10 Things I Didn’t Expect About Being a Mom to a Newborn

Now that my daughter is almost a year old, I’ve been reflecting back a lot.  I’m thankful to have a super content, happy baby these days, but the beginning months were really difficult for me. I knew that being a mom would be hard.  Rewarding, but exhausting.  We were the last of most of our friends to have a kid and our friends are pretty open & honest, so I thought my expectations were well-set. But, there were a few things I did not anticipate about those first few months having a newborn…

  1. My baby’s birth day was not the best day of my life. I knew childbirth would be really hard, especially because my plan was to do it without medication.  It is called labor after all. But, I thought millions of women have done this throughout history, I can do it too.  I did it, but the pain of back labor left me kind of traumatized.  (Read my birth story here.)  I’ve had hundreds of better days than being in excruciating pain trying to push a baby out. It was absolutely incredible (and a relief) to finally meet my daughter, so that moment was the best. But, the day itself was terrible.
  2. Breastfeeding may be natural, but it can feel impossible. Breastfeeding is another thing that I had heard plenty of stories about.  I knew it could be painful and take lots of practice through the pain.  But, I thought that getting help from a lactation consultant could fix all those things.  Or that maybe people just gave up too quickly. I am so glad it is an easy, beautiful thing for some people, but, for some of us, there can be so many obstacles to overcome.  I’ve made it almost 11 months and it still isn’t easy.  I’m shocked and so grateful we haven’t had to supplement with formula, but I will never think less of anyone who has to for their sanity or to ensure baby is fed. Read our breastfeeding journey here.
  3. You may dread car rides.  I thought that putting baby in a car seat and driving around was supposed to be this magical, instantly calming thing to make them stop crying and fall asleep.  Or your baby is like mine and instantly loses it as soon as you put them in the car seat and proceeds to scream the entire drive where ever you are going.  Maybe they will quiet down a bit once you get going on the highway, but the second you hit traffic or a red light, the screaming resumes. I’ve never hated yellow lights so much.
  4. Pacifiers will ruin nothing.  Nor will they solve everything. I heard & read that you should never give a baby a pacifier before 2 weeks old or you could ruin breastfeeding, so I was going to try my best to follow that.  Maybe it’s just my baby, but she wasn’t dumb- she knew the difference between something milk is coming out of and something it’s not. We made it a few days before getting desperate enough to try it; of course, she wouldn’t even take it, so it wasn’t very helpful.
  5. How it was possible to get so little sleep and still function. Maybe your baby slept through the night at 4 weeks old. Awesome. Mine didn’t until 9 months and I know some would even be thankful for that. To nap those first three months, she had to be held. Thank the Lord for my mom who would come over to hold her while I napped and for the solly wrap that allowed me to wear her and be hands-free to get things done. I still can’t even fathom how I worked full time and took care of a 3-month old fussy baby getting only a couple hours of sleep each night, but I did it. Somehow, you survive. P.S. If you aren’t a parent yet or pregnant, I recommend not saying you’re “exhausted” to anyone with a baby.
  6. Some babies are hot-natured.  I’ve always seen newborns bundled in so many clothes and blankets babies sleeping in footed fleece onesies and thought that’s what you were supposed to do.  My daughter has only worn socks like 4 times in her life.  I’ve gotten plenty of judgmental looks from strangers, but I realized very early on that she was getting extremely hot in “typical” newborn attire, so I stopped.  She wears long sleeve onesies and a muslin sleep sack to sleep every night and she’s just fine.  And it’s got to be cooler than 70 degrees out to even consider pants. Every baby is different.
  7. Bottles can take practice.  Babies love milk. But, even when a bottle is filled with that magical goodness, they still may reject it as if it is poison. We tried 5 types of bottles with the milk at different temperatures and several individuals trying in various positions over the course of two weeks.  Nothing was working. Then, finally, the week before I went back to work, my friend (thanks, Emily!) held her while standing, bouncing and facing the tv and she finally drank it. From then on, she took it no problem. Why did that have to be so hard!?
  8. Schedule? What is a schedule? If parenthood has taught me anything, it is to be flexible. If I followed the eat every 3-4 hours advice, my daughter, who struggled to get enough milk or gain weight, would have been a failure to thrive.  I nursed on demand and I’m thankful I did. But, it kept us home most of the time in those early months. I am still amazed when I see people out and about with their newborns because our fussy baby who needed to eat constantly wouldn’t really allow that. Eat, Play, Sleep?  No way. Not for us.  She nursed to sleep for months because it was the only way she would sleep.  She’s always napped when she’s tired and I watch for cues instead of watching the clock.  It’s what is best for her.
  9. The diaper part isn’t so bad, except for the blowouts. I thought I would find it far more annoying to change diapers all day than I did. Exclusively breastfed newborn baby diapers are not bad… Even my husband was surprised at how not terrible it was pre-solids. But, there is just something about that poo that no matter the brand/size/fit of a diaper, you are bound to have a blowout every once in awhile. And it will always happen when you’ve just put them in a cute outfit or are about to walk out the door.
  10. It can strengthen your marriage. I heard so many warnings about how having a kid is really hard on your marriage… yes, there is certainly less downtime and date nights are fewer and far between, but you still end up with many quiet evenings at home together.  Of course, it takes work, but I’ve found that us both being in the “we have absolutely no idea what we are doing” stage together, especially when we were both beyond exhausted, bonded us immensely.  I’ve realized more than ever how well we complement each other and what a great team we can be.  I’m also thankful for the 5 years pre-kid we had to travel and learn how to communicate.

We could have never gotten through this trying time without our friends bringing us meals, supportive texts and prayers, and help from my parents, especially my mama who would come over to pray over me, hold the baby while I slept, encourage me through nursing struggles, bring me lunch, make me tea and even clean my house. If you’re in the thick of it, I pray you have a community to support you too.

Parents- is there anything missing from this list you would add?  Were those first few months rough for anyone else?


My Favorite Diffusing Combos

One of the ways I use essential oils every day is through aromatherapy. I almost always have some essential oils in my diffuser at home and on my desk at work. Research has shown that the fragrance of essential oils can have a profound impact on the limbic system (our emotions), the hypothalamus (our hormones), and on the oxygenation & function of the brain.  Today, I’m sharing some of my go-to essential oil blends to diffuse when I’m sick, stressed, or just want to clear the air:

EO Allergy BlendSeasonal Allergy Blend:

  • Lavender (4 drops) – Lavender is an incredible natural antihistamine and helps reduce inflammation in the sinuses.
  • Peppermint (2 drops) – The minty freshness of peppermint opens up the airways, helping you breathe and easing congestion.
  • Lemon (2 drops) – Lemon is another natural antihistamine that helps reduce inflammatory response and mucus.
  • If you have a sinus headache, add 3 drops of Copaiba – it’s a super strong anti-inflammatory that helps with pain relief.
  • *I used this same blend mixed with coconut oil to calm my skin and relieve itching when I had an allergic reaction that caused a rash.

Odor EliminatorOdor Eliminator:

  • Purification (3 drops) – This stuff is magical – it disinfects the air and neutralizes bad odors, including those from mildew and smoke. It’s a blend of citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, tea tree, lavandin, and myrtle.
  • Lemon (4 drops) – Lemon helps to cleanse and disinfect the air while adding an invigorating, clean aroma.
  • This blend is also fantastic for getting rid of that mustiness in your washing machine or added to carpet spray used on pet accidents.


  • RC (5 drops) – aka “Respiratory Congestion,” this incredible blend of oils provides significant relief from colds, sore throats and sinus issues. It contains many oils that help open up airways: Myrtle, (3 kinds of) Eucalyptus, Marjoram, Pine, Cypress, Spruce, and Peppermint
  • Lemon (2 drops) – Lemon helps to reduce excess mucus and to open up lymph pathways for proper drainage.

Immune BoosterImmune Booster

  • Thieves (4 drops ) – With powerful ingredients like clove, cinnamon, lemon, eucalyptus and rosemary, this oil has proven through research and history to boost the immune system and disinfect the air of germs.
  • Lemon (2 drops) – Lemon helps to cleanse the body of toxins and opens up your lymphatic system.
  • Tea Tree (2 drops) – Promotes cleansing and purity, helping fight infection.


  • Lime (2 drop)  – Stimulates a tired mind and renews your spirit.
  • Lavender (2 drops) – Calming & relaxing.
  • Stress Away (4 drops) – My favorite blend… it truly does help take the stress of the day away.  It contains Copaiba (to help soothe), Lime, Cedarwood, Vanilla (because who doesn’t love that wonderful fragrance!?), Ocotea (creates peaceful environment) and Lavender.

Happy BrightHappy & Bright – My very favorite everyday combo!

  • Joy (4 drops) – A delightful blend of beautiful oils that brings positive energy to the household. It promotes romance and harmony. It’s a mix of bergamot (relieves stress and tension), ylang ylang (to balance crazy hormones), geranium, lemon, coriander, tangerine (calming), jasmine (promotes feelings of love and support), roman chamomile, palmarosa, and rose (creates a romantic, magnetic energy).
  • Lemon (4 drops) – Purifies and provides a bright, uplifting fragrance.

Bedtime BlendBedtime Blend:

  • Lavender (4 drops) – Lavender is calming to the body, both mentally and physically. A University of Miami study found that inhalation of lavender increase beta waves in the brain, leading to heightened relaxation; and an Osaka Kyoiku University study found that it reduced mental stress.
    • Since lavender is one of the most commonly adulterated oils (chemical fragrances are added), you have to be careful where you buy it. I once bought a bottle from the grocery store when I ran out and, while it (mostly) smelled the same, it had zero effect on inducing relaxation like my Young Living bottle did!
  • Stress Away (3 drops) – The perfect blend to help you wind down for the day.  It contains Copaiba, Lime, Cedarwood (to release melatonin), Vanilla, Ocotea and Lavender.
  • Variation: If you have them, add a couple drops of each of the following to the Lavender instead of Stress Away: Cedarwood – stimulates the pineal gland to release melatonin, and  Ylang Ylang – Restores peace and balances hormones (can help reduce cortisol spikes that inhibit sleepiness).

Oh Happy DayOh Happy Day!

  • Peace & Calming (4-5 drops) – I think the name says it all… this blend truly does bring emotional peace. It’s a blend of tangerine (combats nervousness), orange (sedating and calming), ylang ylang, patchouli (clarifies thoughts and promotes grounding), and blue tansy.
  • Frankincense (2 drops) – Increases spiritual awareness and improves attitude. This oil was used throughout the Bible to enhance connection to God through worship and prayer.

What are your favorite blends to add to the diffuser? Let me know how you like these!

Source: Essential Oils Pocket Reference

For more information on essential oils and why I chose the Young Living brand, visit this page.

P.S. It’s important to be careful how you diffuse essential oils into the air because when you heat them, it destroys the healing compounds. I use a cool air diffuser that uses ultrasonic technology to mix the oil with water and disperse into the air. This atomizer activates the healing effects of the oils and allows the aromas to stay in the air for longer.  Plus, it’s also a humidifier so is great to put by your bed when you’re sick.  When you order a starter kit from Young Living, it comes with an amazing diffuser – read here for how to get started.

Product Review: Jawbone UP24

Remember that New Year’s resolution you made a couple months ago?  How’s that going?  If you are looking for some motivation to get back on track, I would highly recommend a fitness tracker.  With so many options on the market, there really is something for everyone.  But, with the abundance of choices, it can be totally overwhelming to decide which one to get.  You could spend hours researching the articles online that provide comparisons on every single feature; ultimately, it comes down to what is most important to you.  After a lot of research, I decided on the Jawbone UP24 and I have loved it!  Here’s what I was looking for in a fitness tracker and how this band matches up…


Looks Good – If I was going to wear something 24/7, it had to be something I would want to wear.  I chose the Jawbone UP24 because it was one of the sleekest options, with a thin band and simple design.  There are plenty of options that are a bit more fashionable, but I wasn’t really looking for something that would stand out.  I wanted neutral and understated, so I chose the black (Onyx) color. I only wish they would offer an even more neutral light gray option.

Feels Good – In terms of comfort, the band fits perfectly and I barely notice it anymore. I used the measurement chart on their website and got a medium (my husband’s large fits him well) – it does stretch slightly over time, so keep that in mind.  It’s easy to take on and off when you need to, which I really only do when I shower (it is splash resistant, but I’d rather not risk it).  Wearing it at night while I sleep hasn’t bothered me a bit.  My only two annoyances are: it can be irritating to type on a laptop -my husband actually takes his off at his desk- and it can get caught up in sweaters or jackets as I’m putting them on.  This tracker does not monitor heart rate – while that does improve accuracy, I was never going to wear a band around my chest every day.

Easy to Use – From the time I opened the package to get this set up, this tracker has been effortless.  I simply downloaded the free app, my band synced via Bluetooth and it was ready to go.  The app is easy to navigate and intuitive.  All of the information I want to know is in one place and the goals & reminders are easy to set up.  Plus, the homepage acts kind of like a newsfeed, showing you what your friends are up to and how you & they are meeting set goals. The band itself has a button on it that you press to go into sleep mode or to turn off the alarm – it’s super simple and you don’t need to open the app to perform those commands.

Today Goal Summary

Syncs Automatically – This tracker connects via Bluetooth to the app on your phone.  No need to remember to plug it in at the end of each day or connect to your computer.  I know where I am at throughout the day just by opening the app on my phone or through the notifications I’ve chosen for it to send.  The app also ties in with MyFitnessPal to track your calories and MapMyFitness to track your exercise.  I’m not really a calorie-counter (read why here), but I do like to keep a food diary for personal accountability, so it’s been helpful to see how I am balancing food intake & movement.

Battery Life – One of the reasons I chose the Jawbone UP24 is its battery life.  It lasts a solid 7 days and notifies you when you have a day left to charge.  Plus, it only takes about 30 minutes to fully charge again.  It comes with a connector that I plug in directly to my iPhone USB charger adaptor, so I didn’t have to purchase anything additional.  One TV-show or morning commute worth of charging and you’re good to go for the week – I love it!

Sleep Monitor/Alarm – Does anyone else hate their alarm clock?  Okay, I knew I wasn’t the only one. This tracks your sleep and will wake you up at the most ideal time in the morning.  I simply set the alarm for the time I must wake up by and within 30 minutes of that time, if I transition into light sleep, it will begin vibrating to wake me up gently.  This has been magical for me as I no longer have that panicked alarm wake up anymore.  It feels natural to wake up.  I was also curious to see how many hours and the quality of sleep I was really getting each night.  This tracker has been great for keeping me on a consistent bedtime schedule and making sure I meet my 8 hours per night goal – it reminds you when you should get ready for bed each night. Then, each morning, I can see how long it took me to fall asleep, how much deep sleep I got, how many times I woke up, etc. – it’s been enlightening.

Sleep Tracking

Cost – There can be quite a range of price for fitness trackers.  Honestly, I really wasn’t looking to spend over $100 on one of these. On Amazon, this one cost $99 and if you find it on sale at Best Buy, you can get it even cheaper.  I think it’s been a great value and have no regrets.

Motivating – Ultimately, the whole reason I wanted one of these was to keep myself motivated and accountable to move more, sleep consistently and eat healthier.  And, honestly, it really has helped with each of those.  The buzz every 30 minutes of non-movement reminds me to get up from my desk and keep moving throughout the day.  My competitive nature makes me want to take the stairs, park further away, and go on more walks to get more steps in.  Not only can I see how I compare with the friends I am connected to, but I can see how I am meeting my goals each day – that keeps me far more accountable than some overarching resolution.  Whether or not the step count is exactly right, I really am moving more each day and that’s a win for improving my health.

Daily Steps

Have you been considering a fitness tracker?  What features are most important to you?

Lavender Essential Oil

LavenderOne of the first essential oils I ever got was Lavender.  Besides being one of my favorite scents, it’s been my go-to in many different ways for a few years now.  It’s known to be the most versatile of all essential oils with many healing and restorative properties.  Lavender oil is extremely concentrated; it takes 27 square feet of lavender plants to make one 15ml bottle.  And it’s fairly inexpensive at $30 retail for a bottle of around 240 drops – plus, it’s easy to make one drop go really far and still be effective.

Each night, I use a mixture of coconut oil and lavender as my face moisturizer.  I keep a glass cosmetic container of it in my makeup drawer all ready to go.  One jar will easily last me a couple of months as a little goes a very long way.  I simply warm coconut oil to bring it to a liquid state and then add a few drops of lavender oil – I use about a 1 Tablespoon coconut oil to 1 drop lavender ratio.  Once you put it in the jar, it will harden back up (this also helps it from going rancid) and the warmth of your skin will re-liquefy it as you apply.

Since I implemented this moisturizer into my routine, I have noticed my complexion improve a great deal. Lavender’s many properties make it really effective towards any type of skin irritations, so I have found that it both helps prevent acne (by fighting the bacteria that causes blemishes) and helps promote healing.  There’s been many a morning that I woke up to discover my face blemish-free after not being so the night before.  It is also extremely moisturizing and is quite helpful at relieving dry skin.

The other great benefit to applying lavender to my face each night is that it promotes sleep.  It calms and relaxes – diffusing it by my bed also helps me fall asleep quickly on those nights that my mind can’t seem to settle down and give into the tiredness of my body.  The calming effect is also helpful with reducing anxiety or stress after work and has helped relieve headaches that I’ve had caused by that tension.

Lavender is also a staple in my medicine cabinet.  I keep it handy for minor cuts and burns as it promotes healing and provides relief.  There is simply nothing more soothing than applying coconut oil + aloe + lavender to a sunburn. And it is fantastic for those annoying, little paper cuts… with all the use our hands get, I always find those take so long to heal, but with lavender, I often find they close up in just a few hours!  It’s also helpful at relieving the pain and inflammation for a bug bite or sting or can altogether help prevent – apply lavender to your exposed skin to repel mosquitoes.

Most recently, I discovered how much lavender could help act as an anti-histamine during allergy season.  Usually cedar season really gets me down, but it was so much more manageable this time.  I was applying and diffusing lavender constantly to reduce my inflammatory response.  Lavender is also really effective with respiratory issues; when I had a sinus infection over Christmas, I noticed how much it helped with my congestion. The stimulating nature of the oil makes it help loosen things up in the respiratory system.

One last note to leave you with is from a bit of personal experience – after great success with my first bottle of lavender, I went to go buy more at the grocery store.  Started using it again and much to my surprise, it didn’t work at all anymore. I was baffled.  A couple years later, I began researching more about essential oils and realized that not all essential oils are made equally.  Many (usually cheap ones at the grocery store, unfortunately) are not pure and/or have fragrances added, so they will not be beneficial beyond just smelling good.  After a lot of research, I’ve decided to purchase my oils from only a couple of brands, one being Young Living.  Learn more about essential oils and how to purchase here.

Have you used lavender before? What has it helped you with? I love hearing personal success stories!

Note: The above testimony is purely from personal experience.  I am not a doctor and none of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA.