My name is Suzy. I’m a 40 year old strong woman, wife to an amazing husband, Ryan, and mother to two beautiful daughters, Lucille and Alice, with a baby BOY on the way. I’m an avid runner, foodie, travel enthusiast, book nerd, lover of life and one more thing…..I have Crohn’s disease. I recently started a blog, crohniemommy.com, as a way to cope with my condition, and to hopefully offer some support and inspiration to others who suffer from IBD. I invite you to join me in all the crazy beautiful things in my life, as well as share how Crohn's fits into all of this. I'm thrilled to collaborate with Madison Moms to shed light on motherhood while having a chronic condition.
Whether you're growing from none to one, one to two, or in our case, two to three, there is a lot to prepare for. The family dynamic will no longer be man on man, but zone coverage. It's about to get REAL baby! First and foremost, it's so important to spend time with your littles you already have before the new addition. Love on them hard. Tell them you love them.....and then tell them again. I am not a perfect mom, but I do know this. My girls know I love them, and to me that's what's most important. They're not going to remember if I got the most pins for best craft on Pinterest. Although, I do admire those crafty moms. Plan separate dates for each of them, and let them choose their favorite things to do with Mommy and Daddy. Their little worlds are about to change, so make them feel loved and that they're still your babies too. Have a special gift for each kiddo when they come to the hospital to meet the new baby. Their hearts need gentle care too, as this can be a tough transition and adjustment for some kiddos.
Now, on to your main squeeze. In my case, my heart, my soul, MY RYAN. Remember those pre-kids days, and you and your partner could be spontaneous and basically do whatever you wanted at the drop of a hat? Well, all you moms out there know once kids enter the picture, time is a little more scarce. That doesn't mean it's not important to carve out time for each other. It's crucial before another baby that you do plan to getaway. I believe BabyMoon is what trendy people say. Before Lucy was born we went to Lake Geneva, before Alice we went to Kohler and before this baby boy, we went to Sundara. Do you see a pattern here? When we get alone time together, we like to relax, because our lives are pretty chaotic, but we wouldn't want it any other way. Basically we've mastered the art of doing absolutely nothing when given the chance.
Next, don't forget about YOU. In the craziness of motherhood it's easy to forget about ourselves. Pick a day and Treat Yo Self! In my blog, I devote an entire post to this topic because that's how much I believe in this. Whatever it means to you to pamper yourself, do just that. Get a massage, a facial, or get those toes done. After all, at a certain point in pregnancy, (currently 36 weeks) bending over becomes pretty much impossible. My four year old had to pull off my compression socks the other day! We got some pretty epic gut bursting laughter from that. Yes, edema is another lovely thing that can happen to the pregnant body.
As stated in the beginning, I have Crohn's disease. To be honest, I am terrified that I am going to flare after our baby boy is born. I had the worst flare of my life after Alice was born, and ultimately ended up in the hospital. All of my triggers will be at stake (lack of sleep, diet, etc.). There are ways to help cope with the extra stress of a newborn, ahead of the game. Make sure you have refilled all of your medications, and have attended any necessary doctor appointments (in my case GI) in advance. I've been down this road before, so I know that flaring is a likely possibility, so I'm taking time to mentally process that. Schedule a post baby GI checkup. Pay attention to your body, and if something seems off, don't sit on it. Waiting is the worst thing you can do. Several women also suffer from postpartum anxiety/depression. In my case, I had a lot of anxiety with both girls. I imagined that the worst was going to happen at all times, so make sure you have a treatment plan in place with your doctor. There is no greater love than the love you have for your children, and as parents, it's our job to protect them. Healthy Mommy = healthy baby. Rest as much as you can. This one isn't easy for me because I am a busy body by nature, but as I near towards the end, I know how important it is.
Build your village, your tribe, your people. We're very fortunate to have an amazing family. If you have kids already, figure out who will watch them when it's go time. My AMAZING in-laws (my 2nd set of parents) will be watching our girls while Ryan and I are at the hospital. My parents and sister (Auntie Nana) will be at the hospital with us as we wait for baby Burnett's arrival. Surround yourself with those you trust and love. We're an extremely close knit family, and honestly words can't express the bond we have. Accept help, and let others in.
Prepare food ahead of time. Run to Costco, use that freezer in the basement and have a list of your favorite delivery/take-out places on speed dial. Stock up on water, gatorade, La Croix, or coconut water (these are my favorites). Hydration is key, especially if you'll be breastfeeding like me. If you're planning on nursing, get your breast pump ahead of time. Check with your insurance company as most will cover the cost of your pump. Medela is a great one......which reminds me, I need to order the new one, now! Now a few tips that no one really tells you ahead of time. Your nipples will get sore and chapped. Boob-ease nipple cream is the best. Leaky nipples are an everyday occurrence too, and I've found Bambooies Super-Soft reusable to be helpful. Lastly, in relation to breastfeeding, I lived in nursing tops. They saved my life and were so comfortable. I've had a lot of different types, but the Jessica Simpson Lace Trim Cami takes the cake. Since this is our last kiddo, I think my husband just might build a bond fire in our backyard to burn all of my maternity clothes. More specifically a pair of huge, stretchy, striped pants would be the first up in flames.
Do not worry about having multiple baby outfits. Newborns grow quickly, and barely wear the same thing twice. We own so much pink and purple though, we thought we owe it to the little guy to throw in some other colors of the rainbow. Both my husband and I can agree that we're not a fan of snaps. Make it simple on your self, and go for the zipper onesies. Get plenty of burp cloths. You may or may not have a spitter on your hands. Our first baby was a spitter. She didn't wear the same thing for more than an hour. If you plan on bottle feeding as well, Dr. Browns makes a great one that allows for less gas on your babe. Our first baby never took a bottle the entire 17 months I nursed her, but our second did, which takes a little less pressure off mom. Breastfeeding is a wonderful bonding experience as well as the natural way to provide your baby with all the nutrients/immunities they need. That being said, a variety of factors can prevent one from nursing, so I believe in FED is best, whether it be breast, or bottle. Whatever you decide, that's what's best for you and baby. Neither of our girls gravitated towards pacifiers, but occasionally they would take one. Jollypop pacifiers is an excellent brand. Pick up a nose frieda to suck out those boogies. This might disgust some people, but I it works wonders, and after all it's about what's best for the baby, right? A thermometer and diaper cream are a must. Especially for those sensitive bums, like my girls. I almost forgot the swaddle! Halo sleep sack will save your life. Seriously, buy one now. Your baby might scream and flail, but once you get them all snuggled up in there, a beautiful thing happens. A few hours of sleep. We had both girls in our room for the first three months before they transferred to their cribs. Check out the Baby Snoo for your little nugget to get his/her first snoozes in.
Pack that hospital bag good and early. Lucy was born early at 37 weeks. My water broke at midnight, and we packed on the fly. I'm not the most efficient packer (enter my husband's skills), but I do wish I had my bag good and ready ahead of time. Alice was overdue and was induced at 41 weeks, and this time my bag was packed a few weeks in advance. Just google, "necessities for hospital bag" and you'll get several lists of what's best to bring. A few of my must haves include the following: a unique labor and delivery gown for each kiddo, underwear (granny panties to be exact: going for comfort here), pants with an elastic waistband, slippers, nursing tops and toiletries from home. Obviously, you'll need clothes for your sweet baby too. Again, we opt for comfort, so just a zippered onesie for our little man. And, because we live in Wisconsin a cuddly, snuggly snowsuit for the ride home. Ok, ok, maybe I did buy an adorable coming home outfit off Etsy that he'll wear probably once:) Due to my AMA (40 years old: Advanced Maternal Age), they're inducing again, so we know the drill.
Review your options for delivery. Will you get an epidural? A nerve block? Some of you might have a planned C-section or induction. In my case, I had an epidural with Lucy and 18 hours later she finally came. Alice was induced, but my epidural failed because I have a minor case of scoliosis. Whether you go au natural, or opt for pain medications, you can't wrong because it's what YOU feel comfortable doing.
Lastly, I think the best advice I can give is to expect the unexpected. Before we had our first daughter, we attended birthing classes, and they kept stressing the importance of a birthing plan. To be honest, I don't know how necessary that is. Yes, know what options are available to you (doula, midwife, obstetrician), but trust me when I say things won't go as planned. We had no idea that both girls would spend time in the NICU. With our first baby, I developed an infection (chorio), spiked a fever and was throwing up. They had to monitor Lucy to make sure she wasn't also infected. Our second kiddo had extremely high bilirubin levels. If they get too high, brain damage can occur, so we had to bring her levels down to a safe zone before bringing her home. We're so incredibly thankful that both girls are beautiful and healthy today, but they each had a tough beginning.
Before I leave you, I'm going to circle back to three words in the title of this post, "Are We Ready?" Probably not, but I'm okay with that. It's impossible to remember everything, but there's beauty in that. The journey itself is such a valuable learning experience. We're entering unchartered territory as a family of four becoming five, but couldn't be more excited. Yes, there will be challenges, but also wonderful, special moments along the way. Enjoy the little things. This time will go quickly, and remember, YOU GOT THIS.