Valentine's Day Outfit Inspo + 5 Date Night Ideas...

I personally LOVE Valentine’s Day - but Chris and I never do anything crazy or over the top. It’s an excuse for another date night, which we desperately need, so we’ll take it! We usually skip gifts and just grab dinner at our favorite restaurant. I thought it would be fun to come up with a few creative ideas for how to spend V-Day with your special someone this year!

Here are some ideas / ways you could celebrate!

  1. Take a dance class. This is something I’ve been wanting to do with Chris because we’ve never done it and I think it would be a really romantic/fun wait to connect! It doesn’t have to be a weekly thing - but maybe just a “one-off” if there is a studio in your area offering one class or something! I’m sure around Valentine’s Day you’d be able to find something like this…maybe a little ballroom class or salsa?! I’d love to learn that with Chris!

  2. Have a “date night” at home. Can’t get a sitter? Order take out, grab a bottle of wine and have a romantic dinner post-bedtime! Side note: If you live in the Belmont/Watertown area - we LOVE doing take-out from Cha Yen Thai Cookery! It’s our go-to spot and I highly HIGHLY recommend the Khao Soi Brisket with a nice bottle of red or a crisp white ;)

  3. Go out for a dessert sampler date and champagne. Skip dinner, go to your favorite restaurant (or one with the best desserts) and order every single one off the menu! This is right up my alley since I loveeee dessert so much - and I think Chris would really enjoy this too.

  4. Take a cooking class. I’ve been DYING to do this because I know there has to be amazing cooking classes in Boston! I think it would be super romantic to cook something together while drinking wine + then enjoy the masterpiece at the end. A private cooking class would be ideal - an for me, and Italian meal would be what I would go for :)

  5. Throw a Galentine’s Day bash! This is my personal favorite and probably something I may do this year considering Chris will be on the road for work! Target has the absolute CUTEST decorations to throw the perfect party for your girls. It would be fun to have a hot cocoa bar and obviously champagne while watching the girliest chick-flick ever created. My vote would be “To All The Boys I Loved Before” on Netflix. If you haven’t seen it…it’s a must-see!

    I’m always curious to know if y’all celebrate this holiday - because I know some people who just skip it all together. What do you guys do?!

xx, Ashley

Malia Skye: Birth Story...

 
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It's been the most magical week and five days since little Malia Skye entered our world! She fits so seamlessly into our family, as if we've known her all along. I've called her a "unicorn baby" many times because of her sweet disposition and champion sleep habits. Big sister London has been a champ as well. We had no idea what to expect but I must say, we have been so pleasantly surprised and she has exceeded our expectations. Watching London take on her new role with enthusiasm is a big reason why this past week has been as amazing as it has been. I'm just so proud of her. Of course, she has her moments because it is after all a massive transition - but overall, it's been a pretty smooth adjustment :)

I wanted to share Malia's birth story because I've gotten lots and LOTS of questions on Instagram about being induced (i.e. why, how it was, etc.), whether I got an epidural or not (I DID!), if I'm breastfeeding (NOPE!), and more - so I thought I'd put it all here :) 

The Induction

Both of our babies were born on their due dates because we decided (in conjunction with our doctor) that we would be induced. With London, honestly, a lot of it came down to timing and Chris' job. He travels basically the entire month of July, and since London's due date was July 1st, our doctor suggested we be induced. She knew mommy + baby were both healthy at 40 weeks and that I was pretty stressed about Chris being gone so soon after the birth. We were all for it considering we could plan the time/day of induction and plan with our family so they could be here to experience it!

Fast forward to July 25th - which was Malia's due date - and we found ourselves with a planned induction once again. A lot of people asked me why we chose to be induced...and my answer was kind of like "why not?" We had the most amazing birth experience being induced with London and I wanted a similar experience this time around as well. I asked my doctor the same question and she sort of had a similar answer like, "why wouldn't you be?!" I trust her 100%. She is incredible; has been doing this for 30+ years and delivered over 6,000 babies! We absolutely adore her, so when she said we could do another planned induction we were all for it.We were scheduled to check into Brigham and Women's at 9:30AM. When we arrived they took my vital signs, did the necessary paperwork and got us onto the floor pretty quickly! My sister arrived for the fun around 11AM, just after my nurse (who was amazing by the way!) started my IV. I don't know why, but getting the IV started was something I was most nervous about...I think I'm crazy ha! Anyway, once that was in place we just hung out for awhile until Dr. Bunnell (my doctor) came to check on us and run through how the day would progress. We were all so excited to get the show on the road and meet our girl! They started me on Pitocin around 1pm (the same time they started me with Lo!) and from there they kept increasing the drip until come 6pm, my contractions were lasting 45 seconds and about 1 min, 20 seconds apart. 

The Epidural

I waited pretty long (I think) to ask for my epidural and maybe even wish I had asked for it sooner. Holding completely still so they could place the catheter in my back while simultaneously having contractions was less than fun. Not to mention, the resident had a difficult time finding the right "space" and by the end it took prob 20 minutes and I was dripping in sweat. It also took about a half hour for the epidural to kick in and even then, I didn't fully cover the pain. In fact, I started feeling CRAZY pelvic pressure shortly after and called my nurse in around 7pm. My exact quote was "why am I feeling this? I don't want to feel anything!" My doctor came in and checked me and said as calm as could be, "well, I think we could push once and have a baby!" I'll never forget the feeling I got when she said that! I just wasn't expecting it and it was like a huge rush came over me. I instantly started shaking with adrenaline and Chris and my sister were SO excited. We just couldn't believe it all happened so fast! 

The Birth

Malia's actual delivery really was in fact, one push. I pushed for a whopping 7 minutes with London, and this time (according to my doctor) it was 45 seconds and through one contraction. There's no rhyme or reason but my doctor tells me I'm made to have babies...who knew?! Either way, I'll take it! Malia Skye entered the world at 7:13pm weighing in at 7 lbs, 6 oz and measuring 21.5 inches long! She looked SO much like London when she came out with her slanted eyes and squished nose...Chris and I felt like we were having deja vu! Her fingers and feet were so long - we noticed right away and the nurse even measured her foot! It was 4 inches! Ha! She also didn't make a PEEP when she came out. No crying, whimpering, nothing. At first I was worried, but no one else seemed concerned at all, so we just went with it. She didn't actually make a sound for about three hours. Her name is Hawaiian, meaning "calm and gentle waters" and I just kept saying that she totally lives up to her name. I still feel that way 12 days later.

The post-birth snuggles are so magical. I felt like this time around I was able to be so much more present and really soak in the moment. It was beautiful and I will cherish it forever. Every fear I had about making space in my heart for baby number two went completely out the window the moment I pulled Malia onto my chest. It was like I had known her my whole life and she had always been part of our family. She has captured our hearts in so many ways and we just feel so blessed to have two sweet, beautiful girls to love and spoil forever! 

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Thank you all for your incredible love and support! Your messages were read and noted ... and even though we couldn't respond to every single one, we felt them all! It's so fun sharing this journey with you all - especially beautiful moments like these!

xx, Ashley 

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What's In My Bag: Part II...

 
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It's BABY WEEK! 

I can't believe we will actually be meeting our sweet girl in just a few days! It's SO surreal and we couldn't be more excited/anxious/nervous/ALL of the above! As promised, I wanted to share what I packed in my bag for the hospital! When we had London, I made it a point not to overpack and was pleasantly surprised because I felt like the hospital really had a lot that we needed.

I'll start with what I put in my diaper bag:

- Baby Markwood's "going home" outfit

- Birth Plan (I did this last time too and gave it to my L&D nurse when we arrived for our induction)

- Swaddle blanket from Copper Pearl (We got this one!) 

- Wubbanub paci plus a regular paci (probably not necessary, but, I packed them mostly for the days after we get home anyway)

- Newborn diapers, wipes, changing pad (again, probably not necessary)

- Letter board for baby announcement (under $16!)

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Now I'm going to list the things that I brought in my own bag ... which is actually a small tote from Target.

- Toiletries / make up bag (yes, I put make up on the first time around too - it made me feel like a human ... so I plan to bring it again!)

- Sports Bra / comfortable bra for post-birth 

- Underwear (literally could do without this...you'll end up wearing the super-attractive mesh underwear provided by the hospital because they're SO COMFORTABLE) 

- Bathrobe; I am bringing this floral robe for photos but also a warmer one with long sleeves because hospitals are always cold!) 

- Pajamas with buttons, I have this in gray and it's the BEST! Here is the shorts/top version (only $35 for the set!; I say "with buttons" because obviously if you're breast feeding it's easier...but also it's easier for skin to skin with your new baby, which is the best ever!) 

- Phone/Phone Charger for ALL the pics and/or a video camera

- Your pillow from home; I'm SO glad I brought my own pillow the first time around. It was so much more comfortable and I picked my own cute pillowcase for photos :) 

- Comfortable/roomy "going home" outfit; I opted for this Daisy Cami Maxi from Forever 21 that is loose fitting because let's be honest, you're not going to feel your absolute best!

I totally suggest making a small list of things you can't forget but also can't pack until you're just about to leave for the hospital! For me this was: phone, phone charger, toiletries, make up bag, and pillow! I strongly advise against overpacking. You'll have enough to worry about, but packing the car with 5 large bags shouldn't be one of them! I think if you want to bring a diaper bag, great - but if you can fit the baby's stuff with your stuff, that's fine too!

I hope this helped any parents-to-be! I'll make sure to post some updates / baby Markwood's birth story soon! If you want to follow along even closer, check my Instagram stories!

xx,

Ashley 

Bumpdate: 33 Weeks + Bloomlife

 
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I can't believe I'm already at the time in my pregnancy when my OBGYN appointments are just two weeks apart! For some reason, knowing that just makes it all seem like it's going to go even faster! We are moving at the end of this month; so I'm hoping baby girl doesn't decide to come crazy early...mama needs some prep/nesting time :) I'm happy to report that my sciatic nerve pain is almost completely gone! I'm guessing the baby's position changed because I don't think it would have subsided otherwise! I was going to the chiropractor, icing, backing off from any sort of physical exercise and it was still bothering me at some points...so it had to be position! Either way, I'll gladly take it. I feel SO much better now that I'm not dealing with that. I still have a crazy amount of pelvic pressure but usually with some elevating of the feet and a little ice...I can manage that well. I have totally noticed more veins popping up this second pregnancy! By the end of the day if I've been on my feet (which I usually have been with a toddler), my leg veins are kind of swollen. Eeek! I'm praying they don't start popping out completely!

Now that I've hit the 33-week mark in my pregnancy, I'm starting to have some Braxton Hicks. I notice them more after I take a walk with Lo or at the end of the day. At my last appointment, the doctor checked to see if everything was ok and thankfully it was (aka cervix is closed!) Thank goodness! I was certain they were just Braxton Hicks and not the real deal because I started using my Bloomlife monitor! It's the world's first clinically validated wearable contraction monitor that detects all uterine activity, so I could see that my contractions were far too irregular to be labor contractions. I SO wish I had one during my first pregnancy! I feel like it would totally have given me more peace of mind and confidence when determining what my body was experiencing! The Bloomlife tracker comes with three parts; the app, a sensor and a reusable patch you can take on and off your body for up to a week. If you run low on patches more will be shipped to you at no cost! 

The Bloomlife app that I mentioned above can start tracking the frequency, duration, and patterns of your contractions! You can know: 1. If you are having a contraction, 2. Are the contractions regular or irregular, and 3. How far apart/how long does each last. So awesome, right?! Who actually has time to keep track of the time between contractions when you're working or you have a toddler running around! This makes it so much easier! (You can read more about how it works here!)

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Another REALLY cool thing about the monitors is that you RENT them on a week-to-week basis. You can use it until the baby is born and then just pop it in the mail to return it when you're done! I started using mine this week and I’m definitely going to be using it until baby girl is born. I typically wear it at night after I put London to bed and I’m finally resting on the couch. I think it’s also nice for your partner to feel like they have a clue as to what’s going on with your body! When the contractions do start, both you AND your partner can see what's going on and it will put everyone's mind at ease.

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If you’re interested in trying your own Bloomlife monitor, you can get 10% off using the code: AM10! If you’ve already tried it, let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Thanks for stopping by!

Xx,

Ashley