Mom Uniform

I knew maternity leave would be at such a different pace. I knew that I wouldn’t have time to shower every day. I knew I wouldn’t always be wearing makeup, or have my hair blow dried, or my nails done. I knew that most of my clothes would get covered with a variety of baby bodily fluids. I knew that a lot of the clothes I wore before baby would never fit the same. I even knew that I would likely wear the same outfit over and over until it smelt and/or got stained with aforementioned baby fluids.

What I didn’t realize is that I’d still want to feel like “me” – the girl who never went to work bare-faced, that loves bright lipstick and has an outfit for every occasion.

Dressing my baby bump had been pretty easy. I wore fitted dresses, peasant blouses and maternity jeans that went up to my armpits. I stuck with flat shoes, or kitten heels, with the occasional stacked heel. Postpartum dressing has been the real challenge! I need clothes that are comfortable, take zero thought to put together, that are forgiving of weight fluctuations and very forgiving of stains. I thought I would have to sacrifice my personal style for baby, but instead, it evolved! Let’s say that I went from glamour girl to practical Patterson. I swapped stilettos for sneakers…and you know what? I’m not mad about it.

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Mommy tummy out and I’m ok with that! This is my signature mat leave style – leggings and cool top. Lululemon leggings (Align Pant), HYBA Floral bomber (in size XXL).

My absolute favorite buy while I’ve been on maternity leave has been the Align Pant by Lululemon. I bought 3 pairs in the last 10 months. Best investment ever! Not only are they super lightweight and buttery soft, they come in every color of the rainbow. This means I can dress them up and down and convince the world that I’m wearing “real” clothes and not leggings 24/7. Plus, the signature high-rise style with mega-stretch and shape retention means the pants lie flat against your skin and won’t dig in. Perfect for post-partum mommies! Oh also, I should mention, the Align is known for giving you an instant butt-lift. Hooray! Get yours here.

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Wearing the Align Pant in size 12 (I wear a 16 in jeans). Color is Black Currant. Bomber is from HYBA. Look how happy my mom butt is!

 

REAL TALK: What’s your go-to mommy outfit? Is there a piece that you love? Let me know in the comments below!

Embracing the Mom Bod

My Florida vacation this winter looked idyllic. Sunshine and sand, what more can a girl want? But the truth is, I struggled. I was 6.5 months postpartum and it was the first time that I stopped to think about myself. I hadn’t really thought about my body much since giving birth. During pregnancy, I was both in awe and annoyed with my body. I loved its new shape, the hard round bump, the soft skin, the perky boobs. But the constant aches and pains and the loss of coordination was very annoying for someone who likes to be in control of all things. Then baby comes and your body does amazing things like creating a human and creating sustenance to feed her. I still can’t quite wrap my head around it.

I lost all my baby weight thanks to breastfeeding and new mommy anxiety. Unfortunately, as I’ve weaned Charlotte from 8-10 times a day of nursing to just 3, the weight isn’t melting off like it used to. So I found myself in Florida, in bathing suit weather, dreading exposing my new body. Over the last 32 years, I’ve come to terms with my voluptuous shape…but it’s been tight and firm. Now, after childbirth, my skin doesn’t have the same elasticity as it used to. My tummy hangs lower, my face droops, I have new back rolls and my hips have extra padding. New purple and blue veins have appeared on my thighs and behind my knees. And the stretch marks that I’ve been used to since puberty have become red and angry.

For the first time, in a long time, I found myself feeling extremely uncomfortable in anything other than long sleeves and yoga pants. When did I become that person? I LOVE fashion, I LIVE fashion, I WORK in fashion! I absolutely loved getting dressed up in the latest and greatest…but that was before baby. Now, as I am, I still don’t recognize my body. And putting on a bathing suit in Florida was feeling super traumatic.

But I did it anyways, because I was damned that I was going to miss out on a fun time with my family, just because of a little cellulite and saggy skin. I am more than just my physical appearance, and to those that love me, like my daughter, I am everything. She doesn’t know the difference from before and after. She loves my soft sports, my warm embrace, my strong arms that carry her. So I vowed to focus on her and focus on fun. “I will wear this bathing suit and enjoy myself, dammit!”

I had on one of my fave Addition Elle swimsuits and asked my brother to take a pic because in that moment, I was feeling very Instagram worthy! The rock was calling for a Little Mermaid moment. He took about 20 different version and I hated them all. I couldn’t stop fixating on the double tummy, the back fat and chubby arms. But, even though I was embarrassed, I still wanted to share!

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Wow, your comments blew me away! They say the internet can be a mean, judgemental place…but thankfully (so far) it’s been nothing but supportive and understanding. So many moms reached out to encourage me and share their own body confidence struggles post-baby. I had to follow-up the original post with another.

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Am I 100% OK with all the physical changes since having a baby? Nope, definitely not. I still probably cry once a week thinking I’ll never have the same confidence again. But, it’s a choice to live life and own it, or to let our insecurities hold us back. So, I am embracing the Mom bod and resolving to stay positive about myself, no matter what. What kind of role model would I be for my baby girl if I didn’t practice what I preach?

REAL TALK: How do you feel about your body post-baby? Do you feel confident? Do you love the new you? SHARE below!

#BreastfeedingStruggles

Breastfeeding is hard. You may have read about my struggles early on; Charlotte had a tongue tie and a lip tie and my nipples were ruined. I would bite down on my lip in agony every time she would latch! But since then, Charlotte and I have developed a nice routine. I nurse her three times a day – in the morning when she wakes up, before her lunch and right before bed.

Despite the sense of pride and accomplishment that I feel for having made it to this point, there are so many difficult moments that moms endure during their journey. Even though I may feel like somewhat of an expert, the breastfeeding struggle is still real! Hope that fellow BF moms can related to these funny (and painful!) struggles.

  1. My wardrobe lately is based on whether or not I can pull my boob out of my clothing easily and quickly. Thank god nursing clothes have gotten so much cuter! Enter my sorority sister, Britt. This badass momtrepeneur is the founder of Lark & Lux and the creator of the Melly (aka my new fave dress). It’s perfect for all-sized mamas (from sizes 4-20) as it’s made of super luxe bamboo fabric with incredible stretch and softness. And there’s a built-in bra that keeps the ta-tas contained and comfy. Honestly, this is probably the most versatile piece in my wardrobe. Feeding your baby shouldn’t have to mean sacrificing your personal style and The Melly lets me #feedfearlessly wherever my day takes me. As special treat to you all, Lark & Lux is offering you 15% off your very own Melly dress. At checkout, use code: JUSTJEN15. (Offer valid until May 31, 2018).

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    Wearing the Melly Dress in navy & white stripe by Lark & Lux. Available in size small (size 4-6) to extra-large (size 16-20). For all you plus size moms, I’m wearing the XL for a looser fit. P.S. I like the way that Charlotte is coping a feel here. 
  2. I am NOT a punching bag! Does anyone elses’ child smack their boobs when they are hungry? Or, squeeze them while they’re nursing to get the milk out faster? I swear, I have never been as abused as I have been while nursing Charlotte. She scratches my chest, pinches my underboob, pulls my hair and fish-hooks my bottom lip with her finger. She is a beast!
  3. The first time I discovered that OMG this kid bites! As you may know, Charlotte is a super early teether. She had 7 teeth by the time she was 6 months old. As you can imagine, she tested those little chompers out on my nips. Word of advice: if you child tries to bite you, push her head into your breast. You want her to be as uncomfortable as possible (maybe even gasp for breath a little – I know, I know, horrible mom!) But trust me, it will get them to stop nibbling at your bosoms.
  4. Niplash. Enough said.niplash
  5. I’ve learnt that I can perform any task with a baby hanging from my boob. I’ve made coffee while breastfeeding, answered the door, made phonecalls…hell, I’ve even peed while breastfeeding (hey, you gotta go when you gotta go, right mamas?)
  6. I HATE PUMPING! Major props to all the pumpers out there, but I hate that damn machine. The whirling of the motor will haunt my dreams. I tried to avoid it as much as possible, but it did come in handy when I was weaning from 8-10 feeds daily to 6-8, then 4-6, then 4, and now 3. And now I have quite the stash of milk, which is useful. But, there is nothing more unpleasant than pumping before bed and then cleaning the damn tubes and shields.
  7. Do you boobs hang low, do they wobble to-and-fro? Can you tie ’em in a knot, can you tie ’em in a bow? My initially perky nursing boobs have pretty much drooped to my ankles by month 10. On the bright side, I’ll always know which way is South!

Real talk: Got a biter? Are you over nursing bras? Do you hate pumping with a passion? Share your own breastfeeding struggles below!

You Know You’re a Mom When…

I was laughing with some friends the other day as we compared baby notes. We were in hysterics over how we run towards vomit instead of away from it like we used to. It got me to thinking about all the ways you know you’re a mom. So here, presented in good humor, are 25 clear signs you’re a mother…

  1. You’ve been washing the same load of laundry for three days because you forgot to dry it.
  2. It’s not only normal that you pick up another human to smell their butt, it’s a necessity.
  3. You only shower when you know you’ll be leaving your house, or when you’re expecting company.
  4. All of your fantasies involve sleeping uninterrupted.
  5. Going to the grocery store by yourself feels like a vacation.
  6. You have the ability to hear a sneeze through a closed door, down the hall, in the middle of the night, while your hubby snores next to you.
  7. You wish there was drive through EVERYTHING.
  8. When you don’t even flinch after realizing that you’ve gone the whole day with a mystery stain on your shirt that suspiciously looks like poop or puke, or both!
  9. You get excited about picking someone else’s nose and/or sucking their snot.
  10. Whenever you take a shower, you can swear you can hear your child crying, but when you turn off the water, there’s only silence.
  11. Your kids are dressed beautifully and ready to go, and you’re still in pyjamas.
  12. You make the baby an organic meal, and you’re surviving on coffee and cookies.
  13. You realize you’re swaying, without holding your baby!
  14. You will literally strangle whoever rang the doorbell while your child was napping.
  15. You find yourself talking about poop in public, again…
  16. Your idea of working out is lugging the baby carrier, diaper bag and portable activity center in and out of the car.
  17. You cry at every diaper commercial.
  18. You have entire Pinterest boards devoted to crafts and DIYs and you never actually get around to doing them.
  19. You take it personally when a stranger doesn’t wave back to your baby.
  20. Coffee is now one of your love languages.
  21. You find yourself humming “Old McDonald Had A Farm”, or “Twinkle, Twinkle”.
  22. You know all the words from your kids’ talking toys (“Have you met my friend the red fish?” or, “thanks for calling!”)
  23. You deleted apps on your phone so that you can take more pictures of your kid.
  24. Being in the car alone is exciting.
  25. When CEO’s can learn a thing or two about how much you can multi-task.

REAL TALK: Add your own! What are some of the ways that you know you’re a mom? Share below!

Things I’ve Bought Recently

In my “real life” (the one where I work full-time and have disposable income), I would treat myself nearly every week. There’s something thrilling about a package arriving at the door…almost like it’s your birthday every day! Alas, maternity leave/new house/baby has significantly reduced my weekly treats to exciting things like Amazon diaper subscription and toilet paper from Costco. Wow, I live a glam life!

But, recently, I’ve been itched to do a little “treat yo self” time and have been indulging in some purchases for myself. And OH THE GUILT! No wonder my mom only ever shopped the sales when we were kids, or why I remember her wearing the same dress for all special occasions. It’s because when you’re a mom, you feel TERRIBLE for buying something frivolous (if you don’t, you’re a unicorn, so good for you). Most mommies I know will sacrifice their own pleasures to ensure that baby has everything its needs. And take it from a former-shoppaholic, it has been a struggle to adapt.

That being said, with Spring around the corner and the fact I’m getting used to managing my limited budget, here are some things I’ve bought for myself in the last month.

  1. IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Illumination Concealer. This is the Holy Grail of under eye concealers. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on under eye products and this one puts them all to shame. With a tiny dot of product, I go from looking like the tired-old-hag that I am, to radiant momma. Plus it’s waterproof and it’s crease-proof. See below for photo evidence!

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    Left: Before. Right: After using IT Bye Bye Undereye Illumination Concealer. Same light, no filters. I look so much awake and brightened!
  2. Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream. Keep me young forever! Deep wrinkles have started to appear in my forehead which have left me freaked out and googling where to get Botox (anyone know a good doc?) So to push pause on the aging process, I turned to my fave skincare line, Fresh, for this lightweight moisturizer. It leaves my skin soft and hydrated and has noticeable reduced fine lines.
  3. La Neige Lip Sleeping Mask. This is literally the most delicious lip balm I have ever tried. The cold weather leaves my lips burning and one pea-sized drop of La Neige Lip Mask and they are butter smooth. I put it on at night and the product stays on my lips until morning.

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    My attempt at beauty blogging. This trio of products keeps me glowy and fresh-faced: 1) La Neige Lip Sleeping Mask 2) It Cosmetics Bye Bye UnderEye Illumination Concealer 3) Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream
  4. Jordache High Rise Ankle Jegging. As a new mom, I spend a lot of time at Walmart. It’s my one-stop-shop. And these pink jeans caught my eye as I was dashing out the store to make it home before naptime. I grabbed my usual size (16) and tried them on at home. They are SO stretchy and comfortable! Plus, the high waist sucks in my post-baby tummy and cropped ankle length leaves my legs looking long and lean. And it’s the perfect shade of spring pink.

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    Mom uniform, but make it Spring fashion!
  5. Addition Elle Faux Wrap Printed Dress. Obviously I keep up with what’s going on back at work, and this dress caught my eye bigtime! In fact, you all voted via IG stories that I should buy it, and I did. It’s literally the most flattering thing I’ve put on my body in a while. Hugs my curves in all the right places. But you’ll just have to wait and see it in photos 😉

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    I’ll be wearing this gorgeous dress in an upcoming post.  And hurry! It’s currently 50% off!

Until next time friends!

xo Jen

REAL TALK: Do you feel guilty shopping for yourself? What’s the best thing you’ve bought recently?

SHARE below!

Green Eyed Monster

I have never been a jealous person. Most of my life, I’ve marched to the beat of my own drum. I’ve never lacked for anything and anything I’ve wanted, I’ve gone out and gotten it for myself. I’ve made my own path and never felt the need to compare myself to others. I’m a leader, not a follower. But all that changed once I had a baby…

Throughout my pregnancy, I was obsessed with being “normal.” I had heard such awful stories about getting pregnant, staying pregnant and delivering. Nobody talks about the mundane facts of pregnancy, they only discuss the worst case scenario. I was terrified something was going to be wrong with me. I worried that I would get diabetes, or hypertension, or have to have a C-section and feel everything, or I would miscarry. All I wanted at every appointment was for the doctor to tell me everything was normal. I wanted the baby to develop normally. I wanted the pregnancy to be normal and I wanted the delivery to be normal.

But once baby was here, normal was not a word I wanted to hear. To me, Charlotte is the most exquisite creature in the entire universe. She is one-of-a-kind. The most special, perfect, beautiful baby that there ever was and will ever will be. And everything she does is magical and meaningful. Clearly, I am drunk on mom love here…Anyways, in my eyes she is perfect, and I want everyone to know that. When the doctor checked her over at our first pediatrician appointment, I beamed from ear-to-ear when he said that Charlotte was special – so alert, so sweet, so patient. When she got her first tooth at 3 months, other moms were amazed (I’ve heard early teething is a sign of genius, am I right?) And when I tell other moms how she sleeps through the night, every night, I see their envy.

As a mom, it’s impossible not to compare yourself to others when every book, blog, magazine and podcast is telling you which milestones matter and how to get your child there faster. Competition is fierce and leaves us feeling jealous. I’ve never been more insecure in my life. Am I feeding her properly? Is the car seat installed right? Am I a bad parent if my child doesn’t walk at 8 months? Did I fail as a mother if she can’t yet clap or blow kisses? The constant questioning swirls around in my head most of my waking hours.

Like any millenial mom, I turn to social media to test the waters. But I find myself becoming even more anxious! Some of my friend’s babies are already pulling up and standing and others have mastered crawling (Charlotte prefers army crawl and rolling to get where she wants to go). Instantly my mind goes to two places: 1) Is it normal that my kid isn’t doing those things? And, 2) What did I do wrong as a mother that my kid isn’t doing those things too! Our child is clearly the most special to us, but if they don’t do it first, or best, are they really that special? And if we, as mothers, can’t get them to that point, did we fail?

I recently texted a friend to tell her that I was jealous her baby was pulling up and standing. “Chill,” she said, “There is no ‘normal’…babies do what they want, when they want. I’m sure people are jealous of Charlotte’s eating, or how many teeth she has! I remember thinking I wasn’t feeding baby enough when I saw one of your Insta stories.” I honestly hadn’t looked at it that way, so thanks buddy!

So where does this sense of jealousy and competition come from? What exactly are we competing for? To rush our babies into the next step without enjoying what’s in front of us? The days are long but the years are short, and before we know it, our kids are all grown up and refusing extra kisses and hugs. If Charlotte isn’t yet mobile, that means more opportunity for snuggles and squeezes. I need to remind myself each day that this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon and to enjoy every moment.

 

Real talk: Do you often find yourself jealous of other moms? How do you deal with the competition between other parents?

 

 

On Burnouts, Comebacks & Imperfection

Hi. It’s me. Remember me? Your friendly neighborhood supermom. The one with the curated Instagram, the sponsored posts and all the right hashtags. Well friends, I have news for you…that chick is gone! She burnt out back in November and now she’s been replaced with someone a little less “perfect.”

Back in November, my life was upside down. We had sold our house in 72 hours and had 90 days to find a place to live and no hope in sight. We kept getting outbid on places we loved and the housing inventory in the area we wanted to live was non-existent. My dad is a real estate broker with a million years experience and he had never seen anything like this. Panic set in.

Not only we were homeless, but I was still getting used to my role as a mom. Charlotte was 5 months old, and even though we had started our fledging routine, that shit is TOUGH! The anxiety that I had experienced in my 20s flared up like a giant beast. The smallest task (like packing, or texting someone back) seemed insurmountable. My heart would literally race when I got a text message/email/DM that required an answer. The thought of blogging exhausted me. It felt like an impossible mountain to climb. And every day that I procrastinated, the mountain seemed a little taller and steeper, until it grew into an impossible Everest.

And then I’d get mad at myself and start to pick myself part. “I do this for a living, why is this so hard?” Or, “You aren’t pretty/funny/cool enough.” But, the thought that was the most self-destructive was: “No matter what you do, nobody will follow you. You aren’t that interesting.” Super mean, right? We are our own worst critics!

Here’s the thing that no one tells you about blogging…creating content and coming up with new ideas is hard! Starting up your own site and creating a “pretty” Insta with beautifully curated pics is cute, but actually producing content is a full-time job! The pressure of having “perfect” pictures, constantly coming up with new initiatives and new sponsorships was more than I could bear. At work, I have a giant team and huge budget to create content. Little ol’me with my Iphone and a laptop just isn’t the same thing. If I couldn’t even answer a text back, you can imagine how daunting the thought of dressing up, putting on makeup and organizing a baby-and-me photoshoot was!

So what changed you ask? Well, we found a house which we love, I went on a digital hiatus and we took a month-long vacation in Florida. It was revitalizing. To get out of your negative headspace, sometimes a change of environment is the best. Plus, built-in babysitters (thanks Mom & Dad) allowed me some headspace and free-time to have much needed conversations with myself. With a lot of the life stress out of the way, I found myself fantasizing about the blog again. I wrote down blog ideas and started to want to create and connect. It wasn’t overnight (hell, it’s friggin March as I write this and I got back from vacation Jan 31!) but that desire to reach out to others and share my journey is back.

There will be one noticeable difference from pre-burnout to now. Here’s what I promise:

I promise to not be perfect. I promise to be messy, unfiltered and random. I won’t hold back on posting a pic because it doesn’t fit an Instagram aesthetic. I won’t gloss over the yucky stuff. I will be vulnerable. I will be long-winded if I feel like it. I will be gentle with myself and let my flaws shine through. I will focus on telling my story, not accumulating followers. I will be real, grounded and 100% authentically me. I’ll focus on what I’m doing & not look over my shoulder at others. 

And to everyone who has stuck around, thank you. The internet can be an asshole, but you’ve been supportive as hell and I appreciate it so much. Thank you for being my cheerleaders!

Real talk: What’s holding you back? Share below & let’s start a convo!

(P.S. Thank you Jamie for the pep talk. It sparked a conversation with myself that needed to be had)