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

Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Pregnant Women

I can’t believe how fast my little one is growing! Around this time last year, I found out I was pregnant with her. So, that made me reflect on my pregnancy.

Don’t get me wrong, pregnancy is a beautiful time in a woman’s life. But there are also things that aren’t so glorious about it.

The people that surround a pregnant woman during those nine months can really impact her experience.

Here are a few things you probably should or shouldn’t say or do to a pregnant woman (in no particular order):

10. Don’t – ask how she’s feeling.

I know you’re trying to be polite. You might even genuinely care. But trust me, you don’t wanna hear the truth.

It would go a little something like this:

I feel awful!

I don’t recognize my body anymore.

So many odors make me wanna vomit.

I’m actually nauseous right now and currently trying not to throw up on you.

I’m exhausted. My body is constantly doing the same amount of work as a marathon runner. I just want to stay in bed until it’s time to push this baby out.

I can’t see my feet.

There are strange smells coming from places I shouldn’t mention…

Shall I go on?

Do – ask if there’s anything you can do to make her more comfortable. And if there is, do it to the best of your ability!

9. Don’t – randomly come up to her and rub her belly.

I personally didn’t mind this.

However, some women HATE it.

Do – ask first or don’t do it at all.

8. Don’t – spontaneously tell her horror stories about your own or someone else’s pregnancy/labor experience.

She’s currently pregnant and soon about to birth a baby. She does NOT want to hear about how you were in so much pain that you wanted to die.

Unless she asked you…

Then, by all means, tell her every nitty gritty detail, because she really does want to know.

Do – encourage her! Let her know that she’s doing a great job with her pregnancy and that she can get through the labor and birth of her beautiful baby.

7. Don’t – tell her “It’s okay, it’ll be over soon and you’ll have a precious baby at the end, so it’ll all be worth it.”

Just don’t. “Soon” isn’t right now so it’s not helpful. Depending on her stage of pregnancy, she’s most likely super ready for it to all be over and is on the verge of tears at any given moment.

Do – tell her you’ll be there for moral support, emotional support, and physical support every step of the way.

6. Don’t – ask when she’s gonna have another one.

She might want another, she might not.

She probably doesn’t even know yet.

She definitely doesn’t wanna talk about it while currently pregnant. You’ll find out if/when she’s ready for you to know.

Do – mind your business. 🙂

5. Don’t – Treat her like she can’t do anything.

She’s pregnant, not an invalid.

Do – give her freedom to do things by herself that she would normally do before she became pregnant (within reason, if safe).

4. Don’t – Get annoyed when she asks for help with something, no matter how small. She can’t do everything she used to do, and many simple tasks are downright exhausting now.

(Yes, this contradicts the previous point. We’re complicated beings because of the being(s) we’re creating. Deal with it.)

Do – help her out without complaint.

3. Don’t – Ask how many babies she’s having and if she’s sure.

I’ve seen multiple friends of mine post statuses saying that a random person asked them how many babies they’re having, and when answered the person further asked “Are you sure?!”

Whether joking or not, I’m sure I don’t have to explain what’s wrong with that.

Some women carry better than others. One woman at 15 weeks might look how another does at 30 weeks, it doesn’t mean she’s having multiple babies. Don’t be rude.

Do – not ever say something like that to a pregnant woman.

2. Don’t – Say she doesn’t look that bad for a pregnant woman.

*heavy sigh*

Do – compliment how good we look pregnant; because we’re all a smidge extra self conscious.

1. Don’t – Constantly ask if she’s in labor yet. Please. Please. PLEASE. Just don’t. She’ll probably calmly respond but inside she’ll be screaming unpleasant things at you. It’s beyond annoying. No woman who is close to her delivery date wants to constantly be harassed about her labor progression. She could be 3cm dilated for days or weeks. Don’t keep asking “Is the baby here yet?” “Is it time?!” Or anything of that nature.

Do – wait patiently for the announcement of the baby’s birth. I promise you, if Mom can wait, so can you.

Overall, just be kind to pregnant women. They need and deserve it. 🙂

Love,

Meg

P.S. This isn’t meant to be a personal attack on anyone who might have inadvertently done any number of these things to me or to any other pregnant woman. It’s just helpful information for those who might not understand how much of a rollercoaster pregnancy is and offers a few ways to support the pregnant momma through it all.

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

My First Mother’s Day

How fitting that I launch my Mom blog on Mother’s Day?

This holiday has made me reflect on the journey of becoming a Mother, and the past 3 months with my daughter.

Motherhood started the moment that I found out I was pregnant, and it will never end. It’s a beautiful lifelong journey, bound to have many ups and downs, twists and turns, because life isn’t perfect 100% of the time.

Pregnancy brought on a 10-month-long series of physical and emotional changes. Because, c’mon, 40 weeks is equivalent to 10 months, not 9. I don’t care what anyone says, you feel those changes in the first 4 weeks. THEY MATTER!
(More to come on that.)

Labor and delivery was the most empowering experience I’ve ever had in my life! If I could bypass pregnancy and go straight to birthing, I’d probably have a tribe lol.
(More to come on that, also.)

The newborn phase is without a doubt the most exhausting phase thus far. It takes a toll on your body, mind, and general state of being. I feel like a highly-functioning zombie most of the time. I do strange things like put the almond milk away in the pantry. (Luckily, I usually recognize mistakes like that before they get too out of hand.)

I know each stage of life from here on will have its own challenges, and I may complain throughout them. But, I wouldn’t trade my beautiful baby for the world. She is perfect and I’m blessed to have her for the rest of my life.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mommas out there, rookies and veterans alike!

You are strong. You are honored. You are loved.

Intro to Motherhood

The first month of motherhood taught me:

•Patience

-with my body: the first two weeks I was still very sore, tired (wait, that hasn’t changed), and my body was slowly recovering…losing excess fluid, organs shifting back into place, etc.
I was happy to have my body back to myself, but I had to learn to take things slowly since it was nowhere near back to pre-pregnancy status.
-with my baby: she’s new here this time. She’s learning me, and I’m learning her. Figuring out what she needs with each different cry is a constant guessing game, but I’m getting better at it.
-with my emotions: because the rollercoaster starts when I least expect it. Postpartum hormones are strong and unpredictable. I cried on the way home from the hospital because Lena was crying in the car seat and I couldn’t take her out to console her. That’s so unlike me. I’m a NICU nurse, I’m used to babies crying. In fact, truthfully I’m kinda numb to it…but something about hearing your own baby cry breaks your heart (especially 2 days postpartum). So I lost it for a minute…or 10, but laughed about it later that day. I still have my moments when I cry with her because she’s screaming from gas pains.
Then there’s the emotional cry “OMG I just love her so much!”
On the other hand, there’s the laugh attacks; sometimes at random things, but most of the time, at her. She makes the most entertaining faces I’ve ever seen, and I lose it lol.
She’s been giggling in her sleep since day 3, and it warms my heart every time. She’s extremely smiley, too. She lives up to her middle name meaning “Happy One”
•Love

– for my daughter: obviously, but such an understatement. The amount of love I feel for Lena is unmatched. She is perfect to me. She’s the cutest, sweetest little person I have ever encountered.
-for my husband: watching him take care of her, play with her, and love her, makes me love him even more.
-for my mother: because motherhood, although abundantly beautiful, is the toughest hood there is; and I finally have a glimpse of how much she loves me, how much energy this takes, and how much she cares to do it all so selflessly. She’s been extremely helpful and is always there for us.
-for my father: I admire his love for his granddaughter and how hyper excited he is that she’s here.
-for my sister: her love for her niece was immediate and so full.
She helps me out and deals with my sometimes bossy requests, without saying a word-and I know she often wants to; ditto my husband.
•Gratitude

– that I was able to carry her for 39weeks

-that she is 100% healthy

-that I am 100% healthy and able to care for her

-that I am able to provide breastmilk for her
-for all the family and friends who love her already
I’m overall grateful for my life, and the people in it!

 

 

(written 3/11/18)