Thursday, 11 December 2014

Mummy Time #21: Amaris Arcus

I'm a big fan of hashtags for their ability to connect people who are into or are experiencing the same things as you. Almost exactly this time last year I was 21 weeks pregnant and used the '#21weeks' hashtag on my old Instagram account. I had a browse through others who had used it and was drawn to one particular profile because the girl in the photo was wearing one of my favourite colours (you guessed it, mustard!) The girl's profile belonged to Amaris and back then had just a few hundred followers. In the time since, Amaris started her wonderful life and style blog, Lovely Blonde Closet, and now has over 24,500 followers! Amaris gave birth to her beautiful baby girl just three days before I had Joseph and I have loved following their life's journey together over in Calgary, Canada. So this week I am honoured that Amaris agreed to share some of the details of her life as a new mum and a busy blogger and I hope you enjoy her post!


Who are you?

My name is Amaris Arcus. I am 25 years old, married to my sweetheart Joel and a new mama to a 8 month old girl, Addilyn. She was born April 16th, 2014 and is our absolute joy!

What do you do for a living?

I am a mama & a blogger.

How long did you take for maternity leave?

I continued blogging throughout my pregnancy and right after - it was more of a hobby for me before, but in the last while it has been keeping me much more busy. I always keep Addi as my first priority though and do what I can when I can!

How did you feel when you returned to work?

It felt fine! I do have my own set hours - and therefore I tend to try “work” when Addi naps. Or when we do photos for my blog Addi will tag along and it’s usually some sort of family outing, so I have never found I have taken too much time away from Addi or had it affect her routine.

How are you?

I am good!! I have my days when I feel overwhelmed and busy - as any mama does, but for the most part I am pretty lucky to have such an easy going, laid back baby and a really flexible job that I really do enjoy!

What do you do to relax?

Take a bath, or watch some TV shows snuggled in my bed.

What do you do when you have time to yourself?

I would say I sometimes will take a nap if necessary, haha. I paint my nails, tidy my house, do some online shopping, and browse my favorite blogs! I also plant my tush on the couch with either a latte or some hot chocolate and watch some TV.

How does a typical day go?

We usually wake up in the morning - I bring Addi into bed with us and she nurses. We then will play and snuggle in bed for a while and then go downstairs and have some breakfast. We play or do whatever until her first nap - which I then lay her down and she will usually sleep for two hours or sometimes more. When she is up from that nap we give her lunch and play some more. She is loving her little walker lately and anything that lets her move around and play with her toys! We will sometimes run errands after her first nap so we are out and about for a few hours. When we get home she will lay down for another nap, this one is usually shorter though. When she wakes up we just do our thing - whatever that is, she comes with me everywhere, whether it’s laundry or cooking dinner etc. Then we have dinner and relax as a family after. At around 7.30pm I usually take her upstairs and bath her- she loves the bath so she usually plays in there for like 20 minutes, then we do her bedtime routine of lotioning her and reading stories. I nurse her again, and rock her in my chair. She then takes her soother and I lay her to bed and it’s usually 8-8.15pm and she is down for the night! This definitely is not every day - we do have days where we are busy and out doing activities for majority of the day which mess with naps etc, but for the most part that’s a basic day!


How was your pregnancy?

I had a very smooth pregnancy!! No complaints here. I really felt like I just loved being pregnant! I actually miss it, and especially miss carrying that cute bump around and feeling her kicks.

See more from Amaris' pregnancy photoshoot on Genevieve Renee's website

Did you have any cravings?

I craved curly fries!! And sometimes specific fruits like watermelon and strawberries.

Did you find out what you were having?

Yes!! We could not wait.. we found out the second we could.. Although we did wait and have the technician write it on a piece of paper and I gave it to my mom.. who threw a party that evening where in front of our closest friends and family we opened a box and out came pink balloons - we were so surprised!

How did you decide on Addi’s name?

Well, being the person that I am, I have always had a baby name list since I was a little girl. The names always were changing but Addilyn was one I had on there for a while, same with Everly (her middle name). Originally I was absolutely set on Everly for her first name, but my husband was set on Addilyn or “Addi” as he always called her that in my belly. Right before she came, he thought we could compromise and said what about “Addilyn Everly” - and as soon as he said it I knew that was going to be our little girl’s name. And even when she was born there was no doubt!

See more pictures of Addi's newborn photo shoot by Genevieve Renee on Lovely Blonde Closet

How did your prepare for Addi’s arrival?

We took a birthing class - it was a two day course and it really was mostly about giving birth and tips and tricks for the husbands (mostly so us ladies didn’t want to kill them during childbirth ;) ). I only ever read a few pregnancy books - not really on childbirth, only because I didn’t want to scare myself! I felt I just needed to experience it - and be present in the moment and not fearful, so that’s what I did!

How was your labour?

My labor was actually very smooth. One thing I had remembered my birthing coach telling us, was to stay at home for as long as possible, that way you wouldn’t need to be in the hospital for long amounts of time, or going back and forth in case they felt you weren’t dilated enough to be admitted. Needless to say - I didn’t even know I was in labor when I was.. I thought I had bad cramps and just carried on my merry way, until the pain was getting a bit worse a couple hours later. My husband was out of town (3 hours away) so I called him to say I think something was going on and he should leave, and I called my parents to tell them I think something was for sure happening. When they arrived I was calm and just going through the motions, I knew by the time my parents arrived I was for sure in labor. They took me to the hospital and when I got there they checked me, and I was 7cm already! I had dilated to 7cm alone at home - I was so proud of myself! My husband made it to the hospital one hour before I gave birth to Addi, and the total time of my labor was 5.5 hours. It was a whirlwind and very fast. I ended up asking for the epidural and somehow I got it given to me when I was at 10cm (it was definitely unnecessary at that point) but for the pushing, and her actual birth it definitely made me feel less. All in all, it was a quick birth, and for the majority I was only in intense crazy labor for like 3 hours! I pushed for 40 minutes, and our little miracle was here. [Read Amaris’ full birth story on her blog, here.]


How did you get on with breastfeeding?

We had a little trouble in the beginning! In the hospital the first night was pretty rough - she wouldn’t latch or open her mouth that wide to latch. I had a nursing consultant come and help and we got on track - but as soon as I left the hospital we had trouble again! So I started to pump my milk and give Addi the bottle - which helped while we were figuring out her latching issue. I had one more consultant come help us, and she recommended a nipple shield, which I ended up using for a couple of months, along with the bottle once a day so her daddy could feed her too. After a while I just would take the shield off and she would latch normal and we have been breastfeeding perfectly since. I am still nursing her at 8 months old and hope to for as long as I can!

Does Addi have a feeding routine?

I would say somewhat! I typically nurse her every time after a meal, or just before a nap to fill her belly a bit again.

What does Addi eat?

She eats sweet potatoes, avocado, butternut squash, carrots, peas, green beans, bananas, apples, blueberries, mangos, pears! And we are just about to try some more.

What has been your approach to weaning Addi onto solids?

Addi was so open to eating solids! My mom actually fed her rice cereal for the first time and she was obsessed. She just was ready to eat - and so I started her on that and we did rice cereal, oatmeal cereal, barley cereal then a mixed cereal. I then started her off with yams.. which we baked then pureed and just added some breastmilk to it - she mowed that down too! So far there haven’t been any foods she has disliked - aside from one time I gave her prunes (she was a bit backed up) and she made the funniest face and definitely didn’t like those. Addi also loves any cookies/rice crackers that she can hold and snack on. I am sure soon enough she will be eating everything we eat as she loves to pick up her cookie bits up and feed them to herself (similar to baby led weaning). I just have listened to my own instincts with what Addi wants and I feel that has helped me immensely.

Does Addi have a sleep routine?

Yes and no... She does have 2-3 naps a day (depending on if we are home or out and about). If we are home all day, she has two huge solid naps. But if we are out and about and busy, she will usually have one super good one, and a few little ones broken up! I try my hardest to stick to some sort of routine but some days are harder than others when I need to get stuff done outside of the home too!

How do you keep Addi entertained?

I sing to Addi lots, make funny faces, tickle her.. We lay on the floor and play with her toys and she loves anything that lights up and makes music right now. We often read stories too which she has loved since she was a tiny baby!

If Addi’s freaking out what do you find helps to calm her down?

Nursing or soother. Addi honestly has not had many meltdowns.. like I said, she is a very easy going baby (I feel really lucky). The times she is freaking out having a meltdown, it is because of something like she is overtired, or hungry or has a poopy diaper. Most times it’s just her being tired - but I definitely think a soother has been a lifesaver because she loves that thing!

Does Addi suffer with anything and, if so, what do you do to help it?

No, not overly! She is teething right now, but just seems to want to suck and eat everything! She still seems like herself though - the only thing I do is give her toys I keep in the refrigerator with the water in them that cools her gums, or these cookies that I feel help her gnaw her gums a bit!


Have you taken Addi on any holidays?

Yes! We have travelled lots with Addi. Actually the week she was born we moved up to where my husband was working three hours away and lived there for four months. We then moved for another month about six hours away, and then finally came back home! All the while Addi learned traveling in the car was just a part of life, and sometimes I would have to pull over unexpectedly, but I just had the perspective that we will get there when we get there, and in the meantime sometimes Addi would just have to cry for like ten minutes until she fell asleep in her car seat. We also travelled two times on an airplane, each flight was about 1.5 hours, I just gave her a bottle the one flight, and breastfed the other at take off! Soother at landing (for her ears). And she played on my lap with toys and books, and slept majority of the flight! I have travelled alone as well with Addi on an airplane and it was fine. The people usually are understanding and you need to not be hard on yourself! Realize that you’re doing what you can and if your baby is fussy, well there’s not much you can do - most people are SO kind and even offered to help carry some of my things off the plane and help me. So Addi has definitely travelled a lot in her life..she has been on six airplane rides, and about ten roadtrips! You just have to relax and let what happens happen, and deal with whatever does come up, when it does, don’t stress!

What were your baby holiday essentials?

I would say my Solly Baby wrap - Addi loves being snuggled and carried in it. It also frees up both of my hands! Her stroller too was something I was glad I had just for all of the walking we did. All of her toys too! Keep her entertained and distracted.

Was Addi’s routine affected by being on holiday?

Well sometimes it was but Addi is easy going! So she kind of has adjusted to a lot in her life as we moved - I swear that’s why she is how she is! We just try get back on a normal routine once we are home and that usually only takes a few days max! In Seattle (our most recent trip) I breast fed and had rice cereal, which I was able to bring! The people on the plane were kind and let me bring her bottle with breastmilk on the flight... so I don’t know if that’s typical but they let me!


Does Addi have a favourite toy?

Yes! Sophie the Giraffe!

What was your most recent baby-related purchase?

I bought an exer-saucer that Addi can stand in and it turns all the way around so she can play with all the fun toys and attachments. I bought it so she can play on her own and strengthen her legs too!

What has been the most useful thing you've bought?

One of my favorite things that I swear by and all mamas should have for their newborns is the Solly Baby wrap! It just was a lifesaver for me - baby wearing has been one of my most favorite things ever!

What is your Addi’s mode of transport?

We have a City Select Baby Jogger - which I absolutely love. It is a stroller with detachable pieces - you can attach your car seat and a bassinet for when they’re 0-6 months (I still attach Addi’s carseat) and then it comes with a seat that works up until 4 years old even! Then it comes with attachments that enable you to have two kids on it! It just was such a good investment that will most likely last for all of our children. I also rave about the Solly Wrap (as I said above) and we have the Ergobaby carrier which we love too - my husband uses the Ergo.

What are your baby essentials when you go out?

Diaper bag - with the essentials (diapers, wipes, baby food, spoon, change of clothes (x2), bibs, toys, boogie wipes, toy wipes, soothers), I also use a “sleep sheep” which is a travel noise maker that Addi uses to sleep in the car or when we are out and about - this has also been a lifesaver!


What have you bought Addi for Christmas?

So far we have bought her a few lights up toys that also play music from Toys R us. We have bought her some new books, some that she can chew on and play with. We also bought her a mini piano! It is so adorable and she can sit at it and hits the keys.. Can you tell we want her to be musical?? haha. But because she is so little we won't be going too overboard but just buying her some things we would normally be getting her now that she is getting older and more interactive with toys and what not! 

Are you going to start any family Christmas traditions? 

We actually already have quite a few that we are doing that were passed down from my side of the family. We always will open one present Christmas eve (usually it is Christmas jammies and something smaller) and we watch the movie "Christmas Vacation". In the morning we open stockings, and have a special Christmas breakfast at my family's home, where we then open gifts and enjoy family time in the afternoon (sometimes take a nap), then we enjoy a massive Christmas dinner as a family. It is simple and sweet - and my most favorite day of the year!! I think for the most part traditions will be more prominent when Addi gets a bit older - for now we just carry out the ones with our families, and will start our own for our little family eventually too! 


If you could give your pregnant self some advice, what would it be?

I would say embrace your time as a couple before you have your little one! And sleep while you can! Date nights and full nights of sleep are a thing of the past - although I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I would also tell my pregnant self to work out throughout my pregnancy so I stay consistent after baby and work out when I get the “ok”.

What's the best advice or most useful tip that anyone's given you about parenting?

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Know that you’re doing your best!!

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other mums or expectant mums?

I would say enjoy each moment with your little one!! I feel like time has flown by with Addi and it all seems to be flashing by in front of me. I have let myself enjoy this time with her, and embraced every day and every special moment watching her grow. Relax and go with the flow - because not everything can be how you think it should be! Some days will be more stressful than others, but know that tomorrow is a new day! I know I try to not sweat the small stuff and the more I am relaxed, I think the more relaxed Addi is too. I have always believed that your baby can be a reflection of you and the energy you give off - so try to make it positive! Take this whole motherhood thing in every day, and hold on to your little one while you still can, because before you know it they will be all grown up and we will all wish for these moments as a new mama!

Thank you so much for sharing Amaris! Wishing you and your family the most wonderful Christmas and 2015!

P.S. I have just added the 'follow' option on here - if you're on either bloglovin or have a Google account and you enjoy my blog - I would love it if you followed! Thank you so much for reading xx

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Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. It really means a lot! Nicki x