Happy Heavenly Birthday to Our Daughter, Hope <3

Wishing you where here today,

for even just a while.

So I could say happy birthday

and see your loving smile.

The only gifts today will be

the sweet memories you left behind

of laughter joy and happiness.

That echo on, in my mind.

I’ll gaze upon pictures.

I’ll think of you with love.

And hope you’re doing fine

in heaven up above.

May our friends & family in heaven

hold you closely and sing you a song.

And I’ll be sending

a million hugs and kisses

today and all year long.

-Anonymous

Dear Hope,

Hope I will never forget this day. The day your Daddy got to hold you for the first time before me. I am glad we have this moment of the two of us holding you for the first time in a picture. This still moment captured in a picture can not speak enough how proud we were this day.

It definitely was a happy moment in our lives. A reminder that we never gave up “Hope” on you even when Doctors doubted that it was even possible for you to make it to delivery. God had a different plan and we trusted in him. Because we trusted and had faith in God, he gave us 11 months to enjoy before he called you home for his purpose.

Today Hope… you and your big sister Abigail would have both been 5 years old together. Our two Irish twins, only 10 months apart. In the 11 months you blessed us on this earth you taught our entire family so much about love. You have given us a strength to endure any and everything that life can and will ever hurdle at us. Because of you, we are stronger.

We love and miss you always.

Love,

Daddy, Mommy, Abigail, and Baby Andrew ❤

Top 5 Breastfeeding Essentials & Product Reviews

One of the few breastfeeding pictures I captured.

So many think that breastfeeding is simple. It is far from simple. This pregnancy with our third child was the longest that I have ever been able to breastfeed. Our son will be 10 months in two days and I was blessed to have had enough milk produced and stored to be able to still feed him breast milk throughout his first year.

Having multiple reoccurrences of mastitis, which is an inflammation of the breast tissue which leads to infection, commonly affecting breastfeeding mothers made it a greater challenge. Along my breastfeeding journey there were 5 top breastfeeding essentials that really contributed to my success and the convenience of breastfeeding.

Top 5 Breastfeeding Essentials & Product Reviews

1. Spectra S2

Spectra S2 Hospital Grade Pump

Selecting the perfect pump is extremely important whether you are deciding to exclusively pump or not. I have had multiple pumps including: Medela Pump in Style Advance and Ameda Finesse. Each had their pro’s and con’s.

The Medela Pump in Style Advance lasted 5 years and still works but I only would use it at this point as a back up pump. It’s a open system pump which means milk has the ability to flow back into the tubing which is not good at all. Also, the suction has lost its power over the years.

My Ameda Finesse is a closed system pump with decent suction but overheated on me after only 3 weeks of use, causing me to have to order a replacement. I also personally feel like the suction is not adequate enough to completely empty my breast with pumping, as a result I experienced mastitis which is a terrible experience to endure.

Having developed mastitis made me invest in a hospital grade pump and I read so many great reviews about the Spectra S1 and S2. The primary difference in the pump is price since the S1 is portable and the S2 is not. I decided to purchase the S2 for $50 cheaper and simply purchased a car charger for the pump so I can still pump on the go when traveling and/or commuting. This pump has been one of the best investments that I could have made. The suction is great and has various cycle and vacuum settings making it more custom to your body needs to remove milk efficiently.

2. Pacasso Handsfree Nursing & Pumping Bra

I purchased this particular pumping bra on Amazon and while a handsfree pumping bra is essential, I do not recommend this particular brand and design. If you are going to be pumping it is crucial to be handsfree. You will highly dread the experience if you have to sit up there and hold two flanges for 30+ minutes at a time. It gets old very quick and is a tiresome task. When I am pumping I need to be able to relax while pumping and a handsfree pumping bra makes it possible.

However, this brand is extremely uncomfortable. The design of the opening is very uncomfortable when it rubs against your breast. Also, the opening flaps overlap awkwardly and can irritate your nipples prior to and after pumping. I am not satisfied with this brand and will be researching another brand so I can order a new pumping bra that caters more to comfort.

3. Momcozy Breast Pump & Diaper Bag

I definitely needed a pump bag to tote around my breast pump when traveling and on the go. This particular bag had great reviews on Amazon 4.5/5 and looks great. Once I received it in the mail the quality was everything that I had hoped for. The material is durable and it is well designed with openings on each side of the bag that can be used to access your pump. This pump and diaper bag is very spacious and waterproof. It also is large enough to fit most breast pump brands.

I love the color (grey) as it looks very professional. This particular pump bag is great for those who are returning to work. Since it is discrete, no one would ever know what you have inside, making it perfect for the workplace setting. This tote also includes 3 insulated slots within the side of the bag that can be used to store bottles of milk. It even includes a laptop pocket. Overall, I am very impressed with this bag and it serves its purpose well.

4. LaVie Lactation Massage Roller

LaVie Lactation Massage Roller & Spectra S2 Pump

After being diagnosed with mastitis and dealing with chronic clogged milk ducts I needed something to help me improve my breast milk flow in order to prevent clogs. I was not the best at hand massaging prior to pumping and nursing. This tool has been a lifesaver! This lactation massage roller does exactly what it was intended to do: alleviate engorgement, and plugged milk ducts. It’s easier and more convenient to use this massage roller rather than use your hands, making it easier to empty both breast efficiently while giving your hands a break.

5. Sunflower Lecithin 1200 mg

This supplement was recommended to me by many other breast feeding mothers. This supplement is used to prevent and aid with clogged milk ducts. I take 2 pills daily at night before bed as a preventative and 4 pills a day if I suspect I have a clog. This supplement helped with thinning my fatty milk in order to remove clogged milk ducts and promote milk flow.

~

Breastfeeding Support

If you are struggling on your breastfeeding journey and are in need of breastfeeding support please reach out to you local La Leche League. This organization offers support all around the world. Some of my greatest friend and supporters I met through my local La Leche League.

Click here to locate your local chapter

DISCLAIMER: This is not a paid sponsorship. Before using any supplement please consult with your healthcare provider. What worked for me many not work for you.

A Mother’s Day to Remember: My Birth Story (Baby #3)

Friday, May 10, 2019: I followed up with my OB/GYN for my weekly appointment. I was still only 2 cm dilated and about 60% effaced. With Jr. due date quickly approaching in 4 days I began to feel overwhelmed. Despite knowing that due dates are only predicted estimates of when baby is expected to come I began to get concerned since my next appointment would be on his due date, Tuesday, May 14, 2019 and my OB/GYN said he would recommend for me to have a scheduled c-section around 41 weeks if I failed to progress. He explained to me that despite having a successful vaginal delivery with my first that inductions are not an ideal option after having a c-section as it puts the mother at an increased risk for a potential uterine rupture with the medicines they would use for induction. While he explained what to expect, he did remind me to stay positive since things can change quickly.

Before I left my appointment, since it was Mother’s Day weekend he handed me a beautiful Pink Rose and wished me a Happy Mother’s Day and I told him that it would be even nicer if baby boy made his arrival. He smiled-laughed and told me to be careful what you wish for.

Later Friday evening, we decided to get our grocery shopping out of the way since we didn’t know what the coming week would bring. After googling ways to induce labor, I decided to pick up some more Dates which reportedly softens the cervix and pineapples. I figured why not give it a try. I had already been walking a minimum of 3-4 miles per day and doing 10 squats each time I would go to the bathroom. All methods recommended to move baby further down into the birthing canal and begin labor. [I can’t say for sure if these methods worked or if it was just naturally the right time for baby.]

Saturday, May 11, 2019: I woke up around 7:30 am and heard my husband scuffling around in our room and putting his clothes on. It’s the weekend so it’s not shocking that he was getting out of bed this early (he never sleeps in). I asked him where was he going and he told me that he was going to go get a oil change. I asked him, “If I ride with you can you stop me to get some Dunkin’ Donuts coffee on the way back home?” He said “sure”, which was very surprising since he had been discouraging me from drinking coffee throughout my pregnancy.

While at Valvoline, I just kept thinking to myself what if my water broke in the middle of the mechanics changing his oil. I even joked with him about this. I mean I know they are quick with changing oil but they wouldn’t be that quick when we are in a state of panic. The oil change was a success and we made it to Dunkin’ Donuts for my medium Caramel Cappuccino Blast. (favorite drink)

Before heading home hubby wanted to stop at CVS to check to see if they had his beard products on sale. I normally would chose to stay in the car but I was determined to hit my hourly step goal so I decided to go in CVS with him. CVS did not have what he was looking for and as we began walking out of the store I kept thinking about the urge I had to use the bathroom and I felt a little trickle of water between my legs. As I set down in the car the trickle became a little heavier and I could noticeably feel that my underwear were soaked. I looked at my Husband Andrew and I told him, “I think my water just broke”.

He looked at me with concern and asked, “are you sure”? I told him that I wasn’t sure but what I do know is that I still have the urge to use the bathroom so I know I didn’t pee on myself. We rushed home (thankfully we was not far). I immediately went to the bathroom to pee and check my underwear (completely soaked). As I cleaned myself up and put on new underwear and pants I called the nurse’s advice line and described to them what just happened. While talking to them on the phone my fresh underwear began to soak up again with fluid. At that point it was definitely confirmed that this was not a simple case of urinary incontinence – my water had indeed broke!

My OB/GYN was contacted and I was advised to make my way to the hospital. At this point, my husband, sister in law, and daughter were all scuffling around the house trying to get everything that they needed. All of us in disbelief that it was really happening – in a few hours we would be welcoming our son into the world.

Upon arriving at the hospital, the L&D Nurse checked the leaking fluid and confirmed that it was amniotic fluid. The on call OB/GYN was the same doctor that cared for me when I had the stomach flu a few months ago and she was wonderful. The odds of her being on call this very day was unbelievable. God had everything to do with the planning and timing. She came in to check my dilation and I was at 3 cm by the time I arrived to the hospital. She asked what my birthing plans were and I told her that I wanted to try for a VBAC and she told me that, that was a great choice. She explained to me that I have a 99% chance of success given my history and she did not suspect that I needed to be induced. She was allowed me to labor on my own and my body did just that.

She came back to check my progress every 3 hours and I dilated 1 cm every 3 hours. It definitely was a long time waiting but things began to progress faster as the time went on. I opted for my epidural at 4 cm and it worked pretty well but my left side and leg did not numb up as well as my right did. At 10:30 pm, the doctor checked me and I was at 7 cm. She informed me that should would be back in about 3 hours and will introduce me to the other doctor coming on for her. I was disappointed to hear this because I really wanted her to delivery baby boy.

Immediately, after she left the room not even 5 minutes had past and I started feeling intense pressure and as my mother in law and sister in law watched the monitor my contractions were coming less than 1 minute a part. In my first pregnancy the last time I started complaining about pressure Abby was already crowning on her own. I really am starting to believe that it’s something about these McKinney babies that they want to deliver themselves into this world. My hubby pulled back the blankets to make sure the baby’s head was not crowning but he was too terrified to really look. He immediately, told me to press the button for the Nurse. When the nurse walked in she looked at me and heard my complaints of pressure and wanting to poop and push – she called the doctor and began setting up the room for delivery. She knew at that point (10:45 pm) that it was time.

Once the doctor came in she check me again and in just 15 minutes I went from 7 to 10 cm dilated. Baby boy was ready to make his arrival. After about 8 pushes baby boy, Andrew Jr. entered the world on 5/11/19 @ 11:02 pm, weighing 7 lbs 8 oz. and 21 1/2 inches long.

He arrived right on time for Mother’s Day and it’s true- be careful about what you wish for. ❤ This will forever be a Mother’s Day that I will never forget.

FLWE ❤

Upcoming Post: PP Weight Update

Home Update & Thank You’s

This post is long overdue, but as you can see our first week home has consisted of a lot of sleeping and snuggling with our newborn (Baby Andrew).

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I would like to thank everyone who has reached out via phone and social media congratulating us on our newest edition. Thank you for the gifts we are still receiving.

A special thank you to all of my husbands co-workers for surprising him at work that Friday before baby’s unexpected arrival with a baby shower. You all were right on time with planning this celebration. We truly appreciate each of you for your kindness and thoughtfulness. Far too often, Daddy’s are not celebrated like us Mommy’s. It really means a lot to each of us.

~

After having hubby home with me for a week I am not looking forward to him returning to work tomorrow. He is also not looking forward to it as well. He has been such a great help with our little Jr. and around the house as we settled into our new routines. I was totally surprised at all of the help he has been with assisting me with managing breast feeding and pumping to increase my supply of breast milk. But oh man, he gets a little crazy when he controls the speed and suction of the breast pump. I felt like he was coaching me in a marathon- “up the speed- up the suction- repeat”. Needless to say, my supply is in and heavy- all thanks to him. Pushing me to limits as usual, even when I don’t have the will.

Since I am breast feeding exclusively that has been part of the reason why I have taken a hiatus from blogging and social media. The first few weeks are a challenge when trying to meet the demands of a hungry baby, especially until your supply comes in. Skin to skin and bonding overall with your newborn is crucial to your success. I was determined to breastfeed 100%. With our first daughter Abby, I attempted but gave up shortly after due to frustration of not being able to get her to latch well. With our second daughter Hope, I pumped exclusively and then bottle fed her. I was so proud that Jr. latched immediately after delivery when we had our first skin to skin moment.

Since adjusted, I will be resuming my normal blogging schedule this week. So, please be sure to remain connected for updates: LIKE, SHARE, SUBSCRIBE.

~

Upcoming Post Topic: My Birthing Story – [TO BE POSTED THIS WEEK]

FLWE ❤

International Bereaved Mother’s Day

International Bereaved Mother’s Day was created by Carly Marie Dudley in 2010, to honor Mother’s Internationally who have loved and lost. This day is observed on the first Sunday in May. This day was created to uplift and celebrate Mothers who often feel left out on Mother’s day. As a Mother who has suffered losses I really appreciate the thoughtfulness of this day to honor us. I believe that we become Mother’s at conception and acceptance (biological and non-biological). Whether your children are living or have gained their wings, each are counted for.

With Mother’s Day approaching next Sunday I want women to be reminded of what “motherhood” truly is: the state or experience of having or raising a child. Mother’s day should celebrate all women who have conceived, birthed, lost, adopted, raised, and/or trying to conceive. Being a Mother develops in your heart and is far greater than what we observe on Mother’s Day.

FLWE ❤

Happy 5th Birthday to Our Wild Child

Today, we celebrate you- Abigail Joann (Abby). Our Taurus baby. Our wild child.

For those of you that do not know Abby, here are some words to describe her character:

  • Stubborn = Determined
  • Loud = Rambunctious
  • Animated = Passionate
  • Hyper = Exhilarating
  • Chatty = Conversational
  • Wild = Free
  • Independent = Self Reliant
  • Personable = Charming

That’s just a few words to describe our powerhouse of a child. While some of her traits are as sweet as honey they can also be as sour as vinegar. Yet, every piece of her attitude and personality is what makes her, Abby. There is a positive behind every trait that she poses. However, sometimes at the age of 5 you haven’t quite figured out how to use your traits for the greater good. With continuous moral coaching and developing Abby will be able to use her traits in all positive ways in order to make the world we live in a better place. Her charisma will be inspiring to others as she exemplifies being determined, rambunctious, passionate, exhilarating, conversational, free, self reliant and charming.

Again, Happy Birthday to our powerhouse! Mommy and Daddy are oh so proud to be your parents.

FLWE ❤

Pre-Kindergarten Reading Challenge: Abby’s List of Books Read

Here is a look into Abby’s list of books read:

Our local library has a great handout with books listed for preschool, pre-reading books, and beginning to read books. There is a challenge to read 100 books before Kindergarten and we have committed to checking each book, one by one off our our list. Since Abby finds so much excitement in her weekly library visits this was the perfect way to get her prepared to start Kindergarten in the Fall.

Currently, Abby checks out 5-7 books per week and we read each night. When I saw these handouts at the library a few weekends ago I knew instantly that it was a great way to prepare her for Kindergarten in the coming months. I still let her pick and choose her own books based off of what she would like to read and learn about. Independence and choice is something we value greatly. By allowing Abby to select her own books we have noticed an increase in her excitement towards reading and story time.

In our nightly reading sessions I also incorporate reading from our bible story time book. Each story has a moral and it really has been beneficial in emphasizing the importance of character development. She is learning about character development and doesn’t even realize it; the life lessons learned during our bible story time are important and relates directly to the teaching of faith in our household.

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With baby #3 on board I will definitely will be exposing Jr. to books early and continue to use story time as a time for bonding and learning. I already have plans to attend baby story time, an event at our local library when I am out on maternity leave.

I will continue to keep my readers updated on our reading journey. With Sunday approaching- Abby has already bagged her library books from this past week and they are ready to be returned. Hopefully, I will be able to finish reading the book I checked out a few weeks ago (How to Raise Kind Kids by Thomas Lickona) in the next week before Jr. arrival. I have a few other books on my list of books to read that I want to check out while I am on leave.

FLWE ❤

35 Week Appointment Update & Jr. Due Date Predictions: Friends & Family

Today I am 35 weeks and 3 days. My weekly check up went well. I gained 2 lbs since Wednesday (177 lbs) and my blood pressure has been great. I have not dilated yet and baby is still in position and preparing for his big day. His heart rate and activity level is normal and to be expected. I will continue to check in weekly with my OB/Gyn until Jr. arrival. I really can’t imagine him waiting until his due date or after. I have been experiencing so much pressure and sleeping has been a challenge for me. It’s nearly impossible to get comfortable at night, as I toss from one side to the other.

After my appointment today I treated myself to a pedicure. This will probably be my last pedicure until after Jr. I chose a pretty blue in honor of baby boy. Self care is so important and is something I refuse to neglect.

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Thank you for everyone who participated by commenting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with your predictions on when Jr. will arrive in the coming weeks. See below for everyones predictions. I can not wait to see who is correct or close. Currently, 4 weeks and 4 days left to go until my estimated due date 5/14/19.

Pregnancy: Week 31 (Update)

Today I had a repeat ultrasound to measure Jr. ❤ and ensure that he is growing well. It’s safe to say that despite me losing body fat in my arms and legs and only gaining a few pounds during this pregnancy- Jr. is packing on his baby fat well. At this rate Jr. is going to be chunky. My OB/GYN predicted correctly- babies are like parasites and they will take everything from you. I wasn’t too worried because my belly seems to be getting bigger and bigger by the second.

Here is a profile picture of Jr. ❤ – Look at those cheeks:

Jr’s Face Profile

This is the best profile picture the tech was able to get today. Apparently, our little bean is in position (head down) and his head is deeply lodged into my pelvis. This was not a shocker since I have been experiencing an increase in pelvic pressure over the past two days. To explain, it feels like I have a yoni egg the size of a soft ball between my legs. I heard the more kids you have, the harder it is to carry since your muscles weaken with each pregnancy. Not sure, how true this is. (Mother of multiples? Share your opinion in the comments)

31 weeks & 4 days

At 31 weeks and 4 days, Jr. is measuring 33 weeks and 6 days. I definitely will be packing my hospital bag this weekend just to be safe. I have been experiencing more frequent braxton hicks but nothing too concerning. I feel like a professional at this point and can not be fooled by false alarms. With our first Andrew and I had so many false alarms. I think we were just overly excited and overly anticipated our first daughter, Abigail’s arrival. Andrew will always remember the one time he ran a red light to get to me because I thought I was in labor with Abigail. (hahaha. . . he still has the red light camera picture and ticket invoice that he is saving for her to repay when she gets a job lol)

With our second daughter, Hope at 34 weeks I knew the morning that I woke up to go to my doctors appointment that it would be the day she would arrive. I really believe as a woman you have the capability of being so in-tuned with your body, especially during pregnancy that you know when the time has come. So, Hope’s arrival was of no surprise for me.

For this third go around I am just riding the wave and we all are patiently waiting for Jr. to make his appearance in the next month or so.

Due date: 5/14/19 – Comment below a guess of the date Jr. will arrive

FLWE ❤