Saturday, December 29, 2012

life is dog-gone good

Back at the beginning of my son's life, it seemed I cried more than I smiled.  It could have been the probable PPD or the un-fun-ness of having a Colicky baby, but the bottom line...I wasn't loving motherhood.  In fact, I remember sending a text message to my neighbor that included a line something like, "This kid feels more like punishment than a blessing."

And then he grew up a little.

For those of you who may be stuck in the dark days losing hope for a fun future.  I'm here to testify:
It gets WAY better.

Our kid is fun, hilarious, and down right adorable.

He toddles like Frankenstein across our floor in his Superman PJs and my heart melts.
He laughs with his two tiny toothlings breaking through his gums.
He tackles our dog with gusto and is pleased with himself when his mission is accomplished.



Somewhere along the way our baby became a toddler--and it's awesome.
He even traveled in the car for more than four hours without stopping and was happy to take a break and pet our dog who was journeying with us!


I now truly consider myself blessed.  Our life is made richer because of Sam.  Thank you, Jesus.

Sam's first birthday is in 7 days!  Hip-hip-hooray!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 from 12 on 12, 12, 12

In honor of December 12, 2012 (12-12-12), here's 12 parenting tips from a mom with 12 months of parenting experience.  Now that's a lot of twelves!

1.  Let it be.  
If baby is happy playing, let him play.  If baby is sleeping in one morning, let him sleep.  If you feel like he should be bored, but he's not, let it be.
2.  Be flexible.
Baby won't always do something how you want him to.  It's ok.  Be willing to adapt.  You will both survive better this way.
3.  Allow others to help you.
People will offer--don't allow your pride to prevent you from getting your dishes cleaned.  (We all have dirty dishes, it's ok, we don't judge you for it.)
4.  Most new moms feel just as insecure as you do.
It's normal to want to compare babies, but do your best to stop because it will just drive you crazy.  (P.S. My kid's just now cutting his first tooth--I think--and he's almost a year. You win!)
5.  Trust veteran moms.
It may hurt your pride and you may want to do your own thing, but why reinvent the wheel?  Sometimes they may have overly abrasive opinions, but sometimes they're right.
6.  Get movin'.
Go on walks.  Go on jogs.  Go to the park.  It's good for you.
7.  Be your baby's playmate.
Get down on the floor and make a fool of yourself.  Laugh and play with your baby.  It's fun.  What baby doesn't like a good air guitar concert?
8.  Take lots of pictures.
Even though at first it felt slow...it really does go fast.  And you probably won't remember it as well as you might think.
9.  Do free stuff.
Our library has story time for babies twice a week.  We love it.  It gets us out doing stuff that doesn't have to be budgeted.
10.  Expose your kid to lots of things.
...not like graphic violence...but music, nature, art, other kids...you get the picture!
11.  Eat well.  Let baby eat well.
Easier said than done, but start early with good food choices.  Don't get him hooked on sugary food because it's hard to turn back.  This may mean that you have to stop eating junk too.  When your baby gets old enough to want to eat what's on your plate, are you going to give him your cheese puffs or a piece of your whole grain bread?
12.  Make your house a safe place.
Sam and I both have more fun because everything that he has access to is safe for him.  The lower shelves of the bookshelf has kids books.  The DVD shelf is covered with chairs.  Trade in your "No, no!" environment for one of peace, safety, and fun.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

guilty baby pleasures

Recently I had a friend ask a group of us (around a camp fire) about our "guilty pleasures."  Among the answers included were, watching Star Wars, skipping brushing our teeth before bed, and listening to gangster rap in our Escalade Camry.



Today, while feeding Sam breakfast in his high chair, I put my head to his as I often do and he leaned into it with enjoyment.  (Having trouble picturing this--think, Barry transferring his success in Baby Mama at the end of the video clip from YouTube!)

I realized I love doing that with Sam (and that I always think of the Baby Mama clip!) And that it is my "guilty baby pleasure."  He seems to like it and it makes me feel like we're hugging!

So, spill the beans.  What's your "guilty baby pleasure?"

Friday, November 30, 2012

don't let baby clothes be 'loads' of stress

Do baby clothes seem to be taking over your life?  Do you feel like you're constantly adding new clothes to your baby's closet and taking small clothes out and putting them in unorganized garbage bags in the hall closet?  Are you a little sad that dressing a baby in the right sized clothes takes up so much time?

I, like you, have been there and done that.  And now I have an organization system I'd like to share with you.


 There is some prep work involved.

  • Decide if you're saving baby's clothes for future babies.
  • Decide if you care to have things neatly organized.
  • Decide if you have money to buy plastic bins.
  • Decide how you want to label your bins. (i.e. label maker/computer, printer, packing tape/masking tape and Sharpie)

Use a small bin in your babies room/closet.  

This is for clothes that you immediately realize are too small for your baby after he's worn them.  When you put something on your child that is too small, take it back off and throw it in the 'too small' bin (or let him wear it one more time, wash it, and then put it in the bin.)  When the small bin is full, you'll be ready for your larger bins you bought.

This is the Carter's sizing chart if you need it for guidance.

Label your bins into size categories.

I went old-school with masking tape and a Sharpie.
Maternity clothes
NB & 0-3 month BOYS3(-6) month BOYS
6(-9) month BOYS
9(-12) month BOYS
12 month BOYS

I have a lot of Carter's hand-me-downs and the tags only have one number.  From my experience, the first number is the starting size, so if it is 6m, the size range is 6-9 months.   (I've read the complete opposite opinion other places--that the number represents the last month which would make 6m=3-6 months, but I think they fit better the first way.  To each, her own!)

The Children's Place items I have tended to run a bit small, so right now, my kiddo is in 12 month shirts, but I've pulled the 18 month hand-me-down shirts from CP because they fit pretty well, too.  Gerber has a pretty wide size range.  Unfortunately each brand is slightly different and it will take some trial and error to figure out the way your like your child's clothes to fit.  But once you figure it out, you'll know which labeled bin the clothes go in.

Store the clothes in the bin that has smallest size listed.  

If you have a pair of pants that are sized 9-12 months, don't put them in the 12 month tote, or the next time you need them, you'll find them when they're almost too small!

Stack your bins logically. 

Maternity comes before 3-6 months clothes so don't put that bin on the bottom.  Also, if you have boys and girls, you may want to store them together, but I chose to get smaller bins and separate.  My girl totes (I only have 2 small ones right now, since I don't have girls, but do have hand-me-downs) are purple.  I think a little color-coding is fun, but definitely not necessary!

Stay one or two steps ahead.

Don't wait until your kid has outgrown all of his 2T clothes to buy a bin for them.  Have it labeled and stored with the rest of your bins.  You're more likely to stick with it if it's already there for you.  (Also, I've been told 24month and 2T are very similar, so consider storing these together.)

Good luck with your organizing.  I hope I've helped you alleviate some stress in your life!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dr. Mary, M.D. checking in on PPD

I sometimes like to pretend I'm a doctor.  Growing up, before taking my husband's last name, my initials were M. D.  Clearly that makes me a medical doctor, right?  I mean, who needs a degree when you have initials like that!?

That being said, here is my non-medical-professional thoughts and experiences with postpartum depression.  (All that prefacing to say, I'm not claiming fact, I'm just claiming experience.)

I think I had PPD.

I cried a lot.  A lot.  I was tired all the time.  I survived each day only by the grace of God.  I was constantly on edge hearing real and imaginary cries from my baby.  I slept terribly.  I was always anxious--like, big time anxious.

And since I had a colicky baby and didn't get out very much, I thought this was 'normal.' I never wanted to admit that I could have postpartum depression because I thought it was for crazy people (like me?) and not regular moms.  I didn't want to be judged for not loving my baby oodles and oodles.  And the truth is, I did (and do) love my baby, but sometimes it was just too much.  He made me crazy and I couldn't understand how people did this more than once.

My baby blues lasted longer than the doctor said they would.  But then again, I wasn't sleeping full nights of sleep and I was struggling to breastfeed a baby who wasn't gaining weight like the charts said he should.  Surely that wasn't PPD?

It wasn't until probably eight months into motherhood that I was confident that I had PPD.  However, I really didn't want to take medicine, so I very scientifically googled alternative solutions.

The internet suggested talking to people about how I was feeling, which I was doing with my husband, but after reading that, started randomly blurting out to other mothers that I think I had depression.  The Holy Spirit clearly led those conversations, because every mother I spoke to had experience with some form of depression.  ...so I learned I wasn't crazy.

I also began taking vitamin D.  And on the weekends (when my husband could get up with baby) I would take a sleeping aid so that I started getting full nights of sleep.  Thankfully, for the sake of my husband, Sam was (mostly) sleeping through the night.

And I began feeling better.

My mother and mother-in-law started babysitting Sam some during the week and I got some time off.  I got to have some 'me' time.  I got to do my grocery shopping without fear of a baby melt-down in the cereal aisle.

And this very long year has now become sunny.  I can't say with certainty that I am "healed" from PPD, but I know I'm in a much better place.

If you find yourself in this place, I want you to hear these things:
  1. You're not crazy.
  2. A lot of people have PPD, just less than a lot want to admit it.
  3. Life gets better.
  4. It's not your fault.
  5. You're not a bad mom.
  6. Your baby might be really "easy" and you still feel this way.  That's ok.
  7. Seeking help doesn't make you a freak.
I love you, friend.  If you need to talk, I'm hear.  And if you need to talk to a medical professional, you should do that also.  Sometimes drugs and a real therapist are the only things that will help.

Love,
Mary

Saturday, November 3, 2012

why being a mom is like being a boyscout

I get ridiculed by my husband when we go on trips because that means I have to pack.  I just hear that word and I shudder (Mufasa Mufasa Mufasa.)  But when it's time to pull out of the driveway, I have it all covered.  I'm always prepared.  (...I guess I should never say always, but you know what I mean.)

This, over-packing, always prepared way of life gave me the advantage recently.

I needed to run up to the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner.  Sam was finished napping and my husband was home and looking for some 'down time.'  I bargained with him.  "I'll take Sam to Wal-Mart with me, if you'll get dinner started and clean up the living room."  He was in!  Sam had on a fresh diaper and I had put his bottle in my purse.  I grabbed a blanket because it was easier to find than a burp cloth and we were out the door!

We pull into the parking lot and I think I smell something.  I realize I don't have the diaper bag.  However, being the always-prepared mom that I am, I realized I had a few extra diapers and some wipes in the car.  Ok, I got this.

Only, I don't.

I get him out of his seat, check to make sure it wasn't just gas...and come back with a dirty finger! Ew!  Now there is (liquid) poop on my finger, his shirt, his pants, and pretty much his entire body (or so it seems.)  Where is that diaper bag!?

There's a blanket that Truck lays on in the back along with a stash of grocery bags that I have yet to recycle.

I lay Sam on the blanket and stick a grocery bag under his soiled behind.   It was rough.  Lots of wipes.  Another grocery bag filled with dirty wipes...and a naked kid whose clothes I can not put back on.

I am so grateful the Lord prompted me to bring a baby blanket instead of a burp cloth.  I wrapped up my mostly-naked kid in the blanket and darted into Wal-Mart.  Sam now owns a "My 1st Christmas" onsie that he will likely be too big for by Christmas, but I was in a rush to dress my naked baby.

I'm just glad I chose to go to a super-center rather than a grocery store.  Man, I sure did get the raw end of the deal I made with my husband!

Moral of the story:  Always bring the diaper bag!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What Came After

...a follow up to Sammy's birth story.

I wish I could tell you that after Sam was born I kissed his head, cuddled him tight and he drifted off into an unencumbered slumber for hours.  I wish I could tell you that he latched perfectly with little effort and breastfeeding was painless and luxurious.  I wish I could tell you that I hopped out of my hospital bed into the shower, cleaned up, put on make-up, and welcomed hundreds of guests with open arms.  I wish I could tell you life became blissful.

...but alas.  I can not tell you those things.  I am not a liar.

Becoming a parent was nothing like I imagined when I was a 'Still in the Belly Baby Mama.'  I struggled to get out of my hospital bed because of the magnesium and being bed ridden for three days.  I struggled to stand in the shower and clean off and I really didn't like the idea of visitors while I was still swollen, exhausted, and getting into the swing of nursing.

Sam's second night in the hospital was long!  He had stayed in the nursery the previous night and his second night, he was by my side.  By Divine intervention, most of the night is a hazy memory, but I remember a lot of crying.  At one point, Lee J, who is not used to hearing kids cry like I am from my child care days, hopped up from his sleeping and was so frustrated because of the crying.  He was mad.  At one point I really thought he was going to walk out on Sam and me for good (not that he would EVER do that, but sleep deprivation is a crazy thing.)  Thankfully, I talked him down and he then, consoled me too.  Marriage is awesome like that.  We ended up taking turns holding Sam while sleeping and miraculously made it through the night!  Praise the Lord.

Four days after we initially checked into the hospital, we were discharged.  We were very relieved to finally be able to go home.  Home was a struggle, we had a big learning curve ahead of us, but it was home none-the-less.  Family was there to greet us and help us get settled and our dog, Truck, finally got to meet Sam.
If you're wondering about our dog introduction, we had my parents bring home a blanket with Sam's scent on it ahead of time and let Truck have it and get used to it.  Then when we brought him home, we let Truck sniff him for awhile and he seemed to be satisfied.  He did really well with the adjustment.

The days to follow were very hard.  I never realized that such a tiny thing could make such gigantic noises--and at all hours of the day and night.

Now that I am out of the fog of caring for a colicky baby, I am able to admit that my baby was colicky.  In a way, I'm glad I didn't admit it while it was happening because I don't think I would have worked so hard to stop his crying.  By not admitting it, I was always trying to help him feel better and be at peace...so...as terrible as the beginning was, I'm grateful it turned out the way it did.

When I was working at the day care, I had some SUPER challenging kids in my very first class.  I was able to survive those days through blood, sweat, and tears (literally) and every other class seemed like a breeze.  That's kind of how it has turned out with Sam, too.  Once we made it through the super challenging first few months, everything else has seemed doubly good.  And we are still indescribably grateful for the mercy and grace that God pours into our home and hearts each and every day.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sammy's Birth Story

It has been 9 and a half months since Sam came into the world--a perfect time as any to document Sammy's birth story.  So, here goes!
(WARNING:  This story is really long.  I didn't try to shorten it, because, well, I want to remember it!)

Friday:  Here I am on December 30th--my due date (Friday, 40 weeks.)  Notice something?  That's right, I'm not at the hospital...I'm at home, in my gym shorts, taking pictures, NOT in labor.  Fast forward to Monday at my 'baby doctor' appointment where I am still showing very few signs of labor.  My very kind doctor tells me if I don't go into labor before Wednesday, then he will induce me Wednesday night.  I am happy to finally have a definite time to get this baby out.

Wednesday night:  I still had not had anything close to labor pains.  And once I finally did realize what a contraction felt like, I knew I had only had a few in the past week--like maybe three.  Lee J & I eat some dinner, (what will turn out to be the only solid food I have until Saturday!) calmly pack our bag into the car and head to the hospital to be admitted and induced.  I check in and get settled into my room.  The nurse checks me to see if I'm dilated and notices my blood pressure is a little high.  My doctor comes in about 9:00pm and separates the membrane that connects the amniotic sac to the wall of the uterus (strips the membranes) in hopes to begin labor.  And the only thing that happens is my blood pressure continues to be a little high and labor does not begin.  I am started on a slow Pitocin drip--a small amount.  And oh yeah, my contractions are now present, but pathetically tiny.

Thursday morning:  My doctor revisits me in the morning and breaks my water.  Because my blood pressure remains high, they decide to put me on a magnesium drip.  Had I known the ramifications of that, I would have begged and pleaded they not use it.  "Mag" (Magnesium) is a soft muscle relaxer and from this point until delivery, I had to have a catheter.  YUCK!
So just to be clear.  At this point, I am now in a hospital gown with a central line IV in my arm pumping me with "Pit" and "Mag."  I have two monitors on my gigantic belly monitoring the fetal heart beat and the contractions.  I also have a blood pressure cuff on my arm automatically taking my BP every 30 minutes and a catheter taped down my leg.  I pretty much look like Frankenstein(ish).
 My birth plan is not going as planned, but we're just rollin' with it.  By now my contractions are moderate but the Mag and Pit are doing a decent job cancelling each other out and nothing much is changing.  The nurse increases the Pit and it actually starts making the contractions become smaller, rather than larger.  My body is just really not wanting to have this baby yet!!!

Thursday evening:  The push and pull of the Mag and Pit have finally made some progress on the contractions and my blood pressure is being managed well, too.  However, the pain is increasing more and more.  Due to all the aforementioned things attached to me, I am not able to do much of anything to work through the pain on my own.  I request an epidural.
The downside of being at a teaching hospital is I allowed a student to administer my epidural.  She didn't get it on the first try--and I swear I heard the needle scraping on my vertebrae.  It was slightly horrible, but once it was in place, life was good.
Thursday night: The night was long, but I was able to get more sleep than I did Wednesday night because I had gotten use to my environment.  The hard part was the continuous BP monitoring and now, I had the added bonus of med students doing "Mag" tests every few hours.  However, sometime during the middle of my foggy, hazy night, I began writhing in pain from back labor.  My favorite person in the hospital, the anesthesiologist, came to relieve the pain I was having in my back.  I don't remember what it felt like, but I remember it felt awful.  I was moaning and groaning and I think I was scaring Lee J a little bit.  It was not fun.

Friday morning:  This day was just a continuation of waiting and trying to get dilated to the full 10 cm.  Each time they increased my Pitocin drip my contractions would become erratic.  I would have crazy-big contractions close together and then they would spread out and get smaller.  I really had the nurses stumped!  During this time, I wanted to give my family something excited to think about since they had been waiting patiently in the lobby for the large majority of this time.  We announced the name of our baby which we had previously kept private: Samuel James--they were thrilled to have a name to begin praying over as we all eagerly awaited our son's arrival.

Friday afternoon:  By this point things were starting to get exciting.  My doctor had come to check on me a few times and I am dilating more and more.  At about 4:30 I am told it is time to push.  I have been easing up on the epidural a little and can feel the contractions pretty well.  I push and push.  And at one point I remember telling the nurse that I am done and that I don't want to do it anymore.  I am mostly serious.  But, alas, I continue to push.  This is largely in part because the nurse agrees to get me a Popsicle as soon as he comes out.  All I have eaten since Wednesday evening is ice chips and a Popsicle sounds like fine dining to me!


Friday evening:  During the pushing my nurse says she can see his hair!  And she lets Lee J touch his little folded ear!  (She offers me a mirror and I politely decline!)  A few more pushes and an hour and a half later and Sammy J breathes his first breath at 5:56pm!  I get to hold him for a little bit and then they take him to clean him off, weigh him, stamp his feet, take his blood, poke him, and prod him.  They have to monitor him a little bit closer because of me being on the magnesium drip.  Thankfully, everything checks out just fine!  Eight pounds, five ounces, twenty one and a half inches long.  Perfect.  Thank you, Jesus.  Our family is one larger.


I'm considering writing my next post on what happens next--that is if I can get permission from my husband to tell his side of the story!
Here it is!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dear Still-in-the-Belly Baby Mama

Dear Still-in-the-Belly Baby Mama,

I'm writing you to tell you a few things--things I wish I'd realized during pregnancy or even before so that I would have been ready and more aware as my body slowly began to resemble the body of Violet Beauregarde.

The first thing is this:  Your body will never actually resemble anything close to Violet's, no matter how much you think it does when you look in the mirror.  In fact, even though it seems to be trendy to have a 'baby bump' and you can feel LOTS of changes in your body, in reality, your body looks relatively unchanged...at least for your first trimester and even into the second one.  I've heard that after your first kid, you start showing much sooner, but I'm sure that I could have concealed my belly very easy for a long time if I wasn't so excited about having a 'bump' and didn't feel so bloated and not like myself.

Still-in-the-Belly Baby Mama, you might find yourself gravitating to the internet to look up every strange thing happening with your body. Be careful, mama.  Don't let the Devil get a foothold on you by filling you with fear.  The internet can be helpful, but it can also fill you with unnecessary anxiety.  It can also cause you to play a comparison game with other mamas.  You're an awesome mama--and you're the best mama for your child!  Avoid being dragged down the road of comparison and being beat up along the way.

Still-in-the-Belly Baby Mama, this is a hard tip, but it's one I will try to follow more next time.
Don't eat for two!  [gasp] I know, I know!  But it's true.  
Here's a quick calorie lesson.  Pregnant mamas need about 500 extra calories.  So if you're like me and couldn't keep up any cardio during the nauseous first trimester and didn't resume once you stoped being nauseous, you shouldn't continue eating like an exercising person AND add 500 additional calories.  If you find yourself constantly hungry, look at your calories.  Are they mainly made up of junk?  Or are they high protein, vitamin rich foods?  Think carrot sticks, peanut butter, and meat.  You're post-baby hips will thank me because, believe it or not, that's not your baby asking for a dozen doughnuts.

Still-in-the-Belly Baby Mama, have you noticed that your emotions have gone hay wire!?  This aspect of pregnancy was one of the most crazy for me!  I would get offended about the smallest things and when the Wendy's employee put mayonnaise on my sandwich and I didn't notice until a few minutes down the road, I burst into sobs.  Really!?  Yeah, really.  Remember to cut people some slack and, if you're able, remind yourself that it's probably not as big of a deal as it feels like to you.

And don't forget to enjoy every moment you can before your life changes dramatically!  You're going to be a great mama--even if you feel like you have no idea what you're doing.  Don't worry, most all of us feel that way!

Love,
Mary

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

my bags are packed and i'm ready to go

Well with FOUR ladies I know having babies this November, I thought it seemed appropriate for me to recount my days in the hospital and the first few days postpartum.  Well, not the days, so much, as the STUFF I used during those days.

With out further ado, here are two lists.
Things marked with an asterisk (*) are those items which I did not bring/have, but will bring or have ready next time!


for the hospital

  • chapstick
  • hair ties 
  • sweatpants/t-shirt/flip-flops (going home outfit for your not-yet-normal body)
  • an extra bag for all the things the hospital sends home
  • a "going home" outfit for baby (a warm one!)
  • a laptop for music/social media/entertainment (Netflix)
  • hairbrush (and other toiletries, though my hospital provided the basic ones--you may want your own)
  • breath mints
  • food for hubby (or 'coach'...you can't eat, but your spouse needs to so he can be strong for you!)
  • Depends adult diapers or large-super heavy flow pads* (in case you haven't been informed, there's a lot of blood during and after--a lot)
  • nursing sleep bra (next time I will probably bring a nursing tank instead)
  • button down flannel shirt for me, the mama, for convenient nursing and modest visitations*
  • Boppy pillow* (...meant to, but forgot...it wasn't a must-have, though)
  • a baby blanket!*
  • a fun baby hat* (yes, the hospital provides a hat, but I wish I had pictures with a cute hat)
  • a fun blanket for me, the mama, so that I don't feel so hospital-y and exposed in my gown*
  • possibly a robe* (I could take it or leave it, but most people take it!)
My hospital provided a baby shirt, baby hat, baby blanket (not to keep), diapers, wipes, tiny baby bath, Vaseline, nursing pads, Lanolin cream, a manual breast pump, Sitz bath, squirt bottles, ice packs, mesh panties (ask for extra, esp. if you have a c-section, so I'm told), and socks (along with more stuff I'm sure I'm not remembering).

for the master bathroom

  • towels that are not your fancy ones--a stack of them
  • a nail or hook in the wall to hang aforementioned Sitz bath bag!
  • witch hazel pads 
  • the Sitz bath you brought from the hospital
  • the squirt bottle you brought from the hospital
  • flushable wipes
  • more giant pads or Depends and then eventually long panty liners
  • good quality toilet paper
Childbirth can be a bit traumatic for your body (go figure!) and pushing a baby out of it, leaves it a bit of a mess.  The better you take care of business, the quicker you heal and the faster you get back to feeling like you.  Do your Sitz bath!  You'll thank me later.

What other things did you find to be "must haves" at the hospital?

We're praying for you Kelly, Sarah, Christina, & Meagan!  Good luck next month!

Monday, October 1, 2012

...when I lose my focus

When I started college, I changed.  When I started dating my husband I felt myself changing.  When we had been married for a few months I felt myself still changing.  When we had our first baby 9 months ago, I felt changed.

And it wasn't until yesterday that I realized change isn't compromise.  Previously I felt like my
identity was being taken by all these changes.  I didn't like it.  I even felt myself becoming a little bitter about what these changes had made my life.
Yesterday something good happened.  While I was sitting in the sanctuary listening to the sermon, this simple truth hit me.  Ready?  My identity is in Christ Jesus.  It will never be changed.

My interests have changed.  The way I spend my time has changed.  The things that consume my mind are not the same as they were when I was carefree and single--but that's ok.  I am rooted in Christ. 

When I lose my focus and forget my purpose in life, I start letting other things take over my purpose.  When I remember my true purpose, then cradling my son becomes ministry.  When I remember why I'm here, loading the dishwasher for the thousandth time becomes service to God. 

Love God.  Love people.

...even when those people are slobbering, screaming babies.


Ephesians 3:14-19
14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,[c] 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

I stumbled upon a cool graphic that I had pinned on Pinterest 4 months ago!  I couldn't find the original source, but I will link it to what it's linked to on my pin board.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Your Imaginary Gift Basket



If I could build you a gift basket for your new life with a budget-less amount of money, here's what I would include:

1.  Colic Calm--it's a very handy product that just so happens to turn your kid's poop black.  Black!?  Yes, the homeopathic product uses carbo vegetabilis (vegetable charcoal) to sooth baby.  It's awesome for helping with reflux, gas, and hiccups.  The down side is it costs about $20--but when your in desperate need of relief, it's a small price to pay!

razberry teether
2.  Several small teething toys and rattles.  I've found these are my favorite toys because Sam loves them at home and it's very easy to travel with several thrown into the diaper bag!

3.  Sam hasn't cut any teeth yet, but we've really enjoyed these Razbaby Raz-Berry silicone teethers.  He also looks hilarious sucking/chewing on these!

4.  Burp clothes.  An abundance of burp cloths.  Lots and lots of burp clothes.

5.  A 6 month subscription to Netflix, because some of us don't love reading books and when babies are little, they mostly just get held and if you don't have something to do, it can get boring!

There are tons more things I'd love to give you in your imaginary gift basket, but I've already busted my baby shower budget with these!  What else do you think you would add to the basket?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dear ISOBANOUF Mama

Dear Initially-Started-Out-Breastfeeding-and-Now-Only-Use-Formula Mama,

I call you this crazy-long name because my husband told me that "milk-switching mama" was not clear enough.  The point of this, though, is that you are a special breed...a breed that doesn't even have a short name to describe yourself.  You are a breed of mama that often gets forgotten, misunderstood or looked-down on for your decision.  You are a mama, who is doing the right thing for your family.

You are a mama who really believed that "Breast is best" and wanted that for your child.  You tried to make it work, you truly did your best, but somewhere along the way you switched milks.

ISOBANOUF Mama, you may have started out breastfeeding and knew you were only going to continue for 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, etc.  Or you may have been a mom who planned on nursing your child into his teenage years (just kidding).  But now you have switched.

Maybe your maternity leave was very short and you decided it was better for both of you to make the switch earlier rather than later.

 Maybe you tried and tried to get your baby to latch and he wouldn't and it was unrealistic (or unsuccessful) for you to pump every few hours for the next year.

Maybe it was because a nurse in the NICU decided for you by giving your baby a bottle without asking you first and you were a first-time mom who didn't know to stop her.

Maybe your baby had a dairy allergy and it was unrealistic for you to not consume any dairy for the next year and you found a formula that relieved the discomfort in your baby's tummy.

Maybe the time commitment of breastfeeding was dragging you down emotionally and you needed to be able to take an extended break from your baby (without having to pump).  Or maybe you had to go on a business trip!

Maybe your supply ran low and you went to a lactation consultant, your pediatrician, your obstetrician, and your prayer group, but with no success.

Maybe you started having chest pain and trouble breathing, went to the ER, found out you had a heart condition that necessitated taking medicine that was not approved for breastfeeding mamas (you could have taken a lesser drug that would have given you a higher percentage for your condition to return) and chose your own heart health over breastfeeding.  {Was this example a little too specific? ;-) }

Maybe it was because you were constantly worried about how much milk your baby was getting and the stress was too much to handle.  Or maybe the hormones from breastfeeding were giving you constant yeast infections.

ISOBANOUF Mama, I want to tell you that no matter what your reason is--you're still a good mama--a GREAT mama even!  You looked at your family's situation and made the best choice.  Please don't let other breast feeding mamas make you feel like less of a mama.

ISOBANOUF Mama, I'm proud of you for taking care of your baby.  I'm proud of you for not judging others whose decisions differ from yours.  I'm proud of you for swallowing your pride and for loving other whose strong opinions make you want to cry or scream.

Initially-Started-Out-Breastfeeding-and-Now-Only-Use-Formula Mama, whatever brought you to this place is ok.  As you wash that bottle for the hundredth time and scoop that sixtieth scoop of formula, pray over your little one and praise the Lord that he is growing health and strong.

Love,
Mary



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I am Angela Bennett

When I was growing up, my family and I really enjoyed Sandra Bullock movies.  We would watch (the tv version of) Speed over and over again.   Our favorite holiday-season movie soon became While You were Sleeping and still gets quoted often when topics of Cuba or mashed potatoes are brought up in conversation.

However, more recently I realized, if I'm not careful, I could easily become Angela Bennett--the character Sandra Bullock plays in The Net.
"Angela Bennett's a software engineer type who works from home and has few friends outside of cyberspace. Taking her first vacation in years she becomes embroiled in a web (sic) of computer espionage."
 While I don't see computer espionage in my future, I am realizing how easy it is to become a home-body.  I've been recently firing up my on-line craft store and, after making a sale, I was thrilled when I realized I could print a shipping label from my computer and take the package to my mailbox and never have to get in the car.  Convenient?  Yes.  Healthy pattern to start?  No.

Being a stay at home mom (or as I like to call it, a work-at-home-parent) has made it very easy for me to forget how to socialize (Facebook and Twitter don't always count as socializing).  Between my son's sleep needs, food needs, and diaper changing needs, it often seems easier just to stay at home.  As Sam gets older, (requiring less napping) I am confident we will get out on a regular basis, but for now I find myself getting too comfortable becoming a hermit. 

Have you found yourself clinging to social media (as your main source of socialization) more than you did before you became a parent?  Are you confident others could identify you if you were ever "embroiled in a web of computer espionage?"  Do you love Sandra Bullock movies as much as my family!?


Here is my new store:



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dear Brand-Spankin-New Mama

Dear Brand-Spankin-New Mama,

At this point you may be thinking, Holy Guacamole!  They really let me put a little tiny baby in my car and drive off? 

Calm down, Brand-Spankin-New Mama, it's not just any little tiny baby--it's YOUR baby!  (What?!)  Crazy, I know, but it's true.  (At least I think it's your baby, maybe you should check the wrist band one more time.)

Brand-Spankin-New Mama, you're about to embark on some wild and unforgettable (and yet very forgettable) months.  You're about to experience feelings you never knew you could feel, so take your pain killers and saddle up--here you go!

Brand-Spankin-New Mama, it's ok if your nursery is not finished.  It's ok if you haven't done all the preparations you had planned on doing.  Do you have a blanket or two and some burp clothes?  Combine that with the loot you made off with at the hospital (diapers, wipes, pacis, creams, formula, etc., etc.) you'll be set for a few days.  Babies don't take up much space in the beginning.

Brand-New Mama, I want to be the one to tell you this secret about newborn babies: They keep breathing even when you put them down in a safe place to get some water out of the fridge.  And since newborns don't flip and flop around, a safe place is not hard to find (Couch cushion + Boppy pillow) .

Brand-Spankin-New Mama, it's ok if you're feeling completely overwhelmed and unsure of what you just got yourself into.  We all feel that way at least a little (some of us hide it more than others, but we all feel it.)  Cry if you need to.  Seriously, right now.  It's ok, mama.

Brand-Spankin-New Mama, you're doing great.  Take comfort in knowing that with each day your baby gets a little older and more mature.  If you have a colicky baby that cries like a baby, know that he eventually grows out of it.  I promise he doesn't mean to make you frustrated.


Brand-Spankin-New Mama, if your baby is crying, you can't get her to stop, and you're about to lose it, it's ok to set her in her crib for a few minutes and compose yourself.  Seriously.  Even a thirty second break helps.  Your baby is usually so thankful you came back and picked her up, that the crying calms down.

Brand-Spankin-New Mama, lots of people will offer you help and advice.  Take what you want and leave what you don't.  Think before you speak because, let's be honest, your mommy-brain has never been worse.  Don't forget to eat, especially if you're breastfeeding.  It's not selfish to eat, your body has to produce milk.

Brand-Spankin-New Mama, if you're having a rough time, give it a week, then give it six weeks, then give it three months, then give it six months, and then it gets better!  Each of those milestone are turning points though, so use them as focal points when you feel like these are the slowest days of your life.  And remember, mama, eventually your baby won't wake you up in the night (that's not to say you won't wake up anyway out of habit and panic.)

Love,
Mary

Monday, August 13, 2012

Peace Out, Yo!

I was in my first trimester about 16 months ago and yet it feels like years!  I hardly remember it until friends ask me to recall details.  Do you remember your early days?

Did you pour over pregnancy books allowing yourself to read the scary things that could happy to your pea-sized baby?  I did my best to keep it balanced, but lets be real, for most of us, we worry A LOT until the first 12 weeks have past.  Even then, until we feel the baby swimming around on a regular basis, the fear quickly creeps in.  It's a daily battle to stop.

 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  Matthew 6:27
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:7
In my most resent season of life {parenthood} the Lord has been daily teaching me peace.  Peace that no matter what happens, it's ok.  It will be ok.  Our great Father in Heaven sees it all before it has even happened.  And He's been through it all.  He can relate to your feelings.  He watched his Son die so He can cry with you if you need to cry.  And when you first hear your baby's heart beating inside your womb, He can rejoice with you.  He watched His baby grow inside of Mary; He can relate.  So let's turn over our worry to the Lord and instead embrace God's peace.

And when all other foods sound disgusting or make you feel not-so-good, try coke and potatoes--it worked for me.  What foods have helped you make it through the sick times?  What scriptures have brought you through the worrisome times?

Friday, August 10, 2012

The ABCs of a C-Section

A guest post by a mother whom I trust, love, and admire-- my sister, Sarah Quezada.

Some people plan to have C-sections, but most of us don’t. Most of us have different ideas about how our birth experience will play out.

For me, I had planned to enter into peaceful labor in the comfort of my own home. Then, once I realized the contractions warranted a trip to the hospital, I planned to spin in panicked circles in my living room, repeating, “It’s time! It’s time!” I would chastise myself for procrastinating packing my bag and hop in my car overwhelmed with tingling excitement.

But when I needed to be induced, my story began very differently. And eight hours later, when the doctor pulled a chair up by my bed and said I needed a C-section, it continued down an unexpected path.

Here are somethings I learned in the process:

A – Action
A quiet nurse leaned over me and said, “Now that the decision’s been made, everything will happen quickly. It doesn’t mean there’s an emergency or your baby is in danger. It’s just how we do it.” As teams of strangers poured into the room, skipping introductions and wheeling me away, I was so appreciative of her assurance not to worry.

B – Boldness
Once, while getting a bridesmaid dress altered, I felt the seamstress had pinned it too short. When she asked me, though, I said, “That’s fine.” I similarly struggled with boldness with my anesthesiologist. When they ask you what you can feel, be honest! Trust me. I ended up having some unfortunate problems when my epidural wasn’t working properly.

C – Section
My husband sat by my head, whispering encouragement to me, which was such a comfort. My doctors talked about their daughters’ basketball games, which was a strangely wonderful distraction. It was not at all the natural childbirth I had learned about in my birthing classes, but we were having a baby!

D – Drugs
Drugs are good. One nurse after surgery made me feel like I was a drug addict whenever I requested pain medication. She made me so nervous I tried to stop asking! Looking back, I would’ve had my husband stay on top of my medication and never felt bad asking for the strongest ones available. I have sometimes wondered how much my pain limited my capacity to deal with some difficult circumstances early in my daughter’s life.

E – Expectations
People have asked me if I felt like I failed because I had a C-section, but I don’t think so. I know there’s controversy about legitimate need for many C-sections, but in the moment, I made the best decision that I could for my daughter under pressure and with the given information. Still, I later did need to mourn the loss of my expectations. I never got to shout, “It’s time!” I never chewed ice chips or executed funky breathing rhythms. Because of my anesthesia issue, I wasn’t even really awake when my daughter entered the world, and I didn’t get to hold her. These expectations all changed, and I think it’s okay to mourn those losses.

My daughter is almost two years old now! And at the end of the day, her birth story was only about five days of all that we’ve experienced together. Was it exactly what I planned? Nope. But I’m so grateful for her presence and life. The entrance was simply details.

I hope our experience helps you if you ever find yourself in the midst of the unexpected.    

Sarah Quezada lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband Billy and daughter Gabriella. She blogs about their multicultural family life at A Life with Subtitles. She also works with Mission Year, a year-long volunteer program. You can find her on Twitter @SarahQuezada.
 


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

{the skinny on cloth diapering}


There are tons of options to choose from when it comes to covering your baby's tush.  This post explains what goes on my baby's tush.  In general we use cloth and sometimes we use disposables when we're out and about, at church, or are feeling lazy and don't want to be responsible for doing laundry.  We also always use disposable at night.  I know we don't have to and that there are night time options when it comes to cloth, but as of now, we haven't bothered trying

We stick to Pampers Baby Dry (12 hour protection) at night and the disposables we use during the day range from Target brand, to Luvs, to Pampers Swaddlers.  The Swaddlers are fancy because they have a faint yellow line on them that turn blue when your baby pees.  They are SUPER helpful for new dads (and moms) who are apprehensive about changing diapers due to lack of experience. 

the skinny on cloth

Once you decide on cloth, you have to learn the lingo and decide on which type of cloth you like best (or can afford).  AIOs, pockets, hybrids, prefolds & covers!?  I brought pictures to help explain.

AIOs (All In Ones)

I only have one of these.  They're called AIOs because there isn't any part that is detached.  It's all connected so once it's clean you just stuff the long part into the pocket and you're ready for round two.  They have laundry tabs, which means the Velcro flaps fold in on themselves so the scratchy part doesn't snag other things in the washing machine.  I bought this one at Mother Nurture
I think they would be excellent for travel and for care-takers who don't have CDing (CD=cloth diaper(ing)) skills. They are rather expensive, so it would be rough building your collection to have enough for a couple of days worth.  However, they are a ONE-SIZE diaper, which means they only sell one size, but it is adjustable with snaps in the front and Velcro waist, so once you have one set, it will stay with your baby until she is potty trained.


Pocket Diapers    

Similar in ease to the AIO, the pocket diaper differs by making you keep track of the absorbent part (stuffer) that goes in the pocket of the diaper.  Bumgenius is a very popular brand, but there are SEVERAL different brands that all make pocket diapers.  I have two pockets, one Bumgenius and one KaWaii Baby.  So once you wash your diapers, you have to sort the parts and stuff the diapers.  These are also a ONE-SIZE diaper that come in Velcro or snap closure.

Prefolds & Covers


Prefolds are the fancy name for "old school" diapers like the kind your parents may have used on you!  Gerber sells prefold at Walmart/Target, but watch out for the packages that are only labeled cloth diapers (sometimes "flat") and don't include the word prefold, they are just cloth that are not "pre-folded" in the middle to create a big absorbent part.  You can also buy prefolds in organic cotton or other choices and places like Mother Nurture.  Just like in the story If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, if you give a baby a prefold, he's going to need a Snappi.  You can continue the "old-school" style and use diaper pins, but if you can afford it, go for the Snappi.  They're super simple, nothing to poke baby (or you!) and a two-pack of these has served me plenty well.  If you're using only prefolds, you may find more is helpful.  If you give a baby a prefold and a Snappi, he's going to need a cover.  There are a HUGE range of diaper covers out there.  The job of the cover is to keep the wetness contained.  If you use cotton prefolds, they get soaked very fast and then your lap would also quickly be soaked.  The "old-school" choice was rubber pants, now there are diaper covers.  I have 10 cotton prefolds, 2 Snappis, and 3 Econobum covers and if I need to, I can go about a day and a half using only these (and a disposable at night).  If you give a baby a diaper cover, snappi, and prefold, he's going to need bigger pants.  Prefolds are VERY bulky.  Econobum covers are ONE-SIZE, but that is not true for all covers.

Hybrids

This term is used to describe diapers that are half cloth and half disposable.  The outter shell or cover is fabric and the inside has a part that is flush-able.  The kind of hybrid I use is gdiapers.  This is the main diaper I use, HOWEVER, I use a cloth insert instead of a disposable one.

I chose gpants because, in short, I liked 3 things about them:
1.  SUPER CUTE
2.  SUPER TRIM
3.  It seemed like less washing to me.

The down-falls in my opinion are that they are not ONE-SIZE diapers and they have more assembly.  There are tinys, smalls, mediums, larges, and even extra larges (not pictured).  You end up buying about them same amount of diapers though, and it's spread out instead of all at once, so I like that.  There are 3 separate parts to each diaper which means more parts to keep track of.     There are only 5 smalls in the picture, I've lent out one.

I actually like the separate parts because if the diaper is just wet, you only need to change the stuffer/absorbent piece.  If the diaper is soiled, you'll often need to only change the stuffer and the liner.  Then, on occasion you'll need to change the cover too (my husband refers to these as the gym-shorts!).  When making my main diaper choice I didn't like the idea of washing the entire diaper every time my baby wet it (which is what you'll do for the AIOs and pockets).

If you buy the baby bundle it comes with 12 tiny gpants and 6 small gpants.  I didn't end up using the tiny gpants very much because my son was 8lbs, 5ozs at birth so after we ran out of disposables we had been given as gifts, we moved pretty much straight to the small size.  The large size goes up to 36 lbs, so I'm hoping extra large will not be in my future and I'm praying my son will be using the big-boy potty at that point.  To be honest, if we're not trained at 36 lbs, I will probably use disposables rather than investing in a whole set of XLs.

The following is pictures of all the parts to the gdiaper.




 Small g-flapper/stuffer and Medium/Large g-flapper/stuffer (the absorbent part).

This is a biodegradable/flushable stuffer.  I rarely use them, they're more expensive than regular disposables, but they came with the bundle, so I've played with them a little bit.
This is a Small liner and Medium/Large liner that snap into the cover.  This is PLU material that keeps the wetness inside the diaper and off the cover and your lap!
This is an open flapper.  Its benefit is being able to dry quicker than having 5 layers all together to dry.  Also, I have a few "g-scraps" that can be used to give extra absorbency in the front for boy or middle for girls.


This is the cover with the snapped in liner and the g-flapper half way in.
This is the gdiaper stuffed and ready to go.  It also has laundry taps.
A gdiaper stuffed and closed up.  The 'g' goes in the back!

 A few last notes to this VERY LONG post.
  • Gdiapers Velcro in the back, which I hear is helpful when tiny fingers start trying to take their own diaper off. 
  • I've also heard that for pockets and AIOs, whose closures are in the front, snaps are best since they're harder for tiny fingers to unsnap.
  • Diaper covers don't have to be just for prefolds, you can also lay g-flappers/other absorbent materials in them, just be sure the layer that touches baby's tush is skin-friendly.
There is one more type of cloth diaper--the fitted diaper.  I haven't explored them, but you can read a bit about them here.

To learn more about what I think you'll need to start you're gdiaper collection, check out this post.





Monday, July 16, 2012

Dear Plan-Making Mama

Dear Plan-Making Mama,

Before we became mamas, we had these things called 'plans.'  I've learned through the years that the Lord usually gets a good chuckle when He hears them and that plans rarely go as planned.  For some reason in my naiveté, I thought my plans would suddenly start working perfectly since I planned them for my child.

I bet you've made some plans of your own.  If you're like me, the minute you insisted on seeing the baby's gender at 20 weeks (or for some of you, sooner), you've been making plans.  You already had established a plan for what you would and wouldn't eat while growing a human.  You began researching and putting together your "birthing plan," and you more than likely planned how cute your baby's nursery would be and added a few coats of paint to the walls.

In addition to those plans, I also decided to throw in two more:
Breastfeeding and cloth diapering (cloth diapering is pretty ok).

Breastfeeding was going decent, though I was aware my child wasn't gaining weight as rapidly as his buddies.  But still, I continued on with my plan--after all, my plan was to BF for six months and then add solid food and continue BFing for a year, and by-golly, I was sticking to it!

Plan-Making Mama, be careful.  You might think your plan is awesome, but be careful.  With my plan-blinders on, I continued nursing exclusively.  When my son's weight was below average at his four month check up, I plowed on, vowing to add in some pumping and nurse more frequently in order to help pack on some pounds and ounces.

Unfortunately, my plan didn't work.  My boy became increasingly more irritable which I thought was just teething pain and tummy pain--as it turns out, he wasn't getting enough calories in the day.  The recent night-waking I attributed to teething, was actually cries for calories.

Plan-Making Mama, my heart hurts.  I thought my plans were the best, but they were not.  My sweet boy has been getting supplemental formula for a week now and has gotten so much happier.  While this wasn't the way I had planned things, I am confident it IS what is best for my baby.

Plan-Making Mama, don't be afraid (or too stubborn) to change your plan.  After all, plans rarely go as planned.  Remember that two hour nap you had planned for your baby to take this afternoon?  See what I mean?

Have you had any failed plans, Plan-Making Mama?

Love,
Mary

Sunday, June 24, 2012

food & clothing

Food

I'd like to introduce you to a website that was super amazing when we were brand new parents.
My cousin introduced us and got us set up with this little gem.  If you feel like people are offering to bring you a meal, but want to know who is organizing your meals, you simply direct them to your meal train where they can click on a date on the calendar, sign up, and post what they'll be bringing.  This avoids lots of stress on you as the new mommy as well as avoiding receiving 20 lasagnas.  You can list your favorite foods and any food allergies, along with the best time of evening to bring the meal.  
When my cousin set me up, she set it up for every other night which was helpful since people tend to bring more food than needed, so it avoids getting loads of leftovers in your fridge that you'll have to thrown out later.

We didn't realize how helpful meals would be until we were hungry and trying to juggle or new baby while trying to prepare dinner.  Trust me, you'll love it.

Clothing

I'm not a big shopper, but I did stumble across a new favorite item of clothing at Old Navy recently.
Ordinarily I'm a big camisole wearer.  They're perfect for extending a shirt either on top or bottom, but while breastfeeding, it's too much to deal with the extra bra section in the camis while nursing.  Here is the perfect alternative that is SO comfortable, reasonably affordable, and most important slim/thin and a perfect replacement for the breastfeeding mama.
I think they're currently $8 when you buy 2 or more.
P.S. Found this pin on Follow Me on Pinterest that was helpful for breastfeeding and would have been nice to read in the beginning: Breastfeeding Timeline

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dear Discouraged Breast-Feeding Mama


 Dear Discouraged Breast-Feeding Mama,

There are several things that could have brought you to your feelings of discouragement.

Maybe you feel like all your other friends are using formula and you're the only hippie trying to feed your baby with your own body.  You're not alone.

Maybe you feel nervous about breastfeeding in front of your friends or in public places.  Stick with it.  Practice using a cover at home and you'll soon be nursing in many different places.  While some of you might even get bold enough to nurse ANYWHERE, I am not.  However, keep in mind that fitting rooms don't have to just be for trying on clothes and that sitting in your parked car with a nursing cover can be pretty discrete.  Did you know that Babies R Us has a nursing room!?  Other places have these too.

Maybe you feel like your child cries a lot and the culprit must be your milk supply.  Before giving up on nursing, consider these things.  Is your baby having a lot of wet and dirty diapers?  Is your baby gaining weight appropriately?  Is your baby sleep deprived rather than milk deprived?

Maybe your pediatrician is pressuring you to use formula because he knows formula gets the job done.  Ask questions.  Find out what he thinks is concerning and look for ways you can fix it.  Milk doesn't just "dry up" if you're consistently nursing.  Make sure you're eating well, drinking lots of water, and taking your vitamins.

Maybe when you pump you don't get enough milk.  Know this: pumping is not an accurate measurement of your actual milk supply.  Do some research on pumping techniques and durations before you get too discouraged.  Babies are much more efficient than pumps.

Maybe you need to see a lactation consultant.  Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt.  It's better to ask for help, than to just assume your baby and you are never going to find a groove.  You will.  Give it at least 3 months.

Maybe you're frustrated that this "natural" thing doesn't seem natural at all.  It gets easier.  Eventually it will feel natural.  If it doesn't after a few months, do some extra research or ask for help from an LC.

Maybe you feel like you're going to go broke buying nursing pads and that you're constantly leaking milk.  After a couple months your body adjusts to your baby's needs.  It gets better.

Maybe you're burnt out on being the only one that is responsible for feeding your baby.  Take heart, with practice you can improve your pumping skills and take off a feeding or two.  Or maybe you can handle all the feedings as long as you let someone else help out with diaper changes, night-time routines, and play times.

Discouraged Breast-Feeding Mama, please stick with it.  Maybe there's another reason that's got you down, but remember, the more you stick with it, the less bottles you have to wash!  Also, the less supplies you have to pack in the diaper bag, the less formula you'll have to pay for and scoop, and the less illness you'll potentially have to deal with.

I don't know if you've figured this out by now, but Discouraged Breast-Feeding Mama, I've been discouraged by almost all of those things and I'm choosing to stick with it and learn as I go.  Breastfeeding takes support from those around you, so make sure to get some support and give it too.

Lexington-area mamas, you can find support here.  And all mamas can find support here.

Take care,
Mary

Support with Integrity

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

the ebb & flow of sleep scheduling

After a lot of trial and error and a lot of crankiness from my baby, we tried to put a schedule in to place.  Some days it works like a dream, other days it doesn't, but it has helped lengthen naps most of the time, so it was worth my effort.

Some sleep tips I've compiled from books that have been helpful in gaining perspective:
1.  "Junk food is not healthy for our bodies.  Neither is a "junk sleep" schedule.  You try not to let your child become overly hungry, so don't let your child become overly tired." Dr. Marc Weissbluth, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby

2.  Your aim should be to never let a baby under 6 months be awake for more than 2 hours.  More than that and they end up "over tired" and sleep worse.

3.  Babies who are overtired may not scream (like my son), but they will struggle to get good sleep and feel rested and happy. 

4.  Many times my son will be crying because he is tired, yet people mistake it as hungry, which can be discouraging as a breast-feeding mom.  I'm almost always secretly concerned as to whether or not my son has gotten enough milk.

5.  It's best to avoid using sleep props (i.e. rocking and/or nursing to sleep, always giving paci, a long ritual before sleep).  These things hinder baby from learning to fall asleep on his or her own.  Sleep skills are vitally important.

6.  Following something similar to the E.A.S.Y. plan that Tracy Hogg lays out in her book, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, is a good idea.  It disassociates eating with sleeping as to not create dependency on eating in order to be able to sleep.

7.  I was worried (as I'm sure many people are) that if baby was sleeping "too well" during the day, that he would not sleep at night.  Through my reading, I've discovered the contrary to be true.  The better day sleep baby gets, the better his night sleep.

Through all the reading a perusing, I'm still unsure of all the ends and outs of sleep.  But I do think it's actually a lot more important than most people think.  Finding a good ebb and flow of getting out and about with baby and allowing him to get healthy sleep is trick and is an art I am still learning.