Prepping For Baby #2: Three Things I Wish I Had The First Time Around

As much as I’d like to think this second pregnancy thing is a cake walk, it’s isn’t. The “been there, done that” mentality is there, but only to a certain degree. I hate to say it, but the fact is my pregnancy symptoms have been totally different than with Gia. As far as resting goes….well there is no rest when you have a toddler!

For me, there’s more to this than just getting my body ready to have our next baby. I’ll be adjusting my social life once again, my home and preparing a two-year-old for the arrival of our new family member.

You would think that after giving birth only two years ago that I’d be pretty well versed on doing the whole newborn thing again. Truth is, mom brain is real and I’ve forgotten a lot about those early days. I know most of it will come back to me, but new babies bring on different challenges.

One thing I do know about being a second-time mom is there are a few items that I’ll be needing that I didn’t have with Gia. Two of the three things I need for this go-round are solely for baby #2 and one thing is for both children.

So what are they you ask?

#1: Dockatot

Dockatot is a multifunctional sleep aid for your babe. It’s like it’s own little bed that can also serve as a place to sit, do tummy time, play and snuggle. It’s also great for safe co-sleeping and you can bring it anywhere. I don’t plan on using it for co-sleeping, as we did not co-sleep with Gia, but never say never.

I like the idea that it will give the new baby that cuddled feeling while sleeping. From what I’ve heard and read, it’s amazing and helps babies sleep for longer durations.

Gia was in a bassinet that has been in my family for years. While I love the idea of continuing that tradition, I also want to do what I think works best for us and baby. Thankfully Gia was a good sleeper, so I pray this baby will be the same!

#2: Rock ‘n’ Play

The great thing about having a sister-in-law who had her second baby before me is that I can ask her tons of questions. One thing that she got for her second boy was a Rock ‘n’ Play. She used it all the time for her baby. If it weren’t for her encouraging me to get one I’m not sure I would have thought of it myself.

What I think I’ll use it for most is to have a free hand to help Gia. Eventually when I’m home alone with two kids, I will quickly need to figure out how to balance their needs. I’m sure a lot of Gia’s needs will require me to set the baby down in a safe, portable environment. What’s great is that I’ll be able to bring it outside while Gia is playing.

There are quite a few versions of the Rock ‘n’ Play out there. I was able to purchase one on Amazon Prime Day for $30 off the original price. Who doesn’t love a deal?!

#3: Double Stroller

Stroller shopping can be overwhelming because there are so many options. With Gia we bought a Peg Perego stroller and car seats. Naturally, since I loved them so much I immediately gravitated towards the brand’s Duette Piroet stroller.

The hardest part about deciding on what kind of double stroller to get was the side-by-side set up versus the tandem set up. Ultimately, after seeing both options from Peg Perego in person, Craig and I agreed the tandem version is what we prefer. My gut says it will be easier to maneuver and it will just work well with our lifestyle.

Beyond these items, I’m pretty much good to go. I have plenty of beautiful clothes that I’m excited to see our new girl in. We have all the toys and play accessories a baby could need. The last few things I need to do are along the lines of rewashing baby clothes, packing a hospital bag and making sure I have what I need for my own recovery.

I’m sure if we were to have a third child, I’d have a brand new blog post listing what I’d need for baby #3 that I didn’t have the first two times. There’s always new and amazing products, as well as things we think we just need to have.

For now, we are very happy to become a family of four and we’re planning on keeping it at that. Four has always seemed like the right number for us.

Now I just need to stick out eight more weeks of being hot and uncomfortable. We can’t wait to meet our newest girl. Gia is especially excited….for now! ūüėČ


9 Things I Learned From Having My First Baby That I Hope To Remember With Baby #2

Two short years ago I was very pregnant with my first little girl, Gialina. ¬†I had no idea that she’d choose to over stay her welcome by one full week, then decide to come into the world with the ferocity¬†of a thrashing great white shark, all while weighing an ounce shy of 9 lbs.

Today I’m 30 weeks pregnant with Gia’s little sister and I can’t help but feel a little bit more anxious about her arrival. ¬†A lot of it has to do with the fact that I know what to expect when it comes to an unmedicated labor and delivery, but a bigger part has to do with how we will adjust to adding a new member to the family.

Don’t get me wrong, being a new mom isn’t easy – no matter how many times you do it. ¬†It’s always a challenge adjusting to no sleep, postpartum pain and numerous other things that come with the territory.

With my second baby arriving around October 4th, I know some aspects of this new mom thing will be easier. ¬†It’s not because I’m suddenly an expert after having one child. ¬†I’m still unorganized at times, drowning in laundry and tired. ¬†I’ve just got more tricks up my sleeve this time around. ¬†Most of my tricks are really just common sense that I didn’t have the first time around with Gia.

So expectant mamas and new mamas alike – don’t wait for your second or third baby to read this. ¬†If I could send a letter back in time here are a few things I would tell myself before having kids:

You will never be fully prepared for what it’s like to be a parent. ¬†It doesn’t matter how many books you’ve read, how many friends/family you have with children, how much you’ve nested, or how long you’ve actually waited to become a parent. ¬†No amount of preparation will truly prepare you for children. ¬†You will learn so much about yourself and your spouse the moment that little life comes into this world. ¬†You will have a lot that you will continue to learn, so consider this the most educational experience of your life.

Appreciate your pre-baby body for all that it has done for you. ¬†You will never realize how amazing and beautiful your body is until you’ve given birth. ¬†Before having a child I spent too many days worrying about that one dessert, worrying about how my jeans looked and all of the workouts that I just¬†had¬†to complete. ¬†As hard as it will be to see your body change through pregnancy, it is equally as amazing. ¬†Once Gia arrived I realized there was so much more to life than a bikini body. ¬†I can still want to look and feel good, but in a healthier way. ¬†I would never want my daughters to be so critical and self-depricating, the way I once was about myself.

It’s okay to ask for help. ¬†You think you know how to do it all, but you don’t. ¬†Take a few deep breaths and tell yourself, “this too shall pass.” ¬†You’re going to make mistakes, but how you come back from them is what matters most. ¬†You don’t need to be superhuman.

Tell everyone around you how much you love and appreciate them. ¬†They’ll never tire of hearing it, so tell them every chance you get. ¬†After giving birth you will appreciate your mother in a way that you never could before becoming a mother yourself. ¬†Tell your spouse how much you love them, because they will be your rock while you recover from labor and delivery.

Just when you think you’re starting to figure things out the routine changes. ¬†I felt like this was most relevant for me during the newborn phase. ¬†Just when I thought we were doing X amount of naps per day, it changed to Y amount. ¬†Babies and toddlers change and grow so quickly that you can’t expect these phases to last long. ¬†So be prepared, once you fee like you’ve mastered something it’s about to change in a hurry!

If nursing hurts and doesn’t get better after the initial latch, unlatch and try again. ¬†I did not consider myself successful at breast-feeding. ¬†In fact, I felt so shamed by the lactation consultants when I sought help. ¬†I remember after my first night in the hospital with Gia that I felt so lucky that she latched well. ¬†The problem was that she looked like she had a perfect latch (according to the nurses), but I still had issues. ¬†I gave breast-feeding my best shot for about a month or so. ¬†It was one of the most stressful things I’ve been through in adjusting to life as a new mother. ¬†I don’t say these things to scare new moms, but I say it in hopes of people taking initiative to educate themselves. ¬†Go take a breast-feeding class offered by your hospital. ¬†I did this and found it very helpful and I’m even signed up for the same class before baby #2 arrives. ¬†I developed a very, very severe case of mastitis while breast-feeding with Gia. ¬†It was so shocking to me that the signs and symptoms of mastitis were never mentioned to me during my first breast-feeding class. ¬†If your breast feels hot to the touch, has red splotches, or you have a high fever, it’s likely you are suffering from mastitis. ¬†This was what took me out of the breast-feeding game. ¬†TMI but, I had nipples that were cracked like the Grand Canyon, blood blisters, the whole nine yards. ¬†I mention all of this because there is nothing wrong with making the decision to stop nursing. ¬†At the end of the day fed is best and when our kids hit kindergarten no one will know who had formula and who had breast milk. ¬†You need to be the best mom you can be and sometimes that means knowing when to stop something.

Make sure the ruffles on the diaper aren’t tucked in. ¬†This might seem really stupid and basic, but it’s very helpful if your child is having diapers that explode often. ¬†Another good thing to try if you feel like you’re changing diapers and outfits on the regular is go up a diaper size. ¬†I didn’t really have to worry about this too much, but did have to remind relatives that ruffles go out!

Swaddle, sway, swing, shush! ¬†If you’re baby is having a hard time sleeping (day or night) you need to swaddle your baby. ¬†It makes them feel safe and secure, just like when they were in your tummy. ¬†Swaying and swinging motions help many babies fall asleep once they’re swaddled because that motion feels the same as the motion they felt while growing inside of you. ¬†Think about it – you didn’t sit your entire pregnancy. ¬†When you moved, your baby moved. ¬†It’s comforting! ¬†The shush noise was also something they heard in the womb. ¬†You have blood flowing and tons of other bodily fluids that are moving throughout your entire body that create a shush sound that makes baby feel at home because it’s all they hear all the time. ¬†(I just mention these tips because I remember they worked for me. ¬†All babies are different and just because I say it worked for me doesn’t mean it has to work for you and your baby.) ¬†I read a book called “The Happiest Baby On The Block,” prior to Gia’s arrival that really dives into these tips.

Just say NO! ¬†Now that I’m a mom of an almost two-year old I’m used to saying that little two-letter word. ¬†People are going to want to come visit you and the baby right after birth. ¬†People are going to tell you that you need to be feeding them solids by a certain age and that they should have rice cereal in their bottle. ¬†People are going to tell you that you don’t need to be so routine oriented about their sleep schedule. ¬†You know what you say to all those people? ¬†NO. ¬†Just because certain things worked for them doesn’t mean you should do it too. ¬†Anything being said to you that’s annoying, opinionated and unsolicited – just go ahead and say no. ¬†It’s your baby, not theirs.

The bottom line here is listen to your gut. ¬†Becoming a new mom for the first, second or third time is a lot. ¬†Like I’ve said many times before, we’re all just winging it and doing what works best for us. ¬†I’m glad I’ve put this all on my blog because it serves as something I can come back to so I can remind myself of these things. ¬†Lord knows that two months from now I’m gonna forget all about everything I learned the first time around with Gia. ¬†Here’s to hoping I re-read this post during all of the middle of the night feeding sessions that I’ll soon be experiencing. ¬†Don’t be hard on yourself, trust the process and¬†trust yourself! ¬†You’ve got this!


Mother’s Day vs. Father’s Day: Both Are Important!

Regardless of your views and beliefs about religion, Christmas is easily one of the most recognized holidays across the globe. ¬†So why is it that Easter, another very important religious holiday, can’t compete with the month-long extravaganza that is Christmas? ¬†Easter is clearly the runner-up to Christmas, whether we want to admit it or not.

Likewise, retailers and bloggers have done their best to whip shoppers into a frenzied state prior to this Father’s Day weekend. ¬†Despite these efforts, Father’s Day seems to be treated with far less reverence than Mother’s Day. ¬†It’s no secret that Mother’s Day gets a lot of attention, but I’ll argue that Father’s Day doesn’t typically receive the same level of interest. ¬†Why is that???

When May rolls around each year, florists, chocolatiers and the trendiest brunch joints extol the importance of showing profound gratitude for all mothers. ¬†The way Father’s Day is marketed and treated with far less seriousness. ¬†Even though I shouldn’t be complaining, this kind bugs me.

Yes, Gia’s dad, Craig, is a lovable buffoon at times, but he is by no means a dimwitted figure who couldn’t possibly be expected to be bothered with feeding or bathing our daughter without first being issued step-by-step instructions. ¬†(I am guilty of leaving him detailed lists of what to do with Gia, as well as checking in on them when they’re alone, but part of that is me just being me.)

It’s 2018 people. ¬†Men are more involved than ever in the day-to-day caring of their kids. ¬†There are countless mornings when I’m on my way to the gym, with Gia in tow and I see the neighborhood elementary school yard filled with fathers. ¬†They’re making sure their kids don’t jump into the street, holding backpacks and giving hugs and kisses before seeing their little ones off to school. ¬†My local parks overflow with dads who seem especially doting.

Just yesterday as I walked into my gym, a member who I’m friendly with asked, “Where’s the baby?” ¬†I kindly said that she was with daddy having fun until I got home and it was his turn to head to the gym for his workout. ¬†What I wanted to say was, “She’s home alone watching TV and making sure the house doesn’t burn down.” ¬†Come on – where do you think she is?? ¬†Why are fathers seen as the “babysitters” and moms are seen as the “real” parent?

In my humble opinion, it’s insulting to all moms and dads. ¬†Yes, there may or may not be more pressure and unrealistic expectations placed on mothers, but this message we are sending is that fathers are less devoted. ¬†That’s simply not the case. ¬†Dad’s are not an afterthought and it’s time we start acting like Father’s Day is just as important as Mother’s Day – because it is!

I’m sure all of us want the father figures in our lives to feel special on Father’s Day each and every year. ¬†In my family, the fathers are probably okay without a purchased gift, but I enjoy shopping for the occasion anyway. ¬†For some, Father’s Day may be more challenging to shop for than Mother’s Day, but remember, it’s not about the gift. ¬†Just like mom, dad wants to feel appreciated and be told that he’s doing a good job.

I am not the sole nurturer of my child because my husband plays a huge role in that as well. ¬†Craig, if you’re reading this, you are a fantastic father. ¬†Expressing my thanks publicly like this for all of your unconditional love will never be enough. ¬†Your contributions to this family exceed all expectations. ¬†You are our provider, protector and a strong individual that we all should try to emulate. ¬†Thank you for never shying away from wiping a dirty baby bum, or putting our daughter to sleep. ¬†I appreciate the selfless care and protection you provide to us on a daily basis. ¬†We love you beyond measure.

Here’s to all of the fathers out there. ¬†May all your days with your family be filled with love, but especially so this Father’s Day.


Why We Are Having Another Child

As parents, it seems like Craig and I have finally fully adjusted to life with a little one and now we are adding a little sister to the mix.  Yes, we know we will have to referee many backseat battles and likely have to buy two of everything when it comes to toys Рimitation is the sincerest form of flattery, of course!  But what we are most excited for is to witness Gialina and her little sister play with one another and embrace each other in warm hugs.

When Gia was born I realized I would do anything to protect her.  I hope and pray that Gia will experience a similar feeling growing up with a younger sibling.  When baby girl number two comes along and starts to become more independent, our children will learn how to split the last chocolate chip cookie that I made, and hopefully learn how to divide TV time when their favorite show is on.  Obviously these little lessons will take time and there will be bumps in the road, but they will come in handy when they are in school.

Craig and I both grew up with siblings and we couldn’t imagine not giving Gia that same gift. ¬†She might not see it that way in the beginning, but as already experienced by Craig and I, having a built in “playmate” and lifelong friend is wonderful. ¬†There won’t be an urgent need to schedule playdates when Gia’s best friend is in the next room. ¬†I know that some of this talk of being best friends can be wishful thinking on my part. ¬†I am fully aware that siblings fight and sometimes they fight a lot. ¬†I’m also keen to the idea that we are going to raise our children with a strong moral compass, so with that, we believe that our children will love and respect one another for a lifetime. ¬†It’s all about setting a good example and instilling proper values.

In Gia’s almost two years of life, we’ve witnessed such empathy, compassion, humor and intelligence on the daily. ¬†Whether it’s mastering a puzzle or learning to hit a plastic golf ball, we know that Gia will teach her younger sister so many things. ¬†In the same regard, as an older sibling she will learn a lot of patience from our new addition.

As I’ve gotten older, I share so many of my thoughts and problems with my younger brother, Zach. ¬†I hope that Gia and her sister will turn to each other for guidance, just as their funky Unkie and I do.

Pictured here is my brother Zach explaining the finer points of surfing to Gia. ¬†I can’t wait for her to know the bond siblings can share.


As sister’s they will celebrate so much together – from birthdays to a walk down the aisle, I hope they stand by each other’s side through all of life’s monumental moments. ¬†With those good times also comes tough times – bruised knees, a less than perfect grade, a broken heart. ¬†No matter the problem, siblings should be there to dry each other’s tears and act as a shoulder to lean on.

(Thinking about this next part makes me emotional and teary eyed.) Above all else, we are making our family a family of four because we want Gia to have someone to grow old with. ¬†Friends come and go, but family is forever. ¬†Unfortunately our parents aren’t able to physically be around forever, so having another sibling ensures that Gia will have a blood connection long after Craig and I are gone.

I’m aware that not everyone wants another child, let alone one child. ¬†(I’ve addressed that in my blog before.) ¬†I try to be sensitive to the fact that everyone is free to live their life exactly how they wish, with child or without. ¬†I also know that those who want kids may have difficulty conceiving and may never experience what Craig and I have. ¬†I feel great pain for those who want kids but are unable, and I have great respect ¬†for those who choose to live their life without children, as these are very personal things. ¬†All I know for myself is that I would absolutely regret not having a second child. ¬†I feel like I would be robbing Gia of something that I know is so amazing. ¬†This is why we are adding another girl to our gang.

Soon Gia will be picking flowers with her built in bestie.


Sidenote: ¬†I know my blog invites opinions of others, but I want to remind everyone to be kind. ¬†By no means do you need to agree with any of my opinions, let’s just be respectful of one another.

I’d love to hear from friends and strangers alike – Why have you decided to have a another child? ¬†Feel free to comment here and don’t forget to follow more of my adventures on my Instagram page, @mrsbennigson.


A Birth Story: Gialina Eve



There are two days in my life that I will never forget – one is my wedding day and the other is the day Gialina was born. ¬†I know lots of mommy bloggers share their birth stories, so initially I shied away from the idea of sharing mine. ¬†What changed my mind is that everyone’s story is so unique and beautiful. ¬†There is no right way to give birth and no mother should be shamed for going through natural delivery, an epidural or a c-section. ¬†So much is out of your control when you bring another life into the world and any way that your child arrives is a perfect miracle.

I used to dislike saying that childbirth is such a miracle (silly me – that was before I actually went through it), but as cliche as it sounds, that’s the only way to describe it. ¬†So, so much can go wrong from the time of conception until you meet your baby. ¬† Inevitably, the wold miracle is the only proper one that encompasses the whole process.

I’d like to start by saying that the day I gave birth was just an ordinary day, but it sure didn’t feel that way to me. ¬†I was so done with being pregnant! ¬†Gia’s due date was July 28th, 2016, but our little lady arrived according to her own plan an entire week late. ¬†The morning of August 4th, 2016 I had a pre-scheduled appointment with my OB/GYN. ¬†That morning I felt pretty normal and remember the slightest little stomach cramps. ¬†Of course my brain went straight to “I must be in labor!”

I was hoping that once Craig and I got to the hospital for my doctor’s appointment that they would confirm that I was in labor and I could just stay there and get ready to welcome our daughter. ¬†WRONG! ¬†I got all hooked up to some contraption to check and see if I was actually contracting and in labor, and the answer was a big fat no. ¬†Come to find out, I was only dilated 1cm. ¬†Womp, womp. ¬†I was so bummed to hear this because I was thinking that this was it. ¬†My doctor reminded me that things can change quickly, so don’t let yourself get too fixated on it. ¬†Either way, I was penciled in for induction a few days later if mother nature didn’t get things moving on her own.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting induced.  Modern medicine is amazing and whatever my doctor thought was best for the baby was what I was going to do.  I have to admit that I really, really did not want to be induced.  I had heard a lot of stories about induction and it being a lot more painful, due to the pitocin that is given.

I took my doctor’s advice and just tried to relax as much as possible and not let my body get stressed. ¬†Since I realized again that I was not the one in control here, I went about my day the way I usually would. ¬†I opted for a walk in the neighborhood instead of heading to the gym like I had everyday prior.

Most of the remainder of the day was spent at my mom and dad’s house. ¬†No matter how old I get, I will still always need my mom and that’s who I wanted to be near (along with my husband, of course) if I happened to go into labor. ¬†So, Craig and I hung out at my parents house until my brother flew in from Orange County and my dad got home from work. (Since there was a possibility of being induced, my parents flew my brother home for Gia’s birth.)

All afternoon I was feeling oddly crampy. ¬†I was uncomfortable but it felt more annoying to me than anything else. ¬†I kept asking my mom and Craig, “Am I in labor? ¬†Don’t you think I would know? ¬†I can’t tell if I’m in labor or not.” ¬†I know that sounds ridiculous, but I didn’t know what to expect, as I’ve never even experienced menstrual cramps, let alone childbirth.

We decided it couldn’t hurt to time the “possible” contractions. ¬†I was all over the board when it came to timing these cramps, as I called them. ¬†I was in complete denial that I was in labor and was able to sit and have dinner before I told Craig it was time to go home.

Keeping it real with this one – Here I am, clueless as to the fact that I’d be giving birth very soon:


Since my dad and brother had arrived home, the house was getting a little louder and I found myself becoming irritable and wanted to be in the quiet of our own home. ¬†Craig and I grabbed our things and were walking down the hallway towards the front door when, yep, you guessed it – my water broke! ¬†It wasn’t at all like what the movies make it out to be. ¬†I literally felt like I had peed my pants and couldn’t stop.

I remember screaming in disbelief, excitement and let’s be real, fear – “MY WATER BROKE, MY WATER BROKE!” ¬†Thankfully, Craig was so on top of things and was dialing labor and delivery before I could think to do it. ¬†The nurses on the other line instructed me to get in the shower and rinse off before making my way to the hospital.

Lucky for me my water broke right next to the downstairs bathroom, so I just went a few steps and took my quick shower. ¬†That’s when sh*t started to get real. ¬†My contractions came like a bat out of hell, fast and furious, almost immediately after my water broke. ¬†Things were so intense that I could hardly get to the car. ¬†I’m pretty sure I just hovered over the passenger seat while Craig drove faster than I’d like to know to get me to the hospital, which was maybe 12 minutes away or so.

I made Craig run the last light before getting to the hospital because I was literally about to give birth in the car. ¬†Craig parked his car in the middle of the emergency room driveway, grabbed me a wheelchair and pushed me into the ER asking how to get to labor and delivery from there. ¬†Everyone was literally staring at us saying nothing until the security guard chimed in and said, “this lady is about of have a baby, get her upstairs!”

Once I was upstairs I was brought to a delivery room right way. ¬†The nurses were so calm and nice, and even making me laugh through my contractions. ¬†Don’t get me wrong people, I was by no means comfortable. ¬†I distinctly remember telling the nurse that I wasn’t opposed to getting an epidural if this was how I was currently feeling. ¬†No need to try and be the hero, right?!

The nurse told me she needed to check me first before she could give me a yay or nay on the epidural. ¬†All you mamas out there are probably thinking, girl it’s too late for that. ¬†The nurse confirmed and said word for word, “Oh no, honey, you’re having a baby right now.” ¬†I was already fully dilated, so I asked the nurse if I could push now.

During all of this chaos, Craig’s car is still in the ER driveway. ¬†He asked the nurse if he should go move it (DUH!), but she said, “Not if you want to miss the birth of your child.” ¬†Thank goodness my family was right behind us on the way to the hospital, so Craig literally tossed my brother his keys, so he could move his car.

I sat down on that delivery bed right around 8 p.m. and I think I pushed maybe five times and she was out by 8:31 p.m. ¬†I had never felt more like Wonder Woman in my entire life. ¬†Well, I should say I felt like Wonder Woman who just got a really good beat down by the bad guy. ¬†I did it! ¬†I was holding our beautiful daughter, who had a head full of hair and the sweetest little face. ¬†When the nurses were weighing her I remember fixating on her hands and feet because I couldn’t get over how big they were. ¬†I was in utter disbelief that she was just inside of me and I was able to push her out. ¬†She was no tiny baby either. ¬†Gia was a healthy 8 lbs 15 oz and 20 inches long.


Giving birth to our daughter is my proudest moment and I will never tire of telling the story of her arrival. ¬†Women’s bodies are amazing and capable of enduring so much. ¬†I have to say, there was moment after the nurse told me that I couldn’t have an epidural that I got scared. ¬†I questioned if I was strong enough to do it. ¬†I was strong enough, and every time that I look at my daughter today, I cannot believe she is part of me.

I was grateful to be able to have such a quick delivery, but that doesn’t mean it any easier. ¬†I’m just glad I wasn’t laboring and pushing for hours like many women do. ¬†Those women are the real tough ones! ¬†We are all goddesses, whether we have given birth or not, all women are amazing and capable of doing anything. ¬†Sometimes we just need a gentle reminder every now and then!