I’m sitting here, feet propped on my favorite leather chair with the baby monitor whispering white noise tones in the background. When I peek at the monitor, I stare at one daughter for ten seconds before it flips to the other one. Their silhouettes resemble one another but mostly, I see how fast time goes. I look at Quinn wearing Coco’s old hand-me-downs and then I glance up at the flash of my toddler (usually naked) and just see how fast time goes. I mean, time is just flying, and getting to do this all over again has been such a trip. It’s incredible how fleeting and temporary every stage is, and while it can paralyze me with this question of “am I being present enough, will I remember all of these moments?”—it also reminds me to just soak it in, to notice, to slow down and be here.
This past month (like all others) flew by so fast. Our last two weeks in Arizona were filled with hosting and visitors and lots of memory-making. From my college roomies to more family time, our calendar was filled and the time flew. We reluctantly got back on a plane to fly home, back to the tundra, and were greeted with so much snow and two cute dogs who missed us. I am so thankful we were able to escape to the sunshine and miss the majority of the sub-zero temps. Having a newborn and an active toddler and not being able to be outside in that postpartum fog sounds crazy challenging, so our return was filled with a ton of gratitude that we were able to head south for a few months as we settled into life as a family of four.
Finding Our New Normal
I was excited to get home and figure out our new normal and what our routine would be. While the free-flowing life was wonderful, I started to really crave a little more certainty and structure, and heading home and getting back to work helped us craft a new schedule. The first three months, Quinn wasn’t really on any sort of schedule, which was awesome for being on the go and more flexible, but now we all needed something different. Upon getting home, we got Coco back to school from 8AM-12PM each day and started to figure out a consistent nap schedule for little Q! Within three days, she was like clockwork being awake for 90 minutes before napping for a solid 90! We scooted her bed to our walk-in closet so that it’s close to our room but away from the noise, and (minus the minor annoyance when you need a new shirt and she’s napping) it’s been a great solution and the perfect dark space for her to rest.
Based on what time she wakes up in the morning, she will either ride in the car for Coco’s drop-off or she’ll stay back with me and I’ll put her down for her first nap. She’s pretty consistent so it’s been incredible just honoring her sleep needs but also not playing the guessing game of wondering what she needs or if she’s tired or hungry or both. Drew has been incredible and getting up at like 5AM each morning to work out before the girls get up which gives me more help during the day so I can get a bit more focused work done. His commitment and consistency is super inspiring and he’s far more relaxed after he gets that movement in! This is definitely a unique season but it’s amazing what teamwork and a little flexibility can do.
I jumped back into work with a launch (yahoo!) and also flexed my “asking for help” muscle and found an office space literally blocks from our home that I have been able to use (thanks to an amazing female entrepreneur who offered it to me literally years ago!) and so I was able to record my webinars right down the road but without fear of dogs barking or babies crying. It was definitely a test but thankfully I was able to juggle mom life and work life and ease back on in while being reminded that I LOVE what I do!
Things we can’t live without:
- This baby balm: Yes, it’s made another appearance here because we traded the dry desert air for the cold Minnesota winter and this is a must-have. I use it on nearly everything whether it’s Coco’s little scabs or owies to Quinnie’s precious skin. I have it on my nightstand and use it as eye cream and lip balm, this stuff is a miracle worker. Use code ‘JK10’ at checkout for 10% off!
- This baby blanket: Hear me out, this isn’t cheap BUT we use it every single day. One of our friends bought us the big version of this blanket and we fight over it constantly. It travels around the house with us and so when I saw they made baby blankets, I was sucked in. We use this blankie all the darn time and I honestly love it. While I’m tempted to steal it, it’s little Q’s!
- This baby carrier: We have every kind of carrier known to man, but this one is Drew’s favorite. He was so excited when she was finally big enough to be front-facing so he could wear it. While I love wraps and baby slings, Drew loves this one and has definitely been using it more when I’m working or doing one-on-one time with Coco!
- This sleepsack: Quinn has been a pretty good sleeper and these last few weeks have been even better. We’re down to one wake up a night for most nights and she’s been such a great napper. We use this sleepsack for every nap and love that she can have her arms out since that’s what she’s preferred since day one. It also inspires me to get out my own weighted blankie, too! Ahhh.
- This dual monitor: The age-old dual monitor debate. We got this set which is two cameras and a monitor and we are obsessed. Not only are they crazy easy to set up but they are great to travel with and don’t require your phone or Wifi! I love that it pans between their rooms and you can set the delay. You can also talk through the monitor (I sing and pray to Coco every night!) and it’s just an all-around great option, especially for people like us who don’t love having their phone on them all of the time.
- This glass bottle: Keep on reading if you want to read about our struggle with bottle-feeding Quinnie. This is highly unique for us. Coco took a bottle from day one so it’s been a struggle figuring this out and something I wish we had started sooner. Since I’ve exclusively breastfed her the entire time, we never really worried too much about her transitioning to a bottle when I got back to work! We’ve tried four different kinds of bottles and this has been the winner! These ones have also worked for us, just not as well (and both this one and this one were highly recommended from my audience!)
My postpartum health journey:
There’s something exceptionally different for me this time around in that, now that I feel sure that I am done with having children, I feel like I want to really move forward and focus on my health. I also have this deep desire to have the energy required to be a great and active mama while simultaneously running a successful business and launching a business. At the beginning of the year, I did something called “Levels” which is a continuous glucose monitor to watch your insulin response to food in real-time and look at your metabolic health. I did it a year ago before I got pregnant with Quinn and wanted to do it again to see how my metabolic health was in my postpartum season. Through Levels, I also hired a nutritionist to read my data and work one-on-one with me. Turns out, my nutritionist, Brigid was a listener of the podcast and ready and willing to help me work towards my goals. I’ve been meeting virtually with her every other week on creating a plan for my health and habits to help me boost my energy and feel strong and healthy!
I’ve been doing small tweaks and also did a lot of labs to check for any nutrient deficiencies, any needs, and to look deeper at what’s going on in my body and how we can best support it. It’s been really great for me, since my only experience with these types of tests has been around my fertility and loss, so to be doing it with a goal of just feeling good, energized, and strong has been wonderful. I also loved doing this while on maternity leave just so I could create habits that would support my goals when work got busy again. I’ll report back on more (if you’re curious!) but wanted to share that this is something I’m doing right now and it’s been super beneficial for me!
I will say, one of my biggest concerns about entrepreneurship and motherhood was figuring out a way to cover our medical and health expenses without having an insanely high health insurance bill each month, but we’ve found a solution that really works for us in an incredible way. Years ago we joined Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM) after a bunch of our entrepreneurial friends recommended it. CHM is a healthcare cost-sharing ministry, which means that eligible medical expenses are shared amongst all the members. It’s been amazing for us as a family, especially since all of our birth expenses were shared and paid for. And since we haven’t had frequent medical needs, we love that the money we send in every month (our “monthly gift amount”) goes directly to helping other members in need. It’s honestly been a dream for us and gives us peace of mind, allows us to help others in the community, and submit our bills when we do have medical events. I want to shout them out because it’s been an absolute Godsend in this season of new motherhood and I know we can feel secure in our health needs no matter what happens.
Things I Don’t Want to Forget:
I am constantly in awe of Coco and her love (and concern) for her sister. As I write this, Coco is upstairs talking in a baby voice saying, “Kinnie is soooo cute.” I am shocked but Coco has never once acted out towards “her” baby and is always understanding if we have to focus on Quinn for a few minutes. From Coco wanting to wake her up in the morning to helping grab me diapers or getting her a toy, Coco has been an exceptional and warm big sister. I’ll catch myself daydreaming of the future when they are running around together but then I look at this reality and just stop and smile. It’s honestly surreal to me that I am a mom and that I have two daughters.
The other night I caught myself thinking of our miscarriages and the babies I never got to meet. It might sound weird but I thanked them because their losses taught me so much, put me on a path of healing, helped me reprioritize my life, and they also led me to Quinn and Coco. While it felt so incredibly dark navigating life in the midst of the unknown, I can now see that that season of waiting was necessary for me and blessed me in so many ways. I will never understand why we went through what we did and I will always think of those babies, but I also pause when looking at life today and see how it all unfolded in a way that I believe was orchestrated. Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t trust it, I can feel it now.
(PS, if this is something you’re walking through and if you believe in prayer, CHM has a powerful blog post that might support your fertility journey.)
Our struggles with bottle feeding:
File this under: things I’m reminding myself are temporary in this season! While sleep is improving dramatically in our household, we’ve encountered a newer challenge: getting Quinn to drink a bottle. It’s admittedly something we didn’t focus on the first few months but now something that we’re struggling with. I used to think when people said their baby wouldn’t take a bottle that they just weren’t trying hard enough, but both Drew and my mom (who is like our baby whisperer/expert/extraordinaire) even admitted that she is pretty good at refusing the bottle. We’re now finding ourselves in a logistics nightmare trying to figure out how I can do my work commitments while still full-time nursing as we try to teach Quinn to take the bottle.
I feel like we’re in an experiment, we’ve gotten her checked for tongue and lip ties, tried out four different kinds of bottles (so far, favorites are MAM and Haaka bottles!) but we think we cracked the code that I have a high amount of Lipase (an enzyme) in my milk that make thawed frozen milk smell metallic or soapy. So now that we’ve gotten her to drink multiple bottles of fresh milk, we’ve nixed out the lip tie theory, and now we’re figuring out how we can use up my frozen stash that I worked so hard on and mix it with fresh milk to get her to drink it! We’ve also tried a drop of (alcohol-free) vanilla in the milk that cuts the taste of the enzyme and makes it easier to drink! Who knew it could be so complex, right?
Today Drew ran her to the office in the 5 minutes I had between interviews to get some milk in her and while it works, it’s honestly a big mental burden to constantly be worried she’s starving and trying to show up fully while thinking about her at home. Thankfully I’m in charge of my schedule and can feed her when she needs it most days (a privilege, for sure) but with big things coming up like my book release in June, I am worried about how we will navigate it if I’m on call every few hours to feed. We’re going to keep practicing and trying different things to see if we can figure out a solution while exploring our options!