January AMA: Happy New Year!

Jan 18, 2024

Welcome to a New Year.  Even thought it’s been cold (15-below at my house, 50-below at my Mom’s) and not everything in early 2024 has gone according to plan, 2024 still feels much better than 2023.  So I’m excited to dive back into the reader mailbag with questions from Instagram followers. Let’s hit it!

How do you feel about cropped wide leg jeans/pants?  What shoes to wear?

I like them, but they work on my body.  Your mileage may vary depending on how you are built.  I bought these Paige Leenah jeans last year, and I now own the darker color as well (currently on sale).  They haven’t arrived yet, but I also bought these Mango jeans in a similar style and a cool ecru color.

As for shoes, in the warm weather they are the perfect jean for sandals.  I also like them with a sporty sneaker.  In the cold weather, I’ve actually been wearing them with my Loeffler tall boots — the look works; I’m as surprised as anyone.

Some influencers have been styling them with ankle boots, as well.  On my body, I prefer the clean line of the tall boot, instead of flashing my ankles and breaking up the leg line.  Plus, that flesh is real pale in January and I am not getting a spray tan to wear shoes.

How can I figure out an engagement ring style if I don’t wear much jewelry?

The only way to do it is to go to a jewelry store and try things on.  I recommend going alone, on a weekday, when things will be peaceful.  Just tell the salesperson that your partner is planning to propose and you want to give him some more direction on finger size (def. get sized while you’re there) and style. They’ll be more than happy to help.

This is a really exciting and hopeful thing, but it doesn’t need to be a complete surprise.  I recommend telling your partner the metal color you want (white, yellow, rose) and the diamond styles you like best.  I also recommend telling them what you hate.  If the idea of an East-West setting or multiple stones gives you heartburn, say something.  You’ll be wearing this ring for the rest of your marriage, it’s important that you like it.

Favorite work travel outfit.  What should I wear on the plane to a conference?

I have really embraced the chic, loungewear sets.  They’re warm, cozy and washable.  You can also style them to look effortlessly chic.  So if you get spotted in the hotel lobby, you’re the cool girl who has it all together in your fashion-forward soft pants.

Abercrombie has some adorable sets right now.  I like these waffle-knit top with a mock-neckline.  This cozy rib-knit set is also great.  Just layer them under a duster-length cardigan, like this sumptuous beauty from Anthropologie.  Add a cool girl sneaker and gold hoops, and you’re done.

New job. How do I celebrate and treat myself?

One of the great things about a new job is that freshness — you’re not weighed down by old projects, old mistakes, relationships that have soured, etc.  You get a fresh beginning.  I find that you can keep that fresh feeling going with a couple of spa days.  I took myself for a massage and pedicure at the end of my first month of work, and it made the start to my second month amazing.

Also, one of my girlfriends buys herself a trip for her six month work anniversary at a new gig.  Last year, she started at a new firm and went to Vancouver for a long weekend alone.  She said the trips give her time to reflect on what has gone right at the new job and what can be done better.  It’s like a mental reset that lets her recalibrate her focus.

About to start IVF prep, any must haves?

My Amazon storefront has an entire IVF section that has everything that I actually used to make trying to conceive simpler.  The must-haves from the list are the Pain Cakes and the shot blocker.  I couldn’t have made it through stims without them because I hate needles and the injections get harder the longer it goes on.

lso, had I known this website existed, my time doing IVF would have been so much easier.  Dr. Lucky Sekhon gives no-bulls**t advice and provides a lot of the basic information that I was missing.  Had I had these tools, I would have had a better idea of what to expect and what to ask at my appointments.

New mom here: Any recs for eye creams that make me look at least half awake?

I had dark under-eye circles before Sloane.  Now, they are positively Fester Addams.

I’ve found that what helped me the most wasn’t a cream, it was these patches from Topical.  They really work, and you know I do not say that lightly.  I buy them in bulk every time Sephora does a 20% off sale.

For a cream, I use this Versed Retinoid Eye Balm, which I can buy at Target.  It’s super hydrating, which is all I’m look for.  Any latent darkness is taken care of (to whatever extent possible) by my under-eye corrector, which I use even if I’m not wearing makeup.

Have tried dating in IRL, apps, and matchmaking for years. Time to ask friends to be setup?

I mean, why not?  If your nearest and dearest have suggestions, give them a try.  Yes, this comes with its own set of complications, but in 2024, any level of pre-vetting is welcome.

Also, one of my girlfriends (who was a serial dater in search of a longterm, stable relationship) found that taking a dating break really helped.  She met her current wife after taking three months off from dating.  She found that it gave her time to think about what was really important to her, strengthen her friendships and hobbies, and feel more confident about dating, instead of demoralized by a string of short-term relationships that didn’t fulfill her.  It might be worth a shot.

Breast pump recs?

I didn’t breast feed, so I didn’t pump.  So I’m going to leave this here, so that women who did can drop their favorites in the comments.

If you’re formula-feeding, I recommend this Baby Brezza device.  It’s a Keurig for baby formula, and we would have been lost without it.  The newborn months would have been 6x harder if I had needed to warm bottles at 3:00AM.  We also fed this formula.  And we used these amazing Smilo bottles that prevent colic, but without six pieces that you need to wash after every use.

How are you doing Post-COVID?

For those of you who don’t follow me on Instagram, I was felled by COVID on December 14th.  I had made an appointment to get the vaccine, and then missed it.  Made another, missed it.  And just generally wasn’t taking getting the updated vaccine to protect from Omicron and other variants seriously.  And boy, did I pay for that decision.

I spent 8-days in quarantine separated from my family..  I could barely function days 1-4 thanks to an incredible run of gastrointestinal distress.  I was so exhausted and foggy that I couldn’t work.  And while I am over a month removed from my COVID diagnosis, I am still tired, coughing, and my senses of taste and smell are maybe 60%.

All of this is to say, if you’ve been meaning to get the vaccine and you’re putting it off because life is busy and there’s not a good time — this is the time.  Don’t earn your immunity the hard way like I did.

That’s it for this month.  If you didn’t see your question, I saved a few to answer on Instagram and a few to do as longer style posts next week, stay tuned.

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  1. Kate says:

    For breast pumps – get a prenatal lactation consult! LCs are worth their weight in gold. Mine recommended the Medela freestyle and I loved it.

  2. Nicole says:

    For breast pump, check with insurance first. Mine only covered certain pumps from certain places. I got the spectra but it is bigger than I would like for pumping at work. Wish I got the madela freestyle. I also picked up a willow in bra pump off Facebook marketplace. It is nice for pumping while feeding but is no where near as effective as my spectra.

  3. Liz says:

    *Which* breast pump is a tricky question, BUT if you have insurance, pretty much all insurance covers the purchase of 1 per pregnancy. If you want a fancier model, they may only cover part of it, but it’s something important to know. I pumped for both of my kids, and I will tell you that no matter what electric pump you choose, I would recommend having a manual pump just in case. They are about $15 at the drug store, and worth if if you have a power outage, or even to keep in the diaper bag if you’re out longer then expected.

  4. Rachel Q says:

    Re: breast pumps: I used a wired pump for a few months and when I switched to wireless it was a game changer. You can do so much more with your hands free and not having to wear pumping bras. My insurance covered the majority of the cost of an Elvie Stride and that has worked pretty well for me although it has drawbacks (hard to see how much milk you’re getting while you’re pumping and also a bit challenging to safely pour every drop into freezer bags until you get the hang of it and also you can’t charge while you’re pumping so you have to plan ahead). There’s probably a better wireless one out there but just highly recommend wireless/cordless generally.

  5. Anna says:

    On pumps, I started with the Spectra (can’t remember which model…the one that doesn’t have to be plugged in). It worked fine (I even managed to pump on a plane), but then got a new in-box hands free pump off Facebook, the Elvie Stride, and used that almost exclusively the last few months I pumped. I got about as much out as the Spectra, though I did run it for about twice as long since you can’t see how much you’re pumping and if milk is still coming out. It’s a bit more of a pain to clean, but it’s so much more convenient and less awkward. I’d definitely look into those options. I think it would have been worth it even if I’d paid full price. One suggestion I’d make regardless of pump is to experiment with flange size. I had to size waaaaay down in mine and order an off brand on Amazon, but the fit is way better and it helps with output.

  6. Kate N. says:

    I had a Medela Pump-in-Style for my first baby (2017) and then a hospital pump + Elvie Stride for my second (2023) who was in the NICU for 2 months. I have to say, the wearable pump changed my whole relationship with pumping. It’s never going to be fun, but it was a lot easier and less of a mental health issue for me with the wearable. I did learn from my LC that some women have to find the right bra/tank to keep the wearable tight enough and “train” their letdown with the wearable pump to get it to work as well.

    I also second the recommendation for a cheap manual pump to keep as backup. Along with my wearable pump, the other recommended parts of my set up were spare cups/flanges so I wasn’t constantly washing/sterilizing for my preemie and something called a Mila’s Keeper. Basically a dedicated insulated container for breastmilk, but because my baby needed everything to be sterile to keep her safe, it felt like another layer of protection that eventually let me reduce the use of plastic bags.

  7. Mallory says:

    Agreeing that which pump is less important than getting one that is properly sized to you with flanges and you respond to. I personally love my Spectra (pumped for a year with my first and now on 4m with my second) but I had to try a bunch of gear combos to find what worked for me. A good lactation consultant can help you test out and fit everything to your unique needs!

  8. Lacey Hunter says:

    I recently purchased the Momcozy hands free pump. It’s not covered by insurance to my knowledge, so it’s not cheap, but it’s been a game changer. It’s more comfortable than my Spectra, and faster / more efficient than the hands free pump my insurance covered. I can wear it in my office at work and still take Zoom calls. Kindred Bravely pumping and nursing bras also helped make pumping better. If you have an office and will pump at work, I recommend also buying a tiny 6L refrigerators – they run around $50. I was using the one in a mother’s room at work, but I prefer to pump in my office where I can continue to work, and carrying milk bags through the office is less than ideal. Last thing – again, if pumping at work, or even just for at home, it’s easier if you buy/have enough parts to get through the day without washing.

  9. Ana says:

    Thank you for your recs as always. Can you please tell me more about the eye mask – how often do you use the patches? And do you use the retinoid cream
    Both morning and night? If during day Do you use a special eye spf or whatever goes on the rest of your face? Thanks

  10. Chelsea says:

    On pumping—recommend you think about when/where you plan to pump when choosing what you need. At home, I like the Spectra S2–easy to use and good suction. I tried the Willow but found it really hard to use and had low output. I started using my Spectra with the hands-free Cara cups in the car and it’s been a game changer. But I don’t think you need a wearable pump if you are primarily using it at home.

  11. Carrie says:

    Dating…I was single forEVER. One summer, I took a short term work position across the country (San Diego) because while I loved where I lived, I felt stuck. I had a few friends in SD and basically decided I would go and meet anyone and everyone and just say yes to invites etc. I went to group lunches and happy hours and all of it and ended up going on a few dates, and one pretty quickly turned serious (now married 6 years).

    Yes, I basically bought myself a long distance relationship for a bit (one year) but it was such a good decision. I was in a fun place, meeting new people organically through my friends but outside of my normal day to day “friend pool”. I know that not everyone is lucky enough to have job flexibility like that, but it’s just a different way to approach it! Maybe even go into it thinking if it’s a place you’d relocate to and go from there.

  12. Melissa says:

    Those Paige jeans looks great. TTS?

  13. Christine says:

    It’s a small thing, but thank you for this line: “You’ll be wearing this ring for the rest of your marriage, it’s important that you like it.” As someone going through a divorce, seeing the rest of your marriage vs rest of your life is a gentle reminder for me that not every marriage is forever, and that’s okay.

    • Rachel C says:

      Christine, I thought the same thing. My divorce was finalized in early December after 14 years. I’m still struggling to adjust and accept that it’s ok. But this gentle reminder and kindness didn’t go unnoticed.

  14. Rachel C says:

    Dropping my favorite lounge wear set here – Barefoot Dreams jogger and sweater. I treated myself to a set in the fall and immediately ordered a second. I lived in them over the holidays and felt so put together. Also, highly recommend shopping QVC for Barefoot – they have a partnership and the deals are amazing.

  15. Rachel says:

    I’m currently four months postpartum and exclusively breastfeeding + pumping when at work. The most important thing to do first is call your insurance. Mine covers one pump PER YEAR (as long as my OB was willing to write a new prescription for a pump- which she was). Also, my insurance covered 100% of lactation consultant visits, including in-home visits. I recommend you find an LC before you give birth (or at least have their number ready) so that you’re not scrambling during the immediate postpartum haze.

    For pumps- I have two Spectras (both the S1 and S2) and the Willow Go. The only difference between the two Spectras is that one has to be plugged into an outlet and the other has a rechargeable battery. I keep the one that has to be plugged in at my office so I don’t have to schlep it back and forth, and save the battery operated one for pumping when working from home so I can do stuff at the same time.

    I use my Willow Go way less, but it’s because I need to massage my boobs to fully empty and it’s hard to do that with the wearables. But everyone is different, so you may be able to get just as much output from a wearable. Generally, it’s not recommended that you use a wearable as your primary pump because they have a greater learning curve and many women don’t get the same output as a traditional pump. There is a really helpful facebook group called “Wearable Pump Paperweight Prevention” that’s run by lactation consultants and super helpful in learning about the different wearables and how to make them work best.

    Final piece of advice, flange size is super important and will change over time. Your nipple size while pregnant will be different than your nipple size in the early weeks postpartum and different than your nipple size a few months in. You need to continue to recheck your size to protect your nipples from damage and maximize output.

  16. Maggie says:

    Re: engagement rings I was in a similar boat.
    I second all that Abra shared and will add two things.
    1. Go to multiple places. I went to one place that everyone recommended was THE place to go in DC, and just felt put off and not taken care of. There was a lot of “well, what do you like or not like” when I didn’t know and was there to find out! I ended up going to a few other places, and eventually it was the service that made the experience enjoyable for me.
    2. I was really hesitant for anything “too big” or “too sparkly.” But the sales person advised me, of course it looked big and sparkly on my hand now because I had never worn anything on that finger before, but I would get used to it. (I’m talking like 1-1.5 carat felt big to me). And yes, once I got the ring it did feel big and sparkly, but that feeling wore off and I got used to it about the same amount of time that the joy of being newly engaged started to feel normal. So I guess I’m saying don’t hold back (within reason and budget of course), because you will get use to it.

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