I’m fairly new to Facebook compared to the Millennials and Xennials of my generation, so before my daughter was born I had no idea that there are Facebook Groups for everything. There are millions of groups from neighborhood groups to global support groups. In my first few months as a new mom, I discovered how helpful these groups are. I found a network of like-minded women who offered support through breastfeeding, sleep training, and pregnancy loss. If you’re a new mom, expecting, or seasoned, you should check out these very helpful resources:
- The Local Mom Group. We all joke that most of the posts on these types of groups are of the “name that rash” or “guess my child’s illness” variety. However, this group of ladies can help save your sanity during those middle of the night feedings, plan playdate meetups, moms night out (MNO) events, and just offer support so you know you’re not alone on this journey. I’ve even seen spin-offs of the main local mom group specifically for parents of toddlers, tweens, and teenagers. The “Crunchy” mom group is also gaining popularity.
- The Specialized Support Group. These support groups can give you helpful information, guidance, local referrals, and a virtual shoulder to lean on during pregnancy and all stages of motherhood. If there is anything specific that you find yourself dealing with, chances are there is a community out there to offer support. Many times, you can even find a local group. Just a handful of examples include:
- Tongue and Lip Tie
- Hyperemisis Gravidarum (HG)
- Diastasis Recti
- Postpartum Depression
- Moms of multiples
- Special needs
- The Buy/Sell/Trade Baby and Kid Items Group. Babies and small children outgrow clothing and gear in a blink of an eye. The buy/sell/trade groups just for baby and kid items are so helpful when looking for gently used and affordable clothing and baby gear. We’ve found maternity clothes, baby clothes, swings and bouncers, high end strollers, and furniture. There’s even a buy/sell/trade group on Facebook specifically for the amazing DockATot. And when you no longer need these things, pass them on to a new home and make some extra cash.
- Car Seats for the Littles. This is both a public page and a group that helps parents select the right car seat for their child and vehicle. They have certified car seat technicians as admins and can help with fit and installation issues as well as help locate a local car seat technician in your area. Other helpful information you can gain from this group/page are cleaning instructions and tips for your specific car seat, recall notices, and when to move from 5-point harness to a booster.
- Feeding Littles. We’re in that phase of not knowing if today our kids will like broccoli or not. Or if all orange food will suddenly be gross this week. And apparently Panera Bread makes the only mac and cheese my 4 year old will eat. So of course, a group like this is pretty helpful to me right now. Feeding Littles can offer guidance on all things that have to do with feeding your children (babies to teens) from introducing milk to sneaking veggies into meals and best starter cups to packed lunch ideas. They are on both Facebook and Instagram.
If you have any other groups that should be added to the list, I’d love to hear about them!
So much has happened over the past year. In February 2019, our family moved across the country from Phoenix, AZ to Southwest Virginia. It was a long process, but we are so happy we made this decision for our family. The easy part was selling our home in a sought after family-friendly neighborhood of Gilbert, AZ. Jacob did a wonderful job of making it our dream home over the nearly three years we lived there. If we could have somehow brought that house with us to our ideal climate and town, we would have. The hard part was leaving our family and friends and the community we had grown to love. We said goodbye to everyone and had our last double-birthday party in Arizona for Julia and Jacob the weekend before we left. Jacob and I took a little break from packing to say farewell to the desert and the mountains Jacob had lived near his entire life.
The long trip was made easier with three adults – my mom decided to come with us to Virginia and be a stay-at-home Grandma! We had lots of snacks, activities, a tablet, and this handy carseat cart to pull one of the girls through the airport while we pushed the other in the stroller. We brought both carseats on the plane with us and the baby napped a little on the flight. The flight in was my very first glimpse of our new home – Jacob was the only one who had gone over during his interviews with his new company. I relied on pictures, local Facebook mom groups, Google maps, and some new local friends to help us finalize our decision to move. There was so much that went into that – hours of research on schools, neighborhoods, daycare centers, events and local activities, short term rentals, and the housing market. Every new bit of information I found only made a better case for us moving to this area – it was the perfect size, population, and climate that we were looking for.
We started off in a short-term furnished rental home in a beautiful neighborhood, crammed in with our landlord’s furniture and our own, plus all of our unpacked boxes. Everyday was an adventure. Our 1-year old took her first steps surrounded by moving boxes. We saw our first Virginia snowfall and the girls played in snow for the very first time. We had lots of encounters with new wildlife (deer, groundhogs, cardinals, and blue jays). It was magical, but we knew we had a long road ahead of us. To make things more interesting, a couple months after the move I decided to leave my company and return to a former employer. This meant a busier schedule for me, but also the opportunity to meet with co-workers in the local office.
With my mom helping out watching the girls, Jacob and I started the process of house hunting during any free time we could find. This was much more challenging than we were anticipating. The houses we checked out were on lots with great views, but the lots themselves were often sloped with no usable backyard. The flat lots we found usually had older homes built on them. We found a slightly older house to purchase that needed (and still needs) some work. It is in the perfect location, on a great lot, and has plenty of room for our family. After getting the priority work done, we moved in and started our list of weekend projects. Just as we were starting to decorate the basement playroom, we had a heavy rainfall and the basement flooded. Jacob and I were bailing water for an entire day! Luckily, there wasn’t a ton of damage. We did, however, decide it was time this house had a sump pump and French drain installed. After the dust settled and summer was almost at an end, we finally had both projects completed. Jacob did almost all of the French drain work himself and redid the front entry landing. It looks great now, and I can’t wait for spring to come so we can plant all the pretty flowers!
While all of this was happening, we did get a few moments here and there to enjoy our new city. The area in the Blue Ridge Mountains is breathtaking. The spring has beautiful blooming trees in white, light pink, and dark pink and everything is so green! Summer is just as lovely and offers great opportunities to get out on the lakes and rivers. But the season I was looking forward to the most was autumn, and Virginia definitely did not disappoint! The colors were amazing – I had never seen anything like that before. Just driving to the grocery store was a magical experience with the reds, yellows, and oranges that filled the mountains all around us.
This past year was not all about picking paint colors and enjoying the mountain scenery of our new home, though. Our family experienced great loss and grief over the past several months that made me appreciate all I have and have gone through. I believe that the trials and pain we go through in life make us stronger and can teach us healing and coping mechanisms that will help when a great tragedy occurs. I am grateful for the strong support system and close family and friends I can depend on. We’ve found an amazing new church family, we’re meeting new friends in the community, and it looks like I’ve found my local #momtribe with some interesting and fun ladies.
All in all, it was a year of growth, life changing experiences, and many adventures. This year we plan to finally get out and explore. We’re hoping to use our time off to travel around Virginia, North Carolina, and maybe Tennessee. I am looking forward to the coming months and all 2020 has to bring!
If you’ve been following our journey for a while, you’ll know that it’s been a difficult one. After two miscarriages, including a “missed miscarriage,” we finally had a viable pregnancy and were looking forward to having our sweet rainbow baby come into this world. The pregnancy was also tough from the very beginning. Morning sickness started almost immediately and grew worse each day. With Julia, I had very mild morning sickness, so I was not prepared for or expecting the crippling nausea that came with this pregnancy. I soon learned that I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), and after trying various remedies and medications, I finally was able to control the nausea enough to have a somewhat normal life (I’ll be sure and write another post about that). I would often talk to the baby girl in my belly, telling her that she’s causing mommy lots of trouble now, so she had better be an easy baby when she’s born!
As this was my second birth, I knew what to expect and had a good team ready to help. I had my mom on call ready to rush over to babysit, a great doula team, and a midwife practice that understood my concerns and expectations. My mother-in-law was also in town to help out. Julia’s birth was very quick, only lasting a few hours after I went into active labor. My midwives all knew this and advised me not to try and labor at home with this one; I should get to the hospital as soon as possible. I also knew that I would most likely need a shot of Pitocin after delivering to stop the bleeding, but I wanted to avoid having an IV put in.
Of course, our little one was due in the middle of cold and flu season. And, of course my husband caught a nasty virus just a few days and two weeks before my due date. With Julia, I went into labor two weeks before my due date, so I knew the baby was going to make her appearance soon. I made sure to take my vitamins and used the best supplements to prevent catching a cold. Each night my husband was sick, I told him the baby was coming soon, but he said to hold out until he was feeling better. Ha!
At about half past 1am on January 24th, I woke to my nearly 3-year old calling to me from her room. She had a bad dream and needed comforting. I carried her from her bed to her “snuggle chair” and rocked her back to sleep. As I went to put her back in her bed, I felt the familiar cramping that told me things were going to start moving along. In case it was just Braxton Hicks contractions, I chugged some water and lay down in bed, letting my doula team know what was going on. When the contractions didn’t ease up, I started timing them and called my mom to head over. By 3am, I knew I would be seeing my baby soon. I called our midwife and gathered things to head to the hospital. My husband grabbed a mask since he was feeling pretty lousy and didn’t want to spread germs.
Around 4am, I was in triage trying (once again) to explain that though I was only 4 cm dilated, they had better get me into a room soon. The nurses and doctor did not want to call my midwife in until I had shown more progression. I just wanted to get comfortable in a birthing room so I could get into a labor tub and get my calming music going. They wanted me to walk around for an hour. I was having very intense contractions by that point and the only walking I was able to do was to the bathroom. I had the nurse check me two more times before they decided it was time to get a room ready for me.
I was 5 cm dilated when they called a wheelchair to take me to a birthing suite. It was after 5am and I was livid, in pain, and just wanted to get settled somewhere. Anywhere. As soon as we got into the room, bags were tossed in a corner and the faucet on the labor tub immediately turned on. I felt things moving very quickly now and after one more visit to the bathroom, I was able to climb into the tub. I stepped in, had one contraction and had to step right back out to start pushing. I barely had enough time to climb onto the bed when another contraction came raging on. It was just about 6am. On my knees, clinging to the plastic lined pillows, I pushed through two more contractions. At 6:18am our sweet baby girl was born. She had her arm extended up with her hand covering her face, making her birth a bit more painful than it needed to be. The midwife quickly passed her to me and I held her warm, delicate body to my chest as she let out a weak little cry. Since she came out so quickly, the liquid in her lungs was not squeezed out thoroughly on her way through the birth canal. It took her a few more hours to get it all out. But we had a perfect little girl! She was 6lbs. 2 oz. and 19 inches, just a little smaller than her big sister was when she was born.
I knew in the first hours that she would be a mild mannered baby. She nursed like a champ and was so content, hardly crying at all. I told my husband to go home and get some rest since he was very unwell. Just after he left, I allowed the nurses to put in a catheter in case my bleeding didn’t stop and I needed blood. This was much more unpleasant than the shot of Pitocin I had just received to head off the bleeding. I hate needles and having a catheter in was both painful and gave me a constant icky feeling all over. Having my sweet little baby resting on my chest distracted me a little, but I remember asking a few times how much longer it had to stay in. After dropping off our older daughter at daycare, my mom came to the hospital to meet her new granddaughter. Luckily, she was able to take a couple days off work to help me in the hospital and the first couple nights at home. Jacob was still sick for several days after and didn’t even get to hold his baby girl until she was almost a week old. We were very fortunate to have two grandmas in the house to help take care of all of us.
While I was in the hospital, I was texting back and forth with Jacob, trying to decide on a name. We had narrowed the choices down to two: Jaclyn and Jocelyn. Jaclyn because it’s the female version of Jacob and if we were going to have a boy, his name would have been Jack. But I felt that Jocelyn was a bit more feminine and fit this petite little creature much better. I let Jacob decide on her middle name and he chose Rae.
We are all enjoying having our sweet Jocelyn Rae with us. She is still almost always content and likes to hang out watching us from her swing or bouncy chair. I call her my unicorn baby since I’ve never known another baby so laid-back and just easy. She completes our little family.
The newest Armstrong baby is almost here and as we approach the final weeks, it’s been a scramble to refresh my daughter’s hand-me-down baby gear, wash newborn clothes, and pack for the hospital. As I’m dusting off this baby gear and washing all the little pieces, I think back to my daughter’s first year, remembering what I actually used the most. Of course, you have the usual necessities – bassinet, crib, infant carrier, etc. But I was able to put together a list of 8 things that I didn’t realize I would use quite so much that were real life savers for the first year. So make sure you put these on your baby registry!
IMPORTANT UPDATE: All Rock n’ Play models have been recalled due to infant deaths. Please discontinue use of this immediately. For more information visit the CPSC website here.
- A reclining glider chair. At first, I had a regular glider with the gliding footrest that I picked up at a second-hand baby store. But I quickly realized the footrest took up so much room and sometimes I didn’t want it at all. I also wanted something cozier that I could lean back in. I found a very comfy reclining glider chair, which my husband bought as a Christmas gift for me. I still have it in my toddler’s room (she calls it the Snuggle Chair) and I plan on moving it into my bedroom and later into the nursery for Baby. What I love the most about it is that I can lounge however I want to – feet up, reclined, or just rocking with my little one. There is so much room in this also. There are lots of different options out there at the big baby stores like Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby. Make sure you use that coupon! We were lucky to get a good deal on the last discontinued model with the coupon savings on top of that.
- A good stroller frame. I say frame because it seems the best ones have the frame with detachable seat. With these, you can attach your infant carrier to the frame directly or with a compatible attachment. Then, when baby is bigger, you can attach the seat. We bought the Britax Affinity on clearance and it was amazing! I ordered the infant carrier attachment so I could connect my daughter’s Graco infant car seat to it. When it was time to put her in the stroller seat, I was able to turn the seat toward me or away. I believe the Affinity has been discontinued, but the other Britax strollers seem just as nice. A few tips for getting a good stroller:
- Visit your local baby store and take the stroller for a test drive around the store aisles.
- Make sure there is an attachment that is compatible with your infant car seat.
- Check out all the features and make sure it will work for your situation (type of sun shade, ventilation, recline options, brake, etc.)
- When you’ve decided on the one you love, check your local Facebook buy, sell, trade groups to see if there is a used one you can buy. If that’s not an option, make sure you ask about clearance/displays and use a coupon!
- Wearable blankets or sleep sacks. My daughter hated being swaddled, but she loved her wearable blankets. These are a great alternative to blankets, since you don’t want anything loose in the crib with Baby. My favorites were Halo and Aden & Anais brands. They both have lighter and heavier ones so you can switch them out with the seasons. I always had a Halo light cotton and a fleece, and an Aden & Anais light muslin and thick layered muslin. Our little one wore these until we transitioned her to a toddler bed. Knowing that she was nice and cozy in her crib without having to use a blanket gave me peace of mind.
- Dual-position swing. This is especially useful if you have a baby that spits up a lot. You can position the swing to move from side to side or front to back. Side to side is recommended to prevent spitting up. We had the Fisher Price Snug-a-Bunny swing and it was so soft and cozy. Whichever one you decide on, do make sure it can plug into the wall. You definitely don’t want to get stuck with a non-functioning swing because you ran out of batteries.
- NoseFrida Snotsucker. I know, it sounds gross. But for those early reflux days, and then later on when she caught her first cold, this was the only thing that cleared our baby’s nose really well. You’ll want to use saline drops with it also. FridaBaby sells their own saline spray, but we use Little Remedies Saline Drops. As far as getting baby to hold still during the sucking, ours went through stages. There were times when she thought it was the funniest thing, and others when she screamed like she was being tortured. But afterward, I could tell she was relieved to have all that stuff out of her nose. When she was small, I would lay her down on my lap. As she got bigger, I would have her lay down on a pillow and let her put the saline drops in herself.
Rock ‘n Play. After too many sleepless nights, I finally tried putting my baby in the Rock ‘n Play to sleep. The incline helped with her reflux and the shape of it snuggled her just like she wanted, since she hated to be swaddled. We got the okay from her Pediatrician since I know there are some SIDS concerns here. Please be safe and check out all risks and talk to your Pediatrician before trying this. Make sure you also do lots of tummy time to prevent a flat head.
- Kiinde breastmilk and bottle warmer. I really didn’t think I would use this very much, but it ended up being one of the most used things in my kitchen that first year. You can warm bottles, defrost and warm breast milk bags, and even food pouches or jars. It slowly warms everything to the perfect temperature without risk of burning your breast milk.
- Angel Baby Bottom Balm. This diaper balm by Earth Mama Angel Baby is super natural and works great. It’s also safe to use with cloth diapers, which we used the first few months. They have recently changed the name of if to Earth Mama’s Organic Diaper Balm, but it looks like the same great formula. We’ll definitely be picking up a couple packages – one for the nursery and one for the diaper bag.
Do you have a similar list or additional things you just couldn’t live without during your baby’s first year? I’d love to hear from you as we finish preparing for Baby #2!
Update: I actually didn’t use the Rock n’Play very often with #2. Instead, I used a DockATot Deluxe+ for supervised snooze time until she transitioned to her crib.