A Bit O’ Belli: Product Review Part 1

There is something about doing a legit product review that makes me feel like a “professional blogger”. And then I decide to start a blog by declaring said feeling and any bit of professionalism goes right down the hole like Plucky’s blue ball.

Anyway… today I’m going to talk about a fantastic company with some really top-notch products. Belli Skin Care.

Belli specializes in creating products for expectant mothers, moms, and babies, and is the #1 recommended Pregnancy Skin Care brand by OB-GYNs. All of their products are tested to be safe for mom and baby, through all stages of life. As fate would have it I only found out about this company AFTER having Keelin, but I’m glad I know about it now so I can take advantage the next time the hubs knocks me up. So romantic, right? 🙂

Keelin and I have both been using a number of Belli products over the last few months and I wanted to call out some of my favorites!

FOR ME:
Like I said, I discovered Belli after Keelin was about 4-5 months old but I still managed to benefit from a number of products from their Pregnancy Line. First is the All Day Moisture Body Lotion:

LOVE this lotion. I am notorious for having OOBER Dry skin during the winter, so I’m definitely putting it to the test in the next months but so far it’s been great! It has a light, crisp fragrance that isn’t too overwhelming {perfect for preggos and their super sensitive Spidey-senses} and it lasts throughout the day without feeling thick or greasy. I’m definitely keeping it on my list of “must haves” whenever baby #2 starts cooking.

Next is a combo of sorts so I’ll brag on them together. I have been in LOVE with them both from the first top-pop:
The Fresh Start Pre-Treatment Scrub and Anti-Blemish Facial Wash:

First of all, let it be known that I’m a sucker for facial scrubs. After living with a very unhappy pizza face through middle and high school {and yes the pizza face will return from time to time even now… thanks hormones} I discovered the pure bliss that can come from scrub scrub scrubbing my face with those mean little pieces of grit until even the nastiest craters and zits felt like smooth skin. Euphoric I tell you. At least the end result. Less so on the mean little pieces of grit tearing your face apart. But let me tell you folks, the Fresh Start Pre-Treatment Scrub is the most relaxing and comfortable facial scrub I have ever used. And it’s not one of those “my label says I’m a scrub but I really don’t know the first thing about exfoliation” type products, this stuff is amazing. The teeniest tiniest little microbeads go to work on my face every time I use it and I have to resist the urge to splash water up out of the sink like the girls in the face wash commercials always do. Yeah… that’s how great it feels.
Follow that up with the Anti-Blemish Facial wash and you’ve got a duo made in mommy {or preggo} heaven. It doesn’t dry out my skin like so many other washes do, and I feel like my complexion has been steadily clear {knock on wood} ever since I started using it. It’s tough for me to really stand behind a face wash after trying SO MANY during my most intense acne-battling years but these two are top of the line.

Finally for me is a product I never really thought about using daily until I became a mom… and witnessed the train-wreck that is TAN MOM: Pure Radiance Facial Sunscreen

Also from the Pregnancy Line {oops} this is in no way like the thick white goop you slap on at the beach. It’s a tinted cream that gives you daily SPF protection without feeling caked on. I use a pea-sized amount every morning in conjunction with my moisturizer and even though I can’t actually TELL that my face is utilizing the UV butt-kicking powers, I feel better about myself knowing that I’m keeping my skin protected during walks with Keelin or those agonizing trips to and from the grocery store parking lot. Again, in keeping with the theme… love this stuff.

Since I had zero intention of rambling on and on about these products I’ll save the BABY review for another post. Get excited. Even if you aren’t interested in any of these products, definitely take a look around their website at some of the others. They have Stretchmark Minimizing Cream and Elasticity Belly Oil to basic body wash and Kelo-cote scar treatment, I really mean it when I say they have great, safe, products for just about any stage of life.

Seriously moms, moms-to-be, and basically any lady who is looking for some great, safe skin care… you’ve got to check out Belli. Some of their products are a little on the pricey side, but I’m super stingy and even I’d splurge from time to time. BUT… lucky for you, splurging may not be necessary because they are currently hosting a 12 Days of Belli Giveaway!  Every day through 12.12.12 {yes, I’m a little late sharing the news} Belli is giving away one special product. All you have to do is enter! You can enter everyday for a chance to with the featured item! Who knows, maybe Santa knows you’ve been extra good this year and you’ll find one in your mailbox stocking on Christmas morning!  Hey, there’s nothing to lose, so may as well give it a shot!

Keelin’s 49 week update is tomorrow but stay tuned for my review of their baby products on Thursday!

Until next time…

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Keelin’s Birth Story… finally, as promised!

It’s been 3 weeks to the day since Keelin was born, and in honor of such a celebration I thought it was about time I shared her birth story with the world! This is a long and WORDY post, so please forgive me!
First, a little background, before I dive right in…
I’ve mentioned before that Z and I chose the Bradley Method  for Keelin’s birth but I wanted to give a little more detail as to exactly what that is.
The Bradley Method of NATURAL childbirth focuses on the importance of Healthy Baby, Healthy Mother and Healthy Families. It uses the natural ways your body works to get you through labor without the use of medications or interventions {c-section, episiotomy, etc}. During Bradley classes, expectant mothers learn how to manage pain through relaxation techniques and body positions and expectant fathers turn from spouses to coaches, constantly monitoring their wives to ensure they are as relaxed as possible and providing an endless supply of support and assistance {aka giving mommy-to-be all the ice chips, encouraging words, and back rubs she wants!} The goal is for soon-to-be parents to learn the basic stages of labor so they are completely informed on what is happening to mommy’s body as she progresses through labor, therefore eliminating some of the fear that comes with labor and giving you an overall better birthing experience. Mommy-to-be then is to attempt to simulate sleep during contractions, so she can get through the entire journey without drugs. Click the link above for more detailed information on the Bradley Method, and feel free to leave a comment with ANY questions you might have… especially mommy’s-to-be who might be interested in trying it out!
So, this is the method and path we chose {no meds, no assistance from the doctors, totally AU NATURAL!}, and this is how it all played out.

The little manatee and I on Christmas Day, the day before I went into labor.

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog at all you know that I’d been having Braxton Hick’s contractions for MANY weeks before Keelin was due. You also might remember that Keelin was head down very early on, and at one of my last appointments, I learned that she was sunny side up {the baby is born facing up toward the ceiling. Totally safe, but tends to produce back labor and make things more difficult for mom}.
Around about December 23, I started making it my mission to GET HER OUT! It’s not that I was terribly uncomfortable, but I was ready to meet my sweet girl and something in me REALLY wanted her to be born before Christmas. SO, I started chowing down on spicy food {aka Taco Mac’s queso dip and three-mile island chicken wings}, I took the dogs on a walk around the park and even got myself on a swing in the hopes that the ‘g-force’ would send her down and on her way out. All that did was irritate the muscle in my back that I had recently pulled. Fun right?
So through all the attempts to kick-start the process, nothing really seemed to be working. At most, my failed attempts were only stirring up frustration and I was constantly confusing the pain in my back for contractions in the hopes that it would actually be true. While I did have a few random contractions here and there, there was nothing consistent enough to make me start timing their duration and frequency so I went about my days as normal.

Sister-in-law, brother and the hubs

Then, on December 26 (her due date) the contractions really started, and the pain was 100% in my lower back… thank you Keelin for being stubborn and sunny side up. At about 5:00 pm I noticed they were lasting between 45-60 seconds and were anywhere from 3-6 minutes apart. We learned in our Bradley classes that this was PRIME TIME to head to the hospital so I was on high alert. The pain was uncomfortable but not unbearable, and I had heard that REAL contractions were generally so extreme that you weren’t able to talk through them, but the fact that they were happening so often and for so long made me wonder if I really was in labor, just with a higher tolerance for pain. Talk about wishful thinking!
Z was out rock climbing with my brother and his wife {don’t worry… it was an indoor climbing center not far from the house and I had told him to go… I was tired of having everyone sit around staring at me trying to will me into labor} so I gave him a call and told him about my contractions. He immediately came home and we gave my midwife a call to see what she thought. Because of the back labor and the fact that they came about so suddenly, she said to go ahead and get checked out. After all, at 36 weeks she informed me I was already 1 cm dilated, so there was definitely a possibility that I’d progressed more in that time.
So we grabbed our bags and headed to the hospital. They hooked me up to the monitor to see if Keelin’s heart rate was increasing and decreasing with my contractions like it was supposed to and thankfully everything looked great! I really started getting excited that “this is it” until they checked me and informed me that I was NOT DILATED and not really in labor. SAY WHAT??? NOT in labor?? FALSE I SAY!!! The hospital doesn’t admit patients until they are at least 3 cm dilated so they told us to go home. UGH!
I was frustrated because the contractions were getting more and more intense and more frequent, and there was no way of us knowing how dilated I was to know if and when we should head back to the hospital, but we sucked it up, got back in the car and met my parents at Taco Mac for dinner {yes, it was the third time in less than two weeks that we were at Taco Mac but if spicy food could help in any way, you better believe I would have gone a dozen more times for those three-mile island hot wings}.
During dinner the contractions were getting so bad that I could hardly sit up in the booth. I couldn’t talk during each one, could barely eat and ended up going home to relax in the tub. At this point I was thinking the nurses at the hospital were totally nuts and there was no way I wasn’t in labor.
The tub helped a little but the pain continued to increase and was still 100% in my back. Around 11:00 that night things were so intense that I started getting sick between each contraction. Not fun. I couldn’t keep anything down, even water, and Z and I both started getting worried. I remember one moment in particular, when my back felt like someone was breaking it and my head was in the toilet, that I started saying “I don’t think I can do this”. I knew that if I couldn’t get some fluids in me and stay hydrated, I would not have a successful labor, let alone an all natural one. Z and I decided to call Diane to see what she thought we should do. She agreed that I needed fluids and suggested we head back to the hospital.
The ride back was a total blur for me and my puke bucket but we arrived in no time {yay for a rainy midnight and NO cars on the road} and they put me through the same 30 minute heart rate check as before. Again, Keelin looked great and it was evident to the nurse that I was definitely in labor this time because I was completely unable to talk through any of the contractions and they were so close together. Z said he was watching my contractions on the monitor and they were much more extreme than the first time we came. They checked me again for dilation and I was sure that I had progressed. WRONG AGAIN SARA! I still wasn’t dilated {UGH} but the nurses said that because of the vomiting they were going to hook me up to an IV {with basic fluids to keep me hydrated… no mediation} and monitor my progress. They gave me a shot for the nausea… which I wasn’t too excited about due to the fact that I didn’t want drugs of any kind, but I knew it was pretty necessary at this point. It kind of helped… but for the most part I was alternating between contractions and getting sick for the next few hours. If anything the nausea mediation allowed me to relax a little more between contractions. I remember being kind of out of it for a good portion of the early morning. Mom would ask me if I wanted an ice chip and it would feel like 20 minutes before I actually got it, when in fact it was only seconds. Ah, the joys of labor delirium.
The contractions were beyond painful and I was having a really hard time relaxing like I had ‘practiced’ during Bradley classes but I was so thankful to have my mom and AMAZING husband there to keep me motivated, reassured and calm. I was so lucky to have them there with me throughout the entire process.  I couldn’t have done it without them.
At about 3:00 Diane arrived and checked me again. She said she had a “Christmas present” for me and told me I was 6 cm dilated {hooray!!! 6 cm in 3 hours!} so they finally admitted me and sent me to the delivery room for the BIG SHOW.
I continued trying to utilize some of the relaxation techniques we worked on in class but was unable to relax and “simulate sleep” as much as I would have liked. I sat, I stood, I leaned, I laid on my side and I even got in the shower. Diane went into super midwife mode and snuck me into the actual tub of the shower, which according to the nurses there was a big no-no. Our hospital had inflatable pools that you could labor in but you had to take a class in order to put even your pinky toe in the water. I wasn’t able to get my schedule together to take the class so it was no pool for me, but the tub was amazing and I was so thankful that Diane snuck me in! No matter where I was, the whole time I tried to keep moving and changing positions as much as possible, which really helped.
A few more hours went by and my water still hadn’t broken. I was still experiencing nothing but back labor so at about 6:00 am Diane suggested she break my water in an attempt to relieve some of the pressure… and speed up the process. It wasn’t what my birth plan had originally depicted but I was still getting sick every now and then so I went ahead and said yes. Anything to move things along. Boy let me tell you… that was an interesting sensation. It didn’t hurt in the least but the best way that I can describe the feeling would be to imagine if you waited 10 years to pee and then decided, “I think I’ll let it all out RIGHT NOW”. TMI? Probably… but this is a birth story so by deciding to read this you KIND OF asked for it!  Moving on…
Right after Diane broke my water I noticed that she and one of the nurses exchanged a less-than-happy look. Not something a soon-to-be mom wants to see from two women staring down at her lady business and uterus juice. She informed me that there was meconium in the fluid and I was heartbroken. I knew meconium in the fluid was not a good sign and meant that they would have to take Keelin immediately to the warmer to ensure that it didn’t get into her lungs with her first breath and cry. This also meant that I wouldn’t be able to have instant skin to skin contact with Keelin, nor would Z be able to cut the cord {Our birth plan was to have Keelin go immediately to my chest after birth and wait until the cord stopped pulsating before it was cut, that way she could get every last bit of oxygen and nutrients from me before separation}. I was really bummed but knew that it was more important that they make sure no meconium got into her lungs and Z was great at reminding me that as long as Keelin was healthy it really wasn’t the end of the world. We had been so blessed throughout the entire pregnancy that I hadn’t had any complications so a tiny hiccup like this was definitely something we could handle. He was such an amazing coach throughout the whole process.
Diane gave me her secret labor weapon… a popsicle {which at the moment was the best thing I had ever tasted} and I continued laboring sans bag-o-waters while she went out to welcome someone else’s little bean into the world. Can you imagine being a midwife? Spending all day helping women deliver their sweet babies? What a fulfilling job!
When Diane returned an hour or two later to see how I was doing I informed her that the pressure in my back was still just as intense as before, if not more so. Knowing that Keelin was sunny side up the last time she checked, Diane suggested that she try to turn the her. Yeah. She said it might relieve some of the pain and noted that once she was turned and in a better birthing position, it would probably be no time at all before I was ready to push. Again… this wasn’t part of our original birth plan, but knowing that there was meconium in my water shifted my priorities a bit and it became even more important to speed things along… so… turn she did.
Ho-ly mother.
If you were to imagine what kind of pain would come from a midwife PHYSICALLY turning a baby from facing one direction to another… while still in the womb… it was way worse.
I knew Diane had said that turning her might speed up the process, but I had no idea it would happen as fast as it did. I soon learned that while Diane was turning Keelin, she was also taking me from 7 cm to 10 cm. That would explain the ho-ly mother reaction and the epic pain. It seemed like only moments had passed between her saying, “let’s turn the baby” and “let’s push”. I was lying back on the delivery bed letting Keelin do a somersault and all of a sudden there were like 10 doctors in the room. They were ready, and so was Keelin!
Soon I started feeling an undeniable urge to push and it was ON. Pushing was definitely painful but it went by really fast. At one point I started to get worked up and they gave me an oxygen mask so both mine and Keelin’s heart rates would even out a bit. Z was fantastic and went into big-time coach mode. He was encouraging me, cheering me on, reminding me to relax between pushes, and most importantly telling me that our baby girl was only moments away from being here. I couldn’t have done it without him. I pushed for about 15 minutes and there she was. I was able to look up and see her head before pushing the rest of her out. {Note for soon-to-be moms, it is 100% true that the head is the hardest part and the rest of the body is a breeze… at least it was for me!} Before she was completely out Diane told Z that he wouldn’t be able to cut the cord so they could do it as fast as possible to get her over to the warmer. She also reminded us not to be worried when we didn’t hear her cry right away.
There she was all gooey and adorable. It was without a doubt the most amazing and surreal experience.
Once she was out things moved just the way Diane said they would. They cut the cord quickly, took her over to the warmer, and kept her from crying until they could suction out all the meconium. I know it was only a few seconds but it felt like we waited forever to hear that sweet sound and when we finally heard her cry it was true bliss. Tears were everywhere. It was only a few more moments before she was snuggled up against my chest, perfect in every way. I couldn’t believe she was finally here.

Keelin Noelle Pierce. Born December 27, 2011 at 9:38 am. 7 lbs, 19 3/4 inches.

You can thank me later for sparing you the details of the all the post birth fun and focus on the sweet moments…
She was absolutely the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen and I’m pretty sure I spent every waking moment of the next few days just staring at her. Who am I kidding… I’m still doing that today, three weeks later!

Our little family

Z, Keelin and I spent the rest of the day enjoying our new little family, introducing her to other family members, and taking lots of naps. The hospital staff had to come in every few hours to check my blood pressure and make sure I wasn’t hemorrhaging at all so combine that with attempting to feed the little one {which was a definite struggle} naps were really the only option!

New daddy napping with his little football. I read later in the postpartum room that sleeping with the newborn was not permitted... Breaking the rules at only a few hours old 😉

The true depth of what I’d been through really didn’t hit me until the next day when I felt like my body had been hit by an 18-wheeler. Basically everything except my head, hands and feet was sore and I took advantage of whoever was in the room to help me get things and keep me from having to get up. It was all worth it for my sweet angel.
Well, there you have it folks… the story of Keelin’s grand entrance into the world! Sorry it took so long for me to share it with you!
A lot of people have asked me if I would do it all again without pain medication and I have no hesitation when I say, “Absolutely”. I don’t remember the pain, only that there was plenty, but I wouldn’t have changed any part of the experience. Yes, the puking was less than desirable but learning how my body responded to what was happening was extremely eye-opening. I’m so proud of myself for pushing {no pun intended} through and letting my body do what God made it to do. Nothing against the hundreds of years of medical advances that allow women to have children essentially pain-free, but I definitely appreciated my natural route.
On another note, I’m fully aware that I wouldn’t have been able to make it to the end without my mom’s assistance {love you mommy} and without Z being the loving and supportive husband that he his. He kept me calm and encouraged from the first contraction to the last… and continues to encourage me every day in my new role as a mommy. He’s such a wonderful father already and I love watching him interact with Keelin.
Until next time…
Thank you for letting me share our story! I hope it was worth the wait!
In other news… I have a new weekly staple coming up that I think you’re going to love. At least I love it… not that I’m biased or anything! But you’ll have to wait until Sunday to find out what it is!

Nursery flower puffs!

One of my favorite features in Keelin’s room… besides her cute butt of course… are the tissue flower puffs {pom poms} that are skattered about around the corners of the room.  Here’s a little reminder of what they look like:

Cute, right?

I’d seen these on a number of different sites including wedding blogs like Lovely Little Details {tutorial video by Jacin} the all-amazing Pinterest {additional HOW TO from Martha Stewart} and thought they would be a great and “girly” addition to the nursery. Especially because I wanted to find a way to make it clear a little girl lives there without having a pink overload.

Even though I’ve just provided you with two really fantastic tutorials {how awesome am I?}, I thought I’d share a slideshow of my own step by step experience!

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So… what do you think?

Have you made flower puffs/tissue pom poms/whatchamacallems for any other occasions, decorations or events recently? TELL ME ALL ABOUT IT!!!

Until next time… 

 

Guest blog: Emily from The Waiting

All Hail Emily, Queen of the Muffin Top: Originally posted Sept. 14, 2011

It was bound to happen eventually. I am nearing the end of my first trimester, after all. I have known that at some point I would have to part with my normal, cute wardrobe. And I dreaded it, not out of a fear of pregnant corpulence but because I like my clothes.

But it’s started: I have a giant muffin top. It’s only going to morph into a cake and then a watermelon. We’ve reached the point of no return, folks.

Let’s get this straight; I have always carried my junk in the front. I have by no means a small waist and that’s OK by me, as long as I can get jeans that make me look like I give a damn, which I have always been able to do. The rest of me is not skinny but healthy, and that’s all that matters, really.

Yesterday my #1 Jeans (you know them, that one pair of jeans that always makes you look great no matter what you pair them with, that have the uncanny ability to turn a borderline bad day into a somewhat pleasant day) were in the laundry, so I had to resort to #2 Jeans in my arsenal of awesomeness. The instant I put them on I had a craving for coffee to go with the giant muffin I was rocking.

Granted, I should have seen it coming since I really haven’t worn these jeans in several weeks and they do tend to be a little snug on bloaty days, but after zipping and buttoning them, I felt like an impostor.

“Silly girl,” the jeans said, “you’re pregnant now. You can’t wear me unless you want to pair me with that orange tunic your mother gave you two years ago and we all know you hate.”

“But jeans, I love you! You’re supposed to have stretch! See, right there in your label you say STRETCH really big. And you’ve always been so understanding in the  past!”

“There’s only so much I can do for you. Sorry.”

“But think about the good times! Please recall how I bought you in Korea, the lonely size 8 in the store. You would’ve had to stay among the 0′s and 2′s indefinitely had I not come around. Remember when your belt loop broke but I still loved you and sewed you up? What about the time in Paris when you were my trusty companion. You’ve seen the world, and now you say there’s nothing you can do?!”

“I don’t do muffins, and I don’t do babies.”

I realize now that it’s not going to be long until #1 Jeans falls prey to the MT and will have to be retired for maternity wear, but I am going to savor them until that day arrives, even if that means that they won’t be washed for weeks on end. Love makes you do strange things.

I now have a craving for muffins. Off I go!

ABOUT THE BLOGGER:

Emily smirks about pregnancy and life over at The Waiting. She now has way  more than a muffin top and her pre-preggo jeans have been traded in for maternity pants. We tried to contact her former jeans to comment on what Emily said about them, but they did not return our calls.  Emily said, “Good riddance. My new maternity pants rule beyond belief.”

Bebe is expected to arrive in April, 2012.

Until next time…