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This article was sponsored by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001. www.massmutual.com All opinions are mine.

Influencer is a funny title. I have been one in the last few years. Then, I became a mom. This is when realized all moms are influencers because that is the direct relationship we have with our kids. I wrote about my hopes for baby Sophia and my promises to her in my last post, but I continue to think about who I want to be as a mom and our growing relationship. As Sophia turns 5 months old next month, I am becoming more and more conscious of my influence on her.

She is just starting to scrutinize me. I often find her fixating her gaze on my face with a slight furrow, and I can’t help but wonder what she’s thinking. She’s probably studying my every facial expression, my body language, and my interactions with others. Unlike mothers of boys, mothers of little girls provide something a bit different for their babies – how to be a woman. We are the first person to teach our daughters about how to conduct ourselves. What does it mean to be pretty and to be confident? How do you balance playing nice and being ambitious? What does it mean to be feminine and a feminist? As mothers of little girls, even if we don’t have answers ready, at the least we have to help them explore and develop the skills to answer these questions.

As I ponder how I could be the best role model for baby Sophia, I can’t help but feel incredibly indebted to my own mother, and the beliefs, attitudes, and strengths she’s passed onto me.

I inherited from my mom the passion to create, especially with words and phrases. My mom is a music teacher by training but her real strength lies in her dedication to what she believes in and her relentless efforts to commit to her goals. She is an award-winning author, famed educator, and an expert farmer/gardener. But most importantly, she is a loving mom that does whatever is the best for her children and does it to the best of her abilities. When I think about my professional self, the strong woman that can stand up to people for what I believe in, the woman that isn’t afraid to charge forward amidst difficulties, I give my mom all the credit. It wasn’t like she ever sat me down and told me I have to take myself and my career seriously, that hard work pays off, and goals are important. She has simply lived that life. She had inspired me to do seek out ways to take my career seriously, work hard, and set goals. They say parenting is caught and not taught. There is a lot of truth in that saying.

Parenting is a quest of never-ending striving and learning. As a mom, I have the burden but also the honor of modeling for another woman to uncover the power within her. I find that to be an incredible blessing.

A special thank you to MassMutual for partnering with me in this post. Find out more about what it means to live mutual and how MassMutual celebrates unsung heroes in our communities at https://www.massmutual.com/cm/theunsung

The post A Special Blessing – The Mother-Daughter Relationship appeared first on Cubicle Chic.

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Dear Sophia,

I just put you down for the third nap today. Watching your sleeping face brings mommy so much joy. It’s the kind of joy that makes mommy wonder what I ever did to deserve you in my life. The last 3 months of daddy and mommy’s life have been a whirlwind, but undoubtedly the best 3 months of our lives. In preparation for your arrival, we read books, watched videos, took classes, and asked our friends about how to be the best parents. We took things very seriously, stressed and strived. But the one thing that we weren’t prepared for is the kind of joy and happiness that you would bring to our life.  It’s inexplicable, and has turned mommy into a total cliche because I literally cannot believe how much I love you!

Mommy has thought long and hard about the kind of mom I wanted to be. You see, I have hopes and dreams as a mom, but I was always afraid that they would be self-centered and selfish. My hopes and dreams would be about what you want, what you hope for in life, and how you want to live your life. Of course, I will be there to guide you and shape your beliefs in the early years, but we will be learning wheels and not crutches, counselors and not constraints. Whenever mommy has a quiet moment to look at you with no distraction, mommy thinks about the future. Mommy thinks about what I can do to make sure that you grow up to be a happy, confident, courageous, and good-hearted person. Most importantly, mommy thinks about how our relationship will be, and that I want to be your friend when you grow up more than just being your mom.

As your 100-day birthday approaches, mommy decided to collect these thoughts and write you a letter.  It’s funny how as we live life, life itself gets in the way of us enjoying the little precious moments. This is Mommy’s way of putting the moments in a glass jar… and saving it for you to savor and relish when you are ready. Mommy is a mere mortal and a very flawed one at it, and there will probably be moments in your life when you wonder if mommy ever loved you. If you have doubts… remember this:

When you are old enough to read this letter one day, know that since the moment they first laid your bare body on my chest with the umbilical cord still connecting us, I have not loved anyone more in this world.

Mommy promises to always consider your perspective in everything Mommy promises to listen Mommy promises to always be your friend Mommy promises to always laugh with you Mommy promises no matter how busy life gets, to always pay attention to you Mommy promises to always try to be a better mom Mommy hopes to help you see the best in yourself and in others Mommy hopes to appreciate the beauty in this world with you Mommy hopes that you become an optimistic, empathetic, and warm person Mommy hopes that the failures you experience in life always teach you valuable lessons Mommy hopes that someday you will love someone as much as mommy has loved you

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Note:

I’m a very reflective and introspective person. I’ve always been. But nothing has made me re-examine everything I know, believe, and care about like the arrival of Sophia did.

In the early phase of my pregnancy, I was very anxious about the fact that I was becoming a mom. If you read my post about things that no one tells you about being pregnant, the throbbing sense of anxiety is unmistakable. I worried that I wasn’t up for the task. I was glad that I had 9 months to think myself through this lack of confidence. Yet it wasn’t time that I needed. I simply needed to meet her. It’s strange. The closest description I have for the transformation I experienced is that it’s magical, powerful, and unimaginable even for the most creative minds. The overwhelming sense of affection, obligation, and attachment I feel toward my daughter is something that I could not have fathomed before. It’s nothing short of eye-opening.

The most distinguished way that this experience has changed me is my attitude towards the unknown. I’ve always been the type of person that sees more threat and danger in the unknown of the future than opportunities and growth. But motherhood, specifically the joy that emerged with it, has changed my belief. I realized that the mind simply isn’t capable of grasping the good the future could bring. Even if it does, the logical part of our brain will suppress it. With this experience, I’ve become more optimistic about the future in general. I often catch myself looking forward to all the things I will get to do with Sophia in the future. The panic and anxiety that I experienced when I first became pregnant are no longer.  Even though I am more sleep deprived than ever and do not have the freedom I used to have in the conventional sense, I am more at peace, content, and fulfilled than ever.

The post A Letter to Sophia // Mommy’s Hopes and Promises appeared first on Cubicle Chic.

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It’s a kind of love I never knew was possible. How could I though? I simply wasn’t capable. I wasn’t capable until Sophia was born about 8 weeks ago…

As expected, new parent life hasn’t been all peaches and cream, and those of you who are veteran parents are probably nodding your head now. But it’s been an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything else. You see, I expected a lot of the bad. But what I couldn’t anticipate was the love and affection that would emerge and how it would carry us through the long and late nights, the 5th diaper change in a row, and the pain associated with postpartum recovery and breastfeeding. Now, in typical Cubicle Chic fashion, I am here to share some DETAILS of what transpired 8 weeks ago. Also, I want to talk a little bit about why we decided to hire a doula and how that changed our labor and delivery experience for the better, especially when we compare stories with friends. If you are considering to hire a doula, read on!

Why We Decided To Hire A Doula

I knew pretty early in my pregnancy that I was going to hire a doula. I’ve had friends that gave birth with the help of a doula, I’ve also read many books (one of them being my favorite pregnancy book, Your Pregnancy Your Way) that recommend having a doula. My personal philosophy is that if you can pay to have an expert walk with you as you go through something new and difficult, why wouldn’t you? People hire personal trainers to get fit, life coaches to live better… doulas are essentially birth coaches and I definitely wanted a coach with me as I embark on the labor and delivery journey. I browsed on www.DoulaMatch.net for a good while and interviewed 4 doulas before I decided to work with Christal Quick (Radiant Heart Doula Services). We felt that Christal had the right mix of flexibility and confidence when it comes to the way a doula would add to a family’s birth experience. She has a very empathetic and understanding vibe about her but it was also clear that she’s an experienced expert, and would be able to provide unwavering advice in times of need. But all in all, I would summarize our reasons we hired a doula as follows:

  1. Pain Management: I wanted to labor naturally for as long as I could. This meant that I’d be dealing with contractions with no pain management for as long as I could. During our consultation, Christal talked about a variety of methods to help the laboring woman cope with the contraction pains. During labor, Christal would apply counter pressure to my pelvis whenever a contraction would take place. She also taught my husband how to do the same thing so they could alternate.
  2. Your Labor and Delivery Advocate: If I learned anything from all the pregnancy books I read, it’s that the birthing process is unpredictable. Every woman’s physiology, medical history, and pregnancy is different and therefore the best way to prepare for it is simply to be open minded. Throughout your hospital stay all the way until you are discharged, you and your partner may have to make medical decisions that will affect you or your baby. Having an experienced birthing coach by your side when you are speaking with medical professionals may give you a bit more peace of mind. For example, when I finally got to 9 and 3/4 centimeters dilated, the midwife on shift was very enthusiastically suggesting that I started pushing. She made the suggestion to us. Christal, as well as the nurse on shift, said we will think about it… then the midwife left the room. Both my nurse and Christal thought that it wasn’t time to push yet and that I should labor down until I was 10 centimeters dilated. The reason is that sometimes if you push while your cervix isn’t completely open, the baby could rip through part of the cervix that’s in the way (*shudders*). So, at their suggestion, I “labored down”  until I was fully dilated, then I began pushing.
  3. Support For The Husband: This wasn’t something we had thought about previously, but turned out to be a critical role that Christal played. Labor is a long process, especially for first-time moms. But as hard as it was on for me, my husband was there every step of the way. In the beginning, before my real contractions set in, we were chit-chatting, watching shows on my laptop, just having a chill time (around the time this photo was taken). But as soon as contractions start and after Christal arrived, there was no rest for my husband… he and Christal were alternating to provide counter-pressure for me, and let me tell you… it’s a full-on arm and back workout! It was around 3 AM when I got my epidural, after which I quickly fell asleep. My poor husband stayed awake the whole time, because he’s a light sleeper and there were nurses/other medical professionals coming in and out of the room to check on me and also the hospital guest bed is CRAP. Thank goodness we had Christal that could come and stay with me while my husband could go out and get a cup of coffee and some food. One time when my husband was away (out of the hospital actually) getting food, I started vomiting. There was no one in the room but Christal, so if it wasn’t for her, I would’ve vomited all over myself!

Our Birth Story

OK, let’s rewind to the beginning of this labor and delivery journey… I was past 40 weeks pregnant and running out of my last bit of patience. Starting around 36-37 weeks, I was having regular Braxton Hicks contractions (aka “practice” contractions that entail tightening of the abdomen but no pain). I felt like my body has been priming itself for a long time. But baby Sophia apparently didn’t agree with that. I had my membrane swept at 40 weeks and 1 day to hopefully speed up the onset of labor… it was NOT a pleasant experience. Actually, I would describe it as pretty traumatizing even compared to giving birth because the sweeping membrane was done without anesthetics. I googled and googled and most people seem to have no problem with their membrane sweeping experience. But mine turned out pretty painful and traumatizing. And it didn’t trigger labor… On top of that, I was eating spicy food, doing squats, talking multiple walks outside, and taking castor oil. Nothing triggered real contractions. And all the while, my Braxton Hicks continued.

The day before my last OB appointment (40 weeks and 5 days), I had a few micro-gushes of fluids down there. I thought maybe it was my water breaking, but since I didn’t have any other symptoms associated with water breaking (continuous leak of fluid and/or the onset of real contractions), I didn’t think much. The next day in the Dr’s office, I was undressed from the waist down sitting on the examine bed/table when I realized my water definitely broke. Because after just a few minutes sitting on the little doggy pad, I had a puddle underneath me… a puddle of clear, odorless fluid like they describe amniotic fluid to be! And of course, my doctor confirmed it. It was Tuesday at 11:30 AM, and by 1 PM, I was settled into my labor and delivery room, where the most life-changing event in my life would take place.

What transpired next was a long and arduous 25 hours of labor. It started with me being induced with an oral dose of Cytotec. I was a bit over 1 centimeter dilated when I was checked in, and it took 3 doses of Cytotec, a dose of Pitocin, and 20 hours to finally get to 9 and 3/4 (I know… the platform to get to Hogwarts!) centimeters. It was a long process, to say the least, not to mention I vomited about 5 times during this time which I mistakenly thought was a reaction to the epidural I got. Upon confirming with the anesthesiologist, it turned out that it’s just part of the birthing process, and that some women just throw up, *insert palms up + shrugging emoji*. I spent the last hour of labor “laboring down”. In case you’re wondering what it means, here’s a good definition and explanation on why you should labor down. During my last vaginal check, the nurse confirmed I was 10 centimeters dilated, and that I was given the “go” to start pushing. Earlier that day, at around the 20th hour of my labor process, I was joking with the nurses saying “watch me push this baby out in 10 minutes” because I was so frustrated with the long labor. Well, I actually kind of did it! It took me 10 minutes of 2 or 3 pushes until the nurse was telling me to stop because the baby was crowning! I was told I am a phenomenal pusher. At this time, the nurse asked if I wanted to touch the baby’s head and I hesitantly said yes. And I reached down there and I felt the top of her head with lots of hair!! It was an incredible experience (also incredibly weird/gross feeling?!).  The OB on shift was still tending to another patient when this was going on, so the nurse told me to stop a while and wait for the OB to come. The waiting took another 5 minutes… and finally, the OB arrived, scrubbed in, and 2 more pushes… Sophia was born!

The Aftermath

The moment they pulled this purple, slimy, slightly alien-looking being out of me and placed her on my chest, I couldn’t help but break into years. I was sobbing. It was tears of shock, wonder, and joy and other inexplicable emotions. Shock because, honestly, it does not matter how many birth videos you watch, when it happens and you’re in the midst of it all, it’s a new experience in every way possible. Wonder because I was instantly in love, SO MUCH in love… I could never in a million years imagine the way I felt the moment I saw her. Joy because she seemed so perfect and so perfectly healthy; she came out with lots of hair, a loud cry, and clean/clear skin. We could not ask for a more perfect baby.

The hours that followed the birth of Sophia were a bit hazy in my memory. Not because I was drugged up, but because I was intoxicated with a sense of wonder. When I recall everything that happened, these memories all have a dream-like quality associated with them. Two or three hours after Sophia was born, we were moved into a recovery room where we spent the next 48 hours. It was a tough 48 hours with a lot of difficulties and not a lot of sleep. We fumbled through our first diaper changes, struggled with breastfeeding, fought extreme fatigue and all the while had some families that came over to visit. They always recommend new parents to decline visitation from friends and family during this time, but we could barely wait to show her off and share our excitement. During this stay, Sophia also was pre-emptively prescribed phototherapy for jaundice because her bilirubin level was borderline. She never crossed the threshold to be diagnosed as having jaundice so we were grateful. She was and continues to be a very cooperative, easy-going and mild-temper baby.

The New Chapter Of Our Lives

So, it’s been almost 2 months and she continues to wow us every day. She just started to smile at us when she sees us last week! To say that we are smitten in love would be an understatement. Now, in my next post, I will discuss some of the rather surprising details about my postpartum recovery… so stay tuned!

Professional Photography by Geena Crawford Photography, her Yelp page

The post Our Birth Story // Why We Decided to Hire A Doula appeared first on Cubicle Chic.

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As a fashion-conscious pregnant woman with a very limited shopping budget, creating cute, affordable, and sensible maternity outfits has been one of my biggest challenges during this 9-month journey. If you’re lucky, it’s not something you have to think about until you’re well into your second trimester. But if you’re like me, when pants/any clothing for that matter stopped fitting 2 months into my pregnancy, you’ve probably been looking for a solution like I have.

“Just Hit the Maternity Section of Shops!”

It’s easy to think that as soon as your body starts swelling up, you just hit the maternity section of all stores and start stocking up on all things maternity. That might sound like a simple solution, but when you have a limited shopping budget, it’s not a very reasonable one. Not to mention the pile of maternity clothing you have to worry about putting away/donating/storing for next pregnancy once the 9-month journey is over. Life gets even more hectic after the baby arrives. Nobody’s got time for messing with unused maternity clothing hanging around!

After some trial and errors, I’ve derived a few principles that I stick to when I put together pregnancy outfits and thinking about purchasing new items.

Five Principles to Stick with When Putting Together Maternity Outfits using Non-Maternity Clothing

1. Bite the bullet and buy a size (or two) larger

This principle involves conquering a purely psychological issue. If like me, you’ve experienced body image struggles, you know how difficult it is to allow yourself to buy one size larger. It’s like you are giving yourself room to NOT be your ideal self. But having accepted, over time, that my body is changing and changing for good, I let that part of my ego go. I simply opt for a larger size and it’s worked wonders! Like this buttoned henley T-shirt from Hollister, I opted for a size large, and it covers my 36-week belly completely. I paired it with a size small (my regular size) leopard print cardigan also from Hollister, and some loose-fitting joggers from a local boutique in San Diego called Liv3 (see my intro at the bottom of the post; it’s one of my favorite spots to hit up now in North County of San Diego!).

2. Length is everything

To make non-maternity tops work for a pregnant belly, the key is to find tops that are long enough. Rarely would tops not fit in the arms/chest area (if that’s your concern, sizing up solves that problem too), it’s the belly that will be exposed if your top isn’t long enough. For example, this super soft Chicwish sweater is my usual size small/medium (only 5 left in stock as of 10/18!), but because it’s long enough, it completely covers my belly! I paired it with some jeans and it’s a perfect outfit for any Fall-day outing.

3. Mixing up loose and tight fitting items

If you’re wearing a loose top to cover/hide your belly, make sure your jeans/leggings/bottoms are tight-fitting enough. Similarly, a tight t-shirt on the inside of an outfit featuring the loose-fitting cardigan creates the same effect. The point is, don’t overdo it on the loose fitting times, otherwise, sometimes you end up adding unnecessary bulk to your body.

4. Accessorize creatively

I’ve come to LOVE all sorts of statement earrings during pregnancy because this is the one area of my body that hasn’t changed much. LOL. But also, earrings are perfectly fine post-baby so I feel less bad investing in new ones. But another way to accessorize is to incorporate bare shoulders, as in wearing off-the-shoulder tops like this off-the-shoulder sweater from Hollister (size small). Now, we talked about finding a top that’s long enough to cover up your belly. In this case, this sweater wasn’t going to do that very well. So, I found a pair of nice and soft culottes from Liv3, my local boutique store, that goes perfectly well with this top. You can find similar culottes here,  and here.

The secret to these culottes fitting perfectly though lies in the waistband. If you are earlier in your pregnancy, I think any culottes with a flexible waistline will work. But as your belly bulges further, you may need a whole panel of flexible cloth like this one in particular.

5. (For third-trimester preggers) Learn to love buttons

Why? Simple. It’s all about boob access after the baby comes! So yes, start looking for pieces with buttons (that actually work) so when you continue to wear them into your 4th trimester (yes, it’s a thing!) it’s already conducive to breastfeeding. This maroon piece of beauty came from, again, my local boutique Liv3 in size medium. You can find similar ones here, here, and here.

A little bit about Liv3 Boutique

This is not a sponsored post! I chanced upon this little gem in North County of San Diego in San Marcos very serendipitously. If you live around the area, you have to visit them! They sell the cutest clothes at very affordable prices (I’d say between $15-$50 a piece depending on what it is) and the cutest interior design/decors (think trendy plants and vases). For expecting mamas and mamas out there, you’d also find their selection of baby/kid products very irresistible. I personally have to restrict myself on how many times I visit them per month because as it stands, I’ve never walked out of their shop empty-handed… kind of dangerous for my budget/wallet.

The post How to Create Chic Maternity Outfits Using Non-Maternity Clothing appeared first on Cubicle Chic.

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Accepting The Changes Happening To Your Body

I have a confession to make. I hated my pregnant body in the first 3 months. No, I mean, I really hated it. “How could you not love your pregnant body, you are creating another human being inside you, a life!” I get it. The glory of pregnancy, the cheery anticipation of something that is meant to be the pride and joy of your life, and the amazement of life being created in me out of a bunch of cells and tissues… I get it. It’s all supposed to make me gaga about the baby and consequently, appreciate the preparation my body goes through to bring it to the world. But to some people,  the connection isn’t always readily apparent. My brain couldn’t seem to grasp the reason behind these changes, I mean DRAMATIC CHANGES, my body was going through.

It really just felt like I was gaining a bunch of weight, lethargic all the time, losing interest and motivation to do things I normally enjoyed. I’ve always dealt with body image problems… a little bit of crack in the overall self-image I have, everything sorts of comes crumbling down. If it wasn’t for the fact that I KNEW I was pregnant, I’d probably think I was going through an episode of clinical depression.

But around month 5/week 20, things started to take a turn. It wasn’t so much a conscious effort. Something within my mind just shifted. Perhaps it was when I started to feel the baby move and when my belly really started to “pop”. It was around the time that we took our babymoon trip to the Cayman Islands.  Below are three pictures that I took of myself around that 20-22 week mark. You can see that my belly started to pop and I think it was during this trip that I felt the baby’s first kicks! I would say this was around the time I started to accept the way I looked and all the associated changes.

But the emotional saga did not end here!

Dealing With The “Advice” From Others… Good And Bad

This came as a surprise to me. As a pregnant woman, you are constantly being told what to do and sometimes even how to feel. Everyone (especially all the women around you) seem to have an opinion about everything pregnancy related because either they have been through it themselves, or they read it somewhere. I guess it’s such a natural part of human life, people don’t think twice about volunteering their opinions/advice/experience to you. Most of the time, they’re well intended and carefully delivered. They could even be really helpful. But once in a while, you’d get a piece of advice you’re simply not quite sure what to do with. “You should be happy!” …don’t you think I know that? Who in their right mind would consciously, voluntarily, and knowingly choose to be unhappy? This is probably the one most well-intended piece of advice that annoys me the most.

Trusting That Things Could Change For the Better… Including Your Perspectives

If I learned anything in this pregnancy, it is to never say never in the face of mother nature, i.e. your amazing female body. So many foreign thoughts, feelings, and sensations have emerged and occurred to me in the last 8 months, none of which I could’ve possibly imagined going through. For example, I was never a kids person. I could be friendly with kids but I never really thought I liked kids much. Ever since becoming pregnant, when I see kids (especially infants) I have this affection that just oozes from within the core of my being. All of a sudden I couldn’t help but feel like I am drawn to these cute, warm, and vulnerable beings. It’s the strangest thing!

To Workout or To Not Workout

(Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I am sharing my personal experience here. Please don’t take my advice instead of a physician’s. When in doubt, always seek out the expert opinion of your OB!)

Hopefully, you have always maintained a workout regimen pre-pregnancy and this isn’t even a concern to you. If you had an on-going and regular workout regimen, most healthcare providers/experts will tell you to just keep it going. Of course, listen to your body and don’t over-exert yourself, and if need be, modify things for your changing body. On the other hand, if like me, you had semi let yourself go between getting ready for the wedding and becoming pregnant (I can’t be the only one?!), do not despair. At the very least, taking a 20-30 minute walk every day seems to suffice, according to most online articles. This may sound ambitious for those of you who are going through that infamous first trimester morning sickness, daily nausea, or the incapacitating lethargy. If that is you, just let your body be. Exercise when you start to feel better.

However, if you are wanting to take your pregnancy fitness up a notch, I highly recommend getting a personal trainer with a specialty and appropriate background in training pregnant women.  My trainer Drea, who I have been working out with since I was around 18/19 weeks pregnant (I am 35 weeks now) is nothing short of amazing. Not that this should be your goal, but with my OB’s blessing, I have healthily stayed away from gaining any weight in the last 3 months.  Mind you, I was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes around the 25th week, so I’ve been watching my diet like a hawk on top of working out twice a week with Drea. (Not a sponsored post whatsoever!)

I personally attribute all the positives from my pregnancy to working out with Drea – no stretch marks, good energy, no backaches or any aches for that matter. In total, I’ve gained about 20 lbs so far since the beginning of my pregnancy, and most of what happened in the first trimester… It simply means before I worked out with Drea I was gaining a lot of weight, and since Drea, my weight has been managed very well! If you live in North County San Diego and are looking for a personal trainer, you should definitely contact Drea!

Click here to see these workout clips live on my Instagram archive:

https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/17934652129169189/

Conclusion

Mamas, what was your pregnancy journey like? Did you struggle with weight gain and body image issues? I’d love to hear from all of you who have gone through this and feel like you came out of it a better, stronger woman. Or not! I would love both perspectives. I have about a month left of this pregnancy so I am trying to soak up all the knowledge around me that I can get. DM me on Instagram or leave me a comment here!

Professional photography by Natalie Alverado 

The post Weight Control During Pregnancy || Talking Body Image, Weight Gain, and Pregnancy Workout appeared first on Cubicle Chic.

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Hello guys! I am back after an almost-two-month hiatus! I’d like to talk to you about some pregnancy travel must-have’s. But first, a little bit of life update. While there really is no excuse in abandoning my baby blog, there were a few things happening in August/July that took the better half of my mental capacity.

  • I started and finished an online class on Child Development through our local community college.
  • The husband and I traveled to Hamburg, Germany for my cousin’s wedding ceremony for a week and spent a lot of time with families from all over the world.
  • Earlier this month, I finished doing a maternity shoot with my trusted photographer friend Natalie (NatalieAlvarado.com) it was a ton of fun! Stay tuned for the photos later <3 but here are some low-resolution sneak peaks!
  • Last weekend, we just wrapped up our baby shower with our dear friends (35 adults and 12 kids and 3 infants lol) and had a blast. I’m very proud of coming up with the idea of hiring a florist (Flowers A La Carte in this case) to have a flower arrangement workshop as my party favor!

Now, I am back today with a new post! In view of our recent trip to Hamburg, Germany, I learned of many hacks (some through painful lessons) that make a pregnant woman’s travel much more comfortable & easier.  That’s what I’d like to talk about today:

6 Pregnancy Travel Must-Have’s for Flying 1. Compression Socks ($15.98 via Amazon)

This is a common and self-explanatory tip. Get them anywhere you can, just not last minute at the airport because they’re always a rip-off at the airport. The reason behind wearing compression socks is to keep your pregnant lower limbs from accumulating so much fluid and from swelling. When you have a lot of swelling combined with long periods of inactivity, that’s when you risk for developing a DVT  (deep vein thrombosis) goes up.

2. Resistance Bands ($25.97 via Amazon)

If you read up online, you will find that it’s commonly recommended that you get up and walk around when you board a flight. Really, you should do that from prolonged periods of sitting, regardless of whether you’re on a flight. But space is limited when you are in flight, and that’s why the resistance bands come in super handy! To get some exercise (especially leg and quad exercise), you simply have to pop one of these on. In the discreet comfort of your own seat, you can get some leg exercise in without troubling your fellow passengers!

3. Babymoov Pregnancy Belt ($30.75  via Amazon)

This is maybe the SINGLE MOST LIFE-CHANGING pregnancy product I’ve purchased so far. It’s my most recommended pregnancy travel must-have. After about 28/29 weeks, I haven’t been able to live without it (outside of flying too). But when we went to Hamburg, I found this belt to make all the difference when I was trying to get comfortable in flight. What it does it make you ROUND around the middle of your torso so that it’s easier for you to lean against any surface. We had the luxury and privilege to board the flight in business class this time (thank you, United points!) and to my surprise, I still needed the Babymoov belt and was not comfortable without it. Now in my 33 weeks, I cannot sleep without this belt around my waist, and I have been able to do without a pregnancy pillow which is much bulkier and harder to store post-pregnancy!

4. Evian Mineral Water Spray ($12.75 for two via Amazon)  (1.7 oz, TSA compliant)

This water spray serves two functions, one more obvious than the other. It helps with moisturizing your skin during the ever-so-drying cabin air (and always works better in conjunction with lotion). But the pregnant body (at least mine) goes through these fluctuating temperatures… on our flight to Hamburg, I woke up multiple times feeling super hot, which never happened before I was pregnant. So the spray actually helped to cool my skin temperature down, and in turn, had an overall cooling effect.

5. Wired Headband (4 pack for $9.99 via Amazon) 

There’s no other time than during pregnancy that you need simple, easy-to-use, and quick methods to look put together. These wired headbands happen to be one of these shortcuts! I can totally see myself carrying this into my post-partum days. Basically, this is a way to keep your hair (esp. the pregnancy hormone induced little whispy hairs!) out of your face. It’s a little bit of a something that adds a bit glam to your ensemble. For me, I couldn’t wear my usual clothes anymore, so I needed new ways to add more glam to my looks.

6. Slippers/Sandals ($40 via ASOS)

Again, one of those no-brainers because you will probably not fit into anything else at this point. You lower limbs will also swell to some extent while you are in the air, due to the reduced gravity and cabin pressure change. Get comfortable shoes that you can slip in and out of easily. You will appreciate it so much… One additional thing is that if you expect a lot of walking on your trip like my Hamburg trip turned out to be (which I was not anticipating), get shoes with cushions. I didn’t, and I was OK the first day (we walked at least 10K steps around the city center in Hamburg). But on the second day, my lower back started to hurt and it was not fun…

7. Means of hydrating + access to snacks

I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes around my 26th week of pregnancy. So on top of all the forbidden food and drinks for pregnant ladies, I’ve had to REALLY watch the type of food I consume. But even if you are lucky to have avoided GD, keeping yourself hydrated and fed is super critical during pregnancy. When traveling via flights during your pregnancy, I would definitely encourage you to pack granola bars, protein bars, dried fruits, anything that are small and compact and can provide some quick calories. And of course, bring a water bottle. Many airports are equipped with water fountain these days, so you don’t have to worry about buying water or finishing it quickly before passing through security.

Make sure you do before departing for your trip:
  • Check your airline’s policy and limitation on when you may not be able to travel with them anymore
  • Obtain a doctor’s note, depending on the stage of your pregnancy
  • Check to make sure there are no on-going epidemic like Zika
  • Get an aisle seat, if possible.

The post Pregnancy Travel Must-Haves for Flying appeared first on Cubicle Chic.

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The post Sample Post appeared first on Cubicle Chic.

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If you are a professional women working in a corporate office with a 9-5 life, and back to back meetings, 5-minute-lunches and PowerPoint slides are your best friends, and you sometimes just feel like your feet are the biggest source of your daily pain (other than those difficult customers/coworkers/managers) this article is written for you.

We are on our feet a lot. Like, A LOT.

There’s always more to accomplish than there is time to accomplish things. I get it. I lived that life. But if you forget to take care of yourself once in a while and keep your health and sanity in check, you won’t last long. Working in the corporate world is a marathon, not a sprint. (Although at times it may feel like a series of sprints.) On Cubicle Chic today, we’ll talk about a simple and quick way to find relaxation and reduce stress at work. Here it is…

Take care of your feet!! 

Our feet support our entire body weight as we move from meeting rooms back to our desk and back to meeting rooms. What do we typically reward them with, as stylish women in the corporate world? The cruelty of high heels and pointed pumps! With that… let’s talk about the first tip on taking care of your feet.

1. Wear comfortable shoes without compromising on style

The reality is that we wear those torturous shoes for the looks to begin with. So, if the resolution requires us to sacrifice the looks, it’s not much of a resolution, is it? Allow me to introduce me to Miss Madel here… they make perfectly stylish shoes for the corporate workplace, and yet their shoes come with zero compromises in the style department. You can use the code JESSICA10 to get 10% off on your purchase in the next two weeks! What I’m wearing in the photos is the Donna in nude, and I LOVE the color for the spring and summer season. If you wear a lot of black and white, these beauties will add a refreshing pop of color to your outfit.

There are a few other styles offered by Miss Madel that are really pretty –

2. Utilize acupressure points to relieve feet pain.

If you, especially your feet, have had a long day, try massaging these pressure points that will help alleviate some discomfort. Every point is meant for different kinds of pain/pressure relieve, according to Smarter Healing. Click on their link above to see what each acupressure point is meant to do & how to massage them.

3. Wear well-ventilated shoes (or create a safe space to take them off at work.

This applies to those of us whose sweat glands are unfortunately wired in the downward direction. I’ll be the first to admit I suffer from sweaty feet syndrome (yes, that’s a term, coined by me). The mule design of the Miss Madel Donna shoes is obviously a very ventilating design. But other ways to find well-ventilated shoes include finding the right material. For example, I’ve heard that Rothy’s makes very well-ventilated flats. I haven’t tried the brand myself, but I would share with you guys once I have!

4. Manage your salt intake

It’s a well-known fact that consuming too much salt will cause more swelling. As we age, the swelling may occur more in the feet area or simply shows more prominently. If you want to understand the medical mechanism of how this happens, you can look into what is edema.  But this tip is simple. Avoid that salty food, drink lots of water, and you will be OK!

5. Exercise your feet/leg regularly at work

This is my personal favorite. Whether you’re stuck on a 3-hour spreadsheet spree or a dead-end teleconference that’s not going anywhere, these exercises are perfect for these occasions. On Live Strong, you can find a list of discreet workouts you can do at your desk. Glute clenches, stomach vaccum, or knee lifts… take your pick, and exercise (discretely) away! If you have the luxury of time and space, you can even do some lunges, calf raises, or mountain climbers. All of these exercises are meant to increase circulation to your legs and keep pain and swelling away from you!

Disclaimer: Thank you Miss Madel for sponsoring this blog post. I really enjoyed the Donna shoes and would be wearing it on the regular!

The post The Single Most Effective Technique to Reduce Stress at Work appeared first on Cubicle Chic.

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No one knows better than Michael Scott about the importance of friendships! Friends joke with one another, right? (Maybe not so much about each other’s financial situation and mother’s health…) What we do know is that humor is the penicillin for all bad situations.

It’s especially important for the workplace. Between delivering results, meeting goals, getting along with unpleasant coworkers (or even worse, bosses), we don’t often leave a whole lot of mental energy to check on our sanity. Having the right kind of friends is the quickest way to maintain sanity in the work life. In today’s post, we will talk about the 4 types of friends that help you stay happy and sane at work.

Top & Jeans: c/o of Dailylook Elite; Handbag: c/o Palla A-Handbag; use “@cubicle_chic” for 15% off.

Top & Jeans: c/o of Dailylook Elite; Handbag: c/o Palla A-Handbag; use “@cubicle_chic” for 15% off.

4 types of friends that help you stay happy and sane at work.
  1. The fellow victim

Whatever hardship, whoever the villain, when you spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week at any place, there will be times and people that make you wish you weren’t there. Whether be it a last-minute project lands on your place because no one wanted to touch it, a grumpy co-worker that has no boundary and holds your ears hostage for conversations you do not wish to have, or a sadistic boss that has no respect for your time…these are times when it makes things so much better if someone else is suffering with you. It’s not as much that the other person is also suffering, but that you aren’t alone in dealing with this misfortune.

You see, trying to explain what’s going on at work to someone else, such as a significant other, a family member, or a close friend, is like trying to sing a song through humming – it takes someone familiar with the issues to get it 100%. If you have a fellow coworker is going through the same exact issues as you are, a comradery automatically forms, and you have an instant alliance. That alone sometimes is the key to reducing perceived pain and difficulty caused by a particular work situation.

  1. The sarcastic bitch

Along the same line as having a fellow victim, you need a sarcastic friend who isn’t afraid of being a bitch sometimes (towards your common enemy, not you). I should caveat this by saying that this has to be a sarcastic bitch who has a lot of empathy. This whole dynamic works based on her/his understanding of your situation and willingness (or natural tendency) to bitch at what/who is causing you pain at work. Simply put, this person is an active practitioner of empathy. We all know how venting works and it’s most effective when someone else is not only agreeing but chiming in. It’s also proven in studies that empathy in the workplace makes us happier and more productive.

  1. The strategic mentor

If having the first two kinds of friends is how you deal with adverse situations passively, the strategic mentor is how you deal with the situations proactively. Once you’ve vented and moved on from the heat of the moment, it’s time to think about how to prevent the situation from occurring again, or how to deal with it better next time. Sure, more likely than not, what is within your power to improve the situation may be minimal, but this is where a strategic mentor comes in. A strategic mentor is, hopefully, someone a bit more seasoned than you are in the workforce, knows you well, has your benefit at heart, and isn’t afraid to tell you the truth. You need this person to analyze the situation for you with as little bias as possible. The best outcome in talking to a strategic mentor about an adverse situation at work is that you come out of it 1) feeling less bitter because you know you’re not at fault, or 2) feeling secure and comfortable in knowing how to prevent the situation again or how you need to improve in order to avoid such an event from happening again.

Top & Jeans: c/o of Dailylook Elite; Handbag: c/o Palla A-Handbag; use “@cubicle_chic” for 15% off.

Top & Jeans: c/o of Dailylook Elite; Handbag: c/o Palla A-Handbag; use “@cubicle_chic” for 15% off.

Top & Jeans: c/o of Dailylook Elite; Handbag: c/o Palla A-Handbag; use “@cubicle_chic” for 15% off.

  1. The cat/dog lover or bearer of good food

There are a few things in life that put you in instant nirvana. Puppies, kittens, and good food are three of such things. Studies have shown that looking at puppies and kitten actually lowers blood pressure. If you’re a cat lover and you happen to have a coworker who is also a cat lover, the cat talk is so therapeutic on an otherwise busy and stressful workday. The occasional cute puppy/kitten GIFs that come through your email may have the same effects. Similarly, the ambiance of the entire office space can be lifted by a box of baked goods, a plate of lunch to be shared by the group or a bag of freshly harvested lemons from someone’s backyard. Don’t underestimate such little joys in life and the people that make them happen – they are increasing the quality of your work life without your conscious awareness.

Top & Jeans: c/o of Dailylook Elite; Handbag: c/o Palla A-Handbag; use “@cubicle_chic” for 15% off.

Conclusion

There you have it. The four kinds of friends at work that will keep you sane and make your work life better. If you already have these four friends, congratulations! Get them a nice token of appreciation when the next holiday comes around. If you don’t have these four friends, it’s time to start paying attention. I suggest trailing the smell of donuts next time you sense them at work. Find out who brought them, and chat up that person!

All photography by Natalie Alvarado @ Stylenufse

The post 4 Types of Work Friends That Keep You Sane appeared first on Cubicle Chic.

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