To babymoon or not to babymoon? Here's my advice

anne and joe at the Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence

You're looking at Facebook and see a picture of your gloriously pregnant, stunningly beautiful friend showing off her perfect baby bump on a white sand beach in Greece.  She's on a "babymoon"... that last adult getaway before her life changes forever.  It seems like a great idea, and she seems to be having a blast, but are babymoons really all they're cracked up to be?

We didn't take one with our first child, but decided to explore Italy before having our second.  Was it a great trip?  Yes!  Would I do it again?  No.

anne along the Arno river in Florence

I planned the trip around the 6 month mark of my pregnancy.  Since my first child was a preemie and my second pregnancy was high risk, I ran the idea by both of my doctors, got medical records to bring along, checked with the airline and made sure to research hospitals in each of the cities we were visiting. 

Italy was a good choice for some reasons, but bad for others.  Let's start with the positives...

Meats and cheese at the central market in Florence Italy

I ate my way through that country and didn't bat an eyelash!  You're not going to be drinking or going on any wild adventures and unlike my gorgeous friend in Greece, you probably won't want to be seen in a bikini, so choose wisely.  I gorged on pasta, risotto and all the Parmigiano-Reggiano I could get my hands on.

pasta cooked in a wheel of parmesan cheese in rome

Another positive was the timing.  We went during off-season, which allowed us to stay in nicer hotels at a more affordable price.  Since my energy level was much lower than normal, we spent a significant amount of time in some very swanky hotels.  Having a luxurious place to relax was well worth the splurge!

Hotel Roma Luxus in Rome
Lobby of the Boscolo Venezia in Venice

Now, the negatives...

Do not underestimate how much your butt is going to hurt on an overseas flight!!  I was horribly uncomfortable and had a center seat, so it was difficult to get up to stretch.  You may want to choose someplace closer to home that has a shorter flight or shell out the extra cash for first class.  Also, consider your luggage if you're traveling by train.  Poor Joe had to lug ALL of our suitcases on and off of every train we took.

Joe on the train from Florence to Trento Italy

Italy requires a lot of walking, as do many popular vacation spots.  Your feet are going to hurt and you may be having contractions already.  I had to seriously take it easy, which made it difficult to enjoy as many sights as we would have liked.  Pack comfortable shoes, even if they're ugly, and make sure to take it slow.  I definitely would have cut out one of the cities we visited if I had to plan it all over again.

exploring castle altaguardia in trento

Finally, don't underestimate the unknown.  Every woman and every pregnancy is different.  Everything was okay with my trip, but my early contractions wouldn't slow down and just weeks after returning, I was put on bed rest.  Risking the health and well-being of yourself and your baby just isn't worth it.

If you really want to get away, without having to worry, wait until after the baby is born.  Joe and I took a trip to Croatia when Beau was about one and a half years old and it was magical.  We had truly earned a vacation at that point and could drink, play and relax knowing Beau was safe at home with Grandma! 

Our first trip to Croatia away from the baby
Sharing a bottle of champagne on Lokrum off of Dubrovnik Croatia

If you insist on something before baby, I'd recommend sticking close to home.  Find a relaxing spa or plan a staycation at a swanky hotel.  You may just rest a little easier not having to worry about potential problems with baby.

 

Beauty Review: Charlotte Tilbury's Healthy Glow Hydrating Tint

To be perfectly honest, I don't have the best relationship with makeup.  For me, makeup is work.  I wear loads of it on television and leave the station each day feeling like a clown.  Most brands simultaneously cause me to break out, while also settling into my wrinkles, making them appear more pronounced.

So it is EXTREMELY RARE for me to be this excited about something I put on my face!  Enter: Charlotte Tilbury's brand new Unisex Healthy Glow Hydrating Tint.  This product is nothing short of miraculous.  I'm not quite sure how to classify it, because it's not exactly a tinted moisturizer, tanning cream, BB cream or foundation.  It's in a class all its own. 

You only need a pea sized amount of the product, which will appear white when it comes out of the tube and feels a little grainy.  In fact, I first thought it had separated and proceeded to put the cap back on and shake it like crazy, only to realize it's supposed to be that way! 

As you work the moisturizer into your skin, the color will immediately appear.  You'll see a very natural, bronzed glow, without any streaks or the heavy feel of foundation.  It truly does just tint the skin, so it doesn't sink into fine lines.  That being said, the bronzing effect magically disguises my uneven skin tones and even redness and blemishes. 

You can use it alone or if you need more coverage, with your regular foundation and/or primer.  I've tried both with great results.  And unlike a tanning cream, the tinted moisturizer washes right off at the end of the day.

The product isn't cheap, but with the versatility and incredible results, I think it's well worth the $40 price tag.  One word to the wise... the hydrating tint does not contain any SPF, so if you're going outside, you absolutely need to put on your favorite sunscreen first.

Bold for my birthday in cheery floral from PinkBlush

Pink Blush Red Floral Ruffle Trim Maxi Dress

Another year, another 29th birthday!  With a toddler and newborn, I really wasn't expecting much, but it turned out to be more than I ever could have wished for. 

My husband surprised me with a wine club membership (yay!), beautiful peonies and a steak dinner to die for.  The next night, my friends gathered at Bayou Wine Garden for rosé and cake in the courtyard.  I was blown away by the generosity of the wonderful people in my life.

Pink Blush Red Floral Ruffle Trim Maxi Dress

As the birthday girl, I wanted something fun and bold for my special night.  I've been hesitant to try the off-the-shoulder trend since I'm on the busty side... and especially since I've been nursing my newborn.  So, this maxi dress from the trendy online boutique PinkBlush was a gamble.  Based on the compliments I received all evening, I think that gamble paid off!

Pink Blush Red Floral Ruffle Trim Maxi Dress

The ruffle makes the look so easy to wear. You don't have to worry about lumps and bumps from your strapless bra, because the ruffle hides everything!  The floral print with bright red, blue and pink hues are eye-catching.  Not to mention, the $68 price tag makes the frock super affordable.

I paired the dress with a delicate gold lariat necklace, gold and navy earrings from my mother and a brown leather belt with rope detail.  It was perfect for a hot summer night and I felt truly fabulous! 

Pink Blush Red Floral Ruffle Trim Maxi Dress

It's official... I'm cut off from having children

You know those women who get pregnant on the first try, look fabulous and gush about how much they love being pregnant, then brag about how the baby just popped right out?

I AM NOT ONE OF THEM.

My mother keeps telling me that our family produces great children, we're just not very good at making them.  She's right.  I'm now the proud mother of two beautiful boys, who in my oh-so-humble opinion are perfect in every way.  However, getting to this point was not easy. 

Beau was born seven weeks premature, after my water broke in the middle of the night, eight weeks before my due date.  Getting through the five weeks he spent in Neonatal Intensive Care was one of the greatest challenges I've ever faced.

Fast forward three years and as we expected our second child, my husband Joe and I were immediately overcome with fear.  Would the same thing happen?  Would my water break later, or God forbid, even earlier in my pregnancy?  Would the end result be another happy, healthy child or a baby that faces a lifetime of medical and emotional problems?

Given my medical history and a few bouts of early contractions, my doctors put me on bedrest.  Then one afternoon at my weekly appointment, all hell broke loose... AGAIN.  Just shy of 36 weeks, my blood pressure skyrocketed.

IMG_20170505_032303.jpg

I was rushed to the hospital, where tests showed I had extreme preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome.  You've likely heard of preeclampsia, but probably not HELLP, named after its characteristics:

H (hemolysis, which is the breaking down of red blood cells)
EL (elevated liver enzymes)
LP (low platelet count)

The mortality rate of HELLP is reported as high as 25%.  The most common reasons mothers become critically ill or die are liver rupture or stroke.  It's scary as all HELL.

Doctors treated me with a cocktail of IVs, including magnesium, for about 72 hours.  Incredibly, mother nature kicked in and instead of needing an emergency cesarean section, I went into labor and was briefly taken off the drugs to deliver Baby Brooks, our 5 pound bundle of joy.

They immediately drugged me back up and the following 24 hours were the most miserable of my life.  I was so swollen I was unrecognizable, I vomited non-stop, couldn't see, couldn't move and could barely speak.  At one point, I asked the doctor in a strained whisper, if I was going to die.  He paused for what seemed like an eternity, then said they're doing everything they can to treat me. 

That wasn't the answer I was looking for.

Seven weeks later, my blood pressure is still elevated to the point that it requires medication and I'm still not in the clear.  Both preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome can reoccur for months after giving birth.

So, I'm not one of those perfect women.  In fact, when it comes to having kids, I suck.

But I'm counting my blessings anyway. 

I have two handsome, healthy boys and thanks to my incredible doctors, I'm still alive and here to see them grow.  As I write this article and glance at Brooks' sweet sleeping face, I realize that at the end of the day... through all the obstacles... I truly have a lot to be thankful for.

 

 

Keep that belly looking fly with Le Tote Maternity

anne cutler le tote maternity

You've heard me talk about Le Tote before.  It's a brilliant concept.  Starting at $39 per month, they'll send you a box of clothes and accessories to wear as long as you'd like.  When you're ready for a new shipment, you can purchase anything you'd like for a discount.  Then, send back what you don't keep and they'll immediately get you a new box!  Le Tote will style it based on your measurements and preferences or you can individually pick the pieces you'd like.

I've been using the traditional service for months now, but recently switched to Le Tote Maternity.  It's easy to spend a fortune on maternity clothes that barely get worn.  As a television personality, it became almost impossible to keep my closet fresh with a baby in my belly.

The maternity program works just like the traditional service, but they offer a range of belly-friendly frocks, from dresses to lounge wear.  Plus, you can still access the non-maternity clothes for your early trimesters and those first few months post-partum when you're not quite 'bumping'... but not quite yourself either.  It's a time-saver, money-saver and has done wonders to keep my closet fresh.

Check out some of my favorite pieces below!