To Our Village, On Our Daughter’s First Birthday

Before having Lena, I had this picture in my mind of my husband and I taking care of her ourselves 24/7 and only relying on help when we wanted a date night. This has very much not been the case, and it probably isn’t the case for a majority of parents. We all need support.

I saw very quickly the importance of calling on family and friends when necessary.

I think about how wonderful the first three months were at home with her, away from work. We bonded 24/7, she and I. Although I didn’t know all the answers to her newborn problems and struggled to keep from crying when she cried.

Then, I returned to work and needed HELP.

Being a nightshift nurse is tough enough on the body and mind, enter a baby into the mix and the difficulty level rises significantly.

Enter, our village.

My mother has been more like a third parent to Beans. Always there, always willing to help take care of her.

My father watches her on Fridays and some Sundays while I either work or recover from a nightshift. Ever the overprotective Poppi. He watches her like a hawk.

My friend’s mom, who is also like a Mom to me, helped every Wednesday for the first few months after returning to work so I could get a few hours of sleep after a nightshift. It was much needed!

My two cousins have graciously and eagerly been helping whenever I need them since she was about 2 months old. Sometimes even last minute.

They used to watch me when I was a baby, so I can imagine how surreal it is for them to watch mine now. One‘s daughter, 11, also is a big help. She loves Lena as if she were her little sister. And the son, 8, lets Lena beat him up and do whatever she wants. She’s got his soft spot for sure.

My sister has been home for a few months and watches her when I need to sleep before or after a shift. She has quickly taken on a caregiver role as well. It’s been great getting more rest than usual.

Before moving back home, she only saw Lena about once a month, so I know she’s loving this time with her.

My sister-in-law helped a few times early on so that my husband and I could have a date night or just a mini break.

A few of my girlfriends have also helped sporadically when I needed them.

We deeply appreciate them all more than they know! We thank you for loving us enough to care for our girl.

I realize that not every parent has an abundance of help readily available. It’s a daily struggle for many parents. So, it’s something we don’t take for granted.

The End of the (Breastfeeding) Road

I’ve made it to the promised land!

I’m done breastfeeding and pumping.

Also, Lena has mastered the sippy cup. #bigwins

Although I don’t really count not breastfeeding as a win because I wish she were still doing it.

Lena weaned herself from breastfeeding at 9 months. And I know many moms will say “Ehh…I don’t think so, most babies don’t wean before a year. I don’t believe you.” Well she’s not most babies then because trust me, I tried everything I could think of to get her to nurse. She just decided one day that she was done and only wanted a bottle. She was so adamant about it. So I continued to pump until now. She’ll be 11 months this week, so I’m about a month shy of my initial goal.

Close enough!

I loved breastfeeding because it created an indescribable bond between us. I was worried that when she stopped, she would push away from me more. But quite the opposite has happened. Now she’s up under me even more than before. She’ll whine if I’m not in sight. I’m flattered, although frustrated at times.

The endless routine of breastfeeding and pumping around the clock seemed like such a long journey while I was in the trenches, but in hindsight, it went by quickly.

I miss those sweet moments but at the same time, I cherish our new form of bonding. Just being with her gives me great joy. I love her so much! I’m excited to see all the new things she’ll do next

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