Wednesday, July 26, 2017

5 Things That No One Will Tell You Before Your Baby Is Born

When it comes to birth and parenthood, everyone has their own unique story. Everyone's experience is going to be different. And all babies are different. We prepared as much as we could before our baby was born. We read the books, took the classes, were surrounded by amazing friends and family who passed down valuable advice -- but in retrospect, there was nothing that we, or anyone can do to truly prepare for the real thing.

While I was pregnant, I only (selectively) heard the good things. I only heard how amazing it was going to be, and what a good mom I would be, and how I would love being a mom. I didn't focus on or really understand the magnitude of the challenges that were to come. I totally understand that people don't want to spread negativity and also that many first-time moms don't want to hear it. But for me, I wish I had. Hearing the negative along with the positive would have set my expectations allowing me to be more prepared for both the good and challenging times ahead.

That said, here is a list of five things that no one told me (or I selectively didn't hear), that I wish I would've known before our baby was born.

Eat dairy

As someone who does not believe that cow's milk is ideal for healthy human consumption, this is hard for me to say. But for you mamas-to-be that intend to breastfeed; indulge in those cupcakes, pancakes with lots of butter and all the cheese your heart desires now before you give birth. Approximately 15% of babies under 12 months have a dairy sensitivity (to varying degrees) which causes them to spit up, have excess gas, can cause blood in their stool and acid reflux...all the things that lead to a fussy baby. If your baby falls into this 15%, you'll want to give up dairy and possibly soy too for as long as you are breastfeeding or until the sensitivity resolves itself.

Prepare to not sleep

Yes, everyone tells you this before the baby is born. But what no one told me is that some babies, like mine, DO. NOT. NAP. This means you do not nap. Endless days and nights of nursing, burping, diaper changing and fruitless efforts of trying to get baby down to sleep could be yours. Even with my husband's round-the-clock support (he even took seven weeks off of work!) we were both beyond exhausted. This is another one of those instances where if I would have just known that this was a possibility, I wouldn't have been so blind-sided. Currently at seven months, our son is just now starting to take hour long naps, though the majority of his naps are only 30-45 minutes long, usually only twice a day.

Plan on not leaving the house for two months

All over Instagram and Facebook I'd see images of moms with their hair and makeup done, looking amazing, out with their brand new babies. I assumed that would be me. There I was two months in and could barely get the baby into a stroller and on a walk around the neighborhood by myself. Pregnancy and birth are hard on your body and it takes awhile to recover. Then you have to get used to getting a baby ready to take out which includes strategically feeding them, dressing them, dressing yourself and actually getting out the door without a meltdown from either you or your baby. In my opinion, any outing during the first two months is something to feel very proud of.

It's going to be hard, really hard

From breastfeeding, to sleepless days and nights to keeping that little blob alive, to the floods of hormones exiting your body, being a first-time mom is hard. Physically your body underwent a very dramatic transformation and is now recovering but for the first couple of months you are still in pain. You are learning how to care for a thankless blob who just cries, poops and wants to nurse all the time (which also really hurts in the beginning). Emotionally you are all over the map: happy, scared, excited, anxious and feeling all kinds of expectations. And on top of all of that you still need to eat, take a shower and brush your teeth. I don't miss those first two months. Not. at. all.

You may experience baby blues or postpartum depression

The baby blues affect 80% of women who give birth while it's estimated that 1 in 7 women who give birth develop postpartum depression. More detailed information on both can be found here on the National Institute of Mental Health's website. In addition to all the things happening to you listed above, you may also feel isolated and extremely overwhelmed. Whether you don't have any other mom friends who understand what you're going through (because really, there is no way to understand it until you go through it) or if the last thing you want is for anyone to see you in your state of disarray, you may feel alone, overwhelmed and helpless. Especially when all you've been is excited for this new little baby, and when he or she arrives you are so out of sorts that you don't even know who you are anymore. And that's ok. It's normal. But you don't know it's normal if no one tells you. If you are that girl, know that it gets better and that you are not alone. Talk to someone whether its a family member, a friend or a doctor. Talking about it makes it worlds easier to get through.

If you are a first-time expecting mama, buckle up, it's going to be a wild ride. At seven months in, I can now say that I would go through it all again in a heartbeat. It's all so worth it and that little blob starts to turn into the amazing baby you always wished for around three months, this comes directly from our pediatricians mouth and I concur. Looking back, I now see those initial months as some kind of Navy SEAL-type training/initiation/metamorphosis/rebirth period where when you get through it, you emerge a stronger, more compassionate, more mature, more confident and refined version of your formal self. It's kind of amazing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Beauty Products That Are Safe To Use During Pregnancy

There were quite a few lifestyle changes that I choose to adopt while pregnant; a cleaner beauty regimen was one of them. I throughly researched what was safe to use during pregnancy, what could potentially be harmful for the baby and then promptly raided my bathroom shelves. It took quite a bit of time to research products, consult the experts and in some cases, reach out directly to the beauty brands to make sure that the product in question was totally safe for pregnancy. Having spent so much time and effort, I vowed to create this blog post to help other expecting women discover beauty products that are safe and in my opinion, work really well!

Ingredients To Avoid

There is a lengthy list of ingredients to avoid, here are some of the big ones:
  • Aluminum chloride hexahydrate (found in anti-perspirants) 
  • Beta hydroxy acids (salicylic acid, 3-hydroxypropionic acid, trethocanic acid and tropic acid)
  • Chemical sunscreens (Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, oxtinoxate, menthyl anthranilate and oxtocrylene)
  • Diethanolamine (DEA) (found in hair and body products)
  • Dihydroxyacetone (DHA): (found in spray self-tanners)
  • Differin
  • Formaldehyde (hair straightening treatments, nail polishes and eyelash glue)
  • Hydroquinone
  • Parabens (propyl, butyl, isopropyl, isobutyl and methyl parabens)
  • Phthalates (synthetic fragrances and nail polishes)
  • Retin-A
  • Retinoic acid
  • Retinol (Vitamin A, retinoic acid, retinyl palmitate, retinaldehyde, adapalene, tretinoin, tazarotene and isotretinoin)
  • Sulfates (sodium laureth sulfate)
  • Toluene (found in nail polishes)

Pregnancy-Safe Beauty Products

And here is a list of beauty products that I used during my pregnancy that do not contain any of the aforementioned ingredients as of 2016. I absolutely love all of these brands and have continued using these products while breastfeeding.



I took my makeup routine down a couple of notches during my pregnancy, those precious extra minutes of sleep meant everything! 





  • Nail PolishZoya and Cote I'm so lucky that their bungalow is right up the street for me! I treated myself to a couple of mani/pedis towards the end of my pregnancy when I could no longer reach my toes.
  • Nail Polish RemoverZoya

Hopefully this list is useful to you! What products did you use during your pregnancy? Also let me know if there are any other products or brands that I should add to this list.

Monday, September 5, 2016

A Long Weekend in Sedona, Arizona

Sedona is a breathtakingly beautiful, tranquil city with an air of mystery. We went in February of this year (I can't believe it took me this long to get around to writing this post!) and I am sharing our experience should you be looking for an amazing place to stay and awesome things to do while visiting Sedona. My husband took me here back in 2011 and I was blown away by the little desert city with big, red-rock formations and beautiful pine forests. Visiting again, this time with my cousins and their husbands, Sedona was just as spectacular.

Sedona is about an hour and a half to two hour drive from the Phoenix airport. We stayed at, L'Auberge de Sedona, set on the banks of Oak Creek, this magical little place had my heart from the second we arrived. It's nestled down in somewhat of a small canyon and consists of quaint, modern cottages that come complete with an electric fireplace, your own personal outside deck and...what I've been dreaming of ever since I experienced it...your very own private outdoor shower. The air is crisp and clean, you can hear the babbling of the creek just about anywhere on the property, and the meticulously kept grounds have a nice variety of places to sit and enjoy the nature that surrounds you.

Sedona Day 01

Breakfast at L'Auberge will impress. All six of us were very satisfied with our choices and the service was impeccable. Wanting to keep it pretty relaxed on our first day, we headed to Fay Canyon Trail, an easy, flat ~3 mile, roundtrip hike. You'll enjoy views of the surrounding rock formations along this densely wooded path that runs along the creek, which, as you can tell from the pictures, was dry when we were there in February. This hike is peaceful, shaded and beautiful.

Yes! That's snow melting on the rocks 

That night we headed to Tii Gavo at the Enchantment Resort for dinner. We enjoyed a drink at View 180, soaking in the beautiful red rocks and the sunset on the deck. I highly recommend the Plum Mule-- so unique and delicious! Dinner at Tii Gavo was great, featuring southwestern "foods indigenous to the region."

Sedona Day 02

It was nice to take advantage of not needing to be on the clock! In the morning, we indulged in a little GTL without the L. The gym at the resort is simple yet clean and effective. We also took a dip in the mineral pool sans chlorine which is heated year round.

Pink Jeep Tours is an amazing and adventurous way to enjoy the great Sedona outback and get in a little history. Our tour guide, Jerry, picked us up at the resort and off we headed to the Broken Arrow trail. Check out these incredible views!

Shifts in the rock over time

The red-rock formations are absolutely breathtaking

After our outstanding jeep tour, we changed and headed to dinner at L'Auberge. I had only heard great things about Cress, the restaurant at L'Auberge, but have to say that I was skeptical thinking, "how could this restaurant in Sedona compare to restaurants in San Francisco, New York or Los Angeles?" My skepticism was quickly eradicated and we enjoyed one of my memorable meals. What is there not to love about locally-sourced, seasonal fare enjoyed, literally, next to Oak Creek?!

Sedona Day 03

Who gets up at 5a on vacation?! We do! And you should too if you want to take an incredible, awe-inspiring, fear inducing, spectacular-views-galore filled adventure to the Grand Canyon. We left our hotel at 6a and after zigging and zagging through the mountains in a torturous, nauseating car ride, we made it out to the open road and eventually to the Grand Canyon in about 2 hours.

We took the Xanterra Grand Canyon Mule tour around the south rim of the Grand Canyon-- it is not for the faint of heart. If you are afraid of heights, this may not be the adventure for you. In our experience, the mules were very well trained and after getting familiar with my mule, Tater Tot, I felt pretty safe. The mules will go where they want to go, and there is a lot of foliage that they like to eat, conveniently at the very edge of the cliff. Many of the mules were going right up to the edge to chew on leaves. Luckily, their passengers were not afraid (or at least they didn't show any fear) and my little Tater Tot was cautious, like me, and usually stayed back from the pack, away from the edge. If you do take this tour, make sure you come prepared. Call to get the exact information, but during the time we went in February:

  • it was in the 20's - 30's in the morning, so bring warm clothes for the ride!
  • you can only bring one personal item (camera or phone, etc.) and it needs to be on a strap around your neck (everything needs to fit in your pockets, otherwise they have lockers
  • this was me, and may possibly be you too 
  • bring gloves because of how cold it is
  • it's ok to wear a beanie instead of a wide brimmed hat w/ strap which is for the warmer months

After the tour, we enjoyed a very rewarding lunch at Phantom Ranch-- there's nothing like a big delicious bowl of chili and a cold beer after a 3 hour mule ride out in the cold! This was an unforgettable experience; it was so much fun and the views from along the South Rim are extraordinary. I highly recommend this experience.

 Living on the edge 

Nina getting caught up in a tree. The mules go where the mules want to go!

Tater Tot the friendly mule

Sedona Day 04

On the last day, Nic and I took advantage of L'Auberge's famous Valentine's Day buffet brunch. By no surprise, it was incredible. They had every type of food imaginable and everything was of the best quality. We savored the fresh, delicious food and took in the amazing sights and sounds by Oak Creek. It was sooo relaxing...

This was just my appetizer, I had two more plates after this! 

After all that eating, we took a hike along Huckaby Trail. There is a free shuttle service from L'Auberge that will drop you off here and pick you up when you're ready. The trail is a quick 10 minutes from the resort. It was the perfect way for us to spend our last day, Valentine's Day in Sedona.

Mescal Plant, we took some little branches home, they make an amazing incense

At the top of the trail, we sat and enjoyed the view. If you stare long enough at the rock formations, you'll start to see things. Maybe it was all the fresh air, or the good food and meditation that I was able to get in, or maybe it was the energy vortexes that many claim to experience in Sedona, but for me; the things that I saw gave me insight into my life and I swear I saw things from my future. Time will tell :)

I can't wait to go back to Sedona, it is the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate. There is so much to see and do, I hope you go and experience this magical little city for yourself and that you were able to learn about some places to visits and things to do during your visit!

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