Interview by Tonya Kerr | Photography by Yvette Michelle Portraits
There are hundreds of books, blogs and well-intending strangers offering advice about motherhood, yet, sometimes being a mom is the loneliest feeling in the world. Whether your pregnant with your first or juggling the chaos of several, it’s often a relief to hear advice from the trenches of your own stage of motherhood. Meet Tish, Louanne and Susie- three Houston moms with STAGE-appropriate advice.
New Mommy: Tish
Tish has been part of ‘Houston Family’ working full time at the magazine for over ten years and she’s expecting her second baby this summer on June 24th. Her oldest is 17-month-old Dani, who can’t wait to meet her new baby sister!
Every Pregnancy is Different
While this is Tish’s second time around, she now understands why people say every pregnancy is similar, but different. “Morning sickness, check. Food aversions, check. Mood swings, double check,” said Tish. “The only thing different this time would have to be my cravings! I was eating pretty much the same thing throughout my first pregnancy – oatmeal, smoothies, eggs, oranges, & salads. This time around it’s a different story. I’m an eating machine! I’ll take anything, in any order, just keep it coming!”
Third Trimester Nesting
The countdown to baby’s arrival is just three months away, but Tish says her first baby came three weeks early, so nesting is underway. “I just now started stocking up on a few things at home like diapers, freezer meals, baby food recipes, breast milk freezer bags, etc.,” said Tish.
Tish and her husband are quick to admit that new parent mistakes might be universal, but the lessons only come from trial and error. Even the transition from their baby sleeping in the bassinet in their room to the nursery was a little scary. Tish says, “All the typical questions ran through my mind – Is she still breathing? Is she warm enough? Did I swaddle her tight enough? I remember sleeping on the sofa the first couple nights just because it was closer to her nursery! In hindsight she was just fine.” With the second baby, Tish predicts she’ll be more relaxed and won’t rock the baby to sleep EVERY time.
Tish breastfed Dani for almost nine months, but says it was a rough start. She relied heavily on her breast pump; advice from family and friends; and the constant support of her husband. “When I was sleep deprived he was there to remind me what side baby last nursed on. He was always making sure baby & I were comfy and kept my snacks and water handy, “said Tish. “My milk supply dropped around month eight, so that’s when I started giving Dani half breast milk/half formula. Thankfully she transitioned fine, and I was even more excited to say adios to my breast pump!”
Anticipation & Preparation
The preparations for meeting their bundle of joy are in full gear as Tish and her husband ready the nursery with a mix of new and a few hand-me-downs. Tish says Dani seems to understand and is ready to be a big sister. “We talk about her little sister every day, and she loves giving my tummy kisses, hugs, and waving ‘Hi” to it as well.”
Tish’s Tip for NEW MOMS:
Something else that’s high on my grocery list these days is dates! To all the expecting mamas out there, buy them in bulk and start eating them now for a shorter & smoother delivery!
Tish’s Favorite Baby Products:
Milkmaid Goods Swaddle Sets
You definitely want to have a few of these adorable swaddle sets on your wish list. The material is lightweight, breathable, and stretchy so your little one can rest nice and snug. $38. Milkmaidgood.com
Finn & Emma Play Gym
New babies will love this play gym! Toys are both wooden cut-outs & hand-knit organic cotton with rattles inside. They can even be detached and used wherever else you might need some extra entertainment. $135. Finnandemma.com
I can’t get enough of these 100% natural rubber pacifiers that are non-toxic and eco-friendly. $15. Heveaplanet.com
Parasol Diapers & Wipes
Not only are these diapers colorful with super cool designs, I loved their fit, absorbency and incredible softness! $22 giant pack. Parasolco.com
Lorena Canals Rug
I fell in love with this gorgeous rug and I know you will too! The ABC pattern on this quality, machine washable and anti-allergen rug is perfect for any nursery. $200. Lorenacanals.us
Tish’ Favorite Mom Products:
Newlie Diaper Bag
I’m all about a high-quality diaper bag, and this was one of my favs! It looks more like a stylish purse and even includes an insulated pocket perfect for bottles and snacks. $106. Newlie.com
Oat Mama Granola Snacks
New moms are always in need of a quick and delicious snack! These granola bars were a lifesaver for me and they’re packed full of goodness for breastfeeding moms – oats, ground flax, brewer’s yeast, fenugreek. $21+. Oatmama.com
Medela’s Double-Electric Breast Pump, Sonata
I had the power to pump anywhere, anytime, and with its rechargeable battery I wasn’t always hunting for an outlet, and it even connects to the MyMedela app for personalized content and reminders. Super quiet as well! $400. Medelabreastfeedingus.com
Milk Snob Luxe Cover
This cover does it all! Use it to nurse or as a fitted car seat or nursing cart cover. Dozens of fun styles to choose from. $36. Milksnob.com
My Levana Video Baby Monitor
You want to invest in a good baby monitor to put your mind at ease. This one has a high-def touchscreen, a feeding/nap timer, temperature alerts, lullabies, nature sounds, talk to baby feature & more. The Willow 5”. $230. Mylevana.com
Toddler Mommy: Louanne
Louanne runs her own business from home, and she works hard to find a balance between work and family. As a mom to 2-year-old Luke and 8-year-old Ava Grace, life is never dull.
Terrible Two’s, Three’s & Beyond?
Taking the toddler years one day at a time, Louanne says Luke has been a happy toddler who isn’t in the terrible two’s, just more like the frustrated two’s. “He’s not great at communication yet and gets very frustrated,” said Louanne. “Luke’s not yet acting out, but with Ava Grace, we experienced the terrible three’s. So, I don’t think we are out of the woods yet.” Louanne says Luke’s learning to talk at a later age, and it’s frustrating to see him frustrated.
Raising a Boy vs. a Girl
Louanne says she spent six years identifying as a “girl mom” when Luke came along. “I was so conditioned to having the perfect outfit, perfect hair and bow and all the newest accessories,” said Louanne. “With a boy, life is simple. Shorts, shirt, comb through hair and a truck… and we are out the door.”
Laid-Back and Easy-Going
“I’m so laid back with Luke compared to my first baby,” said Louanne. “Germs and dirt don’t bother me now. If he leaves my sight within the house, I’m not frantic like I was with her. With my daughter we had a fairly strict schedule with meals, naps and bed. I have since learned fast food won’t kill my kids if we have to be on the go.”
Tantrums and Discipline
Although Luke hasn’t yet hit the tantrum stage at age two, the few he has get a swift response. “I simply say “no sir!” and put him on the couch or out of the way and pretty much ignore it,” said Louanne. “If I don’t give him attention for his behavior, he stops quickly realizing he isn’t getting the reaction he wanted. He is also the type of kid you can just give him the Mom-Eye and his bottom lip comes out.”
Balancing Work and Family
Childcare is a balance of two days of Mother’s Day Out and extra time where she can find it. She says, “When we looked at the cost of childcare, it just didn’t make sense for us. I would have to take on a job that would require more of my time than I was willing to give to make financial sense.” Louanne runs an online business from home because she wants to contribute and keep up her skills. Bottom line, she says, “I really like talking to other adults.”
Louanne’s Favorite Tip for Toddler Moms:
*Keep your car stocked! With an entertainment bag, change out the toys often. It’s great to have crayons, books, toys on hand for dinner out or any unplanned situations. Keep extra diapers, wipes and a change of clothes in the for emergencies. LIFESAVER!
Louann’s Favorite Baby Products:
These are a must-have, especially here in Houston during allergy season. $3.49. target.com
Pura Stainless Steel Bottle
This bottle is amazing. I wasn’t a fan of plastic bottles but loves this bottle as it is stainless steel, easy to clean and comes with the option to change into a silly cup and then a straw cup. Great for weaning off the bottle. $19.99. purastainless.com
Zoli SUMO Snack Stacker
Having a few options for snacks in a stackable air tight container is amazing. Sometimes goldfish won’t cut it so it’s great to have other options . I have found keeping them fed and not hangry saves the day. $13.zoli-inc.com
Chewable Silicone and Beech Wood Pacifier/Toy Clip
Designed by locally owned, Three Hearts Apparel, these gorgeous clips will make you want one in every color, for every outfit. $15.threeheartsapparel.com
Louanne’s Favorite Mommy Products:
I keep a canister in my door of the car – the big oversized pack in my purse. Amazing for quick clean ups and easily accessible. $1.99. target.com
This wrap is amazing, as an infant and even into toddler age. It’s easy to use and tons of YouTube videos for wrapping options on toddlers. $44.95 – $54.95 www.mobywrap.com
Honey Bubbles Bath Soak
For days that I need a break, I unwind in a warm bath infused with sea salts, epsom salts, himalayan salts, lavender essential oil, geranium essential oil, and dried roses to help relieve physical and emotional stress! Another local find, a steal at $4. honeybubbles.com
Preschool Mommy: Susie
Susie juggles two part-time jobs while raising four-year-old Olivia and eight-month-old Jack. She says Olivia is a great big sister, but it’s also nice to have alone time with each child.
Childcare, Preschool & Beyond
Carving out two days a week for a just few hours a day gave Susie the time she needed for small work projects as a first-time mom. “We started Olivia out in a two-days-per-week Mother’s Day Out program, and she loved it,” said Susie. “Her first day went smooth and easy for both of us. I think it helped that she already went to a lot of new places with me and my parents. She has always adapted to new things quickly.”
Choosing that First Classroom
Susie says now that her son is here, it’s time for Olivia to attend school five days a week in the Fall. “She’s very advanced for her age, so I want to keep her brain engaged as much as possible,” said Susie. “A friend of mine told me about a school near our home; we took a tour; and we love it. It’s a small Christian school, and I really like their curriculum and how they run the school.”
Confidence the Second Time Around
There’s no doubt that Susie works hard juggling it all, but she’s quick to point out that things are a bit easier the second time around. “I was a very laid back person before I had Olivia, but now I am a more confident mom with Jack,” said Susie. “Thankfully, Olivia is a natural helper and wants to please people. Once we had Jack, she dove right into the big sister role. She helps a lot with diapers and fetches items for Jack when I need them.”
Asking for Recommendations
No matter how much you research or think you already know, nothing is more valuable than the advice and experience of friends and family you trust, according to Susie. “I always ask friends and family for recommendations. The experience of another family speaks volumes.”
Susie’s Preschool Mom Tip:
Getting a solid sleep is the most important thing a mom can do for herself and her children. Don’t be afraid to ask someone for help so that you can rest. You need the energy to keep up with your little ones.
Susie’s favorite Baby Products:
Baby Bandana Bibs
The best product for me has been the baby bandanas. It looks so much better than the classic bib. 4-pack. $29.97. eloiseandlolo.com