perfect for wearing with my different colored heels.  It looks great belted or with a scarf...AND I don't even look pregnant in it (which ps I'm almost 6months). KEPT!!!

Merchandise Total: $386.00
Buy All Discounted Total: $269.50 

My total: $48 -- $68(dress) - $20(styling fee discount)

 If you'd like to try out Stitch Fix -- You can use my referral.  It would certainly be appreciated :)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Stitch Fix #11 - January 2016 Review - My first maternity fix

You may be wondering where fix #10 is - well, I didn't review it because it arrived the night before we were leaving for the Clemson/FSU game and I was waiting on a size exchange.  I wound up keeping two of the items from that fix.

This was my first maternity fix and I was certainly nervous about what would arrive.  I requested the same stylist, Emily, because she definitely understands my style.  I asked for pieces that show off my bump (I'm 21 weeks pregnant), dresses and skirts, and possibly some that I could wear after baby.  Here's my note from her:
Hi Melanie!  I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed your last Fix!  This month I'm sending you some close fitting maternity pieces to show off your bump along with a few surprises inspired by your Pinterest picks!  Since you're looking for a maternity pencil skirt I thought you'd love the burgundy Cambria Skirt for a bit of texture - pair it with the Bowie Dolman Top (similar to the Aleah one you pinned) for now or switch things up with the Alexana Boatneck Top as your bump grows.  I thought you'd like to try the olive Greta Dress for a look similar to the Catina Dress on your board.  I hope you have a fabulous time trying these pieces on and a wonderful New Year! Enjoy, Emily.  P.S. Any style resolutions for 2016? Let me know!

I'm not going to lie - I peeked at what was coming using the Stitch Fix App and was super nervous about the dress.  The color on the app looked like it would wash me out :(


Margaret M - Cambria Maternity Textured Pencil Skirt - $78

I was excited to get a pencil skirt in my first maternity fix.  This skirt is actually really lovely.  It's a heavy material, has a full belly panel, and a lovely textured print to it.  Right off the bat I thought it was a keeper, but once I rummaged through my closet and drawers I realized I don't really have pieces to pair it with that don't make me look like a frumpy pregnant woman.  Returned.


Laila Jade - Bowie Solid Dolman Sleeve Top - $58

OK I have a confession to make.  I've never tried on/owned a Dolman top and so I pinned one to get in a fix....and I kind of hate it.  I was happy to receive a non-maternity top that would work during and after pregnancy, but this just does not work for me.  First I paired it with jeans to keep it casual like I would for the weekend.  I also took Emily's suggestion and paired it with the Cambria pencil skirt and a belt (to make it a little less frumpy looking).  When I sent it to my husband he asked why there was so much fabric in the armpits -- yeahhh, about that, soooo not my style. Returned.


Madigan - Alexana Boatneck Side Ruched Maternity Knit Top - $58

When I first peeked and saw this shirt I was intrigued, but not for the price.  Ugh! Why are maternity clothes so expensive?!  Also, what is it with maternity clothing companies and stripes?  I mean, I don't mind the stripes but I feel like I own so many maternity shirts that are striped.  The shirt is comfortable and I liked the colors more in person than in the preview, but I couldn't justify another striped maternity shirt for $58. Returned.


Mak - Coffman Button-Up Cardigan - $48

I was very excited for this cardigan when I took a sneak peek.  It's a different shade of blue, a little more vibrant than navy and I was in need of a replacement for my old, navy cardigan.  What I really like about this piece is the crochet detail in the neckline and along the sleeves.  I also like that it's 3/4 sleeve because I sweat a ton and wind up rolling up my sleeves anyway.  This is a great piece to wear with maternity clothes and post maternity.  Kept!


Loveappella - Greta Maternity Dress - $68

I was so nervous about this dress but it's a real winner!  The color was not at all as hideous as I thought it would be.  The material is super soft.  The dress is lined.  The neckline is flattering.  I love the 3/4 sleeves.  What can I say?  I'm in love with this dress.  I paired it with the blue Coffman cardigan, a belt (gotta show off that baby bump), and heels.  I could also wear this with boots and a denim jacket or a puffer vest.  Kept!

Merchandise Total: $310.00
Buy All Discounted Total: $217.50 

My total: $96 -- $68(dress) + $48(cardigan) - $20(styling fee discount)

 If you'd like to try out Stitch Fix -- You can use my referral.  It would certainly be appreciated :)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Stitch Fix - fix #9 - October 2015 fix

After a very disappointing last fix, I sent an email to Stitch Fix's customer service to see if there was something I could do to get things that were more my style.  I asked about what I should be doing on my pinterest board or if I should be requesting specific pieces in my styling note.  I received a lovely email back from Katherine, a veteran stylist who offered to put together a new fix for me and wave the styling fee.  Now if that's not awesome customer service, I don't know what is!

For my styling note this time around I did request specific pieces.  I had never done that before and wasn't sure what to expect, but I think my stylist did a pretty great job.  Here's what I requested:

June Polka Dot Skirt
Vicente Pleated Henley Blouse

Emilia Plaid Pencil Skirt
Maggie Cut-Out Scoop Neck Tank

"Hi Melanie!  Katherine is away at the moment but I'm so excited to be styling you in the meantime!  I made sure to include pieces similar to the ones you requested for fall in Ridgefield Park.  While we didn't have the June available, I think you'll love the textured floral and dot printed Judy Pencil Skirt.  Pair it with the Hamlet blouse (it has the cutout detail you love) for an outfit similar to the Vicente & June.  I thought you'd love the plaid print of the Jordanne Skirt - wear it with the scalloped Soldano Blouse as your favorite blazer for a trendy look.  The color block striped Marlon Dress is perfect for day to date night - just add a classic red lip for a glam date night look.  I hope you have a fantastic time trying these pieces on - can't wait to hear your thoughts! Enjoy, Emily"

Papermoon - Hamlet Lace Detail Blouse - $38 size MGilli - Judy Textured Pencil Skirt - $58 size M
I really like the Papermoon blouse.  The color is bright and vibrant and the back has this lace detailing that makes it interesting.  I can see wearing this with a pencil skirt for work or jeans on a dress down Friday.  Keeping!

I wanted to like the Gilli skirt.  It's a lovely textured pattern that reminded me of the Yellow stitch fix dress I received in my 2nd fix.  The fit was ok.  It has an elastic waistband and not much structure so I could see the skirt falling down throughout the day.  If the material were a little thicker and stiffer it probably would have been a keeper.  Returning

Papermoon - Soldano Scallop Trim Blouse - $44 size M

I was really excited for the color of this blouse when I pulled it out of the box and I like the scallop trim along the neckline, but it's too tight in the bust and has a seam that is supposed to run under the bust but doesn't work that way for me.  Returning

41Hawthorn - Jordanne A-line Plaid Skirt - $68 size M

I was a big fan of how soft this skirt is and the colors are perfect for fall.  I just worry that it's a little short for work so I probably wouldn't reach for it often because I wouldn't be 100% comfortable in it. Now I realize that's probably not the case and it is, in fact, an appropriate length, but when you get it in your head that it's too's a done deal.  I paired it with the scallop trim blouse and love the look! but Returning

Le Lis - Marlon Dress - $74 size M

This dress was something that I pinned so I was shocked to see it in my box.  I've never received anything from my pinterest board.  This dress fits like a glove!  It's an appropriate length and the pattern is definitely flattering.  It's also made in the USA which was a huge bonus for me.  I look forward to pairing it with fun colored heels and a bright necklace.  Keeping!

Though I did not receive the exact pieces I requested in my styling note, I think the stylist did an excellent job coming up with similar styles.

Merchandise Total: $282.00
Buy All Discounted Total: $191.50 

My total: $92 -- $74(dress) + $38(hamlet blouse) - $20(styling fee discount)

 If you'd like to try out Stitch Fix -- You can use my referral.  It would certainly be appreciated :)