Our Second Pregnancy

Before you read this, I want to fully disclose this is a story of miscarriage. I’m sharing our story for two reasons; 1. It’s a big part of who I am and 2. I want to reach someone who has or may be going through this.  It is not my intention to make you feel bad for me, nor am I looking for pity or attention.  I’m simply sharing my experience to reach that one person who needs to hear this story, who may have gone through this, or needs to know it’s ok to not be ok.  And when you’re ready, talk about it. I’m right here for you if you need someone to listen.  I want you to know there is life after miscarriage and I hope this gives you a glimpse of hope.

We found out we were pregnant with our second baby on Thanksgiving morning in 2018, after just a couple months of trying.  I will never forget this morning.  Aria, who had just turned two, was snuggling in our bed. I took the pregnancy test and brought it over to my husband.  As I showed them the positive result “pregnant”, Aria went to grab the test. I told her she couldn’t hold it (it had pee on it of course) and she lost it! Having just woken up herself, she was cranky and threw a fit over not being able to hold the urine-soaked pregnancy test. We laughed over how hilarious it was, and how typical of our Aria.

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So things went on as normal for the next several weeks. I had a short time with morning sickness, but otherwise felt great. At my nurse visit around 7 weeks they even checked my labs and the HCG was elevated as expected. We planned to tell our family after we returned from our trip to Arizona for my 30Th birthday. We had a great time down there but on the day we were leaving I had some light spotting, and this was actually the second time it occurred. So, I decided to call our OB and they wanted us to come in as soon as we could for an ultrasound.  After flying home overnight, we drove to the office straight from the airport.

Never in my life did I imagine I would hear the words “I’m so sorry, there’s no heartbeat”. I was certain the Ultrasound Tech was wrong, there was no way… I was pregnant, pregnant for over 9 weeks now. We planned for this baby, talked about names, took pictures for an announcement… we saw a life with this baby… everything was fine.

It was so hard. So hard to understand what just happened. There was no heartbeat and we saw it for ourselves, but I couldn’t believe it. I cried silently, laying there motionless.  I wanted to ask her to check it again. We were sent to another room to talk to the OB. I wanted HER to take another ultrasound, but I couldn’t bring myself to ask.  She told us how the baby had stopped growing around 6.5 weeks based on measurements.  How it was nothing I did or could have done, but likely something in early development of the cells. After discussing our three options, I went home in denial. My body was not recognizing that I was having a miscarriage either.  But after two more days at home, acceptance crept in. There was nothing I could do to reverse this, so we said goodbye to our angel baby on January 4th 2019. 

I had my husband and our daughter right beside me. My sister knew what was going on and was more supportive than ever. But, I never felt more alone.  I had held off telling my mom for a few days so I didn’t ruin her time while she was meeting her newest grandbaby.  Very slowly we only informed a few people.  It was uncomfortable to bring up the subject. How does that naturally come up in a conversation? It doesn’t. It was difficult to say the words out loud. So I suffered in silence, trying to bury it away.  I kept it in for a long time, bottling up all the pain and sadness. Losing interest in my normal activities. Trying to be a good mother to our daughter while my heart kept breaking was exhausting. And I felt like the world kept spinning, without a second to catch my breath and process any of it. I kept questioning where I went wrong, what did I do to cause this miscarriage. I blamed myself and searched for every possible cause… was it a stressful event I had around 4 weeks, or because I had gotten the flu shot? …maybe the flight around 5 weeks along…or was it the thyroid medication I had to be on ever since having Aria. I needed an answer, something to help ease the pain.

Slowly, I started to tell my closest friends. Because something so significant cannot stay hidden forever.  It was in my friends that I started to feel the slightest relief of pain.  I was able to mourn with the friends who had gone through a miscarriage too.  They let me cry, checked in on me, and sent me words of encouragement and pictures that spoke right to me. And those that had never experienced a miscarriage were also very supportive too, always available for a shoulder to cry on.  Being able to talk about it helped me so much. Once I started letting the words out, it made me realize how many other people have gone through this, who also probably suffered alone too. Why is this topic something no one can talk about? It shouldn’t have to feel that way.

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Having a miscarriage was a short incident in time, but it is something that will be with me for the rest of my life. There will always be an unfillable void; that hurt will never go away. Over time there is healing. I often feel, in many other circumstances as well, that you may not understand why things happen as you experience them, but in the end everything happens for a reason. I will always wonder who that baby would have been, or what life would have been like if they lived.  That will never go away. But if I had carried out that pregnancy, I would have never been pregnant 6 months later. And if I didn’t get pregnant in June of 2019, then we would have never had our rainbow baby arrive in February of 2020.  I know now that Theo was exactly who we were meant to have, at exactly the right time.  He is every part sweet and calm, arriving right before a worldwide pandemic.  He has brought so much joy and light to our lives.  I know he was sent to us and picked out flawlessly.

If you have had a miscarriage, or struggling after having one, I am sincerely sorry.  I promise you that you are not alone. It’s ok to mourn the loss, take all the time you need. There is a lot to grieve when this shakes your entire world.  When you are ready, talk about it. Tell your family members that you can confide in and let your closest people know. The process may be slow, don’t force yourself to rush it.  Give yourself permission to cry.  If you have a faith in which you believe in, lean on it. Know that it is possible to be strong and broken at the same time.

My heart is with you.

>>Erin

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A Very Christmas Weekend

This past weekend we filled up on the local Christmas events. The weather was warmer than usual, hitting 50, so it was perfect for the whole family to be outside for an extended time. A couple of the events came from my list of Holiday Events in New England, which you can check back to look for more ideas. Friday night we went to Light From Afar at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette. Sunday we went over to Oakholm Farm to indulge in festivities and go to Oakholm Brewing Company. Lastly, that evening we did our traditional visit to Old Sturbidge Village for Christmas by Candlelight.

Light from Afar at La Sallette in Attleboro, MA was an amazing sight. This was our first time going so we did not know what to expect, but it blew me away. This display of lights, which deserves a much bigger word because ‘display’ is an understatement, was stunning. Over 400,000 lights to observe and truly brighten your spirit. The experience was beautiful, peaceful, and amazing all at once. Among the lights you can find the nativity scene with a real donkey, the story of the birth of Jesus on large wooden plaques, and the tale of Saint Nicholas and his transformation to Santa Claus. Continuing on we found more amazing lights, a hot chocolate stand, and a merry go round. To each their own, but we didn’t feel comfortable taking part on the merry-go-round given the crowd and current health crisis. Luckily we were able to avoid a meltdown and made our way to some more dazzling lights by the pond.

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The Christmas celebration of lights is FREE, no reservation required, and open every night 5:00-9:00pm. I recommend going during the week if you can. You could spend anywhere from 1 to 3 hours there, depending on how fast or slow you’d like to view it all. We were there for two hours and it was just right for our 4 year old and having a baby in tow. For the most part, it is stroller friendly but there is one area only accessible by stairs. I wore Theo in our LilleBaby carrier because its just so much easier to get around.

After a slow Sunday morning, enjoying “snowman pancakes”, we met our family over at Christmas at Oakholm Farm, located in Brookfield, MA. They had all sorts of holiday fun going on, including ‘pick your own’ Christmas tree, horse-drawn wagon rides, Christmas Carolers, various venders, a food truck, and good ol’ Mr. Santa Claus! This rustic farm sits on a quiet back road so it’s perfect for the whole family, with plenty of space to let the kids run around. We sat by the fire, roasted marshmallows, and made our way back and forth to the Oakholm Brewing Company, located just next to all the festivities.

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Let me tell you, this was the perfect way to meet Santa! He was so interactive with the kids, took his time, and made it so fun. Don’t be fooled by the picture with Theo, he just didn’t want me to put him down. I don’t think he even saw Santa. Santa Claus on the other hand, was extremely jolly and enjoyable. He actually came over to the kids by the firepit and talked to them for a while. They practiced their “Ho, Ho, Ho” with him and talked about what his favorite kind of cookie is so we know what to leave for him on Christmas Eve night. It’s Chocolate Chip, if anyone needs that info.

You can occasionally find different vendors at the farm, a great place for other small businesses to gain some ground. This weekend they had Swift River Wood Shop, from Western Massachusetts. This man handcrafts each piece, from coasters to cheese boards, and even butcher blocks. Each piece unique in it’s own grain, from locally sourced wood…so you know its good. You can take a look at their website for past and present projects, and simply contact them for requests! It’s amazing to see the work that comes straight from a craftsman, no funny business there.

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And onto our final event, closing our big weekend filled with Christmas, we went over to Old Sturbridge Village for Christmas by Candlelight. Tickets and Reservations required in advance. We’ve done this for the past few years, so I love that we can carry out this tradition. Understandably, the experience was limited due to the pandemic. A lot of their unique character interactions and building displays were unavailable due to obvious safety concerns. You can still walk around and observe live demonstrations from windows or enjoy a horse-drawn carryall ride. The Christmas Tree Trail and Christmas Wish Bridge were something we missed last year, so it was nice to peacefully stroll through this year. We enjoyed some time by a bonfire and listened to a musician in the shoe shop. We truly love going to the live museum, and wish for next year to be closer to normal!

Hope you are finding ways to fit some Christmas magic in during this weird time. We don’t have much of 2020 left, so make the most of it. Fill the rest of your year with all good things. Stay safe. Merry Christmas.

>> Erin

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Home for the Holidays

Our typical post-Thanksgiving traditions were a little delayed due to Theo’s condition and hospital stay. So we spent this weekend catching up by finding our Christmas tree and decorating the house. It’s hard to believe Christmas is just around the corner now, AND we’re still in the thick of a Pandemic. I think most of us have found a way to live with it and carry on with a new normal. Even still, we have to make so many adjustments.

It continues to be tough and discouraging, having restrictions and social distancing from family and friends. Your usual holiday traditions are looking grim, as they may be cancelled or unsafe. We may not be able to sit on Santa’s lap this year but we can come up other fun ideas to make it the best holiday season ever. For the past 15 years, I’ve gotten together with my bestfriends from high school to have a gingerbread house competition and this year we will be doing it virtually. No, it won’t be the same, but it will still be fun and bring us a lot of laughs. So let’s try to remain positive and keep the Christmas spirit alive. You have to, if not for yourself, but for you kids.

My favorite tradition is getting our tree and decorating it.
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I challenge you to be jolly, to push yourself, and to create a magical Christmas for yourself and loved ones at home. The “Home for the Holidays Bucket List” will give you all the tools to enjoy the most wonderful time of year.

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

This year has taught us so much. Slow down and embrace the things around you. Don’t let what you can’t control consume you. You can still make the most of this holiday season, even if we are “stuck” at home. So…make it magical and memorable! Share your favorite traditions in the comments below.

>> Erin

Happy Holidays!
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Juggling the Holidays with Children

Let the chaos commence! Am I right? Don’t get me wrong, I love this season. I just can’t believe it’s already here. Have you started planning out how you’re going to manage your holidays? Or are you the person who’s already done some Christmas shopping and the tree is up? I am not. I really just put away some Halloween decorations I just found. But my mind is already turning over how to handle the upcoming festivities.

Like I said, I love the holidays. Having kids now makes it so much magical. Seeing everything through their eyes… watching how excited they get when you drive by a house with Christmas lights on… or witnessing their reaction to meeting Santa Claus. It’s all so wonderful. However, the holiday season can certainly be exhausting when you are towing little ones along. Trying to see everyone, making sure we packed everything…And when or where will they nap?! I felt myself becoming anxious over the upcoming holidays about two years ago, with our first born getting a little older. What should be an exciting and enjoyable time of year, was turning into a dreaded hassle.  I even considered traveling so we didn’t have to deal with it!

Sometimes family members have high expectations of you committing all your time to visiting them.  This can be so hard if you have both sides of the family, and even more so with split families. Not to mention if you have family living far away. Our first couple of years with one child we actually squeezed in seeing everyone all in one day. Our families live in the same state, but it was still over 2 hours of driving in one day to see them all.  It was hectic, rushed, and stressful. Trying to please everyone can be so grueling, and then have a negative effect on your family or kids. 

The first two years as parents, we were so caught up in pleasing everyone else that we never spent a Christmas morning in our own house, with our own little family.  Part of me regrets that because we didn’t have a special ‘Christmas morning’ experience with our first baby or pictures to look back on.  So last year, I decided enough was enough. We would not be fitting in both sides of the family on one day.  Our children deserve a slow quiet morning in their own home. Giving them time to enjoy opening presents and playing with them instead of running off to the next house.  It’s also not fair to the little ones to be pulled away from playing with their cousins or enjoying the quality family time. Cutting them short of that special time usually doesn’t go well either…do I need to explain further? I don’t think so.

You can’t satisfy everyone so put your little family first. If you and your partner are unhappy, then it will likely reflect on the children and/or stress them out. So brainstorm and consider your options. For example, we decided to celebrate Christmas Eve with my husband’s family, Christmas morning as our own little family at home, then Christmas afternoon/evening with my side of the family. 

Here are a few ideas:

  • Alternate the holiday each year. Thanksgiving with one side, Christmas with the other, and then switch the following year.
  • Split the holiday into two separate days.
  • Have everyone come to your house.
  • Consider starting a new tradition, like baking together or meeting up for a walk.
  • Or my newest plan…go travel! Just kidding, but not a bad idea… just a really bad year for it.  
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Whatever you decide on, be clear about your plans and stand your ground.  You’re doing what is best for your children. And if you have a difficult time with your family, then at least this year you can use the pandemic as an excuse! Depending on what state you live in, the law can really be on your side this time!  Or maybe you really are nervous about larger gatherings because you have a new baby or small children.  I know I am, our youngest is 9 months and I’m very cautious about who we visit. So…leave it at that… it’s the pandemic’s fault you can’t see too many people in one day! Then your extended family will see how nice it is to enjoy you without cutting the visit short, setting a precedence for the years to come.

In the end, do what brings you joy. Have a happy, safe, and healthy holiday season, from my family to yours.

>> Erin

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Holiday Events in New England

This year has brought on a lot of change and challenges for all.  You may be starting to find that some of your usual traditions are out of the question. Sadly, going to see good Ol’ Santa Clause will be very different. But we can’t let that ruin our Christmas spirit. So, I’ve done some searching and compiled a list of various holiday attractions and events in the New England area. I hope this list can help brighten your spirits and bring the festive cheer you need. Maybe this year will be the start of a new holiday tradition with your family.

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  1. Boston Virtual Tree & Light Celebrations – Broadcasting on TV over various dates due to Covid-19. View from your cozy warm couch!
  2. Zoo Lights @ Stone Zoo – Stoneham, MA. Stroll thru a winter wonderland, open Nov 7th– Jan 3rd.
  3. Magic of Lights – Foxboro, MA. Drive through a large light display in Gillette Stadium parking lot. Nov 13th– Jan 2nd.
  4. La Salette Light from Afar – Attleboro, MA.  Walk through a beautiful light display, free to the public. Nov 26th– Jan 3rd.
  5. Christmas by Candlelight – Sturbridge, MA. Walk through the historic live museum and observe old traditions & stories. Select dates Dec 4th- 30th.
  6. Bright Nights @ Forest Park – Springfield, MA. Drive through the park to see a large light display.  Nov. 25th– Jan 6th .
  7. Search for Santa – Central Falls, RI. Enjoy a 20 min river boat ride, with storytime & treat, looking for Santa on the riverbank. select dates Nov 27th – Dec 20th
  8. Holiday Lights Fantasia – Hartford, CT. Drive through Goodwin Park, view a collection of over 1 million lights. Nov  26th – Jan 3rd.
  9. Trolley of Lights & Storytime with Santa and Elf – East Windsor, CT. Take a trolley ride or “electric sleigh” and view lights. Select dates Nov.27th– Dec 20th   
  10. Luminaria – Mystic, CT. Stroll through Olde Mystick Village to see the lit luminaria’s, dabble in some shopping, and enjoy sweet treats on Dec 11th.
  11. Gift of Lights @ New Hampshire Motor Speedway – Loudon, NH. Drive 2.5 miles viewing 3 million lights. Nov 26th – Jan 3rd.
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There are plenty of ways to spark your inner elf, I only shared a glimpse of it! This short list shows you how much New England has to offer, even at a time like this. Most events are outdoors or can be enjoyed right from the seat of your car. Check online for tickets and availability in advance, as well as state public health guidelines. Feel free to comment below with more ideas to share!

Happy Holiday Season to you all!

>> Erin

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  1. God bless you and your family. I love you all!

Hotel stays with a Baby

I never minded staying in a hotel room, it’s a nice feeling of stepping away from your everyday life. And adding a baby to the hotel room isn’t all that bad. We started traveling with our daughter when she was 5 months old. We flew to Phoenix Arizona, spent a few days there and then drove up to Sedona. It was such a great experience after that first night of adjusting with the time change. Since then, our daughter has stayed in probably 50 hotels, if I had to count. She is almost 4. Now we have our second baby and he is just starting to gain his experience with little hotel getaways.

I hope this read finds you planning a getaway.  Here’s some great tips to surviving a hotel stay with a baby.

Special Requests

Before arriving to the hotel, call ahead to make some special requests. First, ask if they can set up the pack and play or crib prior to your arrival. This is especially important if you are getting in during the night. And hotels are NOT baby proof…at all. So you’ll need this safe space to place baby while you’re preoccupied.

Ask for a fridge. Some hotels don’t come with them anymore, which I think is crazy. But they are so useful for obvious reasons. Particularly with a baby, you may need it for breastmilk, formula, yogurt, or fresh snacks.

If it’s in the budget, ask for a suite so you have a kitchenette available. The clean kitchen sink is important for washing baby bottles, feeding items, and pacifiers. If not, no big deal, just bring a washing brush and dish soap to wash those items in the bathroom sink.

Things to Bring

Sheets – Bring a top sheet or ask the hotel at check in for an extra sheet, it’s great to throw a big sheet down on the floor for your crawling baby.  This creates a nice clean space for baby to play with toys and worry less about all the floor germs. Also, I always bring my own baby’s crib sheet. Some hotels may have a crib but they usually don’t have actual crib sheets and end up using their big bed sheets to fold over the crib mattress. Using our own crib sheets make me feel better about cleanliness anyways. These days we’re packing our own portable crib, but when we start flying again I won’t be bringing that along. 

Bedtime – Be sure to pack all the necessities your baby needs for sleep. While packing for a trip I had all our clothes and pajamas but completely forgot a swaddle! That would have been a bit of a disaster, my babies loved their swaddle. But luckily my husband was coming later in a separate car, so he was able to grab it. Other sleep aids may include a sound machine, nightlight, pacifier, etc.  We always always use our portable sound machine. And most recently we prefer to bring our own portable crib. It’s super easy to set up and take down.

Feeding Time – Bottles, sippy cup, baby spoons, bibs… whatever you use to feed you baby, you’ll likely have to wash them at some point. I breastfeed my baby 90% of the time, but every night he gets extra breastmilk in a bottle and I pump once a night. So I have a whole separate bag packed with the breast pump and parts, and all the washing items with it. Bottle brush, dish detergent, drying towel (I prefer to place the clean bottles on my own clean dish towel). It’s also good to have these washing items to clean pacifiers or teething toys…or let’s face it, any toy because they all end up in baby’s mouth. For longer hotel stays consider bringing a travel booster chair, we use the Cirrus from Baby Delight Inc. It is so compact and convenient, it’s silly not to bring it.

Bath Time – Bring your own baby wash cloths because it’s typical for those hotel wash cloths to be rough. And your own baby soap/shampoo. Baby skin can be so delicate or sensitive, so stick with what you know to prevent any skin or eye irritation.

Cleaning Time – Particularly now, I take extra steps in cleaning the hotel room. I bring disinfectant wipes, Lysol spray and paper towels. Before unpacking, I do my best to clean everything. I Lysol all the door knobs and furniture handles. And wipe down any surface I may be putting our things on or think we will be touching. I clean the bathroom just as I would at home and run the shower water to wash anything away. It sounds like a lot, but it is rather quick and I don’t stress over it more than just giving it a good run through. After all, we made the choice to leave our house so I’m going to enjoy it.

First Aid – As with any travel time away from home, better to be prepared than dealing with an uncomfortable baby in a foreign town. Consider bringing along nasal saline drops, Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, Band-Aids, and alcohol swabs. Just in case. Because if you have them packed, of course you won’t need them.

Location

Ideally you want to pick a hotel that is central to everything, although that may not be possible. But if you plan on visiting a city and exploring different parks, museums, attractions etc, you’ll want to strategically choose a hotel that can be walking distance. It’s so nice to be able to use a stroller and get around everywhere.

Inside your hotel, you’ll want to request a room away from the elevator. Elevators on their own can be noisy and then add other people in and out of them. You don’t need that waking up baby during naps or night time. Or consider the first floor if you don’t care for a room with a view. It’s nice going in and out of the hotel and keeping your baby in the stroller, whether it’s to keep your hands free or load the stroller up with bags and things from your outings.

Sleeping Arrangements

We all know babies tend to go to sleep and stay asleep better when they can’t see you. A second bedroom would be wonderful but that could be doubling your hotel expense. I’m not for that.  Instead we book a two queen bed room, place the crib or pack and play on the far side of the bed furthest from the bathroom (the bed we don’t sleep in).  Stack the pillows from that bed up in the middle to make a wall. It works sooo well to basically hide yourselves from the sleeping child. Because that is what parenting has come to.  And you know what, I’m ok with it.  It means we can still travel and get a good nights sleep.

My best advice to you is to lower your expectations and let go of the little things. You may forget something, but it’s likely you can buy whatever it is you need or live without it. Not everything will go as planned, but make the most of it and have fun. You’ll be home before you know it. Oh and don’t forget to use that “Do Not Disturb” sign so the hotel staff doesn’t wake your baby! Go ahead and just leave it on the door the whole stay.

>>The New England Momma

Our Road Trip to the Berkshires

While the dogs are away, the cats will play! My husband, dad, and brothers went off on a birthday weekend getaway, so of course I couldn’t just sit back and have a quiet weekend home alone. I asked my mom if she would go out on a little adventure for leaf peeping and hiking.  Due to covid (ugh), we decided to stay within the state.  We headed North West, up to the Berkshires. On our way, we made a couple of fun pit stops.

First, the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory. This was such a beautiful environment, filled with wonder. And turned out to be a great learning experience in more ways than one. They had exotic frogs and lizard exhibits when you first entered. Then we walked into the butterfly gardens. The amount of butterflies was AMAZING!  The staff was very friendly and informative. So as we learned a lot about butterflies, we also were given a big lesson in patience and being present! It was so nice to sit down, slow down, and take it all in.

This was a true test of patience for my almost 4 year old. She was adamant about holding a butterfly. We had to tell her many times not to touch them because it would harm them. Her “angry eyebrows”, as we call them, were starting to come out. Several times over and over she would put her finger in front of a butterfly that was just sitting on a leaf in hopes it would just walk onto her hand. Of course they never willingly walked onto her finger…she pushed that little finger right under their tiny legs. If you knew my Aria, you would understand how strong-headed she is and she wasn’t leaving until she held a butterfly.

Theo however, calm as can be…thoroughly enjoyed watching all the butterflies and looking around at all the plants. Twice a butterfly landed on his leg while I was holding him. Go figure. They most have known he was a safe one.

We hand our packed lunch in the parking lot before taking off to our next stop, Shelburne Falls! I’ve heard about this quaint town but had never spent time there. They have a cute town center to check out with shops and dining. Two of the more well-known attractions are the Bridge of Flowers and the Glacial Potholes.  They were both very close to the town center and an easy walk to make. Unfortunately the Bridge of Flowers was closed due to the pandemic and lack of space to maintain social distancing. Looks like it would be a lovely experience in the spring time though. The Glacial Potholes were pretty neat to see, nature at its finest! The shapes and patterns on the rocks were incredible.

Walking back to the car we saw this beautiful building wall covered in the best fall foliage you could ask for.

Back on the road again… we headed to our final destination, North Adams. It was starting to get a little late to begin a decent hike so we opted for a very short one. After pulling over for a quick birds eye view at Wigwams Summit or “America’s Switzerland” (worth the quick stop ), we drove to Natural Bridge State Park. If you ever plan to visit, be sure to park in the actual Visitors Parking lot (off of McAuley Rd). We were on the opposite side where one of the trails ended and felt as if we were trespassing even though there was no signs stating no parking. Anyways, this was a very brief and easy hike to view the natural bridge and marble quarry. There are stairs, so don’t bring a stroller.  Very pretty views, more water and rock formations!

Dinner in North Adams. There were a few restaurants to choose from but we went with the Freight Yard Pub. It had a funky location under a bridge and nice lively atmosphere. There was a live band outside we would have loved to enjoy but it was getting late so we didn’t wait for an outside table. Our meals were great! Aria devoured the fried fish bites and fries. Mom and I split steak tips and a sesame chicken wrap. Theo loved the mashed potatoes. Drinks were lovely! Everything was reasonably priced. I would definitely recommend and even return some day.

The next morning we waited for it to warm up a bit. It was barely 40 degrees when we first woke up. So we utilized the hotel pool and took our time packing up, in our spacious room. I brought my favorite portable crib by BabyDelightInc. Hotel rooms are obviously not baby proof, so it’s nice to be able to put Theo in there while getting ready and know he is safe.

Off to fuel up, we decided on a late breakfast/early lunch at Renee’s Diner. They offered outdoor seating with an outdoor heater. The Pumpkin Bread French Toast was AMAZING!

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OK tummy’s full all around, now on to our hike… As usual, I used AllTrails to find a suitable trail for all of us …with a waterfall! I love trying to find waterfalls anywhere we go. The Cascades Trail in North Adams was beautiful. You start at the parking lot of their Elementary School/YMCA. It leads you through a gorgeous little neighborhood then onto the trailhead. Following the river pretty much the whole way up, with a rewarding waterfall at the end! This 2.2 mile trail was kid friendly with just a few challenging spots and is open to dogs on leash, however some were not. The water was so clear and the fall foliage was just perfect. We got exactly what we came for.

Heading home is always tough when you make quick road trips. We’re grateful to be able to have such a beautiful place within the same state. Now…time to plan our next adventure! Where to go?! Are you headed anywhere?

>> The New England Momma

Our Growing Family, Transitioning from 1 to 2 Kids

Our Short Story

I always said I wanted 4 children.  Well, that number quickly changed with the experience of our first child. She’s been a real handful (maybe 2 handfuls!)  Our daughter, born in November of 2016 after a blissful pregnancy, has definitely challenged us as parents.  She was a difficult baby, very fussy early on and then constantly wanted to be on the move.  She is spirited, super active, strong willed and increasingly independent as she grows. So I may have changed my thoughts on 4 children, but we definitely knew we wanted one or two more. We started planning for a second baby before she turned 2 but things went differently than imagined. We ended up with a rainbow baby this past February.  And I can honestly tell you, as difficult as that journey was, God had a plan for us. He blessed us with the most amazing baby boy. He’s exactly what we needed, at exactly the right time. Our son is a mellow little guy and happy as ever, a great compliment to his wild big sister.

All the Feels

Ahh the worry…the excitement…the guilt! It never ends as a mom.  I worried about how our daughter would handle a baby around and sharing the attention. She was very very attached to me.  Leading up to having our second child, she really did not like me holding another baby. She was very jealous any time I had my niece or nephew in my arms. So that was obviously a big worry! Then I also had concerns of her not liking the new baby, or what if I don’t love this new one as much?! I have a girl, what if this one is a boy! Can I love a baby boy the same way I love my baby girl? Oh man, how silly those thoughts are. My heart literally grew the second he was born. We are built with more love than we think, moms.  The moment happens and you just naturally, unknowingly adjust.

Second Child

In true second child fashion, there was no fancy nursery décor or elaborate baby shower. Don’t get me wrong, we were super excited to be bringing in a new little human to our world.  But with experience brings change and growth, and you realize what is necessary or what truly matters.

As this baby gets older, I’m definitely more relaxed. Is it the experience? The personality of the baby? Who knows, but this newborn thing was a bit easier the second time around.  I felt more confident, enjoyed it more, and was not as high strung about what’s going on or how messy he gets. It’s totally that “second child” motto everyone jokes about.  Just be sure to have a safe space for the new baby to be placed as you tend to the older child or have to leave the room.  Consider somewhere the older child can’t reach the new baby, whether it be a swing, bassinet, or bouncer.

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Preparing for Baby Number Two

We talked to our daughter A LOT about the arrival of a new baby.  She took it very well.  I truly don’t recall her being upset or angry that there would be a new baby. We read a couple books about being a big sister, told her what a big helper she would be, and expressed how exciting it would be to have a baby around. We included her on one of our prenatal ultrasounds and she was SO excited to see the baby. I let her feel the baby when he or she was moving around and she loved cuddling my big baby bump. She was wishing for a sister whenever anyone asked her about the new baby but was not disappointed when she met her (surprise!) baby brother at the hospital.  We included her on talking about baby names too, which was so funny hearing her suggestions. She actually picked out the girl name, but…new baby was a boy! Prior to going into labor we had planned for her to stay with my mom and dad (whom she is really close to and used to sleeping over with), so I knew she wouldn’t miss us too much while we stayed at the hospital. If your child isn’t used to sleepovers with family then I would recommend doing that beforehand, one less thing to worry about.

Food! You have a lot less time to cook so prepare some frozen meals before baby two comes along. Have healthy snacks on hand and things you can eat with just one hand.  I had an amazing support system, comprised of my family and a friends from the moms club, who helped out by making meals for the first two weeks. It was seriously a life safer!

Managing Two Little Humans

Well I’m still in training. There’s certainly a big difference from one baby to two little humans to look after. It feels like the days are just nonstop, they fly by. Fortunately I was able to cut back my work hours a lot to stay home with these two, but I could still use a few more hours in a day. Each day I try to set a goal to stay organized. Whether it’s finishing the laundry or sterilizing the bottles. There’s a million things you feel like you have to get done, but it won’t all happen in one day. So focus on one task at a time, even if that task is taking a nap that day!!

Setting time aside to give the older child undivided attention is crucial. Our daughter was definitely used to having us all to herself so as you can imagine, the transition can be difficult. She never directly expressed being jealous, as she’s only 3, but there were moments of tantrums and meltdowns that were certainly the results of adjusting to this new life with a baby brother. It’s such a big change in their little world and individual attention for her was so important. Asking the bigger sibling to help and do small tasks can make them feel special and wanted. Certainly the first few months were easier with a sleepy newborn.  But now as our baby is awake longer and starting to be more active, I try to involve both of them in similar activities and playtime.

Ask for help. You can’t do it all alone, as much as we want to and think we can.  There’s no shame in asking for help as you navigate a very busy beginning. 

Just go with it

You can plan all you want, but now you have two tiny humans to change it all up on you.  The new baby will need to be fed at the same time that your first child has to be taken to the bathroom.  It’s inevitable that you will now be pulled in two directions.  Nap times change, feeding baby (and child) will seem like it’s never ending, and cleanup is around the clock.  So plan for a lot of flexibility.

This second one grows twice as fast too. We have put away the baby items already, dropped the crib to the lowest setting, and now have to remember all the baby proofing! I’m holding this baby a lot longer and harder.

Give yourself grace, take a step back, and look at your two beautiful creations. They are so worth it all. Don’t forget to enjoy every second.

>> Erin

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3 Tips to Surviving Road Trips with a Baby

Times are weird right now. Personally, we’re not ready to fly anywhere quite yet because of our baby, but we do miss traveling so much. I think I’m even willing to drive 22 hours just to get down to some family in Florida.  However, then we have to follow state regulations with COVID testing and self-quarantining when we return..eek. In the meantime, we have some closer road trips planned and will be spending just a few hours in the car. So here’s how to survive a road trip with a baby.

photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  1. Timing

They say timing is everything. It is, it really is. Especially when you have kids, timing out the day as best you can makes such a big difference.  The best time to leave on a road trip is shortly after a feeding. This way, baby is not going to be hungry for a while. You can play with them in the car seat hopefully for a good hour depending on how old your baby is, then it’s that lovely car ride motion that lulls them off to nap or a decent sleep if you’ve left in the evening! We took a 7 hour drive from Massachusetts to Virginia when our son was 4 months old, only stopping once for 30 minutes. It was perfect. We left at about 4pm, after he had just nursed. He was awake for a good hour, napped for 2 hours and then we pit-stopped for gas and breastfeeding! Back on the road, the little guy stayed awake til 9pm and then slept until we got to our destination at 11pm.

2. Entertainment

Sure you could easily play the iPad or DVD player the whole way there, but I try to use that as my last resort. If you are driving with another adult, definitely have one of you sit in the back with baby. For obvious reasons, this will help a ton. The entertainer can keep your little one busy for much longer. Pack toys, books, random safe objects that grab your baby’s attention. Pick books with “touch and feel” or toys with sound or light to spice things up. Sometimes I will buy a special “never been seen” toy for the trip just so it’s something new and exciting that will hold their attention longer. But really just any toy that hasn’t been over used at home will do.  Even a mirror for baby to look into keeps them occupied for some time.  Bring a small ball along to place by baby’s feet, its so fun for them to kick around into the back seat. Then there’s our secret weapon…bubbles! We had a blast blowing bubbles for baby and you can even roll the window down for a wild effect. If you’re driving solo, many of these options won’t be feasible.  Have a playlist ready with your baby’s favorite songs and plan to make a few more stops. But, you can do it!

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3. Be Prepared

Be prepared to stop every few hours…for when the baby needs to feed, and possibly an extra stop if baby needs to be changed, but hopefully those can be done at the same stop! Fuel up on gas when you’re stopping to feed baby so you can make the best of your little pit stop. Pack the vehicle in a way that you won’t have to pull over unnecessarily. Have the diaper bag, snacks, toys and wet ones close by. Pack one diaper for every hour you’ll be driving.  It’s good to have plenty on hand because you know this will be the day that baby pees and poops through everything! So that being said, pack extra clothes that are easily accessible! Have any sleep items your baby needs nearby as well. Maybe a sound machine, pacifier, or lovey, whatever makes falling asleep and staying asleep easier. Have your own snacks, drinks, or even meals within arm’s reach so you won’t have to stop. Don’t forget your phone charger of course! If you’re on an extra long road trip, consider mapping out a few parks and maybe stop at one. This will allow baby (and yourselves) to stretch out comfortably.  Going into all of this, prepare to lower your travel expectations… this could be a bumpy road.

Lastly, remember how important car seat safety is. Double check that baby’s car seat is secure and follows proper guidelines before leaving. Don’t rush or put anyone in danger, it’s not worth it. You’ll get there eventually.

Safe travels!

>>Erin

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What you REALLY need for baby number two

Time to dust off the changing table and re-lock the kitchen cabinets, baby number two is on the way! Just when you’ve cleared that hazardous toddler stage and started to relax, you’ve got a new babe moving in. And let me tell you by experience, they grow a lot faster the second time around. I think our little guy was a newborn for about 4 minutes. As I type this, we just packed away the baby swing and bouncer for our 7 month old and I feel as if I just set them up. *Insert balling eyes out emoji*

If you’re starting to rearrange the house to get all that baby stuff back in order, here’s a good list to help you out.

1. Bassinet

Well let’s start with the basics. Hopefully you saved some big ticket items from your first baby, like a bassinet, infant car seat, swing, changing table and high chair. Always double check that the car seat has not expired. And have a safe place to put baby down where your toddler can’t reach or run over them, whether its a bouncer chair, swing, or pack and play. We saved a lot of things from our first baby, but we did buy a new bassinet for this second baby. The first bassinet (a hand-me-down) was too small and low to the ground. As a fresh postpartum mom you’ll quickly remember that comfort is key, especially when it comes to getting in and out of bed a few times every night. So we chose a new bassinet that had adjustable height and co-sleeper side. This made such an incredible difference. Because even when I wasn’t lifting up my sack of potatoes chunky baby, I could simple lay my arm over the side and rest it on him, comforting him back to sleep between feedings. I found the Milliard Co-Sleeper Bassinet on Amazon and it has 8 levels of height adjustments. It comes with a travel bag too (right up my alley!).

2. Double Stroller

So clutch! Nothing like strapping them both in there and being totally hands free while also making it easier to keep track of your kids so you don’t lose one. Depending on how old your first baby is, you may or may not need this. However, if you still have a young one who tires easily, this is so useful. Our daughter is almost 4 and she can only last walking for so long. I always bring a stroller that can accommodate both kids because they both end up in it at some point. A stroller that is compatible with the infant car seat and has a seat for your toddler is the way to go. We use the Uppa Baby Vista. It has so many ways to seat two. We’re going onto 4 years with this stroller, its part of the family now.

3. Carrier or Wrap You’re about to have your hands full. Make sure you have something to strap the baby right to you. I used the Moby Wrap Baby Carrier for the first couple of months, then as baby gets bigger I start using the LilleBaby Carrier more. Its super quick to click on and has a few different ways to carry baby. I used this one on many flights with my first baby and now probably a hundred walks since quarantine with baby number two.

My twin sister using a Lillebaby carrier.

4. Baby Monitor

Did you ditch your first one? Or maybe you’re still using it.  Either way, you’ll need one for the new baby. We bought a new monitor because we liked the comfort of still hearing/watching our big girl with our original monitor and wanted to try something different for the new baby. My husband gifted me the Nanit for Christmas. At first I thought, ‘well what an easy out that was for gifting.’ But honestly, I love this camera. It has great picture quality, temperature and humidity detection, and there is an app for your phone/tablet. You can play back motion or sound detection and it can monitor baby’s breathing if you really want to keep a close eye on your sleeping babe. If you’ve read any of my previous posts you already know I’m a night shift nurse, so all these features are a breath of fresh air for me.

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5. Backpack Diaper Bag

You know you’ll be running around like a maniac those first few weeks right? Ya, and it never really slows down. So, convenience is key and if you haven’t gotten a backpack style diaper bag already, then you’re working too hard. Trust me when I say you need one. Picture this… you’re getting the baby out of the car, diaper bag slung over one shoulder and now you’re helping your other child out of the car. You’ve got baby or a heavy infant car seat in one arm, toddler in other hand and that stinkin’ diaper bag keeps sliding off your shoulder. Nevermind any other bags and items you’ve got to lug around. Help yourself out and make it a backpack diaper bag.

Baby in the front, diaper backpack in the back! Hands free🙌

6. Fresh Swaddle Blankets and Burp Cloths

There’s nothing like the feel of new blankets, so why not let your new babe feel that luxury too! And it could be their potential special blankey they hold on to until they head off to college.  We were blessed with a surprise baby boy, so we appreciated the gender specific blanket we were given by a family friend.  It’s also nice to have brand new burps cloths. Our first child was super spitty and this one was too. So after a couple weeks in, when someone asked me what I needed…Burp Cloths please! I couldn’t have enough.

7. Diapers, more diapers, and wipes

Honestly, that’s all I really told people that I needed when they asked.  Friends and family are so generous when it comes to new babies and always love gifting while you are pregnant. So as much as I appreciated the cute clothes, we really truly just needed diapers and wipes. And like I already mentioned, this baby grows a lot quicker, so ask for size 2 and up. Trust me, you’ll need them.

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8. Bottles and Formula

Whatever your feeding method, it is nice to have brand new bottles, or at least brand new nipples. I breastfed my first and still used bottles here and there, so I saved them. But I felt better about buying brand new nipples and using them with the old bottles. I also bought a package of formula just in case we had any difficulty.  Ironically, I’m completely prepared this time and my milk supply is significantly better this time around, go figure. Still comforting knowing I have the formula in the cabinet if I need it. If you’re looking for a recommendation on bottles; Lansinoh! These bottles worked great for my breastfeeding, spitty baby. The nipple like magically mimics the breast… it’s soft, flexible silicone, and has a matte finish to it that just made it so natural for both my babies to go back and forth from breast to bottle. The Lansinoh bottles also have minimal parts, so you’re not dealing with washing all those fancy air ventilation pieces. A lot of my family and friends have had great success with this bottle.

9. Diaper Rash Cream and Baby Wash

Good ol’ butt paste! Honestly, I don’t like those thick white creams you end up having to scrape off of your baby with each diaper change. Try out the Aquaphor healing ointment, it works really well and even the docs prescribed it for babies at my hospital. You can get a good size one for at home and the travel size tubes for on the go in the diaper bag.

10. Nose Frida

It’s simply the best! Better than all the rest…..The baby booger sucker! This thing is seriously the best at getting boogers out. My babies were both filled with boogers for the first few months and I couldn’t stand seeing those darn things stuck in their nostrils. The Nose Frida Snotsucker works so much better than a bulb syringe, comes with filters, and is easy to wash. The whole thing is transparent so you know you’ve cleaned it out completely unlike a bulb syringe that you can’t see inside of.

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11. Sound Machine

Part of my swear-by-it sleep essentials! We love a good sound machine. If it doesn’t help baby sleep better alone, it will at least drown out your noisy toddler and the chores you’re trying to catch up with while baby is sleeping. One the go? Grab the hushh. At home, use the dohm.

12. Baby Book

I LOVE looking back at my baby book, which my parents still have. So it was so important to me to keep track of my babies so they can look at it some day. Get yourself a brand new baby book for your newest little love. And try to keep up with it.

Don’t Buy:

~Newborn Clothes. I know its really really hard not to buy new clothes for your baby because they’re so freakin’ cute, but honestly you probably won’t need them. Your friends and family will gift you some of those and the newborn stages fly by. You’ll likely need 6 months clothes and older.

~Nursing Cover-up. This is up to you. I didn’t have time to use a fancy cover up and get it all adjusted, especially having a toddler to run after. Instead, I used a muslin blanket, tucking one corner underneath each bra strap and calling it a day. Lots of air flow and flexibility there.

Hopefully this is helpful as you plan the arrival of your newest little love! Congratulations and best of luck.

»Erin

P.S. Get yourself a maid for all the laundry, because you’ll never be able to keep up with it again!