Five things I’m glad I did during my pregnancy

So, I’m a mom now, guys. Mr. Baby has made it through 5 months of life all in one piece so that officially makes me a parenting expert now, right?

giphy

Jokes! I often feel like I have no idea what I’m doing!

I have two mottos/mantras for myself as a mom:

wisewords-gentle

I don’t know the original source but I saw this on Instagram & I now repeat this to myself constantly.

That being said, I wanted to write out while it was still somewhat fresh some reflections about my pregnancy. This isn’t an advice column. This isn’t implying that what was right for me is right for anyone else. But I know that I might forget all of this if I don’t write it down so … here it goes.

Five things I’m glad I did during my pregnancy

  1. Take classes at the hospital – Classes helped me feel a lot less anxious. First of all, even if you don’t take classes (which did cost money but I felt was worth the investment), I do highly recommend a hospital tour. Ours offered a free walk through of the labor and delivery floor and calmed my nerves a lot. The nurse even told us exactly where we should park and what doors to enter through so my weird panic nightmares of wandering a hospital with no idea of where to go and no one around to help me subsided.

giphy (1)

The baby classes we took were called Lamaze Plus, which was four weeks of lamaze and information about the actual labor part of things; one week of baby care; one week of breastfeeding.

Important things I took away from those 6 weeks:

  • What signs to look for that labor is starting
  • Your water breaking is not like it is in the movies
  • What kinds of things would be important to me in a birth plan
  • The fact that a birth plan is just that – a plan! If things don’t go exactly as planned, it’s okay. It doesn’t mean you failed if you wanted to try a natural birth and end up needing an epidural or a C-section. The goal is to do whatever you have to do to get a heathy baby out of you!
  • Breathing techniques
  • How to swaddle a baby
  • Breastfeeding is natural but not always easy
  • Breast milk storage guidelines (we got a helpful print out)

I think another important factor was that Andy was there with me. He learned a lot but I think it also helped prepare him for being in the delivery room with me. His stance early in my pregnancy was that he didn’t want to see anything that was going on and being kind of skeeved out by the idea of labor. But after the classes and once the day came, he was right there, helping to hold my legs as I pushed and watching our son’s head crown.

2. Pinterest research – Listen. I know that Pinterest can be a place that can make you feel like a horrible person because you aren’t, like, making your own homemade organic toilet paper. But it did help me and might help you if you know that you have to sift through some of the crazy to find the gold. Here’s what I found most helpful from my pregnancy Pinteresting:

  • Suggestions on what to register for and what to skip. Sure, some of those posts are for the kind of rich ladies who can drop bank on thousand dollar prams or are sponsored for Dr. So and So’s Booger Rags or whatever but if you click through enough of those, especially some from sites like The Bump and not just “mommy blogs”, you’ll get a good idea of what’s standard and what you might not need.
  • What to pack in the hospital bag. I wayyyy overpacked but it gave me peace of mind to pack those bags in the weeks leading up to my delivery.
  • Reading up about what to expect postpartum was eye-opening. Like, that is something I had NO clue about before I got pregnant and wowza. It might freak some people out but it helped me prep psychologically for everything that was going to happen physically.

giphy (3)

  • Super prepared mamas on Pinterest inspired me to create a “labor action plan” for scenarios like the following, copied from the actual document I typed up for myself and husband:

If I’m at work when my water breaks or contractions get serious: 1) Call Andy. 2) Try to note COAT (color, odor, amount and time) re: water breaking and/or start timing contractions. 3) Notify manager I’m leaving. 4) If able, drive myself home. If unable, ask available co-worker to drive me home.

My plan included the work scenario, “If I’m home and Andy’s not home”; “What to do once we’re both home and things look serious” and then steps for my husband: Driving to and parking at the hospital; Check-in & what paperwork we might need; Contacting family members to let them know I’m in labor and to go take care of our dog; what to bring in from the car and what to leave in the car; and to say things like this to me to get me through it:

giphy (2)

3. Stockpile shopping – Another idea I got from Pinterest and I’m so glad I did. Stocking up for both the baby and for things for our house helped satiate that nesting instinct that they say kicks in at the end but I feel like I had during my entire pregnancy.

For Mr. Baby, I started buying diapers and wipes pretty regularly on shopping trips, starting in my 2nd trimester. I only bought when I had coupons or there was a sale (Cartwheel FTW, I love Target) so I didn’t feel like I was breaking the bank. I had no clue what brand we would like best so I bought Pampers, Huggies, Seventh Generation, Babyganics, Target brand, Babies R Us brand, and Luvs. I used this post I found on Pinterest as a rough rule of thumb re: pricing and how many diapers we would need and had a good supply of Newborn and Size 1 diapers and a large basket full of wipes by the time he was born. Mind you, he was a 9 lb 3 oz baby so we could have jumped right to size 1 diapers (many people on the internet suggest not buying Newborn size at all for this reason) but even though he was a big baby, the size 1 seemed huge on him at first and newborn worked for us for the first month. We only had to go out and buy diapers maybe … twice… during my maternity leave. With my shopping and what we received from showers, we were set until he moved into size 2 diapers.

giphy (4)

I wouldn’t have thought to do this if it weren’t for Pinterest but having household goods fully stocked was a lifesaver. First, I knew that I was not going to want to leave the house in the dead of winter with a newborn. Second, I knew that I wanted Andy to get home from work ASAP and not spend time out doing needless shopping and away from us. So, I decided to fill our closets and pantry with:

  • Mega rolls of toilet paper and paper towels
  • Multipacks of tissues
  • Bottles of hand sanitizer for every stinking room in the house
  • Gallon jug of hand soap
  • Dishwasher detergent
  • Laundry detergent
  • Trash bags
  • Slow cooker liners
  • Toothpaste
  • Dog food
  • Pretzels and other snacks that wouldn’t go bad right away
  • Cleaning supplies (many of which we found at the Dollar Tree – great resource for this kind of stockpile shopping)

4. Freezer stocking – I was lucky enough to have a friend organize a girls’ night at my house where they prepared freezer crockpot meals for us and this was AWESOME. While we didn’t eat them all the time and not every recipe was a winner, it was such a relief to know that they were always there if we needed something because God knows, I was not in the mood to cook during the last few weeks of pregnancy and the majority of my maternity leave. Plus, a few turned out great – Lemon Pepper Chicken, Mini Stuffed Peppers and Chicken Tacos were our favorites.

5. SLEEP – People would ask how I was feeling during my pregnancy and I would often respond, “I’m tired” and the parents in the group would always say, “Oh, just you wait.” Man. They were right. Newborn baby tired is a whole new level of tired. I’m so glad that I took the time to just be lazy and sleep in and go to bed early and relax while I could because I’ve been operating on chunks of sleep, ranging from 30 minutes to maybe 6 hours max, for the past 5 months.

giphy (5)

Me, most days.

12828545_10207460588505985_3596797680347722533_o

Worth it for this dude. Love you, little man.

Coming soon: What I wish I had done during my pregnancy & what helped me get through morning sickness and other pregnancy ailments.

How-To Create Your Own Customized “Guess Who” Game

Last Christmas, my best friend Melissa gave me an amazing 90s-themed load of awesome.

First of all, it was in a Caboodle.

 Image

Stored inside was a handwritten note, as if we were pen pals in 1997. It was folded into a triangle, very authentic to the era.

 Image

The Caboodle was stuffed with the following goodies:

  • An assortment of Christmas themed hair scrunchies
  • A bunch of slap bracelets
  • Boondoggle

 Image

 Image

Needless to say, my best friend is kind of a big deal.

We try to be creative and fun when gift giving so I wanted to think up something fun for her birthday this year. I went scrolling through Pinterest for ideas.

And I had to bypass some crazy but found this and decided that this looked pretty cool:

 Image

As is often the case with Pinterest, the pin does not link to anything connected to the image. In this case, it linked to Hello Giggles. But a quick Pinterest and Google search found a few other sources.

Their instructions helped get me started but many seemed complicated and required Photoshop, which I don’t have access to. I created mine using Facebook, Fotor and mod podge.

Step #1: Gather Materials

Find a “Guess Who” game board with all pieces and cards intact. I was lucky enough to have one at home that I didn’t mind parting with but I’d recommend scouting Goodwill or eBay for a classic board.

 Image

The newer editions just aren’t the same. They’ll still work, with some tweaks, so if that’s what you’ve got to work with, head to Target (or some inferior store, whatever) and buy one.

Keep in mind that my instructions are based on the 1987 original “Guess Who” board.

Step #2: Choose Your Cast of Characters

Pick 24 characters. For Melissa’s gift, I selected a mix of family, friends and some wild card inside jokes.

  • 3 family members
  • 12 mutual friends (including myself and the birthday girl)
  • 6 friends of hers, that I know of but don’t know well/haven’t met
  • 1 pet cat, Morris
  • 1 Pigeon
  • 1 member of Hanson (Taylor)

This includes a variety of ages, races, genders and distinguishing features. I was debating doing a board of just celebrities and musicians but this time around (ha, Hanson reference) – I used mostly people that Melissa knew in real life.

Step #3: Facebook Stalk

Find close up head shots of your 24 subjects. I used Facebook and searched through profile pictures. If I didn’t find anything there, I went looking through individual albums. This was one of the most time consuming steps. It was especially a long process for the people that I am not Facebook friends with, since I was relying solely on pictures available through their public profile (often very limited or non-existent) or pictures that Melissa had taken of them.

This would be much faster if you chose to use fictional characters or famous people, since a Google Image search should sufficiently do the job.

Step #4: Format

Take the saved files from your computer and using a photo editing program, size them down to around 2 in. x 1 in. rectangles. I was not very specific about this process and the measurements are probably different depending on what edition of the game board you are using.

For my purposes, I found it easiest to work with the free photo editing site Fotor. Using the Collage feature, I selected Template > 8+ and chose the 3 x 3 grid template that looks like this:

Image

I added photos from the saved folder in my computer and started dragging and dropping into the squares.

 Image

But I didn’t want the pictures facing that direction so I used the editing tools to rotate the images and zoom in, where needed. You can also add a few special effects (like Instagram filters), if that’s what you’re into.

 Image

There’s a fancy “T” button to add text so I dropped in names on each tile.  Once complete, you can manipulate the image so it’s rotated in the direction you want and save it to your computer.

Here’s what my finished product looked like:

 Image

I know. No puppy superstar Captain Boots, Hipster Little Mermaid or President Whiskers here like you saw in the example screenshots but look – There’s me in the top right and the birthday girl in the bottom left! The rest in this grid are some of our beautiful best friends – including my husband in the bottom right. 🙂

Repeat this process 3 times so you end up with 24 pictures. You only need 6 images for the last grid (or you can include 3 extra people, if you want some backup options.)

Step #5: Print

I created these on a Windows computer so instructions would need to be adapted for Mac users.

Open the first grid picture in Windows Photo Viewer. Select Print and choose your printer, paper size and quality. I left mine all at the defaults (main printer, letter, 600 dpi). You may want to print on a firmer paper like a low grade cardstock. However, I printed on regular printer paper and it worked fine for me.

In the right column, change the setting to 4 x 6 in. (2). At the bottom, change “Copies of each picture” to 2 and make sure that the “Fit picture to frame” option is unchecked.

Print 2 copies of each page. Repeat process for other grids. You will end up with 6 pages of printed pictures, with 2 grids per sheet.

Step #6: Cut

Cut out each person’s tile. I found it helpful to create 4 piles to sort the tiles as I was cutting:

  • Red board
  • Blue board
  • Yellow cards
  • Box/Extras

Make sure that each person ends up in all 4 piles so when you’re finished cutting, you’ll have 24 faces in each pile.

Step #7: Paste

Using an adhesive (I used an adhesive roller that I had left over from assembling wedding invitations), secure the “yellow card” face pile to the yellow draw pile of cards that players will choose from. You’ll find that the grid is not identically sized to the faces on the cards but it should cover up the cartoon characters sufficiently. Paint a thin layer of Mod Podge on top of each yellow card to help seal the picture in place. I’d recommend using a Mod Podge for paper, nothing too heavy duty or spiffed up (no glitter Mod Podge needed here).

Gently remove the Who-vians… Wait, sorry, that’s something totally different. I mean, gently remove the cartoon Guess Who faces from the red and blue game boards. You should be able to slide out the little cardboard pieces from the plastic holders pretty easily. Use the adhesive to affix your printed faces onto the game pieces. If there is any overhang, you may need to carefully trim the edges to make it fit. The only real troubleshooting I had to do was when a picture was slightly off center and came close to cutting off part of someone’s eye or if they had a long name and it was cutting it close trimming so I didn’t cut any letters. I didn’t Mod Podge the game board pieces because I felt like they weren’t ‘man handled’ as much as the yellow cards or face the wear and tear like the outside of the box.

Speaking of the outside of the box, the leftover pile of pictures are extras. Here’s how I would use them:

  1. If you’re using the old edition of the game like I was, you can cut out your pictures to cover the cartoon characters you see on display on the front. Here’s what my box ending up looking like:

 Image

  1. In retrospect, I think I also would have liked to create a “Master Cast of Characters” insert sheet, with pictures of each person.
  2. Or you can just throw the extra away! Or stick them on your calendar to mark their birthday. Or throw them up in the air like confetti. Do what you want. Your call.

Crafty side note: I also Mod Podged the outside of the box. As a general rule when working with Mod Podge, make sure to allow time for things to dry properly before stacking (for example, don’t pile up the yellow playing cards when they are still wet) and watch out for wrinkling edges or air bubbles.

Step #8: Gift and Enjoy!

Whether it’s a gift for a friend or family member; a classroom tool; or just some fun for yourself – enjoy! Mix up questions like, “Does your person wear glasses?” with “Can your person recite all of the Presidents in order?” and “Does your ‘person’ really really really want to drive a bus?”

 Image