It Took Me Seven Months to Fall In Love with My Daughter

Y’all – I have a confession. I am totally, crazy, overwhelmingly and intensely in love with my daughter. Isla is nine months old and I love her more every single day. Cliché, yes. But it’s the truth. She brings me more joy than I could have ever imagined. However, I didn’t experience this type of love until Isla was seven months old. Here’s my story.

While I was pregnant I didn’t feel a strong connection to the baby inside of me. I did feel an overwhelming sense that I had to do whatever I could to keep the baby safe. However, I was not one of those people who had conversations with my baby while rubbing my swollen belly. Maybe it was my superstitious nature holding me back from getting too excited, or maybe it was because we didn’t find out the sex of Isla until she was born so I couldn’t fully connect with who I was carrying. I don’t know…

Here I am recreating the

Here I am recreating the “I carried a watermelon” scene from Dirty Dancing – with my pregnant belly. Clearly not singing lullabies or playing classical music to the little one inside of me. Just utilizing her as a party trick and a prop.

When Isla was born and I heard the words “It’s a girl” I had an out of body experience. I knew I was supposed to be more excited than I was, but I was more focused on how exhausted I felt and how anti-climactic the whole experience actually seemed. Maybe it was because I was at the hospital for 37 hours and had 41 weeks (and 37 hours) to think about what the delivery was going to be like. It was nothing like I imagined. I thought when I held my healthy baby in my arms and found out who had been hanging out inside of me for all that time I would be over the moon. I wasn’t.

After Isla was delivered we only had a few minutes before things got a little scary. She wasn’t breathing well and her heart rate dropped. There was five-minutes of sheer terror – for my husband. He kept looking over at the pediatrician working on Isla. I could hear the sounds of her feet being slapped and the pediatrician saying, “Come on. Come on!” Tears filled Neil’s eyes. And all I could do was scream at him to look at me.

“Don’t look at the baby, look at me! Just look at me!”

My fresh, beautiful bundle of joy was almost lifeless on a table a few feet away from me, but all I could do was howl at my husband to keep his eyes on me. I didn’t want him to see what was going on – I wanted to protect him.

I'm pretty exhausted here, y'all.

I’m pretty exhausted here, y’all.

Five minutes later, Isla was fine and she made her way into my arms. I looked at her and said, “Well, you certainly know how to make an entrance and give your father a heart attack.” And then laughed at myself for having my first moment of parental sarcasm.

(Note: As I recount the events that happened in that five-minute scary period, I realize I’m pretty breezy about it. But the bottom line is, I can’t control what my emotions were, and Isla is more than OK now. That’s what matters.)

I stared at her for a while. Her face was flat. She had a crazy overbite. Her nose was smushed. She was furry. Was she cute? I thought she was. But I was acutely aware that other people probably wouldn’t think so.

Check out that fuzz.

Click on this photo and check out that forehead fuzz.

I wasn’t drunk on my baby yet – you might know what I’m talking about. The feelings you have inside of you where you’re 100% confident that your baby is smarter, cuter and better than any other baby out there. And you are sure that other parents say the same thing about their babies – but you know that your baby REALLY IS the smartest and cutest baby of all time. It took me a long time to get to that place, which is pretty friggin’ awesome. I digress…

The overwhelming sense I had to protect Isla while I was pregnant grew into an intense sense that I would kill anyone or anything that tried to fuck with my baby after she arrived. Yes – I loved her. But I wasn’t in love with her. It was a very strange mix of emotions. The first week we had Isla at home I stayed up with her all night, terrified that something would happen if I wasn’t awake every single second. Neil forced me to let go a little – and little by little I became more comfortable. I spent three months on maternity leave. And yes, we bonded. And I thought she was adorable. But I certainly didn’t have “that feeling” that so many parents described. Instead of a sense of bliss I was busy wondering if Neil and I had made the biggest mistake of our lives. I definitely remembered what life was like before having Isla and thought about it often. PS – So many people say the minute you have a baby you forget what life was like before the baby. You guys – I still remember what life was like before having a baby. It was pretty awesome.

Life before Isla didn't suck.

Life before Isla didn’t suck.

The months went on, I went back to work and Isla suddenly started becoming a person. She wasn’t a lifeless lump. She started to laugh. She started to play peek-a-boo. I could interact with her. But I still didn’t have this feeling that I craved – this feeling of all-encompassing love. I didn’t miss her when I was away from her. Sometimes I even forgot about her. I finally gave up and accepted that I wasn’t going to be one of those parents who sat around and thought about my baby all of the time. It wasn’t like I didn’t love her. I just didn’t love her as much as I wanted to. I vowed protect her and do anything I could to give her a great life. And then, I moved on.

Then one day, something changed. I came home from work and my keys jangled in the door. I could hear my daughter start to squeal with joy. My stomach flipped as I struggled to unlock the door. Finally as the key caught the latch, I swung the door open, and there was my beautiful daughter staring at me. Her smile was so wide that her nose crinkled. She chirped with delight as I put down my bag and went to wash my hands. I walked towards her and she bounced up and down with excitement. I scooped her up in my arms, smelled her hair, kissed her plump cheeks and wanted to inhale her. My eyes filled with tears. Our nanny Suzette (slash third parent) asked if I was OK. I looked at her and said, “I’m absolutely, positively, head-over-heels in love with my daughter.”

I tell this story because I want people to know it can take a long time to feel the type of love so many parents talk about – a love you have never experienced before. And you know what – that’s OK. Being a parent is really hard and the trials and tribulations that come with this new role are overwhelming. A small part of me is terrified that one day Isla will read this and be upset with me. The larger part of me wants her to know that it’s OK if it takes her time to fall madly, deeply, head-over-heels in love with her babies. And if she falls insanely in love at first site, she’s pretty damn lucky to feel the most incredible love she will ever experience so early on.


Recipe for Vacationing with a Baby – Bring a lot of Stuff & Let Go

Vacation time!

Vacation time!

We’re in Saint Martin with my husband’s entire family – and our baby. So I have limited time on my hands – and limited brain capacity. I posted a photo of me and Isla enjoying a beautiful view on vacation (the one good photo we took after about 12 outtakes) and Stephanie, a friend of mine from college who I have not talked to in years, mentioned she would like to see a post about traveling with a baby. Stephanie, 1. I was so excited to see you read my blog! That means a lot. 2. Thanks for giving me an idea on what to do for today’s post. Because vacation brain is in high gear, y’all.

I’ll be honest. The key to traveling with a baby is to manage your expectations. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen and accepting that certain things are beyond your control makes it less frustrating when things don’t go according to plan. Like nap time. Look, your baby is going to be out of whack while away. So don’t panic. I’m a firm believer in the fact that Isla can pick up on my stress level. So if I stress that she isn’t getting her regularly scheduled nap program in, I’ve got a tired and cranky baby on my hands who is picking up on my stressful energy. Not good!

Below is the recipe we used for packing up Isla for a week-long vacation at the beach. The house we are staying at has a washer/dryer (CLUTCH!), so keep that in mind as you read the list. We wanted her to have some stuff around that was familiar, since there was so much newness that was going to happen.

Prep time: 4 days
Cook time: 5 hours
Serves: One happy family – kind of

7 outfits – cute ones for going out and such. Because babies like to look cute on vacation.
5 pajamas – we just did onesies.
4 swimsuits – the girl needs options!
2 rash guards
3 swim diapers – the reusable ones.
24 disposable swim diapers 
84 diapers – Isla goes through about 8 diapers a day and we are gone for 7 days. So, we packed a lot of extra diapers. But y’all, on the plane ride Isla went through 4 diaper changes – always bring extra diapers.
Diaper wipes
Diaper cream
Baby sunscreen – we use Babyganics
Travel sized baby shampoo , body wash and lotion – we use Johnson & Johnson – judge if you must.
Aveeno Calming lotion – for nighttime
4 bottles & formula – or your boobs! We calculated how much she drinks and then made sure we had extra.
21 packs of food pouches – I usually homemake her food, but there was no way I was packing homemade food to take with us – and there was no way in hell I was going to spend time homemaking her food on vacation. 21 packs is a lot for how much she’s actually eating, but again. Extras. Always have extras of EVERYTHING.
Car Seat
– We just brought our stroller caddy frame. It’s basically a snap ‘n go that is specific to our stroller. It’s easier to collapse and smaller than our ginormous stroller frame and we aren’t strolling her around much, so this works for us.
– we brought a few of her favorites that are easy to pack (and by easy, I mean we packed an additional suitcase for all of her items) so she has some familiar stuff while we are away. In all honesty, she’s been pretty happy playing with things such as water bottles, toothbrush covers, my hair and Neil’s chest hair.

Medicine – Just in case we packed our entire medicine cabinet (and here is a helpful dosage chart, but ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR PEDIATRICIAN FIRST!):

  • Infant Tylenol
  • Infant Advil
  • Children’s Benadryl


Think about how long you are going to be away.

Panic about how much shit you know you’re going to have to take with you. Think about the fact that you never realized how easy it was to pack before you had a baby, nor did you relish in the simplicity of prepping for a vacation before you had a baby.

Lay all of your baby’s stuff in the middle of the living room. Look at it. Think about how ridiculous it is that you need to take all of this stuff with you. Find a suitcase that will fit all of this stuff. Pack up your own bags. Put everything by the front door so you don’t forget a bag on your way out.

Look at all of your suitcases and laugh. Pull out your phone and take the obligatory look-how-much-stuff-we-need-to-travel-with-now-that-we-have-a-baby photo.

If you’re flying with your baby, basically just subscribe to the fact that it’s a game of chance. Hope for friendly neighbors that will understand you’re at the mercy of your baby. If your baby does freak out on the plane, it’s nice to do whatever you can to try to make her stop crying – even if you know nothing is going to stop her. Basically you want people to look at you and see that you’re doing what you can so you don’t receive the “why aren’t these people doing anything to help their baby” eyes. We did a lot of standing up and walking around with Isla. She did take a 20-minute nap on my lap, which was adorable. She then sat in between me and Neil for about 25 minutes while we sipped our bloody mary’s – this baby clearly understands her parents priorities.

She did lose it a few times, and I gave my seat-mates the “I’m so sorry, please don’t hate me eyes.” You might want to practice those in the mirror for a few days before you leave.

As for schedules while you’re away – Isla usually takes two 2-hour naps. One at 9:30am and one at 2pm. The day we flew she slept for a total of 45 minutes before bedtime. We did what we could to get her to sleep, but she wasn’t having any of it. Yea, she eventually lost it and cried like she was a ravenous newborn who had no clue that someone was actually going to feed her, but you know what, we put her to bed that night and she slept just fine. Like I said, just have the mentality that things might not go according the plan and it makes things a whole lot easier. We are doing what we can to keep her on a schedule, but we aren’t being as strict. Because hey, we’re on vacation y’all.

Hanging out in her designated play area.

Isla hanging out in her designated play area.

Having fun with daddy!

Having fun with daddy!

Sleepy baby on vacation.

Sleepy baby on vacation.

Sometimes You Hate Your Partner – And That’s OK

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Back in 2013 I wrote this post about my two-year wedding anniversary. Ben Affleck had recently won his Oscar and thanked his wife with a “marriage is work” speech. Some people thought it was insulting; others, like me, thought it was one of the most heartfelt, honest, loving and spot-on, partner-thank-you speeches of all time.

Guys, let’s face it. Marriage is hard work. And here is a cliché for you – when you add children into the mix it gets EVEN HARDER. Who would have thought?

Our first family photo.

Our first family photo.

Father’s Day is around the corner, and this post is an honest tribute to the best father I know – who just so happens to be my husband. But guess what – sometimes I really want to kill him. Because I’m human. And he’s not perfect. And neither am I.

We may not be perfect as parents or partners. But there are moments of perfection sprinkled around our life. Like this.

We may not be perfect as parents or partners. But there are moments of perfection sprinkled around our life. Like this.

The first night we had Isla at home we were on our own – no grandparents. No night nurse. No nothing. Just me, Neil, and this tiny human who I was convinced we were going to somehow ruin. As I held Isla in my arms at 3am, tears streaming down my face, I cried to Neil about how we definitely didn’t spend enough time together before Isla was born and that I was certain we had just ruined our PERFECT marriage. Somehow, bringing a child into the world made me completely black out and forget that I ever got frustrated, annoyed, irritated or sometimes-hated Neil. Y’all, relax. I only sometimes hated him. You know what they say – you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone. I had paved paradise, and put up a parking lot. I LOVED NEIL SO MUCH. And this tiny baby parking lot was going to fuck it all up.

Me at 3am on our fist night home with Isla, crying and asking Neil to document this moment. Because I wanted to remind myself how much I loved him when I forgot. Hormones will make you do really sweet things...and really CRAZY things.

Me at 3am on our fist night home, crying and asking Neil to document this moment. Because I wanted to remind myself how much I loved him when I forgot. Hormones will make you do really sweet things…and really CRAZY things.

Someone's in love.

Someone’s in love.

Don’t worry – this super-love fest I was experiencing lasted about four days. I got over it in a hurry. And then instead of feeling like I loved Neil like I never loved him before, I felt a protective instinct inside of me that I had never experienced. I had to keep this creature who I had brought into the word alive. That was my sole responsibility in life. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about her in general. But lord help me, I was here to make sure she survived. I was going on seven days of no sleep and Neil finally told me it was time for me to cool my jets and take the night off.

“ARE YOU SERIOUS? I CAN’T LET YOU TAKE CARE OF HER ALL NIGHT!” I howled as Neil held Isla and looked at me like I was a wild animal. Because let’s face it. I was. I hadn’t brushed my teeth or my hair for seven days. And by all night, what I meant was a three hour stretch. Because I was breast feeding and hadn’t figured out the pump yet (which I would eventually master). And Isla was going to need to eat.

“Baby, calm down, it will…”

“DON’T YOU TELL ME TO CALM DOWN!!” Neil’s brow furrowed, which really pissed me off. “DON’T YOU MAKE THAT FACE AT ME!”

“Shhhhh. It’s OK. Relaaaa….” As the word relax started to come out of his mouth he looked like he wanted to take it back. As he should. Never tell a woman to relax. And NEVER NEVER NEVER tell a woman who just birthed a baby who hasn’t slept for a week to relax.

“YOU CAN’T HANDLE THIS. YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND.” I sobbed. The exhaustion had gotten to me. I cracked. Neil rocked Isla in his arms and I realized I had to let go. I couldn’t stay awake forever to make sure she was alive, every second of the night. So for one three-hour stretch Neil could stay awake to protect the little monster who I wanted to keep safe more than anything. I took a deep breath, wiped the snot from my upper lip and said, “OK. I’ll sleep. But you have to swear not to sleep. And to make sure she’s breathing.” I shuffled off to bed – and turned around to add, “If anything happens – just remember – it’s still my fault because I trusted you to take care of her – and I’m sure you don’t want to live with that.”

Neil did indeed keep our daughter alive for that three-hour stretch. And soon enough we mastered the night-time. And the day-time.

Neil documenting what he did on his first stretch of baby duty - just in case you needed to prove to me that he stayed awake. Smart man.

Neil documenting what he did on his first stretch of baby duty – just in case he needed to prove to me that he stayed awake. Smart man.

I look back on that first night now and smile. It was Neil’s first moment taking care of not only his daughter – but his daughter’s mother. I had an overwhelming feeling that I needed to protect my daughter. And Neil had an overwhelming feeling that he needed to protect his daughter – and his wife. He saw me crack, and he picked up my pieces. It wasn’t in some grand gesture of a push-present. It was in my darkest hour. He put up with my irrational state. He forced me to let go a little. He got me to bed. Most importantly – he knew what I needed when I was completely lost.

Neil dove in head first into fatherhood- wanting to be a part of everything – and he still does. Which is sometimes REALLY annoying. He’s got an opinion on almost EVERYTHING. He questions me. A lot. But the bottom line is – he’s the best friggin’ dad out there. And while he might drive me crazy, he’s always there to pick me up when I don’t really know that I need it. We fight. We yell. I scream. He huffs. But he’s my rock. And as Ben Affleck said about all of this, “…it’s work, but it’s the best kind of work, and there’s no one I’d rather work with.”

Happy Father’s Day!

Headed to Central Park.

Headed to Central Park.

Park dad.

Park dad.

Just bein' a dad on a Saturday.

Just bein’ a dad on a Saturday.

Neil's besties jumping in on the baby fun. And nailing Three Men and a Baby.

Neil’s besties jumping in on the baby fun. And nailing Three Men and a Baby.

Your Baby Will Be Fine – It’s Just Stuff

Today’s post is about what you really need to have in the house when your baby is born – because it’s really not that much. And getting your house baby-ready, especially for a first-time parent can be really stressful. Am I right?

You guys, the first night home with a baby is stress enough - even if you have all the right things. Here I am at 3am wondering if I made the biggest mistake of my life. Don't worry, I didn't. :)

You guys, the first night home with a baby is stress enough – even if you have all the right things. Here I am at 3am wondering if I made the biggest mistake of my life. Don’t worry, I didn’t. 🙂

(Y’all, I know I promised I would post about my experience with delayed postpartum depression today, but as it turns out I recently had a doctor’s appointment and am going through some tests to see if we can get to the bottom of some things. So before I spill my guts (which I promise I will!) I want to make sure I have all the facts straight.)

A few days ago one of my favorite blogs had a post titled The 15 Things Every New Parent Needs. I can’t tell you how many lists like this I read when I was pregnant. And they all just made my heart race and basically made me worry that I was going to ruin my baby by not having the right stroller, diapers or burp cloths. This actually makes me smile now. I stressed over burp cloths. Really? But it’s these lists – (that are put together to help you) – that make things even more stressful for some people – like me. In the defense of the post from cupcakes and cashmere that I mention above, Emily does say in her opening paragraph that the post is a roundup of her favorite things. But – that damn title. If crazy me was flashed back to when I was pregnant for the first time time, I’m sure I’d freak out about not having everything on the list that EVERY NEW PARENT NEEDS.

Guys, all you really need in the beginning is below. And even if you don’t have all of these things – guess what? YOU’RE GOING TO BE OK! I PROMISE!

  • Bassinet if you’re going to have the baby in the room with you. I know plenty of people who put their baby in the crib the first night they were home.
  • Crib
  • Car Seat
  • Stroller
  • Blankets
  • Burp Cloths
  • Your boobs or bottles and formula
  • Some onesies and a few articles of clothing

Everything else you can get over time. AND IT WILL BE OK! I know, I know registering is SO overwhelming. I had many heart attacks and was so worried we would be completely unprepared when we brought Isla home. Plus, because I’m superstitious, we had NOTHING in the apartment before we brought her home except the car seat. So just think – if you’re reading this and planning on having a baby shower, you will be LIGHT YEARS ahead of where we were– and we ended up being JUST FINE.

Our happy baby, who was not destroyed by not having the perfect bouncer when she arrived home from the hospital.

Our happy baby, who was not destroyed by not having the perfect bouncer when she arrived home from the hospital.

We did register; we just didn’t release our registry until after Isla was born. Just know that once you’re finished with the registry it will be a huge relief. It took us about 6 weeks to get the registry to where wanted it (and we did a minimalist registry!) so don’t panic  – take time! Also, you can continue to register for stuff after the baby comes. This is something I wish we did. We realized things we needed and instead of adding them to registry, we ended up going and getting them ourselves. And then we heard from people there was nothing left on our registry. Oh well.

Grandpas putting the crib together AFTER Isla was born. See? It works out.

Grandpas putting the crib together AFTER Isla was born. See? It works out.

Hannah, our cat, thinking this is her new fancy cat bed. Poor girl...

Hannah, our cat, thinking this is her new fancy cat bed. Poor girl…

If you’re interested, here are details on what we ended up with – but remember. Every baby is different. What works for one, might not work for others. People will tell you there are certain things you have to have – like a swing. Guess what – Isla HATED the swing. Basically, it’s a lot of trial and error. So subscribe to the fact that you’ll be testing stuff out that might not work and you might go through a few things (especially during your quest for the “magic seat” – a magic place to put your baby down for a few minutes and not have her cry hysterically the minute she is out of your arms). And that’s OK! Buybuy Baby has a great return policy. That swing we bought – we used it for a few days – broke it down (kept ALL OF THE PLASTIC AND CARDBOARD AND LITTLE PIECES) took it back and said, “Once we built it we realized we didn’t have room.” They didn’t ask us a single question.

Isla in the Rock  'n Play - which people SWORE was the magical unicorn of a chair that EVERY BABY loves. Not so much.

Isla in the Rock ‘n Play – which people SWORE was the magical unicorn of a chair that EVERY BABY loves. Not so much.

Registry Notes:

  • Clothes: DO NOT REGISTER FOR CLOTHES! People get you so many things and babies grow so fast. Just have a few onesies and a few outfits at home and THAT’S IT. Let everyone else bring you clothes. We didn’t even know the sex of Isla before she was born and she now has more clothes than I do.
  • Changing table: We don’t have room for one, so we are just using a changing pad on our dining room table. Thanks, New York City!
  • Bottles– We went through a few different bottles – first Medela bottles, then Gerber bottles. We settled on Joovy Boob, which Isla likes best. Honestly, bottles are tricky. Just like so many other things that have to do with babies.
  • Crib – Y’all, it’s gonna sound ridiculous. But we have a crib on wheels due to the fact that we live in a one-bedroom apartment in NYC. We put Isla to bed in our room, and then when we are ready to go to sleep we roll her into the hallway. It’s all class around our apartment. We have the Stokke Sleepi Crib/Bed that will grow with Isla. For now, we just roll her around in it.
  • Swaddle blankets– We used the Moms on Call swaddle blanket when Isla was first born. It’s tough to get the hang of at first (here’s a youtube video) but it’s super snug and worked best for her. Once she got a little older we started using the Halo Sleep Sack Swaddle. It’s super easy to use.
  • Bathtubs– Check out this video from “Moms on Call“. You might want to consider just going straight to the tub – I know a lot of people that do it. We got this Summer Infant Bath Sling, which was great. But looking back, I should have just gone for the whale tub, which we grows with the baby. We weren’t sure about space, so we forwent the tub. We were wrong.
  • Burp cloths– I almost had a heart attack when I saw that some of the burp cloths that came “highly recommended” were $10 a pop. WHAT? No f’ing way was I registering for that. I called my mom wondering what happened to those white burp cloths we had when I was a baby – turns out they were cloth diapers. $12 for a pack of 10. Done and done.
  • Medela Easy Expression Hands-Free Bustier (fancy name for a hands-free pumping bra) – Gals, being able to get shit done while you pump is amazing. Getting things done on maternity leave means rocking your newborn while she cries and you pump. Or checking your email for a quick second while you’re milking yourself. If you’re pumping when you go back to work, this really is great. You can type on your computer while on a conference call and hum everyone to sleep with the gentle sounds of the pump. And yes, I pumped on conference calls. When the boobs are barking, you answer.
  • Bouncy Seat/Rocker/Swing– This is trial and error. A swing didn’t work for Isla. When she was three weeks old my friend’s parents sent us the My Little Lamb Infant Seat – IT WAS A MIRACLE WORKER FOR ISLA. I say that in caps lock because remember, every baby is different! We also have the Rock ‘n Play, which some people swear by. It’s great because it folds up nicely, but Isla has to be in the mood for it. We decided to keep it because it’s nice to have something to put friends babies in when they come over.
  • Pack and Play– We registered and received the Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Playard, which is SICKLY expensive, but it only weighs 11lbs and is easy to tote around. We have used it a few times and for us, it is worth it.
  • Stroller – We have the Bugaboo Cameleon3 Complete Stroller set that my cousin had and she sent us. It’s also ridiculously expensive and not easy to collapse, but it was a free really fancy stroller, so we took it and were very thankful. Isla really liked the bassinet, so that’s what I strolled her in for the most part before we brought her upright (she’s growing too fast!). Also, the bassinet from the Bugaboo is what we had her in before we moved her into her crib. No need to get ANOTHER bassinet). Look – it’s a stroller. It’s a necessity. Go to BuyBuy Baby and test some things out. See what seems right for not only your baby, but your budget.
  • Car Seat – We have the Chico Key Fit 30 car seat and it’s GREAT. Most of my friends have this car seat. We also have the Keyfit Caddy which is AWESOME for when we are traveling or hopping in a cab. It’s super simple to click the car seat into, so simple to collapse and very light weight, so when I’m by myself getting in and out of a cab I’m not struggling with the stroller base. It will be nice too when we fly to not have to lug the giant stroller with us. I recommend checking it out. It’s not meant to be a full-time stroller, so you still need something else. At first Neil and I thought this would be a surplus item, but I’m glad we listened to my friends who really pushed it.
  • Diaper Pail– Apparently there are diaper pails that need special diaper pail bags. So, you know, trash bags that are a cool $10 more expensive than what you would normally get. We found the Ubbi Diaper Pail, which uses normal tall kitchen trash bags so we aren’t having to special order or buy “diaper pail bags”…ugh, give me a break with this stuff.
  • Gift Cards – I felt weird about doing this at first, but it was nice to register for gift cards instead of registering for stuff we didn’t need quite yet. A lot of people will just register for the whole kit and caboodle right away (stuff through one year) but we don’t have room for it.

And that’s all I got – because anything more gets too overwhelming. If you have any questions on specifics for baby registries or just what to have in general when your baby comes home, feel free to email me at

Two-for-One Risotto

Before I jump into this post, I want to address the photography and overall format of this blog. Let’s just say that I understand it’s “meh”. I’m not the best with technology, I don’t have the capacity to take staged photos and doctor them (unless it’s on my iPhone with a filter), and I just don’t have the time right now to make Simply in the Flavor “pretty”. But hey, she’s got a really great personality. She’s super friendly and honest, and she tries hard. So, give her a chance and see where she goes! Maybe she’ll become more attractive as you get to know her! And maybe one day she’ll get a makeover and be real pretty. But for now…this is what it is.

Now, onto business…My friends often ask me how I’m able to “whip up” such “elaborate” meals on weeknights and manage to make my daughter’s food from scratch.

Two things:

1. I love to cook – getting into the kitchen is relaxing for me. Chopping and cutting over a glass of wine or a bourbon on the rocks is something I actually enjoy. “Me” time these days is so limited. Today I found myself looking forward to a long subway ride so I could catch up on a stack of magazines without my baby or my husband talking to me. Because you know, sometimes I don’t want to talk to them. Or anyone for that matter.

2. It’s mostly an illusion because NOTHING that I make is difficult – and I whenever I’m cooking for me and Neil (the husband) I try to incorporate food that our daughter will eat. It’s like a two-for-one deal. Along with buying in bulk and coupons, two-for-one deals are my favorite. Basically I create a base meal that is baby friendly and then doctor up the adult portion. See below.

This week’s recipe post is an adaptation from two different recipes. I wanted to make risotto, but good lord – it’s a PAIN IN THE ASS. So I googled “easy risotto recipes” and wouldn’t you know, the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten had a recipe for Easy Parmesan “Risotto”. I also wanted to stock up my freezer meals for Isla. Every few weeks I make a bunch of food for her (in kitchen products that I already owned – NOT in fancy baby food makers…post on that to come next Monday) and throw it in our freezer. I also like to make a lot of food in general and have leftovers. Because leftovers are easy. And time is of the essence these days. The Baby & Toddler Cookbook has a risotto recipe that looked pretty tasty. I set out to combine the two recipes. I had some frozen butternut squash and spinach on hand (prepackaged frozen vegetables are a godsend…do you know how time consuming it is to peel and cut a butternut squash? VERY)… and off I went.

Two-in-One Vegetable Risotto

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Serves: 4-5 adults servings & 2 cups of baby risotto

1 and 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
4 cups low-sodium Vegetable broth
1 cup water simmering water, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided
16 oz package frozen butternut squash
16 oz package frozen spinach
1 shallot finely diced
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Bring 4 cups of vegetable broth to a simmer in a Dutch Oven. Add the rice, cover and bake in oven for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente. Look, I’ll be honest. I just left it alone for 45 minutes and the rice got overcooked. And it was still delicious.

Here's my

Here’s my “risotto” baking. And as you can see, I desperately need to clean my oven. But that’s not going to happen.

Meanwhile, place frozen butternut squash and spinach in a colander in sink. Run hot water over vegetables until slightly tender – the middle of squash and some chunks of spinach can still be frozen. Bring a medium skillet to medium-high heat. Drizzle 2 teaspoons olive oil in pan and allow to heat for a moment. Stir in squash and spinach. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover pan for 2-3 minutes. Once vegetables are completely cooked, remove from pan and scoop onto separate plate. Set aside one cup for baby’s risotto – we will get back to this. In the same pan, add remaining olive oil and diced shallots. Cook until translucent and add the remaining butternut squash and risotto. Season with salt and pepper. Guys, I added truffle salt. Because I add truffle salt to everything. Because why not?

Remove rice from oven and slowly add simmering water (OK, OK. I didn’t use simmering water. I just used lukewarm tap water). Rice might be caked to the bottom of the Dutch oven, but slowly stir in water and it will break it right up. My risotto wasn’t that thirsty, so I only added 3/4 cup water. Just keep stirring in water until you like the consistency of what you have. Don’t worry too much! Relax! Remove 1 cup of rice and set aside. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to remaining rice in Dutch oven and stir. Add 1 teaspoon of butter to the 1 cup of rice for baby and stir.

Sister rices. Get it?

Sister rices. Get it?

Add the 1 cup of vegetables that you set aside to the 1 cup of baby’s buttered risotto and stir. Set in refrigerator and forget about it for a while.

Get back to your adult meal. Stir in 3/4 cup parmesan cheese to rice. Mmmmmmm. Add the vegetables from your pan to the pot of rice and stir. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Done and done! I served this with simple salmon and baked cod.

Over exposed and poorly lit dinner.

Over exposed and poorly lit dinner.

When you’re read, remove baby risotto from fridge and if necessary, puree to texture that is appropriate for your baby and freeze in ice cube trays for easy individual servings. Yes, regular ice cube trays. You don’t need fancy “baby” freezer trays.

Baby risotto - puree if necessary.

Baby risotto – puree if necessary.

Ready for freezing. Another one of my favorite things. Freezing anything and everything.

Ready for freezing. Another one of my favorite things. Freezing anything and everything.

My Experience With Hair Loss After Pregnancy (Photo Included)

Confession time, y’all.

About four months after Isla was born, I started losing my hair. I know, I know. Some of you out there are thinking – so did I! It was coming out in clumps! I wondered how I still had hair!

BUT YOU GUYS – I had some bald patches and majorly thinning hair. And here is the photo to prove it:


Let’s rewind a bit. When I was about eight-months pregnant I went to my most amazing hair dresser Khirsten. She was raving about my pregnancy hair, and I’ll be honest, I was raving about it, too. My pre-pregnancy hair was very fine and a frizz-disaster. My pregnancy hair was lush, like a horses mane. While sitting in Khirsten’s chair she said, “I don’t want you to be alarmed, so I’m going to prep you now. You’re going to lose a lot of hair after pregnancy. A lot. And you might have some bald spots here, and here.” (pointing to the area right above both temples). The hairline above my temples isn’t the greatest. There is about a 2 inch span back to the crown of my head that is basically just baby hair. It’s been like that my whole life. Khirsten warned me that the baby hair would most likely grow more than it ever has (see below) and then probably fall out – but don’t worry, she said. It will come back!

Me and Khirsten the day she predicted my future.

Khirsten and me the day she predicted my future.

Well, I brushed that off (see what I did there). And after Isla arrived my hair was EVEN MORE AMAZING THAN PREGNANCY HAIR. I thought I had escaped the dreaded post-pregnancy hair loss. Instead of wrapping my ponytail holder around my hair four times, I was only wrapping it twice. I wasn’t seeing any signs of hair falling out. I figured I was golden. I even sent Khirsten a photo of my previous above the temple hair in all it’s glory.

Check out my amazing temple hair!

Hey Khirsten, look at my LONG baby hair! It’s so long that I can BRAID it!


Here I am taking selfies with my baby. And my lush hair.

And just like that. It was all a dream. One day while showering I ran my fingers through my hair and about a handful of hair came out. I hadn’t washed my hair in a week – because you know – I had a four month old and finding time to wash my hair wasn’t easy. Since it had been a week and I had been wearing a luscious two wrapped ponytail the whole time, I figured the clump of hair was due to everything being trapped – no brushing. No nothing. But then another handful. And another. And so on. It got bad. REALLY BAD.

The hair loss got so bad that a few weeks later our super had to come and snake the shower drain. And snaking it wasn’t good enough. He had to use some sort of crazy vacuum to get all the hair out. I made sure that I collected all the loose hair, splashed it up against the shower wall, and then cleared it out later (and sometimes wrote love notes in hair on the wall to my husband), but alas. Hair was just constantly falling out. Hair was everywhere, all the time. There was nothing I could do about it.

Shower wall hair.

Shower wall hair.

And then one day when I went to pull my hair back in a ponytail I noticed two large almost-completely bald spots. Right above my temples. Right where Khirsten had said it would happen. Oh, and I was back to wrapping my ponytail holder around my hair 4 times.

For about a two month period I had to blow dry my hair and style it because I had to hide the bald spots for work (see my thoughts on this below). However, with my friends, I owned it. I would flip my head to the side and show them what was up. Because hey, this is shit no one tells you will most likely happen after you have a baby. Yea, we talk about hair shedding, but I didn’t hear about people actually having bald spots and majorly thinning hair.

Once the hair started growing back, there was a period of time it looked like I had that trendy hairdo where you shave the sides of your head – someone in the subway even complimented me on being bold and having that haircut.

This is not a trendy-partially-shaved hairdo. This is me about a month after hair loss.

This is not a trendy-partially-shaved hairdo. This is me about two months after hair loss.

I’m now about three months post-bald spots and I have a fuzzy coat of downy hair. And guess what – I’m owning it. Because here’s the deal – I don’t want any women out there to be dumbfounded, surprised, embarrassed, anxious or upset if this happens to them. It’s time we start talking about what really happens after you have a baby so women stop feeling so alone as they go through their experiences. Pregnancy does things to your body and your hormones and your sanity, y’all. It changes you. We shouldn’t be fighting to get back to our “pre-baby body” – because WE BIRTHED BABIES. We literally carried babies and delivered them via our birth canal, pushing them out of our vaginas, or by having a major surgery that cuts open our abdomen and uterus. We should be embracing these changes and celebrating what happens to our bodies. While my bald spots weren’t the most attractive, instead of being something I felt like I had to hide at work, couldn’t they be badges of honor?

Anyway…visit me again next week for my post on my experience with delayed postpartum depression. It’s a real thing. I’ll also have a recipe post. Here’s the schedule. Fridays will be dedicated to “Shit No One Tells You About AFTER Your Baby Arrives” and Mondays will be dedicated to recipes. Let’s start our week and end our week together!

In the mean time to keep yourselves busy, take a look at this WikiHow on how to deliver a baby at home. Please be sure to pay close attention to drawing in Part 2 of 5 – because  sure, that’s really what it looks like when a baby comes out the birth canal. I mean, if there’s going to be a WikiHow on how to deliver a baby they could at least provide realistic photos. Right? (Please note this is not a promotion for delivering babies at home via directions on WikiHow. This is a note on how ridiculous the photo is.)

Click here for more information about post-pregnancy hair loss…and pregnancy hair amazingness.

Top 10 Things I didn’t Fully Understand (or understand at all) Until I Brought My Baby Home

Hello Simply in the Flavor followers! It’s been quite some time. Since we were last together I got pregnant, birthed a baby, took three months maternity leave, got a new job and have been trying my hand at parenting. I’ve been a little busy! I’m back (until my next hiatus) and thought I’d share something with you I wrote when Isla Jaye was a little over three weeks old. As you know, sometimes I stray from the food writing, and this is one of those times. We can call this some what of a recipe of things I learned very quickly after bringing Isla home. Isla is now seven months old. A sense of normalcy has settled into our house and I can tell all of you first time parents out there who are in the beginning days, weeks and months of your babies lives that it will get better, you will sleep again and it really is all worth it.


Babies are so emo.

This was taken in a 60 second span. Babies are so emo.

As prepared as I thought I was for the arrival of my daughter Isla, I wasn’t prepared at all. Yea, after 37 hours of labor and a very difficult delivery, I thought I was a warrior. Little did I know it was all fun and games before I left the hospital. Parents tried to tell me what it would be like to have a baby and I thought I got it. But I now know nothing prepares you for being a parent like being sent home with a baby. Now that I am an expert on these matters, having had my beautiful daughter at home for just over three weeks, let me at least help you expectant parents out there by telling you the following 10 things, already learned in such a brief period of time (not that it feels brief), are really really true.

1. You can’t get anything done – and people aren’t just saying that
Babies have a sixth sense. They know the exact moment you are becoming productive and they will somehow fuck it up. For example, after I wrote the third sentence of this piece and thought to myself, “Hey! I’m back in my writing groove! This feels great!” my daughter decided to start wailing over absolutely nothing except for the fact that my undivided attention was not on her. I thought during my maternity leave I’d catch up on a whole bunch of stuff that I had put on the back burner – you know, working on getting my novel published, starting my next book, organizing closets. Because I would have SO MUCH time on my hands! Well, let me tell you how a typical day goes: I start a project. My daughter cries. I feed her. Change her. Soothe her. Forget I started said project. I begin another project. Rinse and repeat until I have 14 different things going on and my husband comes home to a disheveled mess that I thought would be a sparkling clean and orderly house. My intentions are always good – and every day is going to be THE day I get shit done. So far, no day has been that day.

2. You will get excited over a bowel movement, a pee, a burp and basically any bodily function
I never in a million years thought I would be the parent who would praise my child for a poop diaper. I was wrong. After Isla’s first poop, I said in an all out baby voice, “Way to go! You’re such a good girl! Mommy is so proud of you!” And every time after she burps I sing-song that she is a genius. Because she is, isn’t she? Oh – and FYI for all you future moms out there – you’ll be excited about your own bowel movements, too. No one seems to talk about how your own bowel movements after delivering a baby are a triumph. So, now you know.

3. People say “sleep while you can” for a reason
This drove me insane at the end of my pregnancy. I was so ready to meet the little one inside of me and was so over being pregnant. I was annoyed with people who told me to enjoy the last few weeks before our baby’s arrival. I wanted to say, “I’m fucking swollen and uncomfortable and over being pregnant. Stop telling me to sleep and lounge around and do nothing!” And now, a little less than a month into this gig, I’m telling any pregnant and non-pregnant person who will listen to sleep while they can. You won’t believe how quickly your previous dreams of some luxurious vacation turn into dreams of eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

4. Don’t get pissed at people who tell you “As prepared as you are, you can never be fully prepared”
I was prepared for how hard this would be – and I understood I would be sleep deprived – but I was COMPLETELY unprepared for how out of control my hormones would be and what an emotional roller coaster this gig is. The bottom line is, no matter how prepared you think you are, nothing prepares you for this role except diving right into it…which leads me to…

5. The first night you will ask yourself “Did I make the biggest mistake of my life?” and if you’re like me, you’ll ask yourself that a few times…or maybe more than a few times
And hey, it’s OK. Because babies can be major assholes. They can’t help it, of course. They are helpless beings and suck every ounce of what you have to give out of you. Just know that at some point you will wonder if you can do this. And trust me – you can. You might have to cry your way through it multiple times, or lock yourself in a closet and hide from the sounds of your baby crying for a little while. But YOU CAN DO THIS!

6. It’s important to find friends who are parents
Don’t get me wrong, my friends without children are amazing – I can tell you right now that I wouldn’t be able to do this mom thing without them. But there is something about looking into the eyes of another parent while telling a story of how you haven’t slept for days and have that parent look right back at you and say, “ME EITHER. THIS SUCKS”. Misery loves company, and all that jazz.

7. Eating a meal over the kitchen sink is a perfectly acceptable way to eat a meal
I never understood why people eat standing over the kitchen sink instead of plating a meal and sitting down. Until Isla was born. You have to shovel the food in as fast as you can while the baby is still asleep – because who knows how much time you have before she wakes up – and when she will sleep again. Kitchen sink meal, I love you.

8. You will receive unsolicited advice from anyone who has children – and some people who have never had children
When it comes to babies, people have opinions. People will tell you the “miracle worker” that magically put their baby to sleep (does that even really exist? I feel like these offerings are unicorns that I will chase forever and never find). People will tell you what bottles you MUST use or that breast feeding is the ONLY way. Also, people who don’t have children will decide they some sort of advice that is helpful – and it will annoy the shit out of you because you will suddenly feel like until they have babies, they don’t know what the fuck they are talking about. I was this person. Before I had a baby I loved to give little tidbits of things I had picked up from friends who had children. I now hate myself a little and want to apologize to everyone out there I ever advised before I had my baby. Sorry!

9. Something as simple as the very first smile will make it all worth it
The cliches are true – all of them. Recently my daughter cried for what felt like the entire day. Or an entire three days. But who’s counting? When my husband came home from work I threw her into his arms, forced him into the bedroom, made him turn on the sound machine, and closed the door while I hid in our hallway closet because it was the only place in our one bedroom apartment (yes, that’s right. one bedroom) that I couldn’t hear the painful cries of our daughter. I hid in the closet and sobbed, wondering if I made the biggest mistake of my life (see point number five). The next morning while filming Isla mastering the art of the pacifier (yes, something like that becomes an incredible achievement) she smiled at me for the first time, and I caught it on video. Suddenly every horrible and awful moment we had been through together was worth it. And I could watch the video 1000 times (note – Isla is now seven months and I have watched the video almost on a daily basis. it never gets old).

10. You will, at some point, become the person you swore you would never be when you became a parent
Whether you’re suddenly telling people to sleep while they can before they have children, or find yourself talking about the color of your baby’s poop at an adult dinner party, though you swore you would never do stuff like that before you had children, you will indeed become the person you swore you would never be before becoming a parent. Because hey, you had no fucking clue what you were in for before you baby arrived. Welcome to the club.

-November 19, 2014