Mother Tested, Mother Approved: Morning Makeup Routine

Wearing makeup is a hit or miss when it comes to incorporating it into a lifestyle.  Is it necessary to wear makeup every day?  Is it necessary to wear makeup only on special occasions?  To each his own…  As a working mom and makeup artist, I don’t have time to do a full glam face everyday since I sit behind a desk all day.  I didn’t wear makeup throughout high school and college, but only discovered it once I started working full time and earning a steady income.  I would splurge a good percentage of my paycheck to buying different makeup and skincare items and testing everything under the umbrella.  It came to the point where I was an avid hoarder in purchasing any shiny item I touched even though I had no clue how to use it.  I’ve finally put my curiosity into good use by turning my interest into a career.  My personal makeup collection and professional makeup kit has taken over the nooks and crannies of my house and closet.  Since I have all this makeup, how and when will I use it before it expires?  Well wear makeup daily, duh!  But no one has time to apply makeup if you want to snooze a couple more minutes in the morning while 6 months pregnant.

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I’ve tested different products throughout the years in order to create a simple, straight-forward makeup routine in the morning.  Don’t get me wrong- there are days I want to completely skip out on makeup.  But this pregnancy is creating its own ugly marks on my face, so I prefer to cover it up rather than walk around looking like a zombie because this baby is sucking the life out of me.  This may or may not work for everyone, but the following items have helped me create that simple “clean face” look by focusing on what I want to cover up and what I want to enhance.

Here’s a bit of background on my current skin concerns:  I have combination/normal skin during the winter where it’s typically oily on my forehead, chin and nose, but extremely dry and flaky along the bridge of my nose.  I have dark spots, post acne-scars along my cheeks and chin, and dark, puffy circles under my eyes.  My preferred makeup items to help target my skin concerns include a light-to-medium coverage foundation that has SPF and an under eye concealer that’s more for color correcting.  Makeup products that I regularly use include a brow pencil, eyeliner, mascara, bronzer and blush.  Using these products after my skincare routine takes a total of 10 minutes tops.  Again, I’ve been testing and practicing this routine so that I could do this with my eyes closed (haven’t tried it yet, but I’m up for the challenge).

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Top to Bottom: Billy B eyelash curler, Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer, Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Pencil, Chantecaille Mascara (iPhone 6+ photo quality)

After toning and moisturizing my face, I curl my lashes using my Billy B eyelash curler and then work on my brows.  I love using brow pencils that have a triangular tip, such as Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer in Medium Brown, because it’s the perfect size for my naturally full brows.  It’s a retractable pencil with the brow product on one side and a spooley on the other.  Just a couple of short strokes to fill in my sparse areas and I’m good to go.  Afterwards, I apply a waterproof black eyeliner using Urban Decays 24/7 Glide-On Pencil in Perversion which is the blackest matte black pencil ever.  I finish my eyes with a couple of coats of mascara to help separate, lengthen and create volume for my naturally straight lashes.  I switch between Kjaer Weis mascara (which is an organic brand) and Chantecaille Faux Cils mascara (pictured above).  These mascaras have become my favorites because it holds the curl all day unlike other mascaras which tend to straighten out my curled lashes a few hours after application.

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Top to Bottom: Laura Gellar Filter Finish Setting Powder, Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Bronzer, Maybelline BB Cream, NARS blush, Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Concealer (iPhone 6+ photo quality)

After the eyes, I quickly work on complexion (my face) which takes less than 5 minutes because I’m only using 4 products.  Since I have oily skin, I gravitate towards matte-finish foundations.  But I find that it makes my face look flat during the winter.  So I’ve been applying a light layer of Laura Gellar Filter Finish Setting Powder from Ulta.  I purchased this last month and even though it says “setting powder”, I find that it brings out my inner glow without looking oily which is why I apply this first.  Once I do this, I use my fingers and apply Maybelline Dream Pure BB Cream in Medium.  This helps even out any redness on my face and lightens dark spots along my cheeks.  I softly contour my face using Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Matte Bronzer (which I’ve had for years!) and then blend NARS Blush in Dolce Vita onto my cheeks focusing along the contour rather than the apples of my cheeks.  Lastly, I bounce a very thin layer of concealer onto the hollows of my eye socket using Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Concealer in R32 (another recent purchase).  This concealer has a peach undertone which color corrects dark circles.  I like that the shade is pretty close to my natural skin tone so I don’t have to double up on color correcting and concealing under my eyes.  This concealer is a liquid-creamy texture (but not runny) so I prefer warming up the product on the back of my hand and using my ring finger for application.

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(iPhone 6+ photo quality)

So this is my daily makeup routine.  This might sound like a lot, but it has been working for me.  If you’re like me (an avid makeup hoarder), those makeup items on your vanity, closet, bathroom – wherever – won’t last forever.  They do expire and when you use an expired makeup product, your face will hate you for it.  So explore and try out new ways in shortening your makeup routine whether if it’s going to work, running errands or date night.  Practice makes perfect!

Baby is Fine; Mommy Isn’t Though

Yesterday began my weekly visits to see my OB.  I thought my body hasn’t changed much since I didn’t feel different from last week.  Oh boy was I wrong!

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First off, I made it over the 200 pound mark.  When the nurse weighed me in, she immediately moved the large counter weight to a different weight group and I said, “Oh man, 200 pounds already?”  We both giggled at my statement.  I asked her while she was taking my blood pressure, “Is it normal to gain 4 pounds in a week?”  The only reason why I asked her this was because she was the same nurse who took my vitals last week.  She politely responded by saying this, “Well you’re pregnant…you also ate before you came here.”  Nice save and good cover up, but thanks for comforting me.  My blood pressure was perfect showing 117/82 and quickly I was shuffled off to see the ultrasound technician to take pictures of my belly and cervix.  Baby looked very healthy, active and even switched sides in my belly, but my cervix didn’t.  After shuffling from room to room, the doctor walks in and reviews the ultrasound pictures and notes taken by the technician.  He tells me that my cervix has shortened in length by 2 cm, but luckily my cervix isn’t thinning yet (a sign of early labor).  He asked me if I’ve had any sex and orgasms in which I responded “no”.  He asked me if I’m lifting things,  doing strenuous activity/work, or feel any contractions in which I responded “no”.  In short, the rate at which my cervix is shortening is definitely alarming but not to the point of jumping into conclusions of an early delivery in the upcoming days.  The best thing the doctor recommended is to continue abstaining from sex and orgasms, receive my weekly 17p shots and take it easy.  I asked him, “Is this a sign that the 17p shots aren’t working if my cervix is shortening?”  He said, “No, it’s working because if you didn’t receive them, you would’ve delivered already.”

I drove home from the doctor’s office not thinking much about what he told me.  I was bummed that my body is acting in a way that it’s ready to pop out this baby.  I got a phone call from my sister asking me how was my doctor’s visit.  Then I completely lost it!  I was crying hysterically, hyperventilating and just couldn’t use any words to express how I felt.  I told her the news and she was comforting me as best as she could.  We both agreed that we can’t control how my body is reacting to baby #2.  All I can do is be hopeful that when the time comes, baby will be born healthy.  She even asked me, “Are you afraid to go through the same motion you went with the first one?”  I said, “Are you kidding me?  ABSOLUTELY!”

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I wasn’t ready for what happened before and after I delivered my premature baby girl 7 years ago.  I wasn’t ready to see her all tubed up, hooked onto machines monitoring her vital signs and living in an incubated box for 2 months.  I remember after delivering my daughter, a nurse walked into my room in the middle of the night taking my vitals and she caught me crying.  That morning, I woke up to a therapist with his student talking to me about postpartum depression.  I barked at them saying, “I just delivered a premature baby.  I don’t need this.  I’m still in shock and very hungry; not depressed!”  I wasn’t ready for any of this and I don’t know if I’m ready to go through it again.  Just thinking about it takes an emotional toll.  As I’m writing this down, it’s giving me anxiety thinking that it’s possible for baby #2 to come early.  The doctor is very confident that I can make it to 32 weeks as long as I follow his instructions.  I’ve met moms whose first born was born prematurely, but their subsequent children were born at full term.  I was hopeful that that could be me when I decided to become pregnant again.  I think that’s why my husband and I prolonged having children after our first one.

Premature delivery and everything that comes with it is a lifetime commitment to help your child catch up in their development.  Besides recommendations and instructions from professionals, there is no book to guide you in raising a preemie.  I’ve shared this belief to many people and they agree that no book really prepares you for parenting in general.  It takes a village to raise a child from the advice your parents tell you to your friends who are in the same parenting boat as you.  But when you’re the only one in your boat with a different experience from the rest, it’s hard to manage your doubts and uncertainties without reaching a breaking point.  I feel like I’m back on that boat again.  I don’t personally know of anyone who has had multiple premature deliveries.  I didn’t even know it was possible to go through this again.  Last night, I cried to my husband and told him my worries and fears.  I asked him, “Am I not meant to have kids if they can’t grow in me for 40 weeks?”  He told me to not think that way and we just have to take it day by day.  The fears and uncertainties outweigh my happiness and joy for baby #2.  I don’t know if that’s even right for me to say as a parent.  I’m just worried and unsure of what to do or even how to feel about all of this.  Like I said last week, please baby #2 stay in there a bit longer…

So What’s Cooking: A Boy or Girl?

I’m a planner; I like to be in control of my surroundings.  I like planning surprises and have had a mixed of good and bad surprises thrown my way.  For both pregnancies, I was pretty adamant to find out the gender and so was my husband.  For my firstborn, I was pretty far into my pregnancy to find out the sex pretty quickly.  I was hopeful to have a boy, but turned out my little nugget was a girl.  I thought to myself, “Uh-oh, I don’t know if the world is ready for a mini me.”  Turned out that my daughter is a female mini version of my husband.  So what’s the gender of baby #2?

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Finding out the gender of the baby (if you choose to) is best during 16 and 20 weeks of your second trimester.  Some time people opt for a blood test which can detect the sex as early as 8 weeks where the blood test diagnoses any genetic abnormalities and gender.  Others take it upon fate and wait till the delivery date to find out if a boy or girl is popping into the world.  For me, this child will be loved whether it is a boy or girl- duh!  I’ve known of a couple of people who left it to fate and waited to find out the gender up to delivery day.  I think that would put me over the edge not knowing throughout the entire pregnancy.  I’m not a big believer on superstitious, “witch craft” mom omens that can determine how many babies you’re having and the sex of each child.  But I did stumble upon these beliefs which predicted the gender of baby #2 accurately.  If you’re anxious to find out the gender but still waiting for that “big” appointment, check out the charts below:

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Source: Truncated from Pinterest pin from “What’s Up Fagans?”

The most “accurate” test has been the Chinese Calendar Gender Chart in my opinion.  Hope this helps with the anticipation of your little boy or girl.  So what am I having?  You’ll find out soon 🙂

News From the Doctor

As of yesterday, I made it to 25 weeks into my pregnancy where my blood pressure is looking better than ever and my weight is surprisingly under 200 pounds.  My results from past blood tests and urine tests have come back negative, so I feel at ease with how my body is reacting to baby #2.  But my biggest challenge is to make sure I make it to a full term pregnancy.  Yesterday proved that the goal of 40 weeks might become shorter.

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After confirming my pregnancy at my doctor’s office back in November, we thoroughly discussed the game plan in order to prevent a premature delivery.  My monthly visits will turn into bi-weekly visits once I pass 25 weeks into my pregnancy.  Starting at 18 weeks, I will receive weekly hydroxyprogesterone shots, or 17p shots, which is a man-made hormone of progestin.  It is used for pregnant women to help lower risks of giving birth too early (delivery before 37 weeks).  I started receiving my 17p shots a month ago and it gave me relief that this is the best solution in making sure my pregnancy lasts the full 40 weeks.  But yesterday proved something different.

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When the sperm fertilizes the egg in your uterus, your womb goes into hibernation mode and prepares for the development of the fetus.  Your cervix naturally closes and stays closed for 40 weeks, or until you start going into labor.  Your doctor measures your cervical length via a transabdominal or transvaginal ultrasound where the length should be 3 cm to 5 cm long.  If your length is around 2.5 cm or less, this may lead to additional tests from the doctor and high risks of an early, premature birth.  My last cervix length was 3.5 cm back in December.  My cervix length was 2.5 cm as of yesterday.  Since I do have a history of a premature birth, my doctor asked me a few questions in hopes to understand why my cervix has shortened in 2 months.  He asked me questions from my work environment to my activities at home.  Then he asked me a personal question, “Are you having sex?”  I proudly answered “yes” and this was his immediate response, “NO MORE SEX.”

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Since becoming pregnant, my hormones have been all over the place especially in the intimacy department.  I’ve never felt so powerful and animalistic during sex which has surprised my husband.  I don’t want to come off as if this is “end of the world” type of news because I want my baby to develop as long as possible.  I don’t want to come off as sounding selfish that I would have to be sexually abstinent.  I know that there are women who are completely turned off by the idea of sex while pregnant.  But who knew that a man’s semen has a natural hormone called prostaglandin that softens the cervix?  Obviously my husband and I didn’t know.  We thought it was healthy to have sex while pregnant.  I don’t want to risk the health (and survival) of my child even if it means sacrificing my sexual needs for a bit.  The doctor begged me to give him “11 weeks of no sex”.  He wants me to make it to 36 weeks which will be when I receive my past 17p shot.  I think he realized 11 weeks of no sex is a bit of a stretch, so he shortened my time frame to 32 weeks.  If my cervix does shorten, he will have to administer a steroid that will help the baby’s lungs develop at a faster pace.  I remember receiving this when I was in labor with my daughter.

Overall, I’m still in shock with the news from my doctor.  Not referring to the news of no sex, but the fact that my cervix has shortened.  It makes me feel like my body isn’t capable of carrying a child to full term.  I can’t do anything to change it besides rely on medical attention and listen to what my doctor orders me to do.  Luckily he hasn’t put me on bed rest, but I feel like it will become a solution once I enter my 3rd trimester (if ever).  I’m so uncertain of myself- have you gone through this?  I don’t know of many women who have had multiple premature births in their lifetime.  Maybe I shouldn’t be too hard on myself and just let my body do what it has to do.  Please baby #2, stay in there a bit longer…

Being Sexy for Valentine’s Day

I was never a big fan of Valentine’s Day until I met my husband.  The only time I ever went on a Valentine’s Day date was with my best friend from college.  He casually asked me if I had plans that evening in which I didn’t and he suggested we go out to dinner “as friends”.  It was a harmless date which turned out being great because we talked endlessly about everything besides school.  Until I met my husband, Valentine’s Day was just another excuse to profess your undying love to your significant other by showering them with materialistic things.  Now, Valentine’s Day is just another day to be grateful to be in love with the one you love.

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I’ve been hunting the web for the perfect “gift” that I could give my husband that was more than just a physical item for Valentine’s Day.  I wanted to give him all of me at my sexiest moment.  But how can you be sexy when you’re 6 months pregnant?  Apparel stores that have special deals on lingerie for Valentine’s Day showcase their outfits on stick-figure models.  Let’s be realistic here- not everyone has an “ideal” body shape that includes a nice firm butt and an ample bosom.  Everybody feels sexy when they’re small, but is that the true you?  Didn’t your significant other fall in love with who you are over what you look like?  I’ve been embracing my body more and more these past few weeks especially being 6 months pregnant.  And top that off with my raging hormones where all my desires and needs lately are to be intimate with my husband.  Maybe it’s my weekly hydroxyprogestone shots that make me this way (post about this is coming up next week).  No way in hell could I fit into a pre-pregnancy sexy lingerie teddy/chemise/baby doll and seduce my husband into bed.  Luckily I was able to find alternatives in this category (wink).

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Valentine’s Day isn’t just a one day event.  I like to spread it among the leading days where I send my husband flirty text messages, cook memorable dinners where he’s asking for more, and wear cute nighttime outfits (pre-pregnancy) to spice up the night.  We usually don’t go out on February 14 because it’s one of the busiest days for restaurants to be in business.  Reservations are normally required, waiting time takes forever, and service is kind of on par because of the overwhelming kitchen crowd.  I don’t expect fancy gifts from my husband even though I drop hints about things I like.  He’s a simple man and doesn’t like to spend money unless it’s really worth something.  I think the past 2 Valentine’s Day dinners I planned and made reservations for us- shows you who wears the pants in our marriage.

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Lorna Drew S/S 2015: Fashionable Maternity & Nursing Bras from The Lingerie Addict

This year I just want to have “mommy and daddy” time because once the little one comes, those moments will be less than frequent to come by.  This weekend my little family and I are heading down to Maryland to visit my father-in-law and his family.  They live 20 minutes outside of Annapolis and I know my husband will not even think about bringing me there for Valentine’s Day.  Think of it this way- this small nautical, historical town is very similar to Manhattan in terms of high prices at every place you walk into.  So lets see what my husband has in mind for the weekend, or at least a make up to what could have been our plans for Valentine’s Day (if any).  We’re lucky to bring another child into our family of 3.  We love that he/she is moving around, but is definitely shy whenever my husband or daughter wants to feel him/her kick in my belly.  I’m falling more in love with my growing child knowing that I will have 2 kids to spoil.  My husband and I usually end our nights just talking about how our future is going to change in the upcoming weeks.  We’re grateful for what we’ve accomplished over the past 7 years and our love for each other has grown so much especially with baby #2.

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Photo credit: Nicole Hunter Photography

If my husband is reading this, I just want to say I love you so much.  You are the foundation to our growing family, keeping us balanced and protected through the good times and bad.  I’m so happy lucky to be your wife.  You make me laugh, you know what makes me happy, you know my fears, insecurities and what brings me to tears.  You love seeing me at my rawest moments where all my inhibitions are thrown out the door.  My evolving body is proof to the amount of love I have for you.  You embrace me as who I am and love that you have no reservations.  Valentine’s Day is not just on February 14- it’s everyday at our house.  Whether or not our romantic day is spent at a restaurant or at home in our PJs, all I want to do is be with you.  I love you!

Pregnancy Brain is REAL

Pregnancy brain, or momnesia, is not a joke- period!  I don’t recall having “bad” pregnancy brain with my first child.  But baby #2 is juggling my brain to the point of me being forgetful, unable to give direction(s) or remember how to do simple tasks at home.

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This post is a prime example of my pregnancy brain as of lately.  I started writing this on Monday and after jotting my intro paragraph, my brain went blank and I couldn’t process my thoughts together.  I got home from work, told my husband about my pregnancy brain post and completely forgot why I even thought of writing one.  Later that day, I redundantly repeated my household chores, misplaced the dry food in the refrigerator and walked into different rooms without knowing why.

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This is a common symptom for women during and post pregnancy.  The conditions of pregnancy brain can be moderate to severe especially for women dealing with postpartum depression.  There are no consistent conclusions as to why this happens.  But changes to your body hormone levels and inner being plus the overwhelming feelings of pregnancy are great paths to explaining this.  Don’t fret- your memory will be restored once the baby arrives.  For now, stick to doing one task at a time or jot down your plans for the day so you have something to follow.