But for now, winter.

The first snowflakes have hit the ground and mittens and hats have been pulled out of dusty boxes from the attic. Winter has greeted us and for the first time since moving to Minnesota four years ago, I welcome it.

Minnesota gladly embraces the rhythms of earth and time.

I anticipate the rest that winter brings with its long nights and inviting indoor activities from which spring all our guarded summer ambitions of creativity. We have stocked up on puzzles, paints, crayons, and construction paper.

I anticipate the exhilarating first steps into cold air that remind me of my breath, and therefore my existence.

I anticipate the sweetness of cold, red baby cheeks that shine with delight at falling snow as they wonder, where does it come from?

I anticipate long story times with a lap that is happy with children and donned with a warm blanket.

I anticipate floating marshmallows on a pond of hot chocolate.

And come February, I will sing a new song of anticipation.

But for now, winter.

Rosalie’s Birth Story With Hypnobirthing

My labor and delivery nurse has encouraged me to write about and share my birthing experience with Rosalie since it was so calm and actually, quite nice. She mentioned that women often come into the hospital hoping for a natural birth, but haven’t prepared for it. So here is a little background on my previous birthing experience, information about how I prepared for my second birthing experience, and Rosalie’s birth story….which is long and boring (fortunately for me). I wrote this in random times between my girls’ naps, in the middle of the night, etc, so excuse the length and grammatical errors.

Seton’s birth (my first), while wonderful and miraculous, was somewhat of a doozy. I went into labor with the plan of getting an epidural and hopefully coasting through delivery. I knew that labor/delivery rarely went exactly according to plan, so I was fairly open to the idea that things might change. I was very fortunate that I progressed well and she was able to be born safely, but the epidural didn’t work. Well, it worked for about two glorious hours, then for some reason just stopped. The nurses had me turning on my sides, changing how much the bed was reclined, and even called in the anesthesiologist to alter the placement and dosage (when I was at 9 cm). It was miserable feeling stuck in the bed through transition. I remember telling them to let me sit up better in bed because I was going to push whether they liked it or not–the urge to push was so strong. I was wishing I didn’t even get the epidural because then at least they would let me get out of bed.

I decided I would prepare for a natural, unmedicated birth for my second child, and if I were to need an epidural I would get one. I knew that this time around, I needed a strategy for dealing with contractions. I kept thinking that birthing is the most natural and common thing in the world–every person in the world has experienced it–it shouldn’t be so traumatic.

Like I said, I want to emphasize the importance of preparation. Here are some key ways I prepared for birth:

1). Home study course with Hypnobabies.
2). Listening to the recommended tracks daily.
3). Eating healthy (eh, I should say MOSTLY eating healthy) and exercising.
4). Listening to Fear Free Childbirth podcast on my way to/from work. I LOVED hearing women’s birthing stories that WEREN’T all about pain, trauma, and drama.
5). This sounds SUPER weird of me, but I think it REALLY helped….watching youtube videos of hypnobirths. You know how athletes do mental imagery before big games/meets? Seeing calm births helped me envision myself having one. The only other births I’ve ever “witnessed” were from movies, and we all know those are completely unrealistic. But that’s what we imagine going into labor….so wrong!

My sister-in-law told me about hypnobirthing and sent me her home study guide. I read Marie Mongon’s book as well as Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth. The more I read about healthy, natural, calm birthing experiences, I knew that it was possible for me as well. One thing I love about hypnobirthing is the emphasis on staying relaxed. With my background in physical therapy, I completely understand how tensing up can increase your pain and put you at greater risk for birth injuries.

I started around week 28 of my pregnancy going through the home study guide and listening to the recommended hypnosis tracks every day. I remember thinking at the beginning of the home study that there was no way I could be hypnotized. I was envisioning Davey having to dangle a watch in front of my eyes and tell me I was getting veeeery sleepy…., but that’s not how it works. It’s more like being hypnotized in the same way as when you are watching TV or reading an article on your phone and you somehow completely drown out your spouse (sorry, Davey). I was able to drown out everything while I was having pressure waves (pressure waves is the hypnobirthing term for contractions). My focus was entirely on staying relaxed. This took a lot of practice leading up to the birth. I think I was able to easily go into my relaxed state during Rosalie’s birth because I had practiced it so much (every day).

September 10, 2016 at the Wayzata James J Hill Days Fair; the day before my contractions started
September 10, 2016 at the Wayzata James J Hill Days Fair; the day before my contractions started

Okay, onto the boring birth story!

I woke up on Sunday, September 11 (6 days after the due date my doctor gave me but EXACTLY on the due date I gave myself based on Fertility Awareness Method/NFP I have to add-ha!) at 2am with some pressure under my belly. This was very different than the crampy contractions I had with Seton, so I wasn’t sure it was “it.” But they started coming every 7-8 minutes and were pretty intense, so I decided to put on a hypnobirthing track with my headphones. At some point between 2am and 7am I went to the bathroom and Davey woke up saying, “is this it?” I was pretty dumb and said, “Yes! They’re 7-8 minutes apart, so maybe the baby will be here by noon!” HA! I laugh at that so much now–

Seton woke up at 7am and contractions slowed to 30 minutes apart (or more) throughout the day. It was a fairly relaxing day–I watched ‘The Intern’ with my mom and sat on the porch as Seton played with Davey in the corner. Every time a pressure wave came on, I closed my eyes and breathed in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 8 and focused on staying relaxed. I was a little anxious and upset that contractions had slowed down and that extra time allowed some fear to creep back in–what if it’s too painful? What if it’s as bad as last time? I debated going for a walk to “speed things up,” but then wondered why there is always a push to “speed things up” with birthing? What’s the rush? The pressure waves were tolerable. I was home. I was eating and moving and feeling well. The baby was healthy–I felt her kicking. I decided it was best to relax since I knew I would need energy later. At some point I laid back down in my room and listened to a Fear Release track that was intended to help me let go of any fear I have with birthing–I think I fell asleep and had a nice nap. :) I also remember deciding wash and straighten my hair since I knew I wouldn’t be able to for a few days (priorities, ladies).

We went to bed around 10 that night and pressure waves started up again around 11pm. I started timing them–and again they were 7-8 minutes apart. I wanted to focus on staying relaxed, so I woke Davey up to time them. I regret this–at the time, I thought things would REALLY pick up quick and we would be leaving for the hospital soon. They were 7-8 minutes apart ALL NIGHT and poor Davey didn’t sleep a wink. I was able to sleep between pressure waves as I was listening to relaxing tracks. I kept waiting until the “under 5 minutes for an hour” rule to head to the hospital. I was afraid they would just slow down again during the day, and I didn’t want to be at the hospital for that. 7am rolled around again, and Seton was calling to us to get her out of her crib. I couldn’t believe I was still home!

We sent her to daycare–(I gave her one last hug as my one and only and was a little emotional knowing her life was about to change so much)– and by that point I was a little frustrated, tired, and slap happy. We don’t have a birthing ball, so I was jokingly bouncing on one of Seton’s blow up horses, and my mom and I had some good laughs. I decided to take a bath, then try to sleep a little. I laid in my room by myself, listened to some tracks, and fell asleep. Every time I felt a pressure wave, I hit the “lap” button on my iPhone’s stopwatch, barely opening my eyes. I laid like that for almost two hours. When I decided I should use the bathroom, I looked at the timer and saw that I had been having contractions just 3-4 minutes apart for 2 hours. I couldn’t believe it! I had been so relaxed, it felt like I was sleeping between pressure waves that were 20 minutes apart.

I told Davey about the timing and asked him to make me lunch (love him) while I called my doc and told her I was headed to the hospital.

As we were walking out the door, I felt fear creep back in a bit. I hugged my mom (who was staying with us to take care of Seton) and held back a few tears–hugging my mom before giving birth was really emotional because I knew she had gone through all this FOR ME before. I felt very appreciative of her and truly felt life coming full circle. :)

I got in the car and said to Davey, “I can’t believe Mary rode a DONKEY through this!” The pressure waves were definitely more intense, and I was nervous about going through transition on the way to the hospital. I turned on my Birthing Day hypnobirthing track and put my ear buds in and kept my eyes closed the whole way. (this was MUCH different from driving to the hospital with Seton when I was yelping in pain). We were at the hospital so fast—time seemed to be nonexistent that day. I think we arrived shortly after 12:00.

Davey quickly told the nursing staff that I was doing hypnobirthing, and I did NOT want to know how dilated I was. I didn’t want to be told I was 3 cm after laboring for a day and a half–I would have felt so defeated. I also didn’t want to know if I was really close because I didn’t want to become fearful or anxious. I just wanted to BE. From everything I have read about dilation, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t predict how close or how far you are from birthing your baby. Things can “speed up” or “slow down.” So I just wanted things to go as they should.

A few weeks before Rosalie’s birth, my doctor informed me the nurses at the hospital were on strike. I LOVED my nurses with Seton, so I panicked a bit and wondered if the replacement nurses would be as skilled. Davey and I decided to pray every night for our labor/delivery nurse. After I was checked and determined to be in true labor, a very sweet nurse came in and introduced herself–LeShanta. Davey again told her we were doing hypnobirthing, and she responded by telling us she is also a certified doula and has been present for many other hypnobirths. I literally got goosebumps—we had been praying for her. God was present, and I KNEW that everything would be ok. It was like God was saying, “I have planned this out for you. Just let go.”

Walking out of the triage room, I felt a strong pressure wave. I stopped to do my breathing, and LeShanta whispered in my ear, “spread your feet apart” as she put her hand on my shoulder–a hypnobirthing cue to relax and release. Such small things, but the gentle reminders helped me so much.

When we got the to labor/delivery room, I just wanted to lay on my side and listen to my tracks. I did. I kept my eyes closed. Davey would occasionally give me sips of water or Gatorade and remind me to get up and pee. I wanted him to keep his hand on my low back during pressure waves…for some reason it felt like some of the energy went to him, which was wonderful. I remember one pressure wave was so intense that I clenched my fists. LeShanta gently opened my fingers which was enough of a reminder to me to relax.

The doctor came in around 3:00 (I think? I just remember her saying, “I’ll be back at 3:00” after I initially got to the room). She asked me to lay on my back (my thoughts: NO! PLEASE NO!). I did. She checked my dilation and just as she was checking, the strongest and by far the most painful pressure wave came on. I said, “OUCH! THIS IS THE WORST YET! OUCH!” and I heard LeShanta whisper, “Release” with her hand on my shoulder which immediately relaxed me and brought me back to my breathing. It was like the contraction was instantly not painful anymore–just pressure. That’s when I realized my hypnobirthing was VERY SERIOUSLY WORKING if I just stay in the zone. I had gotten out of the zone when the doctor was checking me.

The doctor left the room after telling me, “don’t push yet. We aren’t ready.” I laid back on my side. LeShanta told me I should put my earbuds back in because she was going to be getting the room ready and didn’t want me to get distracted. A few contractions later, I felt my body push Rosalie down. I told LeShanta, and she whispered, “that’s okay. It’s doing what it’s supposed to.”

When the doctor came back in, I had a couple gentle pressure waves, then another where my body pushed Rosalie down (very neat feeling!). The doctor immediately yelled “she’s delivering!” and had me lay on my back. Being on my back was a little miserable and not my first choice. I do wish I had told the doctor to let me birth on my side. It was so much more comfortable. I got out of my “zone” when trying to get in the right position, but LeShanta calmly whispered things in my ears that helped me get back and birth my baby easily. (voice of an angel!) The doctor mentioned the baby was being born in the water bag and she was breaking it as Rosalie was on her way out.

A few minutes later at 3:35pm and Rosalie was in my arms.

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It turns out I was 7cm when I got to the hospital and 9cm when my doctor checked me around 3pm (and when I had that intense contraction). The whole time I was at the hospital I was anticipating the dreaded “transition” that everyone talks about. I didn’t realize until my body started pushing Rosalie out that I had already passed transition. I never once had the thought of “I can’t do this anymore” which is apparently the classic sign of transition. THANK YOU, HYPNOBIRTHING.

I felt so good after her birth. It felt so normal and natural; I loved that I wasn’t hooked up to monitors and could get up whenever I needed to use the bathroom. I had been snacking and eating, and laying on my side the whole time so I wasn’t completely drained. LeShanta was so calm. She kept the lights dim, spoke in soft tones, and never showed and sense of hurry. It was great.

I told LeShanta a few days ago that Rosalie is such a calm baby, and speaking of research, she said: “Mothers who have natural, relaxed labors, and who have practiced relaxation throughout pregnancy have more peaceful and laid-back babies.” I have SOOOOO witnessed that with Rosalie. Aside from a little fussiness since her 2 month shots, she has been such an easy baby. She’s very calm and happy.

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I highly recommend preparing for labor with hypnobirthing, even if you’re 100% set on pain meds or if you need a C-section. It will help so much to get you through pressure waves and to have a relaxing pregnancy.

Being a woman is the greatest–we have both the physical strength to grow a human within us and bring that human into the world as well as the emotional strength to selflessly give our bodies so that someone else can have life.

Giving birth to my children is my greatest accomplishment and my greatest joy.

Now onto raising them…

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Happy Thankful Month

I thought I would document our life the past few months since I haven’t blogged in almost a year–

We found out we had another little blessing on its way on New Years Day after mass for the Solemnity of Mary’s Motherhood. Seton’s behavior during that mass was the worst EVER. TO. THIS. DAY. She screamed THE WHOLE TIME. I actually cried afterward and had a heavy moment of thinking, “I have no idea how to be a mother.” Then, I peed on a stick.

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A terrible morning turned into one of the best days of my life.

My pregnancy was great with a couple of hiccups. I had heavy bleeding in the first trimester with that icky flu feeling that left me permanently on the couch.

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In my second trimester, I was in a car accident that totaled my car (hello, new minivan).

And in my third trimester, I had a bad sinus infection that spread to my jaw. I went five days without being able to chew food.

The little bumps in the road made me a little more nervous and a little more sleep deprived in pregnancy, but also so grateful just to BE pregnant and have to opportunity to be a mom.

And so Rosalie Clare Hiatt joined our family on September 12. I prepared for my birthing experience with hypnobirthing which I highly recommend. I LOVED it! Rosalie’s birth was so calm and peaceful, just like she is to this day. (maybe I will write about it one day on here?)

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My mom came to town to help out with Seton. I am so glad she was here–she kept my mind off things pre labor, took care of Seton when Davey and I were in the hospital, and cooked and cleaned for us when we got home. I was so happy she was able to spend some time with me in the hospital and help us welcome Rosalie back home.

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Other notable events of the year:

We celebrated Father’s Day with a date weekend downtown Minneapolis.

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Seton turned 2 and developed a love of cupcakes and the color purple.

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We were able to be in on the Dan’s proposal to my sister, Lyssa.

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And Rex and Natalie got engaged and married (read: I have an amazing new sister!)

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November is the month we are supposed to give thanks–but I have to say there is not a night that goes by that I don’t thank God for this life I have.

Tag, Mary. You’re it.

Something happened last night I want to put down so that I remember it for years to come.

After what felt like sleeping for 5 minutes (half-in, half-out) I woke up to the sound of a loud, quick noise.

I paused to see if I would hear it again.

Seton started crying.

She stopped crying.

Silence.

She fell back to sleep, but she must have heard it, too, right? I wasn’t just dreaming?

I took a lap around the house. Nothing. Officially crazy town in my head. I could feel Davey rolling his eyes the way only a wife can feel the eye roll from her half asleep husband down the dark hallway.

Passing Seton’s door to get back to our room, I thought, “What if the noise was the sound of her head against the crib? What if she hit it in that fatal spot on the temple, and something terrible happened?” (just a normal fear, right? I don’t even know where I come up with these things.)

I decided to just peek in and check on her.

Seton awoke to the paranoid creak of her 1942 glass door handle turning ever so slowly, ever so loudly.

She was startled and began sobbing. I tried calming her, shushing her to sleep, and sending an eye roll RIGHT BACK ATCHA, DAVEY, THE NOT-SO PROTECTOR WHAT IF WE HAD AN INTRUDER OK FINE WE DONT AND I WOKE UP THE BABY BUT YOU DIDN’T DEFEND US.

Nothing worked to get Seton back to sleep. Books, songs, laying on the couch. I tried all my tricks, Davey tried all his tricks, and it seemed Seton was going to hyperventilate. I have never NOT been able to get her to stop crying. Usually just the sight of me calms her down. I was failing.

Davey turned on the light.

Seton’s sad, puffy eyes fixated on our little statue of Mary on the shelf in our room. She stopped crying.

“May-me,” she said. She pointed to Mary.

“You want Mary?” Davey said. He brought it to her. She touched her hands, her eyes, her veil. “Do you want to hold her?” Seton clutched her in her tiny hands and pulled her close to her chest. We sat there in silence for a few minutes.

I suggested to Seton to put Mary back on the shelf so Mary can go “night night.” Seton calmly placed her on the shelf and said through calmed sadness, “nigh nigh.”

I took her back in her room, changed her diaper, read a few books, then turned out her light. I felt myself tensing in fear that she would start crying again.

And she did.

WAILING.

The thought of starting the whole process over again was overwhelming. If there was a towel, I would have thrown it in. But there is no such thing as throwing in the towel on motherhood, is there?

I whispered to Seton–while simultaneously thinking she would never hear my whisper above the sound of her cries–“Mary.”

Seton stopped crying.

“Remember Mary? Hail Mary…”

Seton put her head on my shoulder, shuddered with a few deep breaths, and fell asleep.

I felt Mary’s presence reminding me that I will fail at motherhood. There will be times when I love my best, I give my all, and I still won’t be able to control my child’s joy. I won’t always be able to comfort her, stop her from crying, make her smile, calm her to sleep. I won’t be able to make everything ok.

Mary will step in where I fall short.

I feel so good about that.

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When it’s my time

Every day I am at work I get a very intimate view into someone’s life.

The tears welling in another’s eyes always ignite something in me, (empathy, is it called?) and I experience the emotions as well.

Loneliness is a familiar one.

A mom of four sits in a dimly lit room, filled with the stench of stale air, her head hung as she mourns the loss of her previous life and longs for what used to be. I kneel next to her hospital bed, and offer my hand on her lap.

I understand, I pat. Or at least I will.

When it’s my time.

“They brought things from home today.” She points to old pictures on her wall, one an image of her husband’s grave. Her smile, recognizable by her crooked teeth, beams beneath a bridal veil. Four kids all fit in her arms, on her lap.

What was your husband like?

She tells me her most fond memories, laughing at his old jokes.

The joy of her previous life pushes it’s way into her stories, and I realize she misses my life, this time in my life. She recounts her early years of marriage, raising small kids, starting their life on the farm.

Everyone says to enjoy this stage because it goes by so quickly.

I think they are really saying, “I miss it.”

It is a really good time, and I am reminded daily that it slips by until the only way we can experience the same joy again is through the sadness of missing it.

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Podcasts, clean windows, and a new rug

So I have mentioned before that I have been working a lot out in a rural Minnesota town about an hour away. It’s difficult to be far from Seton in case something were to happen, but knowing Davey is so close to her (10 mins), I feel okay about it.

At first, I thought it would only be a week of it, but a week has turned into a month, and a month has now turned into 2 months.

And I love it.

I love the patients (mostly outpatient of all ages!!!) and find myself telling Davey stories at the end of every day the way I used to when we were first married and I was working in Indy. Seriously, it’s awesome.

I also love the drive. I listen to an assortment of podcasts, but really try to make the drive a time for prayer and spiritual enrichment.

I always like Fountains of Carrots but have to admit that the past few haven’t really caught my attention, so I have dipped into the podcast of the Jennifer Fulwiler show. Sometimes I drive really slow so I can finish the podcast before work. And sometimes I pretend like I am just talking on the phone when a person in another car sees me laughing hysterically.

One of my favorites is Jen on Female Stereotypes and Empowering Women to give you a little taste.

I love it when I can learn more about faith while laughing so hard I cry….by myself.

Alright, so what else has been going on…

Poor Seton got bullied twice in a week, so I momentarily vowed that we will never be leaving the house again. A kid at the playground kicked her off the bottom of the slide. Another kid at the library pushed her down. The saddest part of it all is that in both situations, she thought the kids were running up to her to play with her, so she was really excited…then boom.

If anyone has any tips on how to react to a child who bullies your own, let me know! I scolded the one at the playground because his dad wasn’t doing anything. Then we left because I was scared he was going to do it again.

In other exciting news…

I washed the outside of each window of our house today, and I can’t believe how different it looks! I have only done this one other time in my life. It was the summer of 2007 and my grandma called to ask if I would wash the outside of her windows. Of course I did.

It made her so happy.

So I thought a lot about her today and what a great homemaker she was. In keeping up our home and raising Seton, I feel especially close to her. When I feel a rush of love at witnessing Seton accomplish something, I think to myself, “This is how Grandma felt once.”

The other day I was deleting voicemails which I NEVER do. I noticed I had one from an unknown number and couldn’t think of who it would be.

I clicked it and listened as my Grandma’s cheery voice told me hello and she loved me and missed me. She had called me from her hospital room months ago which is why it was an unknown number.

It’s a strange thing to hear the voice on your phone of someone who has passed away. It’s almost like they are there–having a conversation. I wanted to talk back and say, “Grandma!! Keep talking!! I love you, too!”

I have to think she was somehow motivating me to delete my voicemails so that she could say “Hello” and “I love you” that day.

That was one voicemail I did not delete.

I have to end on a lighter, brighter note!

Here are my clean windows:

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AND our new rug {which I love and was so worth the persuasion it took Davey to agree it was a worthwhile purchase}!

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What other house chore do I need to do and probably haven’t thought of?!

Second Anniversary

Davey and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary on September 27. People asked us what we did to celebrate, and I didn’t have just one specific answer. We really celebrated all weekend in the small ways. Sharing waffles together and going on a long walk and going to mass made the perfect anniversary for us.

I thought that I would always say that my wedding day was the happiest day of my life because on September 27, 2013, I couldn’t possibly imagine being happier.

Photo credit Honey and Salt
Photo credit Honey and Salt

I’ve been surprised that every subsequent day has brought more joy than the last.

We rewatched this video and looked through these photos to remember our wedding day.

But it’s really in the small things that we celebrate our marriage.

Seton Speaks

Hello!!! Seton is beginning to talk more, and I am having a little fun with it…

Davey saw this and said, “She doesn’t know many people…”

Whatever, Davey!!! She didn’t say “Dada!!”

😉

The pope is in the US, and I am just loving it. I am so proud to be Catholic, and I love seeing people of all faiths coming together to welcome the Pope to the US.

If you’re interested in knowing what Catholics believe, PLEASE click on this PDF I attached in this blog post. It’s a list of 10 Catholic Beliefs that is a good summary of what we believe.

Click here:

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Airplane travel with a baby 0-13 months | Tips, tricks, and packing essentials

airplane, baby, travel with baby, airplane travel with baby, plane

I have taken Seton on 10 flights (!!) in 13 months, and thought I should share some of my well acquired knowledge to save you from some awkward arguments with airport staff and dirty stares from fellow plane travelers.

Let’s start with the basics.

–When checking in, make sure you have “infant in arms” written on your boarding pass or you will have to get out of the security line and go to “Special Services” to get your ticket changed.

–If security personnel see you get in line for security, they will usually redirect you to the “family” line. If they don’t see you right away, ask one of them if there is a certain line you should go in since you have a baby. It helps EVERYONE if you don’t stand in line for 30 minutes because baby will SCREAM if you do.

–Yes, you have to fold up your stroller to put it through the x-ray.

–The person who carries baby through security will have to get their hand swiped with a small cloth by a TSA agent right after walking through.

–You will have the option to board the plane before everyone else. DON’T DO IT. Thats 30 extra minutes your baby is stuck on the airplane, so 30 minutes sooner on the flight your baby will fuss. If baby is mobile, let him crawl/walk around as much as possible before boarding the flight. BE THE LAST TO BOARD.

–Don’t bring all the toys you own. The destination is so new to baby that he will be way more entertained in a new environment than by all the toys he plays with everyday. You can make things AT your destination toys (aka if you’re going to someone’s house, you can let baby play with a spatula or plastic bowl).

PACKING

Carseat: We have both checked ours and rented one. Some (most?) airlines allow you to check a carseat for free because it is considered a traveling baby item. If you plan on checking it, I recommend putting it in a giant garbage bag with the handles exposed so it doesn’t get ripped or overly germed. You can check it at the gate or at baggage. Renting one is easy and fairly inexpensive, so if you are traveling without another adult companion, it might be the better option because you would have less to carry in the airport.

Stroller: Useful in the airport for walking long distances, but if you don’t plan on using it once you get to your destination, a baby carrier would be nice because it’s less bulk. Depending on the age of your baby, don’t forget you have to put your baby somewhere (if not able to hand baby to your adult companion) to fold the stroller up. As Seton approached 13 months, we have used an umbrella stroller that comes in a travel bag and has a basket on the bottom for extra stuff. If you have a stroller that you can clip your carseat in, then you can gate check both.

Pack ‘n Play: Depending on the airline and the mood of the person who checks you in, this is NOT considered a “travel baby item” and you can not check it for free. (WHHAAAAATT?!?!?! I know. Insane.) If that’s the case, bring it to the gate. Ask the gate attendant for a pink tag to gate check it, without showing them what the pink tag is for. They’ll assume it’s a stroller, and you’ll check it for free. You did not read that here.

Milk: You can bring any kind of milk you need for baby (read: breastmilk, formula, whole milk). If you travel with it in quantities of greater than 3 ounces, you will most likely get pulled over in the security line to have it checked. They put it in a little machine that looks like it does nothing, then hand it back to you. A couple times when I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of security, I just spread the liquid out into 3 ounce bottles and was not stopped.

Diapers: Bring them for the plane because surely baby will have a blow out during take off.

Clothes: Duh. Bring extras.

Bibs, baby food, baby utensils: If baby is eating solids, bring one plastic bib so you can wash it after each use. If you bring multiple fabric bibs, they get gross. Don’t forget baby spoons.

Diaper bag: What is in your diaper bag is often the key to whether or not your baby will go crazy on the plane. I list some things to pack in the diaper bag below. I also want to mention that we always put disinfectant wipes in one of the outside pockets of the diaper bag so that as soon as we sit down in our plane seat, we disinfect EVERY surface around us, including the little laminated pamphlets. We remove any magazine in the seat pocket because GERMS. And baby will always want the germy magazine.

SOOOOOOO

Let’s talk about the contents of the diaper bag in regards to baby’s age! These are the ages I have travelled with Seton, and these are the tips that worked for us. Seton has done awesome on all plane flights, which I attribute to the fact that she is very entertained in new environments (like every baby known to man). I say that to encourage you to continue to travel! Every baby’s personality is drastically different, and you know your baby best. Do what you wish. Maybe these tips will give you some ideas!

8 weeks: Enjoy your trip! This was the easiest flight with Seton. Chances are you will start to nurse/feed your baby at take off as recommended to avoid ear popping and baby will fall asleep. Choose your nursing position wisely as you may be stuck in that position for the entirety of the flight. Make sure baby is fairly hungry when you board the plane so he WANTS to nurse. Timing with take off can be iffy…and there are always a couple announcements that wake baby up RIGHT after they fall asleep. Bring a pacifier if you use one so if baby refuses to nurse, he still sucks away at SOMETHING during take off and landing. (Diaper bag: blanket/swaddler, paci, bibs, nursing cover, diapers, wipes, extra set of clothes)

5 months: You’ll still want to nurse/feed baby at take off and landing and he or she may fall asleep without promises of staying asleep for long. Pack a few small, noiseless toys that baby has never seen before and that are good for teething/gumming. NEW toys are the key. Baby will be way more interested in the plane seats/window/etc than his boring old toys he plays with all the time. I recommend the banana teether I have mentioned before on this blog. (Diaper bag: teethers, nursing cover, blanket, bibs, paci, diapers, wipes, extra set of clothes)

6 months: Similar to 5 months, new teething toys are important. Seton didn’t want to nurse much during these flights because she was so interested in her surroundings. The new toys kept her attention. (Diaper bag: board books, teethers, nursing cover, bibs, paci, diapers, wipes, extra set of clothes)

9 months: At this age, Seton thought the nursing cover was placed over her to play peek a boo, so THAT was awkward for the 12-year old boy sitting next to me. New books kept her attention during this flight as well as the movie playing on the 12-year old boy’s iPad. She loved snacking as well. (Diaper bag: books, new interactive toys, banana to snack on, Puffs, nursing cover, bibs, diapers, wipes, extra set of clothes)

13 months: Interactive books. Pat that bunny, baby, if it keeps you quiet. We let Seton stand on the floor at our feet because she wanted to be standing and our laps just weren’t cutting it. We were also lucky enough to get a free upgrade to the Delta comfort seats that have more leg room. It doesn’t hurt to ask if you can get a free upgrade! Our favorite interactive books: Pat the Bunny, Farmyard 1 2 3, Airplane Flight. (Diaper bag: Fruit squeezies, mandarin oranges, bananas, interactive books, quiet interactive toys, nursing cover, bibs, diapers, wipes, extra set of clothes)

This may be my longest post ever, and I still feel like I have so much to say!! I love that Seton is a little traveller and although it may take us a little longer to prepare for our trips, visiting family and friends around the country is so worth it!

Oh, and real quick advice for traveling long distances by car: drive through the night. The only way….

Do you have any advice on traveling with a baby? Leave it in the comments!

#eatdrinkandbemerton | Alexander and Kathleen Got Married

I love when my friends get Merton….I mean, MARRIED….

Kathleen’s wedding festivities were a little too fun and left me wishing I lived in a neighborhood with all my besties and we ate ChikFilA every morning and drank champagne every night.

We arrived in DC on a Wednesday…only appropriate when we will be busy with massages, manicures, pedicures, luncheons. Gotta start the weekend early!

We shared an Airbnb with some friends. Isn’t she super cute sitting on the stoop and getting bit by mosquitos?

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Seton appropriately chose her Athens, GA shirt to see all her Georgia buddies.
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While the ladies prepped for wedding, Davey and Seton went on a LOT of walks…

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Seton had her first McDonald’s double cheese burger (go ahead, mom judge me!! I’M PROUD!)

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The weekend was a whirlwind in the best sense of the word, and there was the most fitting amount of humor, emotions, nostalgia, and excitement for the future.

On the night of the rehearsal, we had an open mic for the bride and groom per the tradition in our circle of friends. I always love an open mic at the rehearsal dinner because it gives us a chance to hear what the groom’s lifelong friends have to say about him. And they said such wonderful things that seemed to fit so well with Kathleen.

Of course, when it was my turn to talk I got emotional and had an immediate urge to abort mission and find my way back to my seat. What came out was just a quick, “I love you, Kathleen. Be good to her, AJ.”

What I would have said if my emotions and stage fright didn’t get the best of me was:

Kathleen– I know that God brought us together as friends because I prayed for you before I knew you. Before going to college, I begged God to send good friends my way in Georgia. I met you the first week of school, and you asked me to walk to church with you. It was like God was telling me, “Here she is. Here is the friend you prayed for.”

I connected with you over the service work you had done in the Bronx and recognized immediately that you were someone that had a firm foundation in your faith.

Eleven years have passed since we first met, and our connection is only stronger.

In knowing you, I have become a better person.

You have shown me what it is like to be generous, especially generous of time. You drove me back to Indiana for Christmas break that first Christmas I knew you. You helped me move into my apartment in St. Louis to start PT school. You visited me after Seton’s birth on a weekend Davey was gone so I wouldn’t be lonely. These are just a few examples. You have given me so much of your time.

You have taught me what compassion is. You love with your whole heart. You yearn to make people smile, and you can make ANYONE smile. We joke that you have a way with the elderly, but really you just have a way with everyone. Just being around you is to love life.

You have made life FUN. Parties didn’t start until you arrived. Every great memory of college includes you.

Marriage is such a gift. It teaches us to be selfless and leads us to sainthood. AJ, in marrying Kathleen you will find yourself becoming a better person each minute, hour, day, and year. Be as good to her as she will be to you–

Cheers to the Mertons!

Wedding day morning started off with a southern bride’s breakfast request…

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The girls got ready in the bridal suite. Check out the view:

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She is about to walk down the aisle!! I was a little emotional here. How many times did we wonder who you would marry? How will you meet him? What will he be like? I love you, Kathleen!

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I met up with my hubby after the ceremony for a fun kidless night!

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Dancing doesn’t stop for photos.

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See the White House to the right of my head? Thanks, Obama!

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We enjoyed breakfast the following morning with another great view of DC:

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Kathleen and Alexander, I love you guys so much and am so excited to see you grow in marriage!

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