Showing posts with label Mamalife. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mamalife. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Momming Mindfully

Sometimes, it's more fun to invent or borrow invented words from other moms. Forgive me, dear reader. 

Having the time and the mental spoons to think and function in a meaningful way is a privilege. And therefore it is a privilege to get to raise your children mindfully and spiritually. 

Having this ability and this privileged to be not only spiritual but also mindful is a true gift. It’s a true gift anywhere you are in life if you’re in a happy place. And for me this happy place is motherhood. 

Being a mother in our current day and age is not a passive process. Yet, the variety of requirements from homemaking, parenting, and working can eliminate the last mental spoon and render a person missing a vital component of the daily routine let alone their spiritual journey and living in the present. 

Life seems to reward meticulous planning and flawless but passive execution of those plans instead of living in the present. Most of our daily life is a physical and mental distraction unless we pay attention and live in the present. Inside each and every one of us is a piece that wants to be back with the whole. And we feel best in our journey when we are not lost or strayed from our path. 

As a mother, I often find that I have to make myself an expert in the working knowledge of a psychologist, natural scientist, doctor, and religious leader. And I’m also teaching my child his heritage, our human story and all that I know about it.

And in a way, through the present, the stress of such a calling goes down! I feel lucky to be summoned to such a vital role in the continuation of our human story.

I want my children to have the gift of writing their own story as much as possible through personal experience and living in the present so they can experience enlightenment, truth, peace, happiness, joy, and love.

Friday, January 22, 2021

C-section and VBAC Birth Stories

Giving birth is a miracle--it doesn't matter how much of a role modern medicine plays. 

Doing all of the right things during a pregnancy doesn't seem to have that much of an impact on actual birth itself. At a certain point, it is about genetics and your odds. Without modern medicine, my first baby and I would have died or become seriously injured. 

And I'm not talking about modern medicine like give birth at home in a pool--no I'm talking about the operating room being available right there to save my life and ensure my baby is as healthy as he can be.

And I did all the right things like dieting, prenatal visits, prenatal vitamins, and prenatal exercise. I researched how different vitamins and nutrients absorb into my body. And for vanity, I researched the best lotions and butters to put on my belly to ease the growing pains and permanent marks. 

 

C-section Birth Story

Disclaimer: there is a lot of medical advice out there from local and global health resources, this is not one of those posts. 

None of this helped when I woke up early in the morning with cramps that just did not go away. I am not 100% even during my normal wake up time, so it was no surprise that it didn't register as birth right away. I followed the medical directions and timed my contractions for an hour to reach that 5, 1, 1, rhythm--just like I learned in the birthing class. I took a non-medicated birth class too. 

After the longest car ride, and the longest paperwork sessions of my life, I was in a bed, in absolute pain. 

I took the epidural shot thinking that absolutely anything including death is better than this. The shot worked, the IV worked, and my husband who was there with me by my side the entire time felt that he could move the car. One nurse mentioned that I could sleep until the baby is ready to come. With that assurance, I relaxed, and my husband left the hospital building to move the car. 

The doctor came in , completed a check. The doctor said that the baby was stressed and in a position impossible to deliver safely and that a c-section was the best outcome. I don't exactly remember the words, but there was expediency and I was given lots of paperwork to sign. 

I am sure these procedures are derived from research, data, and training; however, at the time, it did not seem like a choice. What was I going to do? Let my baby die or become injured inside me? I scribbled on all of those signature lines and initial spots as fast as I could. I was moved into the operating room. 

My husband was surprised when he was given a set of scrubs to put on immediately when he came back. I did not notice him changing, but I assume it was fast. 

I was given additional anesthesia, but could not go under due to the epidural. The anesthesiologist checked to make sure that I could not feel a wet wipe on the surface of my belly. 

The amount of anesthesia made my head spin and I managed to throw up every where. It was embarrassing, no one was happy, and to make matters worse, it was red because I had eaten frozen cherries the night before as a healthy treat in place of something with more sugar.  

But I never felt the cuts, I barely felt a change in pressure. All I heard was a crying baby. I could not see him. My husband, who didn't even deliver his baby, saw him and took pictures of him. 

They sewed me up, while cleaning up my baby and giving him his newborn exams.

We were moved into a smaller room and my baby was snuggled up like a borrito in a hospital swaddle blanket. My husband helped with taking care of the baby and changing the diapers. I was still feeling signs of my anesthesia. 


C-section Birth Recovery 

C-section recovery was worse than birth itself. I had no core muscle strength since my muscles were stretched and also cut up from the c-section operation. It is a major abdominal surgery. It was awful. I did not have the strength and comfort level to sleep in my own bed. I just slept on the couch. I was not getting the same quality of sleep, and I was not recovering as fast as others who had c-sections. 

I had developed an infection at the incision site despite cleaning the area and taking the prescribed antibiotics. The infection slowed down the healing process and only after a 3 or 4-hour trip to urgent care did I have the antibiotics dosage right to fight the infection.

I recovered slowly, I could eventually use my core muscles, cough, sneeze, and laugh at jokes without being in pain. 

It took me about 6 weeks to be able to do what I would have been able to do immediately following a vaginal birth. 

 

VBAC Story

A vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) is not the default. There is effort from practitioners to make these more common, but not everyone gets one. This Web MD resource is a good primer. Your body is rated for how likely you are to be successful at this endeavor. Arguably, none of the criteria are something you can easily control in a healthy way. Yes, BMI is on there as well, and I do not believe that drastically changing a BMI in a short span of time, and especially while pregnant, is possible in a healthy way. 

So, I really wanted one. I did everything I did with my first baby, albeit less personal time since now I had a child. 

This baby did everything right during birth, and I had a long labor without losing patience. I had my wonderful epidural, I had my husband, I had my nurses, and it was a lot of pressure. I could feel a lot of pressure--not sure if it was pain exactly, but it was not the comfort other mothers have described like "having the biggest poop of your life."

Not for me anyway, my experience was long, and the baby's head took a while to go through the birth canal, and my body took a while. It just all took a while. My doctor said the right things to push me and she also knew that I was afraid of large tears seeing as I had a very bad experience with my c-section recovery. 

But the baby was happy the entire time while being born. It was the craziest thing going from a birth where I just heard my baby, to seeing the baby come out and go right to me. I had the baby on my chest crying like his brother did. It was a giant baby and the long labor made more sense after the fact. 

Unlike his brother, my younger baby had the classically reformed head from the birth canal journey. And like, his brother, he was almost the same weight. The doctor called my 9lb 7oz baby a whopper. 

I had a second degree tear that my doctor fixed with absorbable sutures. 

VBAC Recovery

The recovery was just like the Frida commercial that caused controversy. That was a good and honest commercial. But it was shorter. Much shorter, and I was able to walk longer distances sooner, as well as complete my chores. 

I had used up so many products from the hospital and from Amazon in order to make the recovery bearable.

While neither recovery from birth was glamorous, the recovery from the VBAC was much easier. I would recommend a VBAC to anyone who is able to get one. 

 

How the Births were the Same

1. Both were hard. 

2. Lack of sleep was consistent

3. My exercise routine was changed to being very gentle on myself after recovery.

4. Pain and discomfort were present during recovery

 

How the Births were Different

1. I could not drive after my c-section birth due to the pain relief medication, while I was able to drive almost right away after my VBAC.

2. I was unable to get up from the couch easily using my core muscles after a c-section, while I had trouble sitting from bruising my tailbone during birth after my VBAC. 

3. I was able to mitigate pain and recovery with my VBAC. The pain was in places that I could get to and I could identify what parts were in pain. I think I will write my experience bruising my tailbone in the future because it was profoundly painful weeks after birth and I don't think this injury is talked about enough.

4. I could laugh with a VBAC, meaning that I could relax with a VBAC.

5. While I am reminded everyday that I had a c-section when I get dressed, I cannot detect my second degree tear. Second degree tears are most common (link). 

6. Bathroom trips following a c-section were easier.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Favorite Planner Things

I don't know where I would be if it wasn't for planners. Planners are beautiful visual aids that make my goals and dreams come true through calendars, checklists, and notes. Yes, I have uncompleted resolutions of yesteryear too, but we will not talk about those just yet.


 URSTYLE Link: https://urstyle.fashion/styles/2824598


I love digital calendars. Sharing events on digital calendars is convenient and my life would be much harder without them, BUT there is something beautiful and irreplaceable about a physical planner because I love seeing my week come alive on each page. I also love being able to write things down to remember them better.

But they can be fairly expensive. So I have a round up of items that to jump start your planner journey from Michael's


 

While the planner community is full of nice bespoke agendas, templates, and accessories, I wanted to take the time and talk about planner things from Michaels. Why Michaels? Well, because it is an accessible store and it had pulled me though some hard times through crafts. 

The truth is that when I first started with my planned journey, as much as I wanted to go all over the internet, it was much more comfortable to go to the physical store and look at everything in its physical form without worrying about actual size or quality. 

Another reason to use a one stop shop like Michael’s is that I get to see if I like a product at a lower price point before jumping headfirst into some consumables I will never use up. 

I enjoy aesthetically dressing up my planner so that I know what I have to look forward to and also keep track of my year. Yes, 2020 has probably been the worst year for planner companies, but I hope 2021 is much better and at the very least here are a few ways you can jot down your COVID-19 shot appointment dates. 

Planner Shell

The planner shell is necessary. There are I believe three common sizes, A5, standard, and pocket, as well as some others.

While for a shell almost anything goes, I would say that I prefer those that meet my need to write as much as I can. I typically go for the A5 and the standard size.

 

Small Letter or Symbol Stamps

These are great for tracking your habits, chores, drinking 8 glasses, spending or not spending, etc. if your kind of goals revolve around numbers or day to day consistency, I highly recommend stamps that fit snugly into a page. And yes, stickers might work as well, but I often find that they are too big for this purpose. 

Big Stamps

Big stamps are for big events! If you have consistent events like vacations, flights, play dates, birthdays, seminars, or outings, I highly suggest a fun, big and visual stamp. 

Ink Pads

You can’t have stamps without ink pads, there are many different kinds and it’s important that your matches your basic needs like not bleeding through thin agenda pages or not being easy to wash away. 

Pens

I love pens and the finer and more vibrant in color the better. I think multiple colors are a great way to communicate different details such as making time in orange or location in green. This way, if you are scanning your pages for certain information, you can ignore the colors that aren’t important that moment. 

Highlighters

I use my highlighters to designate that something is done. It’s a great way to mark up pages without obstructing the original text.

Filler Pages

Filler pages are needed. There are some yearly start ones like a calendar at a glance and detail pages for each week. There are also habit tracked pages, mela planning, budgeting, drawing, etc.

Washi Tape

Washi tape is not a requirement, but it is SO PRETY and it’s easy to feel festive or seasonal by decorating your pages. 

Stickers 

Stickers are another great way to decorate or label a planner. If you were an overachiever in school you might want to reward yourself with a set of stickers for days that go really well! Or just because you as an adult deserve them to brighten your day. 


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Gingerbread Man Christmas Tree Ornaments with Customized Tags


 

 One tradition that we started in our home was making Christmas tree ornament gifts "from our children." Our firs baby's first Christmas ornament "gifts" were handprints and footprints in red and green. This was nearly a hassle free project and I was hooked. The next project was a bit more elaborate, and nearly from scratch. 

These were a lot of effort to make, but were worth the result. I had completed the gingerbread man outline and I had let my toddler decide on the decorations that I had glued on using hot glue. 

Below are the instructions used to create these ornaments.

 

 I also wanted to make sure that the tags were customized. A tag die and a small tag hole punch were used to create the shape out of heavy scrap-booking paper. I then used small Recollections stamps to write the giver and recipients. 

 
 Finally, I added some fun to the tags by using my child's favorite stamp. 
 
 
 



Monday, November 9, 2020

The Story of Mothers in Little Fires Everywhere

 

First Impressions of Little Fires Everywhere

URSTYLE Link: https://urstyle.fashion/styles/2758979

Reading "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng was a beautiful experience and I wanted to dive into it from a parenting perspective. 

Please be forewarned, there are spoilers ahead.

While intertwined relationships between teenagers is the main focus, and Shaker Heights, a setting that can be a character, attempts to steal the spotlight where possible, the book is fundamentally about motherhood. About parenthood. About that nuance of human cycles and conversely unprecedented futures that comes with each new generation. 

This book would have wound up in a recommended school book report list had it been written a hundred years ago. I have heard a book reviewer say that the sentence structures could be better. I understand the sentiment, but I often find that a signature of the author features the author's weaknesses just as much as strengths. For example, while I highly enjoy Edith Wharton's work, I cannot, for the life of me, imagine a map or directions of any location within some of her key works. And that is okay. I prefer her descriptions of human nature under specific circumstances to the most riveting land survey.

Celeste Ng's characters escape from the page as fleshed out people without divulging every single tidbit of life history. The interactions are full and while authentic to their time, place, and culture, are universal enough that a few changes in slang and peripheral details would be enough to transfer this story in time and geography.  

Parenting in Little Fires Everywhere

So back to parenting in "Little Fires Everywhere." While it is impossible to outright name each mother within this book a bad parent exactly, there are little red flags here and there that often resemble the red flags in real life. And I loved that. Not only is parenting a teenager one of the most difficult aspects of parenting, but also being a human being while parenting is a challenge not too small.

Even the most perfect parents carry red flags with them and make mistakes. And that's okay. 

Elena Richardson and Mia Warren are portrayed as complimentary forces in parenting. 

Elena Richardson

Elena Richardson had pursued preparing the space for the child and had followed this course to completion as part of the philosophy she adopted from her planned Shaker Heights setting. She had let her career, while impressive, stagnate compared to those of her peers. 

She had come back to Shaker following schooling, ready to start the next chapter of her life. And while this preparation is elaborate, all of this preparation goes against "following the child," a key Montessori motto.

The main takeaways from Elena's parenting style is that there is not much flexibility. There is not a lot of room for mistakes because the preparation had eliminated as many opportunities for mistakes as possible. 

One heartbreaking moment is realizing that while Elena has written the plan for her own children in stone regardless of how well it works out for them, she is more than willing to help other parents realize plans for their children that work for them. For example, she was more than willing to help a friend get her daughter into an all-girls school that was better for her education. Now it is not clear if this option is better just on paper or genuinely better for the child in real life, but it is already a red flag that Elena does not entertain even a glimmer of an idea like that for Izzy until the plot rolls out through the book. And then, it is much too late.

Mia Warren

By contrast Mia Warren provided and prepared many spaces showing her child the different ways to live in one country and how unique the landscapes, people, and even the sky can be. The comfort provided seemed very essential, instead of absolute. The complete lack of "following the child" is a stark contrast to Elena Richardson's methods and while it would be considered quirky to say the least by the current interpretation of the Montessori method, I can see a fierce follow the child aspect. Key examples include Mia using a sling when her child did not want to be put down, taking on jobs that allowed her to be close to her child, and letting her child mold oneself in the short term without judgement. 

Mia's frequent moves take away any long-term environment from her child and give her child additional challenges in life. Her child is not able to establish long-term relationships, develop a support system other than her mother, or develop traditionally rewarded academic and extracurricular activities for college admissions. 

One heartbreaking, yet completely glossed over point in the book, is the fact that we know that Pearl had the writing abilities to get into a prestigious university. After all, her essay had helped someone else get in. But it is doubtful that Pearl's application would have reflected the grades and involvement typically associated with stellar applications. After all, it is 2020 and parents have gotten into trouble for forging their children's extracurricular involvement. We know this matters, and we know it is hard to build this consistency in new places. 

Both Mothers are Goals and Both are Cautionary Tales

I wanted to provide a comfortable home for my children to thrive in. I also had seen what multiple moves do to a child's academic progress as a tutor and from my own experience. And yet, I want to show the world to my children that I was lucky enough to experience. Yes, consistently developing a know-how in academics or sports is important, but there is so much of the world to experience that is far more personally rewarding.

Mia's life is enviable despite it being opposite to the suburban living ideal. And as a parent in 2020, it's easy to see why. Pre-COVID, it was not surprising to see school shooting events in the news. Surely, doing remote schooling while traveling sounded a lot better than looming fears and sporadic school drills. Even the most prestigious suburb- or any setting that can be its own character- does not guarantee safety from school shooters or other violence.

 



 

 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Maternity Wardobe Additions for a Fall/Winter Pregnancy

 

URSTYLE link: https://urstyle.fashion/styles/2773442

 

You don't have to buy an all new wardrobe in order to look stylish while pregnant.

If you are a clothing minimalist, or if you want to dress yourself without breaking the bank, this post is for you!

First and foremost, I want to say that most social media regarding pregnancy is a lot of lies. No one wears a maternity gown every day. Most expecting parents wear loose clothing that still fits from their non-maternity wardrobe until there is no choice but to wear maternity or otherwise over-sized clothing if maternity is not your cup of tea.

Outerwear

Second, yes, if you are going to be nine months pregnant during the winter then you will need a coat or a very, very warm wool sweater that fits over your belly and then some. There is no way around it in a cold climate. 

I would usually say that if you intend on taking walks, even if it's from your car to your destination that it is worth splurging on something comfortable. This being 2020 with outings limited due to COVID-19, it makes less sense to get something aesthetically appealing and more practical, social distance activity-friendly options seem like the best choice. 

Jeans and Pants

If you use the popular and brilliant rubber band technique or the belly bandit, then you might be able to spend the majority of your pregnancy in your favorite, non-maternity, jeans. 

Jeans are very practical and I placed these on my list because I wore them at least three times a week during the second and third trimesters.

If you work outside of the home where business attire is the norm, you will have to purchase enough office friendly bottoms. More often than not, business and business casual clothing is less friendly to the life hacks such as the rubber band or the belly bandit. 

One of my favorite shopping moments was finding a pair of Loft Maternity pants at a thrift store for maternity wear. It was a steal for the price, and although they were a bit tight in the ninth month of pregnancy, I love these pants and still wear them almost a year postpartum.

Nursing Tanks

If you are also planning to breastfeed, this is a good investment now. These tanks tend to run long and they will be the go to top after your baby is born. You might want to get some ahead of time now and have additional undergarments. These tanks tend to stretch.

Leggings 

Leggings are essential for the winter time to go under dresses. And if you are following your doctor's recommendations of doing light exercise, you need to supplement your athleisure with maternity choices during pregnancy. You don't even have to get maternity leggings although they are a big plus. If there is a non-maternity pattern or style that you like, you might be able to size up and wear them up to your due date, it all depends on the material and the clothing brand.

Dresses

Dresses are underrated as maternity wear. I love sweater dresses or wrap dresses because they will stretch. 

Shirts and Sweaters

While I highly suggest re-purposing your own pieces, it might be a good idea to have a few key shirts and sweaters ready to go for just about any activity. There is only so far that re-purposing can go. And sometimes, it makes sense to be put together just a little more.

I think sweaters are a good investment in general and they don't have to be maternity. A cozy wool or cashmere blend sweater will always come handy while sipping coco by a campfire or taking a brisk walk long after the baby is born. 

As someone who is naturally always a bit cold, I want to point out that Merino wool, machine cold-washable wool, is a great investment and will stay warm even when wet. It will always be worth the initial investment without the headache of dry-cleaning. 

Open Faced Cardigans

While this might look like an ordinary sweater, it is more of a maternity wear power house. These cardigans can often effectively shield a pregnant belly from the elements without having to be a maternity item. 

They are easy layers to put on and take off and will serve time and time again during pregnancy and long after the baby is born. 

If you live in milder climates, these pieces can be your outerwear layer. 

Comfortable Sleepwear

This last essential addition to the maternity wardrobe is comfortable, breathable sleepwear. The final trimester is not a comfortable destination. You need all of the comfort so that you can get the rest that you need and deserve. 

Also, chances are that when your baby does come, you want to be as comfortable as possible. 

To be fair, most Mamas I know tend to "borrow" an oversized shirt from their husbands, but it is far better to get your own.  


 

Friday, September 25, 2020

The 7 Secrets to Happiness on Mondays as a Working Mama

Being a working mother is a beautiful thing. And yet, it does not look like it on Mondays. Sometimes it doesn't look like that on other days of the week either. 

Mondays are like the first game of the season for the week. It seems to layout a certain flow to the rest. That's why having it go well is a wonderful gift. 

I used to hate Mondays up until just about recently. Funny enough, these are also the years that I have accepted more responsibility in my home life and in my professional career. By all accounts, I should be having miserable mornings full of spilled, cold coffee on business casual clothes, multiple diaper changes, and dramatic scenes at maximum volume.

And while those Mondays happen as well, I am pleased to say that my mornings typically function smoothly. Or smoothly enough. Here are 7 secrets to finding that elusive happiness on a Monday morning.

1. The No-Brainer Secret

This one is a baseline secret, but here it is, Get into Your Flow.

Here is a good video on what is flow and I will try to paraphrase it in Mama terms with concrete examples. Flow is being completely involved in the task at hand with the ego forgotten. Flow is being really good at sorting laundry when you focus on it. Flow is listening to your child talk about a story and bonding. 

Flow can happen on Monday mornings. 

My Flow is borrowed from habits established from wearing many hats and the wonderful and very helpful Jordan Page's Block Schedule idea.  

It is much easier to be happy, relaxed, and focused when you know exactly what you have to do and how to do it. 

I find my Flow from knowing my what I need to do in the morning. There is a checklist in my head that I go through before anyone leaves the house. And there are so-called blocks or periods of wearing certain hats, like my make believe firefighter hat or my chef hat. 

I call this the no-brainer secret because there is no overthinking involved. People reach a state of Flow when they are doing tasks and activities that are second nature to them in that moment in time. 

2. Your Phone is Not Your Friend

There are so many things to unpack here. I am not saying that browsing social media and connecting with people is wrong. Checking email first thing in the morning is also not inherently wrong. 

It is the habit for habit's sake that is the problem. It creates an odd family culture in your household where your child might learn very early on that being physically there is not the same as being mentally or emotionally present.

So if you can be there mentally and emotionally for your child while looking at 3 screens and making dinner, then all is good. 

I know for myself that my minutes can escape me as I scroll through social media.

I try my hardest to avoid this. 

It is also a lot harder to do things in the morning when you are not mentally and emotionally in your same space.

I am trying to cutback on my phone use and when I do, I notice my mind come to a healthier place. I am not curious to know what 800 of my closest friends--some of whom I've only met once or haven't talked to since high school--are doing. And my phone transforms into a pocket reference to the rest of the world instead of an invisible net that is tying up my morning routine. 

3. The Morning Routine

Speaking of the morning routine, it is crucial. 

And here I am a stereotypical mother who loves her morning routine. We all recommend a good morning routine because it works. 

It's not really a secret, but it is detrimentally underrated that it might as well be one. A routine is not meant to remove any spontaneity from your life, but instead is meant to take out a lot of the bad possibilities.

4. Not Starting Behind

It is a wonderful feeling not running behind on chores, social obligations, or work deadlines. It is an amazing feeling not drowning in tasks, but instead having the time and opportunity to enjoy them in a state of flow. 

A very easy thing that you can do is to prepare bottles ahead of time or meals ahead of time as much as possible. Another thing is to take care of one weekly chore per night. And yet another thing is to complete some reading either for personal growth, a book club, or for professional reasons.  

The next aspect of this secret is one that unfortunately cannot be changed with just an "abundance" mindset. It's about having resources. There is a certain amount of basic resources or necessities you need like food, clothing, shelter, and safety that is necessary. 

For example, if you do not have food in your home, then you are behind sustenance for the morning. And in fact, it is usually the tangible and intangible resource deficits that make us miserable on Mondays. I hope that everyone reading this has their basic necessities on every day of the week. And same goes for people not reading this entry as well.  

5. Planning for Something Fun, Exciting or Comforting

It is good to look forward to something. So it makes my Monday better to look forward to a visit from family or catching up with a friend. 

I don't know who needs to hear this, but you should not reserve a bit of a reprieve from your daily grind ONLY for when everything is perfect. Chances are that perfect will never come. It is necessary to keep your bucket full. And filling your bucket is just as important as making sure your children are well-fed, clothed, and have their emotional needs met. 

I enjoy reading for enjoyment, catching up with friends, and taking bubble baths. You might enjoy something else. 

6. Make it a Game

As a Mama, I know what it is like to have your days melt together. With everyone spending more time at home on zoom calls instead of physical events and meetings, it is a lot easier to lose track of time. That is why I have a simple mental tool for how to avoid the old adage of "the years are short, but the days are long," Make. It. A. Game.

While this is not the best analogy, add some way to quantify an aspect of your day and make a goal. Then, give yourself a reward for it. Did you have nothing but patience as your child had a meltdown at a park after you spent hours planning and buying tickets? And did you not lose your head? Great! Give yourself a sticker, add a dollar to your savings account. Something. Find a way to measure your progress on your journey and most importantly celebrate each step.

7. Practice and Repeat

I am borrowing a lesson that was passed onto me from a very brilliant woman. And I am going to do my best to paraphrase it.

The first time that you do something that you have true talent in, you think you are going to be awesome at it. But no, the first time you do anything, even if you have talent in it, you are going to blow it and it will go horribly. 
 
Life takes practice. And the funny thing about being a mama, a mommy, or a mom, is that the title might stay the same, but our lives might change drastically from one week to the next. And as parents, we keep having these "firsts" that go horribly because we did not have enough practice of these new firsts. 
 
So practice and repeat. It will get better. 

Friday, July 31, 2020

What No One Told Me About Breastfeeding

I had read countless blogs and forums on breastfeeding. And when it was time for my milk to come in and start this beautiful journey, I had many appointments with lactation consultants. On top of that, I had family and friends who had walked me through cluster feeding and my milk finally coming in.

And after the ups and downs of breastfeeding my first child, I thought I was an old soul when it came time to breastfeed my second child. After all, I was a veteran breastfeeding Mama who spent countless hours in bathrooms, nursing rooms, doctors offices, and my home either breastfeeding or pumping breastmilk for my baby.

And just like that, my milk actively came in much faster with my second baby. I don't think I used any formula to supplement this time. I felt at ease. 

The oxytocin produced during the feedings was needed amidst the chaos of becoming a family of four in forced isolation due to COVID-19 (thanks 2020). I can still remember that feeling as I navigated the postpartum discomforts and new life adjustments.

And here we are with still so many surprises. I wanted to make a short list of surprises I learned while breastfeeding.



 

No One Told Me Children Can be Ready to Move on Without You

My second child is a baby led weaning kid. Here I had this tiny human envying our every single meal. And after he grew his first tooth, he would get actively upset about being excluded from meals. We made it ritual to introduce new foods to him even if only in taste.

He adapted to cow's milk without a blink. And he adapted to water and the sippy cup without many issues. 

Most importantly, he hasn't met a food he didn't like. 

Which brings me to now. No one told me that my child would be the one shrinking my breastmilk supply and not the other way around to "wean" the baby off breastmilk. 

No One Told Me About the Absolute Discomfort Before My Milk Fully Came In

I’ve seen terms like “pain” and ”engorgement” floating around forums, but I had never thought in a million years that it was going to hurt to feed my baby. Or to out on clothes, move around, or just take a shower. 

I remember struggling to feed my baby. I remember my child being hungry and having to supplement with formula. Lots of sleepless nights full of feedings and washing bottles were a new kind of routine. But what I also remember was the absolute discomfort as my milk first came in. 

I think every body is different and no one wants to talk about the discomforts of breastfeeding in order to it scare anyone away, but it’s there at first for some.

Thankfully, this was not the experience with my second child. 

No One Told Me That Babies Can Have Favorite Bottles

It's the grip. Dare I say more? 

The bottle that is the easiest to grasp and hold wins. 

And this requires me to update my original Baby Bottles article with an update. Maybe I should just write a new one, "Bottles Preferred by Babies." The small glass bottles are too heavy. The soft bottles in the shape of an oval don't have the grip. And, insert sarcastic "who knew" that the Kiinde bottle system, the one I used almost exclusively for breastmilk was the favorite and easiest to grasp. Perhaps it became my child's favorite because it was a "sure thing" without a bad surprise of formula once my breastmilk supply dropped from hormonal changes and stress. 

No One Told Me Busy Babies Don't Follow the Same Schedule 

This was a blessing, let me explain. I like to go out into parks and nature that still has enough of an audience and enough of natural dangers that I don't feel comfortable juggling a breastfeeding baby and an active toddler. Sure I could pack a bottle, but then I would have to either train my child to drink cold milk or carry an additional thermos with hot water. 

I was very lucky and blessed that as long as my child was not bored, e.g. we were exploring a lake and there were geese and people fishing and hiking, I was fine. He didn't care for food. And then he adjusted to being hungry when we got home without a change in attitude. And I know why this is happening, we have night feedings and he never goes without although I know that his body can be trained in time. 

No One Told Me Feedings Laying Down Are Easier

It happened by accident with my first. He was laying beside me and just found his way. And that was how I realized that I got a break by feeding while laying down!

Not all babies might like it, I think it depends on the situation. But if it's possible, I will make it happen. 

Using a floor bed was a great way to have this feeding method in our lives because I would just lay next to the floor bed on a cushy fleece blanket and feed my child. 

I am in no way saying it is okay to fall asleep like this, in fact, I think that would be super dangerous if you are on one same uneven surface. There is however, nothing stopping you from relaxing while you are laying down. There are no pillows to arrange, or a comfortable chair to find. There are no muscle aches involved from supporting your child's body in a position conducive to breastfeeding. 

No One Told Me I Would Be Dreading Stopping Breastfeeding

I remember the first few months after I stopped breastfeeding my first child. Everything became better and easier. It was easier preparing for daycare. Then, my day was easier at work because I did not have to break to pump nor judge my food intake. It was easier going places with a bottle or a sippy cup without worrying about finding a quiet corner or a private room. 

I was thinking the second time around would be similar. And again, I was surprised I did not want to move on. I did not want to have easier mornings, better days at work, or easier planning. 

I know that the time is going to come soon enough, but this year has taken my sense of chronological order away from COVID-19 and personal chaos of adjusting to being a family of four. Stopping breastfeeding at the one year mark would force me to admit that my baby is no longer a baby but a toddler. Toddling onward to his next chapter towards independence.

No One Told Me Pumps Would Just Break

A pump is a working breastfeeding Mama's best friend. And I thought that it was a technology mainly free of hiccups. 

Well, I am four pumps in. 

I used the first two while breastfeeding my first baby and now I went through two more with my new one. And it is not the pump's fault by any means. They had just worked really hard. 


 

Not All Pumping At Work is the Same

While I think it would be nice is every working and nursing parent received a safe and relaxing space to pump at work, this simply is not the case across many states. Some parents have even stopped breastfeeding their children because the logistics of pumping at work just didn't work out. 

I have pumped in bathrooms, in restaurants, in designated nursing rooms, in my office, in conference rooms, in my car, and in storage closets.

It is rough out there and you have to adjust. It might mean you have to carry spare batteries because there being no plug, or it might mean just manually expressing milk if a pump is not an option at all. 

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