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

Labor is Almost Never What You Expect

Towards the end of my pregnancy, I had an entire labor experience mentally planned out.
I visualized myself and my husband walking to the Labor and Delivery unit at the hospital.
I saw my vitals being checked
My labor progression status being assessed
I saw us waking to the birthing suite that contained the hydrotherapy tub.
I envisioned myself birthing my baby girl in that tub almost effortlessly…
Here, you may wonder how I thought I’d ever walk anywhere while in intense labor.
Well, I studied hypnobirthing during my pregnancy, so I envisioned myself breathing through each phase calmly and confidently.
I had heard the term “hypnobirthing” briefly during nursing school, but hadn’t thought about it much since then.
So, I looked it up and read that basically…(and I’m seriously paraphrasing here)…
-Hypnobirthing is a natural method of labor and delivery that focuses on putting the mind, body, and baby in charge of everything instead of allowing the healthcare professionals to call all the shots.
-In essence, hypnobirthing allows you to tap into your natural instincts of how to birth your baby. Your body knows what to do. Your baby knows what to do. So everything should happen according to those two factors.
-There’s no need to experience pain, because pain is just a direct result of your fear of the entire experience, based on what you’ve heard from family/friends and seen on television growing up. (Crazy idea, I know. I thought so, too)
-Women have given birth naturally for centuries before the influence of western medicine. Hypnobirthing is a way to tap into that natural process by calming the body and mind, and using different breathing and visual techniques.
[Side note: I don’t think all western medicine techniques are unnecessary, as I ended up using many myself. I’m just summarizing what I read in the book “Hypnobirthing: the Mongan Method. A Natural Approach In a Safe, Easier, More Comfortable Birthing” by Marie F. Mongan.]
I read on and decided that this all sounded great to me!
I practice yoga and meditation (not as often as I should).
I try to eat healthy and mind what I put into my body.
So this natural method of childbirth seemed to be right up my alley.
In addition to the book, I also bought the audio tracks on my Amazon Music app and listened to them almost nightly from week 30, on.
I won’t lie and say that my labor was painless.
During pregnancy, I watched many YouTube videos of women claiming that hypnobirthing works tremendously and that they didn’t experience any pain at all during labor and the birthing of their baby, only slight discomfort.
Well, in the beginning, that was my experience also. I actually didn’t even know that I was in early labor. I only went to the hospital because I woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and realized that I didn’t feel my baby moving, and that I hadn’t felt her move in a few hours.
When I got to the hospital and was assessed, the midwife told me that everything was fine, and in fact, I was in early labor; 5cm dilated, 90% effaced.
Wow!
There I was at home earlier that same day thinking I was still just having Braxton Hicks contractions.
I guess I should’ve figured it out when I was feeling them every 10 minutes all day long.
But, it didn’t click. I blame preggo brain.
My husband, Jay, and I even went outside for a long walk in the park that day. My goal was to get things going, but I didn’t know that I actually did.
At the hospital, I kept breathing through my labor contractions as Jay watched them on the monitor. He’d make a face every time he saw one coming in anticipation of my agony, but I didn’t show any.
So, to that extent, I would say that hypnobirthing was partially effective for me.
Until
I was still in labor come Sunday morning (2 days later). I tried everything to make my labor progress more quickly.
Jay and I walked the halls.
I sat on the birthing ball and did exercises, which I must say were much more painful during labor than they were at home a few days prior!
I did squats.
I tried nipple stimulation with a breast pump- which did work initially by making my contractions stronger and closer together, but then the contractions started to spread further apart again.
I drank Red Raspberry Leaf tea-some people swear by it…it did NOTHING for me.
My Lena Beans was just not ready to come out yet…
After about 28 hours of labor, the midwife asked if I wanted to try Pitocin to speed things along.
Pitocin is the synthetic form of oxytocin-the natural hormone released in a woman’s body during labor to create contractions and birth a baby.
She would give me Pitocin through my I.V. to speed things along.
I said no initially.
I waited it out for about an hour but then exhaustion set in hard.
I had been up for over 48 hours. The contractions were starting to get intense but still not close enough together to be in “active labor”. The breathing techniques I had learned over the past few weeks weren’t helping me manage the pain anymore. I was more than ready for this part to be over.
I kept thinking about the midwife’s suggestion.
So, I caved. I allowed Pitocin administration.
That kicked my contractions into high gear.
And I mean HIGH!
It was more than I could bear at that point.
I told my husband I wanted an epidural and he went to get the nurse right away.
His total support with me in this decision meant everything. Honestly, I was afraid that I ‘d look weak if I got an epidural.
For moms who openly plan to go natural, there’s such a stigma on getting an epidural. I had even told myself years ago that I would never ever get one after being traumatized in nursing school from seeing one administered firsthand.
But let me tell you, when you’ve been up for days, laboring for hours and hours, you may very well reach a point of pure exhaustion bordering insanity. I’m half joking but kinda serious because I was also dealing with PUPPP. Look it up. It’s AWFUL. That alone made me wanna get my baby out ASAP so I could have some relief.
Back to my point…I finally asked for an epidural, which I couldn’t receive for at least 40 minutes because I had to get the standard fluid bolus through my I.V. first. (So ladies, if you think you want an epidural during your labor, try your best to give the staff notice a good 45 minutes ahead of time.)
I experienced a super intense contraction during the epidural insertion, but I had to be very still to avoid paralysis.
Being extremely still while a huge needle is going into your back is hard enough.
Add an intense contraction on top of that? Whew.
We women are unstoppable goddesses.
Once the epidural was in and the medicine kicked in, I was extremely relaxed.
I didn’t feel A SINGLE THING.
At that point, the idea of natural birth went out the window and I decided that epidurals were the best invention on the planet. I had to remind myself that the main goal is to birth my baby by any means necessary.
[Another side note: I encourage any woman to go natural if that’s what you truly desire. It is possible! And I’m sure it’s very rewarding when achieved. This is just my story of what ended up happening to me, so don’t let it discourage you in any way. You have your own body and hopefully a baby that is much more eager to join this world than mine was.]
The midwife encouraged my husband and I to take a nap since we’d been up for so long.
And did we!
We knocked out for 2 hours until I was checked again.
The midwife said I was almost there, and to let her know when I felt like I had to have a bowel movement.
Another two hours later, I felt like Lena had moved down further, so I called the midwife in to assess me again.
I was right. It was go time!
At this point I was too in the zone to even show my excitement. I was in shock that it was really time to push…that I was really about to meet my little girl, but I could barely even keep my eyes open. Outside of exhaustion I believe I was in a hypnotic state at that point thanks to the hypnobirthing audio tracks I’d listened to endlessly for weeks.
I pushed with each subsequent contraction and 20 minutes later, my baby girl was born!
Then there were a few complications postpartum and I just laid there while the midwives worked to stabilize me.
Soooo yea
No hydrotherapy tub like I’d imagined
No smooth-sailing labor
That entire experience was more than I ever imagined it to be!
This may sound like a complete nightmare to you, but even as I retell my story, I have happiness in my heart about it all.
Everything I went through gave my husband and I the greatest gift we could ever imagine, and I wouldn’t trade her for all the money in the world.
Pain is only temporary and the joy you experience after you birth your miracle baby is priceless.
However your Labor and Delivery experience goes, you will look back on it fondly and smile at the thought of your precious one(s).
Be brave. Be strong. Be confident.
You got this!
Love,
Meg