A Five Year Relationship, A Break Up, & A Pregnancy

One month old Athena. She peed all over this setup about 15 minutes after I took this photo, lol.

Ever since Athena was born I feel like I’ve been going nonstop. Her 8 month birthday is coming up soon and I can’t even begin to tell you guys how much I’ve learned. There are SO many things that I want to share, but I don’t even know where to start. Ive been sitting here giving it some thought and I realized that I haven’t shared much personal information with you guys, so I should probably start with that. I should preface this by saying, I’m really private when I comes to my personal life and sharing personal details doesn’t come easily, so bear with me. That being said, let’s dig right in.

A five year relationship, a break up, & a pregnancy

That’s how I would sum up the following in less than 10 words. But for the sake of being more open, let me expand on this title. Marc and I were in a romantic relationship for 5 years, we broke up, I moved out of the house we shared, and two months later, I found out I was pregnant. We decided we would co-parent and live together again for the baby’s first year to lean on each other as we navigated through life as new parents. We moved into a bigger house and a few months later Athena was born.

Fast forward nearly 8 months and everything is going well. When it comes to parenting, we’ve had some bumps in the road but that’s perfectly natural since this is a new experience for all three of us. I can’t speak for Marc but I can say that I’ve personally learned a lot from this experience. Like I said in the beginning, there’s so much I want to share, about pregnancy, about being a vegan mom, raising a vegan baby, breastfeeding, parenting, baby products, etc. So this is where I ask for your help. Let me know in the comments or over on my Instagram, what you’d like me to share about first. Thank you all in advance and I wish you all a happy weekend!

Animal Print Dress & Over the Knee Boots

Dress: Rebecca Minkoff | Boots: Steve Madden | Bag: Target | Tights: Revolve | Lipstick: Nars (in Damned)

We’ve had some kooky weather here in Las Vegas this past month. It’s mostly been warm with a few super cold days sprinkled in. We shot this look on one of those cold days when the temperature fell below 75. Last time I shared this dress, it was a warm weather look and here it is again completely restyled for cool weather. My boots are from last year but they’re back this year! I love them because they stretch and stay up really well (they also come in brown). Also, these over the knee boots are perfect for wide calves.

On another note, tomorrow is Halloween! Wow, the year has really flown by! Athena is almost 8 months old. I can’t believe she’s already going to experience her first Halloween. Seeing her in that chicken costume almost made me tear up. But looking at her adorable little face in that costume made me realize how quickly she’s growing up and that I need to treasure every single day with her. We did two costumes this year because we couldn’t decide on just one. In case you missed it, Athena and I dressed up as black cats in my last post. We haven’t decided which costumes we’ll use for tomorrow’s festivities but one thing is for sure, you’ll see it on my Instagram, lol. Have a safe and happy Halloween, everyone!

Baby’s first Halloween: Mommy & Baby Easy Costume Idea

Top: Target | Leggings: Spanx | Boots: Steve Madden | Headband: Target (similar) | Lips: Nars (in Damned) | Lip Liner: NYX (in Plum) | Athena’s Onesie: Kickee Pants (without the footies here) | Headband: Janie and Jack

We are SO excited for Halloween this year because it’s Athena’s first! The search for Halloween costumes for babies is tough though. We had a hard time finding costumes in her size, 6-9 months old. We checked online, 2 Target stores, Marshalls, and a nearby Halloween store. Finally, we landed on a chicken costume and a black cat. The chicken costume we found at the Halloween store for like, 19.99, I believe. The cat costume, we couldn’t find so I decided I was going to make it. But then I realized I don’t have the time or the energy to make a costume that she’s only going to wear for 1 day so my mommy brain kicked on, “I’ll just put her in a Kickee Pants onesie and her Janie and Jack headband. Done!” (high-fives self).

Easy Halloween Costume for Babies

I’m obsessed with Kickee Pants. They’re soft, high-quality, comfortable, durable and they’re super cute! When I was thinking about Athena’s black cat costume I looked for black separates but couldn’t find any. You’d think it’d be easy to find a black pair of pants and a black top for a baby, but nope. She wears Kickee Pants all the time so I thought why not just buy her an all black Kickee Pants onesie that she can also wear after Halloween? I bought the version with the footies but there’s also a version without the footies. Her cat ears headband I found while perusing one of my favorite children’s clothing stores, Janie and Jack. It’s so cute and she can wear it any time just for fun! For a super quick and easy kids Halloween costume, you could also use Kickee Pants in other solid colors such as light green, dark green, pink, purple, or brown to dress your little ones as a dinosaur, unicorn, or a teddy bear. Just add a little bit of makeup from and fun headband or beanie. I’ve linked a few fun headpieces below.

Easy Halloween Costume for Women

My costume was super easy to put together as well. I used my favorite faux-leather leggings from Spanx that I purchased during Nordstrom’s anniversary sale. They’re so comfortable, they go with everything, and they make your tummy look flat, I LOVE them. You can shop them here. My top is from Target, it’s super soft, comfortable, and it’s like $10. MY boots are from last year but they’re back this year and they are some of the best over the knee boots ever. If you have wide calves, these are the boots for you! FYI, I couldn’t find my exact headband to link but I purchased it at Target from the $1 bin at the entrance. I did, however, link a similar headband that’s about $5. I also linked several other options below.

Faux-Leather Leggings Casual Weekday Outfit

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Top: H&M (similar) | Leggings: Spanx | Shoes: Steve Madden (similar) | Purse: Rebecca Minkoff (similar)

I’m channeling my inner Olivia Newton John in these faux leather leggings. Her outfit in the last scene of Grease is still on of my favorites to this day. She just looks so damn cool and that’s just how these leggings make you feel. These faux leather leggings are by Spanx and they’re quite comfortable; it kind of just feels like I’m wearing yoga pants. I love the faux leather look of these, they’re the perfect addition to my fall wardrobe. I love how high they come up on the waist and they stay there! They smooth you out and I swear they go with just about everything. Completely obsessed with these!

Black & Gray Outfit

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Top: James Perse | Jeans: Kut from the Kloth | Sweater: Nordstrom (similar) | Boots: Target (similar) | Purse: Target

On the first day the temperature hit below 80, I immediately pulled out my boots and cardigans. We’ve been getting a few cold days here and there but its still mainly in the high 80’s here in Las Vegas. I don’t care though, I’m going to wear my boots, cardigans, and all my other fall pieces now even if it means sitting  in my living room blasting the A/C.  O

On another note, how nice is this double strap, gray satchel? It’s a Givenchy antigona dupe! It comes with a detachable cross body strap, just like the Givenchy version, except this one is made of vegan leather. Since switching to a vegan diet, I’ve also started switching all my shoes, handbags, and accessories to cruelty-free versions. I especially love finding vegan versions of popular designer handbags. If you know of any, leave your suggestions in the comments below. 🙂

Animal Patterns for Fall

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Dress: Nordstrom (on sale!) | Purse: Target | Shoes: Target | Nameplate: Love Always XO Designs | Rosary Necklace: similar

Animal patterns are a big trend for fall. But that’s not the reason I got this dress. To be honest, I didn’t even notice it had an animal pattern until the second time I wore it (I’m detail-oriented like that), lol. No, I got this dress because I fell in love with the shape! The cinching at the waist is super flattering, giving the illusion of a smaller waist. I also love how swingy the material is. The pattern is right on trend but it’s not an overbearing print. Also, the color is in the burgundy spectrum, which, again is right on trend for this season. I can’t wait to style it with boots! It’s so comfy and I also love the little tassel detail. It just went on sale so grab one before they sell out!

Americana: A Fine Dining Gem Off The Strip

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I’m overwhelmed thinking back to my first time dining at Americana. Overwhelmed in the best sense of the word. The food, the ambience, the service—I don’t even know where to begin! Walking into the restaurant, you can see slivers of water through the windows at the far side of restaurant. That’s Lake Jacqueline, on which Americana sits atop. The ambience is elegant and luxurious without being pretentious. The lighting gives the whole restaurant a calming glow; the vibe is relaxed and welcoming. This restaurant is tucked away in the middle of the Desert Shores community, far off from the strip but you’d never guess that looking at the food.

I was 1 of 6 Vegas Lifestyle Influencers invited to dine at Americana. We sat out on the picturesque patio overlooking the serene lake. Chef Stephen Blandino, who is also the owner, created the most delicious and aesthetically pleasing dishes for us. We were treated to a three course dinner as well as champagne, wine, and all the desserts a girl could ask for. They even created special dishes for myself and my fellow vegan Ashley Diana. Given the fact that a vegan menu isn’t standard here, yet every dish was phenomenal, there is no question, Chef Blandino and his team are experts in their field.

We started the dinner off with a flute of champagne. The first course was a mango and radish slaw salad with mandarins and strawberry caviar. A portobello mushroom steak followed. This was the most delicious portobello mushroom I’ve ever had in my life; it was juicy and so packed with incredible flavor. Then they brought out a cauliflower steak paired with corn, bell peppers, snap peas, and oyster mushrooms over a cherry reduction. I paired a nice glass of cabernet with my cauliflower. Everything was absolutely delicious! And these were just the items I had. There was so much food!

For dessert they brought out some amazing dishes including cheesecake, chocolate cake, a lemon bar, macarons, blood orange sorbet, and cotton candy. The blood orange sorbet and cotton candy were the two vegan options and they were both yummy. My mouth still waters when I think about that sorbet. We finished dinner off with cappuccinos and some great conversation. I was floored by not only the food quality and taste but also by the plating. Every dish was beautifully plated and prettier than the last. The Americana team really know how to make their guest feel welcomed and valued. I’ve been recommending them to everyone! If you’re looking to celebrate a special occasion (or even just for a nice dinner) in an intimate setting with high quality food, great service, and beautiful lake views, this is the place to go. I can’t wait to go back for another fantastic dining experience.

If you’d like to know more about Americana visit their website, here, and follow them on Instagram at @AmericanaLV. You can also find them on Yelp, here.

Pink & Black Outfit

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Top: Nordstrom (sold out) | Jeans: Nordstrom | Shoes: Valentino | Purse: Macy’s | Sunglasses: Marc Jacobs | Necklace: Love Always XO Designs | Bracelets: similar

Marc called this outfit “ballerina goes to business school”. Lol. I’ve been anxiously waiting to wear this sweatshirt ever since I first purchased it during the Nordstrom anniversary sale. And now the perfect weather has arrived! It’s finally starting to cool down, here, in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, this top sold out already. But I’m keeping my eye on it, in case it comes back. I love how soft this top is. The material is slightly thick, almost sweater-like but not quite, making it a perfect transitional piece. The fun ruffle accent is my favorite part. This top is something I’d typically never wear but I’m trying to add more color to my wardrobe and since having Athena, pink has become one of my favorite colors. I swear I loathed it with a passion before she came along. And now, well, I’m wearing this pink top, staring at pink bedding for Athena’s crib, and I just purchased pink curtains for her nursery. I don’t know what happening to me. It’s a good thing pink is trending right now!

I’m also really excited about these jeans. Black skinny jeans are a wardrobe staple and these are the perfect pair! Especially if you’re curvy. Finding skinny jeans for curvy girls, can be work. These hug you so well and they don’t sag. They’re also super comfortable, they fit true to size, and they go with everything; winning! Lol. If you’ve been looking for a pair of basic black skin jeans, look no further, you’ve found them!

10 Things I wish someone would have told me when I was pregnant

In lieu of Athena’s 6 month birthday, I thought I’d share 10 things I wish someone would have told me when I was pregnant. There are many, MANY, more things I wish I’d been told but the clock reads 2:50am as I type this and I just can’t remember it all right now.

1. When it comes to the actual birth, expect the unexpected.

I heard it all and I still wasn’t prepared. I must have listened to 50+ labor and delivery stories on The Birth Hour alone. I heard it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly. There were experiences with 20-hour labors, emergency c-sections, giving birth with 2-broken legs, etc. But none of these stories prepared me for the birth of my baby. I planned for a home birth and everything did start at home but after 30-some hours of labor, we ended up in the hospital—per my midwife’s recommendation. I didn’t plan for a hospital birth so I wasn’t prepared for that AT ALL. I didn’t even pack a bag incase this scenario played out, so we were kind of scrambling last minute to get things together.

2. Don’t buy all the things

Ok well, someone did tell me this. Six months into my pregnancy, Marc and I took a newborn care class. The class opened with a discussion about essential items needed to take care of newborn baby. The teacher, who would later become my doula, said you don’t need a single thing. Sure, there are a variety of items that can make welcoming your little bundle a bit easier but you already have everything you already need.

My advice, wait until you need it and then order it on Amazon Prime. This works really well because you won’t have to go to the store (also, you won’t be able to/want to). Also, waiting until you need it allows you to determine if you really need the item in question. If you buy everything you think you’ll need right away, you’ll end up shoving it all in a linen closet or giving most of it away, like I did. Buy the absolute essentials, like diapers and a crib. The rest, can wait.

3. Let your partner help

I’m kind of a control freak and I like to keep my house clean and organized. This is not a good combination when you’ve just given birth. I was cleaning my house right up until the day I gave birth. In fact, I was cleaning during labor. After my daughter was born it was tough to physically move around. So the dishes started to pile up and dust bunnies moved in. If you want to keep your sanity, it’s important to remember to let your partner help. I used to be very much of the it’s-easier-and-faster-if-I-just-do-it mentality. As much as I wanted to, I just couldn’t do it all after giving birth so Marc started helping more around the house. Your partner may not do things the way you like them to be done but they’ll get done and that’s what matters. So what if they don’t match the tupperware lids to the bottoms before putting them away, even if it’s all shoved into the cabinet, at least it will be put away and not lingering in the dishwasher for a week. While they do that, you can have a rest, which you’ll definitely want/need.

Also, let them help with the baby, everyone benefits from this. Again, they may not change diapers, swaddle them, or coordinate their outfits like you do but it’s all going to be fine. Dad needs to bond with baby too and these are the perfect opportunities. I’ll never forget one of the times I asked Marc to dress Athena while I finished getting ready. I was putting on my shoes and I look up to see Marc walking down the stairs holding Athena in a Batman onesie with matching hat and bib. He was so proud. Lol.

4. If you’re planning to give breastmilk exclusively, buy extra equipment.

Breastfeeding is a beast of a task. Women that are able to breastfeed (even a little bit) should be given a medal. It’s so freaking tough. Pumping is a whole other game. These two challenges combined, well, prepare to want to rip your hair out. You will want to pump though; and when you do, it’s a bit easier if you have extra bottles and breast shields. Most pumps come with 4 bottles and 2 breast shields; you’re going to need more.

I spent the first 3 months after my daughter’s birth endlessly washing and sanitizing pumping equipment. You’ll need 2 breast shields and 2 bottles per pumping session, you’ll probably want to pump about 6 times a day so buy at least 3 more sets of shields and bottles. This way, you’ll only wash everything once or twice per day. Trust me, having to wash and sanitize everything after every single pumping session is unnecessary torture. Now, at the end of the day, I just throw all the pumping equipment into the right side of the sink with really hot water and lots of soap. I let it soak for 15-20 min before quickly scrubbing everything. Washing 6 sets of breast shields, bottles, lids, valves, and membranes, takes about 15 minutes.

5. You’re going to be you but you’re not going to be you

Your life has just changed in in the blink of an eye. You’re now responsible for this tiny human that you have to feed, clothe, and raise into a model citizen—shit. By nature, you now come second and this can be a bit disconcerting. You’ve spent your entire life, until now, taking care of mostly just yourself but now you have to do everything you’ve done for yourself for another human first. Then, if you have time leftover, you can bathe, get dressed, and have a meal.

Every little thing will be different. You won’t be able to shower or do your makeup like you used to, because you won’t have the time. None of your clothes will fit for a good while and once they do you can’t just wear that cute top that you love so much. No, forget fashionable, you’re now all about functional. You’ll need to wear something that’s conducive to breastfeeding (if you plan on breastfeeding). And I sincerely wish you the best of luck with breastfeeding. I thought this would be one of the easy parts. Nope. I didn’t know what my body was doing, at times it really felt like my body was betraying me.

You’re basically going to turn into another person, the person your baby needs you to be; and you may have to go through all of this while dealing with postpartum depression. You may not feel like yourself (six months in, I still don’t), for days, weeks, months, or even years. But as awful as this all sounds, it’s so rewarding. You’ll have some epically blissful moments that won’t compare to anything else you’ve ever experienced in life and it’ll all be worth it.

6. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on a new stage of baby’s behavior, everything will change again.

You’ll want to pull out all your hair and you may start to lose hope— but this is all perfectly normal. It’s a steep learning curve but you can do it. It may seem like you can’t keep up but you can.

7. Don’t buy all the cute onesies.

Unless you really want to. Ok, I’m split on this one, here’s why. I was repeatedly told by friends, family, and strangers alike, not to buy a lot of baby clothes because they grow so quickly that they won’t even get to wear it all. I got the same advice from all these people because they too, purchased way to many cute outfits that their baby never got wear. And you’ll do it too, as you should. Athena has some outfits she outgrew before wearing but I don’t regret buying them. Shopping for baby clothes while I was pregnant was one of the most enjoyable moments of my pregnancy. So my advice is, if it makes you happy, buy all the onesies!

8. Be in the pictures!

You may not feel or look your best after giving birth (or for several months after) but don’t let that discourage you from getting in the picture with your baby. I have only a handful of pictures with Athena from birth until 4 months. Partly because I typically looked like something the cat dragged in and I didn’t want photographic proof of that; and partly because I was always the one taking the picture. It was only recently that I made a conscious effort to be in the photos because even if I look like crap, I know in the future I’ll regret not having pictures with her. I also came to the conclusion that being photographed with frizzy hair, no makeup, and spit-up-laden sweat pants will help us better recall these grueling but oh-so-rewarding first few months of parenting.

9. Your mother, aunts, and other older females will try to roast your baby.

Keep an eye on them. The older female relatives, that is. The first time my mother visited, after Athena was born, she spent a good part of each day telling me to bundle up my baby because she must be cold. I heard this a lot from my aunts and Athena’s paternal grandmother as well. My mother even took it upon herself to cover Athena up whenever she had the chance. You may have been told that babies have trouble regulating their temperature and while that’s true, it’s doesn’t mean that they are cold. In fact, in most cases, babies run hot. Because of this and per the suggestion of our midwife, we keep the house pretty cool, especially at night. Our midwife told us it’s better for baby to be a bit cold then to run the risk of overheating them. My room is oftentimes freezing while Athena is still perfectly warm when I pull her out of the crib every morning.

9. Going out will never be the same

Rather, running errands (because this is the only going out you’ll be able to do), will never be the same. What used to be a quick, 10 minute pop into the grocery store is now a 2 hour mission. The amount of gear your have to take along is unreal. But should you choose to leave it behind one day, that will be the day your baby has a poop explosion, then spits-up exorcist-style as you try to wrangle her diaper. And yes, I speak from personal experience.

10. Remember to take care of yourself

As soon as you give birth everything revolves around your baby. By nature, you will obsess over her so much that you may forget to do even basic things for yourself, such as brush your teeth or shower. But it’s important to set aside time to do something nice for yourself. These little breaks will help you keep your sanity, be a better mother, and an overall better person.

3 Things to consider when introducing solid foods to infants

Thursday night we ended up in the ER with Athena. It was the scariest moment of my life and if I’m being honest, I’m a bit traumatized. If you have kids, this may seem like a rookie mistake to you and you’ll probably think I’m an idiot. But I want to share this experience for those that are new parents, like myself, or are expecting.

We’ve been giving Athena solid food for about a month now. She’s had pureed carrots, peas, and avocado. We’ve also given her sips of 2 types of juices we make. One contains kale, spinach, cucumber, lemon, ginger, and celery (this is her favorite). The second contains blueberries, kale, bananas, dates, and almond milk. As vegans, we drink a lot of almond milk. We also drink coconut milk and cashew milk every now and then. Because of this, we naturally, didn’t even think twice about giving our baby nut-based milks.

If you’re a new parent, you may not have thought about allergens when you’re introducing new foods. I sure didn’t. I mean, it crossed my mind at one point when she was first born but that thought had long vanished from my mind. Food allergies don’t run in my family history or in Marc’s so it’s not something we really thought about. It’s especially easy to forget to think of these types of things when you’re a new parent because there’s a multitude of things going on. You forget even the most basic things. Some days I don’t even remember to brush my teeth. Food allergies are such a serious issue, life-threatening even. You’d think that you’d remember to think about something so serious. But we didn’t, and Athena had a major allergic reaction.

I had just made some cashew milk and we decided to give Athena a bit to try. She probably had an ounce or less and within minutes she began to scratch feverishly. As I grabbed her hands to stop her from scratching, I saw her chest was covered in hives. Even as she was breaking into hives, a cashew allergy didn’t cross my mind until Marc said it. I told Marc to call the pediatrician.  As he was pulling up the phone number, the hives kept spreading and growing. By the time he found it (not even 2 min had passed), her chest, belly, and neck were covered in big, thick, hives. It looked as if her skin was going to burst. Then she let out a little wail and her voice had changed. She sounded muffled, I immediately told Marc to drive us to the hospital. I breastfed her as Marc gathered our things. 

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This photo was taken a bit after they gave her medication. It was so much worse before.
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This photo was taken a bit after they gave her medication. It was so much worse before.

Fortunately for us, the nearest hospital is literally 10 minutes away. We made it in 5 and rushed into the emergency room. On the way there, I called the hospital to let them know were coming. Judging by the total lack of urgency in their step, I thought maybe I overreacted. Although, I honestly think that if someone walked in holding their own severed arm, the staff would have behaved equally as slowly. They had us sit so they could take Athena’s vitals. We hadn’t given her anything at this point, except breastmilk, and I noticed the swelling had gone down. I’m not sure about this, but I think the breastmilk may have helped reduce the hives a bit because they seemed to be improving. Her voice also improved a bit before she got any medication. They administered diphenhydramine and dexamethasone orally to treat the hives. Within a couple hours the rash was completely gone.

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Even her ears swelled up. This photo was taken after they gave her medication. Here, some of the swelling has reduced.

3 Things to consider when introducing solid foods to infants

Introduce only one new food per day

Introducing only one new food per day will make it easier to find the culprit should your child experience and allergic reaction. The rule used to be every four days but that has since changed. However, if food allergies run in your or your partner’s families, consider sticking to the four day rule which is waiting 4 days before introducing a new food. Nuts and nut-based milks were recommended only after baby’s first year but those guidelines have also changed. The American Academy of Pediatrics now suggests introducing these foods as early as 4 months of age.

“New research has shown early introduction of peanuts into the diet of infants at high risk of peanut allergy can play a role in the prevention of peanut allergies. Based on this new research, European and U.S. physicians are developing formal guidelines regarding early-life complementary feeding practices.” – American Academy of Pediatrics

Introduce new foods in small doses

This was the mistake we made. Athena likes drinking from a regular cup so I poured a bit of cashew milk in there and let her sip it. She drank maybe about an ounce of it. What we should have done, is let her drink it from a bottle or sippy cup, which have a low flow. This way, we could have noticed the allergic reaction before she ingested a larger amount. We did initially have her drink it from a bottle but she wouldn’t drink it. She seems to only like having breastmilk in her bottle. So we tried it in a regular plastic cup and she drank it right away. Try introducing new foods in one ounce measurements. Be sure to keep a close eye on your child during and after a feeding, in order to spot any signs of an allergic reaction.

Have some medication ready

We have now learned that in case of an allergic reaction, if your child is still breathing, most pediatricians will recommend benadryl. Check with your pediatrician on how and when to administer this medication and what steps to follow, in case of an allergic reaction. We now have some benadryl in our medicine cabinet in case this happens again. If food allergies run in your or your partner’s family, and your child is of the required weight, ask your pediatrician if they can prescribe an epi pen jr.

Now that this has all passed and it’s been a few days, a small part of me thinks I may have overreacted but I still think I made the right call. When I saw the rash and hives spreading so quickly and heard my baby’s muffled voice, all I could think was that her throat was going to close up and she would stop breathing. I would never want to take that chance so that’s why we booked it to the hospital. So my last piece of advice is, listen to your instincts. No one loves your child more than you do. No one will take better care of them than you will, so don’t worry about looking like a crazy, dramatic parent during these types of situations. Follow your instincts because no one knows your baby better than you.

Sources:

https://www.aap.org