That was the first word out of my mouth when my sister suggested I might be pregnant.
I had called her because my dad passed away 2 weeks before. I was really bloated and I asked her if that could be a symptom of grief. She’s a nurse so she gets all of my weird body questions.
Being pregnant was the last thing on my mind. And the last thing I thought I needed.
I had started an amazing job in April. Closed on our first house in May. Reconnected with my biological father in June. And he passed 3 weeks later.
I was not okay.
The first few months were a blur.
I cried daily for weeks.
There were nights that I barely got out of the building after work before sobbing.
I wanted children, that wasn’t it.
It was not the right timing. It felt like too much. I was deeply grieving.
And honestly I just am a person who needs to feel in control to feel okay. None of this felt controlled at all.
I felt 0% excited until my anatomy scan. I am not exaggerating.
My primary emotions were fear, terror, anxiety…
I struggled through most of my pregnancy that way.
That was in 2018. Since then, I’ve given birth to my first tiny human and had the privilege of watching her grow into herself for 3.5 years.
I am now pregnant with #2 and my headspace is very different than it was then. This kiddo was planned, so that goes a long way.
But so much has happened in the last 4 years that I didn’t realize would be part of my motherhood journey.
I’ve learned tons about car seat safety, choking hazards, baby gear, and developmental milestones. But those are the kinds of things you know are going to come with the territory.
What I never saw coming was that becoming a parent would force me to examine my very identity. That I would have to learn about setting boundaries, again and again and again. That I would be parenting myself through the journey as well as my child. That I would be healing in so many ways.
It also turned out that there were parts of having a baby that I really really enjoyed. Things that I hadn’t even been able to consider when I was completely overwhelmed during my pregnancy.
My work now encompasses all of it.
My clients and I:
Build baby registries
Talk about how to choose a provider and a birth venue
Create a birth plan
Design a postpartum plan
Make a packing list for the birth
Plan the nursery and brainstorm babyproofing needs
But we also:
Discuss what boundaries actually are, how to hold them, and work through all the baggage that tends to come up with doing so
Set priorities so that you don’t get completely burned out
Talk about expectations, prepare for possibilities, and plan for what you desire
Work through fears and anxieties about parenting
Examine mom guilt and banish it
Make sure mom is taken care of so that baby can thrive
Celebrate and reinvent the human who is doing SO MUCH so that you don’t get lost or forgotten
Connect with the spiritual aspects of pregnancy and motherhood
That probably sounds like a lot. IT IS. And every new mom deserves to have high level support as she navigates all of it.
This is work that I’ve been doing in smaller pieces over the last few years and for the first time, I am offering a program that takes a new mom through all of it. From the intense emotions of the first trimester to the reckoning that is the fourth trimester.
I am so proud of what I’ve created and I cannot wait to share it with the women who need it.
I am launching New Beginnings, a container for new moms who want high level support, for pre-sale NOW!
The program is still in beta stage, meaning that I am still building the course content, but weekly group calls are included from the beginning.
The price is cut in half while I continue to build the modules. Membership lasts for a year.
If you are an expecting mom who wants to be held and supported through the next year, let’s talk.
These are not the words I would label myself with, but at some point in my life someone did.
A couple of the employees I’ve fired over the years were extra spicy about it.
I have definitely had traffic goofs where I cut someone off or went through an intersection later than I should have.
And then there was…
The new coworker whose first encounter with me was me pocketing her tip right in front of her…
The boss who fired me for being late too many times…
The guy I was dating when I had my first big bipolar episode…
The girl who didn’t approve of the shirt I was wearing…
And I’m sure many more.
Some of these were accidents, some of these were decisions people just didn’t agree with. All of these are a part of who I am.
I tell you all of that to say that we are all the villain in someone’s story.
Living our lives in all their messiness is going to put us on the wrong side of someone at some point.
Because we’re human.
We mess up.
We don’t agree.
We make decisions that make other people upset.
And in my lifetime, I’ve given way too much of my energy retroactively cringing at what other people have thought of me and wishing I could change their minds.
They probably never will.
At the end of the day, I’m only hurting myself by holding onto perceptions that don’t even belong to me.
I’ve spent the vast majority of my life operating on the belief that if I can be as perfect as possible, and not upset anyone, sit on the fence and not take a stance, then everyone will like me.
Honestly, I don’t regret it. It made me feel safe for a long time. It protected me while I figured out a lot of stuff in my life.
But any more it just feels stifling. It feels like I’m not being myself and it doesn’t make me happy.
I recognize that me being unapologetically me, in life, in business, in the world in general is going to piss some people off. Scare some people. Bring judgment from some. Trigger the fuck out of some people.
Honestly that part does still scare the shit out of a former people-pleaser. But I also know that I’m not willing to live the rest of my life diluting myself for people who don’t have the palate for me.
It probably won’t happen all at once, but I can definitely feel the shift in my soul.
The siren call of the Julie I’ve always wanted to be.
The decision to unwrap the masquerade one layer at a time.
So going forward, I want to be a lot more intentional about focusing my energy on the people who love me, see me, get me, and think highly of me.
Throwback pic to autumn 2008, taken by the talented photographer who probably remembers me as bat shit crazy.
When I was newly post-partum, I struggled. Hard-core.
I was in a lot of pain from swelling and a tear sustained during delivery.
I was sleep-deprived and kept forgetting to take pain medicine for that pain.
My baby was cluster-feeding by day 2 of her life.
I was exhausted.
My nipples hurt and I started to cry every time she would get hungry because I dreaded the latch.
I was so desperate that I was in a Lactation Consultant’s office on the morning of day 3, as soon as they opened.
I was completely consumed with trying to get sleep, trying to get my newborn to sleep, and trying to feed my baby.
Notice what I left out?
One of the fundamental basic needs that I struggled to meet for myself was eating!
The #1 best thing that my support system gave me in those early days was the gift of food.
My sister in-law brought me snacks in the hospital. I ate them all before I left from a one-night stay.
My mother-in-law brought me my first postpartum meal which I devoured.
Anyone who came to visit in the first couple of weeks, were requested to bring food. These were close friends and family and all were happy to oblige.
We didn’t even care what they brought, it was all welcome.
I am remembering this all keenly this week as I shop for a coworker’s wife who has a brand new baby at home.
I remember how difficult it was to nourish my body well.
I remember how hard it was to eat one-handed.
I remember how I had to grab snacks before sitting down to feed baby because I could get stuck there for a couple of hours. Also, getting up and down hurt for the first week or so.
So I’m paying it forward now to a new momma who has her own hands full.
These new parents have been fortunate enough to have a meal train set up for them, but I know that middle-of-the-night breastfeeding can cause some intense hunger so I chose to give them a big bag of snacks instead!
Here’s what I included in the bundle!
Individually bottled smoothies
Body Armor drinks
Individually wrapped cheese sticks from the dairy aisle
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.