Friday, December 26, 2014

grace for your post-baby body.

I stepped up to the station to have my mandatory flu shot at work (yes, mandatory. That's a whole other post yet to be written). The nurse was prepping the shot, not looking up at me while I confirmed it was okay to get even though I am still breastfeeding (it was - dangit). Right before she stuck me, she stopped abruptly.

"Your arm is so small, let me switch to the smaller needle"

"Oh good... yes. Please do that." 

As she is switching the needles, she says "Well honey, is your baby just sucking you DRY?" 

I didn't realize what exactly she meant. "Uhhh, I guess so...?"

"The same thing happened to my daughter when she was breastfeeding. She looked just terrible!!"

Silence. Awkward, awkward silence. I only stayed long enough to grab my band-aid and signed form, hoping the line of people behind me hadn't heard her humiliating comment.

I've told this story to some family and friends and we joked about how this nurse would for sure take home the Foot In Mouth Award. But truthfully? It stung.

Here's the worst part: I don't think it ever even occurred to her what conclusion I must be drawing about my own appearance based on her comment. Did she mean to hurt my feelings? I'm sure she didn't. But this is just one of so many body remarks I've received since having my baby. And I know I'm not the only one. I've been on all sides of these remarks and I've learned one thing:

We can't win.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

10 months old! {update}

Our girl is edging her way to her first birthday....she's T E N months old. Double digits! 

Lots of fun is coming with the holidays and I'm even more excited to experience it this year with her. We've already seen a couple of decorated Christmas trees and she is completely enamored. I can't wait to put ours up and see what kind of craziness ensues with her trying to pull the ornaments off and eat all the little leaf bits that will litter the floor. (Yes, it's December 9th and we still have no tree. I had great intentions this year but it just hasn't gone according to plan!) 

Best outtake from this month's photo session....

She is such a mild mannered child. HA.
This is real life, you guys. The "10" on the chalkboard is rubbed off because she rolled around on it. The lint roller in the bottom right is there because that's what I was using to make her smile....she was holding it but then decided she would throw it. She has spunk, spirit, and a mind of her own for sure. I've heard people say that means she'll do great things one day. :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I'm truly in love with being a mom, and it's probably the thing I'm most proud of. But as Brandon and I approached the time when we wanted to expand our family, there was some hesitation on my part. Maybe because I've grown up around lots of babies and kids so I was pretty aware of their life-altering nature (that does not mean I was prepared for one of my own, until it actually happened). My husband, on the other hand, was an only child for the first eighteenish years of his life, so he falls more in the "blissfully unaware" category.

Looking back, I wonder, what was I afraid of?

I would often wonder how different my life would be after having a baby. I would never get alone time anymore, time to relax, be able to sleep in, time to escape into a good book, and just plain old free time. Wow. Did you catch all that? All of the "me" that overwhelmed those thoughts? Unbeknownst to me, a little 9 lb package was on her way to reset that mindset. A complete overhaul, you could call it. 

Basically, having a baby was a kick in the pants that I needed.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

9 month update

She's 9 months old! (What!?)

(As per usual, this update is a few days late.)

She's a quick learner, very observant, talkative, emotional, a busy body, girly, funny, and growing so fast!

{Bow: Alexandra Rose Handmade}

The gorgeous quilt in the background of those first photos was made by a sweet friend of mine who is SO talented. I could not be happier with how it turned out. I'm so thrilled to see this quilt be used and loved and treasured by Aven over the years. Thank you, Adrienne!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

baby favorites! {accessories}

I often get asked by friends where I find Aven's headbands and other items we love, so I thought it would be fun to compile a list of links to some of our most loved shops and current favorites. Each of these shops offer something a little different than the others. If you're a mom of boys, many of these shops carry other baby items besides hair accessories - burp cloths, unisex leggings, and even bowties.

{P.S. a couple have even graciously provided coupon codes for you guys- yay!}
Just click on the name of each shop to visit their sites!

Jumping Jack 

The soft and stretchy jersey floral headwrap is one of their signature pieces, but they also carry lots of fun baby items including apparel. This teal headwrap is one of my absolute favorites! It doesn't leave marks on her head and looks cute with dressy or casual clothes. They even have some irresistible mommy and baby sets (like the black and white stripes below!). 
(Ps. - the shop closes periodically to catch up on orders. If they're currently closed, you can sign up to get an email when they open back up!)

Kind of funky and different, I love her style and she always has the greatest fabrics/patterns. She has a variety of items, including baby leg warmers, flower crowns, and I especially love her baby/toddler scarves! (Ridiculously cute!)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

8 month update

It's been 8 months since she joined our family. 
We are at that point now where I'm actually having a hard time remembering what life was like before her. She is our new normal, and any time spent away from her doesn't feel quite right.

This past month has been one of lots of growth for our girl. And her personality is blossoming. She is chatty, a little dramatic, funny, emotional, and extremely observant.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Aven Harper {a birth story}

I loved reading birth stories when I was pregnant. Something about hearing so many different scenarios helped calm some of my fears. Not to mention I just love a good story. I knew I would want to write Aven's down so I would always remember all the details that become blurry with time, but the birthing experience is a lot to process! So I've been working on this one for a while and I finally feel like I'm ready to share it.

{'s kind of long. That's what 30 hours of labor will get you.}

{January 28, 2014}

It was my due date. I left an uneventful OB appointment and was greeted by little snow flurries on the way home. We knew to expect some snow, but "nothing ever sticks around here."  (LIES).  Brandon got stuck in terrible traffic on the way home from work, and we soon learned this same scenario was playing out all over the state. Due to unprepped roads and gridlock traffic, eventually people were forced to either abandon their cars and walk home, or spend the night in their vehicles. What. A. Nightmare. We just prayed that our girl would stay put until the weather passed. Brandon did not want to deliver his daughter himself and I knew I was gonna need that epidural. AMEN.

Well she must be a good listener, because stay put she did. 

The days slowly ticked by. With each one, the number of "is she here yet?" texts seemed to increase, as well as our medical bills thanks to an OB appointment every couple of days to check on the baby and my progress (hello, crappy insurance). Each doctor visit was the same - very minimal progress. Clearly, she was quite content in there. I guess I'm glad at least one of us was comfortable at this point.

I remember actually laughing when this calendar alert popped up on my phone. It was both terrifying and reassuring to be reminded that she couldn't stay there forever. 

{February 5, 2014}

I was 41 weeks and 1 day pregnant.
I had a non-stress test and an ultrasound, which measured our girl at almost 8 lbs. As a Sonographer, I'm well aware that late-term ultrasounds are not especially accurate when predicting weight so I rounded up, figuring she would be about 8 1/2 pounds. Yikes.

But judging by this belly......sounded about right.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

7 Month Update!

Good grief, I feel like I just shared her 6 month update! Does it keep getting quicker? If so I'm not sure that I can handle that.

Big moments this past month included:

Trying solid foods for the first time! 
Yes, we waited until she was 6 months old because girlfriend has been super satisfied with breastmilk only till this point. We began with oatmeal cereal because I wasn't loving what I read about rice cereal. Then we also started some baby foods like apple, pear, sweet potato, and squash. I have a feeling she isn't going to like change much because every time we start a new food we swear that she hates it. But then sure enough, the second day she at least tolerates it and sometimes even face-dives for the spoon. So funny. So far she likes sweet potatoes the most!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Aven's first beach experiences! {summer recap}

This post contains a couple of Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and purchase, you'll be supporting the writing here at Beloved Nest. Thank you so much!

I have to be honest. 

Last year Brandon and I went on a little Babymoon/Anniversary getaway to South Florida when I was about 5 months pregnant. While we were there I just kept thinking, I'll never get to experience the beach like this again. Next summer will be so different with a baby. Brandon reassured me that it would be just as much fun, if not more so, to have our baby along with us. I wasn't convinced. All I could imagine was the extra work involved. (I realize that this sounds extremely pessimistic....I just call it realism!)

Well I was partly right. It was more complicated. It was different. It required loads more crap crammed into the back of our getting-smaller-by-the-day-Civic, as well as loads more crap carried down to the beach for just an hour or two by the water. But Brandon was also right. It was a good different. It was way more fun, I have to say. It was both busier, and more laid back. I know that math doesn't quite work out - but it's true.

I learned that there's nothing like introducing your new babe to something you love. It just makes you love it that much more.


*Picture overload coming. I promise, you won't mind. She is ridiculously cute on normal occasions, but throw in a beach - getouttahere!

So Aven's very first beach trip was a last-minute getaway with my parents and brother, and my brother's friend. {Initially I was hesitant since Brandon would be missing her first beach experience, but we went anyway at his urging.} We had a great time. Lots of extra hands to help and love on Aven. She was pretty well behaved even with a tooth that came in while we were there. And it was a great "trial" run for us so I would know how to prepare for the next trip.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Aven Harper is 6 months old! {Monthly Update}

This blue-eyed ray of sunshine is SIX months old. I can't believe we're already halfway through her first year! I'm trying to savor each day, each phase, each milestone. This past month was filled with lots of firsts, some fun and some really tough. Some coming within just days of each other. Might have broken my mama heart just a little with all her growing, but I'm loving this stage so much.

Now we play with the props. :)

I joke about her being my BFF but let's be real; we do everything together. Heck, if I could strap her in her new Ergo and take her with me to work, I totally would. She might even soften up the cranky patients a bit.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

PEP TALK for moms

This one's for all you supermoms. Yep, I'm looking at you. 

Since the day my daughter was born, I've become completely in awe of moms everywhere. Once I learned just how demanding and consuming motherhood is, I see things with new eyes, almost as if I had a LASIK procedure performed on my heart. Things are so much clearer to me now.  

I can't tell you how many times I've thought how does she do that? as I watch moms around me just doing what they do. (AKA, being AWESOME.)

Like when I see the mom at Target wrangling her four children under four and I think it's the most amazing feat I've ever witnessed. (Now I ask her if she could use a hand.) Or when I see the mom's Facebook posts about being glued to her baby's isolette in the NICU, never wanting to leave, and I wonder where she finds her strength? Surely I would never survive a trial of that magnitude. (Now I actually pray for her instead of just saying I will.) Or when I hear a baby losing it's little mind in a restaurant, I no longer feel aggravation, but instead compassion. (We all have those moments with our babies. We just want to enjoy a dinner out too!)

If you're a mom, you've had a moment like this. In fact, you've had countless unseen moments just like this, when it's just you and your baby. I could list so many examples, but they're all the same really. Selflessness. Unconditional love. Pushing through the hard moments and reveling in the sweet ones. That kind of unrelenting love that was first modeled for us by the Father. It's so powerful. And you embody that love in a million tiny little ways every day. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

5 month update

My baby girl is 5 months old.  As in almost half a year old. Sadface. 
But also happyface because it just gets more and more fun. She's so interactive 
and observant now, and just makes me laugh all day long.

Nicknames: Baby girl, Avenator (thanks, Mimi), Boo Boo, Avie
Eye Color: still a blueish gray color
Hair: the top is getting longer, and so is the rat tail...I refuse to cut it despite pressures 
from certain grandparents who shall remain nameless.
Who does she look like? Mostly Brandon I think, but when she smiles she looks like my baby pictures.
Weight: my guess is 16 lbs but we won't have an exact weight until her check up next month.
Height: no idea. But girlfriend has some loooong legs
Clothing: some 3 months, but mostly 6 month sizes
Favorite toys: Sofie the Giraffe teethers, Taggies blanket, mostly anything 
she can chew on...including her hands and feet.
Love or Hate Baths: Love
Crib or Parents' Room: Crib
Pacifier?: She chews on her WubbaNub paci, but still doesn't suck on it.
Routine: eating every 3 hours during the day. down to 2 long naps and 1 short 
nap a day for the most part. 
Food: still only breastmilk 
Nighttime sleep: 10pm-ish to 7am
Teething?: I actually just caught a glimpse of a tooth still under her gums!
Rolling over?: Only onto her side.
Sleeps: on her side with her hands up by her face.
New discoveries/ Milestones: starting to grasp onto bottle, playful shrieking, still sticking her tongue out all the time, copying sounds, sucking on toes :)

Friday, June 20, 2014

4 month update {better late than never}

Technically Aven turned 4 months old on June let's just pretend this update was
written and published two weeks ago. :)
This may be the #1 cliche parents say, but I can't believe how fast she's growing! Seriously...did I not just birth you last week, child? Slow your grow. 

Check out that sweet smile. And her hilarious goat toy. (I have a thing for goats).

The tongue. Out all the time these days. 

Nicknames: Avie baby, Bug, A, Booger (so feminine, I know), Babygirl
Eye Color: Blueish gray
Hair: Short and spikey on the top and light colored. Long in the back and dark. Bald in between. :)
Weight: 15.9 lbs  (90th %)
Height: 26"  (>95%)
Clothing size: some 3 months, some 6 months
Favorite toys: Sofie the Giraffe teethers, colorful rings, or just a blanket to chew on
Love or Hate Baths: Love
Crib or Parents' Room: Crib (high five!!)
Pacifier?: No. She doesn't like them. (I'm sure I'll be happy about this one day. At least that's what I keep telling myself.)
Routine: Eats every 3 hours during the day. Naptimes are getting shorter, one or two going away completely, depending on the day.
Nighttime sleep: 10pm-ish to 7am. (Praise the Lord!!)
Teething?: In the early stages I would think....lots of slobber and gnawing on toys/hands.
Rolling over?: Only onto her side for now
New discoveries/ Milestones: sticking out her tongue, grasping toys, giggling, lots of smiles, lots of baby talk

Thursday, June 12, 2014

being a new mom {& what I didn't see coming}

There is a vast difference between preparing for childbirth and preparing for a child. So much focus is placed on the pregnancy and how your baby will arrive, but we can't just brace ourselves for labor when there's a whole new life as a mother waiting at the end of the delivery. Moms-to-be, you deserve to have realistic expectations so you aren't completely overwhelmed on Day One of Motherhood.

In a nutshell, it's one-hundred times harder than you ever imagined it would be. It's also one-hundred times more spectacular than ever imagined it would be. Here's my take on it. 

{P.S., I have updated portions of this post with my thoughts on things one year after originally writing this!}

Overall, I enjoyed being pregnant. Sure, the heartburn was horrendous and towards the end I was just super uncomfortable. But there was something so special about it. I regularly had complete strangers congratulate me, make gender guesses, speak a blessing over me and my baby, and even physically lend a hand. And yes, there were a few awkward belly rubs here and there, but even those didn't bother me as much as I anticipated.

 I actually thought I was going to miss being pregnant. That is until my kid decided to stay put nine days past her due date and come out weighing almost as much as a bag of potatoes. Anyway, I'm not bitter.

Aven was born on February 6, 2014 and I can honestly say I've never felt more elation than that first moment she was placed on my chest. It was the hardest and most beautiful day of my life.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

my beloved nest.

This year our nest grew by 9lbs and 4 oz.... super sweet (and beautiful of course) baby girl named Aven Harper joined our family. She was born on February 6 and our nest hasn't been the same since! (In the best kind of way).

Without even counting my long labor and some postpartum difficulties, it hasn't been what I would call an easy transition (ummm...newborns are no joke!) but it's far exceeded any expectation I had of motherhood. It's already become nearly impossible for me to separate myself from this new identity she's given me. An identity I'm profoundly grateful for.

I hope our nest is somewhere Aven will have lots of laughs and more love than she can even contain.

I want to keep track of all the big and little, funny and sad moments.

Basically, I just want to remember everything. And hopefully, hopefully, encourage a few fellow moms along the way.