Below we share our candid experience of becoming parents and raising a family. We also share helpful links to our articles on pregnancy, maternity, baby, toddler, and kids gear reviews.
Our growing family began in January 2016, with my first pregnancy. There were many unknowns, so many firsts…
So many frenzied moments where I turned to Asher and exclaimed, “How come nobody told us about this?!!!”
Now we have two adorably rambunctious little ones named Kingsley, age four, and Aurora, age two. We own a home in Iowa, are renting a house in New Mexico, have moved multiple times around the US, dealt with ongoing health crises, and traveled repeatedly around the globe.
Pregnancy, birth, postpartum — and each unique and precious stage of baby and toddler-hood — are ones we all want to savor. This said, it can be completely overwhelming when you’re in the trenches dealing with birth and recovery… on three hours of sleep.
Adult diapers, postpartum pads, never-ending mastitis, nipple guards, UTI’s, and other complications. These are things that just aren’t explained to most women flirting with the idea of having a baby. On top of the mother’s physical recovery, there’s baby’s night waking, teething, diaper blowouts, and of course scrubbing two-day-old yams off your walls because baby thought “yam on wood” would be a good new finger painting medium.
Although not always glamorous, this is parenthood! It may not always feel “perfect,” but it’s beautiful – It’s life.
One toothy smile or, “I love you, mommy,” is all I need to forget the pee I just spent twenty minutes delicately dabbing off our landlord’s Persian Rug.
Why We Do this
One really important aspect of our website is geared towards helping moms and dads better prepare and adjust to parenthood by doing the hard research for you. I never had enough time to read endless articles, and I’m guessing you might not either.
We hope that the products we recommend, and the accompanying advice we give, is comforting — and especially helpful — during one of the most transformational times in your life.
Here is an abridged story of our pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and raising a new family experience. You’ll also find links to the accompanying tools and products that made it smoother for us, and what we learned along the way.
Pregnancy and Birth with Number One
In 2015, Asher and I were living in Maui, Hawaii. We chatted almost daily about the possibility of me getting pregnant and beginning a family.
Intuitively we knew we were ready, but financially not so much. The cost of living on Maui is astronomical. We didn’t feel like we could afford to upgrade to a larger rental in addition to all of the birthing and baby costs we knew were in our future.
So, we packed our bags, flew back to the mainland, and went from 80 degrees in Maui to -14 degrees in Iowa overnight. It was a shock. But we were committed to creating a beautiful space for our little one to enter the world.
I ended up getting pregnant about three weeks later in January of 2016. It was thrilling to see the pregnancy test as it became positive. Immediately, we began researching birth and birthing choices. We watched several DVDs friends shared including one entitled, “ORGASMIC BIRTH!” (I highly recommend it!) You can rent it on Amazon Prime here. They now even have an audiobook version.
We decided to opt for a natural home-birth with a local midwife. I remember my mother being very concerned with our choice because her pregnancy with me ended in an emergency C-section after 24 hours of labor. Iowa’s nearest birthing hospital was over thirty minutes away from where we were living, and so there was some concern for my safety.
We stuck to our guns and went for a home birth. My pregnancy with my son was relatively easy. I had morning sickness, but it was manageable. I was able to walk and stay active until the day I went into labor.
The birth of my son, Kingsley, came suddenly and unexpectedly – on his due date – and he was born within about three hours in a giant birthing tub set up in our master bedroom.
He was “back labor” and the experience was extremely painful (not quite orgasmic!) but without any complications. I didn’t tear, which was amazing thanks to some stretching work we did before the birth.
My only regret with this pregnancy and birth was that I didn’t advocate for myself enough. I didn’t put up clear enough boundaries with family members or express that I needed help when I honestly did.
The MOST IMPORTANT piece of advice for mama’s I can give is: THIS TIME IS ABOUT YOU. It’s not selfish or weak to envision what you would like for your pregnancy and birth and ask those around you to respect those desires.
You are about to gear up for one of the most physically and emotionally demanding times of your life. Family members are often not compassionate enough or well educated to realize what a woman’s body goes through during the birthing process, and how much we need to be loved and cared for postpartum.
This is not something that is ingrained in our culture. In the US, where maternity leave is not government-mandated, women are often expected to be back to work sometimes even the day after having a child. It’s deplorable, and I hope that you are able to advocate for yourself or ask your partner to advocate for you; not just to your health care provider, but with all those around you. Make sure you educate yourself before your baby’s birth and learn how to care for yourself during recovery.
Before I get into the ins and out of my second pregnancy, we wanted to share with you several maternity product reviews that can help you navigate the labyrinth of pre-baby chaos more easily. We hope these make your life easier! Hang in there, mama to be!
Below are our pregnancy and maternity product reviews:
Body Washes for Pregnancy | Breast Pump for Twins | Compression Socks for Pregnancy | Maternity Bras | Maternity Jeans | Maternity Leggings | Maternity Pajamas | Maternity Pants | Maternity Support Belts | Maternity Tights | Maternity Work Pants | Maternity Workout Clothes | Nipple Shields and Balm | Postpartum Pads | Pregnancy Journals | Pregnancy Underwear | Probiotics for Pregnancy | Prenatal Gummies | Shampoo for Pregnancy | Shoes for Pregnancy |
Pregnancy and Birth with Number Two
My second pregnancy was quite different! My son Kingsley was only 11months and still nursing a lot when we began trying to conceive. I got pregnant right away (to my surprise!) and the morning sickness came on full force.
Overall this pregnancy was challenging. I was very anemic, but luckily my midwife told me yellow dock root is AMAZING for raising iron levels and preventing UTIs. I still take it nightly. My most vivid memory of my second pregnancy is running to the bathroom to vomit (and NOT making it) in the middle of a nursing session. Instead, I puked all over the hallway and of course woke up my almost asleep son from his nap. Not very pleasant.
After a full month of getting contractions — not just Braxton Hicks but real contractions — almost every single night, the midwife informed me that because I was reaching the end of my 42nd week, we would have to go into the hospital in just five days and get induced.
This spurred us to try acupuncture and midwifery tinctures to encourage my baby girl to come naturally.
It was actually a full week of me telling her, “time to come out now!” and two teaspoons of castor oil one evening that finally did it. I went into labor naturally and she was born in a tub in our home at 11:59 pm on July 6th. YAY!
She was so beautiful and an incredibly easy baby. I learned a lot from my first delivery. This time, my mother-in-law was with us from Australia and she took on the burden of all cooking and taking care of my son for two and a half months. My wonderful hubby took off several weeks from work because we could now afford it.
I put up proper boundaries this time. I rested. I took lots of naps and spent time bonding with my newborn instead of navigating stressful family dynamics and feeling horribly inadequate for not keeping the house as clean as I had “before baby.”
Ladies, let me just say. YOU ARE DOING ENOUGH. You just made a person, with a brain and a beating heart. You are amazing. Your body just pushed this eight-pounder out or had surgery to birth it. You need to rest. Do not feel sub-par for taking the time to heal. It’s so important.
With my daughter, because I prioritized my own well being, the postpartum period with was heavenly, not horrible. It was really essential for my body’s recovery. I highly suggest checking out this book called, The First Forty Days which revives the lost art of taking care of mother after birth.
Raising Our Babies
I remember feeling very overwhelmed preparing for my firstborn. I had no friends with babies or young kids – we all seemed to pop them out at the same time! – so I really relied on books and websites to give me the info I needed. Unfortunately, this didn’t always work out.
More often than not I was encouraged to purchase things I didn’t really need, and yet somehow I didn’t end up having enough simple things like washcloths or bibs.
After this experience, Asher and I decided to expand the website to include reviews of key items that are either not often mentioned or ones that we feel haven’t been scrutinized enough.
Below are our baby product reviews:
Bassinets | Baby Bath Mats | Bath Towels | Bathtubs | Bibs | Blankets | Blenders to Make Baby Food | Baby Beach Tents | Baby Books | Baby Blocks | Bottle Brushes | Bottle Drying Racks | Booties | Baby Bottle Cooler Bags | Baby Bottle Dish Soap | Baby Bottles | Baby Bowls | Baby Car Mirrors | Baby Car Window Shades | Baby Carriers for Men | Baby Dolls for 1-Year-Olds | Baby First Aid Kits | Baby Food Storage Containers | Baby Grooming Kits | Baby Memory Books | Baby Nail Files | Baby Oils | Baby Onesies | Baby Probiotics | Baby Rattles | Baby Socks That Stay On | Bouncers | Bubble Bath Soap | Carriers for Petite Moms | Coconut Oils for Babies | Cribs for Twins | Floor Seats | Foam Play Mats | Baby Gates | Glass Baby Bottles | Hair Brushes | Hampers | Hats | Headbands | Hooded Towels | Humidifiers | Interactive Baby Dolls | Jumpers | Long-range Baby Monitors |Baby Lotions | Loungers | Mittens | Mobiles | Moccasins | Moisturizers for Baby Hair | Musical Toys | Nail Clippers | Pillow for Baby Flat Head | Play Fences | Retractable Baby Gates | Reusable Baby Food Pouches | Rugs for Baby Nursery | Scales | Baby Shoes | Sink Tubs | Spoons For Self-feeding | Stuffed Animals for Baby to Sleep With | Baby Sun Hats | Baby Sunscreens | Swaddles | Baby Swings | Teethers | Toothbrushes | Toys 0-6 months | Baby Utensils | Baby Walkers | White Noise Machines | Wipes | Baby Wraps |
Baby Teething and Colds
Teething is at the forefront of babyhood and there are two products that I wouldn’t be without. Somehow both my kids got their first tooth at 3months. Don’t ask me why I’m the lucky one! I love Hylands teething tablets. They have a nighttime and daytime formula which we found to be gentle and effective.
My daughter had serious teething pain that only surfaced around sleep. The combo of the Hylands tablets and this amazing organic teething oil by Maty’s seemed to give her the comfort she needed to actually get some rest.
Some other really important products to mention are cold and flu remedies that are also safe, natural and gentle for newborns. I again recommend Hylands products. Their earache drops I have actually used on myself! They really help. Somehow my kids have never had an ear infection but I had a reoccurring one for almost a year! These drops really helped relieve any pain, even for me!
I also recommend having their tiny cold tablets on hand for those first sniffles, and Hylands fever remedy for their first flu. And don’t forget the ever important snot sucker! This is so key to helping your little babe get a nap or nights sleep when they are congested. The two options I like best are The NosiboPro and the Baby Frieda – depending on your budget.
As with any type of medications be sure to check with your health care provider to confirm that it’s right for your little one.
Toddlers are a whole new ball of wax. Your previously immobile little one quickly becomes an avid climber… and destroyer of all things orderly.
This is always a shocking transition for parents no matter if it’s the first or fifth baby. Suddenly, you really have your hands full!
Both my kiddos became toddlers when they walked at around 10months. My son and daughter are very active, inquisitive, and super smart. Our job became keeping them SAFE without stifling their creativity, feelings of independence, or creativity. We are very into Montessori principles and ways of communicating. I spent the first few months of my son’s toddlerhood getting used to re-directing and re-learning really awesome communication skills that I wish I had understood and applied my whole life.
I highly recommend No Bad Kids by Janet Lansbury. It’s a great, easy to assimilate, introduction to positive discipline principals. It has kept our house “yell free” – which is very important to us – while still maintaining very important, and healthy, boundaries for our kids.
I recently had a dear friend tell me that our kids are the most enjoyable toddlers they have ever been around. That may be because she hasn’t experienced the “hangry” pre-lunch rush or the inevitable toddler meltdown. But, in general, my kiddos are very compassionate and considerate human beings. I feel it’s because we take the time to nurture these key qualities in them. We give them responsibilities and they rise to the occasion. Even at such a young age!
I also really enjoyed reading What’s My Child Thinking which is very short and sweet, and good from two year old plus families.
Toddlerhood is also a time when you will find your babe is growing and developing at warp speed. Often it’s hard to know or understand the best activities to foster their developing mind. That is why Asher and I have worked together to create the below toddler activity pages and product reviews to make sure you have a lot of really fun ideas that fit with your family’s needs.
Below are helpful reviews of toddler gear:
Activity tables | Alarm Clocks | Art Supplies | Baby Dolls for 2-Year-Olds | Baby Dolls for 4-Year-Olds | Baby Dolls for 5-Year-Olds | Baby Dolls That Look Real | Backpacks | Ball Pits | Baseball Gloves | Bath Tubs | Beds | Bikes | Block sets | Board Games | Booster Seats for Tables | Boy’s Snowsuits | Busy boards | Cameras | Climbing toys | Coloring Books | Dollhouses | Drawing Boards & Tables | Drum sets | Easels | Golf clubs | Guitars | Gyms | Headphones | Indoor Playgrounds | Karaoke | Laptops | Lunch boxes | Motorcycles | Music toys | Nap Mats |Paints | Pianos |Pillows | Play kitchens | Plates | Pool Floats | Purses | Push cars | Puzzles | Racing tracks | Remote control cars | Ride-On Toys for 1-Year-Olds | Rock Climbing Walls | Rocking Horses | Safety Harnesses | Sandals | Scissors | Scooters | Skateboards | Sleds | Slides | Skates | Step stools | Swings | Tents | Tool sets | Toothbrushes | Train Sets | Trampoline | Tricycles | Wagons | Water Shoes | Workbenches |
Growing as a Family
All in all, the last five years since I first conceived my son have been a whirlwind. We are still catching our breath. But, we’ve learned that the more you can do as parents to make your life easier and stress free really does effect the whole family dynamic and your children’s emotional well being too.
Don’t forget about you. Make space for your own joys wherever possible. My husband and I both practice Transcendental Meditation twice a day and we recently got into home spas and portable saunas as a way to unwind.
Whatever you choose to do, make it something you really love and improves your mental clarity and health.
We have also found that the best activity for our family is spending time peacefully in the embrace of Mother Nature. So, if you find your toddler or babe is ancy or overstimulated, turn to mother earth for a reset. Fresh air and some good grounding can quickly turn a toddler meltdown into blissful laughing!
We hope this brief sharing of our tips and experiences has been helpful. Every journey into parenthood is unique. We hope that you feel strong and centered and happy as you prepare for whatever is your next stage. And… for those inevitable moments that you don’t, we hope our tips provide some solace and comfort!
Take care Mamas and Papas!
Lyric, Asher, Kingsley and Aurora 🙂