Category: pregnancy

The First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

The last seven months have been an absolute joy! Nico is a bright light in our lives and a constant reminder of the goodness and love new life brings. I wanted to share a bit about my recent transition from life as a wife and business owner into life as a new mom, wife, and business owner, and the balancing act therein.

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Here’s a fun little background story: When my husband was a little boy, he told his mom she had an easy job. She was a stay at home mom with three boys, all close in age. Although she was slightly offended by Nick’s comment, she knew he would see for himself in the years to come. Boy, has he! We have now both witnessed the time and commitment babies bring.

If I’ve learned one thing during this journey, it is balance. Being a parent is a full-time job. I respect all of you who are participating in this noble duty. Add in the day job, and that’s another story. If I want to enjoy being a mother and a good partner to my husband while running a business, I’m learning that I need to seek balance every day in my life. My mentor once told me, ‘Balance does not come in a day, but over time.’ If Nick and I make daily choices to support a more balanced approach to life, we will eventually be in a beautifully balanced life.

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Although days are filled with baby, meetings, house chores, emails and lots of baking for Sweet Laurel, I try to do at least one thing every day that’s for pure joy. For me, these activities include going for a walk, taking a yoga class or going in a sauna. I also get a lot of joy out of making dinner for my husband and I, which is a daily priority. I know this about myself and have learned to schedule my day accordingly. Obviously, there are days when this just can’t happen because of schedules, etc., but like I said, we strive for balance over time.

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Nico has reminded me to stop and enjoy moments. When I am working at home and he is crawling around laughing at random things in the house, occasionally I will drop everything and just hang out with him for a bit. After all, he’s only going to be a precious baby for so long. I wanted to share these gorgeous family photos by my talented friend Elsie Dardon. She’s helping Nick and I document life with our Sweet Nico.

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Enjoy these photos, and feel free to give me some advice about the motherhood balancing act or share your stories with me!

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My Mother’s Day Miracle \\ Sweet Laurel

Processed with VSCO with 4 presetThis year has been a whirlwind. Everyday, I take a moment to think about how blessed I am, and today is no exception. I want to share the most beautiful thing that happened to me this year, as it has everything to do with what we are trying to accomplish here at Sweet Laurel. Sweet Laurel is dedicated to providing beauty and health to all through our cakes, recipes, educational workshops and our upcoming cookbook (available Spring 2018!).

If you were to tell me last May that in one year I would have a 2 1/2 month old baby sleeping next to me in bed as I type this, I would have thought you were a bit crazy. You see, the last four years had been a struggle to get my thyroid, digestive system, and reproductive system back on line. They all stopped functioning properly when I was diagnosed with my autoimmune disease in 2012. My body screamed at me to stop, rest and heal up through various physical signs, one of them being I had stopped ovulating. I eventually listened, and took a year off to heal, and and in 2015 I launched Sweet Laurel as a result of the incredible results I felt changing my lifestyle and diet in order to allowing healing to take place.

Last May, one year ago to date, I had a call with my nutritionist about my recent hormonal blood work. As she discussed the details of my hormone panel, the results were not so hot and I started to cry. Over the last few years, I’ve made my health a priority. Thankfully, my thyroid and digestive system were back to normal, but my reproductive system just wasn’t kicking into gear. I felt like I had tried everything, which is why the news from my nutritionist was so disparaging. I took a deep breath between tears and tried to accept the fact that a baby and my complete healing were just not in the cards for me quite yet.

Flash forward a few weeks. My husband Nick came home from work around 6pm and I was laid out on my back in bed. This is very abnormal for me, as I am quite a busy bee, especially around the dinner time hour. My favorite thing to do is make dinner for Nick every night so that’s usually what I am doing when he comes home. Nick immediately knew something was wrong when he saw me in bed so he started peppering me with questions. I told him I was just really tired, and I had been at the Sweet Laurel kitchen all day on my feet, which is why I was in bed. “I think you should take a pregnancy test,” Nick said. Even though I could barely get out of bed at this point, I managed to go the bathroom and find an old pregnancy test squirreled away under the sink.

And It was positive. My first response was, ‘NO!’ I didn’t understand how this was possible. Very soon after we both started crying tears of joy. Around May and the first week of June, my body kicked into gear and ovulated. This is why our sweet Nico is a miracle. I never would have imagined I’d be celebrating Mother’s Day this year, but I am, and I am so very grateful.

Sweet Laurel is all about sharing health with others, which is why I wanted to share this  story with you. Dedication toward wellness can lead to breakthroughs in your health. Wishing all the mothers our there a very Happy Mother’s Day! xo, Laurel

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Laurel is wearing Fillyboom’s I beleive in Unicorns dress.

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

I love being a mom! In honor of Mother’s Day and my first time celebrating as a mom, I’m sharing some of my most used, and favorite mom-friendly items. This week’s recipe features my Lactation Cookies, which accompanied me to the hospital when Nico was born, and have been made regularly since!

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

First off, Nucifera! I LOVE Nucifera, and the amazing entrepreneur who developed it. Nucifera is the ultimate pregnancy and breastfeeding safe, all in one, beauty product. I use it regularly before bed and on my face as part of my cleansing routine. By now you all know how in love I am with coconut, and this is a coconut based product, and the benefits are unending. It moisturizes, soothes, purifies, and combats various skin conditions. Nucifera can even be used as an all natural deodorant. I personally like using it under my eyes. And by the way, Nucifera is not just amazing for mothers, it is great for fathers and children alike!

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

Second, my Petal Soft Ballet Nursing Bra. Not only is it pretty to look at, it is oh so comfortable. I never thought nursing would change my whole outfit. For some reason, I never made the connection. Well, a good nursing outfit starts with a good bra, and this is my go-to! It is from Bravado Designs, who also makes two other nursing bras I’m digging– the Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra, also comfy, and the Clip and Pump, which gives me mobility with my hands while I pump!

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

Third, a good notebook. I want to cherish each day with sweet Nico, and this helps me do! I’m a very sentimental gal, so essentially, writing down thoughts, precious moments and words of gratitude have been very therapeutic for me. Nico has made me a more organized person, and this is one tool I’ve begun to use to help in that department.

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

Lastly, Lactation Cookies. Do you every need an excuse to eat cookies? Well, when you’re breastfeeding, you automatically have one! Lactation enriching foods have been used for centuries to help with breast milk production, and my cookies contain just a few of the many nutritious foods know to encourage milk supply nursing. I read a book entitled Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck, and learned about the foods I should focus on during pregnancy and nursing. I highly recommend this book. Per the words of Planck, two of the most popular lactation foods are oats and beer. I don’t include either of those in my cookies, as I don’t digest either well, but have included several of the other recommended foods. These cookies freeze super well, so I typically make a batch and store them in the freezer to snack on and give to people who come over. Having a baby really ups your weekly visitors!

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

Lactation Cookies

Yields about 30 cookies


 

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour

1/2 cup flax seeds

1/4 cup sesame seeds or shredded coconut

1/2 cup macadamia nuts or pecans

1/2 date paste or 7 dates, pitted

4 eggs

1/2 cup coconut oil (melted) or grass fed butter (solid)

1 cup chocolate chips (recipe below)

Maple syrup, as needed (these cookies are not very sweet, so add if need be)


 

*For Oatmeal Raisin variation

Exchange flax and sesame seeds for 1/2 cup of oats (if you tolerate). You can also add shredded coconut for texture!

Exchange and 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 cup raisins for the chocolate chips.


 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a blender, combine the flax seeds, sesame seeds, macadamia nuts, dates, eggs, coconut oil and maple syrup (optional). Turn on low speed, and blend until batter is incorporated. Remove mixture from blender and place into a bowl. Stir in almond flour and chocolate chips. Spoon one tablespoon sized cookies onto cookies sheet. Gently press dough down with a piece of parchment paper.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Lift parchment off pan, and allow cookies to cool all the way.

Enjoy!


 

Homemade Chocolate Chips 


 

Ingredients:

4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate (100% cacao, organic is preferable)

1-2 tablespoons maple syrup or raw honey


 

Directions:

Break baking chocolate into one-inch pieces and place in thick saucepan or double boiler. Over a very low heat, melt baking chocolate. Once melted, take off heat, and add maple syrup or raw honey and stir. Pour chocolate onto parchment paper and spread into a rectangle, about 8×12 inches. Place parchment in freezer. Once hardened (will take a few minutes), break into small pieces and use as chocolate chips.

 

SNOO \\ Sweet Laurel

The number one piece of advice people offered me when I was pregnant was to, ‘Enjoy sleep while you still have it!’ Now, this is a very good piece of advice, but one thing I have that they likely did not have is the SNOO, by Happiest Baby. The SNOO was recently invented by Dr. Harvey Karp, the author of bestseller Happiest Baby on the Block. This was one of the first books I read during my pregnancy with Nico, and it provided an excellent backbone to infant care and educated me on Karp’s ever popular 5 S’s. The 5 S’s are the essential tools for parents to use to calm their babies. The 5 S’s are Swaddle, Side or Stomach position, Shushing, Swing and Suck. I’ve found the 5 S’s work wonders for Nico. Nick especially loves to use all 5 S’s to calm Nico.

SNOO \\ Sweet Laurel

SNOO \\ Sweet Laurel

SNOO \\ Sweet Laurel

While these tools work very well during the day, at night, the SNOO is our best friend. The SNOO is the world’s first smart sleep that boosts baby’s sleep by imitating the rhythmic sensations they feel in the womb. It is truly an amazing invention! The goal of the SNOO is to solve the number one complaint of new parents: lack of sleep. The SNOO works to soothe a fussy baby by using a good swaddle, rocking motion and white noise. It is engineered to increase rocking and noise as the baby’s cry increases. Our baby is not super fussy, but we quickly noticed the benefits of the SNOO with Nico. At night, after I’ve fed Nico, burped him and changed his diaper, I put him in the SNOO sack (the swaddle built into the SNOO). I turn it on and it starts to play white noise and rock. Nico loves the movement and it helps him go to sleep faster.  I want Nico to get all the sleep he can get because that is when infants do most of their growing. If Nico falls asleep, then wakes within the hour before he needs to feed again, he will naturally fuss a bit. If this happens, the SNOO reactivates and starts to rock him again and increases the white noise. The white noise, rocking and swaddle mimic the way he felt in the womb creates a calm and sleepy baby Nico.

The SNOO is also safe! It comes with a built-in swaddle that doesn’t allow the baby to turn from his back onto his stomach, a fear many parents have with a traditional swaddle. Because the SNOO is only used until the baby is 6 months old or can roll over, the swaddle is built for babies to sleep on their backs only. We use the SNOO as a co-sleeper, and it is stationed right next to our bed. While I’d love for Nico to sleep on my chest all night (I frequently let him nap here, never overnight, however), I prefer to have him sleep in a crib, like the SNOO, while I am sleeping. When he is in there, I can rest peacefully knowing he is swaddled up and in his own bed, whereas something could happen to him on my bed.

While I still do get up 3-4 times a night to feed him, my sleep is maximized because I do not spend much time soothing him before he gets to sleep or worrying whether he is comforted or not. I know the rocking, white noise and swaddle make him feel secure, so I am a happy camper, who can get back to sleep!  Thanks to the SNOO, I am not suffering from sleep deprivation. I usually arise rested, and if I need a nap during the day, Nico goes into the SNOO and I go on my bed while he naps! Check out this video all about SNOO, or read more on their site.

xoxo, Laurel

My Birth Story \\ Sweet Laurel

Some of you may know that becoming pregnant was a miracle for me. As a brief background for those who don’t know, I have struggled with an aggressive autoimmune condition for the last five years. I started Sweet Laurel in 2015 after changing my diet and lifestyle completely to accommodate my body’s healing process. Many of my symptoms subsided after making these changes, but the one that remained was secondary amenorrhea (lack of a menstrual period). After not having a period for four years, I suddenly became pregnant last May. My husband and I were overjoyed and viewed this as the final step in my body’s healing process. Our baby is a gift, and I’m excited to share my birth story with you all!

My Birth Story \\ Sweet Laurel

My Birth Story \\ Sweet Laurel

My Birth Story \\ Sweet Laurel

My husband, Nick, and I had our baby boy on February 27. We are overjoyed to be parents and are deeply in love with our baby Nico.

Nico Lawrence Gallucci was born at 3:39 PM on 2\27\17 at Cedar-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Both my dad and sister work there, and I’ve always wanted to have my babies in close proximity to them, which is one of the reasons why we chose this hospital. Nick and I were also both born there!

My Birth Story \\ Sweet Laurel

The story begins around 9 p.m. on February 26th. Nick and I had just come home from a nice long walk (4 miles!) and I sat down to do some emails. In the back of my head, I knew labor would begin any day now and I had some last minute business items for Sweet Laurel that I wanted to tie up. I was bouncing on my yoga ball and typing when I felt a little pop in my belly. I stood up I felt some water come out of my underside. Could it be my water breaking, I thought? I went to the bathroom and saw some clear fluid come out, and thought for sure it was amniotic fluid. I was glad that it was clear because we learned in my birthing class if the fluid was colored it could mean there was a risk of an infection inside the amniotic sac. I still wasn’t 100% sure it was my water that had broken, so I went and changed my pants and got back on my computer. I mentioned this all to my husband and he got really excited. After about 5 minutes, I felt more liquid come out as I stood up. I realized I needed to change my pants again, and I was confident it was my water that had broken.

My contractions started shortly after this, and from the beginning, they were very intense. For me, each contraction started in my low back. It felt like someone was jamming a shotput into my spine. At the same time, I got a nauseous feeling then and a sharp pain moved from the top of my belly down. They lasted about minute and were 3-4 minutes apart my entire labor.

I went to my bedroom to deal with the contractions while my husband packed everything up. I happened to prepare a bunch of food to take to the hospital earlier that day (including lactation cookies, recipe coming soon!) because I knew the hospital would not have very many gluten, grain, dairy and refined sugar-free options. We called my doctor and told him that my water broke and the contractions were really close together. He suggested we wait an hour or two before coming in, and I tried to, but my contractions got really intense really fast so we decided to head to the hospital about an hour after the phone call. Because my contractions were so close together for about two hours at this point, I really thought the baby could come soon and I definitely wanted to be at the hospital for the birth.

We arrived at the hospital around 2 a.m. and got admitted. I met my labor and delivery nurse, who was a godsend. She helped me deal with the contractions, massaged my back, and helped me get in comfortable positions. We told her that I wanted to have a natural birth as much as possible, and she accommodated our request in every way. However, my contractions were so intense that I could not talk or walk during them. The only position that felt somewhat good was being bent over the bed. The contractions were very difficult to deal with, but I was grateful to have this nurse and my husband with me to help me through each one.

I labored all night, and my doctor came to see me at 6 a.m. the following morning. He told me he thought the baby would be born by noon that day. I was dilated to 6 centimeters and had 4 more to go. Although I was very happy to hear this, I was also slightly defeated because I could not fathom dealing with the painful contractions until noon. Every contraction rocked me, which left me feeling exhausted after being up all night.

I decided to get an epidural at this point. It was a real struggle for me to make this decision, but it literally changed my life. The concept of not feeling contractions but dilating at the same time was so incredible. I had been fearful that an epidural would slow down my labor, but it didn’t! By 10 a.m., I was fully dilated and rested (thanks to the epidural), ready to push the baby out! My husband, who had been up all night with me, was able to fall asleep for about three hours. He really needed this rest because he was going to be very helpful during the pushing phase of my labor. At this point, the doctor took me off the epidural so I could feel my legs during the pushing. Around noon, we started pushing.

I did not expect pushing to be so intense. It was very physical and was literally a workout! To push, you have to do a special breathing technique, followed by the actual pushing, which includes a crunch type of sit up. Since I hadn’t been necessarily working out my abs while pregnant, this was difficult. Also, the painful contractions were now back full throttle because I was off the epidural for some time. My husband coached me through each push and did such a great job.

I pushed until 3 p.m. For me, this was a long time and was super exhausting. I was frustrated because we could see the baby’s head via a mirror, and it hadn’t really moved since we began pushing. He was about three inches from the vaginal opening the entire time we were pushing. The doctor came in and I literally asked him if he could just grab the baby and take him out. He told that was pretty much what he was going to do, and I got really excited because we would finally meet our baby!

All of a sudden, there were about 15 people in the room. This was different because up until this point, it was just Nick, myself, and our nurse. Our doctor was occasionally in there too. Each of these people had a job to do once the baby was born, and I am grateful for each of them!

The doctor hooked up our baby’s head to a vacuum, and while I was contracting, he had me push while he pulled on the vacuum device. After about 10 pushes, our son was born! Yes, it was a very painful moment, but it was so incredible to finally have my baby. Within two seconds, Nico was on my chest. He did so well and received an Apgar score of 9!

My Birth Story \\ Sweet Laurel

My Birth Story \\ Sweet Laurel

We are so grateful for this precious baby. He has a very sweet disposition and is so incredibly cute. Basically, he looks and acts a lot like my husband Nick, his namesake. His middle name is Lawrence, after my dad, who also has a sweet and gentle disposition. I am loving life with this precious gift, and so grateful my body has healed enough to grant me the gift of motherhood.

xo Laurel

All of these beautiful photos are shot and edited by the amazing Elsie Dardon.

My Favorite Maternity Dresses \\ Sweet Laurel

I’m a dress kind of girl, so I needed to find my go-to swaps when I got pregnant. I discovered some amazing brands in the process with each embodying a completely different style.

My Favorite Maternity Dresses \\ Sweet Laurel
My Favorite Maternity Dresses \\ Sweet Laurel
My Favorite Maternity Dresses \\ Sweet Laurel
My Favorite Maternity Dresses \\ Sweet Laurel
My Favorite Maternity Dresses \\ Sweet Laurel
My Favorite Maternity Dresses \\ Sweet Laurel
My Favorite Maternity Dresses \\ Sweet Laurel

Style #1 The Baby Shower Dress

This whimsical dress is called ‘I Believe In Unicorns’ by Fillyboom Maternity. This dreamy gown has a vintage yet romantic feel, and I loved how I could get my fix wearing this particular style genre while pregnant. The details on this dress are my favorite. The back has a beautiful tassel tie, and embroidery covering the whole dress!

Style #2 The Boss Lady Dress

This dress was the standard for meetings and all of the other times when I needed to look presentable and put together. It is by Seraphine Maternity, which is a London-based brand that outfits fabulous ladies like Princess Kate. I know this sounds cliché, but when I found out I was having a boy, I really wanted to get a blue dress. If you saw my wardrobe before receiving this dress, everything was literally gray, black, or white. This added touch of color to my wardrobe would make me smile about my soon-to-be son whenever I saw it. This dress got lots of wear, and I loved the long sleeves especially through this cold winter! I frequently paired this dress with black tights and booties.

Style #3 The Long Black Staple

My ‘Go-to.’ This is what comes to mind when I think of this dress because this was my standard everyday dress. Everyone knows the feeling when you have to leave the house, and you don’t even want to think about what you’re putting on. This is the dress I grab on days like this. I dressed it up and dressed it down, multiple times. Best of all, this dress is comfortable and it comes in multiple colors and lengths.

These beautiful photos are shot and edited by Elsie Dardon.

My Simple Morning Sickness Remedy \\ Sweet Laurel

All the mamas out there know about morning sickness. While it is typically linked to early pregnancy, it can occur during the entire pregnancy for some women. Last summer, when I was blissfully enjoying my first few weeks of motherhood, nausea struck me from behind. I could not believe how much it affected my everyday activities. It was very hard for me to cook or bake, and my days in the Sweet Laurel kitchen were certainly difficult. I remember asking my husband to find me a face mask to wear in the kitchen and help with all the smells that were seemingly causing nausea.

Eventually, I found one concoction to ease my symptoms: lemon + water. Because of lemon’s ability to balance your body’s ph level and neutralize stomach acid, it becomes a calming remedy for nausea’s unrelenting toll during pregnancy. In the morning, I enjoyed it hot but, iced in the afternoon. I’m sure you will find what suits you best. You can also switch it up and use orange or grapefruit for different flavors. Lastly, be sure to drink your lemon water with a straw to protect your teeth! This is a trick I learned from the dentists in my family. Wishing all you mamas a beautiful pregnancy!

My Simple Morning Sickness Remedy \\ Sweet Laurel
My Simple Morning Sickness Remedy \\ Sweet Laurel
My Simple Morning Sickness Remedy \\ Sweet Laurel

 

My Simple Morning Sickness Remedy


 

Ingredients: 

1 lemon, sliced

16 ounces of water, hot or cold

Optional add-ins:

mint leaves

rosemary

orange slices

grapefruit slices


 

Place the hot or cold water in a glass and squeeze the lemon through a strainer. Garnish with optional add-ins if desired. Enjoy!