Hello Baby!

If you’ve been following me for awhile, I’m sure you know by now that I occasionally write blog posts for my friend Taylor over at Not Just Another Teen Mom. Well, here comes another one!

This time, Taylor has put together a wonderful blog series where moms discuss their birthing stories. And what mom DOESN’T like to talk about their birth stories?! Whether good or bad, most of us will tell you every tiny little detail – sometimes we do it without you asking. I will do my best to limit some of the finer details (no talk of mucous plugs here) and I will try to keep them as short and sweet as I possibly can. Buuutttt, considering that I have two stories to tell and both labors lasted a few hours…. well, you know.

Here are my stories:

Baby J

He is four years old now, but I still remember the day he was born as though it happened minutes ago.

My labor began at home, ON my due date, right at 9:00 PM. Because he was my first child, I was way too excited to want to sleep! No way could I close my eyes – I needed to be timing contractions! They started off every 4-6 for the first hour and rapid increased to every 2-3 the next hour. By 11:00, I was calling my OB to let them know. They gave me the go ahead, so we grabbed our bags and loaded into the car.

After triage and getting admitted, my labor began to stall. I waited until morning to talk with my doctor and we decided to go with pitocin and breaking my water.

Around lunch time, they came in and got the pitocin started. A few hours later, they broke my water.

I wanted to go without an epidural, so I did my best to labor without it for as long as I could. By about 4:00 PM, my knuckles were white as I gripped the rails of my hospital bed with each contraction. My doc came in to check and see how much progress I had made and gave me a grim report. 5 cm. 5 FREAKING CENTIMETERS. After laboring forever and being in the worst pain I’d ever experienced… no. I asked them for the epidural and they brought someone in shortly.

My doctor (who I think was the biggest airhead in the hospital) said she would come back and check on me in a few hours. Four hours later, I was so numbed up from the middle of my abdomen down that I couldn’t feel when people touched my legs – not even pressure. Doctor Airhead came back in, glanced at my monitor, saw that my contractions were mere blips on the screen, and decided she’d come back in a few more hours. Didn’t even bother to check and see where I was at.

Not even 10 minutes after Doctor Airhead left, my wonderful, glorious, amazing nurse, Lauren, came in. They had just switched shifts and because it had been awhile since I was checked last, she decided to check me herself so she personally knew where I was at. Because I was all numbed up, she said she was just going to check while I laid on my side.

She lifted the sheet, pulled my legs apart, and slowly said, “Oh…”

She then closed my legs and began to slowly peel her gloves off while backing towards the door and saying, “I’m gonna go get the doctor… because we’re ready to deliver NOW.”

“NOW?!”

“Yes. Now.”

Then she bolted out of the room.

I thought it was some kind of weird joke. They told me I’d feel pressure. I felt nothing.

His poor, unsuspecting father, was heading into the bathroom when I said, “Hey. What do you see?” and pulled the sheet back…

“THAT’S HIS HEAD?!?!”
“Seriously?”
“NO, SERIOUSLY! THAT’S HIS HEAD! OH MY GOSH…”
“Are you playing with me right now?”
“NO!!! THAT’S HIS HEAD! RIGHT THERE!”

At this point, Lauren and another nurse rushed back in.

Lauren grabbed my legs, flipped me onto my back in one motion (I still have no clue how she did that…), and told me to push. No one dropped down the bottom half of the bed, the giant overhead light didn’t come down out of the ceiling, my feet didn’t go up in the stirrups… just push. My doctor wasn’t even there.

I looked at her like she was crazy and once again, she said, “Push… NOW!”

I gave the most half-assed push of my life (I seriously put in about the same amount of effort I would to pass gas… I still didn’t think they were serious) and he came FLYING out. Lauren caught him, cut the cord, and put him on my chest with a million blankets and told me to just keep rubbing him to keep him warm. I did. And the entire time, I was crying.

I took birthing classes, did my research, read books… none of them ever talked about it happening like this.

But there he was. And with a head full of dark hair.

J&M

Born at 40 weeks and 1 day: 7 lbs 8 oz, 21.5 inches long, 7:19 PM (exactly 15 minutes after my doctor left my room), and absolutely perfect.

Baby N

Now, her story is a little less exciting. ūüôā

I started laboring early in the morning with her, sometime around 6 or 7. I called my dad and let him know so he could come be with J while we were at the hospital, but told him to take his time. When we got to the hospital, it was about 10:30 AM. They took us back into triage where I did a whole lot of sitting and watching my contractions.

They were a little bit further apart, but strong. I had made some progress, but not as much as my doctor wanted to see before I was admitted (SHE was brilliant and compassionate… not an airhead). So my husband and I got up and started walking the halls of the hospital.

Let me just say that walking around with my husband while contracting was one of the funniest things ever. Every time I would pause to breathe through a contraction, he would pause with me. But there was one moment where he made me laugh so incredibly hard in the middle of a contraction that I seriously considered punching him.

He decided to quote a movie to me. So there I am, having a contraction, and he starts saying, “Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme! Get on up! It’s baby time!”

I couldn’t breathe because I couldn’t stop laughing.

Right after that, we went back to triage and my doctor checked up on me and decided to go ahead and admit me.

Once again, after being admitted, my contractions began to spread out and my labor started to stall. They got me on pitocin and broke my water not long after. I was determined to make it through this one without the epidural.

I went until about 7:30 PM before I told my nurse that I felt like I was going to need to push soon. There was SO much pressure and I was to the point where I thought I was going to pass out and throw up at the same time every time I had a contraction. My nurse checked me and told me I was still sitting at 5 cm.

I remember thinking, “There is NO WAY I’m only at 5! This hurts so much more than it did with J!” After thinking a little bit, I told her to go ahead and bring someone in to do an epidural. I decided that if I was hurting that bad at 5 cm, I didn’t want to feel the next 5.

Shortly after, they sat me up to do the epidural. We waited for a contraction to pass, and then I felt the pinch of the needle. Instantly, another contraction started and there was SO much pressure. I began telling them they needed to hurry up because I needed to lay back down so I could push. My nurse kept trying to reassure me that I was only at 5 cm and it wasn’t possible for me to push yet.

As soon as they laid me back down, I said, “I need to push. I know my body. Will you please check?”

She checked again and said, “Oh. You’re complete! I’ll go get the doctor.”

Soon, I had my nurse, another nurse, my doctor, and a whole bunch of nursing students in the room. They got everything ready for her arrival, and then went to get my husband. Once he came back in the room, it was go time. After 3 good pushes, she was out. Her dad got to cut her cord, and they handed her up to me.

I remember my first thought being that she was so tiny and I was afraid I would break her. But she sure was perfect. No dark hair like her brother though. She’s my little blondie with blue eyes.

N&M

Born at 38 weeks and 4 days: 5 lbs 10 oz, 19 inches long, 8:15 PM, and beautiful in every way.

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My Baby Boy Is Turning FOUR

He still looks the same when he sleeps. I love that. Although it’s so difficult for me to look at him now and see the once tiny baby I held in my arms. I look at him now and see … Continue reading

My Love/Hate Relationship with “Parenting Styles”

Every so often, I actually get to cuddle with this sweet boy.

I was originally going to write about my love/hate relationship with attachment parenting but decided that if I was going to do that, I should probably know what parenting style I actually use. Turns out, there are apparently 5 “parenting styles” that are floating around out there right now.

**DISCLAIMER: This is my sarcasm font.**

Instinctive Parenting
Parents “go with their gut” or are influenced by their own upbringing. More likely to teach what they know and parent the way they were raised. (In other words, they are copy cats. They mimic the behavior of their own parents and decided to give it a name. Not original.)

Attachment Parenting
Strive to promptly respond to their child’s needs and be sensitive and emotionally available for their child at all times. They often believe in natural childbirth, a family bed, avoidance of corporal punishment, homeschooling, and may be part of the anti-vaccination movement.¬†(In other words, hippies. May smell like incense, patchouli, and borax from homemade laundry detergent. Also known as the “crunchy” parent.)¬†

Helicopter Parenting
They hover. They smother. They cover.¬†(In other words, they like their children like they like their Waffle House hash browns: smothered, covered, and… well… okay. Maybe not scattered. You can usually pick this parent out by the brown discoloration on the end of their nose…)

Authoritative Parenting
Typically establish rules and guidelines and expect their children to follow them. However, not quite to the point of “what I say goes” or “because I said so.” They are still nurturing, forgiving, and responsive. They are assertive but not restrictive and aim to support rather than punish. (In other words, they are not liberals. They aren’t conservative either. They can vote either side at any point in the game. It just depends on which party is presenting the best hand.)

Permissive Parenting
Indulgent. They have very few demands of their children because they have low expectations of maturity and self-control. Lenient. They try to be more of a friend than a parent and don’t like confrontation.¬†(In other words, they are the ones who let their children run around like wild animals and sit back and shrug their shoulders while saying “Kids, eh?” Or flat out ignore the behavior while they tap away at Angry Birds on their phones.¬†*I don’t actually have a clue how you play that game…*)

Clueless Parenting¬†(I came up with this one… last second)
The expectant parent. I mean the “I-just-found-out-I’m-having-a-baby-and-I-have-no-clue-where-to-start-so-I-guess-I’ll-Google-everything-and-ask-everyone-I-know” parent. Like baby ain’t here yet and they don’t know WTF a “birth plan” or “mucous plug” is. They are brand.spanking.new. (Note: no sarcasm there!)

So after reading about each one of these, I have decided that I don’t fit a specific one. I have tried out 4 out of the 5 (Or 5 out of 6… I can’t bring myself to be the parent who is more of a friend than a parent) and not a single one worked for me.

I started off as a clueless parent. I knew what a baby was, how they were made, and that breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for a baby. So, I did what a lot of expecting moms do: I went online. I hit up Google and the message boards over at The Bump. I asked my friends on Facebook. I learned all I could. I knew I wanted to breastfeed and I wanted to give natural birth a shot.

And so began my love/hate relationship with attachment parenting. I LOVED it… for the first 6ish months. I breastfed, co-slept, did baby wearing, baby led weaning, tried making my own cloth diapers, used all natural lotions, soaps, and creams… and then I started to feel like Waffle House hash browns. Smothered, covered, and definitely scattered. My son slept through the night from the time he was a month and a half right up until 4ish months. Then I hit the “4 month wakeful period.” That lasted until he was about 7 months.

But at 6 months, I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t get him to sleep until 11 and I had to nurse him to sleep and try verrrrryyyyy carefully to get up without waking him so I could attempt to clean because, you know, I spent my entire day with him ATTACHED to me and couldn’t get much done. Then I’d crawl into bed. He’d wake up at 1:30, nurse back to sleep, up again at 4:30, nurse back to sleep, up again at 6:30-7, nurse again, and sleep (restlessly) until about 9.

I decided to move him to his crib because I wasn’t sleeping well AT ALL. Every time he moved, I woke. Every time he woke, I woke and HAD to nurse him to get him back to sleep. Plus, he had a tough time staying asleep because every time I moved, it would wake him up. So into his own bed he went. The first night was tough, but I stayed by his side until he fell asleep. The next time he woke, he barely cried and fell asleep easily. I slept in his room that night and stayed right next to his crib until he was sound asleep each time he woke. The second night was SO much easier. Eventually, we got to the point where he was back to sleeping through the night (from about 7:30 until 7:30 or 8!) and he no longer WANTED to be in my bed. He loved having his own space!

When he began walking, I became a¬†helicopter¬†parent. That was short lived. I’ve never been a fan of hovering, so I taught him to “brush it off” and move on. He’s excellent at it now and barely even bats an eye when he takes a tumble, unless he’s seeking attention. Speaking of that, let’s talk about the “terrible twos” for a moment.

He hit that phase and I went into authoritative overdrive. I set rules. I set boundaries. I used timeout. I was firm, but loving. I wanted him to recognize that there are rules for a reason and that they should be followed. I wanted him to learn to respect his elders and use his manners but I also wanted him to know that I would always be there for him and support him and love him.

This also led to my encounter with¬†instinctive parenting. However, there is a difference in how I approached that one. Most parents that use this method do the same things their own parents did. In my case, I took a lot of the things my parents did and used them as guidelines for what I¬†don’t want to do. Now don’t get me wrong – I am¬†NOT saying that I think my parents did a terrible job or I that I didn’t learn any positive parenting techniques from them. I love both of my parents to the moon and back, but that doesn’t mean I agree 100% with their parenting styles.

Anyway, all of this led me to where I am right now with parenting.

I’m going to call it¬†I-don’t-give-a-shit Parenting. And no, that’s not because I don’t give a shit about my kids. It’s because I don’t give a shit about what kind of “parenting style” I fall under. I use a little bit of all the above. Some days I’m more of an attachment parenting person than authoritative. Sometimes I still play helicopter mom. Sometimes I find myself doing things the same way or the polar opposite of how my parents did it.

Our society today has seriously screwed up views of parenting. Actually, PARENTS today have a seriously screwed up view of parenting! I see many parents who think they have to fall under only one of those categories and then they feel as though they have to follow it to a “T” when in reality, they don’t have to. No one out there has said, “If you’re going to do attachment parenting, you have to be all in or else you FAIL or you’re not REALLY doing it!”

The other thing I see is parents using their parenting style as a way to compete with other parents. This REALLY irks my nerves. Grinds my gears. It pisses me off.

“You started solids at __ months old?! Oh no, we’re waiting until the exact second baby turns 6 months old because that’s the recommendation.”

“So you’re kid just hit mine and all you’re going to do is hold them while they cry about how they hurt their hand? You can’t be serious right now…”

“Oh my gosh! Your son just tried to jump off the top of the slide! Thank goodness I just happened to be right there, watching my child’s every move, and was able to catch him for you!”

“I would NEVER let my child say/do something like that!”

“I can’t believe you are just letting her cry! How cruel! I could never do that to my baby.”

You get the point and I’m sure y’all can come up with more on your own.

The thing is, not a single one of these people ever stops and takes into consideration WHY those parents are doing things the way they are.

The parent that started their baby on solids at 4.5 months? Their doctor told them to. Why? Who cares. It’s not your child and none of your business. You want to wait until your baby is 6 months? Fine. It doesn’t make you a better parent, by ANY means.

Maybe the kid that hit your kid isn’t a bully. Maybe the reason they hit your child and are now crying is because they have autism and are having a melt down moment. You going over there and getting in mom’s face isn’t going to help. Try explaining to your kid that sometimes people don’t apologize for hurting people and that it’s best to just forgive anyway and move on (might help in the long run with relationships).

That woman who’s son tried to jump off the slide? She wasn’t being inattentive. She has learned that he’s a daredevil and can totally hold his own when it comes to doing something daring. And your child, who you are smothering with your hovering, has been watching her kid and LONGING to show off their jumping skills too.

The person who’s kid said/did something you would never allow? Maybe they are going through a divorce or some other hardship. I’m not defending rudeness or disrespect, but what I am doing is pointing out that there are situations that can have a major impact on children and cause them to act out more than normal. And if mom/dad is stressed about something, they may not have a whole lot of energy for dealing with poor behavior. A pat on the back could make their day.

The mother who is “just letting her cry” has already tried everything she can think of to calm her baby/toddler and is removing herself from the situation before she ends up ripping her hair out. Again, another situation where a pat on the back could make all the difference to her.

I guess the point of this whole post is this: 

Figure out what works for you. Maybe you like some of the ideas behind “attachment parenting” but want to be more authoritative in your approach to discipline. Maybe you’re a chronic helicopter mom and want to be more laid back. Maybe you have been too permissive and want to transition into being more attached. Try it all out and stick with what works.

Don’t feel like a failure if you don’t follow one style completely. I have a friend who I’m pretty sure is convinced that attachment parenting is the ONLY way to go. If it works for her, more power to her.¬†However, I have watched her feel like a failure from time to time simply because she didn’t do something exactly like most other attachment parenting moms have done.

Take other people’s reasons into consideration.¬†You will encounter other parents with different parenting styles for the rest of your life. Just because they handle a situation in a different manner from you does not mean they are doing it the wrong way.

Don’t act as though your parenting style is superior.¬†It may be to you, but that does NOT mean it will work for everyone else! This is the second part to taking other people into consideration.

Be kind to one another. You may not agree with their methods or views, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be kind to them. Besides, it sets a good example for your children, right?

Stop giving a shit about what other people think. Seriously. Just stop. What good is it doing anyway? Are you going to let them be the one to decide how to raise your child or are you going to do that yourself?

…That’s what I thought.

 

Marriage and Motherhood

 

So I was approached a few days ago by my friend Taylor over at¬†Not Just Another Teen Mom¬†about writing another feature piece for her blog. The series is called “Balancing Marriage & Motherhood.” I have to admit, I was a little bit skeptical about writing for it at first.

For those of you who don’t know, this ain’t my first rodeo with marriage. I was married to my son’s father and made plenty of mistakes. I am now married to the wonderful man in the picture above and I couldn’t possibly be any happier (as if that isn’t obvious from the stupid grin on my face). It hasn’t always been easy and God only knows how many obstacles we’ve had to overcome, but it has most certainly been worth it.

I have made plenty of mistakes in the area of marriage and motherhood and still do. What kind of advice could I possibly have to offer?!

Then I thought, “Oh, but I have plenty I could talk about! There are a lot of things I’ve done to ensure my hubby doesn’t feel left out…”¬†

I was totally going to write some of the things a lot of the other women have told you about: date nights, spending quality time together, doing things as a family, etc. Those are all wonderful things to do, but then I thought,¬†“Nahhh…”¬†

So I’m here to shake things up a bit. I’m going to be flat out¬†blunt.

1. Stop being selfish. 

It’s not all about you. Yeah, maybe you do stay up with the kids at night more frequently than he does and I’m sure you’d love a foot or back rub every now and then. Maybe you spent your day cleaning up puke and washing crayons off the walls. Maybe you are stressed because of something that happened at your job and then that stress was compounded by the fact that your son’s principal called you because Little Johnny skipped third period.

But tell me, do you ever take into consideration how hard your husband busts his ass or the stresses he may have encountered that day? Does he work long hours or night shift? Does he have a job that requires a lot of physical exertion? Does he work in an office setting where he maybe deals with an incompetent boss? Is he on his feet all day?

Stop thinking about yourself. Every person has their own struggles and you can’t possibly know what the other person’s struggles are if you are too busy being caught up in your own. Your needs are no more important than his and that is something that should be recognized and demonstrated on a daily basis – especially because he is¬†your spouse.

I do my best to do this every day, but I’m human and sometimes I fail. Sometimes I’ve had a day where it feels like absolutely nothing has gone right and I’m tired and stressed and I don’t want to cook and the kids are being evil… and my husband sees all of that and he then puts my needs ahead of his own. He will suggest ordering a pizza or going to pick up dinner. He helps with getting the kids into bed. He pours me a glass of wine, pulls up Neflix, and puts his arm around me while I rest my head on his shoulder.

So I always keep that in mind when it comes to him. I will cook his favorite meal. I pick up a new beer for him from a local microbrewery when I’m at the grocery store. I leave him alone (for the most part) when he retreats to his “mancave” for a few hours.¬†I rub his back and stroke his hair at night before he falls asleep and wake up early with him in the morning so we can sit in bed and drink coffee together.

2. Ditch the social media. 

Yes, I know that Facebook is an absolutely wonderful way to stay in touch with your family and friends who are both near and far, but posting a photo of the kids doesn’t require you checking your apps 9,856,783,467 times a day.¬†Especially if it’s a day when you and your spouse are home at the same time!!!

We have a “no phones at the table” policy in our house. It really only applies to my husband and I, considering our kids are only 3 and 1 and a half. ¬†But it helps us connect as a family. We also apply that rule to our date nights. Obviously we bring our phones in case of emergency, but we don’t take them out unless we need to.

Social media is so¬†convenient. You can catch up with the latest on friends and family, chat with people, update family on new life changes, upload photos of the kids, worry yourself sick reading parenting articles, spend too much time analyzing a comment or “Like” from someone, or post passive aggressive status updates regarding “someone” not taking out the trash, “again.”

If you know more about the life of someone who went to kindergarten with your sister’s boyfriend’s mom than you do about what’s new with your spouse, you have a problem.

3. Remember that you and your spouse came before the kids. 

While I know this may not always be the case, you should still act as if it is true (in my opinion). Your children will always be your children. They didn’t have a choice in who their parents are. They will always love you. However, your spouse DID choose you and they can also make the decision to leave. Make spending time with them a priority.

I’m going to add in an excerpt from a post I wrote a few months ago (you can read it here):

“Want to know the secret to having a happy marriage?

The trick is making a conscious effort. Marriage takes a lot of work ‚Äď it¬†doesn’t¬†maintain itself.¬†You have to get up every day and think ‚ÄúI‚Äôm going to do everything I can to put a smile on their face,‚ÄĚ and then DO IT. Treat your spouse the EXACT way you want to be treated. It‚Äôs as simple as that. Being kind, courteous, considerate, and respectful can go a long way. This is true of any relationship.”

“As his wife, I want nothing more than to see my husband happy. If I have to do a little bit of work to make that happen, then you‚Äôre damn right I‚Äôm going to do it ‚Äď even if he¬†doesn’t¬†ask me to.

After all, marriage is about one thing: love.

‘LOVE:¬†unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.'”¬†

 

And I’m out.

*Drops mic*

Formula = Failure

formula

Now before I have parents jumping all over my ass for the title of my post, let me just say that I AM NOT knocking formula feeding moms!

Nope.
I’m here to debunk this bullshit.

So all you formula feeding moms out there, calm your jets and unwad your panties. And all you lactivists out there, unwad yours as well and open your mind.

Before I get started, I’d like to tell you folks a little story and give you some of my own history.

I am a breastfeeding mom. I consider myself to be a lactivist. I breastfed my son for one year and my daughter is still going strong at 16 months.

So you may be wondering now, “If she breastfeeds, why in the hell is she supporting formula?”

Well, because I am also a formula feeding mom.

That’s right. You heard me.¬†I used formula.

When my son hit 8 months, I brought him in to the docs because I felt like he hadn’t been gaining very well and because I felt like my supply was lower than normal. According to WHO standards, breastfed babies (6-12 months of age) should gain about 1.75-2.75 ounces¬†per week and grow 1/2 inch per month. At that visit, I found that he had gained 2 ounces and grown 1/4 inch… over the course of a month. He had gained a quarter of what he should have over the course of a month.

Considering he was eating solids 2-3 times per day and nursing about 6 times a day at this point, he should have gained more than just 2 ounces.

For those of you lactivists out there who are probably rattling of the numerous methods I could have used to boost my supply, you can stop now. I know about the majority of those methods and gave several a try when I began seeing signs of my supply dropping. Pumping. Skin to skin. Herbs. Cookies. Teas. Beer…

At this point in MY life, I was dealing with a lot of stress in my relationship with his father and battling postpartum depression (PPD) as well. My stress and anxiety levels were through the roof and now I had to add my son’s weight gain and my supply to that list. If you didn’t already know this, stress can have a negative effect on your supply.

So I made the choice to supplement with formula. I continued breastfeeding – we just added in a few bottles of formula each day. Man! What a difference it made! My son gained a pound over the course of a month and continued with his healthy weight gain up until a year. But it didn’t only make a difference for him – it changed things for me as well.

I no longer had to dread feeding time and worry about whether or not I was making enough milk and I no longer had to wonder “is he getting enough?” My stress level decreased significantly and I felt better equipped to take on the monster called PPD. By the time he was 10 months old, I was able to stop taking my antidepressants, I felt the happiest I had in months, and I was enjoying my little boy more than ever and FINALLY enjoying nursing him!

Formula changed our lives and saved my sanity.

So now that you know my history with formula, let me continue on with the rest of this post.

When my son was about 20 months or so, I got pregnant again. I knew right off the bat that I wanted to breastfeed again. I was armed with more knowledge than I had with my son and in a much healthier and happier relationship. By this point, I had helped many other women battle their breastfeeding struggles and learned from there experiences as well. I had also researched the benefits of breast milk versus formula and, thanks to the pro-breastfeeding pages I have “Liked” on Facebook, been bombarded with information on how BAD formula was for baby.

Let’s just get this straight: formula is not “bad” for your baby. Pretty much everyone knows breast milk is the best thing for your baby. It contains all kinds of things that cannot be replicated in formula, the composition changes as your baby’s needs change and throughout the day, it lowers the risks of many illnesses and diseases, and it raises IQ levels. There is no denying that “breast is best.”

But formula is not bad.

Formula has come a hell of a long way since it first started being used. Hell, I know people who fed their babies Karo and condensed milk for crying out loud (their babies were born in the 1950s). You can now buy organic, soy based, made for sensitive tummies, cow’s milk based, goat’s milk based, hydrolysed protein formula, etc. They now add essential vitamins, minerals, and things like DHA, ARA, and even Lutein (which IS found is breast milk).

If you ask me, that doesn’t sound like it’s bad at all. Is it ideal? Maybe not. But it most certainly is not BAD.

With that being said, many breastfeeding mothers encounter issues at some point in their breastfeeding relationship. Sometimes these are minor issues that can be corrected with a simple adjustment and other times these issues require a lot of time and effort. I recommend speaking with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) any time you feel you are hitting a brick wall. They can encourage you and give you plenty of helpful tips. 

If any of you are like me and run into an issue and someone says the word “formula,” it’s like someone walked up and deflated all of the air out of your balloon.

For whatever reason, formula is seen as “failure” or “defeat” within the breastfeeding community. There have been times that I’ve told people I supplemented formula with my son and instantly got a look that said, “Oooohhh… You’re one of¬†those¬†people. You’re not a true breastfeeder!” Nose in the air included.

Each time I see that look, I want to grab them by their stupid shoulders, smack them across the face, and shake them as hard as I can while I scream, ¬†“I AM A BREASTFEEDER!!! I made it one whole year. I did everything I could think of to regain my supply! I spent all night pumping, hours doing skin to skin, I stuffed my face full of cookies, dammit!¬†I sacrificed¬†MY happiness, sanity, and health. How¬†DARE you look at me that way, as if I am less of a mother than you because I supplemented with formula!”

I want to pause there because I realize NOW that there is a very important statement made in that.

“I sacrificed¬†MY happiness, sanity, and health.”

Each and every single one of us parents understand sacrifice. We sacrifice our time, sleep, schedules, hobbies, money, etc. All so our children will be happy. And if you’re a parent, you understand that those sacrifices are worth it in the end.

However, some things should not be considered “sacrifices” when it comes to our kids: happiness, sanity, and health.

Happiness 

I’m sure some of you read this one and thought something like, “Oh how selfish of her!” and you know what? You are absolutely right. It is selfish, but it’s also necessary. If you aren’t happy, how on earth do you expect to be able to make someone else happy?! I don’t know about y’all, but in my house, if Momma ain’t happy, no one’s happy! Okay… not really. But if I’m in a crabby mood or feeling overworked, under appreciated, sad, angry, or anything other than happy, I’m much more likely to lose my temper when it comes to my kids. I’m also more likely to yell. I also have less patience for playing games like peek-a-boo, teaching them how to do something new, or answering a thousand questions in a row.

When my supply dropped, my happiness went with it. I became so stressed that it was all I could think about. I spent all my time worrying about how much I was producing. I spent hours online reading articles about low supply, how to boost it, how much weight gain was normal, how often he should be nursing, how often he should be eating solids… you get the point. I didn’t want to leave my house because he was easily distracted when nursing in public. And this all leads to my next point…

Sanity

As I mentioned before, I was diagnosed with PPD after having my son. I struggled with it for months at first and finally came to terms with it when he was around 5 months old. I went to my doctor and spoke with her about how I had been feeling and we decided I would begin taking Prozac. It was like someone turned on a light, after the initial adjustment period. I wasn’t exactly happier, per se, I just felt… better. It was easier for me to recognize the things that were minor and somewhat easier for me to handle the things that were major. At least I felt much calmer than I had before.

Encountering low supply was really difficult for me. I was just starting to feel as though I had a good handle on the whole parenting thing and then my supply dropped and it was like someone came and tore down the walls holding in all of my anxiety. Everything crashed down and I was more stressed¬†than I had been before. I spent a lot of time focusing on the issue of my supply. I didn’t want to talk to my friends, didn’t want to go out, didn’t want to do anything except hide somewhere until my supply went back to normal. I had trouble sleeping, trouble waking up, I ate too much, and just felt flat out bad.

Health 

So I’m sure by now you are getting a pretty good idea of just how much these three things go hand in hand. Because I was unhappy and stressed, my health began to suffer. I began gaining weight, felt sleepy all the time, and started getting sick more frequently. If you aren’t already aware, let me tell you right now: your health is important!!! As a parent, it’s your responsibility to set a good example when it comes to health and wellness. How can you do that if you’re over eating/skipping meals or constantly wearing yourself so thin that you get sick often? Besides that, how do you expect to keep up with your kid(s) when you are like that?

It’s just a downward spiral – or at least it was for me.

I am a firm believer of making sure you take good care of yourself. Yes it is our responsibility to take care of our children and do whatever it takes to ensure they are happy and healthy, but it’s also our responsibility to take care of ourselves.

One of the many things I have seen over and over again from parents is that we are all too hard on ourselves. We live busy lives, place unreasonable expectations on each other, hold ourselves to extreme standards, and because of all this, we have a tendency to get wrapped up in the little things. So much so that we miss the big picture.

Many of us lose sight of the big picture right off the bat. We come up with “birthing plans,” decide to breastfeed or use formula, organic foods or not, homegrown veggies or store bought, green, clean, perfect, pristine… we plan everything down to the moment they become adults with their own lives.

When something comes along and throws a kink in our plan, we freak. We don’t know how to handle it because it isn’t what we had “planned.” So when things don’t follow these “plans,” some of us feel like we have failed.

We compare ourselves to other parents who’s plans are still on track. We wonder, “How do they do it? They make it look so easy.” Or, “What did I do wrong? Why am I having such a hard time with my supply? I don’t want to stop breastfeeding!” I have seen moms struggle with these thoughts time and time again. Only thing is, they are so busy being concerned about their “failure” that they lose sight of the REAL issue at hand:¬†feeding baby.

At some point, you have to stop focusing on those “goals” and “plans” you have made.

Just take them, ball them up, and throw them out the damn window.

Life is unpredictable. You can’t foresee every event. This is especially true when it comes to parenting!

We become so focused on OUR “goals” and “plans” (natural child birth, pain med free birth, home birth, being induced, not being induced, breastfeeding, pumping, blah, blah, blah) that we forget what our goal was back when we¬†first¬†got pregnant!

Unsure of what I’m talking about?
I’ll give you a hint:

“I just want him/her to be¬†happy and healthy.

Ohhhh… yeahhhh…

THAT is the big picture!!!

So if you have ever been in a situation where you have had to supplement with formula or stop breastfeeding all together, don’t you¬†ever¬†feel as though you have “failed” as a parent. Kudos to you for keeping your focus on your child and their health and for taking care of yourself as well.

Breastfeeding CAN be difficult. It can present you with many challenges, but it can also be a lot easier than you expect. It is also one of the most rewarding things you can do for your child. But if you ever run into a situation where you have to supplement (short or long term) or even switch over all together, don’t beat yourself up over it. You are still doing the best you can for your baby.

And that makes you a wonderful parent.

 

To the lactivists out there: I understand how important it is to educate people on the benefits of breastfeeding. I do it all the time. But if you ever encounter a mom who is struggling with breastfeeding, don’t press the issue. Offer words of encouragement and if she asks for your help or advice, then help her. Give her the facts and allow her to do with them as she pleases. IF she chooses to use formula, for whatever reason, do not belittle her, shove statistics down her throat, or continue flood her with tips and information.¬†Recognize that it is ultimately HER decision because it is HER baby. And also recognize that formula is NOT bad.

And formula does NOT equal failure.

Myth debunked.

Marriage is not a game (Part 2)

“I looked for every loveliness, it all came true. I wished on the moon for you” -Billie Holiday

Since there was such a great response to my first post on marriage (you can read it here), I have decided to do a second part. However, I want to touch on the topic of how children can affect a marriage.

Many of my readers are parents as well. I’m an admin for a Facebook page called Mommies With Boys¬†and I post links to my blog on there sometimes. I hope that many of you will be able to relate to this topic and hopefully it will shed some light or offer some insight to situations you may or may not be going through in your marriage. I know there are some of you who probably won’t agree with me, and that’s okay. Hopefully, many of you will.

Some of the things I want to discuss will go back to things I said in my last post. Others will be based off my personal experiences during childhood and now as a parent.

One of these topics is respect.

Respect should be a two way street, like most things in marriage. Not everyone feels this way though. I know a lot of people who feel that before they can give respect, it has to be earned. While this is true, people sometimes fail to remember that their spouse has already earned their respect. You obviously respected them enough to promise to love them “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health,” so why would that ever change?¬†(If you are in an abusive situation, I personally feel this does not apply to you and I¬†STRONGLY suggest seeking help!)

I actually have a pretty good example of this type of general respect. A couple of months ago, the kids and I went to watch my husband do a jump (military jump, usually from an airplane or helicopter) and, naturally, we were there with a lot of the men he works with. While we were out there, an ice cream truck came out to the drop zone. I wanted to get some for the kids and myself and asked my husband if he was okay with me using his card to make the purchase. He said it was fine and I offered to get him something as well.

Had my card been with me and not in my truck, I wouldn’t have thought twice about the purchase. But I was holding his wallet for him and because I was using HIS card, I respected his property and asked him first. One of his buddies overheard the exchange and, according to my husband, proceeded to say, “You mean your wife actually¬†asks you before she buys stuff?! Can you give me lessons?” My husband responded by telling him that it isn’t because he has some kind of “rule” dictating that I ask him, but rather because we have a mutual respect for one another.

It’s really as simple as following the “golden rule.” You know, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31 NIV) That’s all it is.

I touched on that some in my first post; I discussed how I always do my best to take my husband into consideration. In my most recent post (which you can read here) I talked about how once we become parents, we really learn how to be selfless and that we should take that selflessness and direct it towards those around us as well as our children. But learning how to be selfless shouldn’t start with our children – it should start with our spouse. I think that we¬†know¬†what unconditional love is when we get married, but I believe that we don’t fully¬†understand it until we have children.

Now, I’m not saying you should be selfless to the point that your own health or mental well being is suffering. It’s extremely difficult to take care of others and make them happy if you aren’t taken care of and happy yourself. Everyone needs time for themselves too. What I am saying is that if you’re craving Italian and your spouse wants a burger and you got to pick the last time you went out to eat, set your own desires aside and let them pick. Chances are, they will be more likely to do the same for you another time.

You have to pick your battles.

While we’re on the topic of “picking battles,” I have a bone to pick with some of you moms (and dads) out there. Mostly new moms. Now let me go ahead and get this disclaimer out there: I¬†know that what I’m about to say does not apply to y’all as a collective group. But if you find yourself thinking, “Oh crap. I do that sometimes,” then it probably applies to you.

To the new/first time moms (and some of you who have been moms for awhile now)

I know firsthand how exhausting it is to care for an infant. I’ve been through it with two of my own and am now caring for my friend’s son during the day while she’s at work. Earlier this week, I realized that it had been two (maybe three?) days since I had showered because I had been THAT busy and too tired to give a shit. Yes. I know the struggle is real.

I know how tiring it is to wake in the middle of the night (sometimes multiple times) to have to feed your tiny human (those of you who bottle feed, I give y’all MAD props! I have NO clue how you do it). I know how much it sucks to change a diaper and get peed on or better yet, have them dirty the fresh diaper before you can even get it secured. I know how repetitive it can all get and how you’d love nothing more than 10 minutes alone to shower or shave your legs or whatever (see paragraph above).

However, cut the new dad some slack! If you’re a stay at home mom, chances are he spends even less time with baby than you do because he is out working to provide for y’all so that you are able to stay at home. Respect and appreciate that. Don’t attack him when he walks through the door. It’s like hitting him with a brick that says, “I’m pissed because I’m the only one who cares for this kid¬†and you have no clue how hard it is for me!” Real nice, right?

Aside from that, because he spends less time with baby he is¬†NOT¬†going to know how you usually handle things. Don’t expect him to know exactly how to handle something or know how frequently you feed baby, how to tell if they have a dirty diaper, or when nap time is. I don’t know anyone who can read minds, especially out of the guys I know. They don’t have that motherly instinct that is ingrained in us. You have to tell them and teach them.¬†

On top of that, they may not be comfortable with how you handle some situations or maybe they just don’t agree with you on something. Listen to their opinions and take them into consideration. After all, they are the other parent. I have found that it’s usually just best to take a step back and let dad and baby figure out what methods work best for them. It also encourages their bond.

I’m sure¬†I pissed off some of y’all by saying those things, but it’s the truth.
And guess what?
I don’t care.

Want to know why?

Because I have been guilty of those things and I have witnessed firsthand how much of a negative impact they can have on your marriage.

What you can do instead of those things:

TALK with your spouse and explain to them how tired you are and how motherhood carries a much higher workload than you imagined and it requires a lot of you emotionally. Let them know that there will possibly be days where you need to vent to them about stuff that seems meaningless to them, but that it will make you feel better if they offer a listening ear (and maybe a box of tissues). Maybe set up an agreement with them where they get 30 minutes to unwind from their day when they come home and then you get to take 30 minutes to yourself while they watch baby. Or vice versa. Whatever works for both of you.

ENCOURAGE¬†them to spend time with baby alone. Don’t jump down their throats when they do something the wrong way or differently from you. It took you some time to learn the ins and outs and it’s going to take them some time too. Be patient and helpful without being patronizing.

COMMUNICATE¬†your feelings to your spouse. Don’t get mad at them for something and then storm off and say something like, “Well I guess I’ll just do (insert whatever)… like I¬†always do.” Tell them how their actions make you feel. “You know, when you say/do/act like (insert action/words/whatever), it makes me feel (insert feelings).”

LISTEN¬†when your spouse brings something up. Hear them out on whatever it is they have to say. If they are offering their opinion on something, take it to heart, and try your best to find a solution that works for both of you. When they come to you to express their feelings, don’t turn it into a competition by saying things like “Oh yeah? Well you (insert whatever it is that pisses you off)!” Again, hear them out.

BE APPRECIATIVE of all they do to provide for your family. They work to provide (or to help provide, if you both work) for your family. It’s not exactly fun to work hard for pay you know isn’t going to be spent on the things you’d like to go and do or buy (working moms, I know you know the feeling).

To the new/first time dads (and some who have been dads for awhile now)

On behalf of all moms, I would just like to say, “Sorry!” We’re all kind of crazy and hormonal from time to time. It’s nothing against you guys.

I have no clue what it’s like to be a dad (I don’t have the right parts for that!) but I do know that the responsibilities y’all have are different from those of us moms and equally important. I am a stay at home mom and I know that if it weren’t for my husband working his butt off, I wouldn’t be able to stay home with our kids.

I know that it took longer for my husband to get the hang of the whole parenting thing. He still doesn’t like diaper duty and toddler tantrums or crying in the truck are probably two of his least favorite sounds. He sometimes takes a “suck it up” attitude in times where I’m more likely to comfort.¬†But he can throw them in the air higher than I can and wrestles with them and takes them on adventures and so much more.

But I also know that after working all day, he really wants to come home and have a little quiet time before he has to put on his Super Dad cape and rescue his wife in distress. Sometimes, he takes what I think is a little too long for quiet time and I’m left feeling like I’m alone on handling kids. Sometimes he’s had a rough day at work and it’s still so fresh in his mind that he doesn’t realize I’m on my fourth cup of coffee and struggling to focus on cooking while the baby is playing with tupperware and the toddler is throwing cars across the house. It’s in those moments that us wives are most likely to rip you a new one. Not because you actually deserve it, but because we’re so tired and we just want SOMEONE to pay attention to us and help.

With that being said, help her out! She is only one person and can only do so much before she reaches her limit. And when she reaches that limit, well… bless your heart! Be attentive to her needs. Don’t bring work issues home with you – your family needs you. Take time for yourself, but don’t forget that she needs alone time and the kids need time with you.

If you need help figuring out how to do something for baby (diaper changes, feedings, dressing, etc.), don’t let your pride stand in your way. There is no shame in asking for help or asking to be shown how to do something. You and your wife are a team. Teammates work together towards the same goal. Don’t forget that.

Don’t assume because she’s with the kids more frequently that it means it’s okay for you to make plans to do things that would involve her having to stay home alone with the kids. She is NOT your personal baby sitter! Yes, she is their mother, but YOU are their father and that means you share an equal amount of responsibility.

So, dads, here’s what you can do:

CONSIDER her feelings. When you come home from work, ask her how her day has been. Tell her you’d like to change out of your work clothes first and then you will spend some time with the kids while she grabs a shower or gets dinner ready or whatever it is she needs from you. Offering to do that for her will help her more than you can imagine. It reassures her that you have her back and support her.

TELL her how much you appreciate everything she does for your family. Taking care of tiny people all day (or even after she gets home from work) isn’t always the most fun job in the world. It’s taxing – emotionally, mentally, and physically. Not to mention cooking and cleaning. Show your appreciation for the things she does for you too. Folding your laundry, fixing your lunch, helping you get ready for work, etc.

OFFER to take the kids out for a few hours so she can get housework done or relax for a bit. Or offer to stay home with them while she goes out with the girls. If she’s a stay at home mom, chances are she is DYING for some adult conversation and a good glass of wine!

TAKE¬†the initiative to help her. If you see that the trash can is full, take it out. If the dishwasher is full of clean dishes, empty it. Don’t wait to be asked. You are an adult and just as much a part of the household as your wife is – don’t let ALL of the chores fall to her,¬†especially¬†if it’s obvious she is having a rough day or could use a helping hand.¬†Your wife is not your mother.¬†It is not her job to constantly pick up after you and put your things away.

 

Now that I’ve laid it all out there, I have something I want to add on that is directed at both parties:

Always try to one up yourself.

I have read a lot of posts that say you should never stop courting your spouse, and I completely agree with that. However, I feel I’m taking it a step further here by saying that you should always act as if¬†you¬†are your biggest competition.

If you are usually the type to do a random act of kindness for your spouse once in a blue moon, then start doing them more frequently. Tell your spouse how much you appreciate something they have done for you and compliment them. Do it every day. Tell them how much they mean to you and how thankful you are to have them in your life.

Those are all examples of things my husband and I do for each other. We don’t do them once a week, every 4 days, or every other day. Those examples happen every single day,¬†multiple¬†times a day, in our household. I am constantly telling him that I love and appreciate him and that I am blessed beyond measure to have him in my life. I do the same for my children.

Doing those things creates a spiral. Not a downward one towards destruction, but rather an upward one – constantly rising higher and higher.

Marriage is¬†not¬†a game. It’s not a battle of “he said, she said.” It’s not a power struggle. It’s two people accepting the person they married exactly as they are and helping them learn how to grow in their strengths, conquer their weaknesses, and succeed in their dreams. It’s lifting each other up, with love.

Pay It Forward

I recently started watching my friend’s little boy during the day. He’s just over 11 weeks old and as sweet as could be. Her maternity leave was up and she was returning back to work. Like MANY first time moms in that situation, she worried. Will I have enough milk? Will it be too much trouble for her to watch him? How will I handle my first day back at work? What will his day be like? Will I cry? Will he cry? Will he be okay? Will I be okay?

Before he started coming here, she and I had several conversations; many of which included the topic of sleep, or lack thereof. He is a VERY smart, alert, and active little boy and because of that, he fights off sleep – much like my son did around that age. He wants to take it ALL in – no breaks!

Isn’t he just precious?!

However, sleep is extremely important for babies and little children. Their bodies need the rest – especially if they are highly active. Plus, us moms need some quiet time too! (I don’t know about you, but after about 30 minutes of “peek-a-boo” and another hour or so of rattling toys and clapping and quietly saying, “Look at you,” “Great job,” or “Yay,” I’m beyond ready for nap time. I have to regain my sanity.)

When I had my son, I knew that sleep was important and did everything I could to make sure he got plenty of it. And I’m serious when I say I did everything I could. From spending and hour and a half pacing my living room while gently bouncing and swaying my screaming/fussy/tearful infant son to rocking for 45 minutes in the chair while I said “Shhh…” over and over or putting him in his swing or bouncy chair and sitting¬†right next to it for 30 minutes while I stared at him and tried to will him to fall asleep… Those are things that would drive ANYONE crazy.

But when you’re a sleep deprived, determined, frustrated first time mom… I can’t even accurately describe what it’s like.

You become frantic and willing to do anything you can think of. The longer you listen to them cry, the more difficult it becomes to maintain your cool, calm demeanor. Then you start to cry because, dammit, you just want to sleep (or eat, or pee, or shower, or put the dishes away… etc)! But you can’t until this tiny person closes their eyes and drifts off into dreamland. Even when that happens, you still hold your breath for another 30 minutes because you’re afraid you’ll have to start all over if you accidentally wake them up.

I experienced all this and more with my son. It wasn’t until he hit 6 months that I finally realized that my sleep was important too. Little guy’s mom and I were talking about sleep again today and she said, “I don’t know how people do it with no support system.” I replied, “With medication.”

Okay, so that isn’t true for EVERYONE. Some of you out there just might be Miss Perfect Mommy and you¬†totally had the hang of it all the second they handed you your tiny bundle of joy. If so, you’re not normal.

No. Seriously. You’re not.

The¬†normal thing to do is question yourself. Wonder if you’re doing everything right. Question how one tiny choice now could possibly affect their lives later on down the road. Compare yourself to all the other moms you know…

Motherhood is one big mind game. 

Honestly, I think motherhood has changed a LOT over the years but I’m not completely convinced it’s all for the better. Social media has a lot to do with that, in my opinion. So does television. It’s like society has placed some unreal expectations on mothers these days.

I see so many moms who try to do it all and they end up focusing on the mom they think is ideal. In reality, they spend so much time trying to meet the standard set by society and they lose sight of the mom they really are.

  • Instagram – Thank you¬†for showing us that all moms can be “photographers” and document every second of our lives and ensure perfection with just the right filter. Oh, and to the moms who have time in the morning to dress themselves well, do their make up, take a picture, and then upload it to Instagram, pleaseeeee stop! You’re making the rest of us wonder if you have a maid, a nanny, or if you place your children under some kind of magical spell while you get ready for the day. Maybe it’s all three.
  • Facebook – Susan’s daughter can play Pachelbel’s Canon in D¬†on piano at the age of 5? So what! Let me upload this video of my 3 year old solving algebraic equations while reciting the alphabet backwards. Let’s see her one up THAT! Oh! Looks like Catherine has been hard at work today! They’ve made pancakes from scratch, had a snack, built an intricate train track, chased butterflies outside, and created those… whoa! What IS that? Those must have taken forever! Wait… you mean to tell me it’s only 10 AM? But HOW did she get all of that DONE?!
  • Pinterest – Ah, yes. Thank you a million times for shoving in my face how creative every other mom is, except me. Please. That’s an excessive amount of glitter and there’s no way I can get my kid interested enough in that.
  • Mom Forums – You know… The Bump, Cafe Mom, etc. Those horrible places where moms go to post questions, in need of legitimate help, and then are shot down, judged, and belittled by their peers. There are even pages similar to this on Facebook. Usually they are run by a set of admins who post your question anonymously, but there’s almost always someone who walks into that post with a baseball bat – ready to send heads rolling, just because they think they are number one and screw your opinion (I’m very familiar with this. I am an admin on a Facebook page and we see a lot of this).

Whatever happened to it taking a “village” to raise a child? Seeing a struggling new mom and offering words of comfort? Putting the offer to help on the table every chance you get? Sharing the stories of your own struggles? Encouraging her or playing peek-a-boo with her baby in the grocery line while she unloads her cart? Us moms need those things too!

Call up one of your mom friends and offer to watch her kids for a few hours so she can get her grocery shopping done in peace. Talk with her about a time when you felt like you had failed as a parent. Offer encouraging and kind words. Give her a knowing smile and then offer to help unload her cart if you see she’s dealing with a fussy baby too.

When we become mothers, we are expected to become selfless and place the needs of someone else before us. It may not always come easy, but it’s a learning process and something that can be mastered. But who says that selflessness has to only extend to our children? Why can’t we extend it to those around us as well?

Say you see a mom at your child’s preschool trying to juggle a four year old, a two year old, an infant in a car seat, backpack, diaper bag, and find her keys in her purse. Do you sit back and watch her struggle with everything she has and think to yourself, “Well, I have my own issues to deal with. She will be fine,” or could you take 5 minutes of your day and offer to stand next to her van and watch the two little ones while she runs the older one inside to school? Personally, I would pick the second option. I can usually spare 5 minutes and if I know it’s going to make someone else’s life just a little bit easier, then it’s totally worth 5 minutes of my time.

I always try to think, “If I were in their situation, would I be glad someone had offered me a helping hand?” If that answer is, “Yes,” then I do it. Even if it means maybe my life gets a little more complicated.

I have applied that thought to countless situations. I’ve helped multiple women with their breastfeeding journeys. I could have easily given them a virtual pat on the back and sent them on their merry way, but instead I chose to keep in contact with them, check up on them periodically, send them articles I found that related to their issues, etc.

Why did I do that?
Because I was once a first time breastfeeding mom and had someone done the same for me, I would have been on my knees thankful.

So now I’m helping my friend out with her son. I watch him for her while she’s at work. Yes it provides us with some additional income, but that isn’t the main motivation behind it for me. I know how worrisome it can be to return to work and know that you are trusting your child into the care of someone else. I’m not a baby expert, but I have had two of my own and they seem to be thriving so far! She also breast feeds and uses cloth diapers. I am extremely familiar with both. I have also been giving her advice regarding her son’s latch and tips she can use for encouraging a strong latch and bond between them.

And then there’s the topic of sleep. She’s brand new to this and still learning the ins and outs. However, sleep “schedules” are something I mastered with both of my kids. I offered to work with little man on his and he’s been napping a grand total of about 5 hours a day every day he has been here.

I’m pretty sure she’s now convinced I use some kind of black magic.

I can assure you, it’s not black magic. And I don’t have him on a rigid schedule. But I already know what common sleep and hunger cues look like for babies his age and therefore, it’s much easier for me to recognize at what point he needs to be laying down. Because I know that, I have pretty much figured out about how often he naps and when we hit that “sleep window,” I know to keep my eyes open for his sleep cues.

Is it time consuming? Somewhat. But it’s far less time consuming for me than it is for her and if me taking some of my time now saves her time later on down the road, eases her life, and allows her to better plan her days, then it’s totally worth it.

That’s the kind of attitude I’d like to see more mom’s take.

“If I take¬†¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† minutes to help¬†¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† with¬†¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†, will it make them happy? Will it make their life easier in the long run?”

If the answers to those questions are, “Yes,” then just do it!

I’d be willing to bet not only do you put a smile of their face, but you will put one on yours too.

Pay it forward.

Trading Places

Calli Tyler Photography (c) 2013

Calli Tyler Photography (c) 2013

This is what I’d like to be doing right now.

My amazing husband got me a pistol for Christmas and I have only shot it twice; one of those times being yesterday. I was having so much fun plinking away at the steel targets. That has got to be one of my favorite sounds.

Unfortunately, having kids (and lack of personal funds) really limits the amount of time I get to spend at the range. I’m sure MANY moms can relate – maybe not the range specifically, but fill in the blank with ANY hobby you enjoy. Whether you’re a stay at home mom, working mom, single mom, married mom, mom of one child, or a mom of twelve children, we all know how it feels to really want to go do something and not be able to whenever we want.

One of my favorite things to do, pre-children, was to go spend the day at the beach on my day off from work. I would wake up at 9:30, put on a suit, tank top, flip flops, shorts, and grab my dog. We’d be loaded in the car and on the road by 10:00. Arrive at the beach around 11:30 and then we wouldn’t leave until it got dark. Charlie had fun playing in the sand (not really – he hates the beach) and I got to work on my tan and relax.

It would be a dream come true to do that just one more time.

I love all the time I get with my children, but you lose a lot of freedom when they arrive. That’s just a sacrifice you make when you have kids. The thing that really gets to me though is how taboo it is for moms to talk about MISSING that freedom.

We’re not saying we would ditch our kids on the side of the road so we can score a couple of hours having brunch and mimosas with our girlfriends or that we would trade our kids in for a night on the town – we’re just bitching about what a pain in the ass it is to have to find a trustworthy sitter, pay for said sitter, make plans, PRAY the kids don’t get sick and cause plans to be cancelled, and then be home at a “reasonable hour” so aforementioned sitter isn’t ticked off at you and never wants to babysit for you again.

Not to mention how frustrating it is to have your entire day scheduled around someone else. Even if you’re a working mom, you do this to some degree. Wake up at the crack of dawn, get yourself ready, get kids ready, make breakfast, be out the door by 6:30 justtttt in case you get stuck behind a school bus at 7:00 or caught in school traffic, arrive at daycare at 7:30 (after getting stuck behind a school bus… three times), drop off kids, arrive at work at 8:02, freak out because you’re late, leave work at 5:00 and speed so you get to daycare by 5:45 so your kids aren’t the “last one.” Yeah. We all plan our days out around our kids, to some degree. And it’s TIRING.

The other day I caught myself thinking, I really wish I could trade places with my husband, just for one day.

Simply because of this:¬†I’m envious.

Not because I think he has it easy (he’s military – his schedule is unpredictable and he deals with a lot of idiotic issues) or because I think he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Not because I get angry when he goes and does “fun” things without me. Not because of any other stupid, petty reason you can possibly come up with.

I’m envious.

envy

My husband is a wonderful man and I have absolutely ZERO complaints when it comes to him and the things he does. He provides everything we need. He works hard, sets goals, and successfully accomplishes everything he sets out to do. He is honest, loyal, trustworthy, caring, considerate, optimistic, understanding, and loving. On top of all that, he’s charming, just as goofy as I am, and incredibly handsome.

Heart, be still!

I KNOW he doesn’t have it easy. He sometimes works from 5:00 AM until 7:00 PM. Sometimes he’s gone for weeks at a time, with no communication. He has to deal with people patronizing him pretty frequently and his schedule is NEVER the same. He’s often away from us. BUT, when he IS home, I’m envious.

Because being at home with the kids and taking care of the house is basically my “job,” it’s kind of a given that I will always be here with them (unless I’ve had time to make plans for something). So when he’s home, it’s easy for him to say (after asking if he’s needed for anything or if we have plans), “Hey honey! I’m heading out to the range for the day,” or “Do you mind if I go meet up with the guys for breakfast?”

Do I have issues with him doing these things? Nope. I never have, unless it interferes with prior plans. Do I resent him when he makes plans without me? Never. He deserves time to himself to do the things he enjoys as well. Can I do this too? Well, yes… kind of.

I know that he has zero issues with watching the kids while I go and do something I want to do. He has told me this more times than I can count, and I appreciate it more than I can say. However, it still requires planning and a fair amount of work before I can head out the door and that makes it frustrating.

Because being “Mom” is my “job,” it is, always has been, and always will be my duty to ensure that my children have everything they could possibly need and that my husband has everything he needs before I go anywhere. So… diapers, snacks, nap times, what to cook for dinner, clean sippy cups, etc. Then I’ve gotta get myself ready… it always feels like it’s a much bigger production than it should be for just a few hours to myself.

This is going to sound kind of silly but when he says he’s going to do something, I find myself thinking, “Damn! He beat me to it.. again!” See, most of my girlfriends are parents too. So if one of them calls me up to do something, it usually doesn’t happen until later in the afternoon. If he makes plans, he usually knows before 2:00 PM. By the time a friend calls, it’s like 3:30… I’m in yoga pants with no bra and I ain’t moving (just kidding… but seriously).

I think I’m just going to make a master calendar and pick one day each month and write “DO NOT PLAN ANYTHING! THIS IS MY DAY. RESERVED!” on a random Saturday.

Then he can’t beat me to it and I’ll have plenty of time to plan. ūüėČ

Worrywart Mommy

Image

Preschool.

School in general is somewhat of a touchy topic for me because I had a rough time with it. Not so much with the actual class portion of it all; more so with the kids. Kids are MEAN. They say mean things. They judge. They pick on other kids. Feelings get hurt. Blah blah blah. I wasn’t one of those kids that got picked on and then went and sulked in the corner though. No way. I’m too loud and too outgoing for that. Instead, I sucked it up and did my best to let things roll off my back. I discovered that I’m good at making it LOOK like things don’t bother me when in reality, I let things get to me far more easily than they should.

I’m a worrywart. I worry way too much about every little thing. I KNOW that my 3 year old is more than likely NOT going to be judged by the other 3 year olds if he has a little bit of syrup around his mouth, but it isn’t the 3 year olds I fear – it’s their moms. Moms (women in general, really) can be catty! There’s no other way to put it. And I’m not talking about ALL moms, but we all know there are catty moms out in the world. They judge your every little move:

“Her kid is wearing THAT?!”

Well, yes. My child IS wearing that. HE picked it out because I am teaching him to be an independent individual and he is learning how to make choices for himself.

¬†“Is that jelly I see on his cheek? Gosh, doesn’t she wipe his face?”¬†

Oh, that? Yeah. I guess it is. I let him wipe his own face (ya know, the whole “independent kid” thing) and then I wiped it when we got here. Kinda hard to get every last spot when they move around.

“Oh I would never send MY child to school in a stained shirt like that!”

Well…. it WAS clean – until he spilled chocolate milk on himself in the car. Whoops.

And I have one thing to say to all the judgmental, self-righteous moms out there: Take that holier-than-thou attitude and SHOVE IT.

The moms of the preschool world aren’t the only terrifying thing though. My kid was recently sent home with a progress report. Not one that says “This is how your kid is doing in math/reading/science,” but one that tells you how they are doing developmentally. Well, that makes me worry too.

When my son was about 18 months, he had several “red flags” for Autism. Anyone who has an autistic child or who has ever had some of those “red flags” come up knows how terrifying this can be. It can really make you question a lot of things. I decided to wait until his 2 year check up before making up my mind on whether I wanted him to see a specialist or not and I’m glad I did. He had zero “red flags” at that appointment and his doctor wasn’t the least bit concerned.

After working with a therapist, we determined that the reason for a lot of those “red flags” was mostly due to the fact that his biological father and I were going through a divorce around that time. Moral of that story is “Do your absolute best to never yell/argue in front of your children.”

With that being said, I still worry when it comes to my son’s development. I worry that he still isn’t caught up with the other kids his age. So when his progress report came home and there were a few things marked as “working on,” I immediately began wondering “Am I doing everything right? How much of this stuff should he REALLY be doing at this age? Do ALL kids do these things? What can I do to get him doing this?”

I’m sorry, but I think that all the growth charts and percentiles and milestones that doctors have put in place for our children are just plain¬†stupid. I feel like many parents (and some doctors even) use these milestones as deadlines when really they are more like estimates. Your kid didn’t start crawling at 6 months? Okay. Neither did mine. They weren’t sitting at 5 months like Betty-Lou’s daughter down the street? Who gives a flip?! My son sat at 6 months and my daughter at 6 and a half months. Not walking by the time they turn one? Don’t pressure them. My son started at 11 months, a friend’s daughter started at 10 months, another friend’s daughter started at 8 months, and my daughter is now 13 months and she doesn’t even stand alone for more than a few seconds at a time. Every child is different.

Same thing with the growth charts. My son is 3 and a half and weighs 29 lbs. I worried that he was underweight because I know a lot of kids his age who weigh over 30 lbs. Well, we went to his doctor for a check up and turns out that he is perfect! Not underweight at all. He’s just a string bean. His pediatrician said that for his height to weight ratio, he is right where he should be. She also said that with him being as active as he is, he’s probably always going to be on the skinny side.

Then you have my daughter: 13 months and only 17 lbs 7 oz. She is a petite little thing. But she was 5 lbs 10 oz when she was born – she’s always been small. Her doctor wanted me to put her on formula at 9 months because she wasn’t “gaining enough weight” and was in the “zero percentile” for weight. I asked her doctor to look at her height and tell me how much she had grown – she gained several inches and was sitting at the 33 percentile mark for height. So while she didn’t “gain” any weight, she did continue to grow. Plus, she had started crawling 2 months earlier and was shedding baby fat because of it. Once I pointed those things out, her pediatrician’s whole tone changed to “Oh! Well in that case, she’s fine.”

I don’t like worrying, but I’m a mom. It’s kind of my job to worry about every little thing.

But I really wish our society didn’t try so damn hard to give us things to worry about!
C’mon world… help out the moms.
Make our lives just a LITTLE less crazy.

“Only the beginning…”

So you’ve stumbled across my blog.

Good.

Welcome!

I’m Calli. I’m married to a wonderful man and I’m a young mom with two beautiful children.

This is me… and my babies. ūüôā

Like many other moms out there, being a mom is something I’ve had to take one day at a time. Some days are glorious – full of smiles, cuddles, laughter, and love. Then there are days where I want to put myself in a day long time-out because I’ve had it up to HERE with the noise and tears and I might go crazy if one more toy travels outside of the playroom and into my freshly cleaned living room.

So this blog is about my journey through motherhood. Looking back on 2013 made me take a close look at my parenting techniques and I decided I didn’t really like what I saw. I’m a stay at home mom (SAHM) and it’s something I struggle with daily. I don’t like being at home 24/7. I could come up with a whole list of things I’d rather do than be at home: go explore a new hiking trail, go downtown and sit in my favorite coffee house with a good book, take a day trip to the beach, spend time with friends, go somewhere different and see what kind of cool things there are to do… the list goes on.

Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my children and I am grateful that I am able to stay at home with them; God only knows how much I would worry if someone else were caring for them full time! But I HATE being cooped up in the house. Sure, I could take the kids out to do things and be out of the house all day, but I would have to plan it all around their schedule. My kids don’t have a strict schedule, but they definitely have one. It’s pretty high up there on the list of important kid-related things, for me. In fact, I pride myself on the fact that they have such a good schedule.

If I want to leave the house for a few hours I have to make sure the activity won’t interfere with nap time or that we will be close by to a place with lunch and then I have to load up my car with everything I need for myself and two tiny people. So much work for such a short time frame.

Anyway, being a SAHM has it’s perks (I get paid in the sweetest hugs and kisses) but it’s still challenging. Not only do I have to take care of both kiddos, I run an entire household. It’s a lot of pressure and sometimes it really gets to me and stresses me out. When I get stressed, I tend to let trivial things frustrate me and am quick to respond in a sharp manner. This is something I am not proud of – especially when it involves my kids.

I have never gone off the deep end or anything like that, but I’ve definitely had my moments of screaming and being so stressed that the only thing that seems to help is sitting down and crying. Those moments happen more than I care to admit. When I looked back on the past year and saw that, I decided I didn’t like it. As my dad would say, “If you can’t change your situation, change yourself.” This is one of those times where I can’t really change my situation, but I CAN change the way I see things, how I respond, and how I handle issues that may come up. In other words: I need to be PROACTIVE and not REACTIVE. (See Dad?! I DID listen when I was a teenager! I just thought I was brilliant and didn’t need to heed your advice. I’m paying for it now… Haha.)

You may be wondering where on earth I came up with the name for this blog. Well, it kind of has two meanings behind it:
1. When you’re a mom, SAHM or working mom, dishes are a common theme. It seems like there are always dishes to be done, therefore “I’ve been washing dishes” is a common answer to the question “What are you doing?”
2. I kind of got it through the song “Washing Dishes” by Jack Johnson. I feel like the lyrics are a pretty good fit for what I’m wanting to do with my life and with this blog:
“In the morning when the world came awake
Before you knew me I knew your name
It was painted across the day as it breaks
An impression in your window frame

When you saw me out your window
Singing from the garden
Only the beginning
I’m only getting started
I don’t mind the digging
Baby, I’ll work harder
I’ve been washing dishes
Singing from the bottom

But one day I’ll be running this place
And one day I could take you away
But I want you to wonder what’s my name
Because I need you to want me the same

When you saw me washing dishes
Singing from the bottom
Only the beginning
I’m only getting started
I don’t mind the digging
Baby, I’ll work harder
I’ve been in the ashes
Singing from the garden

Where everything reaches for the sun
Still unsure of what we’ll become
But I need you to reach out to me
See in me more than I could see
Because I’m afraid that

One day is only two words we say
I don’t want to let them get in the way
Of all the plans that we should be making right now
Right now

Who took the time and where did they take it
I want to take it back
I don’t want them to break it
All these plans that we should be making right now
Right now”

That song says it all. I want to change the way I do things, as a parent, so I can make life better for my family as a whole. I don’t want to keep saying “one day.” That “one day” starts right now.

So join me – It’s going to be a great ride!