my first mother’s day!

Posted on: Sunday, May 13, 2018

 

“…now that I am a mother, I understand what Mother’s Day is about: it’s about looking through our lives and recognizing the act of mothering everywhere we see it, and more than that, recognizing that when any of us mother– when we listen, nurture, nourish, protect–we’re doing sacred work.” – Shauna Niequist

 

click Happy Mother’s Day! This is my first Mother’s Day as a mom (outside of being a #dogmom 😉) and I’ve been reflecting on the importance and significance of moms. I just love that quote from Shauna Niequist above, reminding me to recognize mothering all around me.

I’ve shared Mother’s Day posts celebrating my own mom here and here and now that I’m a mom myself, I have so much more appreciation, respect, love and admiration for my mom. And, for the other women in my life who have “mothered” me — my grandma, aunts, mother-in-law, teachers, youth group leaders, older and wiser women, fellow moms, the list goes on and on.

Being a mom is hard, tiring, exhausting and draining. You have less freedom, less personal space, less ability to look put together, less time. The entire world shifts and things change overnight. But, it’s so good. There is more love, more joy, more silliness, more purpose. It might sound cliché, but it’s the most rewarding, humbling, beautiful and fun thing that has happened to me. And seeing the way Lucy looks at me, with so much love and wonder, makes every long night or scream-filled afternoon worth it.

When I was in Ohio, the super talented Suzy snapped some photos of us together. I never really thought about getting professional photos done with Lucy, but am so so happy I have these. They are so special and make me so happy. 💛 I just had to share!

Happy Mother’s Day, mamas! ✨

All photos by http://brash3d.com/wp-json?lang=en/oembed/1.0/embed Suzy Lynn Photography

how to support new parents

Posted on: Monday, May 7, 2018





my blog has definitely taken a backseat lately with Lucy here, and all the other life things going on. that being said, this post has been on my mind for awhile and I’m excited to finally share! today, I want to share source url some ways you/anyone can support and help new parents. before having Lucy, I didn’t know a ton of people with kids, so didn’t have a lot of  hands-on experience helping new parents.

here’s some of the amazing, helpful and supportive things people did for US after Lucy was born! some were “big things” and some were small, but still significant things. some were expensive, others were free. some things required people be there in person and hands-on helping, right in our apartment. others were things that people did who live far away, who haven’t even met Lucy yet. all of that being said — there are SO many ways to help and support new parents, so don’t let money, time, distance, etc. prevent you from supporting new mamas and papas. 💘 without further ado, here’s some ways to help and support a friend who recently had a baby!

bring flowers  apache pizza artane order online because keeping my apartment looking nice was absolutely at the bottom of my priority list. i remember my friend Ali bringing over flowers on a particularly hard and emotional day and I started crying when she walked in with the flowers. it was a thoughtful, beautiful gift and the pretty blooms made me happy every time I looked at them. my friend Cait also shipped me flowers early on with the sweetest note and it made by day just getting the bouquet in the mail. 💐

wash hands, don’t come around if you’re sick, etc.  I’m totally not a germ freak (how can I be when I have a dog who is obsessed with licking my baby 😅) but I really appreciated when people would instinctively wash their hands right away before holding the baby. I read something that some people have a sign on their door reminding people to wash hands but that’s just a little too intense for me. if you have a friend with a new baby, just be super conscious of health and cleanliness, because it can feel awkward and bossy for the parent to ASK you to wash your hands. 😝 along the same lines of cleanliness and health…we recently had a birthday party for Eric and one of my best friends, Rob, texted me saying he wasn’t going to come because he had strep earlier in the week. even though he wasn’t contagious anymore, I really appreciated how he thought of Lucy and her health first and foremost.

take out trash and do dishes  this is a super non-glamorous (and free!) way to help new parents but SO appreciated. dishes and trash tend to pile up, especially in the first few weeks. it’s awkward to ask someone to take out trash or do your dishes; new parents don’t want to come across as needy. I SO appreciated the good friends who just made themselves comfortable at our apartment and offered (or just flat out did it without even telling me) to take down our trash and recycling or do dishes.

don’t stay *too* long  keep your visits to new parents and babies short and sweet! especially in the very first few weeks…don’t stay longer than an hour. Or, just be self-aware and read the cues. everyone is different, but I always WANTED to have people come visit, but also didn’t want to have to tell them to leave. sometimes Lucy would get really fussy while someone was visiting and I needed to devote my time to getting her to calm down or get to sleep. in those situations, I always appreciated people being aware and realizing it was time to go.

give parents a break — another description would be “bounce / rock / walk around / soothe / etc.” Lucy was obsessed with our exercise ball, which was great, because bouncing made her stop crying, but it was also not great, because bouncing on a yoga ball for hours on end is exhausting and hurts your back. we had so many friends come over and offer to just bounce her for us so we could do ANYTHING ELSE. just offering to hold, rock, bounce, soothe a baby is incredibly helpful, just to give the parents a few minutes to do something/anything else!

make or order food — soooo many friends did this for us and I’m eternally grateful. 💖 some people made homemade dinners and others ordered us takeout — both were great. one of eric’s work vendors even sent us a massive honeybaked ham + turkey dinner! 😆 my mom was visiting for a few weeks at the beginning, and one thing I remember was a friend also bringing enough takeout for my mom, too.  just remember that food is ALWAYS appreciated and don’t be offended if the new parents can’t hang out or socialize all the time (as mentioned earlier!).

random drop-offs — one couple friend dropped off a bottle of wine and dessert for us. several friends would just text me and say they were dropping off a cup of coffee from a nearby café. in both scenarios, no one expected to be entertained by me/us or stuck around for hours. these “random drop-offs” were super appreciated and amazing — just make sure to text/call beforehand (i.e. “I’m in your neighborhood at this café. Can I swing by and drop you off a coffee?”).  the completely surprise visits can be overwhelming and not ideal for a lot of new parents (although it didn’t personally bother me).

give extra attention to jack (or other kids, if a friend has multiple children) as you know, we love our dog Jack and making sure he adjusts well to Lucy is really important to us. it was so sweet when friends would come over and not immediately demand to hold Lucy, but would sit with Jack and give him extra attention. obviously, the majority of our time and energy was/is dedicated to Lucy, so it was really awesome when people snuggled with Jack or even played toys / threw ball with him in our apartment.

write encouraging card or send random “just thinking of you” texts — I loved getting cards from friends! this is an easy way to support and encourage friends with new babies, especially if you don’t live nearby. getting mail always made me happy. along the same lines, I appreciated (and still do, maybe even more now) getting random, out-of-nowhere texts from friends telling me they were thinking of me or asking about my day. after the initial wave of baby excitement, it can feel like everyone goes back to their normal, exciting adult lives and new parents are still in this new smelly, sleep-deprived baby world. I love(d) when friends would ask about my day, even though they knew that nothing remotely exciting or special was happening, just because they care about me.

recognize and be okay with space — new parents can’t spend as much time with friends as they’d like. or, at least I haven’t been able to. and that’s hard and can make me feel really guilty. well, I can hang out if you want to come to my house 😆 , but I can’t always go out and *do* other things like I used to before Lucy was born. if you have a friend who has a baby, don’t get annoyed or upset with them if they can’t go to different events/parties or if they are a little flakey. new parents don’t have control over their own schedules in the same way, and trust me – THEY WANT TO HANG OUT WITH YOU, but just can’t in the new phase of life with baby.

send gifts — people have been so kind and generous with us! from friends to coworkers to relatives, we have received so many sweet care packages and it’s been so appreciated, every time. we’ve received baby goodies like diapers, onesies, pajamas, baby bath stuff, etc. and also gift cards to grocery delivery via GoodEggs, food delivery via Caviar/DoorDash, laundry service, and Amazon/Target. another friend shipped me her favorite concealer (after I complained about my dark circles under my eyes) = genius gift idea.

offer to babysit — this is something to offer (if you feel comfortable) when the baby is a little older! most parents wouldn’t leave their little ones with a babysitter, even a good friend, in the first few weeks. but, as babies get older, parents NEED to get out and do things without baby, so offering to babysit is a great way to support and help them out. 💖

tips for dog and new baby

Posted on: Wednesday, March 21, 2018

It’s been almost two months since Lucy was born (!!) and it feels like time is already flying by. She’s changed so much since we brought her home from the hospital. One of the things I was most nervous about while pregnant was how Jack would react and adapt to having a new member in our family. We adopted Jack last January when he was like 6 weeks old, so he’s spent most of his life with us. He’s super loyal, friendly and loving, and I’ve seen him interact really well with small children before, but I wasn’t sure how he would take to *our* baby and all of our attention not being on him anymore. It was really important to us that Jack was welcoming and kind to the baby, but also that he still felt important and loved (because he is!). We knew it would be a big transition and it broke my heart thinking about him potentially feeling abandoned or left behind. We’ve tried to be conscious of how he might react to all of these changes, which is why it was important for us to prepare Jack before baby and now with her here! 💛

Today, I wanted to share some tips for integrating dogs and babies into one family and how to make the transition as seamless as possible!


Our puppy school trainer Mike wrote this book Good Dog, Happy Baby that has tons of great tips for helping prepare your dog for the arrival of your baby. He also has a podcast, where he gives tons of good baby and dog-related tips. We listened to his podcast during a long road trip from Vancouver to SF, and also opted to do his paid online course before Lucy arrived, where we learned different ways to prepare jack for the baby. I HIGHLY recommend reading/listening/investing in Mike’s advice and guidance because he’s truly a dog whisperer and his tips have really worked for us.

one thing to call out is that Mike always says to not assume your dog will do the right/best thing and even the BEST dogs need training. overall, Jack is a super loving and friendly dog, but we didn’t want to just assume that he would welcome Lucy with open arms. we opted to be proactive in training and practicing with Jack before baby and even now, are super conscious of their interactions together.

BEFORE BABY COMES HOME

We did the exercises we learned from Mike’s training course (mentioned above) to prepare Jack for “baby handling.” Basically, we tried to desensitize Jack from getting his ears/tail pulled and loud noises (as babies/toddlers will inevitably pull on a dog’s fur and also are LOUD/ANNOYING). We purposely annoyed Jack, pulled his fur, etc., and then would give him a treat, so he would associate rough (or “baby” handling) with a reward.

The first night, while we were still in the hospital with Lucy, my father-in-law brought a blanket and pajamas Lucy had worn back to our apartment for Jack. This was advice I had read previously, so the dog gets used to the smell of the baby. Who knows if this works, but almost all advice online recommended doing this!

DOG AND BABY MEETING FOR FIRST TIME

I was sooo excited to leave the hospital and get home! We intentionally planned Lucy and Jack’s first meeting, based on the tips we received and research we did. I walked into the apartment first and greeted Jack, giving him lots of attention (and I was sobbing like uncontrollably – hello hormones 😅). Eric was holding Lucy in her carseat and we put it on the floor and let Jack “explore” the area and “meet” her.  He immediately went up to her, sniffed her all over and started licking (which we call kissing 💋) her hands and face. Cue the tears AGAIN, because I was so grateful and happy that Jack was so welcoming towards her.

For the first few days, Jack was more standoff-ish towards me. Not jealous and not angry just…distant, if that makes sense. Less cuddling close to me and he sort of clung towards Eric and even my mom, since she was in town. I think he was sensing the changes and that I was very occupied with Lucy. After awhile, he sort of moved on and has been treating me normally since. 🙏🏽

DAY TO DAY LIFE WITH DOG AND BABY

One of the best tips I learned from Mike’s podcast was related to the way you spend time/give attention to the dog when baby is around. Here’s the advice –> New parents often put baby to sleep/nap and when baby is “away”, they pay attention to their pet. This sets up the wrong association for your pet; they begin to learn that they get attention/love from you when baby ISN’T around. Instead, try to do the opposite. Invite your pet to be close to you when you’re doing things with baby – feeding, playing, etc. The goal is to set up a positive association for your pet; when baby is around = good things happen to dog. If your dog is treat-motivated, give the dog treats in these situations. Jack just likes attention, so we just invite him to play with Lucy or be affectionate towards her.

Gently remind your dog that baby is a baby. Jack loves Lucy (as evidenced by all my pics) and loves to sniff her, lick her, etc. We try to avoid him licking her face so when we see that happen, we gently tell him “Off” or “Gentle.” We’re trying to get him used to the word “gentle” so he learns that means to back off a bit or to be a little more careful. We also use the “gentle” when he is a little hyper or is bouncing around her when she’s on bed/couch with us.

Praise your dog when he/she does something right. Yesterday, Jack and Lucy were next to each other and right as Jack was yawning, Lucy punched her arm and put her hand into his mouth. 😱 Jack immediately just started licking her hand, rather than 1) getting snappy that his space was invaded and 2) BITING HER MID-YAWN! I was so proud! I praised him for doing a good job “kissing” her and scratched his chin/neck (which he loves).

Okay that’s all I have for now, mostly because Lucy just woke up and I’ve been working on this post for like five days in between mama duties and just want to wrap it up. 😝 If you have any questions about Lucy and Jack or dogs/babies in general, please reach out!

lucy’s birth story

Posted on: Monday, February 5, 2018

NAME: Lucy Grey Burdullis

DATE + TIME: Thursday, January 25 at 10:28am

SIZE: 6 lbs 11oz, 18 in long

It’s surreal for me to think that just over a week ago we were welcoming baby Lucy to the world! The entire birthing experience feels like a whirlwind, with some parts super vivid and others blending together, all at once. Like other life updates, I wanted to document and share Lucy’s birth story here. I’ve enjoyed reading other people’s birth stories (they often make me cry!) so taking time to reflect and write out our own little (but very long) story feels important and special to me. 💛 So here we go!

While the second trimester and beginning of the third trimester seemed to go by super quickly, the last few weeks of my pregnancy (pretty much the entire month of January) went by very slowly. I had wrapped a large portion of my work, so had a lot more free time and was anxiously and eagerly waiting for baby’s arrival! It was really strange, because we knew this big and exciting thing was happening, but had no idea or control over when or how. Our due date was Wednesday, January 24th, but throughout my pregnancy, I tried to not get too tied down to that date. Instead I tried to view the entire month as “baby month”; she would arrive when the time was right, not on our schedule. We had heard that first time moms often go past their due date, so I was sort of expecting that January 24th would come and go. I had a doctor’s appointment on January 25th where I could get a membrane sweep, which apparently would likely help get baby moving down there and kickstart the labor process. Little did I know that appointment wouldn’t be necessary!

I wouldn’t say I was necessarily scared of labor or having a baby, but definitely felt a little uneasy about all of the unknowns. How would I know when labor was starting? Would it happen while I was at home or out of the apartment? What would contractions feel like? How would I know the contractions were the real deal and not Braxton Hicks?

Starting in mid-January, I began trying out different natural labor-inducing techniques. I don’t think any of these are backed by science, but had heard different things worked for different people – eating pineapple, dates, and spicy foods, drinking third trimester tea, weekly acupuncture, taking long walks, bouncing on the yoga ball, etc. I took long, uphill walks with Jack and had acupuncture appointments both on Monday and Tuesday, but still felt the same – very pregnant – when we went to bed on Tuesday night.


Early Wednesday morning at 2:45am, I woke up to go to the bathroom (for probably the fifth time) and felt different. My lower abdomen felt sore and cramp-y, but I wasn’t in pain or anything, so I went back to sleep. When I woke up at 6am, I knew something was different. I felt the same stomach pressure and cramping and realized, oh hey! I think these are contractions! I talked on the phone with my mom who said we should start timing them, just in case. The contractions started off really sporadic and random – not in an obvious pattern and coming and going at different times. E stayed home from work and we ate breakfast and just lounged and kept timing them. We joke now that he was like a track coach; I would say “Time!” when a contraction started and he would begin tracking on a contraction timer app. Late morning, we went on a walk around the neighborhood with Jack while contractions continued. They were sharp and surprising at this point, but not intensely painful. We ordered Chinese takeout for lunch and tried to just rest as much as possible.

I had written out affirmation cards for myself during labor and would read them or recite them in my head. These were a mix of quotes, Bible verses, mindfulness tips, encouraging reminders and affirmations like “My body is strong and resilient. My body can do this.” and “On the other side of this pain, I get to meet my baby.” I am a total affirmations person, so having these reminders was really encouraging and helpful for me. Eric also wrote out affirmation notecards “from Jack” which were hilarious and definitely lightened my overall mood when reading them. 😝

By late afternoon (around 3-4pm), things started getting really intense. The contractions were a lot more painful and regular. The extra hard part was that I was having back labor, so had really terrible lower back pain throughout each contraction. When the contraction ended, the lower back pain still continued during the “rest period.” The doctor and doula said this was likely from the baby’s positioning. Looking back, the ongoing, deep back pain was the most challenging part of labor. I just wanted that part to stop! I rotated from the bed to the yoga ball to the bathtub throughout the afternoon. By later in the evening (6-7pm), it was getting to a point where I could barely talk during contractions and wanted to cry during each one. And I was SO tired. I could barely keep my eyes open and felt physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. Throughout the entire day, we were updating my mom and also our doula Julia, both who were super helpful and encouraging. E was amazing and the entire time, he would encourage me, massage my back and feet, put pressure on my back to alleviate contractions, try to get me to eat and drink, etc. He was truly the best birthing partner ever and I’m so grateful for him (among millions of other reasons). Julia came over to our apartment around 8pm and we continued laboring at home. The pain and exhaustion level both continued to increase and by 9pm, I knew it was time for me to go into hospital. At this point, we had been doing this whole labor thing for about 13 hours!

Eric dropped Julia and I off at the hospital and parked the car. At this point, the contractions were so painful that every time they hit, I couldn’t stand up and would have to squat down during that minute. E met us in the triage room, where they measured me at 5cm dilated. Woo hoo, halfway there!  In our birthing plan, I had wanted to labor as much at home as possible and wait until I reached 5cm to get an epidural. I didn’t actually think I would make it to 5cm without pain meds, because I have a fairly low pain tolerance, so was thrilled I had made it this far — getting closer to meeting baby! 🙌🏼 I asked for the epidural and thankfully, they were able to administer fairly quickly around 10:30pm. I IMMEDIATELY felt better. Like amazingly better. All of my back pain went away and while I could still feel the pressure of contractions, I didn’t feel pain itself. It was incredible. If you haven’t read Jessi Klein’s brilliant essay Get the Epidural, stop reading this post and immediately read her article. Everything about it is 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. I was so happy, in fact, that I was like gushing to the nurses, Eric and Julia how grateful I was for everyone and how happy I was that they were on our birthing team. 🤪

We tried to sleep, but it was hard because the nurses were constantly coming in to check on blood pressure, heart rate, baby’s movements, etc. and also because I was so excited – baby was coming soon(ish)! At 4am, I was still at 5cm dilated 😩 and the doctor broke my water. It wasn’t the gushing water experience you think of from movies (or that epic Charlotte and Mr. Big scene in SATC) but instead like a slow trickle. I honestly didn’t even notice because of that blessed epidural. 👌🏼We continued to intermittently nap and chat/ask questions to Julia. The overall mood in the room was pretty relaxed, which I’m really grateful for. We kept the lights off so the room was dim with twinkly lights and Julia had positioned tons of pillows to make me really comfortable. When they checked me again at 6am, I was at 9cm and I was also really happy knowing my mom was on a flight out to SF and would arrive at 10:15am. A little after 8am, I was at 10cm so it was time to push!

My OBGYN wasn’t on call in the hospital that day, but came over anyway, since we had that other 40 week appointment scheduled. She was able to do the early phases of pushing with me, which was really awesome, because she’s been so awesome and supportive throughout my entire pregnancy (and before). After an hour or so pushing, the doctor and her supervisor warned me that the baby’s heart rate was dropping after contractions so they wanted to keep closely monitoring that and said we might need to use vacuum extraction to get the baby out. This was yet another moment where I was super grateful we hired Julia as our doula, because she was able to advocate for us and ask questions – what was this process exactly? What were the potential risks? Was this necessary to do right at this moment? Could we continue to trying pushing like we’d been doing until it was completely necessary to move on to Option B? Could we try other positions for pushing? After two hours of pushing, the doctor and her supervisor said they really wanted us to do the vacuum extraction because they were concerned about the baby being in distress and wanted to avoid C-section. The primary way the baby would come out would be from pushing, of course, but the vacuum (which really is a terrible word for it – it looked more like a little suction cup that sticks to the baby’s head) would help ensure she would come out quickly and safely. The room was PACKED — the three of us, 2-3 nurses, the doctor and her supervisor, and three pediatricians, all in a small little room. The doctor cued me to push and began counting as I held my breath pushing and the next thing I knew, someone set the baby on my chest.

SHE WAS HERE!!!

It sounds so cliché, but right when she arrived, it’s like I forgot about everything that had previously happened. The 28ish (!!) hours of labor, including 2 hours and 15 minutes (!!) of pushing — it all just faded away from my memory. The feeling was indescribable. It was overwhelming and beautiful and exciting and terrifying! She was so small and pink and cute and fluttered her eyes open at me like “WHAT IS GOING ON?” and we just kept saying to each other how perfect she was. Those first few moments holding her were so special and unforgettable. It was magical to watch Eric hold her for the first time and see her open her eyes to look at him, in so much peace. It was truly one of the sweetest moments and a something I won’t ever forget.

I am really amazed at the female body and what it’s capable of. It’s surreal to think that my body housed, protected and nourished this baby for nine months, brought her into the world and is now learning how to take care of her and feed her, all on its own. Throughout different periods of my life, I’ve been unhappy with my body for not looking the way I wanted or doing what I wanted. I would compare my body with others, critique my body for not being “good enough” and measure my body and self-worth against an unrealistic expectation I set for myself. The process of being pregnant and having a baby has already taught me a whole new level of self-love, respect, and admiration for myself and my body, and I’m now reminded daily of the importance of being kind to myself. We are all incredible beings, “perfectly and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) and bringing this baby into the world reminded me not only of the baby’s perfection, but that my body is *just right* too.

We named our daughter Lucy, a name that means “of light.” She’s already brightened our lives in her week or so of life. The world and life itself is full of hard stuff – pain, difficulties, darkness – but it’s also filled with so, so, so much goodness, love and light. And I truly believe that light always overpowers all darkness. It’s our dream and prayer that she recognizes how much light and love shines within her and all around her. We’re grateful for our little bundle of joy and light, Lucy. ✨

 

Thank you for reading and again, for all of your kind words and encouraging messages! I am so grateful by all of the love, encouragement and support our little family has received throughout my pregnancy and especially since Lucy arrived.

All photos by our amazing doula Julia Lorraine

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