A Salute to Stay at Home Moms

I spent the last week being a full time stay at home mom (SAHM) because I had a week of vacation time away from work.

It was a staycation because I didn’t actually take a trip anywhere.

It was a much-needed break from external responsibilities.

Sure, I was a full time SAHM for the first 9 weeks of my baby’s life when I was on maternity leave, but that was pretty much just 9 weeks of high-level exhaustion.

Then, she was a newborn: fresh out the womb, needing me to watch her 24/7, clinging to me for nourishment and comfort, keeping me in a cycle of feed, change, console to sleep, every 3 hours. I didn’t have much time to eat. I could barely think. I was basically a highly-functioning zombie mom.

Now, she is practically a premature toddler; getting into everything, showing her personality more-including a bit of sass (yes, already!), following me everywhere, yet also declaring her independence. It’s so much fun watching her learn and grow…yet it’s also tiring.

I used to think that I wanted to be a full time SAHM, but this week has shown me that it’s much harder than I thought.

My job, though it can be extremely busy and grueling at times, is a healthy break from momming. I can go to work, take off my Mom hat and put on my nurse hat. Then, when I leave work, I switch back.

Sometimes the only break I get is my car ride in between locations. I realized this week that SAHM don’t even get that. (Until their kids are school-age; then, I imagine, it becomes a lot more fun.)

Don’t get me wrong, I love love LOVE my daughter and everything about her. I absolutely adore her! She makes my life so much brighter. I wouldn’t change a thing at all. I just want to shed light on the real things that moms experience for those who may not have an accurate picture, and to show other moms that they’re not alone.

In many cases, it is the Mom that does the primary child-raising.

Of course, in two-parent homes, the Dad/other partner also raises the child(ren).

However, Moms are always on the frontline, watching, bathing, cooking for, feeding, changing, transporting, laundering for, healing, protecting, etc. around the clock.

Our job never stops. Not even during the night when we’re supposed to be sound asleep, but the child has a need for something (even if it’s just attention).

So SAHM, I salute you.

You are doing a PHENOMENAL job!

The evenings you stop for fast food on the way home from soccer practice instead of making a home-cooked meal because you are just beat.

The days when you take 5 minutes to yourself in the bathroom with the door closed because that’s the only “me time” you get.

The days when you let your kids eat goldfish for breakfast because you haven’t gone grocery shopping yet, or because thats simply what they want and you don’t feel like fighting it, whether it’s nutritious or not.

The times when you mistakenly (or not) go a few days without showering because you’re just so busy there’s no time- or when there finally is time, you’d rather get some well-deserved sleep instead.

In case you don’t hear it enough:

You are AMAZING!

You are LOVED!

You CAN do this!

Keep doing what you’re doing, because you are doing it wonderfully, and your kids appreciate you.

Love,

Meg

P.S. important note: the same goes for stay at home Dads; the roles are different for each family!

Somewhere between newborn and toddler

It’s been about 2 months since my last blogpost.
Such is #momlife

My little one is so busy these days! She’s 8 months old, crawling and following me everywhere: to the toilet, to the kitchen, to the laundry room, to the shower…we share each other’s space all day every day. She’s like my little shadow.

I find it fascinating what objects keep her occupied. Her most recent favorite object is an empty water bottle. She loves the sound it makes when she squeezes it. She also loves anything with a button, zipper, cord, string…yeah, pretty much whatever she can get her hands on.
Its so fun observing her exploration. She’s learning so many new things every day!

I make sure to keep an eye on her while also giving her her space to learn and grow. As a mom, it’s important to have that balance. I don’t want to be a helicopter parent, hovering over her every move, but I also don’t want to be a negligent parent letting her do off-the-wall things.

These days she has to keep me (or other caretaker at the moment) in her view, or she gets upset. So, that keeps me busy, alert, and on my toes.

The good thing about me being her constant entertainment and always moving around? Continual weight loss. I have more energy and am getting closer to my pre-pregnancy weight each month. I honestly don’t understand how women snap back within a month or so!
But, I’m enjoying my body’s changes and embracing its new look: the stretch marks, the flabby areas, etc. I’ll spare you specific details.

I tell myself that once I’m done breastfeeding, I’ll start a workout regimen again. For now, sporadic neighborhood walks and constant movement at work will do. My body has been through a lot the past year and a half, it deserves a break. Plus, I’m still burning tons of calories every day from breastfeeding so it’s a win-win situation.

I will try to keep momentum going with this blog.
If you have any suggestions or things you want me to write about, feel free to tell me!

Love,
Meg

Black Breastfeeding Week 2018

It’s black breastfeeding week, y’all!

And while it’s evident that I’m not actually breastfeeding at this moment pictured, I do every day because I believe it’s important for the growth and development of my baby and for our bonding. I prefer to give her what my body naturally creates for her. As I said before, there are endless benefits: baby-tailored nutrients, endless free food supply, bottle-free feeding, easy access for feeding on-the-go, mother-baby bonding, natural postpartum weight loss, just to name a few!

And no, this is not a shot at those who choose formula over breastmilk/breastfeeding. Do you, boo boos! Not everyone can lactate. And some moms that can just choose not to for various reasons. They are doing what they feel is best for them/their baby and that is fine, too.

This is just to encourage those melanated mommas who do choose to breastfeed their little ones.

This week is for us!

Somedays it’s easy. Somedays it’s hard. Somedays you just don’t want to. Somedays you never want the moment to end. It’s all a part of this beautiful rollercoaster that is motherhood. And it’s always worth it. So keep going for as long as you and your baby/toddler want to!

The World Health Organization and UNICEF encourage breastfeeding combined with solid foods until your little one is 2 or 3

“Breastmilk is an important source of energy and protein, and helps to protect against disease during the child’s second year of life.”

So don’t let anyone make you feel bad for doing so if you so choose!

It may seem weird to many, but it’s time to normalize breastfeeding for as long as Mom and baby/child feel necessary.

If we can so easily normalize humans drinking cow’s milk, then we should certainly be able to normalize humans drinking human milk.

ITS WHAT ITS FOR!!!!

Love,

Meg

It Takes a Village

Can we talk about the importance of a village for a sec?

It really does take a village to raise a child! Especially during the first year of life when they’re helpless and extremely dependent.

Infants need 24 hour supervision, and that’s a lot for parents to handle by themselves, especially once they return to work and have additional responsibilities.

I am very thankful for my village! They’ve helped my husband and I countless times these past 5 months and they continue to support us selflessly with no hidden agenda, no quid pro quo.

Whether it’s watching her for a few hours in the morning (or a whole day) after I’ve come off a nightshift, or babysitting while we go out, or coming over just to spend time with her and show her love, we truly appreciate our village.

I can only imagine what single parents go through who truly don’t have any outside help. Or parents who move to a foreign place and have to sometimes rely on strangers for help.

We have been very fortunate to have family members and close family friends to help us babysit when we need it.

If you know a friend or family member who recently had a baby, I encourage you to reach out to those new parents and offer help (only if you mean it.)

If you don’t feel comfortable watching a newborn/infant, then simply making them a meal in the first few months would help tremendously because they’ll be too tired to cook for themselves.

Or come fold some laundry.

Only half-kidding about that one.

How do we go through so many clothes in one week?!

But I digress…

Moms and Dads, don’t ever feel bad about asking for help or leaning on your village for help. You don’t have to do this parenting thing alone! It’s better to rely on the kindness of others than to struggle alone and have your baby suffer the consequences. It does not make you weak in any way, shape, or form.

Love,

Meg

Breastmilk vs. Formula. What should I feed my baby?

Warning: there will be lots of talk about breasts in this post, so if you’re reading this and you’re uncomfortable with the words boob, breast, nipple, areola…you get the point, then I suggest you skip this one. 🙂

Okay,

So…

You’ve completed pregnancy.

You’ve conquered labor and delivery.

And now it’s time to feed your baby…

Do you feed breastmilk? Formula?

Only you can answer that question.

I’ve personally chosen to exclusively feed my baby breastmilk for her first year of life, and possibly a bit beyond that.

The choice to me was simple because of all the benefits of breastmilk.

To name a few:

-it is literal medicine for your baby- containing antibodies and other components to help your baby fight infection, causing fewer doctor/hospital visits

-it’s free

-only you can make the perfect breastmilk tailored for your baby

-it’s FREE

-you have it ready in a split second anywhere you go, at any time

-you don’t need any bottles

-did I mention it’s free?

Yes, my choice might have been easy, but breastfeeding itself wasn’t such an easy ride for me in the beginning.

My daughter had a short latch starting out. She literally chomped on my nipples during her entire feed. And honestly, even as a nurse I didn’t know that something was seriously wrong until a doula told me so. I knew that it could feel uncomfortable each time until the let down happened, so I just figured that this was that pain.

For those unfamiliar, “let down” is the process of your milk ducts releasing your breastmilk for your baby. (It goes deeper but I’ll leave it there for the sake of this post.)

Anyway, I was in excruciating pain every time I nursed; to the point where I dreaded having to breastfeed her each time because I knew I’d want to cry. Every time I saw her open her mouth, I would wince in anticipation of the pain.

I didn’t wanna seem like a wimp, so I held my tongue and said nothing to the hospital staff. And they figured since I was a NICU nurse, I was fine, I knew what I was doing.

I tried to hold my baby in different positions, but that didn’t help.

A few days after I’d been home from the hospital, a doula witnessed my painful experience and told me to try a nipple shield -a flexible silicone shield that covers the nipple and makes latching easier- and that helped some; but at that point my baby was nursing every 1-2 hours and there was so much nerve damage done to my nipples that I didn’t even want them to be touched.

So after about a week, I stopped putting her to my breasts. Instead, I pumped and fed her my milk from a bottle.

I felt defeated because I had always wanted to breastfeed. But, at the same time, I had to remind myself that I was lucky to still be able to feed my daughter my own milk, because not every mom is able to produce any milk for her baby at all.

When you pump, you should do it as frequently as your baby is eating, or even more frequently if you have a low supply, in order to produce more milk. I was fortunate to have a great supply, but I still had to pump every 3 hours to keep up with her needs. This meant pumping every 3 hours around the clock.

Yes, even at night.

So for the first 3+ months of her life, I was getting no more than 3 hours of sleep at a time.

I LOVE sleep.

Sleep is my best friend.

We go way back.

I used to sleep 12 hours easily after working a nightshift, so this sleep deprivation was a HUGE shock to my body. I was exhausted ALL THE TIME.

(I’m still exhausted, but it has gotten a little better.)

After about 3.5 months of bottle feeding, I decided to give breastfeeding another try.

To my surprise, my daughter did much better! I didn’t even need a nipple shield anymore.

I now breastfeed around the clock when I’m at home, and she gets bottles of my breastmilk when I’m at work or when she’s at a babysitter. The kicker is, sometimes I still have to pump in addition to her nursing because she doesn’t empty my breasts all the way yet. (She will as she gets older and drinks more milk at a time.)

Luckily for me, she’s starting to sleep through the night now. So, I follow her lead and sleep when she sleeps, allowing me to get a good 6 or so hours at a time. Yay!

I say all that to say, breastfeeding/breastmilk feeding is a lot of work.

A LOT!

Which is why some women choose to just formula feed their baby instead.

While breastmilk has a ton of amazing benefits for a baby, formula feeding is an option and it is perfectly okay!

A mom has been through a great deal of physical and emotional stress from pregnancy to delivery, so if she wants to take it easy and use formula, she has every right to.

Should you choose formula over breastmilk, don’t let anyone force you to do otherwise! However, I do suggest that you listen to all of the pros and cons from a healthcare professional before making an informed decision. Don’t just go off of what your momma, neighbor, sister, auntie, etc told you.

Whatever you decide to do, you made the right choice for you. It is your body, your baby, your choice.

Always remember: “a fed baby is a happy baby!”

Love,

Meg

Baby’s First Quirks

Having your first baby is a magical experience!

You just birthed a beautiful bundle of joy that you get to love and care for for the rest of your life.

In the first few weeks to months, some unfamiliar things might happen to your baby and you might feel the need to panic, especially if it’s your first baby.

Here are a few quick things that you might not be prepared for or aware of:

Baby acne: exactly what it sounds like.

It comes and goes pretty quickly, but it could feel like a century. Some babies get acne in a few small spots. Some babies get it all over their entire face. Baby acne is very bothersome to Mom because there’s nothing to do about it.

Don’t fret! It’ll pass.

And some babies never get it at all.

But just be aware that it can happen and it’s completely normal. You haven’t done anything wrong.

I put some breastmilk on my baby’s face where the acne developed and it resolved pretty quickly.

Other face rashes

My baby also got a random red rash on her cheeks pretty frequently. It would come and go.

Maybe it was the laundry detergent perfumes in my bedsheets?

Maybe it was from excessive cheek-kissing?

Who knows?

My solution: I put breastmilk on it each time and it went away.

Cradle cap: patches of raised dry, white or yellow/brown flakes on baby’s scalp. Sometimes gathered in the front of baby’s scalp by the hair line, or all over the scalp.

You might think your baby has developed a mysterious disease overnight, but that’s not the case. It’s just that too much oil is being produced by the hair follicles and this is the result.

It will go away on its own within a few weeks or months. You can wash your baby’s hair daily to loosen the scales if the cradle cap is bothering you too much.

Again, it’s completely normal and you haven’t done anything wrong.

Sensing a trend here?

I put breastmilk all over my baby’s scalp and massaged it in and I personally think it helped resolve her cradle cap. Breastmilk is a miracle worker.

Watery eye(s)

Your newborn might get watery eyes when he or she isn’t crying. This happens because either one or both of your baby’s tear ducts is blocked.

My baby’s pediatrician said to massage the inner section of her eye with a clean, dry or gloved finger, or a warm washcloth to unclog the tear duct. However, my baby hated when we did this, so we pretty much just let it resolve on it’s own.

Dry eyes

Fun fact: baby’s don’t have tears right away! They take time to develop, usually a month or few.

So, if you see your baby crying but not a single tear falls, don’t worry. It’s normal and there’s nothing to be done about it.

(You might even be too exhausted to realize that your baby is crying without tears.)

Miscellaneous issues:

Your baby may experience other similar or not-so-similar quirks during the newborn stage.

Whatever it is, it’s probably normal, you haven’t done anything wrong, and it’ll go away on it’s own.

BUT always check with your baby’s Pediatrician just to be sure!

Mothering Matters

Becoming a Mom has made me reflect on my relationship with my own mother, and has given me a glimpse of her mindset

As a mother, you will do anything for your child.

ANYTHING!

You protected your baby for 9months inside of you

You fed yourself healthy (and sometimes not-so-healthy) food so she could reap the benefits

You kept your body healthy so you could birth her safely

You continued to work so you could provide for her

You drove safely (well, maybe you still sped a little, but who doesn’t sometimes?)

You stopped having your favorite drink for 9months while everyone else around you was thoroughly enjoying theirs

You were overall cautious

And you will continue to protect her for life

You’ll wipe away every tear

Heal every injury

Rejoice with every smile

And be there for every moment in between

You’ll teach her right from wrong

You’ll be her first confidante

You’ll be an example of how she’ll live her life

She might even inadvertently turn into you one day

You get to be there for her through

friendships that come and go

relationships that come and go

situations that seem impossible to face alone

the whole nine

My mother has been there for me all of my life, sure.

But she has taken motherhood to the next level since the birth of my daughter.

She has fully embodied the term “grand mother”

Doing everything a mother does

But on a bigger scale

She gives my husband and I breaks to sleep or go out

She feeds our daughter

changes her

loses sleep for her

loves her endlessly

Of course, I do all of these things for my daughter too,

But the fact that my mother does these things for me, and for her granddaughter, makes me see just how much love she has for us

She might not always say those three words, but she shows them in countless ways every day

I’m so excited to be all of that for Lena and more

Here’s to the irreplaceable bond between mother and daughter

For me and my girl

For all moms and their girls

Let it be this authentic forever