Baby #3 is a...

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BOY!!!

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We can’t seem to get enough boys around here! You can just refer to us as the wolf pack now, because I think three boys qualifies us. I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Verrrrrry surprised that this little person is another boy (because I always think I’m having a girl and I’m apparently always wrong!) but I am so thrilled. These boys are my entire life and I have become a better person because I get to be their mom.

I didn’t grow up in a household with boys, so I am constantly leaning into the Lord’s wisdom for how to handle situations that I am SO not equipped to handle in my own right. These boys have challenged me, caused me to have to get sharper and lean into my intuition and grow in my parenting approach (believe me, reading a lot of parenting boymom books these days…) I am giggling at how funny my life looks every day with these loud, funny, imaginative, wonderful little boys. I truly believe God knows exactly who our family is supposed to be and I am just so honored that I get to raise another little boy in sweet family. I truly feel like it’s a big responsibility, since we are living in an amazing age where women are more empowered with opportunities than ever before. It’s going to take mighty, humble, confident men to thrive right along side all these empowered women and I truly feel the call to do my very best with my boys. They are going to be (and already are!) such incredible men! I’m overwhelmed with love.

Soooo since I won’t be having tea parties with little girls, alert to all my girlfriends - I’m gonna need my fill of tea time, manicures and skincare shopping. Please do those things with me.

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We are SO excited to meet you, little man!!! Your brothers are already planning presents for you, discussing where you will sleep and who will get to wrestle with you first (Everett has dibs, but Daxton is pretty feisty so we’ll see!)

We love you so much! Can’t wait to meet you in November!!!

P.S. - Shoes are matching New Balance for infant & toddler (on sale!)

Discovering New York City at Christmastime with our Boys!

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I wanted to post this before it became absolutely irrelevant (you could argue that it's irrelevant now), but I wanted to share my NYC pictures from our family Christmas trip! So many of the things that we did are still on display until mid-January, so if you get the chance to visit NYC between now and then, DO IT! Our 8-day trip was 3 weeks ago, and since then a LOT has happened. I don't know how, but the holidays seem to absolutely devour the time. I am always astounded at how fast these few precious weeks pass by in December, but goodness gracious, they do. However, this trip was honestly magical. Maybe I just have rose-colored glasses when it comes to my favorite city (Stevie says I do), but being able to share my favorite place with my favorite people at the best time of year was just the most ecstatic thing for me.

Stevie's been working incessantly the past few months, and he's been in NYC almost every week. When he mentioned that he was going to work in NYC right before Christmas, my heart almost burst. Forget that, I decided to load up my billions of pounds of baby gear and take the boys up there with him! I made an insanely long list of Christmas-y things to do with the boys everyday, and I'm happy to say that we did most of those things! I wanted to share them in case you want to save this post for when you either visit with your kids, visit during the winter, or visit at Christmastime!

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1. Grand Central Station Holiday Train Show!
My pictures of this one are terrible because it was crazy crowded and there was bad lighting. But the Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Station was AMAZING, especially for little boys who adore trains. Basically they built a train track that goes through a miniature NYC and the train choo choos through the set up and it's just really really cool. Go to there.

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Okay, this isn't Christmas-specific, but I've got to talk a little bit about the pizza at Juliana's. I've  talked about this famous pizza joint many times before ( here  and  here  and a little bit  here ), but I can't get over how amazing it is. Even Daxton knew that what he was eating was extra special. And Juliana's  shared this photo on Instagram , which just made the proudest parent.

Okay, this isn't Christmas-specific, but I've got to talk a little bit about the pizza at Juliana's. I've  talked about this famous pizza joint many times before (here and here and a little bit here), but I can't get over how amazing it is. Even Daxton knew that what he was eating was extra special. And Juliana's shared this photo on Instagram, which just made the proudest parent.

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2. Christmas Tree Crawl.
Every big building, store and apartment complex goes all out and decorates an enormous Christmas tree in the lobby. It's so fun to walk through the different buildings and get inspiration for your own Christmas tree. Or just gawk. They're beautiful. My absolute favorite this season was at The American Museum of Natural History - it was a tree entirely made of origami animals!

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3. The Tree at Rockefeller Center.
The tree at the Rockefeller Center is an American icon, which is why it gets its own bullet point here. It's insanely busy and crowded and I'll admit that I was kind of on a vigilant mom watch for terrorists while we visited this tree, but it is so beautiful. I'm so impressed with how many lights they manage to get all the way to the top. (Is it just me, or do the lights on your own Christmas tree seem to taper off up at the top?) Also, if you have older kids, you can take them down to the plaza below and go ice skating! I've never done it because this area makes me kind of claustrophobic, but if crowds this dense don't make your neck hot, you should totally give it a try!

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4. See the Christmas Displays on 5th Avenue.
The window displays in the big department stores along 5th Avenue are always spectacular. This year, Saks 5th Avenue did a series display showcasing elaborate scenes from the movie Snow White! It was completely gorgeous and so creative. But all the big stores do extra special displays - Bergdorf Goodman and Tiffany & Co. were also some of my favorites this year :)

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5. Visit Santa everywhere!
I made free appointment to meet Santa downtown at Macy's in their Santaland! It was a great experience and the boys' pictures are hilarious. Although, they were supposed to email me some digital copies and I have yet to receive them soooo.... I need to follow up! But Santa is ubiquitous across the city and there is an opportunity in every major section of the city. We also met the Santa at the Plaza (informally - we were just there to grab pizza in the basement) and he was super charming. However I've heard the best Santa is at ABC Carpet downtown. So I still have something for next year's bucket list!

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I have a similar picture like this with Everett when he was a baby. And he was in my bathrobe with his little head peeking out just like this one!

I have a similar picture like this with Everett when he was a baby. And he was in my bathrobe with his little head peeking out just like this one!

The origami Christmas tree I was talking about! It's so impressive.

The origami Christmas tree I was talking about! It's so impressive.

The boys stayed so warm in their  JJ Cole Bundleme stroller blankets . I seriously wanted to climb in with them, they were so sunggly even when the weather was scary.

The boys stayed so warm in their JJ Cole Bundleme stroller blankets. I seriously wanted to climb in with them, they were so sunggly even when the weather was scary.

6. Central Park in the SNOW!
This parkkkkkkk. You guys it's perfect in every season of the year - it's absolutely magic. MAGIC! Even in the freezing temperatures, this park is glorious, and when it's snow-covered, it makes me cry. It's so beautiful and dreamy to waltz, I mean walk through.

I had to throw this photo in the mix because we did a lot of  Seamless  meal delivery to our hotel room and this little guy ate in this  foldable travel high chair  like a champ! I was so proud of how easily my little men adapted on this trip ;)

I had to throw this photo in the mix because we did a lot of Seamless meal delivery to our hotel room and this little guy ate in this foldable travel high chair like a champ! I was so proud of how easily my little men adapted on this trip ;)

We spent a lot of time at the park. He's a man after my own park heart.

We spent a lot of time at the park. He's a man after my own park heart.

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These two. Couldn't love them any more. Anthony and Jess, I miss living on the same block as you guys!!! And sitting on the floor of your living room week in and week out, eating your snacks and talking about Jesus. And getting escorted around the city by you, receiving an education in NYC foodie culture. You're just the very best.

These two. Couldn't love them any more. Anthony and Jess, I miss living on the same block as you guys!!! And sitting on the floor of your living room week in and week out, eating your snacks and talking about Jesus. And getting escorted around the city by you, receiving an education in NYC foodie culture. You're just the very best.

We ate at Old Rose, located in the Jane Hotel downtown. Made us feel like trendy folk, for the bit of time we were there and child-free.

We ate at Old Rose, located in the Jane Hotel downtown. Made us feel like trendy folk, for the bit of time we were there and child-free.

Note  The Plaza Hotel  in the background (the white building with the green roof) - it's such a beauty!

Note The Plaza Hotel in the background (the white building with the green roof) - it's such a beauty!

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7. Visit the Holiday Markets!
There are these splendid holiday markets that set up all over the city around Christmastime. The big ones are at Columbus Circle and Bryant Park and they have hundreds of vendors selling everything you've ever heard of (plus a lot of things you've never heard of). It's the perfect place to shop for gifts that no one else will have!

We stopped by the Columbus Circle market a lot because it's at the corner of the park. Plus there was a spot where I could charge my phone and eat lots of snacks. This was the day when we discovered the Nutella churros - EPIC.

We stopped by the Columbus Circle market a lot because it's at the corner of the park. Plus there was a spot where I could charge my phone and eat lots of snacks. This was the day when we discovered the Nutella churros - EPIC.

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Can't tell you how many people asked if they were twins.

Can't tell you how many people asked if they were twins.

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Our old block!! I miss the Upper West Side. So much.

Our old block!! I miss the Upper West Side. So much.

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9. See a Christmas show at The Swedish Marionette Theater!
I walked the boys up through the park one day and we saw the Christmas puppet show at the Marionette Theater. It was the sweetest, most fun thing and I will always treasure that memory with my two sweethearts. Truly. If you have littles, make sure to check the schedule and catch a show! It's so special!

Things that are still on my NYC Christmas Bucket List:
- See the Rockettes Radio City Spectacular! I saw so many people in line for the show while we were in town because Radio City was right around the corner from our hotel, so I was having major jealousy. But I don't think my two wiggle worms would have been able to sit through that show. Next time!
- Ice Skate! There are so many outdoor rinks that look magical! Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, and Central Park have ice skating and I would love to do this sometime in the future!
- Seeing The Nutcracker performed by The American Ballet Company at The Lincoln Center. It's my dream dream dream to see this show - I wish Stevie would just get on board! He's not a fan of ballet.
- Seeing Peter and the Wolf at the Guggenheim Museum - it's supposed to be an awesome show for kids but still a bit too mature for my boys' ages. But just gives me another reason to bring them back!


There you have it! Let me know if you have bucket list must-haves that I should add to this list! Christmas in NYC is so remarkable and MUST be experienced., if you like city sparkle. I hope this is helpful! xx

Rosy Cheeks, Warm Hearts.

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It's that time of year! The most wonderful, and also, the time when the weather likes to bite as it says "top of the morning to ya!" We spent some time up in New York last week, and after a few hours playing outdoors in Central Park, our entire family's cheeks were blasted with a good wind-whipped chapping.

Add in some runny noses, because as we've already established, it's that time of year. #virusleavemyhousehold #itsalliwantforchristmas

Oh, and then factor in Daxton's teething predicament. This kid likes to cut teeth at least 2 at a time - which is exactly what he was up to while we traveled last week! I thought he was just mad at me for the excessively cold weather...

Needless to say, our family has had a lot of drippy noses and wet cheeks and wind-burned knuckles (southern kids don't know how to keep mittens on) - so what's a mama to do?

Baby Face Nose + Cheek Balm.
It's no surprise that we are into natural remedies over here - I've been on a journey to find natural and non-toxic solutions that actually work for my family (you can check out my Green Beauty Trials posts for more info about this journey.) I've tried a lot of products, especially over the past year. Which is why it was a no-brainer when we were sent this Earth Mama Organics Face, Nose & Cheek Balm - I slathered my kids (and husband!) with this stuff and I must say, we are hooked. I've gushed about my love for Earth Mama Angel Baby products before (remember this postpartum must-haves post?), and now that the company has rebranded as Earth Mama, there are several new high-performing products being added to the family of products, and I am stoked. This balm in particular is an an all-purpose remedy that is 100% organic and formulated without parabens, petroleum, preservatives or artificial fragrance. Instead it treats skin vulnerabilities with a rich calendula coconut balm, one that has been formulated specifically for use around a baby's mouth. It's so safe, technically you could eat this balm. It's probably Whole30 compliant ;)

Check out the cutest little video clip about this Face, Nose & Cheek balm! I want to take that little girl home with me ;)

Also, I want to say something quickly about the new packaging - isn't it beautiful? The new logo and color scheme is sleek and warm and I just LOVE it - it suits the products better than the previous packaging and as someone who cares about packaging... I am amped about this new look and feel to the brand.

As for the balm - it has been in constant rotation in my household over the past few weeks. I want to share a few of my favorite ways to use this balm, not just on my baby, but on my toddler, my husband AND myself!

My Favorite Uses:
1.) BEFORE GOING OUTSIDE: Slather thickly across the cheeks, on the lower bridge of the nose, underneath the nose (if my wiggly children let me!) and over the curve of the chin. This balm acts like a protective layer while kiddos (or adults!) are outside in the elements, whether riding in the stroller or running around playing.

2.) BEFORE GOING OUTSIDE: Rub on the tops of hands (mine, as well!) - over the knuckles and fingers. Even if I'm wearing gloves, this seriously helps keep my hands from drying out and cracking. Bloody cracks in the hands just aren't cute.

3.) AFTER BATHTIME: I like to coat my kids' faces from the nostrils down in this balm. It insulates the skin and protects against dryness from the heat in the house and the bath. It seals the skin and promotes a restful evening of sleep.

4.) ON DIAPER DUTY: This balm even works as a natural diaper rash cream! After applying on my son's sore bottom and then checking it again just 1 diaper change later, his rash was cleared up! You really can't ask for more in a balm.

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This multi-purpose balm is quickly becoming the swiss army knife in my medicine cabinet. In fact, the other day my husband asked me for some lip balm, and then immediately found the Face, Nose & Chin Balm and said, "Oh never mind, I got it."

I love having products in my home that are so safe and so high-performing that THIS mama doesn't have to work quite as hard to do everything for everyone. I also love the feeling of this product replacing several other products in one fell swoop - no need for dozens of babycare products when this one ticks so many boxes for our family needs. Plus, I really love snuggling my little babes just after we've applied this balm - watching them tumble around, goof off and play with their ruby, well-oiled cheeks gleaming, well I can't help but smile. It is, indeed, the most wonderful time of the year.

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Thank you for supporting brands that make this blog possible. Happy Christmas week to you, my friends!

My Journey with Postpartum Anxiety.

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Warning - super long post. Today I'm sharing my heart with you all about a subject that is very personal and dear to me. The postpartum experience is a sensitive one and I share this because I want others to know that if you've experienced this - you are so not alone. And I also share this because I want others to understand what some mothers go through during postpartum. Be kind, you never know what people are battling with.

This is a space for real talk, so let's have it :)


I've waited a long time to write this post. I wanted to write it when I was all better. When I finally had a fresh perspective and wasn't in the middle of a messy open heart of spewing feelings and emotions. But here I am, typing these words, on a day when I experienced more anxiety than I have in months. Today I cried, I snapped at my children, and spoke unkindly to my husband.

I don't like to admit these things and I certainly don't think this kind of behavior is okay, but you know what? It happened. I'm not perfect, though I am trying my best to improve my character, my tone of voice, my heart stance. My patience.

In this season, I've learned to tell myself:

1. I am not an anxious person. Even when I feel anxiety, it's not who I am.

2. My anxiety doesn't define me.

Okay, let me back up a bit.

I never realized that I dealt with postpartum anxiety the first time I had a baby. I didn't even know that was a thing. I didn't realize until after Everett's 1st birthday that I was starting to feel better. "Have I been feeling worse and not realizing it??", I remember thinking to myself. I reflected on the previous year, the first year of my baby's life. Becoming a mom was the most incredible experience that had ever happened to me. Everett was a riot and a joy and so full of personality and passion. But. He was also exhausting, colick-y, and such a mama's boy. I couldn't leave him with a sitter because he would have full-out meltdowns. I had more than 1 sitter think that he was legitimately dying when I left him (to this day he still can still enact this special talent of blood-curdling screaming and body slamming himself to the ground, which he does every so often to keep us on our A-game.) He spit and hissed if we dared to offer him a bottle. He never slept. He didn't want to be held by anyone but me. And Stevie. And my mom. But if anyone else held him he barely tolerated it. His mission was to be with mommy always.

I was anxious about all this. But what is there to do? He was my baby, and I wasn't going to traumatize him by continuously putting him in situations that caused him to turn into a werewolf. I'm certain I've given in too much and probably made so mistakes with him, but gosh, I have done everything to my best ability. That boy is my prize, my treasure. Unfortunately, I didn't identify that I probably needed some extra support during that first year of his life until the year had already passed me by. The thing about becoming a parent is that you think what you're experiencing is normal - everyone is tired. Everyone is running on coffee and adrenaline. But now I know that not everyone experiences panic attacks when they go into church with their baby. Not everyone sweats through their clothes at just the thought of a stranger asking to hold the baby. Not everyone is brought to stressed tears when people look at their baby, talk about their baby, even if it's a compliment that is being spoken. Not everyone feels dwarfed by the smallest tasks of the day when they include taking the baby with them. Having your chest pound and feeling like your throat is going to close and your airways are constricted is not normal. I thought this was normal. I didn't know this was a sign of a deeper problem.

Not until after the year was over.

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These symptoms drastically improved after Everett's 1st birthday. I was stunned at how lively I was beginning to feel again. I chalked it up to my changing hormones, but still, I wondered why I had experienced such a swell of emotions for an entire year.

The more I talked to other women, especially other moms, I realized a common theme. So many women dealt with postpartum depression but didn't realize it until after they were on the other side of it. I remember at my 6-week postpartum visit with Everett, I filled out the mental health checklist, the one where they identify feelings of postpartum depression. I wasn't battling feelings of deep sadness, or having urges to hurt myself or my baby. Those weren't my symptoms. I still laughed, still had fun, still had motivation for life and work. But these feelings were compounded by intense situational anxiety. I had a hard time wanting to leave the house because I couldn't predict what might happen. This sense of paranoia wasn't really like myself - I've never been a fearful person. I knew I didn't feel like the old Kristen, but I just thought this anxious feeling is how all new moms feel. So I left that appointment knowing that I wasn't depressed. But still, I didn't feel quite right.

I didn't know that postpartum anxiety was a thing. I thought it was depression or happiness, black or white only. I didn't know there were mannnnny shades of clinically defined emotions in between.

Fast forward to my second pregnancy, labor and delivery with my second son, Daxton. My emotions were sky high during that last month of pregnancy, and when I look back, I can't help but laugh at how super hormonal I was. After having an unexpectedly long labor and c-section with him, during my recovery I experienced a resurgence of the anxious feelings. This time around, I knew that those feelings weren't my personality, and at my 6-week appointment with my Doctor, I told her so.

Even though my recovery was extremely challenging, this baby boy was a completely different person from my first. Daxton was calm, he was quiet, he slept peacefully, he took a bottle, he rested in anyone's arms. He was the definition of peace. And yet, I was still experiencing the feelings I had when Everett was a baby. I began to realize that perhaps it wasn't the situation (or the baby), that had brought on those feelings of anxiety. It was just me. Or I guess I should say, it was just my hormones. I shared everything I was feeling with my doctor - especially about how I felt and the situations that triggered the anxiety. She asked me lots of hard questions and offered me a medication. Ultimately, I told her I didn't want to take any drugs and instead wanted to find alternative solutions. She was completely on board and helped me formulate a plan - I would begin exercising again (a natural way of detoxing anxiety), I would resume journaling my feelings (surprise surprise - I like to write), and I would meet with a counselor. I felt settled in this plan.

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For the next few months I did just that. I met with a counselor (wow, did I learn a lot about myself!), started exercising again (I heart you, Pure Barre!), and got lots of prayer from my friends and family. I also visited a naturopathic doctor and got on some supplements to help balance my hormones. All of these things helped.

But friends, they just didn't help enough.

My anxiety was still present. I felt a heaviness in my chest almost all day every day. It lifted when I was being counseled, and most of the time it was gone while I was exercising. But other than that, I couldn't get my tightened chest to relax, I couldn't take enough deep breaths to calm the vibration inside.

So at about 4 months postpartum, back to the doctor I went. This time, I went back to my OBGYN, the one who had sliced me open on the operating table. The one who asked me all the right questions and had once offered the anxiety medication. I went back to her, explained where I was at, and accepted her offer of a prescription.

"It's a very mild dose", she told me.

It took me a few weeks to actually fill the prescription. All the naturally-minded instincts within me wanted to resist taking a medication. Wanted to resist the need for it. But something else within me begged to get back in the game again, to shake this anxiety loose, to be in the moment with my family, to enjoy this season, to finally relax. And if a little white pill was going to be the answer to all those prayers, then so be it.

I finally filled it.

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Within 2 weeks on that anxiety prescription, I began to feel like myself again. Not drugged, like myself again. I felt like the medication was a bridge, bringing me back to the best version of myself. Laughter came so much more easily, social situations were enjoyable again, going to church was suddenly just not a big deal, and everything that had previously caused such a heightened mess of twisted stressors inside my heart didn't trigger that response anymore.

Thank goodness for my husband, my steady rock, who has been holding my hand throughout this entire journey. My slow recovery process, my mess of emotions and my ugliest moments haven't scared him away in the slightest (at least not that he's let on!), and I am the luckiest woman in the world to have him as my partner. My mom has been like a fairy godmother angel, coming to help with my boys on days that were just bad. I couldn't have survived this past year without her encouragement, prayer and parenting input and support. It didn't hurt that she would also come by and clean my bathrooms, fold my laundry and take my boys on stroller walks so I could have a few minutes to myself, which I mostly spent updating this little blog here.

Basically, friends, it's been a messy journey. I'm not out of the woods yet. I have days where the chest pain returns for a few moments, but that is truly so rare now. Most of the time I am able to overcome pangs of anxiety when certain situations trigger it. I am so happy and free, and thanks to my incredible support system, I am blessed blessed blessed beyond what I deserve. Thanks for being part of my journey and taking the time to read this heart of mine. If you struggle with postpartum anxiety or depression, please talk to someone who can get you some real help! It is such a game changer, there is no reason to delay your healing. Today is your day for success and victory and whole-body healing!

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This post is a lengthy one so I will share my coping tactics in another post. I hope this snapshot of PPA was helpful to some of you who have dealt with this, and hopefully, this helps shed some light on what some mothers go through during the postpartum journey. We are all in this motherhood gig together and we have every good opportunity to lift each other up in prayer and encouragement!
 

My Ultimate Guide to Baby Essentials.

I was so into registering for my wedding.

And then 7 years later, I was suuuuuper into registering for my baby gear. I was the girl that read like 17 books and researched every inane product. A lot of my friends just swiped my baby registry list when they got pregnant because I did that much research. Of course, now that I'm an actual mom with real life experience (meaning, I've been pooped on, peed on and thrown up on), there are some things that I would nix from the list, add to the list, and some things I would circle and highlight and possibly blood sign as "MUST HAVE".

Today, I share these things with you.

DISCLAIMER: I have to put this out there because otherwise someone might get all up in arms, but obviously these recommendations and insights are purely my own opinion. Everyone's life situation is different, and where you live really does influence a handful of these choices, such as stroller, car seat, crib, etc. I can only offer my experiences to you, but I do so gladly and without restraint. I want to emphasize that everyone puts a different priority on things, so please use this as a reference and go with your gut. You will learn in this journey (as I am continuing to learn!) that going with your gut as a mama is usually the right choice. So trust your instinct, and just gather information as you go!

FEEDING.

  •  Glass bottles - Everett never took a bottle so we really struggled with me feeling like a human pacifier for, oh, 16 months of breastfeeding. So one of my #1 goals with Daxton was introducing bottles early, and it has proven to be such a success, #praisethelord. Also, I love the greener approach of glass bottles :)
  •  Breastpump with carry tote (includes an extra set of accessories!) - I don't love pumping, but this is a great double pump and it allows me to leave milk for my baby so that I can get a break. Check with your insurance company to see if you quality to get one of these for free, thanks to this new policy. P.S. - Many of my friends have also sworn by this pump, something I'd love to try in the future!
  •  Bottle warmer - Not essential, but it's been a really nice extra to have this time around.
  •  A few burp cloths. Okay actually like 12-15 would be ideal.
  •  High chair - You won't need this for the first few months, but it's worth investing in something you love and they love, because your kiddo will eventually spend hours eating in this little throne. I am so glad we went with something that looked semi-nice in the kitchen and that could grow with our babies into toddler life.
  • A bottle cleaning brush or tool is helpful for that transition from baby to toddler feeding, I love these plates, these utensils, and these water bottles.

DIAPERING.

  • I love using The Honest Company diapers. For the first year with Everett I used these exclusively and then switched back and forth between these and Seventh Generation diapers after that. Honestly, it was just out of convenience so that I could pick them up at Target vs. waiting on the monthly shipment in the mail. I recently tried a few other kinds of diapers to save on cost and ended up switching back to these two brands for both my boys, because I never have leaking problems with either of these diapers. But again, this is the kind of thing that depends on what works for you and your little baby's bum :) Though I look forward to the days of potty-trained children!
  •  Healing balm & diaper rash cream - We use both of these so much. We slather the Healing Balm on anything and everything - cuts, dry skin, rashes, etc. And the diaper rash cream clears up redness after one application, it's just like magic. So these are on heavy rotation over here.
  •  Baby wipes, and I love these giant packs :)
  •  A diaper disposal is so, so helpful! Make sure to register for refills.

SLEEPING.

  • Crib, waterproof mattress pad and crib sheets - I have less of an opinion about these items. Just get things you love and feel good about. I opted for organic options where I could find them, but they're not must-haves. And our crib was a hand-me-down and has worked out perfectly well.
  •  Sound machine for sleep (I also love running a diffuser with essential oils at night, but it's not a must-have)
  •  Sleep swaddle and/or swaddle blankets for newborn-stage - I used both of these for sleeping, and actually use the swaddle blankets for everything (I have at least ten of these!) - as a burp cloth, make shift nursing cover, to throw over the top of a stroller in case there's too much sun - they're very all-purpose.
  •  Sleep blanket (for when you don't swaddle anymore, like 5 months - 18 months-ish?)
  •  Baby video monitor - I love being able to check on my baby using the video feed, but this isn't a must-have for everyone. I have friends who are really happy with an audio monitor. Totally a personal preference!
  •  Zipper onesies - These make middle-of-the-night changing so much easier. It's really hard to get buttons right when you're half-awake! I love the Baby Gap options (this and these) and Target has some convenient 3-packs options as well.

AT-HOME GEAR.
*I think it's helpful to borrow these items, if possible. My kids have varied on the different chair/swings they like, and it costs a lot to purchase these up front only to find out that your baby hates them. Also, you don't need one of each of these, just pick a few and see what works. I also like buying these items second-hand because they are mostly constructed of plastic, and its nice to have them air out and off-gas the chemicals in them, if possible. I know, I know, sometimes I'm even a little too crunchy for myself.

ON-THE-GO GEAR.

  •  Diaper Bag - This choice totally depends on where you live and what you need to carry around with you day-to-day. I love my Kate Spade diaper bag because it was a special gift from Stevie, but I don't always want/need to lug a big bag around. I recently switched to this non-diaper bag backpack, which has really helped with having two kids (I need my hands!) but I also really like packing a few diapers and wipes into a diaper clutch like this (I got a really cute Jonathan Adler one a few years ago, but it looks like they don't make it anymore, sad). Day to day I find myself switching out bags based on what works for the activity.
  •  Stroller - This is probably the #1 item that depends solely on where you live. If you live in a city, your stroller is basically your car and you will need to really consider how much you will use it for everyday tasks (like carrying groceries and picking up laundry) versus just walking around around an outdoor mall or your neighborhood, if you live in the suburbs. And if you're super into fitness, you might want to opt for a jogging stroller, some of which allow you to attach a carseat onto it. You also want to consider whether you will be folding it down daily to store in a closet or the back seat of a car. We opted for this stroller because it was really all-purpose (for city or 'burb life), has the ability to add seats on for multiple children and is great for travel (we got the travel bag too, which works as insurance if the airline damages the stroller or bag - a major added bonus!) I also really love that it comes with a bassinet for baby's comfort and development. We also got a jogging stroller because the heavy-duty wheels allow us to take our kids on more active adventures, and recently we got the double jogger for both the boys! I'm hanging on to the single version, though, because there are some days where I'll only have one of them with me and it's nice not to lug out the minivan version. So we are currently those people who own a mess of strollers, and we actually use all of them. This is one area where I am not a minimalist, sorrrry :)
  • Stroller hooks - You won't regret going for these. You can hang everything in the world on them!
  •  Car seat - I hate car seats because they are so heavy and bulky and awkward to lug around. But unless you live in a city where you walk absolutely everywhere, they are necessary! So we went with this one because it was compatible with the strollers we chose (utilizing an adapter here and there). But all carseats have to have the same safety measures so there probably isn't a bad option on the market - I would say just pick one that's in your budget and is compatible with your other gear :) We actually have a few of these seats because of multiple cars and you know, golf cart life, too ;)
  •  Carrier - After trying out tons, both me and Stevie's absolute favorite is the Ergobaby because it is so structured and supportive. Now there is the Ergobaby 360 which gives even more wearing options, and I would love to give that one a try. I have also really liked using the Solly Wrap this time around because it keeps baby so close and cozy, although with my big baby I find myself reaching for the Ergo the very most. I also recommend the K'tan, if you don't have super huge babies, it's a great one.
  • Travel Crib or Pack N Play - We have used both of these a lot, but this is another one of those categories that depends on your lifestyle. If you travel a lot, I can assure you that you will use and love this travel crib. Ours has been all over the world with us and kept our baby sleeping so well (at the moment, my we are actually traveling and my child IS sleeping soundly in it, so there you have it.) The pack n play is so helpful in those first few months of having the baby sleep in-room with you, and it's also so easy to take to Grandma's house when you want to nap your kiddo on the go.

TOYS, BOOKS, ETC.
Baby toys aren't must-haves, and you will probably find yourself accumulating them faster than you realize. A few that we have loved are this teether, this brand of stuff animals (we have so many of these, Everett calls them his "babies") and these baby books.

I thought this list would feel more condensed - it's kind of crazy how much STUFF babies can attract. Anything that I'm missing that you absolutely loved and would deem a *must have*? I would love to hear about it in the comments! And please let me know if you have any questions or need clarifications on any of this -  I am happy to share my experiences!

P.S. - My postpartum recovery essentials for a vaginal delivery and for a c-section delivery (I honestly still cannot believe I've experienced both of those and live the tell the tales...) and a guide for what to pack in your hospital bag :)