You are a Strong Ass Woman: Loving yourself through recurrent miscarriage

My body and mind are numb as we drive to the hospital. Holding my husbands’ hand, we walk into the hospital, check-in, and are guided back to our room for the day. On the gurney lies blue hospital socks with little gripper bottoms and a light green gown. The nurse greets us, we sign the paperwork, and within the next thirty minutes, an IV is started, anesthesiology and the surgeon stopped by for pre-procedure reviews. Full of anxiety, despite medication to help me relax, my husband kisses me goodbye and I am wheeled down the hall and into a large, white, cold operating room. This has been my reality of recurrent miscarriage.

This exact situation happened not just once but four times within a two-and-a-half-year timeframe to us. I felt so ashamed and just utterly destroyed, each time we went through this. It took me a long time to feel worthy and loved again. Every day I miss being able to experience the late-night feedings and little league games that could have been with those four babies. This is the reality of recurrent miscarriage.

recurrent miscarriage

If you have been in this situation, let me remind you that you are not alone. There are, unfortunately, so many of us out there to support you. Miscarriage is not something that many post about on Facebook, rather it’s in those touching individual conversations when you realize “you’ve been through this too”. Once you open up yourself to share, others will feel comfortable too. You are not broken; the other women are not broken, we just have scars. We are strong ass women.

Our Story: Recurrent Miscarriage

recurrent miscarriage

I met my perfect match a little later in life and we married in April 2018. We had spent the past few years traveling the world while working through our infertility journey and we’re so excited to start our family. Our first miscarriage occurred a week before our honeymoon in Greece (August 2018)and the third occurred days before our trip to Israel and Turkey (January 2019). I was thrilled about a positive pregnancy test in August 2018. I kept the news to myself and put together a “you’re going to be a daddy” gift for my husband. It was such a special day and I was grateful that our journey to parenthood had finally started.

Too good to be true

Once you get that positive pregnancy test, my OB is the first call, to confirm the amazing news. They will typically check your HCG levels, progesterone, and some additional baseline blood tests are captured. My HCG levels were on track initially, but fast-forward to week seven, instead of going up by thousands, they were only increasing by 300 every three days. Everyone has their own HCG baseline and your doctor will tell you if you are on track or there is any cause for concern. In our case, there was a cause for concern.

An ultrasound took place the following day and my worst fear turned reality, no fetal pole. It was clear something was wrong when the ultrasound tech quickly wrapped up and told me I could get dressed. The next step included a quick walk over to the doctor’s office where he shared the news. There was a gestational sac and fetus but no heartbeat. We left the building in silence and I cried for what seemed like days. I was so ashamed that my body let our baby down, I felt completely responsible. It had to be something I did.

Preparing yourself for the miscarriage process

Miscarriage is painful, both physically and mentally. Many women silently suffer. According to the March of Dimes, it could be as much as 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage but only 10-15% diagnosed due to the woman even knowing she was pregnant. I had a D&C each time, mainly to capture the chromosomal information to better advise our next protocol. It is difficult to go to the hospital, knowing what is happening, and undergoing anesthesia. The process itself, however, is a day versus multiple days if you were to miscarry naturally at home. To learn more about a D&C versus natural miscarriage, please check out my recent post. Each hospital or procedure location has a different process.

A D&C Procedure

Three days later my husband took me to the hospital for a D&C procedure. Thankfully, a nurse called me in advance and walked me through what would happen. She warned me about two particular questions they would ask, “what would you like to do with the remains” and “would you like a chaplain present”? She walked me through common options for both scenarios. I was so grateful for the opportunity to prepare for those difficult questions.

I held back the tears until I was wheeled back to the operating room. In my mind I was screaming, “This can’t be happening. We just need to double-check”. With tears streaming down my face, the last thing I remember was a nurse holding my hand and telling me that I’ll be ok. Thank god for nurses. I needed someone else to be strong for me at that moment.

The D&C procedure timeline: What to Expect.
  1. Fast (no food or drink) for 12 hours prior to the procedure.
  2. Arrive at the hospital 90 minutes prior to the procedure time.
  3. Once in your room, you will change into a hospital gown and will be visited by a variety of people. An IV line is started and the Anesthesiologist and surgeon will stop by to review the final questions.
  4. You will be rolled back on the gurney to the operating room.
  5. The nurses will get you situated in the operating room and the anesthesiologist will start medications.
  6. The procedure times will vary. From room to room; estimate 90 minutes.
  7. Once you come out of anesthesia, you may feel cramping or an extreme urge to use the washroom.
  8. The observation will last an hour. A snack is provided during recovery.
  9. At home, plan on resting for the remainder of the day. You will be able to resume relatively normal activity the next day, but make sure you minimize long walks or running until your doctor gives the ok. Cramping, the uterus contracting to transition back to size, can be painful. Tylenol will help.

It will be a rough day, you might be angry and sad. Recurrent miscarriage is difficult, painful, and stressful. You will get through the day and you will pick yourself back up because you are a Strong Ass Woman!

Off to the Infertility Doctor

Due to my age, my OB referred me to an Infertility specialist at our local hospital. I know that God had a plan for my husband and me. It is just so incredibly hard to keep faith in the plan. After the August 2018 miscarriage, I had another in January 2019, the third in July 2019, and the fourth in March 2020. Each miscarriage took a piece of me, however, having regular appointments with an action plan provided relief.

Specialist after Specialist

Over the next two years, we tried various treatment protocols and I saw multiple doctors. I became a human pin cushion and truly had every infertility test imaginable. I transitioned to another specialist after my first infertility doctor retired. The doctor was very knowledgeable, however, the support team did not meet my expectations. My expectations are; return phone calls, answer insurance questions, and communicate timing with adequate notice. After wasting six months trying to corral the nurses, I opened up to someone I barely knew at the time. It turned out her journey wasn’t the easiest either. She is a huge support for me. I am grateful for her referral to yet another doctor. Many times, when you feel things crumbling, reach out. There are other women who have been there and are willing to help. Recurrent miscarriage or other reasons for infertility should not take control of you. Thank god for strong ass women always picking each other up.

recurrent miscarriage, shots
Light at the end of the tunnel

This new doctor was direct and was determined to get this process moving for us. One positive thing in our scenario is that we are able to get pregnant ourselves, the problem is staying pregnant. After additional tests, we finally had a possible cause for recurrent miscarriage; I have a blood clotting autoimmune disorder and thyroid elevations. I felt in control. We finally had an answer and a protocol designed to help. We tried two rounds of the protocol, complete with an increased amount of vitamin supplements, medications, and daily shots to help control my blood clotting disorder. I had a black and blue stomach for about six months. Not taking into consideration black and blue arms from weekly blood testing. Before starting this protocol we had just experienced miscarriage #3 and daily shots and weekly blood didn’t phase me anymore.

The first time trying the protocol resulted in miscarriage, but we decided to try one more round. Our doctor was direct, IVF, although not as effective in our situation but surrogacy should be on our radar. We moved forward with another round of the existing protocol. The protocol worked! I don’t know how this pregnancy will end, but we are already in our third trimester. Surrounding IVF, the only variable this eliminated was chromosomal abnormalities. The benefit allowed the strongest embryo to be selected, although this did not solve the problem of sustaining a pregnancy. This route could easily end with another recurrent miscarriage and significant expense.

Preparing for IVF when not covered by Insurance

The hard truth about IVF is that it is incredibly expensive and hard on the body, but let’s be honest, I’d already been giving myself daily shots and a variety of other medicines. We ended up sustaining a pregnancy and did not have to follow this process, but we were within a week of pulling the trigger. If your insurance does not cover IVF, you have options.

IVF Financial Support options:
Recurrent miscarriage, IVF support
  • Military service: Do you or your partner have any prior military service? Our provider offered a significant discount for veterans or active military.
  • Marketplace: Many people think the insurance marketplace is only for people who do not have insurance or need the support of Medicaid or Medicare. That is not the case. Through Obamacare, we found plans, in the private market that covered a large portion of IVF.
  • Grants: There are several resources online that offer financial support for IVF if you meet certain criteria. Fertility Within Reach is a great site that educates on available grants for Infertility and Adoption.
  • Experimental trials: Ask your doctor if they are aware of any trials in your area where you might be a candidate.

Thankfully my husband served our country and we were eligible to receive a generous veterans discount. We planned to pair the military discount with a private insurance plan from the marketplace. The marketplace plan we looked at was around $450 a month. It covered a majority of the costs associated with the retrieval and implantation procedures, and about 50% of the $7,000 in medicine per cycle. Be mindful that marketplace plans differ by state, and not all states cover IVF. In Illinois, as of 2020, some plans did.

Loving yourself through it all

Miscarriage and recurrent miscarriage may be one of the most difficult scenarios you will encounter. After the first and second miscarriages, I felt lost. I was letting down my husband and was struggling with the realization we may never have the family we desired. Through the following tactics, I was able to develop trust in my body, control my mind and realize it was not my fault. I am not a psychologist, therapist, or academically trained for this topic, however, I have significant experience.

Recommendations to support you through the process:
  • Talk to your partner/spouse. Be open and transparent with how you are feeling. You both experienced the loss. Share with your partner what you need from them to heal and ask what you can do to help them.
  • Support at the hospital. Prior to leaving the hospital after a D&C procedure, you can ask to see a support professional. Hospitals will have a person on call who will be able to speak with you then or schedule a time to connect.
  • Seek professional counseling or group support. My local hospital offers a support group for miscarriage, recurrent miscarriage, and infant loss. Ask your nurse or OB about groups in your area. What to Expect and Facebook also have groups dedicated to miscarriage.
  • Focus on the plan. Find a specialist in your area and book an appointment immediately, if you plan on continuing your journey to motherhood. Your specialist will run tests, review results from “products of conception” if you selected that option, and recommend a plan. Ask questions and advocate for yourself if you feel that either the plan is too aggressive or not aggressive enough. If you do not feel the support or plan is sufficient, get a second opinion.
  • Surround yourself with strong women. The first few months after miscarriage it is incredibly difficult to interact with individuals who do not understand. I wholeheartedly understand the frustrated feelings when someone says “enjoy the journey” or “your time will come”. I also understand when your neighbor, friend, and past acquaintances all post-pregnancy announcements on social media right after your miscarriage. Those situations can be very difficult. Whether it is through Facebook groups, or by talking to women who have been there, wrap yourself up in their arms. In time, you will find your way back to being that supportive neighbor and friend and will look forward to celebrating their bundle of joy with them. In the interim, give yourself some grace.

Miscarriage does not define you

Whatever your outcome, I can guarantee that you will feel comfortable knowing you gave it everything you had. I told my husband that five miscarriages were my ending point, and at that time I would feel like I truly gave it everything I possibly could. Through this entire process, I truly realized that I am stronger than I thought possible. You are too. This will always be part of your story, but it does not define you. Why? Because you are a Strong Ass Woman!

Much love!

Emily M

Best All-Inclusive Family Vacation: Beaches Resorts Negril

Beaches Resorts Negril: The Beaches Resorts chain knows how to make memorable and fun family vacations. Our typical go-to vacation has always been Europe, but this time I told my husband, “I would like to sit on the beach, drink mojitos and enjoy family time together.” My husband understood the assignment and started researching all options. After several weeks of research, we landed on the Beaches Resorts chain.

In addition to feedback from friends and online reviews, we selected Beaches Resorts Negril because:

  • Kids Camp
  • All-inclusive aspects
  • Location

For a more inclusive review of Beaches Resorts Negril, watch our YouTube video.

Kids Camp at Beaches Resorts Negril

Kids Camp was the main reason for selecting Beaches Resort Negril. Our daughter was 9 months old during this trip, and while I wanted our whole family to be together, I also wanted breaks to sit in the pool and relax. During our stay Kids Camp was open from 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM with a short closure between 5:00-6:00 PM. Upon arrival at the Resort, locate the Kids Camp and register your child/children. The registration includes basic information about the child/children, you, and individuals approved to pick up your child/children, and a security phrase used upon pick-up.

Visit the Beaches, Negril website for more information on Kids Camp. f

Kids Camp includes various areas to support fun activities for infants through teens. There are separate areas for the various ages and dedicated nanny’s in each age area. The infants and toddlers stay in an air-conditioned play area, with cribs for naps and plenty of toys. Infants/toddlers do not need to be potty trained to attend Kids Camp. The older kids are seen doing arts and crafts, eating meals with nannies in the dining areas, playing in the children’s pool, and battling in the XBox lounge.

Our Kids Camp Schedule

The Kids Camp does not feed infants beyond the bottles you provide. Our daughter was at the age where she explores food and sits at a table with us for meals. We were at Beaches Resorts Negril for a full week and therefore had down a pretty nice schedule with Kids Camp. We had a standard schedule and then one night we decided to do a date night. These schedules allowed my husband and me time to relax and also allowed us to be active while our daughter napped in Kids Camp.

Beaches Resorts Negril

All-Inclusive amenities at Beaches Resorts Negril

We have been to several all-inclusive resorts and this was the only one that I feel was truly all-inclusive, once we got to the hotel. Almost every person working at the resort had a button that said “no tips”. The items included in our all-inclusive package at Beaches Resorts Negril were: airport transportation, all food and beverage (including alcoholic beverages), in-room fridge beverages, all Seasame Street Shows and other evening entertainment, live music playing nightly throughout the resort, non-motorized water sports, glass-bottom boat excursion, and kids camp.

Visit the Beaches Negril website for a full breakdown of the all-inclusive aspects.

Be prepared to tip off the resort

Before you get to Beaches Resorts Negril and after you leave, there will be many hands where tips provided. Some I feel warranted the tip and others, were overkill, either way, be prepared to tip. Upon arrival and departure, you will tip the following people:

  • Arrival Concierge Service: I highly recommend securing your spot with Club Mobay.
  • Airport Lounge wait staff: Beaches and Club Mobay lounges are available while waiting for resort transportation.
  • Airport baggage transport to your resort bus
  • Bus driver


We selected Jamaica due to the distance and available direct flights from our home location. Traveling with an infant creates many unknowns and by minimizing layovers and keeping flight duration under five hours was ideal.

If traveling with a baby gives you anxiety check out our Quick Tips on “Traveling with a Baby: Air Planes”. While we have not mastered or ever will, air travel with a baby, there are several tips that have worked for us.

On the Blog: Anxiety Free Air Travel with a Baby

On YouTube:

Anxiety free air travel with a baby

Air travel with a baby does not need to be anxiety-ridden! My husband and I are seasoned travelers and recently started air travel with our 6-month-old baby. There is no right or wrong way to travel with a baby because every baby’s needs differ. This blog post specifically targets air travel with a baby and what has worked best and worst for us and my observations of watching other parents navigate traveling with a baby.

This post focuses on air travel with a baby. If you are planning for a road trip with a baby, check out “Effortless Road Trips with an Infant“.

Flight Planning for Air Travel with a Baby

1. Time of day to travel

I recommend booking the first flight or close to the first flight out for the day. With this method, you will hopefully avoid a progressive delay situation. Indicate that your baby will be a lap child when booking your flight.

TSA Policy on Traveling with Children

Various airline baby procedures:

2. Seat Location

Select seats towards the back of the plane. This will allow you to get to the washroom easily, without having to carry your baby through twenty rows of passengers. Sitting near the back of the plane will contain the noise. If you sit in the middle of the plane, when your baby cries, the front and back of the plane are disrupted. If you sit in one section, front or back, you will minimize the number of passengers to potentially disrupt.

You might be thinking, “babies cry, if someone has an issue, that is their problem”. While many passengers are empathetic to the scared feelings our baby might have, it is our responsibility to proactively minimize disruption.

3. Seat Arrangement

Always make sure you select an aisle seat for air travel with your baby. This allows you to easily exit the row, for diaper changes and walks up and down the aisle to calm your baby. Book seats next to each other, when traveling with a companion. In an ideal world, you both might want aisle seats, however, sitting next to each other will allow you to easily help each other with the baby.

4. Seat Type

If your baby will be under two years old at the time of flying, your baby can be a lap child. A lap child must sit on your lap the entire time. There will be no additional room/set available for them. The lap child process worked well for our six-month-old. We anticipate having our baby fly as a lap child up through twelve months. From observations, once the baby hits fourteen-fifteen months, a coach seat is cramped with a lap child.

Air travel with a baby

If you are going to hold your older baby, I recommend upgrading to an economy plus seat. Depending on your airline, airplane, and destination, if you have some flexibility in your travel budget, explore a business or first-class seat. When determining the upgrade cost, also run the costs with getting your baby their own seat. You find it cheaper to get your baby their own coach seat than to upgrade your seat to business or first.

Plan Carry-on versus Checked Items

In the United States, airlines will allow you to check your stroller and car seat for free. Take advantage of this option.

Check as much as you can. The one must for carry-on is your diaper bag, the rest can be up to your discretion.

air travel with a baby

We checked:

  • We checked a travel stroller, and purchased a carseat bag in which we put our car seat and base. Now, this carseat bag isn’t weighed. If you can find one, get one with a zipper and put a few more big things in that carseat bag.
  • We checked one large bag, which included everything for my husband, me and the baby.

We carried on:

I carried on my backpack-style diaper bag and my husband also carried a backpack, with some of my items and some rescue items for the baby.

Now, you’ll notice we checked the stroller. I am really happy with that decision. Looking around the airport, seeing parents trying to maneuver a stroller, kids wanting in and out of the stroller, plus carry-on bags, it just looked miserable. Lucky for us, our baby is still willing to be held in a wearable. I wore her the entire time in the airport and she loved the people watching! If you plan on wearing your baby, get your baby comfortably in the wearable by using it daily the week prior.

Day of flight preparation

The most important item in your day of flight preparation is the diaper bag. Check the bag multiple times to make sure you have everything your baby needs.

air travel with a baby

Other day of preparation items include:

  • Some airlines may require identification for your baby. This can be a birth certificate or passport. Check your airlines policy to make sure you are prepared.
  • Make sure you have a boarding pass for your baby. Lap babies still need a boarding pass. Even with listing your baby as a lap child when booking, the boarding pass may not print out. Allow for extra time to visit the counter at the airline check-in.
  • Pre-boarding will be an option for air travel with a baby. If you have assigned seats, I do not feel this is necessary. Our mindset was the less time on the plane the better.

Enjoy air travel with your baby! Plan effectively and your trip will be anxiety-free.

Creating a Minimalist Baby Registry

I’ve walked into so many houses with “baby supplies” encapsulating the entire first floor of the home. When preparing for our baby, I wanted to adhere to a minimalist baby mindset. One of the most overwhelming things during my pregnancy was walking into Buy Buy Baby with the goal to create a registry. There is a booklet that walks you through every baby category from eating, diapering, medicines, sleeping, traveling, playing, and more. That booklet guides you to register for bibs, but there are ten different types of bibs! Which one should you select? Well, each mom will have a different answer there. The main lesson is only you will know what ends up working best for your baby.

Everything is overwhelming when creating a baby registry. This blog will walk you through preparing for a minimalist baby registry experience. Even if you are not planning to have a baby shower, I still recommend creating a registry. I did not have a formal baby shower but did use our registry as a way to track items I still needed.

Why create a registry?

  1. You get a free gift for creating your registry.
    • I created an Amazon registry and one with Buy Buy Baby. I then just reguarly checked each registry and updated them based on any purchases.
  2. Extra coupons start coming your way.
  3. If anyone did want to get something for you, they’ll hunt down your list. Why not share what you need?

Why focus on a Minimalist Baby Registry?

  1. Minimizes clutter.
  2. Allows you to get comfortable and confident taking care of baby without bells and whistles.
  3. Focuses dollars on safety

Now, each baby will gravitate to different things, perhaps one baby loves laying in a rocker while another baby just wants to be held. This minimalist baby registry should be looked at for the basics; what are the necessities for my baby to be comfortable and safe. As you and your baby grow and find a routine, you will most definitely add baby supplies, however, my guidance is to hold off initially.

The Minimalist Baby Registry

The minimalist baby mindset still comes with some significant costs. If you are looking to save on some of the necessities, check out my post “Buying new versus Used. What does your baby really need“.

Minimalist baby registry

Diving into each category for a Minimalist Baby Registry

Travel System:

This includes a carrier, base, and stroller. Travel systems range in price but are well worth the investment. Stalk these travel systems, wait for sales, coupons, and look for floor models that are no longer being stocked. If you are patient, you can significantly save. All the carriers on the market are safe, or they wouldn’t be sold in reputable stores. Focus on needs for your daily life.

Items to consider:

  • Size – How easily will this fit in your car?
  • Weight – Style is nice, but make sure you can easily lift the carrier and stroller.
  • Amenities – How will you use the stroller? Look at wheels based on the terrain you typically encounter.
  • Growth – How does the travel system transition as your child grows? Will the travel system accomodate more than one child?
Stroller travel systems
Images provided by: Maternity Miracles, Chicco, and Evenflo
Diapering Items:

This includes wipes, diapers (cloth or disposable), diaper bag, diaper creams. You might think, “I don’t want to stock up on diapers until I know which my baby likes.” Momma or Dad, you will go through so many diapers and fast! Register for size 1 and size 2 diapers. Depending on the size of your baby, you may quickly move out of newborn diapers. The hospital will most likely send you home with newborn diapers and you may only need one package before you move to size 1, which happens around 8 pounds.

  • I love Huggies, due to the high absorbency and blow out flap on the back of the diaper. Pampers also worked well for us for absorbency. The only diapers that did not work for us at all were the Target brand. Our daughter needed a higher level of absorbency.
  • You will go through roughly 8 diapers a day. I recommend registering for two large boxes of size 1 and size 2 diapers. Feel free to mix up the brands, so you can determine which brand works best for your baby.
  • I have diaper rash cream, but have not used it. Only register for one tube, in case you are in my situation and are four months in without a rash.
Clothing and Swaddles:

You will find yourself doing a lot of laundry with a baby. I always like our daughter to have clean bibs, burb cloths, swaddles, and clothes. Budget the time to do small loads of laundry every three days. I use All baby detergent and just wash my husband and my clothes along with our daughters. All is more cost-effective than draft and works well for us. I use the liquid for home and have the pods for travel.

  • Swaddles – Register for a minimum of two swaddles. Try to get different brands in case your baby prefers one over the other.
  • Clothes – As a newborn, our baby was dressed in onsies with leggings more of the time. Purchase a going home outfit and place in your hospital bag (newborn and 0-3 month sizes). This might sound odd but beyond the going home outfit, hold off registering for clothing. People love buying baby clothes and you will most likely end up getting a lot of baby clothes. If you are two weeks out from your due date and baby clothes haven’t started to arrive, pick up five newborn outfits and five 0-3 month outfits.
Nursery Essentials:

These are items for the nursery. If you are planning on the baby sleeping in your room initially, some of these items might move to your room and then back to the nursery once baby transitions to their own room.

  • Crib with sheets – Get at least two sheets. Your baby will sleep in the crib with only a fitted sheet, no additional blankets.
  • Changing table and pad – I have a dresser changing table combo. It works great! I did spend money on changing pad covers, but after two months stopped using them. I just clean the changing pad with baby safe cleaner regularly.
  • Sound machine – This was essential for us. We purchased a plug in basic sound machine, however, these range in capability and price.
  • Baby monitor – I recommend a baby monitor where you can hear and see baby. Our monitor has two cameras and then a hand held monitor and phone app. The battery life on our hand held monitor is horrible (60 minutes max), so I will not recommend our brand. I do encourage you to explore monitors with the visual display.
Eating Items:
Minimalist baby

This category includes bottles, nipples, bibs, burp cloths, breast pump, pump supplies, and milk storage. Eating items for a minimalist baby registry differ based on your desired feeding method. Remember, fed is best. I had a desire to exclusively breastfeed, however, that vision did not fully actualize due to a variety of uncontrollable items. Although you may have a strong desire, either way, I urge you to plan your minimalist registry with both aspects in mind.

If you end up exclusively breastfeeding, you may also pump, and therefore bottles and nipples will still be useful.

  • Bottles – New mom gifts bags from stores typically include a bottle or two. Through free store gifts, I ended up with six, four ounce bottles. This allowed me to figure out which nipples and bottles worked best for our baby and me! I recommend keeping these off your registry until you know your babies preference. If getting one package makes you more comfortable, I recommend Avent natural with nipple size 0 for a newborn.
  • Nipples – There are various flow speed and nipple shapes. Nipples will be included with the free bottles you receive. Do not register for nipples until you experiment with the free bottles and nipples.
  • Burp cloths and bibs – If you give bottles, formula or breastmilk bottles, you will want bibs. I love greensprout bibs with the milk catcher collar. I recommend registering for a minimum of 12 bibs and 12 burp cloths.
  • Formula – Do not register for formula. Sign up for samples from Enfamil and Similac. Our daughter likes the Kirkland brand formula from Costco. The Kirkland formula runs about $18 per 42 ounces, however, make sure to keep an eye out for deals. Several times a year you can purchase formula for ~$3.00-$4.00 the retail price.


Talk to your Pediatrician about Pacifiers if you have questions on when and if to use them. Our Pediatrician is supportive of their use and we started using them when our daughter was about a week old. Pacifiers are something you should buy new and there are so many varieties. Register for a variety of 2-pack pacifier styles and types. I recommend registering for two separate styles. Take note that pacifiers are designed for different age groups. Our daughter will take any pacifier from Avent, Medela, Nuk, and Talbots.

Pack ‘n’ Play:

Before you register for a Pack ‘n’ Play determine your purpose. We purchased a Pack ‘n’ Play with a bassinet and changing table attachment. In lieu of a stand-alone bassinet, we decided to use the bassinet within the Pack ‘n’ Play to avoid another piece of furniture in the house. This system worked well for us and if we have another child I will use the same set-up. The Pack ‘n’ Play will also be used in the future to create a safe area for her to sleep when we are at a friend’s or relative’s house. Whether you plan on using your Pack ‘n’ Play as a bassinet or not, I recommend this as a registry item. If you are not using as a bassinet, you will want to register for a traditional bassinet.

Pack 'n Play
Follow this QR code to find the Pack ‘n’ Play we purchased from Buy Buy Baby.

Talk to your Pediatrician about best practices for babies when sleeping.

Swing versus Rocker

There will be times that you need to put your baby down. Many times this will happen when you are in your main living area, perhaps cooking or cleaning. I recommend registering for either a baby rocker (lounger) or swing. This is a safe place to lay baby, although, you should always be watching them even when in the lounger or swing. When exploring these items, make sure you can buckle in your baby. As your baby continues to grow, the wiggles start to appear and you will be grateful for those buckles.

Buying new versus used. What does your baby really need?

Help! What do you buy new versus used for your new baby?

When preparing for a new baby, I initially thought “Of course, we will purchase all new items for her.” Now even if you are comfortable setting aside $2,500-$3,500 for the initial big item purchases, I still recommend identifying areas to save money. Some of those areas are buying used items, waiting to purchase items based on seasonal sales, borrowing from a friend, or hand-me-downs.

The great things thing about used baby items is that the usage is pretty minimal. Why is the use minimal? Well, babies grow fast and they might have only been able to use the item for a month or two. This post shares the items I recommend buying new versus borrowing and or buying new.

What to Buy New For Baby

buy new versus used

This is not an all-inclusive list, however, gives you an example of the buy new versus used mindset. As a rule of thumb, you will want to buy new anything that will receive significant wear, is a hygiene or food item, or has expiration dates. Based on my experience items I heavily use are burb cloths, bibs, changing pads, diaper bag, and pacifiers.

I am sure you could find a diaper bag in good condition; although that will be more of a hidden gem situation. You might also run into the same situation with a carrier, although I strongly recommend buying a new one. This recommendation comes from a car seat safety class I took at our local medical center. You will use the carrier more than you may expect. Each time your baby leaves the house, your baby will be in the carrier. If you purchase used, make sure you check the manufactures date to ensure the carrier is still safe to use, also make sure the carrier has never been in the car during an accident.

Other items to buy new are:

  • Wipes
  • Diapers
  • Shampoo, body wash, lotion
  • Diaper rash cream
  • Baby medicines
  • Formula

What to Buy Used or Borrow For Baby

buy new versus used

Patience is key when buying used. You will need to spread your online resale search over several months. There will be easy items to pick up at good prices, but then you might end up waiting a month or two for a lightly used nicely priced walker, swing, or jumper.

The rule of thumb is anything with a hard surface that can be cleaned or a soft surface that can be washed. I saved hundreds of dollars by purchasing items from Facebook Marketplace. I purchased an infant bathtub for $5, a diaper genie for $10, a top-of-the-line swing for $45, the high safety rated Joovy walker for $15, and several clothes and carrier covers for great deals. With any of the online garage sale-type sites, new items are added daily. Patience and quick execution are necessary when you find something that you need and is a great deal. Once my mother-in-law heard I was open to hand-me-downs and garage sale gems, she quickly filled our baby’s closet.

Other buy used or borrow items could be:

  • Baby Monitors
  • Diaper Pail
  • Crib (check safety standards)
  • Carrier covers
  • Stroller (check safety standards)

How much can you really SAVE?

Hundreds! The chart below shows just a small snapshot of some of the items I purchased new, now this does not even cover what some of my girlfriends gave me as hand-me-downs or items to borrow.

Preparing for Baby

When purchasing anything on the Facebook marketplace or similar sites, always use safe pick-up options and pay cash upon arrival.

Please share in the comments other items that you have purchased used vs new!

After the baby arrives, take advantage of the potential time off you have as a family by taking a road trip. This blog post reviews packing and planning tips for an effortless road trip.

Effortless Road Trips with your Infant

Who says maternity leave is for saying home? Not us, it is time to road trip with your infant! My husband and I decided to tackle traveling with an infant while we both enjoyed time away from work and enjoying our expanded family. Our daughter was born in early summer and by the time we both went back to work, our daughter had visited eight states. Prior to having children, my husband and I enjoyed exploring and that is something we are hoping to instill in our daughter at a young age. We want her to crave seeing new things, experiencing different cultures, and tasting the unique foods of the region. Now while she has only traveled domestically at this point; her passport has been ordered.

I’ve captured planning and packing recommendations in this post to make road trips with your infant effortless and enjoyable! For this post, an infant would refer to a baby under six months old.

Dry Runs are Encouraged

Dry runs are encouraged and are a fun way to prepare for a road trip with your infant. Our goal was to travel from Northern Illinois to Southern Florida. This is about a 21-hour drive. First of all, it had been a good 20 years since either of us had done a road trip that far. Second, it was no longer just the two of us. We did two test trips to increase of coincidence of traveling with an infant and our dog. The first trip was 90 minutes to visit my husband’s family and then back. It went well. The second trip was five hours south of our home. We drove down one day, visited a few sites at our destination, stayed at a hotel, and returned home the following day.

On those test trips, I was able to figure out the most comfortable way to pump on the road, store the milk, and get the next bottle ready. We also learned that while we thought we had packed with a minimalist mindset, there was definitely room to improve.

Now, it is always recommended to seek guidance from your pediatrician before taking any trips with your infant.

Plan in advance

Road trip with your infant

When planning ahead, it is key to plan certain items but essential to avoid a plan in other areas. I’ll explain.

Plan your overnight stops

If your trip requires a two-day + drive, plan for the hotels in advance. Not all hotels will have a crib/pack and play available. After making your reservation, call the hotel and verify they have the note in your reservation and verify they have a crib/pack and play available. While you might bring a pack and play with you anyway, it is a hassle to bring it into the hotel for one night. Bring as little as possible into the hotel. We will dive into this more later.

Do not plan your gas/meal stops.

You will need to stop whenever your baby needs to eat, stretch, or have a diaper change. You might be lucky and this could be every three hours or you might end up stopping sooner than that. I strongly encourage you to not go longer than three hours per leg.

Packing for your Road Trip with your Infant

road trip with your infant

Much of what you pack will depend on what is available at your final destination. When traveling with an infant, if your destination will be a regular occurrence, perhaps a family cabin that you plan on visiting several times over the next year, then you will pack differently versus a once or limited-time location. Your packing strategy will also vary based on: washer/dryer availability, stores around you, and the needs of your infant.

Multiple visit destination

Get on the Facebook marketplace! Purchase necessities such as a pack and play, bouncer, bathtub, high chair at a discounted price and keep them at the destination. If you purchase before you leave your home, clean everything thoroughly before your trip. If you are arriving at your destination earlier in the day, then I encourage you to search the Facebook marketplace in the destination location and arrange pick-ups for the day you arrive. Just make sure you allow time to clean everything before your child starts using it.

Other items you bring and leave at the multiple visit destination:

  • Shampoo and body wash
  • Baby towels and washcloths
  • Baby safe laundry detergent
  • Dishsoap and bottle cleaning supplies
  • Bibs and burb cloths
Packing for a hotel stay en route

If your destination requires a hotel stay en route, minimal packing is key. I strongly recommend taking one bag and the diaper bag in the room. The single bag will have toiletries, pajamas, and a change of clothes for everyone in the family. The diaper bag will have extra diapers, bottles, formula, dish soap (if needed). The less you bring into the hotel, the quicker your morning getaway will be. Also, do your best to avoid bath night while at the hotel.

Items to buy at the destination

Diapers can take up significant space, especially if you are planning on spending a week or more at your destination. After your arrival, pick up items such as diapers, formula, baby food, and wipes.

Expert level move: Schedule an Amazon delivery on the day you arrive or trigger an Instacart order.

Expectations when taking a road trip with your Infant

Your main purpose is no longer you exploring, rather an opportunity for everyone in your family to enjoy and explore together. While you might have big dreams for your road trip with your infant; make sure to keep your expectations within reason.

  1. Your road trip will take longer. Budget a 30 minute stop every 2.5-3 hours. Splurge and take a longer stop once, grab a picnic, lay out a thick blanket and allow your infant to stretch and enjoy the fresh air.
  2. Be prepared to climb in the backseat. If you have another child in the back, they might be able to help, but if not, do stretches to prepare your hamstrings for the backseat crawl.
  3. Do not over committ to a schedule. I recommend only planning one outing a day. In my experience, scheduling too many activities overstimulated our infant, which typically made the second outing miserable for all involved.
  4. Make sure your baby is still following a somewhat normal routine.
  5. Anticipate any temperature changes. Come prepared with a fan and hat for warmer weather and a blanket with warm clothes for colder weather.

Explore my blog post on Buying New versus Used for your baby!

Thank you for reading! Please post your road trip tips with an infant in the comments.

Faith Coming to Life: Holy Land Exploration

In the past five years, we have traveled to so many destinations. My favorite destination due to history and faith was the Holy Land. On this trip, we spent time in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, a few hours in Nazareth, and in the Tiberias (Sea of Galilee) area. The total time in Israel was eight days. The flight to Israel is quite long, so we paired it with a layover in Amsterdam on the way there and a few days in Istanbul, Turkey on the return leg.

Check out our post on how to spend a short layover in Amsterdam!

I researched more for this trip than any other destination. My research for this trip included both logistical items but also a refresh on several bible stories. I grew up in the church, as did my husband and we still regularly attend. When planning this trip, it was surreal to be able to see all of these locations discussed in the scripture readings. This trip was logistically complex but worth the extra planning time.

Holy Land Adventure Map
Map of our Holy Land Adventure

Stop 1: Tel Aviv

Our flight landed at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv at 3:00 AM local time on a Wednesday. Mind you, we left Chicago on a Monday at 4:30 PM. While we were able to sleep a little on the plane, we also spent the day exploring Amsterdam and then boarded another flight. Needless to say, we planned for our first day to be a blur. Our main priority for the trip was the Holy Land adventure and therefore waisting one day in Tel Aviv to recuperate and prepare for traveling to Jerusalem was welcomed.

We hit the ground in Tel Aviv ready to explore around 12:00 PM. One of our main priorities was to explore Israeli cuisine. This is where my husband fell in love with Shakshuka. This tomato dish with peppers, paprika, and poached eggs is delightful! We also embraced the fresh salads and doner kababs.

Stop 2: Jerusalem of the Holy Land Exploration

Arrival Day: Day 0 in Jerusalem

We decided to rent a car for the remainder of our trip. If we were only going to Jerusalem, we could have booked bus transport, however, since we’re traveling to several additional places, the car was the best option. We traveled back to Ben Gurion Airport to pick up the rental car and then traveled to Jerusalem. The drive is about an hour, however, plan for traffic. Once we got into the outskirts of Jerusalem, we hit bumper-to-bumper traffic.

We arrived at our Airbnb around 3:00 PM to find a massive water leak running through the main family room. We have used Airbnb many times, so we alerted the owner of the concern. Unfortunately, we were not able to get in touch with him so we escalated to AirBnB. Due to the water damage, we were not able to stay in the location, so quickly needed to find a plan B. Shortly after escalating, we received a refund and ended up finding another hotel. This added a little stress to the day in the Holy Land, but we ended up in a sufficient, safe, and clean hotel. The hotel also had free parking. Parking is insane in Jerusalem, so be prepared to find a lot far away and pay per day or feed meters regularly.

Exploration Begins: Day 1 in Jerusalem

On our first day in Jerusalem for our Holy Land adventure, we purchased a guided tour through Viator. The agenda consisted of:

  • Old Jerusalem and Bethlehem
  • Mount of Olives
  • Western (Wailing) Wall and site of the Crucifixion (Church of the Holy Sepulchre)
  • King David’s Tomb – the site of the last supper
  • Old City of Jerusalem
  • Scenes of the Nativity in Bethlehem

On day one, it was important for us to get a general lay of the land from an expert and then to determine where we want to spend more time. The tour was a full day and it was money well spent. If you are new to Viator.com, sign up for their email club, wait a few days and you’ll most likely get a coupon. Patience friends.

Exploration Continues: Day 2 in Jerusalem

The rest of our time in Jerusalem was filled with further exploration. We spent one day traveling to Masada National Park and swimming in the Dead Sea. When researching Dead Sea locations, be mindful of hours and seasonality. Based on our research and recommendations from our hotel concierge we visited Kalia Beach. I recommend tackling both locations in one day, but make sure you start your adventure around 8:00/8:30 AM to allow an appropriate time. It will take you approximately an hour and a half to get to Masada and then on the way home, you can indulge in the spa of the Dead Sea at Kalia Beach.

  • Book tickets in advance.
  • Parking is plentiful, but you will encounter several tour buses.
  • Food and beverage are available.
  • Plan to visit during daylight hours.
  • Wear sturdy shoes. The Masada campus is uneven.
  • Plan for a 3-hour visit if you take the tram. If you plan to hike up to Masada plan for 5 hours.
  • The visitors center is ADA accessible, the Masada itself is not.
Kalia Beach
  • Plan to visit during daylight hours.
  • Parking is plentiful, but you will encounter several tour buses.
  • Book tickets in advance.
  • Food and beverage are available.
  • Showers and lockers and changing rooms are available.
  • Plan for a 2-hour visit.
  • Swimming in the Dead Sea at this location is not ADA accessible.

Exploring Jerusalem: Day 3

We explored Jerusalem, the Holy Land, by foot on Day 3. We were close to 20,000 steps of exploration. This included going back to the Old City, The Garden of Gethsemane, Temple Mount, Dome of the Rock, Grotto of Gethsemane, Tomb of the Virgin Mary, and Church of Mary Magdalene.

Our day started at the Garden Tomb. This beautiful garden area overlooks a big bus depot. We then walked around the Old City, retraced our steps on the Via Dolorosa, and made our way to the Dome of the Rock and Temple Mount. For reference, the entire Old City is about .5 square miles and divided into the Muslim, Christian, Armenian and Jewish quarters. If you do not participate in a guided tour, when exploring the Old City, make sure to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Western Wall.

We then walked over to the Grotto Gethsemane, Tomb of the Virgin Mary, and Garden of Gethsemane are all located in the same 1/4 mile area. This whole Old City Holy Land day of exploration took us about five hours. This allowed just enough time to go back to our hotel and do some laundry prior to dinner. Check out our post about travel tips, which include why doing laundry is key on longer trips.

Holy Land Jerusalem map

Stop 3: Pulling into Nazareth

Plan for a 2-hour drive between Jerusalem and Nazareth. I was excited to see the landscape of Israel on this road trip and was honestly quite disappointed. Most of the drive is highway and there is not much to see. You will not pass any large exciting shopping malls or nice restaurants. Instead, you will see highway pull-offs with a gas station and a dinner that may or may not be open. I recommend waiting to eat your next meal until you reach Nazareth. Nazareth is a large city with many restaurants and shops.

Our rationale for visiting Nazareth was to tour the Basilica of the Annunciation. This is where the angel appeared to Mary. The Basilica was beautiful and definitely worth the trip to Nazareth. After grabbing a coffee and darting under shop awnings due to extreme downpour, we started making our way to Tiberias.

We arrived in Tiberias and I highly recommend our hotel, the Royal Hotel Tiberias. The hotel was under renovation when we stayed in 2019 and appears to be fully remodeled. When we arrived we realized it was primarily a tour bus stop and had a meal plan available. I recommend getting the meal plan for breakfast and dinner. The buffet has a variety of options and allows you to focus on your purpose of the visit, the Holy Land sites. Tiberias itself does not have a nightlife or a significant restaurant scene.

A Full Day of Holy Land Sites in Tiberias

We only had one day to explore the entire Tiberias area and definitely made the most of it. All sites require a car. You will not be able to taxi, train or bus through the Tiberias Holy Land sites. We visited:

  • Capernaum National Park known as the “Town of Jesus”
  • Bethsaida, the birthplace of apostles Peter, Andrew, and Philip
  • Tabgha, where Jesus fed 5,000 people
  • Church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, where Jesus exorcised demons from two possessed men
  • Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount
  • The place of Jesus’ Baptism on the River Jordan. For this site, you will literally stop on the side of the highway to view the Jordan River.

Wrapping Up the Holy Land Exploration

On our final day in Israel, we traveled from Tiberias back to the Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport. The drive was an uneventful two hours. You will travel on the highway and there are not any significant sites to see along the way. We left Tiberias five hours prior to our flight to allow for a lunch stop, rental car drop-off, and time to relax prior to catching our flight. For our return leg, we stopped in Istanbul for three nights and also did a day Viator trip to Ephesus. Our Holy Land exploration trip was more than we could have imagined and encourage everyone to take this trip.

Overall Holy Land Recommendations

  • Research extensively and prioritize sites for this trip. There is so much to see and you will not have time to visit every site.
  • Recommend 8-9 nights in the Holy Land.
  • Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Tiberias are must-see areas for Holy Land trips.
  • Masada is a stunning historical phenomenon, however, you will need to dedicate a day to the visit.
  • The Dead Sea is a unique experience but is not ideal for the elderly or anyone with mobility concerns.
  • Overall, the Holy Land is not ADA accessible.
  • Accommodations outside of Tel Aviv are quite different than US flag hotels. Unless you are prepared to spend $600 per night, expect older hotels with limited amenities.
  • You will not experience a significant variety of food. Hummus, falafel, doner, and a variety of salads will be your primary diet.

To best prepare for this trip, check out my blog post 6 Crucial Tips for Traveling Internationally.

Happy Traveling!

Emily M

6 Crucial Tips for Traveling Internationally

Over the past several weeks, I’ve heard of several international destinations opening to vaccinated US travelers. This is amazing news! Get out that passport and let’s use those miles just sitting in our frequent flyer accounts. While it is so exciting to get the news of the world “opening up” again, we might be a little rusty when it comes to international travel. I truly believe that traveling internationally is a muscle that you must annually or semi-annually use in order to feel confident. This blog post reviews the top six things you should pay extra close attention to when planning for your next trip.

  1. Research everything
  2. Plan and follow an itinerary
  3. Be mindful of your luggage
  4. Transportation isn’t the same
  5. Money Money
  6. Prep that mobile phone


Research is the first step when traveling, internally or domestically. Jumping into your itinerary without research is similar to writing a book on photosynthesis with only knowing the basic definition. You might get a great first paragraph and then stall.

When researching, make sure you are visiting reputable and current websites. While I will look at sites like Travel Advisor and review comments, I always view the primary site of the item I am researching. For example, when looking to research an Eiffel Tower experience, I will go directly to the Eiffel Tower website. That site will provide factual information versus reviews. I will then use that information as a starting point. If I want to learn more, I may then explore, do I want more than just a ticket to the Eiffel Tower. That is when you can start looking at websites like Viator to determine what private or semi-private tours are available in Paris that includes the Eiffel Tower. When researching, include items such as the following.

Timing of Travel

  • Is the location seasonal?
  • Do you have parameters based on when you can and can’t travel?
  • Are you looking to be there during prime tourist season or are you looking for off-season travel?

Available Activities/Sightseeing Opportunities

  • What is drawing you to the destination?
  • What do you want to see?
  • Depending on the timing of travel, would you be able to get tickets to everything you would like to see?
  • How far out do the activities book?
  • Are they open during the time you want to travel?

Accommodation Options

  • What hotels/AirBnB/VRBO options are available? Which fits your needs?
  • Where are the accommodations located in relation to your activities/sightseeing?
  • Where is the airport or train station in relation to your accommodations? How far will you need to carry your bags?
  • What does the public transportation look like near your activities and preferred accommodations?


  • Which airlines fly to your destination?
  • How many connecting flights are you willing to take?
  • What are the best cost options?
  • Always look into the economy plus option!

Planning your Itinerary

Now that you have completed your basic research for traveling internationally, it is time to start plotting how that looks on your itinerary. When setting your itinerary, be mindful that you may need to compromise on everything you want to do or see. Prior to starting, keep in mind the purpose of your trip. Is the purpose relaxation and exploration, or focused solely on one or the other. You want to enjoy your international experience and therefore be aware of overscheduling.

Tips for Planning your Itinerary

  1. Plan your itinerary based on the activities/sights you MUST see
    • Plan one structured item each day unless there are multiple activities in the same small area.
    • Book your structured activities in advance. If there is a skip-the-line option, pay the extra amount.
    • Double the expected commute time to each activity from your accommodations. You are staying in an unfamiliar area. It might take longer to determine the correct train or your morning breakfast may take longer than the Dunkin Donuts drive-through.
  2. Fill in activity gaps
    • These are items that you would like to see if time permits. Do not purchase tickets in advance for these items.
    • Add filler activities based on their location to your MUST see items
    • Provide options: Give yourself two possible activities per day. At times your must-see item may take far less time than you anticipated. Instead of sitting at a cafe to determine your next plan, your filler activities are already lined up. If your must-see takes a long time or are just tired after, you already identified that not seeing the filler activities was ok with you. That’s one less decision you need to make while relaxing and exploring when traveling internationally.
  3. Document all logistics on your itinerary
    • Activities: Address, date and time reserved, transportation route, cost, the confirmation number
    • Airfare or Train: Provider, date and time reserved, confirmation number, seat numbers, cost
    • At destination transportation: train lines closest to your location and address of train station, cost of a single ticket or multiple-day tickets
    • Accommodations: Provider, address, phone number, confirmation number, check-in/check-out, cost
  4. Share your itinerary
    • Print a copy
    • Email yourself a copy of your itinerary plus a copy of your passport
    • Send a copy of your itinerary and passport to someone at home

Luggage when Traveling Internationally

You may have dreams of dressing in your most stylish outfits while walking through the streets of Paris. While that vision may lead to great photo ops, I highly recommend you re-think that clothing strategy. Unless you work in fashion, have a lifestyle blog, or will only move luggage between the hotel and airport, a more minimalist strategy is recommended.

When traveling internationally, bring a carry-on for plane essentials and check your luggage. We’ve never had problems with checking luggage or missing luggage when traveling internationally. To avoid hiccups, always get to the airport early. Some international airports have multiple check-points or the check-in process itself is longer than I have typically experienced at US airports. When leaving Istanbul, we waited at the initial check-in line for almost an hour. At that same airport, we had the initial security screening and then at the gate, we went through another screening. We were thankful we got to the airport a little over two hours before our flight.

Recommended luggage type:

Each time we travel internationally, I commit to downsizing for our next trip. Thankfully, each time I pack less and it is easier to maneuver my suitcase. The rule when traveling is that you should be able to lift your own luggage. If you can’t, then reassess.

Each time we travel internationally, I commit to downsizing for our next trip. Thankfully, each time I pack less and it is easier to maneuver my suitcase. The rule when traveling is that you should be able to lift your own luggage. If you can’t, then reassess.

Select luggage on rollers or a large backpack that you carry. Avoid multiple suitcases or a suitcase without rollers or without a back strap.

Traveling internationally
Check out these options from Amazon, if you are searching for a new suitcase:

This is the new version of the luggage set I own. I take the small carry-on for domestic trips that are less than a week in length. The large one comes on international trips. I’ve used this set for four years and it still works great.

This is the luggage, my husband owns. He’s used this for the past six years and still in great shape. This piece is slightly taller than my large luggage piece. With both of these options, due to the side be mindful of weight. In recent trips, we now only take one of our large bags and a smaller checked bag.

This is a great example of a travel backpack. I haven’t used this, however, it has received over 1,800 ratings and averages 4.5 stars on Amazon. There are less expensive items out there, but the star rating is far less.

Please note, the above luggage recommendations are linked using the Amazon affiliate program. When purchases for these items are made, I receive a small commission.

When packing, keep the following in mind:

  • Pack based on the climate at your destination. Track the weather several weeks before your trip to determine if any oddities in the weather pattern may occur.
  • Footwear
    • Never bring brand new shoes; break them in for at least 1 month prior to travel.
    • Treat your feet well: You will most likely do far more walking than you expect. Plan for comfort not for style on high step count days.
    • Don’t overpack on the shoes. If you are bringing a pair of shoes that only go with one outfit, I recommend swapping out the outfit for something that works with the shoes you are planning to bring.
  • If you are staying for longer than a week, plan a trip to the laundromat. Search laundromats around your hotel and plan the time in your itinerary. Always bring your own soap and dryer sheets. You do not want to risk a rash breakout due to unfamiliar detergent.
  • Pack clothes that fall in a similar color scheme. Ideally, all tops you bring should also match all bottoms.
  • Always bring a jacket. Depending on the weather, this can be a jean jacket or a winter jacket. Make sure the jacket can go with all your outfits, including a nice evening out casual dress.
  • Bring one nice outfit that you can dress up or down with various accessories. To dress up, add jewelry, and to dress down add a light jacket (jean jacket or similar).
traveling internationally


Transporation options differ based on where you are traveling internationally. In Europe, most large cities have a commuter train, local buses, and access to the Eurail. When traveling internationally it is key to determine how you plan to get around the city and leave the city, if you have multiple cities on your agenda.

Jump on the Eurail when traveling internationally

When visiting locations where the Eurail is available between locations, we use that as our first option. We used the Eurail when traveling in Italy. We flew into Venice, and then took the train to Florence, and ended our trip in Madrid. The train stations are typically centrally located in the large metropolitan cities, are relatively easy to get tickets and the schedule is consistent and relatively on time. The cost of traveling by train is also quite economical.

We have also taken the Eurail for day trips. When traveling in Munich, we took the Eurail down to Fusen to see Neuschwanstein Castle. It was a great way to see the countryside and allowed us time to relax versus renting a car and navigating on our own.

Check out our blog on the Oktoberfest in Munich!

Don’t be afraid to rent a car

We have rented cars in Ireland, Spain, Greece, and Israel. Each was a slightly different experience and there are specific ways to prepare. When traveling internationally, manual cars are less expensive to rent. When we traveled in Spain, Greece, and Ireland, I was completely comfortable with the manual car. In Israel, I recommend getting an automatic car if traveling in cities like Jerusalem and Nazareth. Those cities are exceptionally hilly and you will encounter traffic. Unless your daily driver at home is a manual, to avoid headaches in Israel, get an automatic.

If renting a car, I recommend only renting when you are traveling outside of the large metropolitan city. For example, when renting a car in Spain. We picked the car up after our allocated time in Madrid, drove through the wine country, and spent a few days in the vineyards, and then once we arrived in Barcelona we dropped off the car. This minimized the car rental time and eliminated the need to pay for parking in the large metropolitan cities.

When renting a car internationally, bring a printed copy of your insurance stating you are covered for international driving. We have protection through the Chase credit card program to cover international car insurance. This is key, without this printed documentation, you may end up spending quite a bit on the insurance policy offered by the rental agency.


Making sure we have access to funds has always caused me anxiety when traveling internationally. Over the many trips, I’ve found my groove to provide relief to the money money!

  • Review policies with your credit cards regarding international transaction fees. Chase Reserve is a great option if your card charges international transaction fees.
  • Call your credit card agency and debit card bank prior to your trip. Let them know where and when you are traveling. Many banks allow you to do this online.
  • I always have a minimum of three cards with me when traveling, a debit and then two credit cards (from different financial institutions). The different financial institutions is a must. If you run into fraud issues while abroad and your card is shut down, you will then have access to the other credit card from the other institution.
  • Order cash in the local currency of your destination from your bank prior to travel. You may need cash immediately upon arrival for food, taxi, luggage tips, or public transportation. Many times there are cash stations, however, they could be out of order. We ran into this situation in Ireland.
  • Determine the cash versus credit culture. In Munich, cash is used primarily at all restaurants and really exclusively in the Oktoberfest beer tents. For retail shops in Munich, a credit card is accepted and widely used.

Mobile Devices when Traveling Internationally

Our mobile devices are our third appendage these days! We use them for talking, texting, googling, directions, social media and so many other purposes. When traveling internationally, review your phone plan in depth. You may even want to call your provider to make sure you have a clear understanding of how and when you are able to use your phone.

Many provides will offer international packages, where you pay by day or week for international access. Purchasing this extended coverage in advance is highly recommended. If you are traveling with a companion, you may only decide to extend coverage on one phone. That will be the device you share for directions and communication needs when outside a wifi hotspot.

I also recommend downloading WhatsApp, a free mobile phone application, and asking your loved ones at home to do the same. WhatsApp allows you to call using the WiFi connection at your hotel or other location versus using data. You are also able to text using WhatsApp.

Even though you may upgrade your phone plan, be aware that the speed will most likely differ. We have traveled with brand new “best of the time” phones and then older phones and each time, we have still experienced slower connections. There will also be times when a connection is not available.

D&C versus Natural Miscarriage: What Actually Happens

After my recent post on Recurrent Miscarriage, questions came up surrounding preparing for a D&C. Specifically, the difference between a D&C versus natural miscarriage, what will occur, and how do I move on after. Unfortunately, have been through this situation often. I am also a member of several infertility support groups and have incorporated others’ experiences into this blog to provide a full view. My hope is that you will come away with clarity on if D&C is right for you, a full understanding of what will happen the day of, and what recovery entails. This blog will help those working through a first-trimester miscarriage.

My spouse and I decided on the D&C (Dilation and Curettage) for all four miscarriages. This is a personal decision on how you would like to handle your miscarriage. There is no right or wrong answer, and each situation is different and may require a different treatment path. Do your research! Talk to your physician to determine the best way for you to proceed. This is a hard situation and I am sorry you even have to figure out a plan. I have been in your shoes, along with so many other women. You will get through this.

Full transparency; I am not a physician, just a woman who has been through this situation often and recently. I live in the U.S. in a large suburb and have access to top medical care. If you have been in this situation before, I encourage you to help others by sharing your experience in the comments.

What is Miscarriage: D&C versus Natural Miscarriage

Miscarriage is painful, both physically and mentally. Many women silently suffer. According to the March of Dimes, it could be as much as 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage but only 10-15% are diagnosed due to the woman even knowing she was pregnant. If you are in a situation where a miscarriage is imminent, you have several options. The tissue may expel on its own or you may require surgical intervention. This section discusses the differences between a D&C versus natural miscarriage.

What is a D&C

I had a D&C each time, primarily to collect chromosomal information to better advise our next protocol and secondly to minimize emotional trauma. It is difficult to go to the hospital, know what is happening, and undergoing anesthesia, however, the process only lasts only one day.

The first step when deciding if a D&C is right for you is doing your research. WebMD provides a thorough medical explanation. I encourage you to review their documentation or other reputable sources. In simplified terms; a D&C is a procedure, that occurs in a hospital or surgical center where the fetus and all cells from your uterus are removed using suction. General anesthesia was used in my experience. I was completely asleep during the procedure.

What is a Natural Miscarriage

According to the American Pregnancy Association, a natural miscarriage is defined as the early loss of a pregnancy without intention or medical intervention before 20 weeks gestation. A completely natural miscarriage will not require any medication to start the process and after your body realizes the fetal demise, you will naturally dispel the pregnancy.

A D&C versus Natural Miscarriage

The words “fetal demise” are horrific to hear. We’ve heard them multiple times over the past few years and each time, a knife sinks into my chest. Your physician will walk you through the next step, which is dispelling the pregnancy. Your physician may provide guidance based on your medical history or will ask your preference between a natural miscarriage or a D&C.

I reached out to one of my support groups to get a broader understanding of their choices between a natural miscarriage or a D&C. This section is representative of twenty-two women, who total have experienced 75 miscarriages. Many of the women represented in these findings have experienced both a D&C and natural miscarriages (with and without medication).

D&C versus natural miscarriage

D&C Rationale and Feedback

  • If a miscarriage does not initiate on its own this option is commonly presented.
  • A D&C might be your only option if the miscarriage is an immediate danger to your health. This was the case with several women in the surveyed group, either the physician recommended due to the risk of hemorrhage. Some women in my survey group reported a hemorrhage occurring during a natural miscarriage and an emergency D&C was performed.
  • 50% of women selected the D&C to allow the “Products of Conception” to be tested for chromosomal abnormalities.
  • 25% of women wanted to avoid trauma associated with a natural miscarriage. During a natural miscarriage, you see the remains and may experience increased blood loss compared to a D&C.
  • 10% of women wanted to be in control of when this miscarriage took place. With a D&C your doctor will schedule a date and time for the procedure.
  • 10% of women required a D&C after a natural miscarriage due to retained tissue. Retained tissue can cause infection or future infertility concerns.
  • Across the surveyed group, recovery from the miscarriage resulted in less bleeding for fewer days.

Natural Rationale and Feedback

  • A natural miscarriage may include taking medications prescribed by a physician to initiate the miscarriage process. A fully natural miscarriage is not always possible.
  • With this option, you are in the comfort of your own home, with your support person near you.
  • You are in charge of your own monitoring during the natural miscarriage process. This was desired by the group of women surveyed. If significant bleeding, uncontrollable pain, or chills occur be prepared to travel to the hospital.
  • The process requires your body to go through labor. Some women reported a deeper sense of closure after going through the labor process.
  • With a natural miscarriage, you will be able to dispose of the remains on your own.
  • One woman mentioned still having the option to bring products of conception to the physicians’ office for chromosomal abnormalities. Please check with your physician, this was not an option in my case.
  • A D&C may not be covered by all insurance plans, therefore the natural miscarriage process was desired. Please check with your insurance company on coverage.

Summary Findings from Group Experiences: D&C versus Natural Miscarriage

Out of the woman sampled, 46% of miscarriages either required or selected a D&C, while 54% of miscarriages were a natural experience. The natural miscarriages statistics include natural dispelling without medication and with medication. Comments range from “a D&C is a last resort for me” to “I would get a D&C in the future”. The survey group was also relatively split on personal selection between a D&C and natural experience. Now, that feedback may lead you to more uncertainty than answers. The main takeaway is that this decision is yours. There is no right or wrong answer.

D&C versus natural miscarraige

When making a decision between a D&C or natural miscarriage, please ask yourself:

  1. Do I want to perform chromosomal testing on the Products of Conception?
    • A D&C allows this to take place at the hospital with analysis typically provided within 2-weeks.
  2. What is going on in my life, how much time am I able to dedicate to the process and recovery?
    • A natural miscarriage is a process and will occur without a set timeframe. A D&C will occur on a set date and time.
  3. What does your physician recommend based on your medical history?
    • Considerations are early miscarriage, late miscarriage, blighted ovum, or missed miscarriage.
  4. How present would you like to be throughout the process?
    • A natural miscarriage will allow you to be present while dispelling the remains of your pregnancy. This can be helpful and provides closure to some, and trauma for others. Pain management for a natural miscarriage will consist of Motrin or other over-the-counter medications.
  5. What type of recovery is best for you?
    • With both options, you may experience cramping and bleeding. Based on feedback from the women in my sample group, bleeding and cramping typically last longer with a natural experience. Healthline suggests that the natural miscarriage process can take up to 3-4 weeks or happen quickly. The amount of bleeding and cramping, unless extreme situations are encountered, will not limit normal daily activity.

A D&C Procedure

I am quite familiar with the D&C procedure and keenly aware that the anxiety of not knowing what will happen can be overwhelming. My goal is to prepare you for what will happen on the day of your D&C, even though some experiences may vary. As always, I encourage you to ask your physician to walk through the process with you, step by step to provide additional awareness. This can also help with the decision-making between a natural experience and a D&C.

One aspect to highlight, a nurse will most likely call the day before to confirm the date/time. In preparation for my first D&C, the nurse alerted me of some questions they would ask me prior to the procedure. I am grateful for her because without forwarning it would have increased my sadness.

Prepare yourself for the following pre procedure questions:

  • Would you like the hospital chaplain present?
    • Commonly a chaplain is on staff. If you are religious, I encourage you to connect with your Pastor and share a prayer of strength and peace. All of this is completely up to you.
  • What would you like to do with the remains?
    • Aside from chromosomal testing, you will need to determine what you would like to do with the remains. The hospital can respectfully dispose of them or you will have the option to use the services of a funeral home or another option of your choice. Think through all of this before arriving.

The D&C procedure timeline:

  1. Fast (no food or drink) for 12 hours before the procedure.
  2. Arrive at the hospital 90 minutes before the procedure time.
  3. Once in your room, you will change into a hospital gown and will be visited by a variety of people. An IV line is started and the Anesthesiologist and surgeon will stop by to review the final questions.
  4. You will be rolled back on the gurney to the operating room.
  5. The nurses will get you situated in the operating room and the anesthesiologist will start medications.
  6. The procedure times will vary. From room to room; estimate 90 minutes.
  7. Once you come out of anesthesia, you may feel cramping or an extreme urge to use the washroom.
  8. The observation will last an hour. A snack is provided during recovery.
  9. At home, plan on resting for the remainder of the day. You will be able to resume relatively normal activity the next day, but make sure you minimize long walks or running until your doctor gives the ok. Cramping, the uterus contracting to transition back to size, can be painful. Motrin will help.

Recovering from a D&C

Recovery from a D&C is full of physical and mental challenges. There are many women out there, just like me, who have gone through recurrent miscarriages. From my conversation with them and my own experience, it does not get easier. The anxiety of “what is going to happen” decreases, but sadness and physical pain are always there.

Physical Recovery

My experience aligns with the feedback received from the group of women surveyed. Physical recovery was relatively easy. Minimal cramping and spotting occurred for less than one week. Motrin is a great option to relieve cramping. Cases have been reported where bleeding lasts a longer period of time, or other complications arise. With any procedure there are risks. Make sure to discuss those with your physician prior to deciding between a D&C versus natural miscarriage. There are risks and possible recovery complications for both.

Emotional Recovery

Emotional recovery is a far longer battle when working through a miscarriage.

  • Talk to your partner/spouse. Be open and transparent with how you are feeling. You both experienced the loss.
  • Support at the hospital. Prior to leaving the hospital after a D&C procedure, you can ask to see a support professional.
  • Seek professional counseling or group support. My local hospital offers a support group for miscarriages and infant loss. Ask your nurse or OB about groups in your area. What to Expect and Facebook also have groups dedicated to miscarriage. I have also found a significant amount of support, guidance, and answers from Facebook groups.
  • Focus on the plan. Find a specialist in your area and book an appointment immediately, if you plan on continuing your journey to motherhood. Your specialist will run tests, review results from “products of conception” if you selected that option, and recommend a plan. Ask questions and advocate for yourself if you feel that either the plan is too aggressive or not aggressive enough.
  • Surround yourself with strong women. The first few months after miscarriage it is incredibly difficult to interact with individuals who do not understand. I wholeheartedly understand the frustrated feelings when someone says “enjoy the journey” or “your time will come”. I also understand when your neighbor, best friend, and cousin post-pregnancy announcements on social media right after your miscarriage. Those situations can be very difficult. Whether it is through Facebook groups, or by talking to women who have been there, wrap yourself up in their arms. In time, you will find your way back to being that supportive neighbor, friend, and cousin and will look forward to celebrating their bundle of joy with them. In the interim, give yourself some grace.

Much love,

Emily M.

Recreating Family Recipes: Broccoli Bread

Week 2: Broccoli Bread

I was a little hesitant to try the Broccoli Bread recipe, however, the receipt card looked quite loved. My grandmother also added some commentary that this was one of the must-do church potluck dishes. I made three updates to the original recipe.

  1. Used fresh broccoli instead of chopped frozen broccoli.
  2. Swapped out full-fat cottage cheese for low-fat cottage cheese.
  3. Increased the baking time. The original recipe requested a 25 minute bake time. Mine needed a bit longer.
Broccoli Bread
Ingredients for Broccoli

Recreating Family Recipes: Praline Pecan Crunch

Week 1: Praline Pecan Crunch

I remember getting home from school and just smelling my mom’s Praline Pecan Crunch! My mom would make this every few years for the bridge group and she would always let us sneak some before, during, and after the party. Now, beware, this recipe isn’t the healthiest. It is definitely just as addictive as homemade Chex mix. My husband, who is not a fan of sweets loved this recipe! I updated the recipe slightly, it looks like the Quaker box has gained a few ounces of cereal over the years. Also, in the ingredient photo, the pregnancy brain was in full firing mode, but good thing I caught it before mixing. Make sure to use BAKING SODA not Baking Powder.

The start of the 52 weeks of recreating family recipes has been so much fun. I am excited to share more with all of you. There is something so comforting about bringing back the past. Enjoy my mom’s Praline Pecan Crunch! The recipe can be downloaded below and you can also the step by step in the video.

This recipe has definitely stood the test of time.

Praline Pecan Crunch

Praline Pecan Crunch

Serving Size:
75 minutes


  • 1 box Quaker Oat Cereal Squares
  • 2 cups Pecan Pieces
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 5 Tbls Butter
  • 1 1/4 tsp Vanilla
  • 3/4 tsp Baking Soda


  1. Heat Oven to 250 degrees
  2. Combine cereal and pecans in a 13×9 inch pan and set aside.
  3. Combine corn syrup, brown sugar, and butter in a microwave-safe bowl.
  4. Microwave on high for 90 seconds. Stir.
  5. Microwave on high for another 60 seconds or until boiling.
  6. Stir in vanilla and baking soda.
  7. Pour the liquid mixture of the cereal mixture and stir well.
  8. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes.

Video: Praline Pecan Crunch in action