Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The HONEST TRUTH About the First Month With A New Baby.


By now, I'm sure that most (or all) of you recognize Aliya from Double the Fun Blog. She is one of my real life besties, and Momma to real life Irish twins! We have been through so much together, and I just knew that her 'honest truths' about life with a new baby would be hysterical, and perfect for both myself and my readers. Enjoy!


Hello, Our Love Nest readers! For those of you who don't know me, my name is Aliya and Pam and I have been good friends for years and years. (In fact... funny story. Not sure if she's ever shared this one - sorry Pammie! LOL. Her and I met because our college boyfriends were (and still are) best friends. After Pam and her bf broke up, we just loved each other so much we stayed in touch and the rest is history!) We roomed together after college, were in each other's weddings and she has been there for me through the births of both my babies. I cannot WAIT to love all over Gavin the way she's been an Auntie to my kiddies!


Anyway, I digress. I am here today because I blog over at Double The Fun where I ramble on about raising two little munchkins who are exactly one year apart. Yep, you read that correctly and it is not a typo! My kiddies are 2 and 1 and they have the exact same birthday.



Now some might call that amazing, crazy and a downright coincidence. I, however, call it completely insane and wouldn't necessarily recommend having two babies that close in age if you can avoid it. (Let's just say the little one was a happy surprise.)


With that said, this is the first summer in 3 years that I haven't had a newborn attached to my boob so suffice to say, I learned a lot about them pretty quickly. I mean, even people with twins or triplets (which is obviously harder than Irish Twins.. but not by much, if I had to guess), only go through the newborn phase for 3 months, right? I went through it twice in one year. So thats 6 months of almost back-to-back newbornness. That is a LOT of crying, late-night feedings and mustard-colored poo, if you know what I mean. In fact, I'm exhausted just thinking about it. But the GOOD news is that I learned a thing or two (hopefully) about bringing home baby from the hospital. And thats what I'm going to share with you lucky folks today.

I apologize in advance if this is too brutally honest or TMI and I hope not to scare off any preggos or first timers, so stop reading if you're squeamish... but either way, too late for you now! Bwahahah ;)

The Top 10 Things No One Tells You About Your First Month (or so) With Baby

1. You will bleed. A lot. 
I am starting with this one because generally, it happens first. I'm just going to say it.. having a baby basically destroys your lady parts. I mean, just say goodbye to your vagina because it will never, ever be the same. Whether you give birth naturally or via C-Section, you will basically have your period for a month. Stock up on pads, granny panties, and for the love of god do not wear white jeans even if it is Memorial Day Weekend. (Yep, rookie mistake right here, folks).

2. Breastfeeding is not for the faint of heart. 
I didn't know what to expect with breastfeeding. I never even took a class. In my young, naive, first time mom mind, I was all, "Whatever, the cave women did it. So can I." (which, by the way... was the first person who discovered breastfeeding a total weirdo or what?). Anyway, if I can give you any advice it would be TAKE A CLASS. I know its "natural" but it is not as innate as you might think. Almost everyone I have talked to always had SOME kind of issue - engorgement (guilty), under producing, over producing, latching problems, inverted nipples, sour milk, etc... Take a class and talk to a lactation consultant. And, it's exhausting in the beginning. You burn 1,000 calories a day for a reason.. your body is constantly working to produce and until you get used to it, its incredibly draining. I can't tell you how many times I straight up passed out and woke up with breastmilk squirting in baby's eye. Also, it hurts like a bitch the first few weeks. You've been warned.

3. Your Boobs. 
If you thought your changing vagina was depressing, just wait for the magic that happens with your breasts. I mean, when you are breastfeeding they will look AMAZING, but they will also have hard spots and your nipples will bleed and then when you're done breastfeeding you can basically throw them over your shoulder like a continental soldier. I am still mourning the loss of my once perky boobs, but hey, my husband doesn't seem to mind and he's all that matters, right?

4. Hormones = Blood, sweat and tears. Literally. 
We mentioned the blood above, but I also was a total mix of hot and cold all. the. time. The first month or so, I would wake up at 3AM in a pool of my own sweat, no matter how many fans I had on me. After being an incubator for 9 months, there is definitely an adjustment period to get your body back to "normal." And, every little thing made me cry. EVERYTHING. Running out of K-Cups, commercials for pet adoption, spilling a cup of water, misplacing my keys. Everything. Hot mess. 

5. Sleep. Or, lack thereof. 
You knew I was going to say it, right? "Sleep when the baby sleeps!" Yea, it's a great idea in theory and I was all about it, too. But when the baby sleeps? There is laundry. And cleaning. And cooking. And, you know, taking a poop without a newborn staring at you. So I won't tell you to sleep when they sleep if you are as OCD as I am. But I will say... definitely rest. Watch some TV and put your feet up. Because while you eventually get used to the few hours of sleep you're getting at night, you're going to be miserable unless you cut yourself a break.

6. You can't break the baby. I promise. 
I have held probably twenty-two gazillion babies in my lifetime, and thats not an exaggeration. But when you bring your own baby home from the hospital, it's true - you freak about e v e r y t h i n g. Is he eating enough? Sleeping enough? Did I leave a blankie in his crib?! Does that poop seem off-color? When was the last time he peed? Is it cold in here? IS HE COLD?!?! I'll give you a free pass on this because it's basically a new mom rite of passage and totally normal. But I assure you... your baby is fine. Because, TRUST... s/he will let you know when he's not. 

7. Everyone is all of a sudden a baby expert. And by "everyone," I mean my mother.
Your neighbor, your post man, your cousin-in-law, your boss' wife. YOUR MOTHER. The person who wrote this blog post. Everyone will tell you what THEY know and what worked for them. I will never forget how when we were in the hospital with Baby #1, he got the hiccups and my mom asked the nurse for a bottle of water. The nurse looked horrified and told my mother we don't give babies water until they are 6 months old. My mom didn't understand because, you know, "We gave babies water all the time! What is she talking about?!" Guess what mom? Times a changin'. I realized she might need a baby update for the 21st century when she suggested putting the car seat in the front seat. I know, crazy right? There were several times my mom gave me the, "You know, I raised two kids and they turned out FINE" speech and by the end I was just so annoyed I bought her this book. It helped us both out wonders with little questions and random information for the most up-to-date answers on having a baby today.

8. Let's talk about sex (baby)
I have three things to say about sex after baby, so listen close. 
A: It hurts like a MOTHER. (Now you know where that expression comes from). You'll feel like you are losing your virginity all over again. Do yourself and your hubby a favor and invest in some KY Jelly. You can send thank you letters to aliya{dot}rinaldi{at}gmail{dot}com
B: It won't feel GREAT. Not the first time, not the second time, not even the fourth time. Aside from the pain, you will probably be self-conscious about your "new" body, your breast-feeding boobs will be sensitive/annoying and maybe even leak in his face. (That didn't happen to me, I'm JUST giving a hypothetical...) and your body/areas will be a little off kilter at first. Ease into it. He'll understand. 
C: THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE. Are you ready? You still ovulate, and therefore, can still get pregnant while you're breastfeeding. Did you know that?!?! Yea. I didn't. Use a condom unless you want to become the next contributor for my Irish Twins blog.

9. It's OK to feel however it is you want to feel. Except guilty. 
If you're tired, rest. If all you want to do is sit on the couch and hold your baby, then do it. If all you want to do is put your baby in the swing so you can take a shower, then do that. Don't feel like making dinner? Order pizza. Want to sleep more than 4 hours at a time? Pump and ask your Hubs to take a night feeding. The first month is all about survival. It's going to take that long to get used to your new normal and that is OKAY. Do NOT feel guilty because you haven't cooked in two weeks, taken a shower in four days, or can't remember the last time you have brushed your teeth. If you're alive and your baby is healthy and happy, you're doing your best and that's all that matters.

10. It will be the best, most amazing, draining, emotionally high, exciting, scary month of your life. 
And it is totally worth it. And just like everyone says? You'd do it all again. In a second.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Traveling With Baby :: The Essentials

Although it may be some time before we are packing Gavin up for his first road trip, we do plan to travel with him. We have a beach trip planned for the very end of summer, and will definitely be venturing up to New Jersey to visit my family some time this fall.

When Ali, who you may recognize from The Christian Blonde, offered to share her checklist for traveling with your newborn, I knew I had to take her up on it right away!

Summer is finally here. What does that mean? Wedding Season, Family Vay-Cays, and Weekend Getaways. Just because you're a Brand-New Fierce Mama, DOES NOT mean you have to bail on all the festivities. The trick is to not get overwhelmed. Step One: CREATE A LIST. (That's where I come in.) Making a list is going to make you feel CONFIDENT in packing everything - so you can feel great as you take on your event by storm.

Having a Newborn is FULL of challenges, and there's a serious packing "learning curve" that takes place. You need to find that "sweet spot" when it comes to packing TOO LITTLE vs. TOO MUCH. (I tend to OVERPACK, but I secretly like that. I ALWAYS feel like I'm prepared to take on EVERYTHING.)

So I decided to come up with a FREE, PRINTABLE CHECKLIST for you! I decided to break it down with what to pack in your Carry-On, because, let's be honest: those are going to be the MOST IMPORTANT items you are going to need access to! Sometimes it's hard to "edit" what you think you're going to need - so here it is! Just download, print and check it off!

Carry On Items for a Fierce Mama & Her Newborn
Place The Following In Your Handbag:

Plane Tickets/Confirmation Number for E-Ticket: I know you can usually print these at the gate. However, when you are traveling with a little one, life can get complicated. Save yourself the hassle, and print them at home  --> trust me, the faster you are to the food court and picking out magazines, the happier you'll be.

Passports & Other ID: Double Check. Passport, License. Double Check Your Hubby's Too.

Hotel Information: Know Check In Times. Nothing is worse than not being able to check in when you think you're going to be able to. In the event that you are arriving early or late, find out where the nearest pizza place is. If your flight gets delayed, you and your Hubs may be starving and room service may stop at certain times. Also, if arriving early, and you have toddlers - considering packing a pool bag. If your hotel has a pool, nothing is better than easily pulling out that packed bag out of your suitcase, instead of fumbling through to find the little one's Swimmers Diapers. Packed pool bags can be a life saver. Not to mention, you'll totally look like Mom-Of-The-Year.

This may sound archaic, but, Driving Directions. If you're renting a car, have driving directions printed as a back-up.

Credit Cards/Cash: Always travel with extra cash. You never know who or when you're going to need the help of somebody, and be polite - tip. 

Cell Phone: This is a give-in. BUT, "Mommy-Brain" isn't just when you're pregnant, it carries over until your kids are 18 - so I've heard. Haha.

Pen: (I ALWAYS seem to need a pen.) 

What Belongs In Your Carry-On:
Glam Essentials: 2 Ziploc Plastic Bags for You and Hubby Containing:
Travel-Sized Toothpaste, Travel-Sized Mouthwash, Toothbrushes
Travel-Sized Shampoo, Travel-Sized Conditioner, Travel-Sized Body Wash
Travel-Sized Moisturizer, Travel-Sized Deodorant

^ You may wonder why I am telling you to pack all of these as mini's? Well, in the event that your flight is delayed, or cancelled... You may just eliminate stress on the baby, and opt to stay in a nearby hotel, and leave in the morning on an early flight. If you always have these essentials with you, you will be able to get refreshed, look you beauty best, and have a well rested newborn. Below are some additional items that I like to include with the Glam Essentials:

Travel-Sized Lanolin Cream (If nursing), Small Tube Neosporin, Travel-Sized Hand Sanitizer, Hair Brush, Hair Ties,  Cotton Swabs

Travel Essentials:

Cell Phone & Charger: Triple Check. This will ruin your trip if you forget it!

Tablet or Laptop & Charger and/or DVD Player (if baby is old enough) & DVDs, 

Headphones: I know that some parents are totally against over stimulating kids with stuff like this. HOWEVER, while on a flight, you'll be happy you packed it. Quiet Baby = Relaxed Flight (For EVERYONE Aboard!)

Camera & Charger: Duh. Haha.

At Least 1 Full Change Of Clothes For You: Odds are, if you're flying, the baby duties are probably going to fall on Mom. Babies can spit up, make a mess... and you will be happy you have a back-up outfit.

Plastic Bags For Possible Laundry: Your clothes, the baby's clothes... maybe your Hubby just spilled Honey Mustard all over himself. It happens. Have a plastic bag, so in the event something gets a little gross, it doesn't contaminate everything else.

Baby Essentials:

Diaper Bag for Baby: This does not go in your carry-on. This is the baby's carry-on. If you don't know where to begin with packing it, CLICK HERE. (It's my complete list of How To Pack A Diaper Bag: Newborn. If you need the Toddler Edition, CLICK HERE.) Some of the items BELOW can fit in your Diaper Bag. Utalize that. Pack AS MUCH AS YOU CAN in that bag. If you have any extra room - add more wipes.

1 Diaper Per Every Hour Of Your Journey, Plus One More: That is my formula when it comes to packing diapers. 1 per every hour you will be out, plus one more. If you're in a pinch, you can always pick more up when you get to your destination.

Wipes, Wipes and more Wipes!: You can never have enough. Period.

2 Full Changes of Clothes for Baby: Babies are messy. Be prepared for anything and everything. Especially for the temperature changes. Airplanes are generally cold - your little one may need an extra layer. When in doubt, pack footed pajamas. They're an instant outfit and keep your little one snug as a bug.

Breast Pump & Accessories (if you’re pumping)

Formula for Baby – at least 2 more feeds than you think you’ll need

Food for Baby – at least two more meals than you think you’ll need

Extra Pacifiers: Have them in at least 2 different locations. Have some in your handbag, some in your diaper bag, some in your carry-on. You never know what will be closest to you, when you need it.

Books/Toys: Distractions. The trick to packing the "right" toys for babies is: pack at least 2 of their FAVORITE things, partnered with 2 NEW things, that they haven't seen before. Keep life exciting. Haha.

Cooler for Baby: This is optional for your carry-on, but something I think you should always pack. Especially if you are going to a warm climate. Breast Milk, some formula, some teethers... need to be kept cold. You never know when you may need it.

Changing Essentials:

Diapers, Baby Wipes (Should already be packed. See above!)
Changing Pad, Disposable Changing Sheet, Zip Lock Bags: These should all be in your Diaper Bag! Click on the link, also listed above, if you need help with these!

Feeding Essentials:

Bottle Fed Babies – Clean Bottles
Breast Fed Babies – Breast Feeding Cover, Breast Pads, Scarf

Cleaning Essentials: 

1 Zippered Ziploc Bag for Baby Containing:
Liquid Baby Tylenol, Liquid Baby Dish Washing Soap, Travel-Sized Baby Shampoo/Wash, Travel-Sized Baby Moisturizer, Travel-Sized Diaper Cream

Cleaning Essentials: - Packed

Nasal Aspirator, Wet Ones, Tissues, Thermometer

Comfort Essentials:

Swaddle Blanket, Heavy Stroller Blanket, Burp Cloths, Baby's Lovey

Fierce Mama Essentials:

*These are also listed in the Diaper Bag Checklists. I would recommend ALWAYS to bring a sling/wrap, as well as stroller attachments!

Now you may be saying, thanks Al... but I have a Toddler! I know, I know.  So don't you worry.  The toddler list will be next! ...AND DON'T FORGET TO PRINT THE LIST!!

Happy Travels!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sleep Schedules :: A Guest Post from Allie

I was thrilled when Allie offered to guest post for me while I am somewhat out of commission. After all, she is among my favorite Instagram Mama's, and I couldn't wait to see what she had to say about sleep schedules and her experience.

If you haven't met Allie before, make sure to stop over and visit her blog, Mama, THREE & IV.


Hi to all of Pam's "Our Love Nest" readers. 

I decided to write about our sleep schedule and "training" because it's such a HUGE part of our lives. 

When we brought Stew IV home from the hospital, we arrived home around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. As "bed time" rolled around, we put IV in his crib, in his room and went to sleep. Shocking for some, yes. But it was a no brainer decision we made before he was born. He was never in a pack 'n play or bassinet. He came straight home and into his crib. Our master bedroom and his room are right next to each other and we slept with the baby monitor on...but still, I understand some people may think this is unheard of. But let me tell you why we did this:

Let me take you back - I came out of college and started working at a marketing and design company. I had been there for over 7 years the day I told my boss I was pregnant.  He asked if I'd come "back to work"...I knew I didn't want to put IV in daycare, so I said "How about I work from home...but no maternity leave". "Deal" he said. "Get yourself a laptop, printer and whatever else you need." Deal...right? The deal was that I wouldn't take a "maternity leave" - strange again, yes....for some. I was and am a valuable part of the company I run. My clients and my boss count on me daily. I couldn't be MIA for 3 months (or whatever a normal maternity leave is). And - I couldn't NOT work...financially and mentally. I need to work. 

So there I sat, in my hospital bed, less than 24 hours after giving birth to my first child...working on my laptop. I knew a lot of people depended on me (at work) and a lot of people depended on me at home. I had to stay focused, organized and well rested. That meant I needed to sleep at night as well. WIth IV in our room, I knew I wouldn't sleep soundly and with Stew (my Husband) getting up (after a week off) early to leave for work - I didn't want him disturbing us/me either.

So here's what I knew for sure:

I knew sleep was important for me and for my new baby. 

I knew I wanted and needed a schedule.

I knew I wanted a happy baby and happy babies are those that get the rest they need.

So - without the help of any books, I came up with a sleep schedule after a few short weeks. Wake, eat, play, sleep. Repeat.  Naps at first were taken in the bassinet or swing, but sleeping at night was in the crib. We didn't fall asleep "where ever" and we didn't fall asleep in the car. We (I say we, but I mean IV) took naps at home, at the scheduled time. I knew my life and work schedule would be all about naps and bedtime, but it had to be. I was working from a home office. I need to know when I could actually work and when I could make phone calls. 

Naps were my lifeline. 

During the first few months, IV would wake at night every two hours to nurse. That quickly became only waking twice, and then by 4 months old, he would wake at 4am to eat. By 5 months old he was still only waking at 4am to eat, but that one wake up was draining me. It wasn't the routine I wanted or what worked. I wanted him to sleep until 6 or 7, then we could get up and start our day. I know, seems silly that I'm asking my 5 month old to just wake up when I wanted him to. But - after checking with our Pediatrician if he could now make it through the night and not feed at 4:00am, I let him cry it out. 

After only two nights of crying it out (for about 5 minutes) the cycle was broken. We now had a baby that slept through the night. At 5 months we were all getting sleep and it was AMAZING. At this point, IV took 3 naps a day and slept through the night. As he got older, the last nap of the day was harder and harder for him to fall asleep. So he was left in his crib for 30 minutes of quiet time. He's now 27 months old and has NEVER (I repeat) NEVER woken at night for any reason. He sleeps from 7:30pm to 7:00am every night. He also now, takes one nap a day from 1-4pm

Our method has allowed IV to love sleep, his room and his crib. In the morning he wakes happy. If he wakes earlier than 7, he plays in his crib - talking away until I come get him at 7. 

Our method has also allowed IV to sleep anywhere. We have traveled to Florida, Aruba and Indiana - all of which he had no issues sleeping and we kept the same exact sleep schedule. We don't have any vices - like night lights or black out shades. No matter where he sleeps - he adjusts. 

Throughout the day he is happy, healthy and full of energy. I understand this method isn't for everyone, but it's what worked for us and that is so important. Don't do what a book tells you to do or what your friends are doing. Do what is best for you and your family. I'm sure that people would frown upon us and bringing a newborn baby home - placing him in his crib the very first night, but it worked for us...flawlessly. I would do it all over again - and hope to some day again.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Lesson In Breastfeeding

I want to start out by thanking Jamie for sharing her breastfeeding story. Throughout my pregnancy, I have tried hard to educate myself, and to get 'real' stories, both good and bad, from other Moms about what to expect.  Jamie's story is real, and although I support every mother in their decisions about how best to handle breastfeeding and believe it is a subject that each person can and should handle for themselves, I thought Jamie's story was a great read and definitely worth sharing. Enjoy, ladies! 

 

Alternative title: Why I breastfeed, even if it totally sucks

Warning: This is a long one. And one that may even stir up some controversy or prompt some of you to wonder, "Who the hell does she think she is?" So let me preface this post by addressing a couple things:

First of all, I have absolutely no judgment over any mother's decision to breastfeed or formula feed. I completely acknowledge that everybody and every body is different, and all of us moms do what works best for us, our babies and our families. The decision to formula feed, breastfeed, pump or a combination of any of the above, and for however long, is a very big and personal one. The following post about my personal experience with breastfeeding, particularly my trials and triumphs, is just that: a summary of my own personal experience. So please take it as that and nothing else. It's not me trying to convince you to go one way or the other. And it's definitely not me talking down to anyone from a holier-than-thou high horse about why breastfeeding is so awesome (because I'm gonna be straight up, there are some not-so-awesome parts about it). In other words, no judgies here ... and I hope you do the same.

Secondly, if you're uncomfortable hearing/reading about breastfeeding and its intimate details, let me stop you right now and redirect you to another page that may make you slightly less uncomfortable. But only slightly: Click here.

Okay. Now that I got those disclaimers off my chest (ha! look at that—an unintentional funny), let me begin. *deep breath*...

It's been 11 months, 1 week, 6 days, 6 hours and 5 minutes since I gave birth to my son. Which means I've been breastfeeding for about 11 months, 1 week, 6 days, 6 hours and 4 and 1/2 minutes. Long before Lucas was born, I made a conscious decision to breastfeed, if possible, for at least one year. I took a breastfeeding class so I knew what to expect. I read books pamphlets. I browsed a dozen websites. I talked to other moms who were doing it. And while those all helped, it still didn't prepare me for the emotional and physical rollercoaster I went through for the next several months.

I remember the first couple days when my son wouldn't latch properly. You'll hear everybody and their mamas tell you that breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, but unless you've been doing it since you were 5 (hope not), that's not always the case. (Luckily, there are hundreds of resources out there that can get you through these initial struggles if you choose to continue.) But even after we mastered the latch, I had other issues. I went through periods of uncomfortable engorgement, suffered through painful nipples and clogged milk ducts, and struggled with major feelings of insecurity about my body. With the help of a lactation consultant and lots of advice from Dr. Google, I was able to get over those humps (ha! another one) and continue successfully.

Still, I began to harbor feelings of resentment toward breastfeeding. From where does that loathing stem? Here's a glimpse:

I've had a love-hate relationship with my breast pump for months now, especially ever since I returned to work. Raise your hand if you're over that damn wheezing sound your pump makes.

I've cried over spilled milk. I've also cried over milk that I took out of the fridge and forgot about until the next day so I had to throw out my precious liquid gold (true story). There goes an hour of pumping down the drain, literally.

I've cursed the breast pump parts that take up the entire kitchen counter, not to mention the endless amounts of dishwashing. God, will the dishwashing ever end?! And that stupid little white membrane piece that keeps falling down the drain so I have to buy a new pack for like ... $6.99, really? For that little POS?

I've become tired of deciding my wardrobe based on whether or not I could easily breastfeed in it. ("That's a really cute shirt, but shoot, that neckline isn't very stretchy. Guess I'll just rock the same tank top I've been wearing for three days straight.")

I've endured the awkward stares and not-so-supportive comments from everyone—friends, family, coworkers, strangers, male doctors—about how I shouldn't expect to make it past a few months, especially after I go back to work.

I've fallen into pits of depression on days my supply was low, which would begin a vicious cycle of being stressed, which led to a lower milk supply, which stressed me out even more, and ... well, you get the point.

I've used my precious weekends to nurse/pump around the clock so my supply could catch up to meet my son's growing appetite. Can you believe they call it a nursing vacation? Yeah, 'cuz when you're on vacation, there’s a machine attached to your boobs virtually 24 hours a day.

I've cringed every time I had to take those gigantic fenugreek pills (are those for horses or something?) or drink a disgusting cup of fenugreek tea that tasted like black licorice.
I've used it as an excuse to not do things I would normally jump at, like spend a day at the spa or travel for work. Because even though I would love nothing more than a day to myself, it also means I would have to plan my time around feedings, or schedule in a pumping session to make up for a missed feeding, which means I'd have to bring my pump and a cooler to store the milk and ... *sigh* ... forget it. In the end, it's always so much easier just to stay home and nurse my baby on demand.

I've often felt like I was gonna pass out from exhaustion. Since breastfed babies digest milk more quickly, they get hungry more often. And growth spurts? They're also known as your baby's way of saying, "Let's take those three hours of sleep you've been getting daily and cut that down in half, shall we?"

I've preached to my friends that nursing is literally a 24-hour job that needs your constant attention ('cuz it is). You have to be mindful of everything you put in your body, from medicine to caffeine to alcohol to foods to which your baby might have an adverse reaction.

I've lost count of how many times I've said "I'm over this. No really. For real this time."

So now that I've gone into a tirade about the hardships of breastfeeding in these last thousand words, you're probably thinking, "So shut up, no one's making you breastfeed. Why do it then?" Yes, it's been inconvenient. Yes, there were times I felt like my body was a slave to my pump and I was so ready to throw in the towel. Yes, it's exhausting on so many levels.  But, there are also reasons I've loved it too. Here's why:
  1. It's saved me a lot of money. And let's get real, I listed this one first because saving hundreds of dollars on formula is a BIG HONKING PLUS in my book. 
  2. It's saved me from emergencies. Let's say I was stranded out in the middle of nowhere with no access to food or water. Or, a more likely scenario, I bring his bottle of milk but forget to bring the dang nipple. That's okay, 'cuz I've got these two puppies right here (and I never leave home without 'em), and that's all I need to save my son from his hunger meltdown. 
  3. It's saved me from the flu. Strengthening his (and my) immune system got us through cold, allergy and flu season. And now that he's in daycare and sharing germs with other kiddos, I’m hoping it’ll continue to do him some good. I'm pretty sure it's the reason that *knock on wood* neither of us have gotten seriously sick this past year. And for the times either of us were less than 100%, those magical breast milk antibodies did their job quickly. Is that where the term "nursing him back to health" came from? Because that would totally make sense. 
  4. It's saved me from a picky eater. We've only recently begun to feed our son solids/table food, and so far *knock on wood again* he hasn't rejected or been allergic to anything. In fact, he loves all the food we’ve given to him. And while there are a lot of factors that come into play in whether or not children become picky eaters, I like to think that breastfeeding had something to do with it. Also, they say that the flavors of foods you eat can be passed on to your baby via breast milk, and I think that's pretty neat. Hey baby, enjoy that Chipotle burrito bowl, and that bowl of pho with extra sriaracha sauce, and this whole bag of chocolate-covered pretzels. 
  5. It's saved me from buying medicine, because it's the freaking cure for everything. When my son had chapped lips, you know what softened them right up? Breast milk. When my nipples were painfully chapped during the first few weeks of breastfeeding, you know what worked better than those ointments? Breast milk. When my poor baby got a cold at two weeks old that lasted for several days, you know what helped clear his congestion? You guessed it: a few drops of breast milk up his schnozzle. What can't this stuff do? I wouldn't be surprised if it cured cancer. Oh wait, it just might. Which leads me to my next big reason... 
  6. It's saved me from some worries and gave me reassurance that, on some level, I'm decreasing both our chances of getting cancer. As some of you know, I have a family history of cancer. In fact, it's taken away the lives of two amazing aunts. So if there's anything I can do to reduce my risk of getting ovarian or breast cancer (not to mention his chances of developing diabetes, SIDS, Crohns disease, asthma, obesity, and respiratory infections) ... any way I can improve our odds by even .0001% ... sure, I'll try it. 
  7. It's saved me from a lot of heartache and allowed me to bond with my son in ways I couldn't imagine. Remember those baby blues that hit me around the "fourth trimester?" And the 3am feedings that went along with them? The only thing that made those sleepless nights bearable was the feeling that, for a brief moment, it was just me and him. Connected in a way that nothing else could or ever would. And now that he's a little older and starting to show his independence (like pushing my hand away when I try to stroke his hair, little punk!), breastfeeding reassures me that he still really needs and depends on me. 
  8. It's saved me from feeling like an inadequate mother. Because, especially in that first month when the baby blues were hitting me pretty hard and I felt like I was never gonna be able to handle this new job as a full time mom, I was confident that I was doing a good job with at least one thing. To this day I am still amazed at what my body is capable of. 
  9. It's saved me from myself. When my world is spinning crazily out of control, breastfeeding has literally forced me to sit, shut up, and calm down. Sure I sometimes multi-task while I'm nursing: baby in one hand and my cell phone/keyboard/pen/remote control on the other. But for those brief 15-20 minutes, I'm also prevented from pacing up and down the room with thoughts like these running through my head: "I'm never gonna get through work this week, this pile of mail is stacking up like crazy, are we out of diapers already, didn't we just do the laundry, I really need a manicure..." In fact, when my mind is racing like this, sometimes my son will look up at me from the crook of my arm and put his hand to my chin or lips (I swear) as if to say, "Shhhhhhh. That's nice, Mama, but just shut up for a second and pay attention to me, 'cuz I'm more important than alla' that buuuuullshiiiit." ('Course, I hope he's not cussing that much in his mind at less than a year old. Maybe when he's 2.)
So as you can see, in many ways breastfeeding has been a major thorn in my side. But in other, more amazing, ways, it's also saved me. It's been incredibly good to me and my baby boy so far, and I'm really happy about my decision to do it. So much that if/when I have more kids, I'll probably make the same decision. Luckily I had a pretty wonderful experience with my first baby, and I can only hope I'll be just as fortunate the next time around.

I want to state, for the record, that I'm truly, truly grateful I am able to breastfeed in the first place, and for as long as I have. I'm also extremely lucky that my job supports this decision by affording me such luxuries as a lactation room in our office and the opportunity to pump during work hours. God knows there are a ton of barriers to breastfeeding: physical, social, medical, occupational, etc. I know there are women out there who want to breastfeed and absolutely would if they could, but can't for whatever reason. So even though I've complained to hell and back about the inconveniences of breastfeeding, when it comes down to it I am really thankful that I can.

Also, I know I complain about breast pumping a lot in this post. In fact, most of my gripes about breastfeeding are actually about the pumping part. But even though I'll probably have a party once I'm ready to give up this dang machine (you're all invited—I'm designing embossed invitations right now), I'm really thankful that I can continue to give my son the benefits of breast milk while I'm away from him. I recognize how much easier we have it than our moms and grandmothers and great-grandmothers, many of whom had no concept of a pump, much less an electronic pump, much less an electronic double pump. What, you don't have to manually pump anymore? What, a machine does all the work for you? What, a pumping bra? Does that mean you can sit there and actually produce milk while writing an email or blow drying your hair or knitting or playing the piano? (Note: I've never done the last three, but the point is: I could if I wanted to.) Yup, our generation has it reeeal good, and we are spoiled brats up here in the 21st century.

I'll tell you right now, that no one else will ever understand the planning, preparation, science and emotion behind breastfeeding unless they have a pair of those suckers themselves. I think I heard the term "supply and demand" while I was pregnant more times than I have in my Economics 101 class, but I never really understood the concept until I started breastfeeding.

They will never understand why you prefer to feed your baby instead of give him a bottle when you're around. Because pumping is not as efficient as the baby's suck (ask any lactation consultant), and you need to do everything you can to maintain your milk supply. And because feeding him a bottle also means you would have to pump later on to make up for a missed nursing session. Who wants to pump for 40 minutes, all for a few precious drops of milk, when you could just feed your kid for 15 minutes and be reassured that he's had enough—no ounces to count?

They'll never understand that when they say things like, "I don't think he's getting enough milk," they might as well punch you in the face. Or boobs (it hurts more). 'Cuz even though the research shows that most women only think their supply is low when it's really not, the self-doubt that already exists if you're a first-time breastfeeder is increased tenfold when you hear things like this from other people.

No one will understand how much effort and work it takes to keep up your milk supply. Some lucky mothers are blessed with more than enough goods. But for others, like me, I have to keep at it. And breastfeeding is like dying your hair: Once you start, you can't really take a break from it and then go back when it's convenient for you. Nope, that hair's gonna keep growing, the roots are gonna show, and someday the ombré look won't be so popular. Hehhhhhh? I don't get it. Rewind: Breastfeeding is like dying your hair—It's a long-term commitment.

No one will ever truly understand how time-consuming, emotionally and physically draining (no pun intended) it is to exclusively breastfeed/pump, unless they've gone through it themselves. Not your husband, not your best girl friend who doesn't have kids, and not your son's male pediatrician.

And lastly, no one will ever understand but you, and only you, that when you're ready to stop breastfeeding, you're ready. And they can't convince you otherwise. Just like your decision to start in the first place, only you can decide when you're totally ready to end your nursing career and transition to a new phase. Your aunt, your lactation consultant, or even the AAP might try to change your mind, but no one can make that decision except you. And as long as it's your own decision, rest assured it's the right one. Breast assured.

Thanks for reading.

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Fancy more reading material on breastfeeding (as if you haven't read enough at this point)? Check out a few of my favorite links on this topic:

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Advice For New Moms :: Forget It


Jessica joins us from Life With The Bauer Bunch (formerly Life With The Bauer Boys) and by the time you read this, she will already have welcomed her daughter into the world, and will be a proud Mama of three! I loved reading her advice; the things first time Mama's should 'forget' about. I hoe you enjoy it, too!

By Jessica Bauer/Life With the Bauer Bunch

“The first year is the worst...
Forget about sleep.
Forget about your appearance.
Forget about privacy.
Forget about sanity.
Date nights. Vacations. Trips to Wal-Mart. Spontaneity is officially dead.”

“Oh! By the way, congratulations!”

Anyone who has seen those two pink lines magically appear on a pregnancy test has heard this so-called advice. Advice that essentially says the creation of a life means the end to yours. That each stage of childhood is harder than the next and everything you've ever known is going to be turned on its head.

I'm here to tell you they’re wrong - in a way.

I am exactly five days away from meeting my third child, my first baby girl, and another reason for my heart to grow. In just five days I'll be sitting in a hospital bed with the golden sunset streaming across the off-white linens. I will be staring into the face of my daughter and glowing with hormones, happiness, and humility.

I’m a little excited about this. Can you tell?

From that point on, life will be different, but becoming a mom does not signal the end to who you were before baby. On the contrary, you discover a new part of the person you were meant to be.

Now, this wouldn’t be an advice post without dishing a bit of my own, would it? Although I disagree with the statements above, here are a few things I think you can forget about in the blessed moments after birth:

Forget what you knew about love. It’s going to hit you like a ton of bricks. The instant feeling of being enamored with a seven-pound person you just met is overwhelming. The doctor will place him in your arms and you will feel it in every bone.

Forget what you knew about your significant other. The first time you see him with a tiny diaper in hand and a goofy, overjoyed look on his face, you’re gone. You will fall in love all over again as you watch him become a daddy.

Forget what you knew about faith. The day you first look into your child’s eyes is the day you see God. You see creation in all its pink, naked glory. The miracle of life is just that and there is absolutely no room for doubt when it comes to seeing it firsthand.

Forget what you knew about laughter. The lack of sleep you worry about might take another route. Picture you and your husband staring into a cradle at 3:30 in the morning, giggling like teenagers. It’s going to be a wild ride, but I promise you it will be fun.

Forget what you knew about pain. I’m not talking birth story, either. I’m talking about the first time you take her to get shots. The first time she falls while attempting those first wobbly steps. And eventually the first time her heart breaks and you can’t put it back together. This emotion thing becomes a whole new ballgame.

Forget what you knew about life. The day your baby takes his first breath in the clean air of the delivery room, it’s going to look different. You are seeing the first seconds of this tiny person’s life and the first seconds of your life as a mother. Soak it up.

Believe me, all of this comes with heartache and pain, frustration and tears, and maybe even a locked bathroom door and a bag of Milanos. This new stage in your life will be full of trial and error and lessons learned the hard way, but this is life. This is living.

So forget about the horror stories you’ll hear about life with children. Don’t dwell on the negative and getting past the “hard” stages. Ignore those who tell you the worst is yet to come.

Motherhood is an incredible, life-changing journey and all I can say is, Mama, sit back and enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Things One Should Never Say To A Pregnant Woman :: Amen!

Hey friends of our Our Love Nest! My name is Catalyn from Confessions of a Northern Belle and I am blogging today for the beautiful new Momma while she is out on maternity leave with her new bundle of joy. I have been following Pamela for awhile now because I am expecting too! She asked me to write about something on the topic of pregnancy - so I chose to do a little segment called....

 Things One Should Never Say to a Pregnant Woman

Being 21 weeks pregnant, I have heard quite a few comments that were a bit shocking and uncalled for. I don't know what it is, but for some reason people think they can say anything they want to a Momma-to-be.

"I could tell you were pregnant just by how wide your hips and butt have grown." - a fellow coworker when I was 11 weeks.
"Maybe you should lay off the fruit - it is only going to make you gain more weight." - a midwife whom I will never see again
"You look good with some weight on you." 


I am sure the comments will continue to roll in the further along I get in my pregnancy. I finally popped around 17 weeks, so in the beginning it was mostly, "You don't look like you're pregnant!" That was a little frustrating, because I was excited to be pregnant and I kept hearing that I "wasn't." 

I decided to ask some real Moms who've been around the pregnancy block a few times and a lot of the comments had to do with weight gain. Don't people know that you NEVER comment on a woman's weight - even if it is because she is carrying a baby?

Here is a list of the most awful comments they've ever received (or heard):
  
"Are you growing that baby in your ass?"  

"Are you sure you aren't having twins/triplets?"   

Look at the father of the mom-to-be and say, "You know what she's been doing!" 

"Being heavy is only temporary."

"You look like you're going to blow away any minute."

"How many weeks are you?" - AFTER she's had the baby

 "Wow you got huge since the last time I saw you.

"Your face got really fat, so I think it's a girl."

From my friend's husband, "They say girls take your good looks, so this time we are definitely having a girl."... then he tried to cover it with, "Well, you're so beautiful you can stand to lose some of your good looks."

And lastly...."Some women get hair on their face when they're pregnant along with big brown blotches... but I'm sure you won't."

Are you expecting or already have a little one of your own?? What are some of the worst things you have heard said to a pregnant woman? Please share! 

And then stop by my blog Confessions of a Northern Belle to leave me some love. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Top 10 Items for Newborns :: A Guest Post from Katie

I am thrilled to have Katie from This Is My Life blog share her newborn experience with us today.  I LOVE a good post full of top items to use with baby. I also love hearing about other Moms' intuitions and experiences with popular products, and have learned about so many new items from reading through the advice of other Mommy's! 

Today, Katie is sharing her 'Top 10 Items for Newborn Babies' with us. Gavin and I already have a lot of these items, so I am anxious to find out if we will love them as much as she did!


Hello everyone! My name is Katie and I blog over at This Is My Life and pretty excited to be sharing my Top 10 Favorite items I used with my newborn while Pam is out snuggling baby Gavin.


Being a new mama, I did a lot of research on the best things out there for my daughter, the must-have items, the items to steer clear from, and the items that will help make your life a little easier. I wanted to share my top 10 items that I loved and would recommend to mama-to-be's.


My husband thought this was a waste of money, but Dakota loved it. She used it a lot when she was cutting her first few teeth. Plus, it helps with all of her senses in one way or another.


For the first almost 3 months of Dakota's life, she slept in this. I suffered from Postpartum Anxiety (& couldn't sleep in our room for the first month of D's life) and loved that I could put Dakota in this in any room & she would sleep. In fact, she even still used it up until her 1st birthday to hang out in while I showered. I know at one point there was a recall out there for this particular brand, but the idea of a sleeper/bassinet is what I love most.


As long as you have the matching carseat, your infant seat clicks right into this stroller. It sure makes it a lot easier and faster to transfer baby from the car to the stroller & inside. (And in Minnesota in the winter, getting inside quick is important!)


I love that it can be used as a swing, or just a bouncer. Plus it has a vibrating option for the bouncer that put Dakota right to sleep. 


You can use this one for 3 different stages. The infant stage, then you can take the netting part out and she is still elevated. Then another part where she can sit up. I was sad to see this tub go once she outgrew it. I loved the 3 different stages she could use it for. 


Dakota loved this the first time she tried it, even when she was too little for it. She still loves it, and I haven't even put batteries in it for it to make sound. Plus, it helps Mama be able to get a few things done around the house. Even at 15 months old she can still fit into it if I need/want to keep her contained for a couple of minutes.


Worth EVERY. SINGLE. PENNY. It may not be the prettiest thing, but it is a life saver. Before registering, we said it was a waste of money and we would use bags. I am glad we decided to buy this because it is really much easier to throw the diaper in there since its right next to our changing table. Dakota has had some stinky diapers & I have yet to smell it coming from the genie.



Lifesaver! I have been in situations where I felt bad putting a stinky diaper in someones garbage, in a public bathroom & these things are so darn handy. The scent is not over bearing, but just enough to cover up the stinkiest of diapers. Plus, just clips on to the outside of the diaper bag. 



This thing kept Dakota entertained for HOURS. There are so many things for baby to grab, and even a little mirror to look at themselves. First time she used it, she was so excited & got so much enjoyment out of it--she fell asleep. I also liked how you can take the arms off of it & they can lay there, or just roll around. The characters on it kept her entertained.



LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this!! I love that I can see how she is sleeping whenever I want to. It was a lifesaver once Dakota went into her crib. They have bigger screens, but the 2.8 inch screen is just fine for us. There are so many options with this too, it can play music & has an option for whoever is watching the monitor to talk to the baby. 


So there you have it. My top 10 baby items that are a must for new Mommies. Hope you found it helpful. Stop by This Is My Life and say hi & I would love to hear other items you think are a must that I may have forgotten.