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Sound Asleep with Owlet

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When I say ‘sound asleep’ you probably think I’m talking about the baby, right? Well, not this time! This post isn’t about getting baby to sleep soundly, instead it’s about allowing you to sleep like a baby for once. And let’s be honest, you need it. To all of you with a new baby: raise your hands if sleeping sans paranoia of SIDS sounds like a dream come true. How, you may ask? Well, allow me to introduce to you…

The Owlet.

The Owlet is the first device of its kind that’s designed to alert you when baby’s heart rate or oxygen levels dip below normal. So now there’s no need to worry about watching your newborn like a hawk in the middle of the night during those first few precious weeks when you’re already sleep deprived just so you can make sure they don’t stop breathing. Every mother knows what I’m talking about here… you bring baby home from the hospital, finally get them drift off into a peaceful slumber, then 3am rolls around and instead of falling asleep yourself (like you should), you sit and stare… and stare… and stare. It’s all you’re able to do because you’re so consumed with the thought of that tiny, fragile chest not rising and falling anymore the second you fall asleep. And even though you swore you’d kill anybody who dares to wake your sleeping baby, it’s YOU who ultimately interrupts their sugar plum dreams with a gentle poke here and a tiny nudge there just to see if they move in response.

Well parents, rest assured because with the Owlet you can now catch some sweet dreams yourself without having to worry about the nightmare of SIDS threatening to interfere; with 83% of parents reporting a better night’s sleep, the Owlet is literally a dream(s) come true.

Finally, a high tech device that can hold its own against the iPhone, flat screen TVs, wireless routers and all the other life-changing inventions of modern times. However this, unlike all of the above, offers you a peace of mind. It’s added security for your most valuable possession yet… and that’s priceless.

The Owlet intently monitors your baby’s vitals as they’re sleeping through the use of a specialized sock containing hospital technology that collects data on baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels. It then sends that data via Bluetooth to the pod-shaped base station that you can set up on your nightstand, and allows you to view real time readings on your phone. It all runs through the wifi connection in your home, no wires required. It’s accompanied by a free app in the App Store that allows you to check in and view your baby’s stats anytime you want- without having to nudge them back awake. In the event of your baby’s vitals falling outside of normal range, it’s designed to alert you both on your phone and from the base station, giving you one less thing to worry about at night.

There’s 3 different sizes of the smart sock that come in the box so it can be worn all throughout infancy and past any growth spurts. It stretches over your baby’s foot to provide a nice, snug fit to keep the sensor in place and those little hands from tugging it off. You don’t have to worry about getting a false alarm if your busy bee is tossing and turning at night, instead the app will spell it out for you by relaying the message on the screen that your baby is wiggling- and this is a good time to point out.. the Owlet only works while baby is asleep and still, it’s not meant for active, daytime hours when those tiny toes are begging for you to play Little Piggy with them.

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This little guy is way too important to take any chances with, as I’m sure yours is too. There’s nothing on Earth more important than your little Earthling, and that stands true for everyone who has the honor of holding the title of ‘Parent’. If staying up all night- every night was a physical possibility, I’m sure parents all around the world would do it just for the sake of their little one, but we can’t. That’s where Owlet steps in;

The Owlet stays up all night so you don’t have to.

As I sign off for the night enthusiastically looking forward to a solid night’s rest, my hope you for is that with the introduction of this revolutionary device, you too can get a good night’s sleep. One that’s free of constant worry and concern, paranoia or guilt. Parents, we have the next 18 years (okay, a lifetime) to feel that way over every little thing our children will eventually do without us, so to worry a little less about anything pertaining to my child-especially something as critical as life or death, is not only a great investment in my book, but a necessary one.

*This post was sponsored by Owlet.

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How To Increase Your Milk Supply

I’m back with another installment for Breastfeeding Awareness month and today I’m talking about how to increase your milk supply naturally. I’d say almost every nursing mom hits a road bump and either runs a little low, or at least thinks she does so here are some helpful tips to getting that liquid gold back in stock.

Have you guys ever heard of going on a “Nursing Vacation”? Well get your naked baby & Boppy pillow ready because this is the best way to get that milk flowin’ again.

|Nursing Pajama Set: Figure 8 Maternity|

A nursing vacation is when you take a whole day and bunker down with your baby. You dedicate a full 24 hours to your little one and nurse on demand continuously. Strip your baby down to a diaper because skin-to-skin not only promotes lactation but also encourages babies to eat, then sit down with your favorite TV series on Netflix because you’ll be there all day. Have your boppy pillow close by, your pump ready to go, a tray of healthy snacks within arms reach and plenty of water to drink for the day.

Go on a nursing vacation while implementing these three following steps and you’ll be on your way to making more milk in no time…

You can try every trick in the book but being that I’ve been down this road quite a bit before, I happen to know the only things that actually work. There are 3 main factors that will have a direct impact on your milk production, and they are:

1- Nursing on Demand.

2- Pumping All The Time.

3- Eating and Drinking Enough.

These are the most effective ways to get your milk supply back up. Nursing on demand speaks for itself, the only way you’ll make more is if you nurse more, and the more you nurse the better the results will be. There really is no substitution for this one, but there is something you can do in addition that’ll really spike your supply, which is: pumping. Pump for 1-2 minutes before you nurse, not just after. Why? Because not even the best pumps can express milk like a baby can, so get the easy going stuff out first, then have the baby work out the hind milk that the pump can’t get to. Just be sure not to pump too much, save most of it for the baby. After the baby is done eating, March right back over to your handy dandy pump and do it again, only this time longer. Much longer. There’s also something called “power pumping” and that’s when you pump for 5 minutes, every 15 minutes, for one hour. Doing this alone won’t produce as good of results though.

It may sound silly, but eating and drinking enough is something new moms sometimes forget to do. Breastfeeding burns up anywhere from 350-500 calories a day on its own, and when baby is actively eating it burns up even more. Minus the calories your body needs for itself, and even more if you’re still in the process of healing. You’ll notice that if you haven’t eaten a snack for a while or skipped breakfast, you’ll be running on E. This has happened to me a lot, it’s shocking how much milk your body will stop making just because you forgot to eat one simple meal that day. A good rule of thumb is to eat a snack and have a glass of water every time you’re nursing baby.

Keep in mind that what you eat and drink makes a difference, too. Some of the foods that help with milk production are oatmeal, salmon, nuts, fennel seeds and carrots. As far as what to drink, water will be your best friend. Stick to lots and lots of H2O, and treat yourself to a cup of tea in between that’s meant to help with lactation.

Birds and Bees Teas recently sent me some of their best selling teas to sample which are made just for moms in all stages of motherhood, so when I ran into this problem when I first started supplementing I gave their Our Lady of La Leche tea a try. It has ingredients that are known to help aid in lactation, and the best part about them is the extensive research they put into the making each of their teas and which ingredients are best for that certain blend in particular. All of their 9 teas are hand-blended and loose leaf, and they’re all meant to help with a variety of different stages in motherhood (i.e., Peaceful Pregnancy tea, Family Immunity, Milk Be Gone tea, and even a Ripe N’ Ready tea for those last days of pregnancy when you’ll try almost anything to induce labor).

So back to that nursing vacation. Get comfy, put those 3 steps into action and make a day out of it. I promise it’ll be the fastest (and most relaxing) way to getting your baby’s food back in stock and off back order. [A quick note about my nursing pajama set… It was a gift from the awesome folks over at Figure 8 and I gotta say, it’s the most comfortable 3 piece bamboo set in the universe. The snaps make nursing so easy and the pants fit great even though they’re meant to wear with a bump, so it’s a really good investment for a transitional piece.]

Well, with only a week left in August, I have one more post left pertaining to Breastfeeding Awareness month so stay tuned. I hope this post help shed some light for inquiring minds, put yo feet up and soak in the pleasantry of a vacation with just you and the love of your life for a whole day.

*This post was sponsored by Birds and Bees Teas.

Special thanks to Figure 8 Maternity for the lovely gift of comfort on a Nursing Vacation day. ❤️

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Baby Wearing

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KEEP SCROLLING FOR A 10% OFF DISCOUNT CODE FOR A BELUGA BABY WRAP OF YOUR OWN!

I’ve been blessed with happy babies that never cry much, until Johnny was born. Don’t get me wrong he’s a happy baby, and he doesn’t cry much… If I’m holding him. The second I put him down the wailing would start, and shortly after that the whining from the other two kids would commence since I couldn’t go and deliver my promised attention to them. Even when it was just Johnny and I awake in the house, I still couldn’t do anything without holding him. And I mean NOTHING. That boy can  s c r e a m.

One day at around week 2, I was trying to change Marco’s messy toddler blow-out diaper and as I was using all my might to keep him from flipping over and jumping off the changing table, the baby was screaming in the background. Not because he was hungry or needed to be changed himself, but because I put him down for a second… that’s all. I was this close to going crazy until my daughter walked in and said, “…Mommy, why don’t you try using that baby backpack thingy the mailman brought you?” -That baby backpack thing being this Beluga baby wrap, AKA the ultimate life saving secret of the universe for mothers around the globe- no joke!

What a little genius. Why didn’t I think of that? Oh, I know why. It’s because I was 2 weeks deep into a sleep deprived delerea with a gash on my abdomen, a baby permanently attached to my boob, and a bad case of cabin fever combined with parenthooditis that completely hijacked all logic from my already declining cognition. Simple thoughts like those escape me baby, sorry.

I put Johnny in it and the crying came to a screeching halt. For the first time since the baby was born, I could go about my daily tasks with both hands and not hear crying in the background. I concluded at that very instant baby wearing is the best gift ever invented for moms, especially moms raising more than 1 baby at a time. I then thanked the heavens for my daughter’s juvenile insight on what was such common sense in the first place because it was what legitimately saved me from going insane. My only regret was not doing it sooner, and with this Beluga baby wrap I very well could’ve because it’s meant to carry newborns all the way up to 30lb. toddlers.

I spent that day cooking, cleaning and playing with Legos and building blocks with my other two kids. Then just a couple days ago I decided to officially end the newborn seclusion stage and leave the house, I got all dressed up for the first time in a month and my accessory for the day was none other than Johnny himself, all bundled up in my comfy and stylish baby wrap. I’ve been living in this thing, seriously!

It’s been hotter than hell here in Florida, and while I know heat has covered most of the country, the humidity is the worst part of Florida summers and it’s what bothers me the most. The idea of wrapping myself in anything plus carry a warm baby on my chest just seems crazy, but fortunately I have the perfect wrap for the calling. From going out to just hanging around the house, I wouldn’t chose any other wrap because this is the only one I found made of such breathable & lightweight material. It’s a bamboo fabric and really stretchy, it almost feels like I’m wearing nothing at all. It’s also really easy to put on and that’s important because I always got confused with the other wraps I tried before. You would think I’d be a pro at baby wearing by now but the truth is I never did it that much with my other two. It wasn’t until I suddenly found myself with three babies and not enough hands to take care of all of them at once that I discovered just how convenient baby wearing really is.

And wouldn’t you know, baby wearing has so many other perks besides saving the mother from going nutty? Turns out wearing your baby during the first 36 days cuts down on crying by 46%, and moms notice a 56% less difference in crying at night time hours. Also, moms who wear their babies are 2x’s more likely to successfully breastfeed. Carrying your baby is a very natural extension of pregnancy, it aids in the bonding process and is proven to have many emotional & developmental benefits for your child. Reflux is cut down during the first 12 weeks when carried upright for a good half hour after feedings, and since 75% of daytime SIDS cases involve a baby who was left alone in a crib or bassinet, it reduces the chance of that happening to you. With baby carrying, you can keep your baby close when they’re napping instead of putting them down in their room while you go about your daily business. Those heavy duty structured carriers are great for long trips out, but they can also be way too heavy and uncomfortable. I always grab my Beluga baby wrap because it’s perfect for everyday use such as a quick trip to the grocery store, lunch with friends or even just carrying Johnny around the house all day. I’ll save my larger Bjorn structured carrier for demanding physical/outdoor activities, but other than on those rare occasions I wouldn’t switch this wrap up for anything because it does the best job in supporting baby all day long and never making me feel like he’ll wiggle out.

So far parenting three has been quite the experience. Some days I wonder what all the fuss is about and others I feel as if I’m on the brink of a mental breakdown. But if I had to give advice to any other moms in a similar position, it would be to wear your baby. That, next to feeding your baby before they cry, are the golden tickets to parenting with ease.

You can browse all the different color options the Beluga baby wrap comes in here. My favorite part about this brand is the organic, subtle shades they use and the bamboo material it’s made of, making it easy to match anything you’re wearing. They also have detailed instructional videos for both of the different ways you can carry your baby, and easy access to customer service and answers to any questions you may have by getting on their Instagram page. (You can also check out common FAQ’s for baby wearing here).

I’m so obsessed with this baby wrap and stand by it so much so that I want you to try it for yourself! Right now you can apply a 10% off discount code at checkout by entering in “Graziella”. If anyone buys one, let me know what you think of it!

 

* This post was sponsored by Beluga Baby.

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Supplementing

It’s National Breastfeeding Awareness month and as promised, I’m back talking more about the topic. This time I’m addressing another popular form of feeding that goes hand-in-hand with nursing: Supplementing.

While a mother’s intentions to breastfeed exclusively may be real, the truth is it doesn’t always work out that way. It’s INCREDIBLY time consuming, for one. You might as well cancel any appointments for the next two months because you’ll be needed on the couch every couple hours to nurse your baby without any exceptions. Supplementation may be needed for other reasons as well, like in my case which started out with neonatal jaundice, a tongue tie and weight loss nearing 10% when my little Fox was first born. This required us to supplement in the hospital to keep him healthy and eating frequently.

The nurses had him drinking bottles all day long, and the baby and I were separated for over 24 hours at one point so ever since the beginning I noticed I wasn’t making as much as I should.

At 1 month old, he would still fuss every half hour and constantly want more (even taking cluster feeding into account). He would get so frustrated after about 5 minutes of nursing and I could feel my breasts had nothing left in them. I knew it wasn’t the baby, it was me. I never really bounced back producing enough milk after our rocky start and now he was starting to require more. It came to a point where I could either stay in denial about not making enough milk (which I did for awhile), or I can settle my hungry baby’s tummy and try topping him off with some formula to see if that satisfied him. Ever since I tested this theory out and observed his behavior afterwards, it was clear he was much happier and slept much better, even smiling those little gas-induced newborn smiles the whole way through it. However just tinkering with that experiment for one day alone caused an even bigger decrease in my milk supply, and after a few more days I no longer had a choice but to implement some form of alteration in his feeding routine.


Today we’ve come to settle into a new routine that has proven to be quite nice: supplementing. After breastfeeding exclusively for the first month, we switched things up and found supplementing to be more beneficial than I thought. We continue to nurse all night long without exception to keep myself from failing to produce a healthy and adequate supply, and we still nurse throughout the whole day as well. But he’ll also have a 3oz bottle at around 11am, and again at 5pm to satisfy his hungry belly and get a solid stretch of sleep. Either that, or I’ll top him off with about an oz or two of formula if he’s still fussy after nursing. I gotta tell ya, it surprises me to admit this but it’s made everyone a lot happier around here. I find that with supplementing he has the best of both worlds, and I’m very glad I bit the bullet and chose to do it.

Breastfeeding is such a THING. You’re on call 24/7 every hour on the hour to sit down and nurse your child. While Johnny used to fuss every half hour and not ever get into real nap mode- Giada would be yelling my name from across the house needing help with something all the time and Marco would be mischievously hiding or climbing up the bookshelves trying to test the theory of flight only to learn the hard way that humans cannot fly. Being home by myself with these three kids all under the age of 4 was driving me loopy. I had guilt about putting the baby down all the time to chase after my other 2 while simultaneously having guilt for not being able to sit down and invest 100% dedication to breastfeeding on demand. I knew that by not doing so, I would only perpetuate the lack of supply problem I already had, and with each passing day it became increasingly harder to get him “milk drunk”. I eventually put my guilt aside and fed him a bottle only to be pleasantly surprised at how much more manageable it’s been to parent 3 and run a household all at once, and it was a result I never initially expected. Things are much more favorable for all concerned. I see my newborn gaining weight and staying healthy, I have more time to attend to Giada’s neverending inquiries, and I’m now able to shower Marco with all the undivided attention he desperately needs at his ripe age of 1… both to keep him from feeling left out and to keep him from trying to “fly” and crack his skull.

Supplementing is ok you guys, don’t feel guilty about it like I did at first. For all you moms out there who are disappointed in having to use a bottle like I was, there are some things you can learn in order to help make the transition between bottle and breast go smoothly so you won’t have to worry about your baby rejecting nursing when it’s time to alternate.

 The first thing to keep in mind is nipple confusion. This is why you hear all that talk about not letting newborns use a binkie. Babies can get used to the feeling of one shape in their mouth, and unintentionally reject your breast when you try to get them to latch on. Babies learn quick, so if you’re gonna supplement it’s very important you use the right bottle. One that is most similar in comparison to the shape of your nipple is best like the LATCH bottle here. It was specifically designed to feed supplementing babies and has features like a flexible spout that stretches and continuously moves that help trick the baby into thinking he’s getting milk from you.

Another thing I learned while supplementing in the hospital is how much flow makes a difference. When I gave Johnny the bottle, it literally poured right out of the bottle and into his mouth without any effort on his part. They tend to get used to that easy feeding and when it’s time to actually work for any milk, they simply give up.

A trick my nurse taught me was to hold the baby sitting up at a perpendicular angle to the bottle, that way even though it’ll still be a lot easier vs the breast, they’ll have to actually suck to get milk out.

This Munchkin LATCH bottle does a great job on addressing this issue because the milk is only released when the baby applies pressure against the nipple, just like when breastfeeding. Their Stage 1 Nipple’s flow matches a mother’s flow best and their Stage 2 and Stage 3 nipples accommodate baby’s growth by allowing you to increase the flow as baby gets older.

The last thing to really be aware of when supplementing is colic. You’ll notice that your baby will spit up and have a lot more gas after using the bottle. The ease on a baby’s tummy is the one thing that’s been very hard for bottle companies to reproduce, but so far I’ve had very good success with LATCH’s design. Their bottles come equipped with an anti-colic valve (the blue spout at the base). It effectively reduces air bubbles and lowers the chance of colic by allowing air to flow in from the bottom of the bottle, stopping it from traveling up towards the baby’s milk. When using any bottle though, stop and burp the baby after every oz or so until they definitely let something out. This also gives the baby a break to settle their stomach and see if they’re full, preventing them from overeating and spitting up too much.

Overall we all know that breastfeeding is the first choice for newborn babies, it has benefits formula can never substitute for which is why we have a whole month dedicated to its importance. But keep in mind that supplementing can be done with either formula or your pumped breast milk, and when done with the right bottle it doesn’t have to be a chore getting the baby to latch on again. I never had a problem transitioning between the two ever since I started to incorporate the LATCH bottle and begin supplementing. Like I mentioned before, we still nurse day and night- and not once has he given me a hard time. I credit it to the use of a proper bottle, one meant especially for supplementing babies like this one. It’s saved me a great deal of grief because anyone who breastfeeds knows how tricky it can be to become successful at it and keep it going until the baby is at least 6 months old.

Remembering to use the right kind of bottle, one that A) is shaped most like you, B) reduces air and colic, and C) doesn’t flow much too quickly are all important factors to consider if you plan on mastering the Art of Supplementation.

You can find the new Munchkin LATCH bottles here. They come in different sizes, just make sure to get the right stage nipple for your baby. Another big tip for anyone who’s supplementing is to pump, pump, pump. This isn’t really a tip, it’s more of a fact. If you don’t pump you’ll seriously jeopardize any chance of continuing to breastfeed. Feed the baby more than you pump because not even the best pump can empty your breasts like a baby can, but after investing in the best pump possible, pump your heart out any chance you get. Pumps, along with many other breastfeeding accessories, are a topic all on its own since there’s so many different factors to consider when shopping for one, plus so many tips to remember while doing it.

In the next Breastfeeding Awareness Month post, Munchkin LATCH and I will be teaming up once again to discuss all things pumping. I’ll share the best tips I have, introduce some amazingly genius products that make pumping ever so convenient, plus review several different other accessories meant for the nursing momma.

Until next time!


*This post was sponsored by Munchkin LATCH.

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Organizing with the U.S.H.

I used to think having a dog was messy. Then I had kids… Wow does the clutter pile up on ya. Now that I have 3, I really understand how messy it can be. Keeping a clean and organized house is practically impossible. I have toys laying around everywhere, clothes in every corner of the house, and art supplies everywhere I look. Recently I discovered this nifty little invention, it’s called the Ultimate Sock Hanger, or the U.S.H., and I found it does a lot more than just organize miscellaneous socks! Here are some other ways the U.S.H. helped me:

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1) Giada’s hair bow collection is extensive, to say the least. The U.S.H. helped me keep all her headbands orderly and easy to find, now I no longer have to go digging through a basket to search for that perfect piece.

 

2) My office was once a craft room where I used to make and sell those hair bows that have filled up Giada’s basket to the rim. I’m a bit of a craft supply hoarder, I can’t find it in me to throw anything away! I just know that as soon as I do, I’ll be looking for that one tiny piece of ribbon that would’ve been perfect for a project I’m working on. So now I have a spot to keep it all, thanks U.S.H.! Out of sight, out of mind… so I never got any use out of all my supplies. The U.S.H. makes it easy to have all my scraps displayed so I can see them, then can be easily hid away when I shut the closet door.

 

3) These baby hats are everywhere around my house! The hospital has a group of generous volunteers who sit and knit these caps for newborns all day long, and each time one of them came to visit the baby & I they gifted us with one (or 2, or 3) for Johnny to wear. They’re adorable don’t get me wrong, but I think we have enough hats now to cloth an entire nursery. Now I can keep them all hung in his closet and pick one out in no time.

 

4) Last but not least, socks! After all, that is what the U.S.H. was made for! The Ultimate Sock Hanger tackles the issue of missing socks, it provides a simple solution to that problem we all seem to have. Instead of tossing them in the trash because you can’t find the matching one, only to find its counterpart a day later, you can keep them all in one spot hanging above your washer and dryer.

So my house may still be very messy and look like a war zone half the time, but any little bit helps! Now I’ve got a few of the messiest things under control, and I’m sure if I tried more I’d find additional ways to use this awesome little invention. How would you use the U.S.H.? I’d love to know!


*This post was sponsored by U.S.H., The Ultimate Sock Hanger.

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Milk Drunk

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August officially kicks off National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, it’s aimed in spreading more awareness about nursing and providing a better landscape of breastfeeding support. Their campaign encourages those who support it to host events, post online, open up the dialog and help educate others about the benefits of breastfeeding. Not only that, it’s meant to help end the discrimination against breastfeeding in general, making it more comfortable and acceptable for moms to nurse their babies outside of their home. All month long you’ll be seeing a lot of breastfeeding posts here on my blog, and they’re in no way meant to push breastfeeding on anyone, simply there to help moms who wish to find out more. By posting these photos of an intimate moment between mother and child, I hope to effectively pitch in on the effort to end the stigma around public breastfeeding and strip away (no pun intended) the taboo nature that surrounds it.

It’s important to note that I do not claim to be “superior” in the motherhood department because I breastfeed my baby. If anything, my reasons for nursing my son supersede the health benefits alone and may even be considered selfish. For me; the bond is easier to form by doing so, it’s extremely convenient especially during night time feedings, it helps shrink you back to pre-pregnancy weight in no time flat, it gives me an excuse to sit down and relax without feeling guilty, it burns about 450 calories a day on its own, it’s free, and it’s my favorite part about being a new mother because it showers me with a bunch of loving, motherly feelings. So in no way am I a “perfect” mom just because I breastfeed, and mothers who do not breastfeed their children are just as concerned about the health & wellbeing of their babies as I am. Yes, it’s true that #breastisbest, but formula fed babies thrive just as well. I was a formula baby and I turned out just fine!

What’s important here is the choice, and the option to feed in public without being looked at like a weirdo. Any of you who’ve been following me on snapchat (👻: GraziellaHannan) have seen me nursing Johnny hundreds of times by now. I do that because I feel no shame or embarrassment in something so natural and it’s a big part of what we do everyday. I LOVE breastfeeding, and my son LOVES to eat, so of course the snaps of my daily life will depict such truths.

As important as it is to be comfortable about it, it’s equally important to be comfortable while doing it. So I recently teamed up with Mayana Genevière to try out their Lorenna nursing bra and I found it really makes nursing much easier whenever I’m out. I like the bras that you can just flip down and instantly be ready to go, no fuss or snaps required so it’s easy to readjust without peeling up your entire shirt. Mayana Genevière did an excellent job in creating this super sexy version so I don’t have to feel like I belong in nothing but “mom jeans” now that I have kids. And you see that little diamond circle piece in the center of the bra? It slides left and right so you can remember which breast you last fed the baby with. Pretty crafty, you can tell a nursing mom was the one who designed every detail of this bra.

When it comes to breastfeeding, to each their own, however feeling good about yourself and feeling comfortable if you’re gonna do it is something I think we can all universally agree on being a desirable intention. For all you new moms out there, I hope you can at least give breastfeeding an honest try without giving up too soon. It’s a tricky thing to master and takes 100% dedication and devotion, not to mention tons of patience, but once accomplished is very rewarding. There are some great guides to help moms get started off on the right foot, you can find them here and here. But at the end of the day if exclusively breastfeeding isn’t the right option for you, don’t let anyone put you down for it. Moms have a hard enough job as it is making sure we’re always doing the best for our children, so coming together and supporting one another is something all us members of the Motherhood Club should do.

Shop the Lorenna Nursing Bra or take a look at the other great styles Mayana Genevière has to offer by viewing their entire collection here.

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*This post was sponsored by Mayana Genevière.

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Recovery: My C-Section Story

The photos above were taken about 6 hours after Johnny was born. This was the first time Giada got to meet her new baby brother, a moment in which she had been preparing for months beforehand. It’s amazing how calm he got once she started talking to him, he definitely recognized her voice from all the times she sang to him and told him stories while in my belly. At the time these photos were taken, I was doing great. For just getting off the operating table that same morning, I was up walking around and feeling no pain, considering. The nurses were pretty shocked at how fast I was recovering, but warned me to take it easy and not overdo it. I should have listened.

It’s standard to go home on day 3 after a c-section, but I’m a bad patient and was in such a rush to get back home to my other two kids and resume my normal life that I begged them to release me on day 2. Johnny had already spent one full night under the phototherapy lights and his last bilirubin check leveled off, his poor heel had been pricked so many times at that point and since bilirubin levels typically fall within the normal range the older baby gets and the more he eats & poops, I felt confident that he’d be ok. I felt great too, just ready and raring to get out of the hospital and back in the comforts of my own home.

The next day, day 3, the visiting nurse came to my house as they usually do for all new mothers. It’s a great thing my hospital does, they come to check on both of us and it allows new moms to feel safe and secure while given the opportunity to stay home and bond with their new baby. My visiting nurse, Liza, also happened to be my midwife during Giada & Marco’s pregnancy. She recently retired from the practice and decided to continue working with moms and babies for the hospital this way, so since I couldn’t see her at all throughout this pregnancy I was really glad she got to come over and meet my new son. She pricked Johnny’s heel one more time to confirm his jaundice was a thing of the past, put his blood sample in her bag for testing once she returned to the hospital and then asked to see my incision so we could remove the staples. I felt perfectly fine, but to be honest I was so consumed with all the new changes going on and so thrilled that I was finally home that I probably wouldn’t have noticed anything wrong with me anyhow. My focus was constantly on the kids and the readjustment to life as we now know it, and I was overly joyous in a blissful cloud of new motherhood again that I didn’t stop to think of- let alone worry about- my own recovery.

She took one look at my incision and changed her mind about removing my staples. It was obvious it wasn’t ready yet, and on top of that she was concerned with the swelling and redness I had. She knew right away it was infected, so she called my midwife who then proceeded to call my pharmacy to start me on an antibiotic. A couple hours later after I picked up my prescription, the hospital called with Johnny’s results. Bad news, I was gonna have to bring him back to be readmitted so he can spend another night under the phototherapy lights, only this time without me.

I was devastated, it felt like everything was hitting me at once and all of the emotional turmoil that escaped me previously throughout the last 3 days finally came around to taunt me. Like a tiny voice from a guilty bad conscience paid me a visit just to punish me for leaving the hospital way too eagerly & much too soon so it could say, “Uht-ah, you’re not getting away with childbirth that easy. Wipe that smile off your face because the joys of motherhood are just now beginning, darling.”

I mentally smacked that sarcastic devil off my left shoulder and went into my room where I had a breakdown. I was shaking, crying, overcome with anxiety and all. Not because of the news of his test results in particular, but because it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The lack of sleep, the kids making so much noise, the uncertainty of how I was healing, the fact that I’d have to be separated from my newborn overnight plus the hard time I was gonna have going back to breastfeeding after it was already a struggle being that we were supplementing in the hospital for his jaundice… Oh yeah, and the frenectomy I scheduled for Johnny to correct his tongue tie issue that couldn’t come fast enough, further making feeding difficult and contributing to his jaundice & weight loss which was nearing the 10% mark; all that plus much more hit me like a bag of bricks, and I just broke down.

Fast forward one week later to when these pictures were taken. John Fox was brought home the very next morning after his readmittance and was finally in the clear, now all that was left to do on his end was have his frenectomy performed so he could feed better and that was scheduled for the following day. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a painless procedure where they clip a tiny bit under his tongue so he can extend it out further. It was no big deal, he didn’t even cry. He was thriving, but I on the other hand was only getting worse. There I was a week post partum and I seemed to be in more pain then compared to the whole week prior. Once again, all the pain that I had escaped and successfully eluded me after my surgery somehow found me, and suddenly I was on the couch crying, unable to twist or move around at all.

That stupid little sarcastic devil showed his face again, wagged his finger at me and said, “Uht-ahhh, you didn’t think you were gonna get away with a c-section without a lot of pain, did you?”

I was supposed to be getting better, not worse, so I back handed that devil off my shoulder for a second time and then used it to pick up the phone and call my doc. I went in the same day and expressed all my concerns, explained how I was still taking the antibiotic like I should, and afterwards my doctor proceeded to finally remove my staples. The staples being gone really helped, I can’t believe how irritated they made my incision feel, but when I peeked down at my incision all I saw was a flap of skin and all the anatomy beneath it. It was completely open still, there was a big hole in which I could see everything inside my body through. The right side healed fine, but the left side looked like I was just stabbed with a sword and left wide open. It was the scariest thing I’d ever seen! Being somebody that’s never had any medical aliments or trauma besides my previous c-section, it was by far the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.

“Oh no”, I thought. “This cannot be happening to me.” For the first time, I was actually scared.

As a non medical professional, my first assumption was that I’d have to get stitches. To me, that would seem like the obvious quick fix and one that would certainly be indicated judging by the appearance of my wound. However that wasn’t the case, I was told that these wounds have to heal from the inside-out and if I got stitches it might lead to further infection plus leave an empty pocket beneath it. Starting from that day, I’d have to go to a specialized facility (appropriately called The Wound Center) to address and care for my open incision. It would be a daily thing since my dressings would constantly have to be replaced, not to mention a huge inconvenience being that I’d have to leave the house every day and be away from the kids for about 2 hours each time.

My doctor did a great job of making sure I was seen by them right away, they didn’t have any openings until a week out yet he somehow managed to convince them to take me in the next day. By the way, thank you Dr. P, you are a fantastic physician and all your efforts and involvement in my care will never be forgotten and is greatly appreciated. Well, my very first visit to the wound center didn’t go quite as I expected. I thought they would just patch me up until the next day and send me home, but instead they ordered me to be on a wound vac. A wound vac is a machine that has to be attached to the open area of my incision and be left on 24/7, it applies negative pressure therapy on the affected area and ultimately heals the wound 50% faster than it would’ve on its own. Kinda cool, but kinda a pain in the ass having to be hooked up to a machine all the time.

The cause of my open wound: too much activity after surgery. Or at least that’s what I was told. I happen to think it’s more likely to be secondary to infection, but who knows. It’s probably both, however here I am now at 2 weeks postpartum and I’m still recovering. Technically, this story is still one in progress, but I’m pretty sure now I’m finally over the hump and on my way to being back to normal. So expecting moms who may be having a c-section, heed my warning and be a bum that first week. It may be boring, especially if & when you feel like your normal self again, but when they say no cooking, cleaning, driving or lifting anything heavier than your baby… listen to them. I’m extremely grateful for both the health of my newborn and for the great care I’ve been receiving from the medical staff at all three facilities I’ve been visiting so frequently, but God I am so ready for this to be over. Along with the pain and physical discomfort this issue is dealing me, I’m so mentally drained and in a constant state of paranoia that something bad will happen to me. If I get an infection again I’ll have to be hospitalized and since it’s still a wide open wound, the fear is always there to bug me. I have to be healthy and strong, not for myself but for my kids. I’ve been doing everything I can to participate in my own care because I know these kids need me here at home and can’t live without me. I remember the days when it was just me, and how having children changes things so drastically. Now, everything I do revolves around them, even taking better care of myself if only for their own sake.

Motherhood, what a journey. And to think my story of parenting 3 has only just begun. But you know what? I simply wouldn’t have it any other way.

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John Fox’s Birth Story

You know how people say, “I don’t care if the baby is a boy or girl, black, white, green or purple… as long as it’s healthy”?

Well, I had a purple baby.

This is the lengthy story of the night I went into labor at 37 weeks & 6 days with Mr. John Fox…

I remember watching the fireworks that night on the 4th of July and thinking to myself, “he’s got to be coming soon”. I also remember being bit by a mosquito during that very train of thought and becoming overwhelmingly paranoid of contracting the Zika virus- thank God those fears can at least now be put to rest. I was having contractions with every small move I made, and they were incredibly uncomfortable. They weren’t happening in a pattern yet but they were happening and I’m not kidding when I say they hurt. I kept saying to Jack this can’t be normal, who on earth has contractions so intense just from standing up, sitting down, rolling over or bending down. At 35 weeks, I had already been to the hospital twice to stop contractions that were coming every minute regularly for over two hours, and it took a combined total of 3 shots to finally get them to stay at bay. They never stopped completely, only ceased in regularity. They were still frequently occurring at an hourly rate, at minimum, for what felt like forever. It was so frustrating, at that point I had just wished for them to either go away, or to stay so I can have the baby already because it was getting really old. The activity-induced contractions were happening for over a week or two and I was ready for it to be over.

We hit a speed bump on the way home from the firework show which of course triggered another contraction, and even though it was no better or worse than all the previous ones I’ve had that week, something told me that my body is ready to give up on carrying this baby. My c-section wasn’t scheduled for another week and a half or so, but I knew instinctively that I wouldn’t make it that far. I remember wishing for my water to just break like it did with my other two pregnancies, at least this way I couldn’t be sent home from the hospital without a baby in my arms and the long days of pregnancy would finally be over and done with.

We got home around 11:30pm and the strangest feeling happened to me. You know all that talk about lightening? Wow, it is SO true. I had just assumed that my baby already dropped long ago because I had to pee every 2 seconds and I was so close to delivery, but I was dead wrong. I was laying back on the couch and all of the sudden, in the blink of an eye- I didn’t feel pregnant anymore. I could breath and I felt as light as a feather, I almost wanted to get up and do jumping jacks. Out of nowhere I was reminded of what it was like to breath again without a baby kicking my ribs and lungs every minute of the day. It literally felt as if there was no baby in my belly anymore, and at that point I had already watched enough YouTube videos and read all the What To Expect While Expecting articles to know that meant the baby is coming, and he’s coming soon.

I went to sleep knowing that I may very well be in the early stages of labor, but if that’s the case I might as well get some rest. It was exactly 4:00am when I rolled over and woke up. I don’t know what made me wake up, but the second I did, and I mean the very same second, I felt my water break. It was such a strange coincidence, if I had woken up a second later I would have soaked the bed, but since I felt it break the very instant I opened my eyes, I immediately stood up to save myself an enormous mess to clean up later. As I got up there was no doubt about it, my water had definitely broke. I was 37 weeks and 6 days and baby John was as ready as I was to come out and greet the world.

With my first, the same had happened, it was an unmistakable gush. With my second, I couldn’t even tell my water broke. I trickled the tiniest amount of fluid only once and then it stopped altogether, but since I knew it wasn’t pee I went to go get it checked at the hospital and I was right. All the nurses were shaking their heads and were certain I just wet myself… but nope, I was ruptured. They said it must’ve been a “high leak” and that the baby’s head was corking any more from coming out. All I know is I’m glad this third go around wasn’t a guessing game. It broke, and I wasn’t coming home this time without a baby. I woke Jack up, told him what happened, did a little happy dance and jiggled my way on over to the phone to call my mom.

Once again I went off my experiences with the other two and took a shower, dried my hair, the whole bit before leaving the house while taking my sweet time. Both times before I wasn’t even contracting and was perfectly calm and comfortable while headed to the hospital. This time… What a mistake that was. It was 1.5 hours later when we left the house and I was in agony in the car. The contractions were killer, I couldn’t believe they kicked in that fast. With each contraction that hit at less than a minute apart, I lost what felt like another gallon of water. I kept thinking how on earth can all that water fit in there?! I walked into the hospital and felt so bad for making a huge mess on the floor. The security guard asked me where I was headed and to hand over my drivers license for a visitor’s pass and I about gouged her eyes out. I looked down at the floor, then back up at her with both hands on my belly and said, “Where do you think I’m going?” Jack was still outside trying to park the car while I was in so much pain that another male security guard quickly grabbed a wheelchair and whisked me away, all while making me feel so at ease and comfortable about the whole situation. He was such a nice guy and reassured me that there was nothing to be worried about, broken water is fine but his only rule is no having babies in the lobby, lol.

We arrived at 6am and the doctor showed up at 7. They were prepping me for surgery, saving the ridiculous questions to determine if I was actually in labor or not because judging by my torturous contractions and all that amniotic fluid, I clearly was. When they checked me at 6am I was 3 cm dilated and I swear I must’ve been past 5 an hour later because I literally thought at that point I was going to die from the strengthening contractions. I don’t know how the human body can sustain such a thing, seriously. I wasn’t allowed to have anything for pain until they did my spinal right before surgery began, and by the time they were ready for that it was 8:00. Finally, I got the spinal and felt absolutely nothing, hallelujah. Seconds later I laid down on the operating table and the Dr was already in. I felt pushing and pulling, and at one point it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest or I was being crushed under the weight of a car, whichever you deem worse. Jack was holding my arms down on the table because I was being tugged so hard, and then finally out came that little cry.

John Fox Hannan came at 8:15am, and I couldn’t wait to see him. It took a couple minutes before a nurse came around the drape empty handed and gave me a cautionary warning before bringing him over. She told me that there’s nothing to be worried about, his body is pink and his lips are pink which means he’s breathing just fine, but he suffered from some bruising during the delivery. She said not to judge his circulation by the way his face appears and once again reassured me that he is in fact a healthy baby with 10 fingers, 10 toes and a very apparent set of strong lungs. She then asked if I was ready to see him and of course I said yes, but I couldn’t help trembling with concern about meeting my son for the very first time.


My first thought was… “He’s so small.” He weighed 6.3lbs.

My second, and most prominent thought was… “Oh my God, he’s blue.”

They put him on my chest and I just kept asking, “Is this normal? Is this normal? Have you seen this before? Is this normal?”

Everyone explained to me that sometimes the baby hits the pelvic bone really hard while trying to descend and since he was in a posterior position and I had zero water left, there was nothing to cushion the blows each time I had a contraction. His entire head was purple, and his chin and eyes were a deep, dark blue. I felt terrible for the baby, and I didn’t know how I was going to explain to my family that this was “normal”. They took Jack and the baby away to go get cleaned and swaddled while my surgery was still in progress, I was supposed to get a tubal ligation but 45 minutes on the operating table later, I heard the doctor say she couldn’t do it.

They brought me back to recovery and explained I had too much scar tissue from my previous c section to successfully tie my tubes without serious risk and asked me right off the bat what I plan to do about birth control. I was told I couldn’t go through another c-section again because it would be extremely dangerous. The doctor explained it was a very difficult surgery, and warned me a second time not to get pregnant anymore. Scary news, but then Jack came in with the baby and my attention was diverted to yet another scary realization.

I had a purple baby. I was still angry inside and wanted further explanation even though the whole staff already explained it to me more than once. I couldn’t believe how being in labor for only 4 hours could cause this much damage to a baby when it is a natural process in which both the mother and child are meant for and equipped to do. The very first thing I did was start nursing him. It was the best feeling in the world and the one thing I was looking forward to doing the whole 9 months prior. I love all the motherly feelings and bonding nursing gives you, it’s such a gift to new moms to be able to do so. The contractions it causes are no fun, but at least you know you’re shrinking back to your normal size while biting your tongue through the pain.

I looked down at my little Fox and couldn’t even tell what he looked like yet; his face was dark and puffy, his chin was black it was so bruised, and his eyes were swollen shut on top of being black and blue. It looked like he just escaped the fight club. I was so, so sad. I can’t imagine the pain a full grown adult feels when they’re injured like this, so can you imagine a newborn baby? My poor son, he must have been terrified and hurting so bad as he made his grand entrance into this world. And in addition to that, I was still in surgery for almost an hour after he was born so he didn’t  even get to be with me right afterwards to feel comforted. We lost that entire first hour of his life together, when skin-to-skin is so important.

An hour passed, and to my amazement his face had started to change right before my eyes. He went from an entire purple face to being bruised in just the chin, cheekbone & eye area. Another few hours passed and it was just his chin and eyes. The next morning, although still very swollen, the bruising was strictly around his eyes and the bridge of his nose. By day 3, it was just on his eyelids and the inner corner of his eyes. It was the most rapid transformation I’d ever seen.

It was a miracle, or so I thought. They explained to me that babies are so immensely resilient and can handle a lot more than we think, but I still think he had an angel on his side helping him heal a lot faster than he might’ve otherwise. I’ve never seen bruises go away that fast, especially since they usually get worse before they get better. It was the most incredible thing to watch his face change almost hourly, and by day 2 those tiny little black eyes had grown on me so much so that I wouldn’t have it any other way. I thought they were adorable. What a little tough guy.

Unfortunately, this was only the beginning of a long, drawn out recovery for the both of us. Since jaundice is fairly common in newborns and bilirubin is a direct result of dying red blood cells, his bruises along with a minor tongue tie which made it difficult for him to feed efficiently made his levels spike higher than the norm. And what started out as a speedy recovery for me quickly morphed into the worst case scenario due to infection and an open incision that never healed shut once my staples were removed, but I’ll save those two stories for another time.

As I sit here and write this birth story exactly two weeks from the day Johnny was born, I realize just how much we’ve been through in the past 14 days. It’s certainly been a whirlwind of emotions and anxiety, but it never really hit me until now that things are finally beginning to settle down. For the most part, that is. I’m looking forward to sharing more of the journey my little boy and I have been on so far, but for right now I think I’m going to go catch some Z’s while my little Fox is sleeping.

Before I go, I really want to thank every single one of you who left such kind and beautiful comments on my Instagram, as well as everyone who called and sent messages to me privately. I also want to send a special thank you to the amazing staff at Martin Memorial hospital, you surely left a mark on our hearts. I’ve been so consumed with this new precious baby and all the things that’ve been happening that I never got the chance to reply and express my gratitude to all of you. I hope you all know how genuinely grateful I am, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Until next time- which won’t be long!

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Currently Craving: Funfetti Crescent Rolls

My daughter came across this recipe on Pinterest. Yes, even she- at only 4 years old- can fall victim to the black hole of Pinterest. So, as Giada would have it, an immediate demanded was prompted for it to be on the menu that day (after threenager comes what…?). I knew she was insistent on this one so I had better get it done, but as usual I was worried I wasn’t gonna have all the fancy ingredients it takes to make many of these Pinterest concoctions, meaning I’d ultimately have to tell her no. And prepare for a hurricane. Cat 5.

 

But surprisingly it was one of those easy food hack recipes; just a few simple ingredients and you’re on your way. Way to go, Giada- Good choice! These crescent rolls were also a great recipe to have the kids help out with in the kitchen, so an activity plus a snack all rolled up into one (no pun intended). Perfect, so I can roll this pregnant ass back to rest afterwards.

 

  

To get the recipe for these Funfetti Crescents, click here. They’re delicious and addicting, filled with cream cheese and hints on vanilla.

I have to talk about this happiness-inducing little tea towel. I got two different ones for Mother’s Day and I think they’re too stinkin’ cute & worth mentioning. There’s always a towel hanging from my stove, I love collecting different monochrome statement towels so Jack knew I would really love these. I found them on Zulily by Primitive Designs by Kathy. 

So there’s my current pregnancy craving, anything sweet & easy to whip up is perfect these days. I’m in the very last days of my third & final pregnancy and the fatigue is hitting me more than the so-called nesting instinct. Why couldn’t I get the better end of the bargain, ugh. I’ve been feeling like a big rolly-polly bum and counting down the days until I can meet my little boy… all while munching on a sweet treat in my mouth, lol. I have been having contractions frequently and so much pressure that it’s hard to even stand up straight. With my other two, my water broke, so these symptoms are all new to me believe it or not. I just hope it doesn’t last that much longer, I am so ready! I have a “What’s In My Hospital Bag” post coming up next that I think all you pregnant mommas out there will really appreciate, the second and third time around is so much different and there’s tons of things I have to say about what’s necessary and what’s completely ridiculous to pack. I hope you all enjoyed your weekend, maybe before next post I’ll get to announce his arrival on Instagram!

Crossing my fingers!

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Dad: The Superhero 

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daddy

You are so much stronger than a superhero to me. I don’t recall Batman or Superman ever doing all the things you can do all the time and I’ve never seen Captain America fix all the things you know how to fix. Your heart is a lot more bright & shining than Iron Man’s and you even know how to use a hammer better than Thor! You’re the most amazing person I know, there’s nothing like making memories by watching you do all these super human things that I can’t wait to learn how to do, like shaving your face or driving a boat! How do you do that, Daddy?! Or cutting the grass on that big machine that looks like a car, that looks like so much fun and I can’t wait until you let me try! You teach me so many new things every day and you don’t even know it. But it’s all good things because you’re a really good role model, Dad. I may only be one years old, but because of you I already know how to treat people and be a good protector. I do a really good job at watching over the girls when you’re gone like you tell me to, you’d be proud of me. And I’m always there to help Mommy & Giada with anything they’re doing, they like to call me their Little Big Helper. All the things you teach me to do I’m getting really good at, and I can’t wait to grow up to learn more so I can be just like you. There’s really no other superhero I wanna be more like, no one has as many super powers as you! Happy Father’s Day Daddy, I love you to the pow-zoom moon and back …to infinity & beyond!

Marco

So Daddy

I know you always say not to grow up so fast and that I have to stay your little girl forever, but I gotta let you know the truth. I’m growing a little bigger each day and pretty soon Mommy says I’m gonna be a full-grown, young lady. I’m not saying this to scare you dad, I’m just trying to say that you don’t have to worry because I’m gonna be just fine. You’re doing a good job raising a really strong girl, one full of confidence and strength, and because of you I know I can do anything I set my mind to. I couldn’t have asked for a better Daddy to help me grow into a little woman because you simply are the best. I know so because Mommy tells me all the time and I know she wouldn’t let me hang around anyone who’s not. That, plus she says that one day I’ll have you to serve as an amazing comparison when entering the dating world, so that’s gotta be good, right?! Not only do you always make me laugh and play silly games with me, you also make me feel happy and safe every single day. You’re always spoiling me which Mommy says isn’t good but I know it’s because you love me, and you know what Dad? I definitely notice that, and I love you a million times more in return. You are the only boy in the world I like! Besides Marco, but sometimes he bothers me when he knocks down my toys all the time. It’s ok though because even when he gets me mad I know how to handle it because you’ve taught me how to be one smart cookie. Maybe a little too smart because I’m starting to figure out how to talk my way around anything, but smart nonetheless! When that day comes that I’ll be old enough to go out into the world on my own, I’m going to be able to land any job I want, feel great about myself no matter what happens, plus change a tire all by myself if I have to! You’ve filled me with such strong building blocks and there’s no one in the world who can knock me down because I know I’ll always have this instilled strength and security that comes from you. So in a way I can’t wait to grow up, Dad. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but I really can’t wait to show you all the things I will do, and all the great things I can achieve in my life, wholly because of you. I love you more than anyone, Happy Father’s Day!

giada

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loveyou

You’re our favorite conspiracy theory expert, high-tech gadget & gizmo guru, perfectionist by nature, history freak by choice and a biggest self-educator we know! You’re the best mechanic we’ve ever met and you’re not even a mechanic, and you’re the smartest computer geek that’s ever lived while you’ve never even taken one computer class, how does that work?! You’re amazing! You’re the most awesome baked potato maker on the planet and while you contribute that to our Irish heritage, I know better because you can also make a tomato sauce better than Mommy and she’s 100% Italian (but don’t tell her we said that!) You’re the ultimate improviser, friendliest stranger, kindest neighbor and most unselfish soul one will ever meet in this world, and we are so blessed to call you our DAD!

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

hannans

[DAD Tee: Thanks to The Blue Envelope]