Pregnant With Number Two: Expectations vs. Reality

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People are surprised when I tell them I am way more nervous this time around.

When I was pregnant with Liam, I didn’t know many moms, or many babies for that matter, and the whole nine months was one big adventure. I didn’t know what to expect, so I rode the wave until delivery.

Ignorance is bliss, I guess.

These past two years, I’ve met many, many moms. I’ve heard terrible stories about scary ultrasound findings, chromosomal abnormalities, miscarriages, stillbirths, and bumpy deliveries. Many of these stories have haunted me. Many of them I still think about, now and then, wondering what I would do and how I would cope, if I was in that Mom’s shoes.

I was lucky enough to have a healthy pregnancy, delivery, and baby once with Liam. Could I be this lucky twice in a row? Could everything go as smoothly the second time around, too?

Early on in my pregnancy, I felt very uncertain about this, and it terrified me.

It still does.

Granted, I am now past a few of the scary milestones: the first trimester and daily fear of miscarriage is behind me, and so are many of my genetic tests and anatomy scan. A small weight has been lifted off my shoulders… but as many moms know from experience, I’m already anxiously awaiting the next milestone, the next confirmation that everything is still okay. For now.

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When I found out I was pregnant with Liam, I was 24. I am now 27. What changed?

Well, I became a mom, that’s what did. I am now an expert multi-tasker, accustomed to early wake ups and tantrums in crowded supermarkets. I stay calm. I do not panic. I share my days with Mickey Mouse, Dora, and Bubble Guppies. I am an expert toy organizer, professional snot sucker (only Moms know), and “toddler palate” chef extraordinaire. I make lists all day long, and my brain never shuts off. I have become acclimated to the roller coaster that is newborn-hood, infant-hood, toddlerhood. That’s what changed. I graduated baby bootcamp.

I know I have less time for myself with a toddler on my hands, so I listen to my body when it tells me to stop. When it’s had enough for the day, and it’s time to sit my butt down. I’m in tune with what my body tells me so I can preserve that much needed energy. Our house would literally fall to ashes without it (ask my husband, he’ll confirm.)

Although I have not given baby #2’s nursery a single thought and haven’t settled on a name yet, I do project myself more, imagining myself as a mother of two. The biggest changes are on the way, and I think about them often: Will Liam be jealous of his little brother? Will the lack of sleep be as difficult as the first time? How will I handle nights when Joe has to work? How different will it be to have a winter baby?

I always said I’d be an expert when baby number two came around, but I have to admit I forgot what it’s like to have a newborn. Kids evolve, transform, every single day. I now get why even my own mother could never answer my month-specific questions about infants. Your focus shifts every single day: you follow your child’s lead, leaving the past in the past.

My reality, today, is that this bump is way bigger than my 20 week bump with Liam, the pressure and bloat is getting real, and I’m a little nervous that I’m only halfway and most of the weight gain is ahead of me. My toddler could not care less about his baby brother, but I’ve been told that’s normal.

However, I’m lucky enough to feel energized during the day and still sleep eight hour nights. That I feel those flutters, kicks, and hiccups as I lie in bed at night. So many blessings and that’s what I’m focusing on. Although it’s safe to say 2017 has been a pretty evil year so far, throwing way too many obstacles my way, I continue to focus on my two little miracles, the two best distractions on the planet.

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3 Local, Westchester Farms You Must Visit This Fall

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It’s that time of the year again, but it doesn’t have to be all about those apples! Check out my post for Westchester County Moms Blog and discover the many treasures you can pick locally!

Writing About Hurricanes

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I too often get asked why in the world I left the Caribbean to come to New York almost a decade ago.

Saint Martin is, indeed, viewed as one of the most picture perfect destinations on the planet. Sandy beaches, tropical breeze, easygoing island vibe… Really, what else could you ask for?

Unfortunately, what those people don’t realize is that when hurricane season strikes, it is often unforgiving. Sint Maarten/Saint Martin’s economy is almost solely based on tourism, and a hurricane means destruction, weeks and weeks of renovations.

You would think that Caribbean islands would be well prepared for these super storms, but many of the homes tourists see as charming little shacks are simply made of colorful wood panels and sheet metal roofs. They stand no chance against harsh winds. Our roads flood easily and our wildlife takes months, sometimes even years, to replenish itself.

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I still remember the gut wrenching feeling I felt, on my first day back to school after Hurricane Luis, in 1995. Before its devastation, the drive across the island was a beautiful ones, speckled in yellow butterflies.

It took almost a decade for them to come back.

Although I was only five when Hurricane Luis paid my island a visit, the memories are vivid in my mind. I can still picture my father cracking open the front door during the eye of the storm. First, seeing the sky, blinding and white, like a water-soaked sheet hanging low above our heads. Then, down at the upturned earth at my feet. Ripped roots and snapped trees all around us, the air dangerously still. I stared up into the light until it was time to go back in.

It hurt too much to look down.

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I have been writing about hurricanes my whole life. Trying to make sense of them, mourn the losses, and learn to forgive them, see them as an inevitable part of nature’s cycle. I have written through anger and tears until I dropped the pen and accepted that what had happened was behind us, that it was time to rebuild. Even if, at times, it felt impossible. My Uncle’s disappearance at sea, almost two decades ago, was one of those times.

We are still rebuilding.

 

I come from a place

where September means

spiders crawling up mosquito nets

mosquito eggs in the water well

hurricanes and canned peas for days

Sleeping on half deflated pool mattresses

praying the roof stays on

the wind beating the boarded windows

and the dogs in the other room

howling like wolves

Where September means

unscrewing the planks on

the windows and doors

water to our ankles

the smell of upturned soil

and trees bent like zipwire

birds and frogs in the pool filter

September

Where I come from

is watching trees

car tires and sheet metal

dragged down the street

in newly-formed rivers

Mama mourning her brother

at the helm of his black sailboat

somewhere West

between

St. Croix and St. Thomas

because the harbor was

full

These past few years, we were all blessed and thankful that no hurricane headed right for our island’s shores. Today, however, we aren’t so lucky. Irma will hit us hard, and I sit here tonight, in my New York bedroom, feeling uneasy and helpless. There is nothing to do but pray that the storm will pass quickly, sparing my family and friends. Who knows how long telephone lines will be down, how much of the destruction will be fixable in the next few weeks.

As I get carried away in my thoughts and words, I send a virtual hug to all of those who will be affected by Hurricane Irma this week. All of those who have experience or heard of Luis’s destruction, and are too familiar with what is to come. Stay strong. Hold those that you love tightly. Keep them close. Be kind to your neighbors and friends. Material things are nothing in comparison to health and safety.

I will be sleeping lightly tonight, thinking of the island I will always call home.

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Surprise! It’s a…

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Hi guys! We’ve been so incredibly busy this week with Liam and appointments (so sorry for being MIA!), but it was so worth it. We found out some incredible news 🙂 and couldn’t be happier to finally know the gender of our little baby to be!

When I was pregnant with Liam, my husband was adamant on finding out the gender just the two of us. He wanted that “special” moment, and I agreed. Not only did I not want to wait a few more days until a party to find out (so impatient!), but I also felt like the intimate moment, without the chaos and excitement of a party, would suit us better. I knew how badly my husband wanted a son (he grew up with a single mom and two sisters!) and wanted him to have that moment.

For this reason, we decided to do the same for baby #2: we found out the gender ahead of time (with our little Liam, of course!) and announced the good news to each of our families that afternoon.

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As some of you may know, my family lives in the French Caribbean (on the beautiful island of St. Martin) and my extended family pretty much all over France (even some in Canada!) My husband’s family is spread out in New York.

Since we couldn’t have a huge gathering for our reveal, we decided it would be fun to personalize each gender announcement. That meant five different gender reveals! So much fun 🙂

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For my husband’s Mom and sisters, we had a backyard baseball reveal that was a huge hit! Everyone kept raving about how amazing the baseball idea was. We got our baseballs on Amazon, here. Couldn’t recommend them more!

Are you ready? Here it is!

It’s a…

For my parents, currently in France, we decided on these adorable, customized push pops by Paris312Party. Of course we went with a superhero theme! They were truly beautiful to look at, and even a shame to pop!

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For my best friend, Jeanette, we chose these absolutely beautiful poppers by En Fête. The tissue paper was so much more than blue – she mixed sheer white and gold tissue paper to  make the colors really pop. I knew the “surprise” ahead of time, but was really caught off guard by how beautiful the pop was!

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For Joe’s friends, we thought it would be fun to do a golf reveal! Since he injured his elbow, he was unable to fully swing with both hands, but oh well… it worked! Such a great idea by FBA Pro!

And finally, for my grandparents, we went with Gender Reveal‘s fun, multicolor confetti push pops. They were sweet enough to send us a mix of biodegradable paper confetti after taking a look at my site and understanding my philosophy a little bit better! Their push pops really stood out and the colors were bold and truly stunning!

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There you have it! Soon to be (Proud) Mama of two BOYS! Yup… I always said I’d be a boy mom! Let the fun begin!

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I love that all of our family members had a personalized reveal. It made up for the fact that we weren’t able to all celebrate together. Liam had a blast being involved in each video, as I’m sure you can tell from all of these videos. He definitely loves confetti!

We will cherish these moments forever and absolutely cannot wait for our second little man to arrive. Thank you to our partners for making this pregnancy extra special for us!

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Second Pregnancy Must-Haves

Hi Mamas! Now that the cat’s out of the bag, I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to write from a pregnancy standpoint again. I loved sharing my journey towards a natural birth when I was pregnant with Liam, and am thrilled to be able to share some of my experiences as both a toddler mom and an expecting mom for the second time. So much to write about!

With Liam, I went way overboard during my pregnancy . I got that enormous body pregnancy pillow, every possible cream, balm, and lotion for stretch marks, and all the pregnancy books I could get my hands on. However, I did miss some of the essentials – those little things that are easy to miss but make a world of a difference.

With the experience I gained from my first rodeo, here are some of the basics I think all second time moms should plan for, if possible:

 

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Left: Rumor Has It / Right: Evfalia

Granted, I was pregnant during the winter with Liam, but I didn’t splurge on maternity leggings until I was near the end of the third trimester and literally couldn’t fit into anything I owned. I never bought any jeans, either, and played the whole “I wear leggings as pants” card. No one ever bugs a pregnant woman 😉

This time around, however, I’m already popping! Since it’s nice and warm in New York at the moment, I try to wear loose dresses most of the time, but I did have to buy some maternity pants much earlier than I thought I would. I didn’t remember how uncomfortable pants were during my first pregnancy.

Even my comfortable, workout leggings end up sucking all the air out of me by the end of the day. Not fun. Do yourself a favor and buy all the comfortable clothes before you desperately need them – it will make your first and second trimesters a lot easier.

Two of my favorite maternity legging brands are Rumor Has It and Evfalia, both available on Amazon. They’re super soft, with a wide, comfortable waistband, and can be worn throughout all three trimesters. Check them out!

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With Liam, I started feeling lower back pain near the end of my second trimester and most of my third. This time around, I already get little pangs now and then, especially when I take stroller walks or have overall active days.

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AZMED Maternity Belt

I hated feeling so uncomfortable when I was pregnant with Liam, but never thought to purchase a maternity belt. It really helps ease the discomfort of pregnancy by supporting your baby bump and providing gentle compression in the abdominal, hip, and pelvic areas. It also helps prevent you from straining your back (you know what I’m talking about, toddler moms!) by lessening spinal pressure effectively. As a bonus, it also helps correct poor posture. I got mine (pictured above) at a great price on Amazon!

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When you have long, tiring days with a toddler, it’s so important to get a good night’s sleep. I splurged on a few really, really comfortable cotton PJ sets to last me during my whole pregnancy and beyond, and it’s really helped me relax after those seemingly endless days of play dough and Bubble Guppies.

Same goes for bras – if you’re anything like me, you got rid of all your underwire bras during your first pregnancy (or save them for outings and special occasions, at the very least) and fell in love with padded bralettes and sports bras. Comfortable, practical, supportive, painless… a mom’s best friend! Forever 21 and H&M have a bunch of inexpensive options.

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I know, you only have one kiddo to worry about, so why the hassle? Trust me – I went through maybe five or six diaper bags and they were either too big, too small, too bulky, the zipper broke, the design was awkward… there was always something. Find a bag that you actually like to carry around, one that is designed intelligently, and is easy to care for. I found my dream diaper bag after about two years of bag hunting, and I love how easy it is.

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Washable Diaper Bag by Wild Baby

As you can see above, the bag is made of 100% upcycled denim, a zero waste process that makes premium-quality fabrics sustainable and eco-friendly. Totally my style!

The stroller straps are incredibly sturdy and work on basically any stroller. The bag is cotton lined and machine washable, a huge plus for us considering how much wear it gets. We take it everywhere!

The design is incredibly practical, with four side pockets (including a wipe dispenser and bottle pocket) that can literally fit all of the essentials. I love its casual, easy-going look and honestly have plenty of room to spare for baby #2. Get one here, you won’t regret it! 

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One of the best purchases I made this year was a reusable water bottle. Not only do I feel less guilty (I used to go through those Poland Spring bottles like no other!), but I can also track how much I drink throughout the day, something that is essential during pregnancy. I got my 32 oz bottle at TJ Maxx for under seven dollars. Do it!

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This one will be different for everyone. Whether you decide to jump into a swimming routine, morning walks, or Zumba classes, that’s entirely up to you! Follow your gut when you pick your workout, and listen to your body. You’ll know if you’re pushing yourself too hard and if it doesn’t feel right (just like I knew it was time to drop those early morning boot camp classes!)

I chose pilates because the mix of lengthening, toning, and stretching is everything I need right now. Having practiced pilates for about seven years now, I know which exercises involve too much curling up and lower ab work, so I just do what I can without straining. I’ve been loving reformer pilates because the springs and cables really assist my movements and make it a more gentle, fluid workout.

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LUCKAYA Non-Slip, Grip, Sticky Socks

For the reformer, I’ve been wearing these adorable cotton grip socks that help me feel cute during my workouts. They’re super affordable, come in a few different colors (black, pink, and gray), and, as a bonus, you’ll receive a 6 foot long stretching strap to help you hold and extend poses as well as carry your yoga mat.

Grip socks mandatory on the reformer machine, but amazing for yoga, barre, ballet, mat pilates, and other workouts (even for walking down the halls of the hospital during labor!). This is the first brand of socks that truly makes me feel as if I’m working out barefoot. I love them!  Get two pairs and a stretching strap for under fifteen bucks here!

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With my first pregnancy, I dumped all of my skincare and makeup products into the trash and went all organic. Although I must admit that was a little extreme, there is nothing more important that watching what you put in and on your body during pregnancy. There are many, many ingredients that can be harmful to your unborn baby, so it is essential to be informed and careful. For example, avoid all products with parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, retinoids (in prescription acne and anti-aging medications, for example), benzoyl peroxide, and salicylic acid.

The Australian-born brand Milk & Co stems from a yearning to make quality skincare products as easy and accessible as possible. Their women’s face & body line is 95% naturally derived and covers a wide range of products from sunscreens and body lotions to scrubs and face wash. I love their baby line as well, along with their amazing room sprays (we swear by the Stinky Winky spray!) Their goji fruit extract, ylang ylang oil, and hibiscus flower extract face wash is my absolute go-to during pregnancy. Check out their website here!

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The Cronometer app is my current obsession. I’ve always been a health and nutrition person, but this app really allows me to track what I eat and figure out what I’m lacking daily. I recently went vegan (that’ll be a blog post for another day), and it’s reassuring to see that I’m not deficient in anything, especially during pregnancy. Vegan or not, I think all pregnant moms should be attentive to their diets (especially during the first trimester when you’re surviving off of saltines and watermelon), and this app really helps you look at your diet objectively. There’s always room for improvement, and I love the challenge to be healthier every day!

To find out what else I couldn’t live without during my first pregnancy, check out my “First Trimester Must-Haves”!

 

It’s Our Wedding Anniversary! But That’s Not All…

Hi Mamas!

Today, Joe and I are celebrating our relationship, our family, and the home we built together. Three years have flown by, and quite a lot has changed since that summer day we exchanged our vows with our feet in the sand and the push and pull of waves in the distance.

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Actually… Everything has changed.

Less than a year after that idyllic day, we welcomed Liam, the sunshine of our lives. He taught us to be better versions of ourselves, and every single day we strive to be the best parents that we can be, for him. He is our motivation.

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It has been a blessing to watch this little seed of our love grow into a little man of his own, watch as he develops his strong personality and sense of independence (“Liam Riehm do!”) We’re so incredibly lucky and proud to be able to witness it all.

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But remember how I said on social media that I had some very exciting news to share this morning?

Well…

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…. And we can finally share it with the world 🙂

We are so excited to announce that our little family of three will be expanding in February 2018!

The question is: A little Superman or Supergirl… what will it be? Stay tuned! 

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( As you can see, I had a hard time picking just one announcement photo – They’re just too cute, I couldn’t help myself! Love our little Clark Kent ♥  )