3 Steps to Reconnecting with Your Partner after Baby

Here we are in high school. Cool party boy. Weird nerd girl.
Here we are in high school. Cool party boy. Weird nerd girl.

Aaron and I went to the same high school. He was the cute older football player with long surfer boy hair and he had no clue that I existed. It was a pretty typical teen romance story, except that he didn’t give me a makeover as part of a bet with his friends that he could make me popular, and we didn’t dance together at the senior prom. It was actually four years after he graduated that we officially met and our love story began.

The timing was perfect and our relationship progressed quickly and effortlessly. Within three months we were sharing an apartment together, and six months after that we were engaged. When it’s right you know it and we were excited to start our lives together as husband and wife. After 13 months of dating, we said our vows in an intimate ceremony with our close friends and family. Five months later, we found out we were expecting our first baby.

One of my favorites pictures from our wedding.

We knew early on that we didn’t want to wait long before starting a family together, and we were overjoyed to have our first baby on the way. We started preparing for our new addition right away. Every detail from the color of her room to how we would bring her into the world was carefully planned out, but we left out one very important thing. We underestimated the affect a new baby could have on our relationship so we didn’t plan ways to ensure we remained close to each other.

When Isla was born, we were so caught up in our new roles as parents that our first roles as partners went to the back burner. I was, and still am, breastfeeding our daughter, so by the time we finally felt comfortable enough to leave her with her grandparents for a date night, we were limited in how long she and I could be separated. I also noticed that all Aaron and I ever talked about was our daughter. Not to mention the difficulty finding time for intimacy.

Of course it’s perfectly understandable that you would want to talk about your sweet baby all the time, but if you want your marriage to stand the test of time, you need to keep reminding each other of why you fell in love in the beginning.

I’ve made a list of 3 things my husband and I make a point to do to be sure the other person knows he or she is loved and wanted. They may take a conscious effort in the beginning, especially if you’ve already fallen into a routine that revolves around your new baby, but before you know it they will be second nature again just like when your romance began!

1. Physical Touch

I’m a WAHM so the best time for me to complete tasks is when my husband is home from work and able to care for our daughter. I would be busy doing something and he would come up behind me and wrap his arms around me. I used to shrug him off because it was slowing my productivity, unknowingly hurting his feelings and our relationship. It took months for me to realize what I was doing, and that was only after he finally admitted I was hurting him.

We’re all busy, but most of the time whatever we are doing can wait. Slow down and hug your partner. Hold hands, give him a massage, run your fingers through his hair, or slap his butt and tell him it looks nice.  It will mean the world to him.

2. Be Present

It’s easy to completely absorb ourselves in social media, text messaging, and online gaming these days. There were times I completely forgot where I was and what I was doing because I was so consumed with something on my phone. Not only was I not being present for my husband, I was setting a poor example for my daughter. Put it away and enjoy the precious time with your family!

Dinner until bedtime is designated family time. The phones get put away and our undivided attention goes to each other. We talk about our days, cook together, and play with our daughter without allowing our phones or other devices to divert our attention.

3. Date

I viewed date nights as a huge inconvenience for several months. It takes a lot of time to pump milk for the baby, pack her diaper bag, make sitter arrangements, and get myself looking presentable. When we finally get out, the outing is limited to only a couple of hours unless I want to manually express milk in my car. Talk about a mood kill.

Yes, date nights take a lot of planning and preparation when you have a baby. There isn’t much room to be spontaneous and exciting, but that does not mean it won’t be worth it. Partners need one-on-one time so they keep feeling that spark and connection.

Aaron and I now commit to weekly dates. Sometimes our dates are baby friendly, and sometimes they don’t even involve leaving the house. The point is to do something fun together, whether it’s sharing a bottle of wine and watching a movie after Isla goes to sleep, playing a board game, casting a line into the pond down the street, or the occasional splurge at a nice restaurant.

 

It’s too easy to fall into a routine where you get home, eat, watch tv, go to bed, and repeat. If you feel the fire dying down in your relationship after having a baby, I hope you find these three tips useful in building that old flame back up.

If you and your partner do something special to stay connected, please share in a comment!

How I feed my family for less than $300/month.

I’ve read posts about feeding  a large family for $100/month and that’s just not realistic for my family. I don’t have the discipline to be an extreme couponer, and I like to get in out of the grocery store as quickly as possible. I could probably save about $10 per shopping trip if I left my husband at home, but I enjoy the company and he gets grumpy if he doesn’t get to indulge every once in a while. (;

In this post, I’m going to tell you about how I feed my family healthy meals for under $300 a month. That’s including all the goodies my sneaky husband throws in the cart when he thinks I’m not looking. Please. Eyes grew in the back of my head when I became a mother. I do have a trick up my sleeve for alleviating some of that temptation though so read on!

1. Make a list: 

Before we go to the grocery store, I make a list of the meals I will be cooking that week. My family rarely eats out, and it’s easier not to stop and pick up fast food if we know there’s something at home I can have on the table in 30 minutes or less. The majority of my recipes come from Skinnytaste.com. We have never been disappointed with any of Gina’s recipes, and I LOVE that she gives you a calorie count for each serving! I also throw in a couple of Pinterest recipes that I healthify. For breakfast we have eggs and toast, oatmeal, or a granola bar. At lunchtime we eat leftovers (I’m a firm believer in leftovers!) or sandwiches.

This is my shopping list for this week:

Grocery List

If something sounds tasty to you, you can find the link to the recipes below. OR you can find me on Pinterest and they’re all in my Chow Time board. I’ve made every single one of those recipes and they each get two thumbs up from the hubby and me!

You’ll notice that on my shopping list I note what meals I’ll be making, and then I’ll list the items I need to make that meal if I don’t already have it in my pantry. IMPORTANT: Out to the side, I rearrange those items in order by aisle. This way, I can completely skip the aisles I don’t need, reducing impulse buys!

2. Buying in bulk:

Sometimes buying in bulk is just flat out wasteful, but if you KNOW you’re going to use it all, take advantage of the savings! My grocery list will usually favor a certain meat so I can buy it in a larger quantity and freeze what I don’t use right away. This week I chose turkey. Very seldom do I buy ground beef because we favor leaner meats, and I just can’t get myself to pay extra for beef. Five of our meals call for a pound of turkey so I bought two 3 pound packages of ground turkey for $8.94 each. The 3 pound ground beef packages were over $12! I don’t tell my husband that I substitute turkey for beef in recipes and he never even notices.

You know what your family buys and uses often, so take a couple of minutes to investigate which items will save you money by buying in larger quantities. I always check the price per unit before buying in bulk to make sure the larger container is actually cheaper. It embarrasses my husband when I whip out my phone calculator, but I will not allow myself to be fooled! (;

3. Stock up on sale items:

If an item I use frequently goes on sale, I load up! I squealed with excitement a few months ago when garlic and onion powder went on sale at my local store for 50 cents each and I still haven’t used up my stash. I normally have to pay $3 or more on seasonings!

I’m too lazy to go to multiple stores for groceries. Fortunately for me, most stores ad match. Before I go shopping, I will check the local ads to see if I can get a cheaper price for any of the items on my list. If it’s a really good deal, I’ll even adjust my meal plan for the week around the sale.

4. Buy in season:

For a couple of months my husband was whining wanting a watermelon, but I refused to pay nearly $8 on one. The watermelons finally went on sale for $2.99 and now I have a happy husband. There’s a lot of potential to save money in the produce aisle. I plan our side dishes and snacks around which fruits vegetables are in season, even if that means we don’t get what we want right away. We love Gala apples, but we will settle for Red Delicious until the Gala go on sale.

5. Ibotta

I’m terrible about clipping coupons and then forgetting to use them. There are lots of money saving apps out there, but Ibotta is my favorite so far. I’ll usually check the items eligible for rebates on the app before I go to the store and make minor adjustments accordingly. For example, I knew I needed a large can of diced tomatoes for one recipe and a small can for another and Ibotta offered a $1.00 rebate on three 10 ounce Hunt’s diced tomatoes, so I ended up saving money by buying three 10 ounce cans instead of one large can and one small can. You can also get 20 cents back on items you would be buying anyway, such as any brand of eggs, bread, cheese, and yogurt!

After subtracting the non-grocery items, our bill came to $60.73 this week. My Ibotta app found me $3.10 in rebates so we really only spent $57.63!

If you found this post helpful, I’d love your feedback. If you have your own grocery saving tips to share, I would love to hear those as well! As promised, the recipe links are below.

Until next time, friends!

 

One Pan Enchilada Pasta

Skinny Cheeseburger Casserole

One Pot Ground Beef Stroganoff 

Pizza Lasagna Rolls

Biggest Loser Turkey Meatloaf

 

 

 

Breastfeeding Survival

I’m one of those people who has to have a plan for everything. I come up with all possible scenarios in my head and I create solutions for all of them. Go with the flow? How about NO. My pregnancy was no exception. I knew with absolute certainty that I would breastfeed my child so it was important to me to prepare myself for any and every obstacle I might face. I was not going to fail.

My obsessive planning and researching paid off because here we are, eight beautiful months after the birth of my daughter, still exclusively breastfeeding with no end in sight. I can’t even tell you how many hours I spent reading and asking other moms about breastfeeding. Since there are so many other things for moms to plan for during pregnancy, I’ve consolidated the most valuable information I came across into a list of 5 breastfeeding survival tips for you to keep in your back pocket. When we’re finished, all you will have to worry about is showing off your beautiful baby bump. (:

Before we get started with our list, there is one very important thing I feel the need to mention. Although breastfeeding is the most natural way to care for your baby, it is not always easy. Frankly, neither is motherhood. Try to be positive, and view the experience as the perfect preparation for raising a child. Parenting isn’t always easy, but you don’t give up on your children. I’ve never been so tired, smelly, or incredibly grateful in my entire life.

Well, here goes nothin’!

1. Skin to Skin:

The first few hours after your precious little bundle enters the world are when he or she will be most alert. Everyone will want to take turns holding your baby, but it’s crucial to take advantage of this time to have skin to skin contact with your baby and let him or her start suckling as soon as possible. Smell your baby and keep your baby close. This will trigger your body’s response to release the love hormone, oxytocin, and start producing milk.

On a little side note, it is also heavily recommended that you avoid using a pacifier or introducing Baby to a bottle until you have a steady supply. This may take around a month. Your nipples need the stimulation so your body knows how much milk to make your baby, and you want to avoid nipple confusion. Read more about nipple confusion here.

2. Tongue/Lip Ties:

I have had a couple of discouraged moms come to me lately because their babies are unable to get a proper latch, causing them to be less sufficient in expressing milk, and increased discomfort in the mommy. I’m baffled that tongue/lip ties aren’t routinely checked for in the hospitals. (At least this is the case where I am located.) I’ve included some pictures below that will help you self assess your baby for ties. If you notice a tongue or lip tie, it is very important to correct it as soon as possible. Nobody wants cracked hamburger nipples before they seek help!

Tongue Tie Upper Lip Tie

3. Proper Latch: 

Not all babies are professional breastfeeders from the get-go. Knowing what a proper latch looks like, and how to correct an improper latch, is invaluable information to have when you start your breastfeeding journey.

This is a beautiful example of an effective latch looks like:

Good Latch

 

Your baby’s lips should be flipped out and the mouth should be opened wide. Here is a great article on how to establish a proper latch. Some babies can be a little stubborn, especially when they are hungry and eager, but taking the time early on to train your baby to latch on correctly is essential to your breastfeeding success.

4. Take Care of Your Nipples:

The first week or two, your nipples will experience trauma they’re not used to. Some women don’t notice any nipple pain or sensitivity when they start breastfeeding. I was not one of those women. Motherlove Nipple Cream was a LIFE SAVER for me. My nipples were so dry and sore, I couldn’t stand for my bra to touch them, the water from the shower stung, and I winced every time my baby latched on. A lot of moms stop breastfeeding because of the pain in the first weeks, but I promise you it is only temporary. Keep your nipples moisturized with the salve of your choice. You may even want to walk around topless. You just gave birth. You do whatever you want! In the meantime, try to focus on how adorable your baby looks nursing, and remember that soon you won’t even feel your nipples anymore! (;

5. Positivity and Encouragement:

Sadly, not everyone will be supportive of your initiative to breastfeed. Modern conveniences, such as bottles and formula, are the preferred feeding method of many mothers today so it’s difficult to find advice and encouragement when you need it. Let your friends and family know early on that you will be breastfeeding your baby, and tell them that you would appreciate their support and encouragement. There are several social media groups with thousands of moms who are willing to troubleshoot with you and offer positive words. Some of my personal favorites are breastfeedwithoutfear and normalizebreastfeeding. You can also usually find a local breastfeeding support group on facebook.

If you’re reading this, you have probably done your researching and decided that breastfeeding is the right option for you and your baby. Don’t let anyone discourage you. Your body was made to do this, just as it was made to grow and birth your sweet baby. You may have heard stories from other moms about how they tried to breastfeed and failed, but you’re already ahead of the game by arming yourself with the information necessary to succeed. You’ll be relieved to hear that only about 1-5% of women are actually physically unable to produce enough milk for their babies. For more information on how to know if you are producing enough milk, click here.

Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding is an incredible book to read during your pregnancy. She does an amazing job describing obstacles new moms face when they start breastfeeding, and how to overcome them. KellyMom.com is another great resource for frequently asked breastfeeding questions.

I could go on for hours about breastfeeding, but too much information at once can be overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I hope this article left you feeling more prepared for this beautiful adventure. If I missed something, feel free to comment! I’ll be adding more posts on this topic in the future.

 

References:

http://kellymom.com/ages/newborn/newborn-concerns/pacifier/

https://www.google.com/search?q=tongue+tie+baby&biw=1366&bih=623&tbm=isch&imgil=YM1iCBLX9UbkVM%253A%253BxxfC89BnynAe8M%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fnewborns.stanford.edu%25252FPhotoGallery%25252FAnkyloglossia1.html&source=iu&pf=m&fir=YM1iCBLX9UbkVM%253A%252CxxfC89BnynAe8M%252C_&usg=__JI6SBkmD-qQsM3ZfiY3WgNwDWp0%3D&ved=0CCcQyjc&ei=4vKbVcP7M8bYtQXMvYaYAw#imgrc=YM1iCBLX9UbkVM%3A&usg=__JI6SBkmD-qQsM3ZfiY3WgNwDWp0%3D

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-HnybXeJiw5g/U-wKAU6L2XI/AAAAAAAAEkg/T-UN2t8EZNg/s1600/upperliptie.jpg

https://31.media.tumblr.com/ea1ab668bb07f3ac7131473d23a9e4eb/tumblr_inline_ndap7pL4E51r54lbd.jpg

http://www.breastfeedingbasics.com/articles/when-breastfeeding-doesnt-work-out

A Day in the Life

I wake up at 6:30 every morning when Isla, who is 8 months old now, starts to stir in her sleep. She wants her breakfast, but she doesn’t want to wake up yet. I let her nurse and she never once opens her eyes. When she’s finished, she rolls back over to chew on her daddy’s pillow, while simultaneously sucking her thumb, and falls back into a deep slumber. I reach for my thermometer on my nightstand to check my temperature for my ovulation chart.

I love mornings.

I get out of bed and my first order of business is to make coffee. The sound of a percolating coffee pot is one of my favorites. I peek back in on my two loves in bed. I’m never prepared for the cuteness overload that is the two of them snuggled up together. The overwhelming feeling of love gives me butterflies and I thank God.

While I’m enjoying my coffee, I check my email for coupons and work on generating new leads for my home-based business. I love feeling like I’m being productive without having to put pants on. Before I’m finished, I have to get up at least twice to heat my coffee back up to the perfect drinking temperature. If I don’t have to slurp it in with air, it’s not hot enough.

An hour and a half goes by and Isla starts to call for me. When I walk back into the bedroom, I find her grabbing her daddy’s nose and poking his arm while she whispers sweet little baby coos at him. How does he sleep through that? I tell her good morning and she quickly rolls over onto her back and starts kicking her chubby little legs in excitement, reaching for me to pick her up. I still can’t believe we made her. This was God’s plan for my life all along. We squeeze in our mommy-daughter time before Daddy wakes up.