Tiny Miracles

I know I’m not posting as regularly (or regularly at all, rather), and I’m phoning it in in a lot of other areas of my life currently, too (oh hai, Maiden South!) but I am currently in a complete and utter state of awe at what tiny miracles babies are. Watching Adella Grace growing and learning is amazing. Friday, she was incredibly fussy, and the Wonder Weeks app (a wonderful way to know you’re not a horrible mom and your baby is crying and needy because she’s simply growing – I HIGHLY recommend and wish I had known about it before the throes of the 6 week growth spurt!)  told me to expect it due to a developmental leap. 

From the Wonder Weeks:

After having made this leap, a baby doesn’t experience the world as a single entity anymore; the world is like a bowl of soup where everything blends together. The baby begins to differentiate regular patterns. For example, she discovers her hands. She looks surprised and turns them around. Many of the baby’s automatic reflexes disappear, and Adella Grace begins to do things purposefully. All the movements she makes still look very stiff to the outside world as if she is a puppet on a string.


 I laid her in her crib after an hour or so of hollering, gave her a paci (and poured myself a glass of wine – it was 5:30 pm on a Friday after all) and sat in the rocker next to her crib to watch her. Well wouldn’t ya know – she started putting her pacifier back in her mouth herself! 


So excuse me while I’m MIA from so many things. If you need me, I’m probably here rocking my baby, staring at her in utter amazement. And probably having a glass of wine while I’m at it. Feel free to join me! 

One Pan Sriracha Chicken

After a few weeks of the sweetest, most wonderful people in all the land bringing us meals so that we didn’t have take our eyes off our sweet baby girl for one minute… I’m back to cooking.  Not an awful lot, no little layer cakes or swiss meringue buttercream… but I am back to cooking real honest-to-goodness food.  Back to visiting the farmers’ market (which sadly, is over for the summer because it is too hot even for plants to grow), back to celebrating summer’s bounty in the kitchen.  Partially because I want AG to grow up seeing me cooking our family real, honest-to-goodness food and putting my cast iron skillets to work, and partially because I’m hungry.

Easy One Pan Sriracha Chicken Thighs | oysters and pearls

A couple of weeks ago, I whipped up this DELICIOUS meal thanks to a tip from a high school friend, Mason.  We share a love of Ina Garten, and she knows my deep love for all things sriracha and hot sauce well. She tipped me off to this Tasty on Buzzfeed video for One Pan Sriracha Chicken, andddddd I ended up cooking it immediately (literally that night).

It lived up to its claim for ease, and it’s truly a one pan meal – and I made it even easier by not draining the chicken fat and just cooked the veggies in it instead.  I ain’t skeered of a little fat.  (In fact, I would argue that it’s good for you, but that’s not the point.)  I made a couple other small changes to make it even easier and speedier – pre-minced garlic instead of fresh, nixed the garnish, and upped the sauce.  The rest of the recipe below is almost verbatim from Tasty on Buzzfeed.  This recipe has earned a permanent spot in my kitchen rotation – the chicken is juice, spicy and sweet, the veggies delicious, and you could change up the sauce/glaze for almost anything if you can’t stand the heat.

Easy One Pan Sriracha Chicken

Serving size: 4

INGREDIENTS
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Salt and black pepper, to taste
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided into 3 Tbsp.
2 Tablespoons minced garlic (the kind from a jar)
1 red onion, sliced into half-moons
6 small red/new potatoes, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Sriracha

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 400˚F/200˚C. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, to taste.

Place a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat; add 3 tablespoons of butter. When butter has melted, add the seasoned chicken, skin side down, and sear until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. (This will melt out most of the fat underneath and will leave a nice crispy skin.)  Then remove chicken.

Add garlic and onion to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently. Then add bell pepper and potato and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Remove skillet from heat and return chicken to the skillet, skin side up. Mix Sriracha and brown sugar together in a bowl until smooth, then pour onto the chicken and vegetables.

Place pan in oven and roast until completely cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Natalie’s Cook’s Note: When browning the chicken (or browning or searing anything), you’ll know it’s ready to flip or remove when you can jiggle the piece of meat with your tongs and it no longer sticks to the skillet.
Easy One Pan Sriracha Chicken Thighs | oysters and pearls
PS – Mason has a blog herself – I’m Just In It For The Parking – go check it out for a good read to add to your blog roll. :)
Until Next Time - oysters and pearls

Hindsight is 20/20: Packing Your Hospital Bag for a C-Section Delivery

So, writing blog posts with a newborn is like, hard.  It takes me days , ahem, weeks to finish a post – I start it one day, and sit down and write a bit here and there, upload pictures, and edit during bits of naptime.  Ya know, when I’m not cleaning up our house, doing never-ending laundry, hosting visitors or taking her visiting, or simply staring at her and quietly crying from sheer joy.  You know, the usual.

What to Pack in Hospital Bag for a C-Section Delivery Oysters and Pearls

photo by Alicia Osborne Photography

I spent HOURS researching what to pack for the hospital.  I read so. many. blog posts.  I polled friends who had delivered babies recently.  I developed one list for a natural birth, then when I found out I would have to deliver by C section, I developed another list for that.  Normally I don’t stress about packing for anything, but this was one event I wanted to be sure I was prepared for in every sense of the word.  I knew I would want to share the list here, because I figured I would need to write it down for my own friends, and then also because, like reading birth stories, packing for the hospital and hearing what others packed calmed some of my jitters prior to delivery.  If I can contribute to calming anyone else’s nerves before D-Day, I want to do just that.  So belatedly, here’s what I packed, what I used, and what I didn’t, with some commentary along the way.

Tallahassee Wedding and Engagement Photography

photo by Alicia Osborne Photography

Packing Your Bag for a C-Section Delivery

In my Hospital Bag…

…for Mama-to-be:

  • ID and Insurance Information – I kept this in a folder, along with paperwork for my insurance and short-term disability policy.  You’ll have to have the doctors sign off on some of these forms.
  • High Quality Paper for Hand and Footprints – I brought two sheets: one for a hand print and one for a footprint.  I also brought the page out of her baby book for the same purpose.  Ask the nurses to do these hand and footprints for you when they’re doing it for the birth certificate.  I kept these papers in my folder for insurance forms, as well.
  • Nursing Tanks – I brought two, but have since purchased quite a few more.  I have been living in these since AG was born!  My favorite nursing tanks are from the Gap.
  • Nursing Bra – I wore one in to the hospital and then had it in case I needed/wanted it, but I never ended up using it.  I bought these two nursing bras on Amazon and still love them.
  • Soft Drawstring Pajama Pants to go with those nursing tanks.  A friend who had a C section gave me the tip to get them in a size larger than you’d normally wear to keep things loose around that incision. My advice is to treat yourself to nice ones that are super soft, because you will live in them for a while.  I am still loving my Eberjey Hailey pants (via Amazon).  SO SOFT – they’re a dream.
  • Cardigan – I like this soft jersey cotton cardi to wear over nursing tanks in the hospital (which gets cold).
  • Slippers and Shoes – Whatever shoes you bring, you’ll want them to be slip-on shoes.  There will be no bending over for you, Mama.  I packed these slipper socks (and wore them – don’t judge), my Minnetonka slippers (never wore them) and my Birkenstock slides.  They were perfect because I could slide them on, but they were very supportive.  The more you get around and walk in the hospital after you’re cleared to do so, the better… but the walking is hard.  Good footwear helps.
  • Toiletries – This is a personal decision as to how much to take, but here are some of the essentials I brought:
    • Dry Shampoo (I had my sister, Anna Jo, who is a stylist at Haute Headz salon in Tallahassee, blow my hair out before checking in to the hospital.  I highly recommend doing this!  It was such a treat, and then I didn’t have to fool with doing my hair in the hospital.
    • Makeup – I didn’t take my full arsenal (which isn’t much anyway) – just foundation, blush, eyeshadow and mascara – make sure it’s waterproof!  You’ll be having lots of waterworks.
    • Burt’s Bees Face Wipes – there will be lots of times you’ll want to wash your face, but won’t want to get out of bed.  Pack these, no matter what.
    • Shower Cap – got to protect that blowout! 
  • Throw Blanket – if you don’t use it (which you probably will), your husband will want it on the couch/chair/whatever.
  • Pillow – you’ll want your own pillows.
  • Colored Pillowcases for Pillows – that way they won’t get confused with the hospital’s linens and you’ll make it home with your pillows and pillowcases.
  • Phone Charger with Extra Long Cord
  • Gifts for Nurses – I did a big basket full of candy with a little sign hanging from the basket.  A friend of mine brought the nurses donuts from a local place.  It can’t hurt to have your nurses love you, right?
  • Nipple Cream – Lots of people swear by Medela Tender Care Lanolin, which I got and keep in my diaper bag, but I much prefer Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Cream.  I still keep it by my bed and apply every night (TMI? Whatevs… this whole post probably is.)
  • Robe – This is a must-have.  And you’ll want to make sure it’s a thin, comfortable robe.  A dear friend Sara gave me a really nice Love Ophelia robe as a bridesmaid gift a couple of years ago and I’ve been wearing it non-stop.  I even wore it as a nightgown one night in the hospital.  You will wear it over nursing tanks, alone, or as a nursing cover.  It’s hands-down one of the things I used the most in the hospital.
  • Hair Clip/ Hair Ties
  • Colace – NOTE: this is NON-NEGOTIABLE.  Bring it with you.  Do not rely on the hospital to provide it for you.  Ask the nurses when you can start taking it.  You’ll thank me later.  PS This is mandatory whether you have a natural delivery or a C-section.  Take it early and take it often!  You can’t overdose on colase.  But you will think you’re dying when you go to the bathroom the first (and second, and third) time.
  • Boppy Nursing Pillow – Most people use this when nursing and find it essential in the hospital, but I never really started using it for nursing and never really have since.  I consider nursing my arm workout, and the boppy just seems to get in my way most of the time anyway.  If you’re a first-time mom, I’d pack it so you can try nursing both with and without it.  You’ll be glad you did if you prefer to use it!
  • Snacks, Gingerale, Bottled Water – I packed Gingerales and some natural almonds and dried fruit.  Labor/surgery/breastfeeding/etc. all make you very hungry, so be sure to have some healthy snacks.  I get nauseated from pain medicine very easily, so I was really glad to have the Gingerale to sip on once I was allowed to do so.  If I had had a natural birth, I would have added Gatoraid to that cooler, too!
  • Camera – no explanation necessary.  Bring extra (charged!) batteries, too.
  • Hand Sanitizer – for guests
  • Yoga Pants – Another friend told me that tighter clothes felt better to her because it felt like it was holding her back together, so I brought a pair of those, too.  It’s good to have options.
  • Chapstick – Your lips get so dry in the hospital.
  • Bose Soundlink Speaker – I was SO glad we had this.  It was nice to have relaxing music playing in the background during the day, and we could listen to the news via my NPR app on my phone in the mornings, which was great, too.  We aren’t big TV people, so we never even turned ours on.
  • Hand Lotion – You want soft hands when dealing with your brand new, squishy soft baby.
  • Gas-X Strips – You do NOT want gas when you’ve had a C-section, and you will want to get rid of the gas they got into you when doing surgery.  These help!
  • Traditional Medicinals Mother’s Milk Tea – This served two purposes for me: it gave me something hot and cozy to sip on while in the hospital (I got pretty hooked on hot tea while pregnant) which was comforting on its own, but I swear it helped my milk come in much faster (mine came in the day we check out of the hospital after only a two night stay!).  My nurse would bring two cups of hot water to me at a time, so I was having two cups every time.  I definitely recommend bringing this to sip on throughout the day if you’re planning on trying to breastfeed.
Tallahassee Wedding and Engagement Photography

photo by Alicia Osborne Photography

…for Baby:

  • Coming Home Outfit
  • Soft, Snap-up Gowns – Not really necessary, as diapers and shirts and blankets are provided by the hospital, but I wanted to use our super soft Kissy Kissy convertible gowns on that super soft baby skin.  You’ll be super bad at putting clothes on a baby at first, plus brand new babes are so wobbly and fragile-seeming, so I recommend snaps instead of gowns that pull over their head.
  • Hat (again, one will be provided to you, but I knitted my own newborn hat and also brought a smaller, super soft Kissy Kissy newborn hat)
  • Socks – newborn size socks.  No shoes needed.
  • Swaddle Blankets – the softer, bamboo ones are even better than the muslin ones.  Get your nurses to teach you to swaddle.  I might have to get Wheat to help me show y’all how our dear, sweet, wonderful Nurse Betty taught us to swaddle.  It was a game-changer!  And you can use the swaddle blankets as baby blankets, nursing covers, burp cloths, etc. etc. etc.  You can never have enough!  Pack at least 3 for the hospital.
  • Newborn Pacifier – If you want, but they’ll provide you one if they think you need one or if you ask for one!  Don’t pack a “0-3 Month” size one though – they’re too big!  Or at least, they were for our girl.  She’s just now using that size instead of the newborn size.
  • Burp Cloth – Pack a couple plain cloth diapers if you’d rather use them for a burp cloth.
  • Baby Book and Pen – There will be things you want to record while you’re in the hospital, so be sure to bring a pen with it.
  • Notebook – You’ll need to record bowel movements, urination, and feeding times somewhere, and a notebook is nice to have.  I brought a nice one from The Bookshelf, and wrote down who came to visit, who sent flowers, who brought gifts and what they were, etc. in addition to the other stuff.  Since we came home, I’ve continued to record all the gifts Adella Grace has received in that notebook, as well as any other notes I want to include.  I think she’ll appreciate seeing it all one day.
  • Baby Wipes – some hospitals provide these, some provide dry wipes that you have to wet in the sink yourself.  Bring a pack of wipes just in case yours is the latter (local folks: Bainbridge Memorial provides the wet wipes… Archbold in Thomasville provides the dry wipes!)
  • Neosporin (for boy babies/circumcision)
  • Rubbing Alcohol – My Dad, the good doctor, recommends using rubbing alcohol on the umbilical stump to help dry it up, although some doctors/hospitals no longer recommend doing so or think that it is necessary, but it can’t hurt.
  • Diaper Cream – Bring whatever you want to use, or better yet, a couple different kinds.  Buttpaste doesn’t work as well on AG (she has crazy sensitive skin like her Mama).  We love Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment and use it at every single diaper change.
Tallahassee Wedding and Engagement Photography

photo by Alicia Osborne Photography

…for Daddy:

  • Twin-Size Air Mattress –  A friend told us to bring this, we didn’t, and Wheat ended up leaving the hospital to go buy one.  We had room for it, and it was so much more comfortable than the couch/bed/thing in our room.  In fact, it was probably more comfortable than my hospital bed.  We got one with a built in motor, so every morning Wheat just deflated it and packed it away in the corner of the room.  It was worth every penny.
  • Clothes/Pajamas and Toiletries for 2 to 3 nights (We lived close enough that Wheat went home every day to shower and change).
  • Cash for vending machines (if your hospital doesn’t take debit cards at the cafeteria or something, good to have on hand just in case).
Tallahassee Wedding and Engagement Photography

photo by Alicia Osborne Photography

Things I packed that I did not use once:

  • Nursing Cover – I’ve used mine since, of course, but you lose all shame once you hit the hospital, and anyway, you’re just trying to get the hang of breastfeeding and figure your new little one out.  Nursing covers can be a bit awkward for a seasoned pro (or a somewhat seasoned mom of a 7-week old) so don’t bother bringing it.
  • Nursing Pads – I packed these, and my milk did come in the day we left the hospital, but unless you’re a second-time nursing mama, you probably won’t need these in the hospital.  You may, however, want to pack some Soothies gel pads for those boobies.  I was lucky and didn’t need them, but it’s better safe than sorry.
  • Maxi Pads – you’ll have access to the finest, largest boats of pads available while you’re in the hospital.  Leave yours at home – you’ll need them there.  Enjoy the mesh panties while you can… and be SURE to steal some to take home.  A friend gave me the tip that although they’re disposable, you can wash them and re-use them.  I’m currently wishing I had stolen more.  They let your incision breathe so much better than the regular grannie panties you’ll need later.  (That’s not a joke – be sure you’ve got those on deck at home, too.)
  • Flip Flops for the Shower – Most people consider this essential for their hospital stay, but after my C-section, the first time they helped me up to go to the bathroom and take a shower… I did not care ONE BIT about what was going on with my feet.  That may seem gross, but our hospital room was mopped every single day and looked clean to me.  Again, you’ve just been cut open… my feet were the absolute least of my worries.
  • Velcro-type Swaddlers – I brought one to the hospital but we never used it.  We used swaddle blankets for the first 3 or 4 weeks – they were softer and easier for us to manage.  Once AG seemed a little sturdier, we switched.
Tallahassee Wedding and Engagement Photography

photo by Alicia Osborne Photography

I plan on doing a post on everything that has become something I wouldn’t want to do without since we’ve been home for over 6 weeks, but no promises on when I’ll get it written. :)  Life with a newborn is the very best, but the blog has definitely taken a back seat to life.  Follow me on snapchat (@nataliekirbo) or Instagram (@oystersandpearls) for peeks into this so-sweet season of life!

Until Next Time - oysters and pearls

PS all photos by Alicia Osborne Photography.  Alicia is a friend and an amazing photographer, and I’m so grateful for these images!

PPS There are no affiliate links in this post, meaning if you click through and buy something, I don’t earn a darn thing.  But I wouldn’t mind it a bit if you pinned this post on Pinterest – after all, sharing is caring! :)