Best Maternity Leave Ever

What my maternity leave has consisted of….

  • Well, this lovely little lady, of course. I’m a bit smitten with her.

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  • Book reading and mimosa drinking

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  • Date nights and a fish bowl

(Hm. Maybe I should clarify now that I supplement with formula at night and am not feeding my baby alcohol boob.)

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  • Making exciting summer plans, a couple of which may terrify me in the most amazing way possible.
  • Media events consisting of complimentary drinks, eats, hammocks and photo ops in the trunk of a Tesla

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  • Reuniting with friends over brunch. Hannah and Rachel are two of the big loves of my life. Hannah has been away at school in El Paso for the past few months. When our eyes met this past weekend, we had a cheesy movie moment in which we ran into each other’s arms at our local café. Except both of us are pretty clumsy and simultaneously ended up injuring ourselves on the nearest by chair. So those on the outdoor patio at Kerbey Lane got to witness these two really weird girls squealing with delight, embracing one another, and then wincing in pain as they both managed to injure their feet on the same chair. Friendship at its finest, y’all.

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  • Family BBQ and pool time
  • littlesis

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  • Did I mention yet….HER:

babygirlbrynlookWeeks old and already Bryn has mastered looking at me like I’m insane. She catches on fast.

I thought I might get a little restless or antsy with more than a month off of a job I love so much, but that hasn’t been the case at all. Maternity leave felt more like a vacation than anything else. Today was my first day back at work, and I am both giddy to get back to the grind and happy to know that our girl is in good hands with my mommy.  Still, I will always have such fond memories of such a wonderful, productive and fun maternity leave spent with friends, family and getting to know that sweet baby girl of mine.

First Mother’s Day

This past Saturday, I found myself ever so slightly perturbed with that darling husband of mine. I had been asking, make that practically begging, him to get a haircut since before Bryn was born. His head was beginning to resemble a mop. Saturday night we were going out to celebrate my first Mother’s Day, and still no haircut. I finally nearly pushed him out the door late that afternoon and told him not to come back until his hair was cut. Subtlety has never been a strong suit of mine.

He came back with not only his hair neatly cut, but a cute card and a dozen red roses. My annoyance instantly disappeared.

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But what made me smile the most was not the card or the roses or even the haircut (close second though.) What put the silliest grin on my face was checking on Bryn, napping in her swing, and doing a double take upon seeing an envelope nearly half her size resting in her lap. Written on said envelope was “Mom”, and inside my very first Mother’s Day card from Miss Bryn. How she found the time to sneak out of that swing to buy and sign such a sweet card, I still haven’t figured out. My guess is she has a pretty fantastic ghost signer.

My very first Mother’s Day as a mommy:

Date night –

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Card from in-laws that had me nearly teary –

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From dude and daughter –

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Dude and daughter –

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Y’all. MY HEART! What an incredibly blessed mommy I am.

Sharing My Sneeze

I’ve heard time and again that the first two weeks with a newborn is the most challenging. To my surprise, the past two weeks have been fine. Fun, even. Dare I say it, the past two weeks have even been blissful.

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After a pretty ideal 8+ months of pregnancy, the last few weeks were a little tough for me. I read somewhere that we as humans are much better at adjusting to life changes than we assume that we will be, but that the uncertainty of situations is what can really bring a person down. This uncertainty was throwing me for a loop. I was scared of labor, scared of being a new mom, scared of my life changing so drastically. Being a natural born worrier, I decided to peruse message boards to better prepare myself for what was to come. If there was one lesson I later learned from this, it was to never peruse message boards in order to ‘prepare’ myself for anything ever again. Horror stories are abundant. I was half expecting to have a 72 hour labor, a baby who cried for 12 hours daily and to never leave the house or sleep or eat or exercise or shower or brush my teeth ever again. I would be a stinky, sleep-deprived, emotional mess and also my husband would probably hate me.

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So it came as a pleasant surprise when I had an extremely fast and mostly pain-free labor (The epidural is my new soul mate), a mellow and very sleepy baby, and a husband and extended support system so wonderful that getting some ‘me time’ has not once been an issue. I’ve read a whole book (One for grown-ups!) since Bryn was born. I take long walks with that beautiful and happy baby of mine every night. Robby and I take shifts at night, so we both end up getting at least five hours of sleep, though I usually end up with closer to seven. I don’t exactly consider this sleep deprivation. I have upcoming races and photo-shoots and media events and other adventures planned, just like I always have. Heck, I even took two showers yesterday. (Those long walks do make me stinky.)

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But it’s so much more than just having unexpected down time. I have never felt so inspired, nor has my life and heart felt so full. I definitely felt inspiration and a fullness of life before, but now it seems my world is overflowing with the stuff. Bryn has brought more joy and magic to my life than I even knew was possible. That I could help create someone so absolutely perfect is amazing to me. I feel the need to skip and dance and write cheesy poetry, just because she exists. How come these mommy message boards don’t focus on all of these warm fuzzies and long cuddles and the desire to kiss someone’s soft little cheeks all day long?

I’m also really proud. I’m proud of my daughter, and how quickly she’s adjusted from womb to world. I’m proud of my husband and I for figuring out this parenting thing together, and for being patient and kind to one another as we learn. I’m proud of my body and what it’s capable of. Sure, it’s nice being 5 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. But much more than that, I am amazed at its ability to bounce back after labor. After delivering an eight-pound baby, I truly feel that I can do anything. Nobody told me how empowering giving birth would be.

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Best of all, I feel like I’m falling in love all over again. With my daughter, and also with my husband in his new role as the daddy of our girl. Robby’s mom was in town for a couple of days, so two nights ago we went on our first date night since Bryn was born. We laughed and flirted and had long conversations about Star Wars and how weird and unintentionally incestuous it was that Luke Skywalker kissed his sister twice. I felt giddy and silly and almost like a teenager again. Can you have a crush on your husband? Because if you can, I totally do.

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Shortly after bringing Brynlee home, we heard her sneeze for the first time. I had always assumed that sneezing patterns were learned and not inherited, but after hearing hers for the first time, I knew this assumption was wrong even before researching it. Picture Minnie Mouse or a bunny rabbit quickly coughing five times in a row, and that is probably the closest thing to my sneeze. I often get amused comments on it, as it’s this weird trait about me that has always been very uniquely Christina. But now it’s not. Miss Brynlee sneezes just like me. I gave her my sneeze, and that makes me so incredibly happy.

I don’t write this post to brag about having the world’s best baby or husband or life. I have been so blessed, but I know Miss Bryn will have her good days and bad, just like we all do. I write this because I want to remember all of this joy, and all of the other new feelings that accompanied the beginning of Brynlee’s life. I write this because I would have loved to find something like this while Googling when I was pregnant. I write this because I wish someone would have told me that it was possible for my uncertainty to turn into such an indescribable glee. Of course I know that there will eventually be challenging moments along with the blissful ones. All of the most beautiful things in life are this way. But how could I not be on top of the world, being able to love and hold and look into the eyes of this little person who shares my sneeze?

Baby In Red

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Tomorrow our Brynlee Mae will be one week old. She said her first hellos early last Wednesday morning, surprising the world both by weighing 8 pounds and by sporting a full head of bright red hair.

I am sitting here wondering what to type next because how does one even begin to put into words something so incredibly, wonderfully life changing? I’ve had the chance to experience some pretty awesome things in my twenty-five years, and still no other adventure or accomplishment could ever compare to the moment I met her.

Already this tiny, beautiful person has completely stolen our hearts. Everything she does–every silly face, yawn, sneeze and breath she takes– is amazing. She is amazing. I watch my husband with her, full of the same overwhelming, huge love I feel every time I so much as glance at this little one’s face, and I am completely overcome by an indescribable happiness. This is our family, and it is just the best thing ever.

A nurse came into our hospital room one evening, wanting to meet Miss Brynlee. She said she had to see the baby with the red hair that everyone was talking about. That’s our girl.

Bryn’s first week:

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Be still, my heart.

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So the girl loves her sleep. We love that she loves her sleep.

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Our little family

Friends and Olive Oil and a 5k and Baby Stuff. Etc.

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s only April. 2014 has already been pretty packed with lovely things–and we’re only four months in so far. From spending over a week in Italy with my favorite dude to a Mississippi road trip with one of my closest girlfriends to 5ks and media events and all of the BABY things, this year is already turning out to be quite the eventful one. With a full summer bucket list and a little girl due in just TWO weeks now, it seems like it’s probably going to stay that like that. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

To play just a little bit of catch up, here are some recent photos that put a smile on my face:

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I ran my third 5k of 2014 on the same day as my baby shower. I made sure I had time to go home and shower before the shower.

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My latest two event blogging adventures have also doubled as free date nights. Both the olive oil and cheese tasting classes were tasty, intriguing and nostalgic of our trip to Europe. Being an event blogger definitely has its perks. As does having a husband who also makes for a pretty awesome best friend and plus one.

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Gal pal dates make me giddy. Said giddiness turns my facial expressions into those of a small child.

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I love weekends at the in-law’s. Always full of laughter, coffee, yummy food and peaceful mornings spent on the front porch with a good book. And sometimes full of neat flea market finds too.

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My stomach makes a pretty comfortable pillow these days.

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Texts from my best dude friend tend to make me grin. Note that he rations my compliments.

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I recently got to pose for a maternity photo-shoot with my favorite photographer. Above is one of my favorite shots. Photo credit goes to the always awesome Andrew Stevens!

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I’m about to pop, y’all! On an unrelated note, my husband really needs a haircut.

Surrounded by Love. And Presents. And Cake.

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Last night my husband and I were snuggled up in bed when he suddenly and softly said, “We’re going to have a daughter.” I laughed and confirmed. “I was standing in the nursery and it all of the sudden seemed really real. In a good way.” he told me, and as tends to happen when Robby speaks, my heart melted a little.

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We’re five weeks out from my due date now and I still can’t entirely wrap my head around it all. Somewhere around five weeks from now, we’ll be holding the baby girl that we made in our arms. Babies never seemed so insanely, miraculously amazing until I took part in creating one. It blows my mind a little, knowing that I am carrying around a little lady that is not only a part of me and my family, but who is also a part of Robby, his parents, his grandparents. Generations past whom I’ve never had the chance to meet in both family lines, and my daughter is a part of them too. Despite the obvious knowledge that I am unable to asexually reproduce, it is still a little mind-boggling to realize that there is someone growing inside of me who is already so much more than just who and what I am.

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Also mind-boggling is that she’s about to be here. Little one has made this pregnancy very easy on me, which has caused most of it to fly by. I didn’t suffer from morning sickness, and I’ve been comfortable frequently traveling throughout the past 9 months. Weight gain has been pretty minimal, I haven’t had any swelling yet (I literally just knocked on wood) and the fact that I can still fit into my pre-baby clothes is saving me a lot of money. I’m still jogging daily, but considering the 5+ pounds of baby I’m currently carrying around, I am proud of myself for that one. Peeing every two seconds and heartburn from hell aside, the past months have mostly been wonderful ones. Easy pregnancy = Easy baby? I shall get back to you on that one. I knocked on wood again.

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Despite fluctuating hormones, if there is one feeling that has stayed with me the most over the months, it is how blessed I feel. I feel so very blessed. To have a husband who I am so completely smitten with, who I adore a little more as each moment fades into the next, and to know that those feelings are reciprocated. To have in-laws who go out of their way to constantly help out in whatever way that they can. To have parents who throw me a lovely baby shower, and to feel so overwhelmingly loved and spoiled by so many at said event. To even have a friend fly down for the weekend from New Mexico, just so she could be present at my baby shower. To spend that same evening with my cousin and her four-month old baby girl, and to plan out her and Brynlee’s best friendship before one of them is even born. To know that if they are anything like the two of us were and still are, that there will be countless nights of giggle, mischief-filled sleepovers, and then hysterical laughing about sleepover memories 15 years later. To have a family as close as mine, and to know how fortunate that makes me. And Brynlee too. Oh my goodness, she is one lucky little girl. To be completely surrounded by so much love and to not even know it yet. But she will. I sure do.

More baby shower pictures: (Some are from my photographer grandma’s camera and some are from my iPhone, so do forgive the different photo qualities)

Gal pals –

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Miss Katie, the sweet lady who flew from New Mexico to celebrate my growing family –

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I really loved that cake. –

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Having a little chat with my five-year-old sister –

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All of the baby things! –

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Game playing. It would appear that Robby’s mom is cheating. –

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My daddy and sister. D’aww. –

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So much cousin love. –

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She’s almost here, y’all!

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Things I like a lot

Some things I like a lot lately:

  • I only ever post to Instagram for work, but I do have my own account just to stalk my friend’s accounts sometimes. There’s a couple of things I love about the below post from buddy Becca.beccains

1. Being referred to as her “adventurous pregnant friend.”

2. Having fun, wonderful people in my life who say yes to the whims of their adventurous pregnant friend.

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  • For Valentine’s Day, I requested Krispy Kremes instead of chocolates. Prego craving. Husband came home with flowers, a dozen donuts and a big box of chocolates. He sure knows how to woo a pregnant person.

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We decided to avoid the crowds this year and opted for a night in with a heart-shaped pizza. Please note my sexy socks and sweater. Such sexiness would probably be frowned upon in a restaurant setting anyway.

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  • Farmer’s market and catching up with long lost friend Emily. And buying homemade strawberry jam. Drool.

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  • Chili-fest with the husband. We got to judge our favorites while enjoying a beautiful, Texas day and eating endless cornbread and chili. Yum, y’all.

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  • I’m 8 months pregnant! Ah!! Can’t believe how soon we’ll be holding our own little person in our arms. I’m nervous and excited and terrified and giddy and about a thousand other feelings all mixed together. But mostly I just really can’t wait to meet her.

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  • My latest food tasting for the event blog was at my local SmashBurger. Usually at tastings, I’ll be given smaller dishes of each meal to try, and still leave completely stuffed. Well. At this ‘tasting’, I was given five (FIVE!) whole burgers, four full orders of fries and two mouthwatering milkshakes. I brought my husband home a multitude of leftovers, and still almost exploded from the massive amount of deliciousness experienced. AND I got invited to the kitchen to smash my own SmashBurger with special burger molds. Needless to say, they now have a fan for life here. Currently salivating thinking about their Truffle Mushroom Swiss burger and Salted Caramel Milkshake. And also the other billion things I ate.
  •  Below is work friend Peter.

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He’s really good at unique compliments.

Work friend Peter: “You’re still not showing very much. It must be your faerie blood.”

Followed by this post dedicated to me:

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According to Peter, I’m a social media genius with faerie blood. I like the world according to Peter.

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  • A couple of nights ago, I was feeling little lady kick a bunch. I was voicing my annoyance to Robby that I couldn’t view my whole stomach to see where she was kicking. He left the room momentarily, reappearing with a mirror so I could get a full view of the tummy. Every time I look at this picture that I quickly snapped of that moment, my heart melts a little.

I like love this life a lot.

Thirty-One Years And The Passing Of ‘Team Robby.’

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Thursday my husband turned thirty-one. I feel pretty fortunate to have spent nearly six of those thirty-one years with him. When we met, Robby was newly twenty-five. He was coming out of a party phase so intense that I have heard these days referred to by his friends as the “Team Robby” days. From what I’ve been told, I met him at the ideal moment—Even party-animal, nineteen-year-old Christina would have had a hard time keeping up with this Team Robby they speak of. I like to think that I contributed to his growing up, and while I do think we were a good match, realistically I also believe that great timing played a big part. He who was never able to handle a job or relationship for more than a few months time has now been with the same company for over six years and in the same relationship for almost as long. That night we first locked eyes, at a party in a garage filled with too many Jell-O shots, he tells me now that he knew then he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. This is when the psychology portion of my degree comes out and I proceed to tell him that this is just his hindsight bias talking. (I’m such a romantic, y’all.) Though his sweet words never fail to make me swoon, it seems more plausible that we met at a time when he was just ready for more than he had ever been before. But Robby is the ‘Love at first sight’ mentality to my ‘Timing is everything’ frame of mind. I think our different life perspectives is part of what makes us such a great team today.

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(Dating, 2008)

This isn’t to say we didn’t have crazy days of our own. When we first started dating, we partied a lot. We probably drank too much. We moved in together too soon. We fought frequently. As good as we have it now, I forget that it wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies with the two of us. I once threw an ironing board at his head. Looking back, it’s amazing to me that we made it past those very early days. Even more incredible that fighting is now such a rarity, and most definitely doesn’t include the throwing of ironing boards. (Or anything, ever, for that matter.) Being each of the other’s first very serious relationship, neither of us had the slightest idea what we were doing. Both of us made it up as we went along. And now, somehow, here we are.

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(Engaged, 2009)

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(Wedding day, 2009)

Countless adventures, travels, parties and shared life experiences later. In the living room. As I blog, Robby is working on his aquarium, which was recently moved out of his former office to make room for baby. I’m more than 30 weeks pregnant now, and little lady is quite the active thing–Currently one of her favorite pastimes is kicking my ribs. Or bladder. Judging by the strength of said kicks, I have a feeling she’s going to have more of the Boudreaux thighs and less of the Cirotto chicken legs. We had a detailed ultrasound this past Monday in which we were able to see her adorable face and find out that she weighs approximately 3 pounds, 6 ounces. I find it both crazy and fascinating that I am carrying around almost three and a half pounds of a mini Robby-Christina. The doctor said she was gorgeous and perfect and that we were the easiest ultrasound he’d had all day. He may say this to all of his patients, but beaming parents that we are, both of us ate it up.

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(Honeymoon-Cancun, Mexico-2009)

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(‘Babymoon’-Venice, Italy- 2014)

Team Robby was years ago replaced with a dude who would rather stay up late to tackle projects around the house, the guy who now cheerfully works overtime and comes home for cuddles-on-the-couch time, the fellow who can melt my heart simply by smiling at me or by loudly speaking to my stomach, “HELLO BRYNLEE!”, the father-to-be who gave up drinking in support of (and much less mournfully than) his expecting wife.

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(Today)

Who can really know for sure? Maybe it was a meant-to-be-love-at-first-sight sort of deal that late May night, years ago. Or maybe it was a mix of instant attraction and perfect timing. I guess it doesn’t really matter. Because here we are. Coming home from a picnic in the park on a beautiful February afternoon. Getting very close to meeting the small fry in my stomach. Preparing to bring a new life into the world as we celebrate the thirty-first year of the best dude I’ve ever had the chance to know. He totally never deserved to have an ironing board thrown at his face. (I missed, if you’re wondering.)

The Five-Year Plan: Reconstructed

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Though it’s not something I’ve talked about much on my blog, if you’re somebody who’s very close to me, you probably know that I came up with a tentative five-year plan shortly after tying the knot. It went like this:

1. Graduate college

2. Renew Vows

3. Go to Italy

4. Make Babies

All of this was meant to happen in that particular order, and all shortly after I turned twenty-five (which, at twenty, seemed like a lifetime away). See, there was to be a quaint little five-year vow renewal and, afterward, Italy was meant to be somewhat of a second honeymoon. A perfect, well-deserved vacation after my college graduation and then the husband and I would be all ready to make lovely little children!

But then, as it tends to do, life happened and not everything went exactly according to this adorable plan of mine. After transferring, I graduated close to a year earlier than the date originally estimated by my advisor. Soon after this, my husband and I found out that baby girl is on the way.

And so our upcoming trip to Italy becomes less of a second honeymoon and more of a baby-moon.

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There is a certain beauty to plans rearranging themselves and falling into their own place, isn’t there?

We leave in FIVE days (Really, where does the time go!? I meant to blog about this months ago.) and will be gone a week and a half. Hotels in Venice, Florence and Milan have been booked. This is such a huge and lifelong dream come true and it still doesn’t seem real quite yet. I’m going to Italy. With my husband. In less than a week.

I’ve always been both a planner and a dreamer. I like lists, and even more than that, I like putting a check mark by each item on said list. So it may have surprised my twenty-year old self to learn that so many of my most cherished memories and accomplishments were made before even the first goal in my five-year plan was ever checked off. That I would learn to dream even bigger. That there is endless beauty to be found in life’s in-betweens, rearrangements and surprises. That I would still be twenty-four, with a job directly related to my college degree, a baby on the way and a trip to Italy on the horizon.

Out of order as it may be, husband and I are still planning that little five-year vow renewal come October. I will, by then, be twenty-five. We’ll also have a six-month old little lady on our hands. But for now, I’m twenty-four and she’s in my tummy and all three of us are heading to Italy on Friday morning. And goodness. There is just so much behind me that I love looking back on, and so much ahead that I have to look forward to. My original five-year plan didn’t give nearly enough room for this full of a life.