Madison Dickson | Oahu Lifestyle Blog

Postpartum Life: First 2 Weeks with Our Baby Girl

MotherhoodMadison Dickson

Aside from birth, I was absolutely terrified of postpartum life. I was horrified at the thought of postpartum depression, no sleep, and had a little anxiety about being responsible for a tiny human’s whole life. These things are all normal as far as life with a newborn goes and I am lucky that I escaped most of that. I credit having an awesome baby and even more awesome husband.
PS- This post is going to be filled with little tips and tricks that I have picked up on in my first two weeks with a newborn as a first time mama. This post also contains affiliate links you can purchase from directly. I may make a small commission but there is no extra cost to you and I thank you for your support.

Let’s start at the hospital:
I read about the glorious mesh undies that are provided at the hospital and sure they were okay but nothing felt better than slipping into my own underwear. I brought these in my hospital bag and used the provided pads for the rest of my stay. I changed about an hour or so after delivery and it made a HUGE difference in how comfortable I was. To me, the mesh undies were just too big on me and I didn’t feel like my pad was secure enough. I did try some of these Always Discreet disposable underwear(aka adult diapers) but still felt way more comfortable in my soft underwear with a pad.
One of our amazing nurses gave me a can of Dermoplast spray and it was such a relief. I had the red can at home but it stings a little near my stitches and the blue can does not. Go with the blue can just in case.

After we got home…
I took home the reminder of my hospital pads and used those until they were gone. Since then, I have been using these L. brand pads. I use L brand tampons during my regular period because they are free from added fragrances, dyes, deodorants, or pesticides, a good choice for postpartum. I also like that they are thin so it doesn’t feel all bulky down there. Despite being so thin, they are surprisingly absorbent and have been perfect during the postpartum recovery period.
I also ordered one of these “mom washers” to use in place of the peri bottle I received at the hospital. The peri bottle was great at the hospital but I prefer my mom washer because you can angle it upside down for easier use rather than only being able to spray in one direction.
One thing that is important during this recovery time(other than resting and taking care of my babe of course) is staying cozy, I have been living in my maternity leggings and the comfiest joggers ever. I also highly recommend some nursing bras and nursing tanks(I love this style and this two pack). Stock up on both of these before your babe comes.
Exclusive breastfeeding was always my plan for Kailani and she and I took to it like old pros. I love the bond we get to have during this time but it has been tough on a gal’s nipples. I was using lanolin to soothe my sore nipples but I switched to this one from The Honest Co. and it has been so much better. The price is a little steeper but it is so worth it. I also recommend a Boppy pillow and a couple of covers if you have weak arms like me and need a little extra support.
I also experienced some engorgement and a clogged duct in our first days home and one way I was relieving those was with hot and cool therapy. I have been using these gel pads that from Lansinoh that can do both hot and cold.
Also with breastfeeding, I am lucky and produce a lot of milk but with that I find myself leaking throughout the day and night. For nights, I like these reusable pads from Bamboobies and during the day I use these disposable ones from Lansinoh.
I also have seen many IG rants and memes about cold coffee and I #cantrelate. Using this trusty Yeti, I keep my coffee hot all day long. Trust me, I welcomed coffee back into my life with open arms(don’t worry it’s only one cup) and was not about to ruin that by drinking it cold. Bleh.

For Kailani:
I started to go a little stir crazy the first week and then we had visitors from out of town. Of course I was ready to be mobile again and start walking a little at a time so I needed to shield my baby girl from the world since she can’t get her shots yet. I love my Tula Free to Grow carrier and our Baby K’tan carrier. I definitely favor the Tula more because of the support factor but the Baby K’tan keep K nice and snuggly close.
We have taken our stroller out as well which is part of a travel system(we are loving it btw). It is super affordable for what it is and we love the convenience factors. When we take K out in her stroller, we are covering her with this 5 in 1 cover. I also have used it as a nursing cover; the multifunctional products are a game changer.

I hope this post can help some of you soon to be mamas get what you need before your babe comes. I am loving motherhood and can tell you there is absolutely nothing better on this Earth.

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Baby K's Birth Story

MotherhoodMadison Dickson

Okay I want to start off by saying that I am not an expert on anything birth related, I’m the complete opposite actually. But, I’m stoked to finally share this post with you after it being requested so much since our girl’s arrival. I also want to thank everyone for their kind words. We are so loved and so blessed. This is gonna be a long post so grab your coffee and a snack or two.
PS- there’s gonna be a few little tips and such embedded in this post for you mamas to be😘 

After trying literally every method possible to get baby out, I finally accepted that baby girl was coming when she felt like it. When I say everything, I mean everything. I tried red raspberry leaf tea, bouncing on my birth ball, long walks, spicy food, sex, pineapple juice, etc. You name it, I tried it. Nothing was working for me so I was just gonna live my life until baby came out. I went ahead with my scheduled lash appointment(fun fact: Nikki, my amazing lash lady, has said that there have been multiple preggos that get their lashes done and then go into labor shortly after) and then went home and lounged. 

I started timing my contractions that night around 8:55 pm while rocking in my glider and after an hour I decided to lay in bed to see if they would subside. I had Braxton Hicks contractions on and off for the past few weeks so I wasn’t getting excited yet. I laid down and they continued so I decided to look for the number and call the birth center to see if we should come in. As I was opening Google, I heard a faint pop but thought my back popped(lol). A few seconds later I was laying in a small puddle- my water had broke(all over our clean sheets and freshly made bed lmao)! I waddled into the bathroom to prevent making a bigger mess(don’t know why I was concerned with a messy house in that moment) and then Jesse started grabbing bags and loading the car. 

I would like to note that my daughter is awesome for letting mama have her lashes done before coming out. 

The whole drive and check in to the birth center is a bit of a blur. I just remember a nurse trying to take my weight and as soon as I stepped off the scale my water was continuing to flow all over the floor and I really wanted to sit down. We got into our room and filled out a bit of paperwork before getting settled into bed and being told we should try and get some sleep. I don’t know about you guys, but trying to sleep when you’re beyond excited for something seems impossible- think “little kid waiting for Santa to come” excited. I tried to sleep for a while but then came contractions. I tried to breathe through them as planned but they just became too much and I was ready for some drugs. I didn’t want an epidural, for some reason I had some negative stigma towards getting one so I was looking for alternative ways to get relief. I received a dose of fentanyl through my IV and man did that feel good. I fell right asleep for the hour that it was effective. I was ready for dose 2 of 3 at that point but sadly dose 2 was no match for my contractions and I was ready for an epidural. I gave in and I have no regrets because I immediately felt relief. I slept for quite a while but I was already 8cm dilated when I got the epidural so things were moving along. 

Mamas- get the epidural. Labor is so tough on the body, do everything to make yourself comfortable. Don’t be stubborn, you do not have to suffer.
Also I want to let y’all know I did not and am still not suffering from any back pain from said epidural.

Push time came the next afternoon and I felt ready…boy did I have absolutely no idea what I was in for. The epidural caused me to be numb from the waist down, all I felt the whole time was pressure. This did cause me to struggle with lifting my legs up to push. I honestly think that was the worst part of the whole process lol. I wanted to move my legs but they did not want to cooperate.
Baby girl did not want to crown and after a strenuous 4+ hours of pushing and my labor beginning to stall, we decided I needed some help getting her out. I did not want a C-section because I had already progressed so well on my own so my doctor offered the help of a vacuum. I was hesitant but knew I needed my baby girl out so we went ahead and used it. This caused Kailani to have a little torn/scratched skin on her poor head but it healed fast. Babies heal remarkably fast you guys.

The vacuum was ready and I had multiple nurses yelling at me with each push(yes, you still have to push your babe out, the vacuum doesn’t just suck them out like you might think). Not the dreamy, relaxed birth I’d imagined but I am grateful that Jesse was there with a calm head to keep me sane. A few pushes(less than 5) and our girl was placed on my stomach. I felt so much relief and joy in that moment accompanied by shock of course.
As far as pain goes, I was in minimal pain. I felt a lot of intense pressure when her head and shoulders came out but that was the worst part and short lived(thanks, epidural).

Our girl was perfect and those first days in the hospital were nice and all but we were ready to go home by day 2. Well, the doctors had other plans. Kailani had a touch of jaundice, something super common in newborns, and needed to be treated with some light therapy. It was agonizing. I knew she hated it. She cried for her mama and just wanted to nurse to be comforted. I literally tear up thinking about how horrible it was to watch. We tried to leave her in the lights as long as possible in hopes of getting out of there soon but 6 hours later her levels were still high and she needed 6 more hours in the lights. Well this came at the same time as her cluster feeding(when babies eat super frequently. For us, it was about 15 minutes every 30-60 minutes). Jesse and I were not going to starve her so we fed her when she wanted to eat. Despite us being told to feed her on command by our (amazing) previous nurse, our night nurse did not agree with this.

This is where our night took a sharp turn.

She blamed the cluster feeding on anxiety from the lights and wanted us to just let our baby cry it out. For any mama, you know that is a horrible feeling seeing your little one cry for you and you having to leave them be. We tried but on the few times we pulled her out, she acted absolutely starved. I had a gut feeling(and major engorgement) that was telling me to feed my baby. That feeding her when she needed to be fed was the right thing to do. Again, our nurse disagreed and made Jesse and I feel horrible for trying to do the right thing for our babe. This was not flying well with this mama.
The nurse offered to move her to the nursery so K could lay in her belly, something other babies found comfort in when they had to be in the lights. At this point she only had about an hour and a half left so we figured why not. We asked if we could come with her and the nurse agreed so off we went. Well when we arrived to the nursery, another nurse(I’m assuming she was the one in charge) came over and told us we needed to leave Kailani there or take her back to our room because "it was pointless for us to all be there when we could have that in our room”. The difference? She can’t be on her tummy in our room because she needed to be monitored when laying in that position. The other nurse had told us it was okay which we brought up only to be met with the same argument. I was fuming at this point and beyond upset. I knew K needed this light therapy and she was screaming on her back in our room so I left the nursery and my babe, and speed walked back to our room bawling. Jesse followed and I screamed and cried about how I just didn’t trust the people who were supposed to care for our baby. This was my first round of mothers intuition. How could I trust them when they couldn’t even get their stories straight? How did I know with 100% certainty that my little girl was getting the absolute best care possible? I did not trust these 2 nurses and wanted my baby in my sight.

Well, apparently my screams were heard and the first nurse came in and told us we could go to the nursery and see Kailani. I have a feeling this was them caving because it’s bad for business to hear a new mom scream about how she doesn’t trust the nurses on that floor. I did not want to be dramatic but something in my gut told me that I needed to monitor them like a hawk.

I was right about this. TRUST YOUR GUT MAMAS. You are not overreacting and you deserve to be heard. Your little one cannot advocate for themself and they depend on us to be their voice.

This light therapy cycle brought her levels down enough for us to be discharged. Thank God.
Being home was the best blessing. Our tiny girl sleeps for 3 1/2 to 4 hours at night, eats, and then goes for another few hours. Jesse and I are blessed and I myself am living in postpartum bliss.

Speaking of postpartum…I didn't want to make this post longer than baby K’s birth story. If you’re ready to read about postpartum life head to my next post here.

What's In My Hospital Bag

MotherhoodMadison Dickson

The big day is coming and baby K will be here any time now! The bags are (finally) packed, the carseat is in, and I think we’re ready. Quite a few of you have been interested in what I packed in my hospital bag so I am super excited to share that with you all today. I am definitely a chronic over-packer so I’m sure any of my mama friends that read this are going to instantly roll their eyes but what can I say? I like to be prepared.

Happiness & Hydration with Waiakea

HawaiiMadison Dickson
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I am totally one of those weirdos that is a water snob. I know it’s “just water” but I swear to you not all water tastes the same. My sweet friends over at Waiakea(one of my all time favorites since forever) were kind enough to send me a case of their liquid gold. I have never been so excited over a partnership before you guys! I love Waiakea of course because their water is amazing but they are also a company I am proud to support.

Sustainable

They promote sustainable practices using 100% post-recycled bottle reducing carbon emissions by 90% and they are certified CarbonNeutral.

Ethical

For every liter of Waiakea purchased, they donate 1 week’s supply of clean water to communities in Africa. Waiakea also donates over 2% of revenue to local nonprofits on the Hawaiian Islands, fostering education and environmental stewardship.

Healthy

On top of those things, Waiakea water is Filtered through porous volcanic rock and is naturally alkaline with a pH of 7.6-8.2.

Find a store near you that carries Waiakea with their store locator here or if you’re like me and would rather have your goods show up to your front door, you can order online here. You can also have subscriptions delivered to your home if you want to be 100% sure you are never without your water. Check out their subscription plans here.

Our Maternity Photos

MotherhoodMadison Dickson

Ahh you guys! These were so much fun and I am so excited to be able to share them today! These beautiful photos were taken by Oahu photographer Storm Elaine Photography. She is also the boss babe behind my lifestyle headshots.

Check out Storm’s work on her website, she is on Instagram @stormelainephotography, and on Facebook!

Now for the part you’ve all been waiting for…

Thank you so much again to Storm Elaine Photography for capturing this amazing time of our lives so beautifully!

My Pregnancy and Maternity Essentials

MotherhoodMadison Dickson

We are in the final countdown y’all! Baby K is on her way in the next few weeks and I have started to reflect on my pregnancy and I realized there are quite a few products I (probably) could not have lived without. I have been asked about the essentials and now that I am at the end of pregnancy, I have finally sat down to write out this post. This is for all of my mamas to be! This is a unique time and I hope these essentials make the less exciting times a little easier!

PS- If you guys want to ignore all of my rambling and reasoning, you can simply click photos to shop and you’ll be directed to the product(s).

Maternity Clothing

Okay one of the first things with pregnancy was my boob growing(sorry if that’s TMI, get used to it for this post). I could hardly stand to put a shirt on let alone a bra so after some online research, I decided to purchase some maternity/nursing bras and man they saved my life. They are so soft and comfy and now I can use them for nursing too! Along with those, I needed a tank top to accommodate my growing belly. I am not a huge fan of the ruching on most maternity tops so I lucked out and found this layering tank at Target and I am obsessed! I have so many colors and they are the perfect fit. Next on the list was some leggings. I already live in leggings instead of pants but as things started to get tighter, I needed some maternity leggings. I bought these bad boys also from Target(can’t find on the Target website but I found them on Amazon) and I am secretly hoping they still fit post pregnancy- they’re that good. One staple in my closet is a good black maxi dress(this one has pockets!!). This is super convenient to have on those days when putting on pants and a top feels like too much(this happened a lot for me). The last things I needed that came towards the end of my second trimester was the need for some comfy undies. There was nothing making me more uncomfortable than a thong all up in my lady biz and I was fed up so I bought these boy short style undies and I literally felt like a new woman. I followed up with these fold over style panties that online reviews say will be great for PP too!

Pregnancy Skincare and Beauty

Of course, all of these crazy hormone changes made my skin go WILD. This was crazy stuff like I had never seen going from oily one week to dry the next. All of a sudden the face cleansers I had been using for years were causing some wild reactions, especially my make up remover wipes. I decided to try these Garnier Micellar makeup remover wipes and now I don’t think I can go back. They are gentle on the skin but they really get the job done. I also picked up this stretch mark cream as a preventative measure and to help stop the stretch marks I was getting in their tracks and I like to think it made a difference. I also needed to keep my skin moisturized(one because it was dry, and two because my spray tan aka the only thing that made me feel pretty some of the time was wearing off way too quick). I saw a recommendation from my spray tan gal Stefani on her IG story one time for this lotion and got myself some. 10/10 recommend, that’s all I can say. I also needed my trusty Shampure Dry Shampoo to get through those days where I wanted to make it look like I hadn't been lounging all day long as well as my favorite $7 concealer that I knew would have my back.

Other Essentials

The second thing I bought ever during my first trimester was this C-shaped pregnancy pillow. I had the worst back pain that was only getting worse with pregnancy and my OB recommended a pillow like this as a sleep aid. It definitely did the trick and I have been attached to it ever since. I also know the importance of hydration during pregnancy. My OB told me a gallon per day which seemed daunting at first. Having my Yeti rambler to keep ice water by my side all day long helped so much and I used the straw lid because I love drinking with a straw and find that I drink more with a straw than without. Comfortable shoes were also a must and my trusty Birks were a godsend. This style is fashionable yet comfortable(and great for travel). My most recent purchase during my last trimester is this giant ball. I got it to sit on when chairs aren’t comfortable and to help relieve some of my back pain with some stretches recommended by my physical therapist. My ball came in an awesome package with a pump, some squishy bottom socks, and a storage bag that will easily fit into my hospital bag when the time comes.

I hope you guys have enjoyed my mini reviews and notes on my pregnancy essentials. Best of luck to my mamas to be out there! XO

*this post contains affiliate links and I may receive a small profit from items purchased through my links. thank you for your support and you can read more about affiliate links on madisondickson.com here

Why We're Skipping Christmas This Year

MarriageMadison Dickson
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Christmas is easily my favorite holiday of them all. I love every thing from the lights to the traditions and times with family and watching everyone’s faces light up when they open gifts on Christmas morning. Point is: ya girl loves Christmas. I decorated right after Halloween, yes I am that person.

Naturally, it came as a shock to everyone we know when I said J and I were skipping Christmas this year. Well, not all of it, just the gifting portion. We will still go see the lights and the tree is up but we did not shop for each other and the skirt under the tree is still visible. This is for a few reasons but the main ones are we won’t be traveling to be with our families(being 35 weeks pregnant put a damper on our travel) and the second reason is it’s been a blessed year for us this year. There is not one thing Jesse and I need or really want for us or for baby K because our families have provided so much and we are trying to not have so much excess.

We decided to repurpose our Christmas budget this year to give back to a local family(this is a tradition for me as my mom’s job always adopts a bunch of local families to make their Christmas dreams possible and it is my first year missing the festivities). I was super bummed that I was missing out on one of my favorite traditions so I decided to bring my traditions here since I couldn’t go home. I found a local non-profit and gathered some information about a local family in need.

We were blessed to be able to provide for a mom with two girls, a 16 year old and a 6 year old; the perfect family for us. They asked for very simple items and not a whole lot so our shopping was easy and we both had so much fun picking out items we normally wouldn’t get to shop for!

I know it’s not in everyone’s budget but this season is so hard for so many, it really doesn’t take much to give back. Happy Holiday’s from the Dickson Ohana!

Hawaii for the Holidays

HawaiiMadison Dickson
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Sure, the 70 degree weather doesn’t feel much like Christmas time we are used to but trading white snow for white sand is hardly something I can complain about. Jesse and I were able to explore during a long weekend and found some amazing things to do and created a bucket list of things to still do(or maybe save for next year…we are both way too busy).

Holiday Fun on Oahu

If you are anywhere near Waikiki that is one of the best spots to be. All of the hotels have gorgeous displays all over the place and the shops on the strip are no different(I really loved what the Royal Hawaiian Center had going on). If you happen to be there on Friday, be sure to catch the fireworks that start around 7:45! They can be seen from all over and they are put on by the Hilton Hawaiian Village who also has a gorgeous display! If walking really isn’t your speed, jump on a tour with the Waikiki Trolley to see all of the beautiful lights and displays in Honolulu. If you are more into the shopping scene, each of the malls on the island has some sort of display up. My personal favorite is in the uptown portion of the Pearlridge Mall. There are lots of cute activities for the kiddos too!

Pro tip: It gets down to a brisk 70ish degrees at night here so grab your cocoa and a malasada from Leonard’s on your way into town! Yes, 70’s is cold for us here…

My Favorite Food Stops on Oahu

HawaiiMadison Dickson

Okay duh I have to share my favorite food spots because you all know ya girl loves to eat!
My first favorite is Cinnamon’s in Kailua. I recommend the guava chiffon pancakes and a side of Portuguese sausage. Another amazing breakfast spot in Kailua is Crepes No Ka ‘Oi. Both the sweet and savory options are unbelievably good(my favorite is the “We’re Jammin’” with guava jelly and added bananas). Be sure to grab a pineapple or mango mimosa with your breakfast! Next up is HI-BBQ, a food truck situated near the Kahuku sugar mill. After my time in Virginia I became slightly addicted to barbecue, specifically brisket. I thought it would be impossible to find such a delicacy here and I DID. I love the brisket plate with a sweet tea. So worth the drive especially if you’re like me and know that barbecue is a craving that cannot be denied. While you’re at HI-BBQ, head to the lower lot and visit Lani’s Yummy Yum for a fully loaded funnel cake. Not a funnel cake fan?(Okay first of all I’m offended), head back into town for a yummy malasada from Leonard’s. You’ll want a full dozen, just trust me. These are great for breakfast with coffee or just as a mid-day sugar fix. I love the Haupia(coconut) and custard! Lastly, one of the first stops Jesse and I made(thanks to his careful research on Pinterest- you go babe) was Hula Dog in Waikiki. If you eye rolled at the thought of driving into Waikiki, I know we just became best friends but this place is so worth it! I am not a hot dog lovin’ gal but OMFG this place has easily become a date night favorite. We also like to finish our days with a shave ice from Island Snow. We visit the Kailua location but I believe there are multiple locations island-wide. Try out our favorite: Large size shave ice with ice cream in the bottom, topped with “sex wax” and “tiger’s blood”, with a snowcap. You will not be sorry that you did.

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The Best Beaches on Oahu

HawaiiMadison Dickson

Beaches

Of course, living on an island I am an avid beach goer. I do not do any type of water sports(unless you count floating with an iced tea in my hand) and love the beaches where I can just relax. The first of my favorites is down the road from my house and is known as Secret Beach. This can only be accessed by those with access to Marine Corps. Base Hawaii but man the views at this place are unbeatable! It is perfect for families with calm, clear waters and I have seen turtles there on multiple occasions! The next of my favorites is Kailua Beach and neighboring Lanikai Beach. These places are somewhat famous and have breathtaking views with beautiful waters.*
*It is best to avoid after a rainy day as the water gets a little gross but other than that I love to grab a shave ice and hit one of these beaches for some relaxation.
The last of my favorites is not really a beach at all. I love the drive from Windward Oahu to the North Shore because of all of the little beaches along the way. I love stopping at the many swings along the way and it is super easy to find an empty beach along the road.

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Deployment Diaries: We Made It

MarriageMadison Dickson

As I write this post, I am in bed spending my last night alone for a while and I could not be happier. By the time you guys see this, Jesse will be home already and I will be living on cloud 9. These past 6 months have been some of the most trying of my life. I never imagined I would experience pregnancy alone during a deployment but those are the cards we were dealt so we made the best of it.

I have learned a lot about marriage and about myself during this time and I will be sharing my favorite discoveries with you guys today.

One of the first things I had to learn was how to be alone again. I have always been a pretty independent person but living with your best friend for years and then all of a sudden they leave feels like a shock to the system. After some adjustment, I learned that it’s okay to be alone and to even enjoy it a little bit. I have taken a lot of self care days and just “me” days to enjoy life, something I never really thought to do because of the routine Jesse and I have. Not that having our “us” routine is bad but it was nice to just do things for myself once in a while. I also came to enjoy meal times as I was able to eat whatever I wanted(anyone else have a picky spouse?).

The next thing I discovered was a sense of gratitude for mine and Jesse’s time in a long distance relationship. When we lived literally across the country from each other before we were married. This gave us an advantage because we totally had this LDR thing under control from our previous experience. I used to despise living so far from the man I love; little did I know it was preparing me for this moment right here. And I think we killed it.

I learned a lot about strength and there are two sides to that.
First, there were a lot of really unglamorous days spent sobbing in bed over a Domino’s pizza box and a pint of my favorite ice cream. It’s easy to talk online about how I am handling things so well to make it seem like I have this under control. The last thing I need is people worrying about me. But I admit there were a couple of times those captions purveying someone toughing it out were written with tears running down my face as I cried into my takeout. It’s hard to have the person you love suddenly ripped away for half of the year, no matter what preparations you (attempt to) make. I learned that it’s okay and even necessary to acknowledge these feelings and let it out. I don’t have to always put on a front be it for my husband, friends, family, or Instagram.
On the other side of that, I learned that I am a lot stronger than I thought I was. There were times such as those mentioned above that I really did not think I could keep going. I was going to break and loose it but then somehow I woke up the next morning; life kept going and I kept going with it. Every time I felt too weak to keep it up and wanted to just hide in my bed until this dang thing was over, I got up, I washed my face, and I kept going. Life can throw a lot at a person and by some miracle we manage to keep moving on.

I learned a lot about life’s little victories. As stated above, there were some days that were quite unglamorous to say the least but what I took from those was celebrating my little wins. There were days where I gave myself a high five for brushing my hair and getting out of my lounge clothes. If I managed to get myself into the kitchen to prepare a decent meal that was a win in my book too. This is something I have continued even on my good days. Humans are truly amazing creatures despite the amount of hurt our lives. Celebrating the little things makes life so much more enjoyable and with that…

Lastly, I learned about comparison. It was so hard for me to admit that I was having a hard time at first. I know so many people who were worse off such as those with kids to think about or those who have spouses on much longer deployments. I felt ridiculous crying during my month two when I know there were people out there killing it through their month eight. But the thing is, those people aren’t me and I am not them. We don’t feel the same things or experience the same lives. Once I let the comparison guilt go, it was so much easier for me to be comforted and keep going to make it through my struggles.

To all of my friends out there with spouses who are away: Keep going. You’ve got this. The end will come a lot faster than you think. Life moves pretty fast and I am happy to look back and say we made it. Deployment number one has been crushed.

Now I am off to finish cleaning and preparing for my man to get home(although like I said, by the time this is published he’ll be here already and I am sure my once clean house is now covered in his gear but I wouldn't have it any other way).

Third Trimester PinkBlush Mini Haul

Beauty & StyleMadison Dickson

I found out about PinkBlush on Instagram a few months ago and was eager to place an order! They accepted me into their influencer program and sent me two super cute pieces that I have been obsessing over since. I love the comfy and cute styles and that most pieces are bump-friendly but still wearable after baby(or when you’re not pregnant for my non-mama friends). I made a recent order(they had a major sale okay, don’t judge me) so I am stoked to share a few outfits I’ve styled and a small try-on haul for the things I haven’t styled yet. I hope you guys enjoy! Be sure to check out PinkBlush’s website. They always have tons of deals and so many cute styles!

To shop one of these looks, simply click on the photo and you will be directed to the site where you can make your purchase.

For reference: I am wearing a Small in each style so everything fits TTS.

Cyber Monday Sales I'm Stoked About(and You Should Be Too!)

Beauty & StyleMadison Dickson

Ahh one of my favorite traditions of the season: shopping from my cozy bed with hot cocoa in hand. I love a good Black Friday sale but Cyber Monday is really my jam. Alright let’s get right to the point so y’all can go shopping…

Old Navy - 50% Off Sitewide(no code needed)

American Eagle - 40% Off + Free Shipping(no code needed)

Pink Blush - Up To 60% Off Sitewide + Free US Shipping(code: CYBERMONDAY)

Maternity:

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Mom Hacks: A Mani You Can Do in 30 Minutes(or less!)

Beauty & StyleMadison Dickson

Okay you guys. I am hacking my way through pregnancy which has been a blessing because let’s face it, I’m a busy gal. Two things I never compromise on as far as my beauty upkeep goes is lashes and nails. I get my lash extensions done regularly and usually am rocking a gel mani. However, I began to run into this issue during my second trimester where every time I set foot in a salon, I was getting extremely nauseous and terrible headaches. I am not sure of the cause still but I knew I was dreading my trip to the salon every couple of weeks. As I got into my third trimester I had enough and had to find a new solution. I am terrible at doing my own nails and did not know anyone who could do them in my home so I did a little research and discovered Color Street.

There is a local page for small businesses and I found a girl who sold it and had stock on hand. She showed me the application process and I picked up an adorable set of new nails. I am beyond obsessed with the color(perfect for Thanksgiving which is why I needed my nails fixed in the first place) and the application was SO EASY. I applied it in under 30 minutes(I definitely could have done it faster but 1. I had to soak off my gel and 2. I was binging Netflix so of course I was distracted). I love this solution and know I will easily be able to manage my nails myself say, while K is napping.

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I was worried about the durability because your girl is tough on her poor nails but so far so good! I carried on with my days as usual with no lifting, peeling, flaking, etc. and I am beyond happy with my results. This is the perfect solution for someone who might not be able to make it to the salon regularly but still needs their nails looking good or frankly just does not want to pay a ridiculous amount of money for sub-par work. My mani was done quickly and for just under $13, how could you not love that!?

Check out Vanessa’s Color Street page on Facebook! If you’re local, shop her on hand supply(she has some cute ones!) or use her website to have your mani shipped directly to your door!

Deployment Diaries: It's Okay to Ask for Help

MarriageMadison Dickson

Jeez is this thing ever going to end!? I feel like I have been asking myself that a lot the past couple of months as I (not so) patiently await my husband’s return.

As most of you know from my Instagram photos and last deployment update, I have been in a terrible slump the last half of this deployment. I have not felt like myself and everything I have tried to do to solve the problem has been with little or no success. I took it upon myself to take a vacation home to Oregon last month for a few weeks to be with my family and try and escape the feelings I was having here. It worked for the most part I think. I never realized how lonely it was here until I was surrounded by family and friends and felt alive again. I have tried to remain positive for my pregnancy and mental health but I learned from that that it’s okay to need and ask for help during difficult times.

Real fall leaves and inspiration from a coffee cup

Real fall leaves and inspiration from a coffee cup

I think I thrived during the first half of deployment because my schedule had me busy from sun up to sun down, something a person who is 7+ months pregnant can’t really do. I had to slow down and when I did, I felt alone and emotionally drained.

I have never really experienced any type of mental health issues before so I did not know the signs to look for and really did not understand what was going so wrong. I felt like my work, something I am so beyond passionate about, was a drag. Every project was sub-par and I know my work is better than that, so why couldn’t I produce like I knew I could? Why could I not sleep at night because my mind was racing about all of the things going wrong in my life? Why did I put myself on a rock in the middle of the ocean where I have no family and a deployed husband? Why was my health becoming such an issue during pregnancy despite all of the steps I had taken to make this pregnancy as perfect as possible?

All of these things added up and got the best of me.
I said in my last post that I would defeat the slump and I did but what I didn’t realize is that things had to get worse before they got better.
That was a hard pill to swallow.

I feel refreshed from my trip home. I think the crisp Central Oregon air and being surrounded by so much love was healing for my soul. Maia the bulldog was also very healing during this time. Despite us having to leave her behind due to her health problems as a bulldog not mixing well with Hawaii, she still loves her mama. We shared some awesome morning snuggles and she acted just as excited to see me every time I walked in the door. She knew I needed her and she was there to comfort me.

Here is Maia cuddling my bump and watching her daytime TV soaps.

Here is Maia cuddling my bump and watching her daytime TV soaps.

I feel more ready than ever to get back to the career I have been working so hard to create for myself. I am better, but it didn’t happen overnight and that is okay. It is okay that I couldn’t handle everything alone and I needed to ask for help. I wish I would’ve acknowledged that and asked for help sooner.

My Favorite Places to Work in Windward Oahu

HawaiiMadison Dickson

Being a business owner who works from home definitely has it’s perks(hello pajama Friday) but I find it necessary to escape the house/home office once in a while to get some work done. I love working in a cute cafe or coffee shop so I am stoked to share a few of those hangouts(and what I usually get when I’m there) with y’all today. The best part about most of these places is the ability to sit and work outside. Especially during our early rainy season(fall for you mainlanders), there is nothing more relaxing than a good drink and nice Hawaiian breeze.

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ChadLou’s -


45 Kihapai St Kailua

I love ChadLou’s for many reasons and credit their shop for a lot of successful projects. I have spent hours inside of this adorable coffee shop working my life away and enjoying great drinks and snacks.
Be sure you try the: Pineapple Vanilla Tea Latte(good hot and iced) and the banana bread!

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Morning Brew -
600 Kailua Rd. Kailua

Morning Brew was one of my first coffee shop discoveries when I moved here. I was looking for coffee shop recommendations on Facebook and MB was highly recommended. It has now become a regular spot for work and client meetings(there is something for everyone!)
Be sure you try the: Blended Raspberry Mocha or any of their house coffees.

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Egghead Cafe-
25 Maluniu Ave. Kailua

I started off meeting some dear clients of mine at Egghead and have fallen in love with this cute little spot. Egghead is a cozy spot perfect for drinks or lunch alone or with clients. The indoor and outdoor spaces make perfect meeting locations.
Be sure you try the: Avo-Corn toast and an iced peach tea! If you are more of a coffee drinker, I love their espresso so any espresso based drink will be amazing too!

Deployment Diaries: I'm in a Slump

MarriageMadison Dickson

UGH. Okay I went a little MIA from Instagram last week because my momma and auntie were here and I was living my best life. I played #TourGuideMadison and it was so much fun(and inspired a post coming soon). Anyways, I dropped my mom off last week and then fell into a slump immediately after. I called and woke up Jesse(sorry babe) and bawled about how it was “the worst day ever” a phrase a used a lot that day. I went home, cried some more, ate some chips, and took a nap. I had all these hopes of the laundry I would do, the floors I would sweep, the car I might wash, and at the end of the day I did approximately none of that. I managed to pull it together to write a sub-par essay due that night(procrastination nation y’all) and then surprised myself by making dinner(I thought it would be a pizza night). I took those little wins but wish I would’ve done more. I felt pretty useless on the verge of tears all day and then having a handful of breakdowns.

So, how am I pulling myself out of the slump? No one else can pull me out of the slump, I have to do this on my own. I have to pull up my big girl pants and get shit done. I meticulously schedule my days to be the most efficient they could possibly be. I fill my days up so full that I do not have time for my own BS.

Next, I let myself cry…sometimes. I know it is not a good thing to push down my emotions so sometimes I just have to let it out and that’s okay. But after, I wash my face, drink some water, and get on with my day. I can’t dwell on what I can’t control so I choose to thrive on what I can.

Last, I celebrate my little victories. Even if it is as simple as making my bed and responding to a handful of emails, I did it and that is okay for the day. I don’t settle for these “okay” days often because I know I can do better and be better but sometimes the days to be better and do better are the tomorrows of life. Let yourself be “off” for a day and celebrate what you CAN do.

I am going to pull myself out of this slump. I am feeling inspired after my stay-cation and stoked about the projects I have coming. I can do this. This slump can suck it.

Mads

Our Journey to Parenthood

MotherhoodMadison Dickson

Back when I was solely a blogger, I wrote a post about how the birth control Nexplanon took control of my body for 3 long years. I knew the effects as soon as I had the implant removed. I was suffering in a way I had never known before. The first year I felt every emotion possible in wave(hello crying about everything), severe mood swings, and mini(or maybe not so mini) explosions in my mood. The two years that followed I felt nothing at all. Not even TV shows or Facebook videos that would normally send me into an hour-long cry fest had no effect on me. I just felt nothing. Newsflash for all my babes reading this: THAT IS NOT NORMAL.

Upon removal, I believed I could take control of my body back. Slowly but surely my emotions crept back in and I felt a wave of relief come over me about the things to come. Before I decided to have my birth control removed, Jesse and I had "the talk". We decided that our future was in some larger power's hands and that if we were meant to have children at this time, we would. So, we started trying in July 2017. Two young, married people trying to start their family sounds a lot easier than it actually is. We tried for months without anything happening for us. Maybe this wasn't our time but I couldn't help but wonder if this toxic birth control I had put in my body had ruined me and our chance at having a family. I read the horror stories in an attempt at doing research and let's just say it did not make our odds feel any better. We persisted and decided after our move if we hadn't conceived we would talk to a medical professional. 

Our plan had always been to start our family after we got married; it was something we dreamed about and talked about often. I knew we would be judged and people would call us crazy, but what else do y'all think people do after they get married? So, we tried and month after month,  negative test after negative test. We were in the process of figuring out where we started with help as we rolled up on the one-year of trying mark. It is required by most medical professionals that we try for a year before beginning tests to figure out if there is a problem at hand. All around me it felt like my friends and even strangers were pregnant and having babies and it was sad for me. I felt like I had gone wrong somewhere in my life and I would never have a babe of my own. Looking back, I know that sounds dramatic but I felt like if it didn't happen then it never would. 

Jesse was getting ready to deploy and we were figuring out who to make an appointment with so we could at least have some clarity before he left when in late May I had a crazy feeling in my body with some symptoms I had never experienced. I was at the farmers market with a friend who told me I should take a test. But here's the thing about pregnancy tests and me, after so many desired "yes" readings being a "no", I felt a lot of anxiety around them. Peeing on a stick should not be so excited but every time I thought it might be the time it says "yes" I was met with one line and a ruined day. But something this time felt different or at least I was telling myself that(again) on my way to Target.

I was in the bathroom before Jesse had even woken up(not a morning person) and took my test. I was trying to not get excited and watched with shaking hands as two lines appeared. HOLY **** **** ***** ****(yes I cuss a little but the words I said and thought in this exact moment do not need to be on the internet). I went into shock, panic. Was this real this time? What do I do? Oh shit I should probably tell Jesse. I definitely wanted to do something cute but after our tough almost year trying I couldn't contain myself. What can I say, I am not good at keeping things from my husband. I took the test and threw open the bathroom door and jumped in the bed and told Jesse the news. He was shocked(definitely a Kodak moment but alas no camera in sight). We laid there and cried a little and both felt nerves and excitement and so many things. Both in shock, I took another test and ended up with 2 more yeses. This was happening for real this time. Of course, there was a creeping panic that this might not last but I knew I had to do everything in my power to nurture and grow this little love to the best of my ability. 

Now here we are, over halfway through pregnancy with our little princess growing bigger each week. I cannot believe it still but as I feel her move and watch my belly grow there is a feeling of relief. We did it, we created a little life half me and half the love of my life. Our days of praying for this baby have turned into days filled with hopes and dreams for the life we are creating for this tiny being. I am so excited to be this little girl's mama and see Jesse be a daddy. This journey has been one filled with anxiety and heartbreak but knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel is an incredible feeling. I know I am not the only one who has gone through this, nor will I be the last. Reading other people's heartbreaks turn into something beautiful was helpful for me so I hope this can be the same source of light for someone else. 

Deployment Diaries: Half Way There

MarriageMadison Dickson

We are finally near the halfway point! I don't know if it's being pregnant or if I am just lucky, but this deployment is absolutely flying by me. I have been enjoying this time alone; using my "me time" to grow and develop parts of myself that I care about but definitely do not devote enough time to. I have been using the time to get to know myself, build my business, and of course get ready to welcome our little princess into this world. 

Doing things for yourself is an important part of every day. I like to spend my time enjoying a hot chai or hot chocolate outside or at the table with my subscription to Bend Magazine if it has arrived recently(thanks mom). It is so nice to take just 20 minutes of the day to check out what's going on at home with my favorite bevvie and it puts me in a relaxed state of mind. If I don't have a recent issue of the magazine, I usually use the time to set goals, write dreams for our daughter, or just sit and enjoy the beauty of nothing.

There are perks to deployment if you're an optimist like me. Freedom to starfish in the bed, no one taking your blankets all night, I eat all of the foods I love and Jesse hates but then there is the downside, it gets lonely around here. Luckily I have been able to FaceTime Jesse pretty often while he's away so it is nice to talk to him right before I go to sleep. It has easily become a part of my routine which brings me to my next important point...

Form a routine. Having a regular schedule has been one of the most helpful things during deployment. I also have a great support system which is one thing I would pass on to new military spouses. Find your tribe; don't be afraid to join those groups and make new friends. You'll appreciate them when you're having wine nights while the guys are gone, trust me. 

Baby K is continuing to grow every day and I am so excited to meet her! The halfway through deployment mark is the (almost) halfway through pregnancy mark as well. Baby girl will make her grand entrance in late January and boy am I ready for her. I have dreamt of having a little girl since Jesse and I first began the kids talk. I was convinced I was having a boy the whole time so when my ultrasound tech said she was definitely a girl, I couldn't control my excitement; I thought I was literally going to roll or jump off the bed from excitement. Jesse was also convinced baby Dickson was a boy so he thought I was playing the worst prank of 2018 on him when I told him she is a girl(LOL). But despite the shock, we are beyond thrilled to welcome in our baby girl next year.

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Alright, that's all I have for this update. Catch ya on the next one!
Mads