New Beginnings in Motherhood

Motherhood came upon me unexpectedly.

I was drowning in grief and my pregnancy was completely unplanned.  

I was mourning the end of my father’s life.  

I was mourning the relationship that we could no longer have.

I was terrified of what I would lose in motherhood.

I thought that my mental health, my freedom, and my career were all at risk.

What I didn’t know was that birthing my child would birth a new chapter for me personally as well.

Instead of loss, I found new beginnings.

I started feeding myself more intentionally.

I started drinking enough water.

I started saying “no” when “yes” didn’t feel right.

I started putting more emphasis on what was right for me and less on what others expected from me.

I started moving my body for the sake of how it made me feel.

I started healing parts of me that had long been neglected.

I started dreaming about my future again.

I started going outside every day.

I started to focus on what I really wanted out of life and let the rest fall to the side.

My mental health flourished.

I changed careers.

Becoming pregnant and having a child was the start of so many wonderful changes in my life.   

Instead of losing myself to motherhood, I found incentive to find myself again.

Stepping into parenthood is a unique journey for each of us, but no one ever told me that it could bring so many positive things.

What new beginnings do you hope for?

12 Baby Items I Couldn’t Live Without and 1 That I Barely Used

Choosing baby products can be one of the most confusing and overwhelming parts of preparing to become a parent. So many expecting parents deal with decision-fatigue, anxiety, and conflicting advice when trying to build a registry or buy for their little one. Inspired by a recent baby registry consultation I did, I want to share some of my favorite baby products and one that I didn’t use.

My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow

I set out to breastfeed with no nursing pillow. I do not recommend this approach. I purchased this pillow 3 days post-partum from our Lactation Consultant’s clinic. I was really struggling with latch and something that I learned after my baby was born is that aligning a babies ear, shoulder, and hips is incredibly important for them to be able to latch. This pillow helped with that immensely. I carried this everywhere I went for the first couple of months. To the pediatrician’s office, to my grandmother’s house, to the newborn photography session. If I left the house, it went with me. One of my favorite features is that it has a slightly rounded area where the baby’s head goes to keep their head aligned without you needing to prop it up. Kind of like a mini pillow. I will definitely use this again with my next baby.

Changing pad

A lot of people will tell you that you don’t need a changing pad, you can change a baby anywhere, and this is true. But some of us don’t want to change a baby anywhere in the house. I wanted a well-stocked, stationary changing spot. We purchased a dresser that comes up to my waist (I was very particular about the height) as I did not want to kill my back by leaning over a short dresser and added a changing pad on top. My toddler is potty training and I still use my changing pad. For me, it just works best to have a designated spot.

Bottle Sanitizer and Bottle Brush

6 weeks after having my baby, I returned to work. This meant that baby received breastmilk from bottles while I was away and so bottles needed washing every night. I used my bottle brush and nipple cleaner and it made getting to the bottom so simple. Bottle sanitizers can be a little controversial because many people have told me that they are unnecessary. But for me, they were a lifesaver. Living with ADHD means that it is very easy to forget what I was in the middle of doing. Which if you do that while boiling bottles means melted plastic. I used the bottle sanitizer nearly every night for an entire year. I would say we got our money’s worth.

Pack n Play

Our daughter slept in our room for the first 6 months, until she slept for solid 6 hour stretches. My Pack N Play came with a detachable insert that raised the bed up for newborns so that I didn’t have to bend all the way down to get her in and out. This was great for us because it wasn’t a permanent setup, it was easy to store once she transitioned to her crib, and then we were able to use it for vacations. I did also take the play pen outside a couple of times, with added shade protection, so that I could do yard work and things. Highly portable, very versatile, this was a well-used item for us.

Halo SleepSack Swaddle

I received one of these sleep swaddles from our hospital as a discharge gift and loved it so much I bought several more. My daughter loved being swaddled, I loved how simple it was to use, and these made my life so much easier. They helped her sleep, made changing and re-swaddling super simple in the middle of the night, and after she outgrew the newborn ones, we transitioned to another size that we used until she was 6 months old. I will say, we preferred the micro fleece to the cotton because the cotton seemed to stretch to wear it didn’t swaddle as snugly. My daughter was born in April so she wore these all through the summer which was fine because our home uses air conditioning and we kept a light onesie underneath so overheating wasn’t an issue. Fingers crossed that our next baby also likes swaddling!

Infant Bathtub

This item lasted us far longer than I expected. We used a plastic bathing tub with a sling insert when my baby was a newborn, right inside the kitchen sink. We then transitioned to using the plastic tub inside our bath tub once she got heavier. Our tub has two sides, ones for reclining and one for babies that are sitting up on their own. I even used this tub once she was a toddler, inside of my tile shower to keep her stationary and bathe her at the same time I did. This depends on your personal setup and size of your baby, but I used this frequently for over a year.

Baby Bouncer

I used a very simple baby bouncer for so many things. When she was first born, I used it to safely park my kid when I needed to pee or quickly shower and no one was around to hold her. I put her in the bouncer sometimes when I wanted to use two hands to eat (or if I was trying to eat hot soup). Eventually, I was able to put her bouncer in front of a sliding glass door and let her look outside while I did quick tasks. Unlike a swing, these can be really lightweight and portable and are easy to move from room to room. Personally, I’m a fan of the ones with a built-in vibrate option.

Diaper Pail

I see diaper pails getting written off frequently, but our diaper pail has been a lifesaver for our family. As mentioned before, I have ADHD and felt overwhelmed by needing to go outside every time there was a poopy diaper. I was also worried that if I forgot, one of the three dogs would find the diaper. This turned out to be a valid concern, as we left the diaper pail slightly unlatched ONE time and one of our dogs made a disgusting mess. We of course never made that error again, but the diaper pail has simplified the process for me.

Nuna Travel Set

We started off with a bit of overkill in the travel set, but we used all of it various points. We had the Pipa carseat, the Nuna Mixx pram, and the Nuna Tavo stroller. The carseat clicks into both strollers, but we used the Mixx more early on as it was less bulky and because it had the pram option. We had three carseat bases between both parents and grandparents which allowed us to easily transfer between vehicles. Installation was very simple, the carseat feels very luxe and overall really enjoyed the travel system. We then transitioned to the Tavo stroller which we are still using and is amazing for shopping trips to hold bags as well as going to the zoo.

Baby Wearing

This category has two products because I used the heck out of both of them. We used a lillebaby structured carrier as well as a Moby wrap. The Moby got more use at home and when baby was very young, in the first 3 months. This allowed her to get snuggly and comfy but allowed me to be hands free for doing laundry or checking the mail. As she got bigger, we started using the Lillebaby more often. The carrier we selected offered newborn and an older front carry, as well as a rear carry up to 45 pounds, which I still use when I am doing serious hiking. Could not do without this. There are lots of babywearing options, there are wraps as well as ring slings. And there are lots of different structured carriers, just be sure to pay attention to weight limits as often they are not recommended for the smallest of babes. You also want to make sure that the carrier fully supports baby’s hips at a right angle as dangly legs is bad for the hip sockets.

Rocker Glider

This was one of our best investment pieces. I saw lots of cute rocker gliders in the nursery section of stores, but none of them came up high enough to support my head, so we opted for one from a furniture store. Not only was this the most comfortable place to nurse my daughter for two years, but it’s a piece that can transition to other parts of the house once I am done. Be mindful of who will be sitting in the chair when you select it to make sure it fits your body and supports your head as well as your elbows for feeding and soothing a baby.

Diaper Bag

I have actually used two different bags over time. The first was a gift and had a very wide zipper opening which is really great when you need in and out of it often. The second, a LYMIA bag, was a luxury investment that doubles as a purse now that my kiddo is bigger. The one thing I would suggest is make sure you have plenty of pockets!

Dock a Tot

When I was registering for items, I HAD to have a Dock-a-Tot. I thought they were brilliant and I chose one with a beautiful floral pattern. When it came down to it though, I just didn’t use it. In our home, with dogs that were allowed on the furniture, it didn’t feel safe to put baby in the Dock-a-Tot on the couch. I was paranoid about baby rolling off of surfaces like the table, getting stepped on in the floor, and after learning safe sleep guidelines, didn’t feel comfortable using it in the bed. So it got used maybe twice? Some parents use the heck out of them but it just didn’t work for us.

An Argument in Favor of Excitement




  1. a feeling of great enthusiasm and eagerness.

In my time as a mother, I have found myself excited about funny little things, often well in advance of when I need to have those things.  

I’ll give you an example.  

My daughter, who is almost 3, starts her first school in August and I am beside-myself-excited to pack her little lunches everyday.  

I already have a Bento box that I purchased her at 6 months old (because I was excited about her starting solids).

Now I have found an even better Bento box, cute shape cutters, colorful baking cups, and playful picks to go in her food.

I have researched the special sleep mat she will need.

I’m getting ads (and adding them to a list) for things like customized name stamps to label her clothes and school items.

Thus far I have only added (most) of these items to a wishlist, but the research and shopping phase in full force.

My husband good-naturedly rolls his eyes at this level of enthusiasm, but some people have much stronger opinions about mommas getting excited in advance.

One of the services I offer is a Baby Registry Consultation, where I help expecting parents navigate baby gear and bottles and all the options for carseats.

In this line of work, I am flabbergasted by how many expecting parents have been told they have to wait to build their registry until a certain point in the pregnancy.

I am a firm advocate for riding the wave of excitement, whenever it comes. 

If that is last minute for you, I hold absolutely no judgment.  I am a professional procrastinator.  

If that means that baby registry building is the first thing you do after you tell your partner you are pregnant, I fully support it.

I’m not even pregnant and I have started a registry for my second child.

You do what makes you happy.

Pregnancy advice is often filled with guilt and ‘shoulds’ and enough judgment as it is.  

My advice today is simple:

You are allowed to embrace the things that excite you.

You don’t have to do it on someone else’s timeline.

You don’t have to dim it down because it makes someone else uncomfortable.

Enjoy your life, ride the wave of enthusiasm, do it while you have the energy.

Life is too short to put off the things that bring us genuine delight.

I’d love to hear in the comments what little things get you excited!

My Favorite Woman-Owned Businesses

Little Loper’s Bloom Headwrap pictured

I want to change pace a little bit today because I have started doing product reviews on TikTok and it’s been so much fun.  (Find me and follow @ajulieinajar) I love to buy things and I love to research the things that I’m buying so I put a lot of thought into most of the toys and tools I’ve purchased for my daughter over the last couple of years and I want to share those with you!

Today I want to share my four favorite Mom-owned businesses.


This little app and community have completely changed the way I view fitness.  I have gone from thinking of it in terms of body size to a means of functioning in my life.  Literally revolutionary.  MommaStrong also comes in PapaStrong for those who don’t identify with MoSt and also an additional FUEL for those who want some guidance on fueling your body with food.  One of my favorite things is that Courtney and her team have hired true professionals in the field so you will get content and responses from registered dieticians and pelvic floor physical therapists.  

The workouts are designed to be done daily, in manageable chunks of 5 or 15 minutes.   There is a program for pregnant mommas, newly postpartum mommas, as well as mommas or others at all stages.  The moves come with fun names like ‘grumpy crabs’ and ‘dipppy birds’, can be done just about anywhere, and truly focus on functional movements that you will use in your every day.

To use the app, you pay $12 a month and can cancel anytime.

I started using this service after I finished pelvic floor PT after my first baby.  I had some lingering pelvic instability and pain and the All Cheeks hack is still one of the best pain management strategies for me in that department.  There are new workouts posted daily to add variety but you can always go back to your favorites as well.  

There are even workouts designed to do while wearing your new baby.  Seriously, there’s something for everyone.MommaStrong is a great gift to give yourself or to another momma.  I cannot say enough good things.

Sign up here

Little Loper’s

This particular entry is going to give me away as a Southern momma.  I swore I was not going to be a bow mom when I was pregnant, but here I am anyway.  

I started buying bows for my daughter when she was around 4 months old and it was a bit of an addiction for a while.   I have way more than I want to admit.  

These are hand-tied bows and they sit so pretty.  They come in solids, prints, sparkles, metallics, pleather, holidays, other themes, and so much more.  

Valeria keeps adding new styles so there is definitely something for everyone.  Not only do I love the products, but I am seriously always so impressed with the owner’s marketing prowess.  She has made all the right moves and has grown this business in a short time.

Little Loper’s also makes clothing and swaddles and things like scrunchies.  The dresses and leggings are some of my favorite things I’ve bought for my little and she basically lives in her LL nightgowns.

Shipping is super reasonable, they run great sales, and there’s a very active Buy Sell Trade community.

Dress your baby or her doll at


As someone who works in the birth and pregnancy field, this is a geekier add, but it’s an amazing resource for those working with pregnant folks or if you are expecting yourself and want some good, solid information on all things birthing.  

Adriana Lozada, created Birthful podcast and is very regular with posting interesting interviews with experienced moms and a variety of birth professionals.  She also posts shorter form, informative episodes which are great in bite size pieces.  

I have learned so much about current research just from listening and of course I love hearing all about the various birth stories.  

Her website, has some additional resources and even a course.  

Sensible Mama

I found this business through a TikTok creator under the name of @sensibleamber.  

I followed her for her interesting videos on self-improvement and women’s empowerment and through that learned that she owns a retail business, The Sensible Mama.  

Amber’s shop carries all kinds of things geared for mommas, from toys to first aid kits.  

My favorite though, is the handbag line that she designed herself, LYMIA.

She explains that this stands for Love You, Mean It, Always.

I recently purchased my first bag from her, the nylon Sophie Backpack and am absolutely in love.

It is so thoughtfully designed.

Magnetic closures.

Pockets everywhere.

Multiple ways of carrying.

It’s so amazing that I made a TikTok post about it, if you really want to see it, you can find me at @ajulieinajar.  

I am always looking to support great businesses, I love helping women succeed, and I just like to shop, so send me your favorite momma owned or oriented businesses!