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Valerie’s Life

after baby body
From bump to baby, Valerie's Life

Postpartum pressure to not look like you had a baby, just after having a baby. 

This was my postpartum body just after delivering my 4th baby last summer. I posted it on my personal Instagram last year to remind me of how I felt in that moment, when I was filled with amazement, emotion and love for the magical moment I had just experienced as a mother giving birth, so as to resist the urge to feel the postpartum pressure of not looking like I just had a baby, after just having a baby.

 

July 31st, 2015. “You’d think after 4 babies, the mystery and amazement of a woman’s body recovering from childbirth would be old news to me, but it never disappoints. I took this photo at the hospital Wednesday, just 24hours after Lily was born to remind myself that on the day I felt the most beautiful as a woman, the most strong as a mother, the most loved by an adoring husband, my physical body appeared the most out of shape, ‘ugly’ and ‘disfigured’ to worldly standards that it’s ever been. I wish for myself and for my daughters to always remember that true beauty is living in the truth of what beautiful really is. #postpartum #selfiestrong #BLANQIbeauty ” 

 

 

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There can be an expectation that immediately after having a baby, our bodies should instantaneously go back to it’s pre-pregnancy weight. I believe that this pressure is a real thing. Not just a figment of our female imagination, but a real cultural expectation that is placed on mothers.

If you’re not one of those mamas who has ever struggled with this postpartum pressure, it is a wonderful thing that you have lived without it, but I felt it. I felt it after my first baby, when I felt like I had to prove to myself that motherhood was not going to ‘change me’. (hahahaha) I felt it after my second baby, when I felt I had to prove that I could control two boys and still retain my girly self. (hahahhaha) I felt it after my third baby, because clearly I just had my third baby and people expect you to go downhill from there. (hahahaha) But, by my 4th baby, I didn’t feel it. I felt the most secure in my motherhood, my marriage, my life– I felt like I didn’t have anything more to prove with my body. At this point, I made the purposeful decision that postpartum body shaming was not going to influence my thoughts and decisions this time around. Those unknown fears were not going to be what compelled me to make decisions in my life.

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It’s been just over a year since I had Lily and I’m still carrying some postpartum baby weight. I have a fairly flat stomach, but those last 10 pounds seem to hold onto my hips like a kid holding a cookie until I stop nursing. It’s happened every time, so this fourth time around I’ve not stressed over it as much as I have in the past. It doesn’t matter really what I do– eat less, eat more, exercise less or exercise more. Until I stop breastfeeding, there is no pre-pregnancy body coming back.

And in my life now, I’m okay with that. I’m okay with having a little more squeeze if that means my child is still wanting and needing to be breastfed. I feel lucky it’s lasted so long and been so easy this time around. Lily seems to be one of those babes who would prefer to be a lifetime nurser, so having to gently wean her will come soon enough, but I’m just not in any rush.

That doesn’t mean I have days when I don’t look in the mirror and try to remember what my boobs looked like pre-pregnancy when they didn’t need a support bra. Or what my abs looked like with some definition instead of a defined stretch marks or what my bum looked like without these support leggings  for lift. There is nothing like trying to put on a pair of jeans from my pre-kid days of ages ago to get a real dose of reality. I may fit into them, but the ‘fit’ has changed.

So I wanted to share this as a visual reminder that pregnancy changes our bodies. It makes us gain weight, and lose weight, some bellies get stretch marks, while others have them on their chest, butt and hips. Our bodies can get red, rashy, itchy, shot up with progesterone, swollen, sensitive, cut open, torn, ripped, and stressed to the max.

But, with time and support they heal. It doesn’t last forever, and the scars that do were earned for a love that lasts a lifetime.

xx Valerie

postpartum support

Above I’m wearing my BLANQI Highwaist Postpartum + Nursing Support Leggings just after delivering Lily. I packed them in my hospital bag to help secure my belly with just the right amount of compression so that I was still comfortable. I’ve heard about binding your belly tight just after having a baby, but it never felt comfortable and didn’t work to wear for daily life. Like how can you go to Target wearing a bellybinder?! I would rather enjoy the moments with my new babies, than feel like I couldn’t snuggle them up from the tight and constricting binders. I feel like they make breastfeeding difficult to do and enjoy—and it’s challenging enough those first days, so I prefer these first ever, breastfeeding gamechanger support leggings. The higher waistline, on average, sits about 2 inches higher than typical ‘highwaisted’ leggings, so when I lift my shirt up to breastfeed, my jiggly after-baby belly stays secure and covered. Which always helps when the lactation nurse comes by and I’m all falling out of my gown. Having some coverage helps with feeling a bit more normal in a stressful situation when I’ve had challenges with my baby latching on at first! Just my experience. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Valerie's Life, Ways To Wear

Pregnant during the summer // my maternity style

 

There is something about being pregnant in the summer that evokes sympathy from total strangers. This time last year I was pregnant with our 4th baby, Lillian Giselle, due August 15th. Many people would say, “Oh, you must be so hot!” and, “How are you surviving being so huge in this heat?” When pregnant with our first three babes, I had avoided being the hugest while it was the hottest. But this time, I was pregnant during the summer, having an August baby, and I had to figure out a summer maternity style. There comes a point when the heat wins.

That is when I let my BLANQI Belly Support Tanktop go it alone.

Slipped on over my favorite bra and non-maternity skirts or shorts, I felt fresh and sleek. The cooling effect of BLANQI’s moisture-wicking finish works wonders. In the early weeks, I would wear the skirt waistband above my small bump. As weeks went by, I would wear the skirt waistband underneath it. I like to look pregnant, so I love that BLANQI defined my bump and gave me a flattering silhouette. Because the tanktop is opaque, there was no need to cover it up or layer over it. It really could go it alone.

I prefer to wear non-maternity styles I already own in my closet, so the support tanktop worked really well. I could keep wearing my pre-pregnancy skinny jeans and favorite ripped denim shorts with the BLANQI Belly Support Tanktop. The bottom band is designed to secure unbuttoned like a bellyband. It just made things easier to not have to worry about what to wear everyday as my belly grew.

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Here I am with my husband and kids, less than 2 weeks before Lily arrived. Clearly I had entered the “very pregnant” stage! I still can’t believe this was a year ago this week and my belly was that big! I was squeezing myself into maxi dresses since they were just about the only thing that still fit. With lower summer necklines, I needed a support tank that wasn’t visible.

That’s when I opted for the Underbust Belly Support Tank.

I preferred to wear this style in nude underneath my dresses like a slip. The underbust style stayed hidden under my v-neck and scooped summer necklines. Even my most clingy and stretchy maxi dresses flowed freely. My Underbust Belly Support Tank smoothed everything out, including my popped bellybutton, and stayed in place when chasing after my three little beach babes.

Having a summer baby ended up being easier than expected. I drank a lot of water, put my feet up as often as I could, and wore my BLANQI’s day- and night!

xx, Valerie

 

 

sister room decor inspiration
Decor, Motherhood Is My Muse, Valerie's Life

How to ‘baby proof’ a toddler bedroom for a three’nager.

When I think of baby proofing, I always thought of it as covering the outlets, making sure no hard corners were exposed and picking up every tiny Lego and Playmobil piece was picked up for the baby stage.

But what about for a toddler bedroom, or more appropriately a three’nager?

 

My three’nager Violette, with her enthusiasm for creative play and spontaneous ideas, has created an entirely new level of parenting panic for me.
For starters, after the fourth night in a row of being woken up around 3am by the thud of Violette falling out of her toddler bed, I knew it was time for a change. But, I wasn’t ready to make the investment of two twin beds from here that I’ve been eying, since Lily is still at least a year or more away from being out of her Ouef crib and I’m not sure Violette could handle the added height yet either. I didn’t want to trade one fall for another, higher fall.
So for the time being, I borrowed my sister Natalie’s extra Queen mattress and set it up simply on the floor. While not the most chic, and definitely brought back punk rock memories of my first apartment in Philly haha, it’s practical and functional for now.

By placing it horizontal, it made it more like a toddler sized King bed- and I love that I can lay down next to her at bedtime to read books, even letting Lily crawl around on us.

Then there are windows,

Remember the scene from the sound of music where the kids are swinging from the trees, you know that one? My kids would be the type to recreate that scene if I used anything but spring loaded curtain rods. These are my go-to for toddler rooms. They make it so anytime they start playing and pulling on the curtains, they fall down. Can be annoying to have to put them back up all the time, sure, but it’s worth the hassle to have peace of mind that I’m lowering the risk of them hurting themselves.

Violette inherited my obsession with rearranging decor, so she is constantly touching and moving whatever I put up on her wall. Rather than fearing her artwork getting taped and push pinned randomly into the wall, I found some inexpensive ways to give her just the right amount of control to decorate her space. Target always has the cutest wooden clothespins in the dollar bins up in the front of the store painted in cute colors.
I’m sure you could take it a step further and DIY those yourself, but I’m a bit too impatient for that, haha. I use them to secure the educational alphabet cards from Anthropology just strung across with yarn, from my knitwear design days. The frames are the kind that hold canvases, since those give a perfect little space to hold hanging artwork.

Scroll down for the Before and After. Not much had to change but the bed, for now. (Saving up for those West Elm beauties!)

xx Valerie

Obsessed all books in our house, but especially with Solly Baby’s children’s book about baby wearing. The cutest.

 

This Gathre leather playmat in mint gets dragged by my various children from room to room. Currently it is on my family room flow being used as a wrestling mat by my adventurous boys. Quite the change from the girls’s ballet moves. 🙂

  Pottery Barn does not disappoint. Santa brought the unicorn this year, because what little girl does not need a riding unicorn?? The play kitchen is an older version of what they retail now, a lucky find off Craigslist for Violette’s 3rd birthday.  

And here is the After with the toddler bed replaced with a big girl bed.

  

Mother Mentors, Valerie's Life

Motherhood Mentors // Tips to balance work + family life from Stephanie of Wash With Water

These days my life is wake up, kiddos, BLANQI, BLANQI, BLANQI, tackle the mound of laundry, chauffeur to soccer/lacrosse/ballet, dinner, rinse and repeat. I feel sometimes like the days are zooming by and there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to finish everything I want to do- both personally and professionally. One thing that has kept me grounded is connecting with like-minded women who are facing the same challenges everyday as well.

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Meet Stephanie, she is one of those gals. (image above) She is a wife, mama to 3 and the founder of the successful Wash with Water brand of dreamy organic soaps and lotions. We were first introduced through Instagram and I was instantly like, let’s be friends. Not only do we both have daughters named Violet, (I spell my daughter’s like Violette, but it’s practically the same), but we even delivered babies on the exact same day 7 months ago!!! So when I was putting together our BLANQI Baby Bundle with another amazing mama friend, Amy from June and January, and we knew that it had to include WWW, it is that good.


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Baby Vonn wearing the June & January x BLANQI collaboration beanie, onesie & blanket, so darling.

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Our BLANQI ‘Be Brave’ v-neck turned into perfect princess pajama shirt.

 

Recently during one of our late-night texting sessions, while we are both exhaling from a long day and nursing our little babes, I asked her the question that I get all the time, “How do you do it?” I wanted to know what she does to balance her business and motherhood. (Insert whatever ‘work’ you do all day if not an entrepreneur, because every mom is a ‘working mom’) She has this great quote on her website that says “…because we believe bath time is not just another task to check off- it’s family time in your hands!” GAHHH… that really hit my heart hard, because how often do I rush through the tasks of motherhood without really putting motherly love into even the smallest moment?! That is where I can ‘make up’ the moments lost through a busy day of work, kids, cleaning, etc. I get there is no magic formula, but it helps to hear that we are all sharing in the same struggles and suggestions from other mamas in the ‘trenches’ that can help make it easier!

 

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Stephanie living what she preaches with her little ones.

Stephanie, founder of Wash With Water, 4 tips on how to balance work and family life,

TAKE 30 // When you are pouring every espresso-fueled minute of your day into the business, it is easy to forget that the beautiful force behind this creative energy (YOU) needs attention too. Block 30 minutes every day to re-charge, meet for coffee with friends (no business talk allowed), work out, take a nice long bubble bath. Your business (and family) will thank you!

IDENTITY THEFT // It is perfectly understandable after investing your heart, soul, and probably personal finances into this labor of love that you have now wrapped up your identity into the company. And on the days when sales are through the roof, customers are singing your praise, and you are on top of the small business universe…then sure why not? Well simply put because the pendulum will swing the other way once in a while! Your self-esteem cannot afford to ride the roller coaster of small business ups and downs. Protect yourself from the trap of blurring the lines between you and your business by staying connected to people, hobbies and interests outside of work. Remember, being a successful entrepeneur will take everything you’ve got….just not your identity.

LAW OF ATTRACTION // Keep a small journal and action board of your goals for the business- never stop doodling or making daily notes for yourself. These accomplishments may not happen overnight (and certainly not without a LOT of hard work) but start to put the ideas out into the universe. The small business world thrives on the law of attraction- if you dream it, believe it, work for it, you will receive it!

FINISH LINE // It can either be comforting or a bit intimidating to think that there really is no end to this small business journey of yours. Remember, you are not in a race to compete with other companies to a finish line…there isn’t one and this is your personal journey. So take the time to lift others along the way, reach out and ask for help, and most importantly, celebrate the milestone successes for you and your fellow makers. This indie journey is a whole lot more enjoyable if you are sharing it with a community of like-minded movers and shakers.

 

xx, Valerie

 

BLANQI Baby Bumps, Valerie's Life

From my “There’s a bun in the oven” to my personal fave, “I need a BLANQI!” // Pregnancy announcement inspo for the mama-to-be.


When I was pregnant with my first born 10 years ago this month, there wasn’t really a way to “announce” being pregnant more than just saying it out loud, “Whoo hooo, whoahhhh, aahhhh… I’m pregnant!” With it being my first, and a bit of a surprise, I slowly eased into announcing my pregnancy to family and friends when the time came that I needed to clarify that my growing bump was a baby, and not a burrito. Now four baby announcements later, each one has had it’s own style and tone, that in a way, reflects the emotions and season of motherhood I’ve been in behind the news.

1. Jude was this amazing blessing that changed the entire course of my life, i.e. my pregnancy inspired BLANQI, but tears and fears pretty much summed up my 1st trimester. With 50% of pregnancies being ‘unplanned’, I know I can’t be alone in this situation, which is why I feel I have to be honest and share that reality. Not every pregnancy gets a ‘perfect’ pregnancy announcement, but the end result is what really matters, and my baby-now-nine year old was totally worth the struggle. So if an elaborate pregnancy announcement doesn’t interest you or you don’t have the emotional energy for it, no big deal, you’ll still be blessed with a beautiful baby- with or without a special announcement.

2. Nico was announced on Facebook with the classic black and white ultrasound photo. BLANQI had just launched and I had a super active 3 year old to keep up with. There was just no time for fancy anything. Ultrasound photos or videos are simple, easy, gets the point across and never goes out of style- which is especially great for when morning sickness has already set in and the last thing you want to do is peruse Pinterest for more ‘creative’ ideas. 

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3. I found out I was pregnant with #3 Violette around Mother’s Day weekend that year. I announced it on Instagram and posted a photo of me wearing a BLANQI and showing the positive pregnancy test in a pink and blue box and said something like, “I need a BLANQI!!!” This makes me laugh now, as it kinda grosses me out- the whole peeing on a stick, like who really wants to see that, really?! But, it’s still a legit way to announce it and I won’t judge you if you do it too.

4. The fourth baby has you all like, crazy. So crazy me had all this self-inflicted pressure to do this one super cute and witty. I knew this babe was going to get more comments in the announcement post like “don’t you know how that happens” and “whoa..four…”, so I wanted to be sure to share how excited my family was for this new baby! I wore our BLANQI Belly Support Tanktop in Winter White, took my kiddos to Ikea for storage bins and had my sister snap a couple photos of the 3 kiddos and me eating their yummy cinnamon rolls on our way back to our car in the parking lot, and boom…pregnancy announcement posted with “There’s another bun in the oven” ..cute, cute, cute.

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So there’s mine, what’s yours??

If you need some creative ideas, here are some of our favorite pregnancy announcements that have been shared with us at BLANQI!

BLANQI + BABY BOY!! // Of course I’m partial, but I really think wearing a BLANQI is the best way to announce a pregnancy. During the weeks we typically share the news is also when we can feel huge, swollen, sick and tired, not always photo ready. I find our maternity support tanks help make a barely there bump look more pronounced, making the rest of the ‘bumps’ more smoothed out.  BLANQI girl Mekelle Ahlin wore a BLANQI Belly Support Tanktop in Deepest Black when she announced her baby boy news! Love! Love! Love!

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BALLOONS + BABIES!!  // This winning combination has taken baby announcements by storm, with no end in sight. It’s cute and chic, and I love how my real-life sister Natalie of At Home With Natalie incorporated her hubby and kids to be part of it. I think there was some deflating going on with some of the letters, but they pulled it off. Can’t imagine life without baby Asher now that he’s here!! (all 21lbs at 5 months of him! Chunky monkey.)

 

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BLANQI + BABYBUMPS!!! // What better way to announce your pregnant than by saying you just bought a BLANQI!? This had us pretty smitten for both mama and new baby!

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FIT PREGNANCY! // For the fit mama wearing our supportwear, what better than announcing it with a photo from your gym? Christina runs a cross fit studio nearby our office and has amazingly fit pregnancies (who swore by her BLANQI Underbust Belly Support Tank in Winter White) She is such an inspirational and beautiful mom inside and out, that we hope for many more weights lined up in a row for her.

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BLANQI FAMILY! // We are a young company, with a creative, smart, talented team that put their all into BLANQI to help support all women through motherhood. So it’s extremely exciting when the pregnancy announcement comes from one of our very own, like Jessen Schulman!!! Yea!! She leads BLANQI Customer Care, blogs at Jschulmanandcompany.com, is married to a police officer, has a beautiful little girl named Gianna, and you may have seen her in our supportwear videos here. She has a great family that she and her husband gathered up to share the news with! There is nothing like the reactions of family and friends to share in the energy and excitement that having a baby can have!!! I can literally hear the squeals and laughter in these photos!! (Jessen is on the far right holding Gianna wearing her Belly Support Tanktop in Winter White)

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There are soooo many creative and inspiring baby announcements that you can do no wrong!

We would love to see your pregnancy announcements! If it’s your first or your fifth, every baby bump- and after baby body- can use some BLANQI support! Come follow us on Instagram @BLANQIgirls, tag #motherhoodismymuse in your photos, and let us welcome you to the BLANQI world!

xx, Valerie

 

BLANQI Baby Bumps, Valerie's Life

Valerie’s top 5 tips for a healthy pregnancy

Having gone through 3 previous pregnancies, I have learned a thing or two about my body, the changes it goes through, and my needs during this amazing transformation.  Although the list could be much longer, I just wanted to share with you my 5 tips for a healthy pregnancy – what my essential needs where.

1 – WATER! I have a history of pre-term labor, so staying hydrated is important to keep contractions at a minimum and electrolytes from getting too depleated. With a busy schedule, it’s easy to think we are drinking more water than we really are, so I started using the simple app, Daily Water, to help monitor it better!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/daily-water-free-water-reminder/id466387763?mt=8

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2 – IRON: Most pre-natal vitamins contain about 30mg, which covers the 27mg needed during pregnancy. But for those of us who sometimes forget to take them on a daily basis (it happens!) or can’t keep them down, we can start feeling our energy zapped. If the thought of meat makes your naseaus, try eating iron rich foods (like fortified cereals) with Vitamin-C rich foods (like orange juice and strawberries). The combination increases absorption while still being easy on queasy, morning sickness stomachs.

3 – WORKOUTS: Sticking to a fitness regiment is hard enough when not pregnant, so sometimes it can be a struggle to fit it into your daily life when you feel so exhausted. When your energy comes back in the 2nd trimester, use that time to fit in workouts. Simple stretches help your body prepare for labor, cardio sessions will keep your weight on track and as your due date approaches, long walks will encourage that baby to make it’s arrival!

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4 – STRESS: Be honest with the expectations you place on yourself. I try so often to keep up the high intensity pace of my life, but that is just not possible during pregnancy. So on days when my body is telling me to slow down, it can be hard to sometimes really listen. I started writing out lists of what I hoped to accomplish each day and each week. Written out, it’s much easier to see if I’m being realistic or not, and checking off items on my to-do list gives me a sense of accomplishment.

5 – STYLE: There is seriously a moment during pregnancy when suddenly you go to put your clothes on and nothing fits. Everything feels uncomfortable and no longer looks flattering on. That’s when I start living in my BLANQI Belly Support Tanktop and Belly Lift & Support Leggings. I can throw them on in the morning and not have to worry about  (they have superior stretch and recovery to wear through all 3 trimesters) and the built-in support belt keeps me active throughout the day.

And there you have it! ( and as always, you should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise, supplementation or medication program).  What are some of your top tips for a healthy pregnancy?  Share with us – we love to hear and learn from other mamas out there!

xx Valerie

 

Valerie's Life

A babybump update from Valerie // 28 weeks

I seriously cannot believe that I am 28 weeks pregnant already!! I’m due August 15th, which feels wayyy closer than I need it to be right about now. I thought for sure baby #4 was going to be a breeze, but that hasn’t been the case. This pregnancy started off with some complications, so that added stress and twice weekly progesterone shots, along with a crazy production and design schedule at BLANQI, has kept me busy and solely focused on getting this babe to the safe zone.

So now that I have a legit baby bump, it’s time to share how I’m styling it. I’m looking forward to taking you into my daily, real life looks. I have 3 kids with adventurous spirits and courageous hearts, whom I love deeply, but they live life at a high pace. My stylist-turned-pilot husband has a crazy travel schedule, so the routine I crave is never normal. As in, he plans to be based out-of-town for 10 weeks starting 9-9-15, which is 3.5 weeks after my due date. Queue the tears now.

Here is a look back from week 10 until now from the few casual photos I’ve taken on my personal Instagram. Make sure you follow @BLANQIgirls on Instagram and sign up for the BLANQI blog newsletter so you don’t miss any of the babybump updates!

xxValerie

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