Little Paris Bookshop: The Power of Books

It has been awhile since I have had a book club selection post, in case you are new, From Left to Write does not have traditional book reviews. We read books and then we use the book as inspiration to write a post. We might take a theme from the book or even talk about a memory that the book pulled out for us. In any case, these are not your typical reviews, I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them!

Disclosure: This post was inspired by the novel The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, where Monsieur Perdu–a literary apothecary–finally searches for the woman who left him many years ago.. Join From Left to Write on October 8th as we discuss The Little Paris Bookshop. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes. {I actually received my copy of this book from NetGalley over the summer, but because of B2’s birth it took me this long to read it, so it was great timing that this was the From Left to Write book club selection for September}


While I struggled a bit with the length of the book, what I didn’t struggle with was the underlying message. Books have the power to pull us in and help us heal, they can help us through a dark spot or even a bright one and give us a new a fresh perspective.

I remember the first time a book helped me heal. When I was in 6th grade one of my very close friends passed away suddenly. He wasn’t sick, it wasn’t expected, it was incredibly hard on our entire grade, over 20 years later I can still remember how hard the wake was, how a classmate fainted at the funeral. Kids have a hard time dealing with the everyday stuff that goes along with being a pre-teen, adding a death into that mix was something that none of us was prepared for.

I was always a voracious reader, piles of books littered my room, but after the death of my friend I struggled with the happy books I usually read. After a visit to the library and book store I found the book “Say Goodnight, Gracie“. The book was very similar to what I was going through, it helped me process my feelings.

Eleven years later my best friend passed away, again in a tragic accident, he wasn’t sick, it wasn’t expected. He was one of the brightest people I had ever known. I don’t mean in a smart way, although he certainly was very smart. I mean bright in the fact that he always lit up the room he was in, he could make you laugh when you were in the most terrible mood. He even predicted that I would end up with Nick, long before we even started dating.

jack and kelly

Since I transferred to the college that we went too, I ended up taking 4 years to graduate, because a lot of my credits didn’t transfer. 95% of my close friends had graduated and moved an hour away to Boston. I felt pretty isolated, no one that was still in the city with me really or truly understood what I was going through. Again, I turned to books (and food – but that is a post for another day). The one book I read over and over again was “Say Goodnight, Gracie”. This time I related very strongly with the main character, and to this day I still miss Jack very much. I missed him at my wedding, and I wonder who his wife would be, if our kids would be best friends?

I’ve read books since his death that have struck a chord with me, and related to the friendship that we had. While books don’t take your pain away, the help you heal in a way that maybe wouldn’t happen otherwise. I will always be thankful for books that have helped me through some of the most difficult times of my life.

What books have helped you through a tough time?

Postpartum Fitness Plans

While I don’t plan on having a regular “body after baby” type of blog series, I definitely like to use this blog as a place to keep me accountable in terms of my fitness and my healthy eating. Much like before I was pregnant, I plan on sharing my what I have been doing for workouts, healthy recipes and snack ideas, and to be brutally honest when it’s really hard.

It's hard to be sad when you get to see this from your front door!

It’s hard to be sad when you get to see this from your front door!

Having a second kid really rocks your world, you know what to expect in how a baby acts and what his or her needs might be, but you don’t know how the other child will react or how to make sure he or she doesn’t feel replaced. It is a constant balancing act. One I am extremely grateful to be a part, but it takes some trial and error.

Worth every pound :)

Worth every pound :)

That being said, I was very excited when I saw Gina post about the newest DanceFIT challenge. The Back to Basics Fall Fitness and Health Challenge, otherwise known as #DanceFITB2B. Basically it is a 30 day challenge with fitness, nutrition, and wellness. It is 30 days (September 14 – October 13) of unlimited classes, and includes a manual full of recipe ideas, workout ideas, challenges, and information for having a healthy lifestyle. There is also a private facebook group where we all encourage each others daily progress, get recipe ideas, keeping each other accountable, etc… So you will see me post on Instagram a lot with the #DanceFITB2B tag. The best part is that DanceFIT has a virtual schedule, which means I can take classes from the comfort of my own home, which is helpful, while we all learn our routine as a family of four!

I will also be working on some sponsored posts with Acelleron Maternal Health & Wellness, they have offered me a free month of classes in exchange for blog posts about my experience with the fitness classes and mom meet-ups, and many other things. I will be including those workouts in my weekly round-ups, and at the end of the month I will have a discount code for all of those of you who are local and might want to give them a try!

With B1, I definitely didn’t feel the pressure for a while to lose the weight, but for this pregnancy, I do feel a little more pressure (from myself) to get the weight off faster. The first is that the sooner I get into a routine, the sooner I feel more like myself! Having a baby can sometimes do a number on your mental state, and while it is not as bad this time around, taking the time to fit in fitness is super important to me. THe second reason is superficial, and I will be the first to admit that. My husband and I are the koumbara for two friends that are getting married in January, while I am extremely happy and honored to be asked to do this, I also am thinking about how many pictures I am going to be in, stupid I know. So my goal is to get to a place where I feel comfortable. I am not thinking that I am going to lose a ton of weight all of a sudden, I just want to at least get back to my pre-baby size. I did however, order my dress in my current size, because stress will not help me at all, and I can always get the dress taken in!

The Dress, all black though!

The Dress, all black though!

I am excited for all the events that are coming up, and I am excited to just get back into my routine.

What are your favorite workouts and healthy recipes?

My Truth About Breastfeeding, Part 2

If you’ve been reading this blog for long enough, you might remember how difficult breastfeeding was for me when I had B1. I planned with B2 to try to breastfeed, and if it didn’t work out, then it didn’t work out. B1 had formula, and he is doing wonderfully. I naively thought that the reason my milk never came in with B1 was because of circumstance, not necessarily something that had to do with me. He was born a few weeks early, and he also was under the phototherapy lights so I had to pump.

A few weeks prior to having B2 I was contacted by Acelleron Maternal Health & Wellness, and honestly that email could not have come at a better time! While I definitely planned on attempting to breastfeed again, I hadn’t actually talked to anyone about how to go about things differently this time around. My only real plan was to make sure I had plenty of skin-to-skin time post-birth, something I didn’t do enough of with B1, and I wasn’t really aware of how great it is for baby and mom.


Since I was able to do a Q&A with Acelleron’s Lactation Consultant I really started thinking about what I was going to do. When B2 finally arrived she was 10 pounds 1 oz, and there can be issues with having bigger babies. We did skin-to-skin, but after nursing for a bit the nurses needed to check her blood sugar, for babies that are larger they can not get enough milk and their blood sugar can dip or spike, and it is best to avoid that. Unfortunately, B2’s blood sugar did drop, and we gave her just a few mL’s of formula to avoid any complications. I was 100% on board with the nurses on this, my baby’s health is the most important thing.

After I was discharged from L&D I was moved to the Mom & Baby unit, and this is where the Lactation Consultant’s will visit you. With B1 I had a terrible LC, but great nurses who really helped me with nursing, and gave me tons of great advice. With B2, my initial nurse was not great, and not really around a ton, but the LC’s were awesome. After a long talk giving her my history she asked about any hormone deficiencies. Since I was diagnosed with PCOS after the miscarriage, I wasn’t aware I had it when B1 was born. The LC shared with me that most women with PCOS can’t exclusively breastfeed, because of the hormone deficiency your body just usually doesn’t create enough of a supply for the baby. While this was a bit of a relief, I wondered if I would be able to breastfeed B2 for any length of time.

I was again given a hospital grade pump to use in the hospital, and my insurance covered one for me to have at home, so I would pump after every nursing session, and I didn’t really get a ton of milk, and I hadn’t felt my milk come in either. On our second night B2 had to go in the photo therapy lights, since her jaundice levels were borderline and we wanted to avoid having to get re-admitted like we did with B1. This meant I only had 30 minutes to get her out of the lights, feed her, change her, and get her back in the lights every 3 hours. The nurses were super helpful, but it definitely felt like a time crunch. I ended up supplementing her with formula to make sure she would last the 3 hours. It was at this moment we realized that she needed more food than I could provide, she was eating almost an ounce at every feeding by the time we left the hospital.


After we got home, I definitely had the baby blues, and the frustration with not being able to breastfeed well was getting to me. I ended up talking to Megan at Acelleron via email and the phone and she gave me tons of tips and advice. I think the most important thing she told me was that it’s okay to formula feed, it doesn’t make me any less of a great mom because I can’t exclusively breastfeed. As much as I knew in my heart that was true,  the martyr moms can be mean and really make you feel bad if you formula feed. It was nice to hear a LC say that it’s okay to formula feed, because my experience with the LC’s I had talked to previously, either didn’t help me at all with dealing with a low supply or they shamed me for using formula. Neither was a great feeling.

The best thing for me was trying a supplement called Motherlove more milk special blend. The blend included: goat’s rue herb, fenugreek seed, blessed thistle herb, nettle herb, and fennel seed. (I used the capsules not the liquid, because that’s what my Whole Foods carried, I have heard that the liquid can be more effective initially, but that the aftertaste is awful). I know that it is very expensive, and may not be affordable for some people, especially if you are buying formula to supplement as well. A few days after taking this I felt my milk come in, and while I wasn’t pumping a ton, sometimes only 1 oz, I was pumping more than when I had B1. B2 was also eating at the breast multiple times a day, and then I would supplement with formula.


A few days after my initial talk with Megan, I went to Acelleron for a breastfeeding support group, and while it was a bit overwhelming that most people were suffering with over-supply issues, again Megan gave me great tips about pumping, and trying to make it easier on my daily life. With two kids it was hard to nurse, formula feed, pump, wash all the pump parts and entertain B1, especially since I had to do that cycle every 3-4 hours. It was overwhelming.

I am now two months post-partum, I am still nursing B2, it is mostly in the mornings and evenings, this is mostly due to school  and fall activities starting back up for B1, and the sheer lack of time, I pump when I can, but it is not as often. I am still taking the supplement, but I do feel like our time of nursing is going to come to an end sooner rather than later, and I am okay with that. I did the best I could for me and B2.

The biggest piece of advice I learned from breastfeeding this time around was that there are great LC’s out there, it just might take some time to find them. If you are in the Greater Boston/North Shore area I 100% recommend Acelleron, Megan was amazing!


Did you ever attend a breastfeeding support group?

Baby Essentials – The Second Time Around

I know every mom that blogs probably has a list like this, and everyone and every child’s needs and wants are different. I never made a list like this with B1, but after having another baby I feel like I have a grasp of what was essential to our family for the babies.

I will say that there were some major differences with my two babies. When B1 was born we lived in a condo, that was on the third floor of our building and no elevator. With B2 we live in a multi-level home with a garage below the house. Obviously with B2’s birth B1 was a consideration when figuring out what items we needed to have the second time around.

Comfort Items



I left out the obvious things like a crib, changing table, sheets, etc…

1. Summer Infant Classic Comfort Wood Bassinet – $140

Nick and I got this last-minute before B1 was born. Our crib wasn’t going to be available before his due date, so we knew we needed something. I knew I wanted a bassinet because co-sleeper beds freaked me out. I liked that this one was lightweight but sturdy, had a shelf, and was on wheels. I was able to roll B1 around the condo when I needed to get things done. I also kept the bottom shelf stocked with clothes, diapers, wipes, etc… That way at night I didn’t have to go into his room and get anything. It made nighttime wakeups much easier.

With B2, I love the height. B1 can see into the bassinet, but he can’t pick her up. Perfect. The downsides this time around are that it isn’t something that I can roll her around in, as it is her bed at night (until she moves into her crib) and so it stays upstairs. B2 has already grown 1.5 inches and is almost too big to be in the bassinet anymore, and so we won’t get too much time with her in it.

2. KACY Collection Morgan Nursery Swivel Glider - $450

We were supposed to get a glider when I had B1, but that never panned out. After Nick walked and sang B1 to sleep for the first 2 years of his life we decided we were going to make room in our budget for a glider this time around.

B2’s room is on the smaller side, so we needed something that wasn’t going to take up a ton of room. This one is super comfortable and the color matches her nursery perfectly. It’s small enough that Nick was even able to move it into our room while B2 is sleeping in there.

I cannot say enough that all new moms should get some sort of chair for the nursery. Your back and feet will thank you!

3. Graco Pack N Play Bugs Quilt TotBlock – $120

If you don’t need a Pack N Play that your baby can sleep in, I would recommend this one. Once B1 was more alert I would put him in this so I could cook, clean, do laundry, etc… but he would be container so I could turn my back for more than 20 seconds.

This would also be great to put out in the yard. Now that more of my friends have kids, or multiples, spending time outside happens a lot, but it is hard to chase after toddlers and watch babies. This will be super helpful for that.

4. Graco Pack N Play Yard with Cuddle Cove Removable Seat – $180

This is something that we got for B2, well my MIL graciously purchased for us. She was going to stay and help out for a good chunk of the summer. Unfortunately, due to some unforseen circumstances she had to leave early, and she bought this to assist me. The bed part is high enough that again B1 can’t pick the baby up. It also has a changing area and since B2 isn’t using the bigger sleeping area, I put extra clothes, blankets, and burp clothes there for easy changes. It also has pockets for diapers and wipes. It has been one of the most useful items we bought this time around.

Honorable Mentions

Bright Starts Bouncer – $30 – Both my kids LOVED this bouncer. Many people have a very strong preference for what type of bouncer or swing they love, and I swear by this one. We also have a swing, but neither of my kids really loved it that much.

Boppy Pillow – $30 - I use this every day. For nursing especially. I like that there is a gap between the pillow and the body, I think adds more skin-to-skin contact.

Aden + Anais Swaddle Blankets – $50 - FYI You can find these for MUCH cheaper at TJ Maxx or Marshalls! I didn’t really use these for B1, and B2 doesn’t love being swaddled, so I only do it overnight. They are great for the summer time in general though, because they are so lightweight. I drape them over both kids car seats when I am parked in the sun, to avoid the seatbelts getting super hot. I also use it to drape over B2’s lower body when she is in the car seat or stroller.


5. Uppababy Vista Stroller System – $850

I know, this stroller system is extremely expensive, but I don’t regret it one bit. We were able to get ours for about $250 cheaper because it was a store model. It wasn’t actually used in the store, although you can buy those for a discount usually, ours was the window model, which means it was basically brand new, it just sat in a window for a few months. Also, it is still in great condition after 4 years of use.

What I love about this system, you can use it from birth until the toddler years. This system comes with a bassinet, but you can also buy an attachment to put your car seat in it (more on that below). It has a toddler seat that can face toward the parent or away. You can also buy an extra seat so you can put two kids on the stroller. There is also a ride along board, so if your kids doesn’t want to sit in the seat they can ride on it while you push the other child, or you can have two seats and a ride along board!

Other pros: A huge basket, I can do a ton of grocery shopping just using the stroller. The core rubber wheels which are puncture proof, that was essential for me living in the city. When you fold the stroller, it can stand making it easy to store. Super easy to fold, adjustable handlebar, easy to manuever, and a very easy click tight system. When you put in the adapter, bassinet, or seat the area where you click those items in shows a green sign when you’ve done it correctly and red if it is incorrect. It is very easy to get those items in and out.

Cons: It is big, it takes up a lot of space in the car when it is lying down. You can’t fold it when the bassinet is attached, you have to detach and attach whenever you use it. You can fold it when the adapter is in place but you can’t unfold it. Only when the seat is attached can you fold and unfold it. The tires are big, so it takes time getting used to those.

6. Ubbi Diaper Pail – $80

Again, not cheap. We originally registered and received a plastic diaper pail that took regular garbage bags. Registering was overwhelming to me and finally I was like F IT, I don’t need a fancy diaper pail. It lasted about 3 months, even with taking the bag out every other day, the pail STANK. We did some research and found the Ubbi diaper pail. You can use regular garbage bags and the smell doesn’t escape. We’ve had B1’s since he was 3 months old and haven’t had any issues. We bought B2 her own because B1 still wears a pull up at night, and we only empty his pail every few weeks. Plus I don’t have to go into his room at night to throw a diaper away. I mean honestly these kids can just use them as garbage cans when they get older.

Carriers + Nursing


7. Ergobaby 360 Front Facing Carrier – $160

I haven’t used this a ton yet, some girlfriends gifted me one and I am super thankful and excited to use it. B2 is too big for the infant insert but too small to be in it alone, so I have used it around the house, but that’s about it. I can say it is very comfortable but does take some getting used to with all the buckles.

8. BabyBjorn Baby Carrier Original – $90

I have the mesh carrier, which is actually cheaper now since it is an older model. The mesh is super breathable for a summer baby. I use it now since B2 can be worn in this carrier now. The downside is that it does put a lot of pressure on my back. It is easy to put on, put the baby in, and take off.

9. Medela Symphony Breastpump – 

Most insurance companies should comp a rental of a breast pump. The Symphony is a medical grade pump, which you do have to get a “prescription” for from your doctor. Because of milk issues, I was able to get that prescription for both babies. The downside, this pump is a beast, if you have to carry it around just be aware!

Bottles & Bottle accessories


When Nick told people at work that I was pregnant, a lot of his coworkers told him about the Dr.Browns Bottles. They are great for babies that have gas issues, as both of ours have. They may have a lot of parts but they are easy to put together. We have both the standard bottles and the wide mouth bottles.  A 3 pack goes for about $15.

Bottle Warmer – $45

You can get this for a bit cheaper on Amazon. I like to make a few bottles at once, so a bottle warmer is essential. I also usually put a bottle in the warmer, change the baby’s diaper, and then usually the bottle is ready. I like that it remembers the length of heating that you used for the previous bottle. You do need to make sure that you follow instructions and keep the warmer cleaned out, because if you don’t it will get moldy. We had to through the one we had for B1 away due to this.

Formula Pitcher – $17

Again, I like to make multiple bottles at once, and this is how I do it. It helps to eliminate the bubbles from the bottles, aka so the baby doesn’t get gas. You can make up to 4, 8 oz bottles at once.

Drying Rack – $18

I had a different drying rack for B1’s bottles but it had layers and water got trapped, and it got moldy. I like that this one is slanted so water gets collected in one area nad you can easily dump it. It also folds for easy storage when you aren’t using it or you have guests.

Car Seat


11. Chicco Keyfit 30 Car Seat – $210

A car seat was something Nick and I spent A LOT of time on. The chicco keyfit was at the top of the safety list for Consumer Reports, and it fit into our ideal stroller. It is lightweight and easy to install. It is also very durable as we used it for B1 and we are now using it for B2.

12. Chicco Keyfit 30 Uppababy Vista Adapter – $45

Honestly, I didn’t use this for B1. I just used the bassinet seat, but the bassinet seat takes up space in the car, and also doesn’t allow me to use as much of the stroller basket as I’d like. I have been using this for B2 ever since I dug it out of its storage area. It was super easy to attach and detach, and it was easy to snap the car seat in. Life with two kids is more on the go than when I had just one, so this has been perfect for our busy schedules.

Now that I’ve shared a few of my essentials, what are yours? Anything you were surprised you absolutely loved or hated?


B2’s Birth Story & Updates

As of today B2 is officially six weeks old, six! It feels like this time has flown by. But let’s go back to the beginning, shall we?

When I posted my last pregnancy update, I was about a month out from my due date and on modified bed rest. It was not easy, luckily my mother-in-law and my mom have summers off, so my MIL came and stayed with us for 5-6 days, she’d go home for a day or two then come back, and my mom would fill in the gaps if she could. This was super helpful since most of my meals would get made for me. I didn’t have to do any grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, etc… On top of it all B1 got a ton of one-on-one time with his grandmothers and Nick. I think that really helped the transition, once B2 arrived.

At every single appointment with my OB I was miserable. I basically kept asking them to induce. The baby was so low and so big, I had a few more ultrasounds and she was still measuring a decent amount ahead of schedule. those ultrasounds have a 10-15% margin of error, but that can go in either direction. I was also feeling nauseas again, and my swelling was out of control. Everyone kept telling me to drink more, but I was already at 120 oz a day! Unfortunately, since I wasn’t showing any signs of preeclampsia (like with B1) they could not induce, the hospital I delivered at recently changed its policies and they no longer allow inductions just because the baby is measuring big.

During my 38th week appointment, the protein in my urine and blood was elevated, which can indicate the start of preeclampsia and is one of the bigger symptoms to monitor. I had to do the 24 hour urine test, again. That test came back elevated, but they wanted to repeat it a second time to see if my levels were steadily increasing or if they were stagnant.  The second test we scheduled to coincide with my next appointment so that we could make a plan if the levels were elevated even more.

The day before my appointment for my 39th week appointment I started feeling even worse than usual. I was having spotty vision, which can happen due to swelling, and can be normal, I also had a massive headache that wouldn’t go away even after taking Tylenol, my last complaint was my heartburn. I hate taking lots of medication, even when I am not pregnant, so taking meds to combat the headaches and heartburn was worrisome. My OB decided to have me go to the hospital, I did an NST, and was monitored all afternoon, at about 7 pm my OB decided to have me admitted. I had started the 24 hour test over again in the hospital and had my blood routinely taken. They also had me do another ultrasound. It was so weird to be in the hospital alone, and because both labor & delivery and the mother & baby units were so busy, they never were able to move me to a non-labor room, and I had to try to sleep on one of the beds in my L&D room, not comfortable!

The next morning my OB came in and based on my labs they decided to induce, everything except my blood pressure was elevated, and I was far enough along (3 days before my due date) that they were comfortable with inducing. I started with the Cytotec which is a pill that dissolves under your tongue, it is used when a woman hasn’t made it to 3 cm dilated, I had experience with this when I was induced with B1. Each pill works for 6 hours, I took two doses and was checked. I was close enough to 3 cm, that they decided to start Pitocin. I started the Pitocin around 7 pm, I told the nurses and the on call OB that with my last delivery, once I got the Pitocin and Epidural it wasn’t long until B1 was born. I don’t think the nurse quite believed how fast things went when I had B1, but she and the OB listened to me and took note that it could happen fast.

At 10 pm I received my epidural, no shame. I don’t do well with pain and the epidural allows me to rest while my body does a lot of work. My nurse came in about every 90 minutes to reposition me and see how I was feeling. Around 2 am, I started feeling pressure, I hadn’t been checked since they started the Pitocin, so I just wanted to make sure things were progressing. The nurse did a check and I was at 10 cm already, time to get ready. Nick got up from his bed and got ready to welcome B2 into the world. The nurse had me do a couple of practice pushes and once again B2 was ready and we needed the OB to get into the room right away so this baby could make her appearance. After 5 pushes B2 arrived into this world at 2:36 am. Not only was my labor and delivery almost identical to my experience with B1, down to getting only one stitch, my babies now share a birthday.


They are almost exactly 4 years apart, B2 was born 3 hours and 8 minutes before B1 was born. So crazy!

Now, I constantly complained about the fact that my belly felt extremely heavy, and that I was in a lot of pain. B2 was 10 lbs 1 oz! Part of me wanted to scream “I TOLD YOU SO” to anyone who would listen. Many thought I was crazy and that my body soreness was because I never made it past 37 weeks with B1, and also that I was being dramatic. Turns out I had a giant baby! At first I thought Nick was kidding when he told me how big she was, but the nurse confirmed it. I am still in shock that I was able to birth her naturally without tearing or any other complications.

I really wanted to go home after one night in the hospital. It felt awful to not be able to celebrate B1’s birthday with him, even if he did think his little sister was the best gift ever. However, like B, B2’s bilirubin (aka jaundice level) was borderline. With B1 we were discharged and then we had to be readmitted to pediatrics. I told Nick prior to delivery that if she had borderline levels we were staying so that she could be in the Maternal unit, I did not have a great experience in Pediatrics, plus in the maternal unit the nurses take care of mom and baby, and since I would be in recovery also, that was a must. Since we had asked to leave early they checked her bilirubin level early, and that second night she was under the photo therapy lights all night, except for when she needed to eat. We were discharged the following morning and the day after that we went to the pediatrician and she was already doing much better, she had even gained 2 ounces from when we were discharged to our pediatrician visit, which was about 24 hours apart, amazing.

We are now home and into a groove, some days are incredibly hard, and I wouldn’t expect anything different, but for the most part B1 is doing amazing, He adjusted relatively well and wants to spend so much time with her, he doesn’t understand why she sleeps so much.


For me the biggest adjustment is the lack of sleep. Thankfully, she started giving us 3-4 hour stretched pretty much right away, but when she gets up for her second feeding, usually around 4 or 5 am, by the time she is ready to go back to bed B1 is ready to get up. When he was an infant I was able to get another few hours sleep after that feeding, and now I can’t, so the exhaustion is definitely a little harder than when you just have one. I am breastfeeding a bit, but that requires a separate post, especially for anyone else that is living with PCOS.

B2 has already had her one month check up, she’s already back up to her birth weight +1 pound and she has grown 1.5 inches, this one definitely got the height from her daddy! I had received an ergo from friends for this baby, and she is too big for the infant insert but too small to go in it without the insert. I have been using the BabyBjorn for now, and once she can hold her head up I will move to the Ergo. The Bjorn is very breathable, but it kills my back after she’s been in it for a while. She started holding her head up the second day we were home, and she is increasing the amount of time that she can hold it up every day, so I think we will be able to move into the Ergo in the fall!

Anything else you want to know about B2? 

I have posts coming about breastfeeding, recipes, my fitness goals, and adjusting to motherhood!

I’m back (and she’s here)!

I finally feel like I am above water now, at least most of the time. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that B2 finally arrived. Two days before her due date, and on B1’s birthday. It’s kinda crazy that we have two kids, with the exact same birthday, and not only the same day mere hours apart.


Ever since I had a biophysical ultrasound, and she was measuring 2 weeks ahead, I was nervous. Sure enough she was born at 10 pounds 1 ounce, naturally. I have had two pregnancies that were awful almost the whole time, but my laboring and actual delivery were pretty great, I mean as great as they can be, I was birthing a baby after all.

Life with two kids has been interesting. There are some great ups, B1 thinks that she was absolutely the best birthday present ever, and adores her. He also gets frustrated when he can’t be as loud (and crash cars all around the house) whenever he wants now, and has definitely noticed that the change is because of B2’s arrival.


As I wrote in an earlier post, breastfeeding was something I hoped to be successful at this time around, and while it hasn’t been a home run, it has been much better than last time, and I have a post coming up with all that information, as well as some tips and recipes.

I think I’ve found my groove and I am back to a more regular blogging schedule!

Tell me something interesting about your summer!

Beauty: Why you should care about what you put on your body!

Back in March I was able to attend a wonderful event at the Whole Foods in Lynnfield for the Hello Beauty Week! The event featured three experts with local brands to talk about the importance of clean beauty products and how their brand commits to that. Let me start by saying that anyone could attend the event and it was free, you just had to register in advance.

Slowly, I have been trying to switch over to a more natural skin care/hygiene regimen. I make it a priority to eat clean, make sure I buy the dirty dozen organic, and make sure I know as much about my food as possible. The one message that all three experts said was that, what goes on your body is just as important as what goes in your body.


The first brand discussed was Shamanuti. The company was started because of the owners love and respect for nature. She also shared that most common (and cheap) products do more harm than good. Most products strip the skin, dry it out, and then replace the natural oils. It makes you feel like your need more of that product to keep your skin healthy.

Just like with food, understanding what’s in the product should be high on your priority list. If alcohol is one of the first 3 ingredients, it will strip your skin, like I mentioned above. The difference between food and beauty products is that beauty products tend to use the latin terms for the plants that are used in the product, so you may not be able to pronounce the word, it could still be good for you.

When asked what is the #1 product she would suggest using every day, it would be charcoal. Charcoal products have recently started becoming very popular, what they do is bring your skin to a pH neutral balance.


The second company that spoke to us was Laughing Tree Organics. They have only been in business for about a year, but they already have a lot of products available and a great following. The products are 100% plant-based and have no artificial ingredients. They are trying to offer cost-effective, plant-based products with a sustainable approach. So many of these products we use, not only is the product made of chemicals, but the packaging and some of the product ending up in our landfills, water supplies, etc…

The owner talked about how it takes only 26 seconds for chemicals to enter the blood stream and the average person puts on seven products a day! Seven, that is a lot of chemicals! She talked about how some beauty & hygiene products have a role in issues with fertility, birth defects, early puberty in offspring, etc… While I haven’t done a ton of research in that area, it is definitely something that I plan on delving deep into and making my self extremely informed.

The products are created through a cold press process with no fillers so that a little of the product goes a long way! I was able to try their Natural Organic Lip Balms (coconut is my favorite) and I have to say it made my lips, which tend to try out easily, nice and soft, and I didn’t feel the need to put on lip balm 75 times a day.


These are hand-made artisanal skin care products. As with most, the owner started with switching to organic food and slowly moved to switching to skin care.

While researching beauty products she couldn’t find anything chemical or preservative free, and she also couldn’t find organic brands that were affordable. So she developed her own brand after a full year of research.

They also use a cold press process to make their products, no synthetics used at all. Part of the reason this company was started was to make products that pregnant women could use and feel comfortable with. While she suggested switching to a natural skin care routine prior to getting pregnant, you can start any time.

This company was the only one that kept its products in glass. Dark brown glass keeps the product fresher for longer, but it is more expensive. The bath products however, use recycled plastic.


After the talk, we were each given a swag bag with tons of samples and some of the brands above gave out extra samples to attendees. I have tried most of the brands you see above, and still have plenty of samples, so if you’d like to try something you see, don’t hesitate to ask me!


I was also gifted this basked of Weleda products to test out. My absolute favorite is the Sea Buckthorn Creamy Body Wash. My skin doesn’t feel dried out and I love the way it smells! I’ve gone back and purchased this product for me to keep using.


I was also given the opportunity to try a few full size items. After talking to the Whole Beauty expert, I picked these three products for myself. My face was always feeling dried out. So I picked the MyChelle Honeydew Cleanser which is unscented and for sensitive skin. I wash my face twice a day and the product lasts forever. You don’t need a ton of product, trust me, I learned the hard way! I started using these products in the winter when my skin, especially my face, would flake like crazy. Ever since I started using this regimen, my face has felt moisturized and healthy.

Post-cleanser I use one of two products. If I am spending a ton of time outside or it is going to be a hot and sunny day I opt for the Mineral Fusion Mineral SPF 40 Face Moisturizer. Due to being a tad bit Irish, I burn easily, but the worst is always my face. For me it is vital to have a moisturizer that also doubles as a sunscreen because I just don’t have time for 65 beauty products in the morning.  If I wasn’t really going out, which happened a lot due to modified bed rest, exhaustion, etc…. or I was washing my face before bed I used the MyChelle Deep Repair Cream. This cream is wonderful, I never feel like my  face is dried out and the product is not oily which I love. My only con about these two products is that they have a light scent. It doesn’t stay with you for more than a few minutes, but it is something to bare in mind.

The Whole Beauty Expert was so helpful in picking out the three products above that I also asked her about baby and kid products. Unfortunately, B1 has my dry and sensitive skin. The expert showed me some bath wash, shampoo, bubble bath, etc… that would be great for infants and toddlers, the prices were even cheaper at Whole Foods than at Target.


I also took home a sample for Emily’s Baby & Adult Skin Soother. This is a very local product that is similar to vaseline in consistency. It is great for dry patches, whenever B1 has a dry patch of skin, I put a tiny dab on the area before he goes to bed and 90% of the time the dry patch is better after 2 days of application. It has been a life saver not just for B1, but also for me. I get extremely dry knuckles in the winter and this has helped me not to only stop the cracking and bleeding, but also to stop the skin from drying out at all.

I am still in the process of looking for natural makeup, so if you have suggestions send them my way!

Do you use natural body products? If so, what are your favorites?

Lactation Support Groups & a Giveaway

If there is one piece of advice that I could give any mom is that nothing ever goes as planned, ever. If it did, I would’ve already had B2, I fully anticipated she would be a June baby based on my conversations with my OB, but June came and went and she is still in utero. With B1 the plan was always to breastfeed, but with some medical complications post birth and the fact that after 2 weeks of trying my milk still hadn’t come in, I ended up not breastfeeding. It was such a hard decision, mixed with the post-partum hormones, and the guilt that I felt for not feeling good enough to provide for my baby, I hibernated. The only lactation consultant I saw basically told me to give up, it was an extremely difficult decision for me but at the end of the day, I needed to provide nutrients for my baby and if I couldn’t do that then I was going to find an alternate solution.

Third Trimester

More than ready for baby girl :)

With B2 I plan on trying the breastfeeding route again, I will be more willing to see a (different) lactation consultant immediately for help and pray that my milk comes in this time. Fortunately for me I was contacted by the team at Acelleron in North Andover, MA. Not only can you order medical products (like breast pumps, etc…) through them, they also offer many pre and post-partum services for moms. Things like fitness classes, doula services, new mom support groups, and lactation support groups. Since I didn’t go to one when B1 was born, I sent Megan at Acelleron a list of questions that I had about lactation support groups. I know I personally am very intimidated to go to any type of new class whether it be fitness, education, or something like lactation, my type A personality doesn’t like the unknown.

For the benefit of you and I, I posted our Q&A session below, and at the bottom is the info to enter the giveaway that Acelleron and I are having!

1. What is the benefit from attending a lactation support group?

There are so many great benefits! First, it is a great time to connect with other new moms! You get to see that your relationship and struggles are very common and you are not the only one going through them at 3 am. Second, you get professional advice and opinions by someone who is trained and educated in the field of lactation support. There are so many myths and bad advice out there surrounding breastfeeding. This is a great time to come in and get your questions answered by someone with professional and personal expertise.

2. When should mom start attending a lactation support group?

As soon as they can get out of the house! They can even come to a group while they are pregnant. I have had moms come with 3 day olds and moms come in with 12 month olds. It’s never too late or too early to join us.

3. How long should I attend the lactation support group for? How long does the average mom stay in the support group?

It totally depends of the kind of support mom is looking for. Moms are welcome to drop in once to get their questions answered, or come every week for their whole maternity leave. It is great when moms come for a few weeks and really build a bond with other moms. We are all about community and supporting each other, so it is great to watch that happen. On average, people stay in the group for 3-4 months.

4. Do moms actively breastfeed during the support group?

Yes. There are moms nursing throughout the meeting. It also gives me a chance to check positioning and latch.

5. When would a mom need a private session instead of being part of the group?

Moms would need a private session for a few different reason. If a baby is not gaining weight appropriately, lots of pain or bleeding on mom’s nipple, mom needs help creating a plan for going back to work. I always suggest starting out with the support group and then deciding from there, unless it is a more emergent situation.

6. What would you say to a mom that could not breast feed her first child but wants to try to breastfeed a second child?

Every pregnancy is different and every child is different! The best thing to do is educate yourself. Learn from what happened the first time around, and find a support system that will help you get breastfeeding started early on.

7. Are there foods or a diet that boosts breast milk supply?

Some moms will report a boost in their supply when they eat things like oatmeal, lactation cookies, coconut water and Gatorade. It is all really anecdotal as there is no research that proves any foods can increase supply.

8. What can a mom do to encourage better milk production or for her milk to come in?

The best advice is to breastfeed the baby early and often! As the baby suckles it tells your body to make more milk. It is all about supply and demand. The more the baby nurses, the more milk your body will make. In those first few days the baby does not need a lot of milk to fill up their tiny tummy. They need to be at the breast at least 8-12 times in 24 hours. This will help encourage your supply.

9. What would you tell a mom who’s milk has not come in more than one week post-partum?

If your milk has not come in after more than one week post-partum mom should be working directly with a lactation professional. Milk usually comes in around day 3 for a vaginal birth and can take up to 5 days to come in for a c-section.

10. For moms that don’t want to exclusively breast feed, when is it best to introduce a bottle?

The best time to introduce a bottle is around 3-4 weeks. If you wait much longer it might be harder. If you do it too soon it could have some negative effects. When deciding to introduce a bottle make sure to do some research on Paced Bottle Feeding. You can find some great video’s on YouTube. This method helps simulate a breastfeeding type experience and will help the baby easily transition between bottle and breast.

Megan O’Neill is the Director of Lactation Support at Acelleron Maternal Health & Wellness in North Andover, MA, which provides the resources and supportive community parents need to become empowered in the process of growing their family. Megan has over three years of breastfeeding experience with her two little boys and holds her Certification in Lactation Counseling and is also certified by the Academy of Lactation Policy and Procedure. She holds a weekly free drop-in breastfeeding support group on Wednesdays from 11:30-12:30pm: or you can email her at: More info about Acelleron Maternal Health & Wellness can be found at:, Facebook or Twitter.


Acelleron is offering to giveaway a Simple Wishes hands free bra to one lucky reader. This giveaway ends Friday, July 10, 2015 at 11:59 pm EST

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Did you attend a lactation support group? What was the best thing about it?

Third Trimester Updates

It’s hard to believe I am already part way through the third trimester, but at the same time I feel like once I got to the third trimester time just stood still.

Third Trimester

33+ Weeks on the left, 25+ Weeks on the right. 

This non-maternity Stitch Fix (affiliate link) t-shirt has been one of the most comfortable things for me to wear this pregnancy.

These last few weeks haven’t been great, if I am being honest. I’ve said it before, I haven’t had “easy” pregnancies. With this pregnancy, the second trimester really was the only time I felt okay, and even that had its issues.

I haven’t felt dizzy or faint in a while, but to avoid any disasters Nick and B1 come and do the grocery shopping with me on Sundays. I hate doing grocery shopping on the weekends, but it has to be done then, and we make a fun game of whether or not Nick & B1 can find items in the store faster than it takes me at the meat & deli counters. Spoiler: they usually win!


Baby Girl’s room

My MIL came and painted the nursery, she is a pro and doesn’t even need the painters tape and it looks amazing! The crib and changing table are set up, and most of the big items we needed are purchased. There is still a lot of organizing to do, but I can’t do a lot of it so I have to wait when I have help on the weekends. I am trying to not go nesting crazy, but I don’t think it is working.


B1 is super excited! I showed him how to swaddle Mickey, and he put him down for a nap. Precious!

I am back on a modified bed rest of sorts, I can do a few things, but I’m advised not to stress out my body, and to keep my feet up as possible. There are a few reasons for that, baby girl is measuring about 2 lbs bigger than is normal for this gestational age. She is also in a weird position, her elbow and shoulder are digging into my pelvic area, which causes so much pain for that area and also for the lower part of my body. We are trying to avoid stressing out my body and the baby. So, that means no long drives, exercising, lifting heavy objects, etc…

I’ve been monitored a bit more than normal, but mom and baby are healthy and that’s what matters. I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed, my weight gain jumped a lot the last few weeks, and a large part of it is definitely due to the fact that her weight gain jumped a lot. I have been trying to eat as healthy as possible, but I know that I have been eating more carbs than I usually do. I am also feeling like my stomach is extremely heavy, so I invested in a belly band at the request of my doctor and that helps a little bit, but I do notice after walking around for a bit my stomach and pelvis are really sore, and my feet start to swell.

This means I have been sitting a lot,not ideal, but again, you can’t predict how your pregnancy will go. The end goal is a healthy baby and mom, so I am trying to mentally let myself be okay with that. One of my other goals is to make sure I get in at least 120 oz of water a day. With the heat coming and natural swelling, I need to make sure I am well hydrated.

I still feel like I have one hundred things to do, including making a bunch of freezer meals since we just got a new upright freezer for the garage. If you have any suggestions send them my way!

The Mapmaker’s Children: Small Town Living

This post was inspired by The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy, a novel about two women are connected by an Underground Railroad doll. Join From Left to Write on May 19th as we discuss The Mapmaker’s Children. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


There are very few books that I’ve read for the book club that I haven’t liked, but this book stands out as one of my favorites! I love how the book weaves bits and pieces of history with two fictional storylines, it makes you believe that the whole novel could have happened.

I also feel like I could have taken this non-traditional review in a myriad of directions, but I feel like I’ve talked about a few of them a lot (miscarriage) or recently (teaching history).  It would be easy for me to take one of those topics, so let’s go with something that I haven’t really talked about. Small Town Living vs. Suburban Life.

I grew up in a very small town, so small that my high school was made up of at least eight different towns and our graduating class was still in the 200’s.


Hello Vermont

As soon as I graduated high school I went to a small private college in northern Vermont, it wasn’t what I was looking for. I ended up at a college in Worcester, MA, maybe not the best city, but it was certainly more entertaining than anywhere in Vermont. After graduation Nick and I ended up in Somerville, MA, just outside Boston. Even though we moved around a bit in that area, we eventually ended up in a suburb 15 minutes north of the city.

I don’t have any qualms with small town living, there are tons of perks. I never needed to lock my car doors, I didn’t think twice about working third shift at a convenience store (although maybe that was a bit naive), and I was pretty trusting of the majority of people. BUT everyone knew your shit, and I mean everyone. Nothing was a private matter, and people would gossip endlessly.

Obviously, suburban or city life can be a bit more intimidating. The closer you are to an urban area the more likely there is for dangerous things to happen near your home or town. I believe you can find pockets of  communities that mimic small town life. Neighborhoods with lots of kids, school communities, etc… I also find that people aren’t always poking in your private business and spreading that gossip around, at least that’s been my experience.

I don’t hate small town life, it molded me into part of the person I am, I do know that I could never go back to that type of living.

Are you a small town lifer or do you prefer to be near an urban center?