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Mommy Mania

Mommy Mania

14 Weeks With LL2

April 5, 2019

How far along? 14 weeks
Baby is the size of a:  Lemon, House Mouse, Troll Doll
Total weight gain: None! Staying steady.
Maternity clothes? Just bought a pair of overalls and I’m a tid bit more pumped than I should be.

Stretch marks? No new ones!

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Baby Development: LL2’s kidneys are now producing urine! She is taking every ounce of protein I have to begin to build those muscles. Her immune system is beginning to develop, too! By now, she can make facial expressions and even suck her thumb!
Sleep:  Winifred has decided she missed her night feeding so we’re back to being up from 2-3, but other that that she sleeps like a champ. I’m still having vivid dreams and any caffeine after 6 greatly affects my ability to fall asleep quickly. Vivid dreams are still occurring.

Best moment this week: Got to hear a strong heartbeat this week (157)! Took the doctor about 10 minutes and it was the most terrifying part of either pregnancy. However, once he found it, it was the sweetest sound!

Movement: I have felt stronger “twitches” really low in my abdomen! Doc says within the next couple of weeks I’ll start to feel “no doubt about it” movements. Will can’t wait to feel!
Food cravings: Potato. Chips.
Miss Anything? Not this week, really. I actually had a lot more energy and felt very myself.

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Symptoms: Still getting headaches but they have definitely been more dull this week. My energy comes in spurts and fatigue hits quickly. I’ve been experiencing “Round Ligament Pain”, which was something new for me. When I step with my left foot I get a pinching feeling right below my belly button. The more I move, the better I feel! Also, I feel more nauseous than I did in the first trimester. Is that a thing?

Belly Button in or out? In.
Wedding rings on or off? Still hanging on! I don’t think these will last as long with this one though!

Mood? Up and Down energy. One minute I’m cleaning the house like a mad woman, the next I can’t keep my eyes open!

Winifred Update: Little Winnie J has developed quite the personality! She is so animated and loves loves loves to get kisses. She grew out of her baby tub and is taking sitting up baths now. She learned to splash around and loves getting the water dumped on her head. Bath time is our favorite time of day. Still no crawling but she’s working on it. Her favorite food this week was a beet, pomegranate puree! She’s learned to shake her head “No”. I don’t think she really knows what it means but she thinks it’s the best thing ever. She is eating like a CHAMP! Mostly purees to help her gain weight, but she picked up a strawberry and went to town!

 


Looking forward to: Feeling bigger kicks, warmer weekends, sleeping through the night and watching Tech win their game this Saturday!

 

Mommy Mania Organization

Natural Beauty

April 4, 2019

Before we started trying to conceive I tried to get our lives as natural as possible. I wanted our house to have the least amount of harmful chemicals while remaining realistic. The easiest to transform was out cleaning products, that will be another blog post. However, the most challenging and most rewarding transformation was my beauty routine! It was surprisingly fun to do research and try natural products to see what worked. I am by no means an expert, but here are the products I uses everyday in my beauty routine! I have two favorite companies (Acure Organics and Lush Cosmetics) and a few Etsy shops that provide the cleanest and semi-waste free beauty essentials.

For reference: I wash my face every night, rinse with cold water in the morning, exfoliate 2-3 days a week, moisturize night and day, reapply deodorant every 48 hours, and wash my hair twice a week. I also wear makeup 3-4 times a week.

Tip: I used a phone App called “Think Dirty” to assess the cleanliness of the products I tried. You scan the barcode of your products and it will give you a 1-10 rating of the chemicals used in the products, 1 being the least toxic. This was helpful for me to get the facts when so many products out there claim to be “all natural”.

Facewash- I think I tried the most brand/kinds of face wash. I have combination skin, oily T-Zone, dry cheeks. I wanted a cleanser that could get rid of my makeup and leave my face moisturized. This was apparently a lot to ask for from the natural world. Some just sat on my skin and didn’t get into my pores, or left me feeling way to dry. In the end, I found several that worked out very well. I switch between these based on what my skin is doing and what my budget is that month.

Lush– Lush has several cleansers that I LOVE. Herbalism is a clay-like cleanser that you mix with water to make a paste. I love this one during the summer when I don’t wear much makeup and my face gets a lot of sun. It is soothing, exfoliating, and leaves your skin feeling fresh. It’s on the more pricy side but lasts a really long time if you use it 2-3 times a week. Angels on Bare Skin is a more gentle exfoliant with almond and lavender. I love using this one in the winter when my skin is more dry. It leaves your skin feeling moisturized and super smooth. BONUS- These come in recycled/recyclable containers. When you collect five you can redeem them at any Lush store and get a free face mask. YAY less waste! 8/10 would recommend this brand.

Acure Organics– I. love. this. brand. You can get it on Amazon or Target, from what I’ve seen. This is an all natural brand with a TON of options for skin types and types of products. Everyone can find something they’re looking for. The Brightening Face Cleanser gel is amazing for the morning time. It has a citrus smell that wakes me up. It’s a gentle cleanser that lightly suds up and massages well into the skin. My face feels awake and ready for the day with this one. A little goes a long way, so it lasts for almost two months with me using it every morning. (It’s also on sale from Amazon for 6 dollars). The Radically Rejuvenating cream is a more moisturizing cleanser. I love using this one at night. I’ve found this one removes makeup well and leaves my skin feeling clean and ready for bed. (Also on sale for 7 dollars on Amazon).  They also have several other kinds like the Seriously Soothing cleansing cream and the Sensitive Skin cleanser! 10/10 would recommend this brand.

Burt’s Bees– I bought this brand in a pinch. While out of town, I needed a cleanser and snagged this one at HEB. You can also get it at Target, or on Burt’s Bees website. I’ve been using the Intense Hydration Cream in the morning and I love the way my makeup looks after using this cleanser. I would also recommend this cleanser at night with a toner. I’ve noticed some makeup left over after using it at night, but using a toner usually removes all the leftovers. 8/10 would recommend this brand (it’s 98% natural).

 

Moisturizers- Confession, I LOVE moisturizer. I admittedly use way too much and I’m not sorry. Again I have combination skin so I look for moisturizers that hydrate my skin without making my face look like I just stuck in in a vat of coconut oil, ya know? It’s a fine line.

Lush– I am obsessed with Skin Drink. Now, it is hella expensive in my opinion but soooooooo worth it if you can swing it. I asked for it for Christmas. This stuff is a miracle in a recyclable tub. If you can get past the smell (avocado, rose pedal oil, and aloe), your skin will thank you for this one. I love using it at night in the winter to give my skin a “drink” overnight. My skin feels like Winifred’s bum when I wake up and its amazing. 7/10 would recommend this product (huge price factor).

Acure Organics– This brand comes through again, y’all. They have a matching moisturizer for each of their cleanser types, plus a few. My favorite are the Brightening Day Cream and the Brightening Night Cream. They are GREAT for combination and oily skin. My skin absorbs the moisture without looking like a greaseball. The day cream also makes a great primer! This brand also offers an Incredibly Clear Matifying Moisturizer for oily or acne prone skin. 10/10 would recommend this brand.

 

Body and Face Exfoliants- This was the most intimidating product to test out. If you get the wrong one, it can damage your skin. You should only be exfoliating 2-3 times a week to reduce the risk of damaging your skin while getting rid of the dead skin. A good exfoliant should not leave your skin feeling desert dry or cause any pain.

Lush– My favorite is the Ocean Salt face and body scrub. I gentle scrub you can use all over that leaves you skin feeling fresh! I add a little more pressure when scrubbing my knees and elbows to really get that dead skin off. I use this before a spray tan to make sure it gets even! I love using this on my face in the summer to give myself a refreshed look. It also comes in a “self preserving” formula and in a recyclable tub!

Acure Organics- I use the Brightening facial scrub. Y’all this stuff is insanely good and only cost $7. A little goes a long way. I’ve been using the same tube for almost a year and I use it 2-3 times a week. It has tiny tiny exfoliant particles, so I don’t feel like I’m scrubbing my skin off. I love using this to hit the reset button in the middle of the week or when I feel like I’ve been wearing a lot of makeup and my skin needs a little something extra. This brand also has a Pore Minimizing scrub, and a Radically Rejuvenating scrub! 10/10 would recommend.

 

Toner- Never underestimate the power of a good toner. I use toner after I was my face and before my moisturizer. Toner helps remove any leftover makeup or oils on your skin. There are toners for all skin tones! I love switching up my toner based on the seasons or what my skin needs. It leaves my skin feeling refreshed and my pores tight.

Lush- Tea Tree Water is by far my favorite! I can use it in any season because it seams to balance the oils on my face no matter what. It’s an alcohol free toner, so it won’t leave your face feeling extra dry or too tight. It does a great job getting rid of the excess makeup my cleanser doesn’t quite get. It’s a great value for the price. I usually only use 3 or 4 sprays, and I use it 3 times a week. The 3.3 oz bottle will last me almost 3 months. Talk about the biggest bang for your buck. There is no real smell too it, either. PLUS, it’s packaging is recyclable and made with recycled materials. 9/10 would recommend! Breath of Fresh Air is PERFECT for the summer! It has aloe, sea water, and rose it in. I love using this after I’ve been to the pool to get that chlorine feel off my face. It truly is a breath of fresh air. It smells amazing and leaves your skin soothed and supple. Lush offers almost a dozen different toners based of what your skin type is and what it needs.  10/10 would recommend.

Toner Tip: I’ve found toner works best when I spray directly on my face and wipe it off with a cotton pad. However, in my efforts to have as little waste as possible, I looked into finding some reusable cotton pads to keep from throwing so many away! I found these wonderful cotton pads on Etsy! I bought the pack of 30 and have been using them for a year. I’ve used them with toner, makeup remover, and micellar water with no problems at all. I use one a day and just wash them at the end of the month. The quality is amazing and the makeup washes right out! They will most likely last for several more years.  10/10 would recommend.

*There’s always good ole Witch Hazel! This works wonderfully as a toner, is natural, is BOMB for helping heal, and won’t break your bank!

 

Shampoo- My view of shampoo has changed over the last few months and I’ve truly see the amazing results of having an organic shampoo. My hair is lighter in weight, it stays  cleaner longer, doesn’t have as much build up, and has way less frizz. I’ve found the truth in lather, rinse, repeat. That “repeat” part it SO important!

Lush- I have used several shampoos from Lush cosmetics and there wasn’t a single one that I didn’t LOVE. They offer such a wide variety for all hair types and hair goals. They offer no waste options and recyclable options. The ones I’ve tried are:

Fairly Traded Honey is everything it says!  A smooth and silky shampoo that gives your hair LIFE. If your hair is in need of some moisture and repair, this will be your jam! This is the shampoo I’ve used/bought the most times. 50% of the shampoo is honey and it shows! You really only need a quarter sized amount and it is self preserving, so the 8.4 oz bottle lasts for about 3 months depending on how often you use it. It is a bit pricy but for how amazing it is and how long it last, I think it’s worth it! 9/10 would recommend! Jersey Bounce is my summer go to! Jersey Bounce is perfect for when my greasy hair needs some volume without getting too dried out. It really helps me achieve a “just went to the beach look”. It comes in a recycled/recyclable jar, contains chunks of sea salt, smells lemony fresh and leaves your hair feeling like you just went to the salon! I wouldn’t recommend if you have super dry/fine/brittle hair because the salt my leave it feeling super dry. 7/10 would recommend. Godiva Shampoo Bar is the most waste free shampoo/conditioning bar that I have tried. Lush offers this empty tin to store it in and reuse! Y’all I think this one was my favorite. This tiny little shampoo bar lasted for almost 40 washes  (It would have lasted longer if I hadn’t left the tin open and got water in there). It also was SO moisturizing that I only needed a pea size amount of conditioner on the ends of my hair. 10/10 would recommend. Lush has dozens of other shampoo/shampoo bars to accommodate any and all hair types!

Acure Organics- Curiously Clarifying Shampoo with lemon grass and argan! I. LOVE. THIS. SHAMPOO. This was definitely made to lather, rinse, and repeat.  It really suds up on the second go round and you need less than a quarter sized amount. This bottle lasts a very long time! It leaves my hair feeling so light and super clean. Its VERY reasonably priced. The only draw back it its a lot of plastic! 8/10 would recommend. Acure has a ton different kinds of shampoo/conditioner, this is just the only one I’ve tried!

Conditioner- My hair gets weighed down by conditioner very easily, so I have to be careful about the kind of conditioner and how much I use! I usually just apply the conditioner on my ends, then run my fingers through my hair to spread a little to the roots. I make sure I rinse really well to prevent getting weighed down.

Lush- American Cream was the first one I tried and it took me a while to get used to a more natural conditioner. I was so used to the  heavy cream of Panteen, and it was weird to use a lighter one. American cream is more runny than any conditioner I’d ever used but worked 10 times better than any conditioner I’d ever used. Only needing a nickel sized amount, the 8.4 oz bottle lasted about 3 months. This one is worth the price for me! I’m obsessed with the strawberry, vanilla, citrus sent it gave my hair all day! 9/10 would recommend. “Big” Conditioner Bar– Once you go “Big” you never go back! Y’all, I bought this BEFORE WINIFRED WAS BORN and it’s still goin!!! This no waste conditioner can be stored in Lush’s Oval Tin for a long lasting product. This took me a while to get used to using the bar and not having something creamy to run through my fingers. The bar is not a detangler and that took some time to work around but the feeling of my hair when it dries is UNREAL. All I need to do is lather up the bar and run it over the ends of my hair. I let it sit while I shave my legs and rinse well for squeaky clean ends! This is my absolute MUST for a natural step to waste free beauty! 11/10 would recommend. Like their shampoos, Lush has more conditioners for you!

Acure Organics- Curiously Clarifying Conditioner is the sister to their shampoo. I do love that Acure has a matching shampoo/conditioner set for each kind they offer. I love using this creamy conditioner every once in a while to really moisturize all the way to my roots. I just have to be careful to use a small amount and rinse really well or my hair can be heavy and greasy when it dries. When I rinse it all out, my hair feels incredible! This is definitely an affordable option if you’re looking to make more natural steps! 8/10 would recommend.

Deodorant-  Lume. Y’ALL. This took me forever to find. I went through so many natural deodorants before I found the Holy Grail! I tried Native, Schmidt’s, ones from Etsy, and random ones from Amazon. They all either gave me a rash, stained my clothes with the oils, or just didn’t to anything at all! By happenstance, I heart the creator of Lume on a podcast I was listening too. She was so confident in her product that I thought I would give it a try. I’ve been using Lume for a year a a half and I could not be more happy with it. It took a while getting used to a deodorant and not an anti-persperant. It was weird sweating and not smelling, but I felt so much better! Being pregnant in West Texas during August was BRUTAL. My body took a couple weeks to adjust, but I’m so happy I stuck it out! Currently advocating for a more wast free option. 10/10 would recommend!

*Bonus Favorite Etsy Shop*  Sam Wish – Sam makes AMAZING oil blends, scrubs, deodorants, lip balms, and MORE!  Here are a few of my favorite of her products!

Organic Face Nectar– This stuff is actual GOLD. I’ve purchase the “Balancing” formula and it was sensational. It was an amazing makeup primer oil and also helped balance my oils at night. I used this the most in the summer as a replacement moisturizer. It really did an amazing job making me feel fresh and balancing my skin!

Lavender and Grapefruit Lip Balm– Let me tell ya, I’ve been addicted to chapstick since being on accutane my sophomore year of high school. I’ve had to have a tube every where I go and in every jacket pocket, car cupholder, and room in the house. With Sam’s lip balm, it’s all I need. I applied it before bed and didn’t need it again until the afternoon! Talk about getting your bang for your buck! It smells incredible and lasts a long time!

11/10 would recommend her shop and anything she offers!

WHEW! Bonus points for you if you made it this far! I think we should all be mindful of the products we put on our bodies and where they come from. Making moves toward a natural and “less waste” house has been a long process full of trial, error, and being ok with making small moves. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions or tips on living a more natural life!

 

 

Mommy Mania

Week 13 with LL2

March 29, 2019

This week, we’ve really tried to focus on spending the most quality time with Winifred. Will and I found that, on weekdays, our evenings were a complete whirlwind. Almost to the point of not speaking to one another until after Winifred was asleep. We would get home, bounce/play/read, dinner, bath, story, bottle, song, bed, whew. We realized how much of Winnie’s life and development we were just kind of skimming through, so we made a deal. It’s kind of embarrassing how simple and logical it was but I didn’t realize the effects it had until we did it. We turned off the TV and put away our phones until Winnie was in bed. If you know me, you know I watch the same 5 shows on repeat (Friends, The Office, Parks and Rec, Gilmore Girls, and New Girl). They are always on in the background no matter what. I love listening to something familiar when I’m around the house or working. However, I didn’t realize what that was doing to my communication skills with Winifred and my husband. Turning the TV off gave Winnie a voice! I think with all the excess noise gone, she could finally get a word in! She’s been blabbing all week long! This weekend was especially sweet, spending intense quality time with the people I love the most.

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I have much more energy this week and my belly has already popped (muscle memory right?!). Here is a little peak into our week and the life of LL2!

How far along? 13 weeks
Baby is the size of a:  Jalapeno, Matchbox car, clown fish
Total weight gain: -5 lbs. When I was pregnant with Winnie I lost about 20lbs in the first trimester, so I’m relieved I’ve only lost this much.
Maternity clothes? Oh. Yes. I put those suckers on at 10 weeks. Why aren’t maternity pants socially acceptable to wear at all times??
Stretch marks? No new ones!
Sleep:  The freaky dreams are REAL y’all. I have the most vivid and long dreams every night. They last all night and continue even if I wake up and go back to sleep. People I barely know or haven’t talked to in years are usually the star of my dreams and it freaks me out every time! Winifred still wakes up once a night for her night feeding/diaper change but that only takes 15-20 minutes around 2:00AM. We did the Farber Method (a nurturing version of cry it out) and I’m so thankful we did. Winnie was very ready to put herself to sleep and it took her less than 2 nights to master. Now, she takes 2+ hour naps and sleeps 12+ hours at night. This mama is #blessed.
Best moment this week: IT’S A GIRL AND WE PICKED A NAME! We’ve told some people but haven’t decided if/when we’ll announce her name.

Movement: I have felt teeny tiny flutters and it makes my heart so happy. The first trimester is the hardest because there is no real way to know how baby is doing in there. I love those first little twitches.
Food cravings: carbs carbs carbs carbs carbs. FRUIT; pineapple, apples, grapes. Popsicles.
Miss Anything? WINE. In the first few weeks I struggled with not being able to drink alcohol. Not that I drank much before, I just felt like I got robbed. I went from being pregnant to breastfeeding to pregnant again and only had 1 sweet month of freedom to drink whatever I wanted. Luckily, my bestie got me non-alcoholic wine for my birthday and that had sufficed.
Symptoms: This pregnancy is already so different from my first. With Winnie I was just nauseous 24/7 and couldn’t eat anything. With LL2 I began to have really intense upper abdominal pain during and after eating. After going to the doctor and getting an ultrasound, they discovered I had “sludge” in my gall bladder causing my pain. I’ve now been put on a super bland, super low fat, high fiber diet, which is just great when all you want is carbs. I’ve also been blessed with the first trimester migraines that hit at 3-4 PM everyday. Some days are worse than others and Winifred keeps me plenty distracted!
Belly Button in or out? In.
Wedding rings on or off? After Winifred my knuckles grew? Didn’t know that was a thing. The swelling went away but my original rings wouldn’t fit over my knuckles. So, I ordered a simple set from “Go-Rings” and they’re still going strong. I’ll probably get my original ones resized after LL2.
Mood? Emotional! Everything makes me tear up.
Looking forward to: Winifred crawling, feeling bigger kicks from LL2, hearing her heartbeat next week!

 

Mommy Mania

And Then There Were Four

March 26, 2019

Uh oh.

I looked down and saw a completely full cup of coffee on my desk. It was 11:00am and I was usually on my second. My stomach sank as the first thing that popped into my head was a little voice, “Ummm, that’s what happened when you were pregnant with Winnie….”. I shook it off and blamed the coffee aversion on the killer allergy attack I was enduring.  Later that night, we ordered Chinese food from the best place in town. I’d been thinking about it all day and couldn’t wait to dive in.  I took one bite and almost spit it out — it tasted unbelievably salty. “Girl, stop”, that little voice said (is anyone else’s inner voice a little condescending?) “This is another sign.” I refused to entertain the thought. Winnie was 5 months old, this could not really be happening. When, in all reality, it very well could have been happening. I expressed my musings to Will and he gave me a look, a look that said “I think you’re pregnant.” No. No, no, no. I came up with a million other reasons for the things happening to my body. Maybe it’s because I just stopped breastfeeding and my hormones are leveling out. Maybe I’m getting my period back and my body forgot what that was like. Maybe it’s the allergies.

Or,

maybe I was growing ANOTHER tiny human. We decided to wait a week to take a test, partly waiting for my body to get it together and partly out of sheer terror.

On February 1, 2019 at 4:00am Winnie woke up to eat and Will went to grab her. It was as good a time as any to take the test. Will came in with the baby and waited the longest 3 minutes ever with me. I took the digital test because I didn’t want any of the “faint line, maybe baby” bull crap going on. Every thirty seconds, I leaned over to see a blinking clock, taunting me. “I can’t look anymore!!” I shouted with impatient frustration. Will leaned over, closed his eyes, and clutched Winnie. For a second, I thought he saw a “-No” and was relieved. Then, I saw the tear roll down his cheek. I lunged for the test and saw a big, clear “+Yes” starring me right in the face. My hand slammed into my mouth in disbelief. Will and I just looked at each other for a good 2 minutes. I crumbled to the floor.

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This was such a different feeling than when we found out we were pregnant with Winnie. This was several feelings. We were confused, shocked, scared, overwhelmed, and a little distraught. I burst into tears as a wave of guilt rushed over me. I just found out another life is inside of me, shouldn’t I be excited? After all we went through to get pregnant with Winnie, shouldn’t I be grateful to not have to go through that again? People I know are fighting with everything they have to get pregnant, shouldn’t I be happy? I should have been, but I wasn’t. I was terrified, selfishly terrified. I had JUST done this, I was just getting my body back, we were just getting into our groove as a family, how could we possibly do this? TWO INFANTS??

The negative thoughts spiraled as I lay in a ball of tears on the floor. How were we going to afford this? We couldn’t possibly pay for two kids in daycare. What will my body be like after two babies in two years? I had just started seriously working out again. How could I handle this? For some reason, the idea of two infants and a full time job seemed impossible.Will this negatively affect Winifred? She has barely had time with us to herself! I told myself to take a breath, women do this EVERYDAY. I’m not the first person in the world in this scenario. Everything seems overwhelming at 4 in the morning with lack of sleep.

(Note to self: stop taking the freaking pregnancy tests so freaking early!)

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As my mind came to a pause, I realized that Will hadn’t said anything in about 15 minutes. I looked up to see him clutching Winifred, tears rolling down his face. “Why are YOU crying?” I asked. “Babe,” He breathed, “we’re never going to sleep ever again”. I couldn’t help it, a giggle busted from my belly. He was absolutely right. For the foreseeable future, it looked like the “Sleep-Deprived-Zombie-Parent” was going to be our signature look.

Will joined in the hysteria and the laughing continued as we stared at our perfect baby in his arms. This was ridiculous. How was this real life? Even in all the confusion two of those babies didn’t seem so bad. We were surviving with one, why not just add one more to the circus?? We already had allllllll the baby things still out (shout out to our procrastination in packing things up). The nursery was already gender neutral, so even if it was a boy we were covered! We decided not to freak out just yet. We crawled into bed with Winifred and soaked in the morning snuggles before Will went to work.

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The rest of the day was a mix of tears, laughter, and “OMG” texts as we came to accept what our future looked like. I felt guilty for not being as excited as I was for Winifred. I couldn’t take that moment back, it was real and raw and true. In the weeks following, the excitement grew. We became so thrilled for Winifred to be a big sister. Picturing the complete mess of love our life was about to become was so much fun!

Now, we could not picture our life without the little toy soldier in my belly. We found out the gender and can’t wait to bring another Baby GIRL Lou into the world.

Was this our plan? Absolutely not. But, you know what they say. “Make a plan and God laughs”. Well, Big Guy, I’m hoping you got a real kick out of this one!

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Mommy Mania

Are you breastfeeding?

December 11, 2018

For some reason, “Are you breastfeeding?” is one of the most common questions a new mom gets asked. I’m sure it’s just people making conversation or they are genuinely curious about how baby is being fed. Most of the time though, it doesn’t come from a place of judgment. However, there is a certain weight that comes with that question. There’s a back story, a complicated answer, or a hesitation around it. An invisible sign surrounds breastfeeding, cautioning people to tiptoe around the subject at the risk of offending one party or the other. Some moms are proud out loud, others are private. Some moms choose different paths to feed their babies while others try desperately to breastfeed. I’m no expert on this matter by any means, but I’d like to share my journey to feed my kid.

*Disclaimer* HOWEVER A MOTHER FEEDS HER BABY IS PERFECTLY WONDERFUL.

Winnie came out of me searching for the breast. She latched like a champ and immediately started eating. That was incredible. Looking down at my baby, who was minutes old, already knowing how to survive was astounding to me. I was in awe of the fact that our bodies knew what they needed to do without me having to do anything at all. It was truly a magical connection. The sudden release of Oxytocin didn’t suck either. The nurse came in and said “Wow, what a latch! She’s a pro already! You guys look great!”. That boosted my ego a little. I’d only been a mom for like 3 minutes and I was already killin it! *Self-High-Five*

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Welp. The magic pretty much came to a screeching halt after that. The glimmer of peace was rudely interrupted by reality.  The whole process became a messy wreck of a giant stress ball. Let me explain.

We were transported to the postpartum room and immediately greeted by a lovely lactation specialist who asked if we had any questions about breastfeeding. “No thanks,” I thought, “I’m actually already a beast at this thing”, but I smiled and said “I think we got it so far!” She dipped her head and left the room.

Winnie seemed to prefer one side, so I didn’t fix what wasn’t broke. I fed her from that side that night. Well, the obvious happened and my other breast got GINORMOUS and insanely painful. I tried to feed Winnie from the other side and she was having none of it. She didn’t like her head tilted that way and she just could not latch; it’s like my nipple was invisible. About an hour later, another lactation specialist came in and asked if she could help with anything. “Nope!, ” said me and my prideful self, “We’re good!”.  “Show me,” she responded. That caught me off guard. Why didn’t she believe that I had it under control? I’m the mom, I got this (I in fact did not have this). I had Winnie drink from the good side to show her. “Now the other side,” she said. Part of me was pissed she was questioning me, part of me was prideful, but most of me was relieved because I knew I needed help. Thank goodness for pushy lactation consultants who can take one look at your engorged boob and call you on your crap lie.

All I had to do was undo my nursing tank on that side “Ope! Looks like we have ourselves a flat nipple!”.  That’s a thing?? Apparently. My heart sank; I didn’t know what that meant for breastfeeding. Then, she whips out this handy dandy nipple shield, a nifty contraption that pulls the nipple out so the baby can latch. It’s a rubber cover that makes your nipple (how many times can I say the word nipple?) look and feel like a bottle. This thing was amazing; easy to put on, and allowed Winnie to nurse from that side. A wave of relief hit me. “Ok, that’s not too bad. I can do that!”. The following day, the lactation specialist continued to coach us on the different holding positions and reiterating how important it was for her to eat from both sides. She made me feel confident but, in the back of my mind, I was very scared about doing it by myself. Right now it took 4-6 hands to make it happened. One person to help prop me up (ow!), one person to hand me the baby, and one person to help adjust pillows as I put on the nipple shield. I mean this was an all out production. William and my mom were so helpful. That made me a little more comfortable. But what would happen when they left…..and it was just me? I pushed that to the back of my mind.

The weeks that followed were a milky mess. My milk came in with a vengeance, painfully and quickly. The heating pad was my best friend as I tried to massage out the hard pebble-like lumps forming in my breasts.  Winnie wasn’t an eater, she was a grazer; only wanting to eat for a few minutes every hour on the hour. This meant I couldn’t pump until I was sure she was full. Which turned into a very painful day.  It also didn’t make sense to clean up when she would want to eat all the time, so I hung out in a nursing bra 24/7. Once we got into a routine, I had to pump every two hours to keep from becoming engorged. I don’t know if you’ve ever lived your life in 2 hour increments, but it’s exhausting and hella inconvenient. Along with being a grazer, Winifred is a thrasher. She could not control her arms while feeding. This lead to the nipple shield being knocked off and milk going everywhere. I was overwhelmed and frustrated. Waking up to feed every hour was insane and I felt like a cow and a zombie at the same time.

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The Dark Thoughts crept in when I was feeling overwhelmed. I didn’t want to do this anymore…..It was not even a little bit as magical as people promised me it would be. How do women do this for a whole year?? I wanted to bail after 2 weeks. What was wrong with me? “You can do this”, I thought. “Most women would kill to have the supply you have! Don’t be a baby. Just figure it out.” I argued with myself daily, feeling so ashamed. I thought it was going to be easier. I didn’t know how incredibly difficult it would be. Most of all, I felt guilty. Isn’t the breast best? Shouldn’t I want to do this? Why is this not magical? Am I the only one who just can’t figure this out?

When Winnie was 2 weeks old, I’d had it. I thought I was going to explode. Sitting on the couch with my mom, tears filling my eyes I asked “Mom, would it be the worst thing if I pumped and fed Winnie with a bottle?” She starred at me and said “Of course not, you can feed her how ever you want to. You don’t even have to pump if you don’t want to. She’s your baby!” I burst into tears from relief. “That what I want to do”. I felt like I could handle pumping. I was #blessed with an amazing supply and I wanted to use it. I just needed more control.

Giving Winnie that first bottle WAS magical. I finally felt what everyone was talking about. I got to sit belly to belly with my baby and look into her eyes as she fed. We connected. It was what I’d always dreamed of. I felt a sense of pride that I had made a decision that was best for me and my baby. Like I had earned my first mommy merit badge. I liked it. We found our magic differently, but it was there.

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It’s hard to explain Exclusively Pumping to people; that you have a good supply but you just don’t feed from the breast, but that’s ok. It’s our normal and it’s what works for us. I applaud moms who do what is best for them and their babies. Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do?

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Full disclosure: We are still exclusively pumping but my supply is diminishing. Right now, I have one working breast that supplies 5-7 oz., and one breast that has dried up (I call them Pancake and Boulder). It’s not ideal but it’s reality. We will probably supplement with formula and start solids when my freezer supply runs out. AND THAT’S OK! Winnie will eat, grow, and be happy. I’m so happy with my choice to exclusively pump. William can bond with Winnie while feeding her and my anxiety has been severely reduced. I’m thankful for my parents and William’s encouragement and support when I felt like quitting. They knew how important it was to me and they were a HUGE part in me getting over the “pump hump”.

So, moms, you’re going to be asked that question. “Are you breastfeeding?” Its inevitable.  What if instead of being defensive, embarrassed, or offended, we answer with confidence! However your little love is being fed is right! WE ARE MOMS! WE know whats best for ourselves and our babies! WE are keeping the tiny human alive whatever way we can. Isn’t THAT all that matters?

In my humble opinion, I think you’re all killin it.

Mommy Mania Teacher Tales

To All the Moms I’ve Judged Before

November 18, 2018

First, all moms are superheroes.  It doesn’t matter how you became a mom; adoption, fostering, natural birth, C-section, planned, or unplanned. You are a superhero. It doesn’t matter if you are a stay at home mom, working mom, homeschooling mom, or room mom. You are a superhero.

This is a letter to working moms, specifically, teacher moms.

For three years, I secretly assumed and judged things I didn’t understand. My heart was hardened toward coworkers I thought weren’t giving their all to their job. I didn’t understand their lives and where their hearts were. “I’ll never be like that,” I thought, “I’ll be able to do it all when it comes time”. WELP. Here I am y’all; I’m on my knees begging you to forgive the judgments I’d placed on you. I was fifty shades of WRONG.

I thought coming back to work would be easy.  I believed that I could compartmentalize my heart and mind to be the best teacher I could be, then pick up my baby and be “mommy does it all”. LOL. Like my life would be the exact same with a tiny human in it?

I didn’t understand how a heart can be torn so completely in two. I didn’t understand that as soon as a little life is in your world, everything else comes second without you even thinking about it.  Here is my “I’m sorry”.

I’m sorry I didn’t understand. Lots of moms are late to work. I used to think “Oh my goodness, just wake up 10 minutes earlier”. Now I know, it doesn’t matter how early you wake up. When your kid takes 30 minutes to finish her bottle or has a major blowout on your way out the door, your timeline is screwed.  You weren’t lazy, you were being a mom. So much of motherhood is out of our control, and I’m sorry I didn’t understand that.

I’m sorry I questioned your commitments. When the fall festival or Christmas carnival came around and you didn’t jump at the opportunity to volunteer your time or money, I would wonder why these events weren’t more important to you. I didn’t know that these events fell at bedtime and having a routine is super important for a family, especially when you have to be functional the next day. I didn’t realize how much diapers, clothes, and baby things cost. No wonder your forehead wrinkled every time it came time to donate money to another staff member’s birthday or event. The most important thing was providing for your family, not buying donuts or balloons for another event.

I’m sorry I didn’t think that you had room in your heart for students and your kids. Before I had Winifred, my students were my whole life. I thought they were “my kids” and I couldn’t imagine what would happen when I had a kid of my own. How could I love my students AND my baby as much as I wanted to? Teacher moms, you do it every day.  Your heart was twice as big as mine. You learned to love you students and give them what they needed, then go home and love your own children with a fierceness I never knew of. That takes the most gentle and brave of women, to show nothing but compassion and love all day long. To “deal” with children during the school day and go home to MORE children was something I didn’t think I could handle. You guys showed me how to do that with such grace. Thank you.

I’m sorry I didn’t know how valuable your weekends were!! When you didn’t want to take work home or didn’t answer our teacher texts on the weekends, I was confused. “Your baby naps right?”, “Don’t you want your lessons to be cute and engaging”. These are the thoughts that would go through my mind. I didn’t understand that every moment of the weekend is precious with your baby on the weekends. You want to soak in each second you can spend with your child while you aren’t at work. Bringing work home is something you just don’t want to do when you have a beautiful baby to stare at! Your lessons are just as engaging with or without the cutesy-ness. Also naps, what are those?? LOL.

I didn’t understand how incredibly hardworking and strong you are.  I didn’t understand that you were SO tired and overwhelmed, but you came to work anyway, ready to rock and roll. I didn’t understand how easy it was to put your baby first and to follow your mother’s intuition. I didn’t understand how huge your heart had to be and how stretched thin you must have been.

I have learned my lesson in the most humbling of ways. You have NO clue what another mother is going through or what she is doing to take care of her baby. We are all moms and we’re all just trying to do our best. I pinky promise, I will never again judge another mother in a situation I know nothing about.
So, to all the moms I’ve judged before: thank you for showing me what being a superhero looks like.

 

 

 

Mommy Mania Organization

My 10 New Mommy Must-Haves

November 3, 2018

This isn’t a news flash, but being a new mom is hard. It’s beautiful, wonderful, and down right difficult. Babies don’t need a lot but they “need” a lot, if you catch my drift. In my 2 whole months of being a mom, I’ve found myself saying “Oh my gosh, I’m so glad we have_________”.  So, here’s a quick list of the 10 things that have saved my new mommy behind.

  1. DockATot – Holy guacamole this has been the greatest thing. This is what we’ve had Winnie sleep in since she was about 2 weeks old. The DockATot is a cosleeper that gave me peace of mind (told myself we wouldn’t cosleep, LOL). She sleeps in it next to me and I know that I won’t roll over on top of her. The DockATot has also made her transition to daycare much smoother. It is small enough to travel with back and forth, so she is comfortable at daycare. These are a bit expensive BUT TOTALLY WORTH IT. I got mine on sale with Zulily and I see them on FaceBook markets often.aYAzEie6Sy67TLQv89zPXg
  2. Milk Saver– I found that when I was breastfeeding or pumping one breast at a time, the other breast would leak. I hated seeing that milk go to waste in a breast pad. Enter the milk saver! A genius invention to help you save every drop of your liquid gold! I’ve seen several kinds used; Amazon has tons of options.
  3. The Pocket Nanny– A devise that tracks feedings, pumping, diaper changes, and more.  This was an absolute lifesaver for the first 4 weeks or so when your brain is absolute mush. We liked using this better than the apps because when Will and I traded in the middle of the night, we knew the baby’s stats. This wasn’t even on my registry. It was a gift from another new mom who knew of it’s magic!
  4. Moby Wrap– A must-have if you’d like to get anything done during the first 6 weeks. It’s the perfect way to combine productivity and cuddles. Winnie loved to be close to me, and I loved having my hands free!IMG_2725
  5. Something patterned next to the changing table– Ok, this may sound weird but bear with me.  Babies are wiggle monsters when they get on the table, it’s a proven fact. Our saving grace has been this black and white tapestry we hung next to her changing table. The patterns and contrast stimulate her eyes and brain, while allowing a swift diaper change.
  6. Pajamas with built in mittens– Another completely genius idea. Winnie doesn’t always like to be swaddled but her arms flail constantly while sleeping. We found these Cloud Nine Pajamas from Target that have the mittens folded onto the sleeves. When it’s time for bed, you can just fold the tops of the sleeves over. Boom. Mittens.
  7. Sound Machine– Another thing I swore I wouldn’t use. Well, here we are. When Winnie was a newborn, she loved the “heartbeat” option. Now, we just use the white noise to help us both get more sleep.
  8. Bubba Keg– This 54 oz. beauty was a huge help with breast-feeding thirst. I knew I needed to drink 2 of them a day to help keep my supply up. The fact that it was so big helped because I didn’t have to refill the bottle every 30 minutes.IMG_7575
  9. Plexus Joyome– Yes, I sell it. However, I cannot begin to describe how much this helped the skin on my belly. I have stretched out skin at the front of my belly that was killing my self esteem. I put the Joyome on my belly morning and night. After about 3 weeks, the scars went from purple to pale, my skin felt tighter, and it keeps getting better. I’m super impressed with this skin care product!
  10. A Good Cabernet– Because wine is good.

 

*BONUS* All. The. Boppy. Pillows.

Mommy Mania

1 in 4

October 23, 2018

This week was infant and pregnancy loss awareness week and, to be honest, it was hard to focus on anything else.

Some of you may know that Will and I lost a baby on the 4th of July 2016. However, I’ve never actually sat down to write about that loss or the struggles we experienced in conceiving Winifred. I’d like to do that now. *some of this might be triggering if you’ve experienced a miscarriage*

The summer of 2016 was sweet. I had just finished up my first year of teaching, we celebrated our first anniversary, and I was about to stand next to my sister as she married the man of her dreams. It was wonderful. I was home in Houston, helping prepare for all the wedding festivities, when I realized I was late for my period. I figured it was probably from all the stress of my sister’s wedding, so I tried to not think too much about it. A few days went by and I confided in my sister what was happening. She said, “Oh boy, are we about to be in a Rachel and Monica situation?”. I laughed, thinking how extremely unlikely it was that I would be pregnant. Although, in reality, it was extremely LIKELY that I was pregnant. Will and I were doing nothing to prevent it, I was just in denial.

Being a mom was something I’d always wanted! I could picture myself with kids, a million of them. I couldn’t wait to experience motherhood and all that it entailed. So, why was I so terrified? Will and I had been married for a year, we both had amazing jobs, and we were deliriously happy. Wouldn’t this just be the icing on the cake? It was time to to know for sure if I was going to be a mom or just freaking myself out. My sister and I snuck off to buy pregnancy tests, smuggling them back into our parents’ house. I waited until the next morning to take it, per the mommy blogs’ instructions. The test was negative. “I’m sorry, what?”, I thought. How could that be possible?? I was 12 days late, and I was NEVER late. Maybe I really was just stressed. I tried to just focus on my sister’s wedding, but something inside me felt so off.

For the next three days I took a test every morning. Negative. Frustration kicked in as I looked at negative test after negative test. What the actual heck? My boobs were sore, I was exhausted, and the smell of food made me absolutely sick. Was I having an hysterical pregnancy? Was I really just THAT stressed? Am I just insane? All possible explanations.

On July 1st, 2016 at 4:00am my whole world stopped. “Pregnant 1-2 weeks” popped up on a ClearBlue Digital. I dropped the test and fell to my knees on my childhood bathroom floor. For about 20 minutes I sat in shock as the weight of this news enveloped me. Then, I burst into happy tears. Was this the plan? No. Was I ready? No. Was this the happiest I’d ever been? Yes. There was a little life inside of me, planned or not. My dream was coming true. I was going to be a mommy and Will was going to be a daddy.

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I was exploding with emotion. Will wasn’t in town yet and because my sister, Rachel, was the only one that new of my “lateness”, I sprinted into her room. (Keep in mind that it’s 4:30am) I jumped on her bed grinning ear to ear. Rachel, shocked from my abrupt entrance, sits up groggily and asked what the hell was going on. All I could do was hold the test about an inch from her face whispering “LOOK!”. She grabbed her glasses and tried to focus on what it was. When she realized what she was looking at she says, “Are you freaking serious??”, and we both just laughed. This would be the biggest secret we would both ever keep. It was, after all, the day before her wedding!! I couldn’t wait for Will to come into town, and I decided to wait until Rachel’s wedding was over to tell him.

Rachel’s wedding was absolutely perfect. She was the most beautiful bride on the planet and joy filled the day! When Will and I got back to my parents’ house, I told him I had a little present for him and handed him a tiny box. He opened the box to find a tiny green pacifier with a piece of paper saying “Baby Lou coming soon!”. What happened next makes my heart twist when I think about it today. Will looked at me with tear filled eyes, said “Babe…are you serious?” and pulled me into the biggest hug. We laughed, we happy cried, and we laughed again. I’m gonna tell you right now, there are few moments that have made me happier than seeing his face when he found out he was going to be a father. Will and I decided to tell my parents that night. According to my calculations I was about 5 or 6 weeks along. I know that was before it’s truly safe to tell people, but we wouldn’t see our families again until Thanksgiving, and we wanted to tell them in person. So, we packed up the pacifier and walked downstairs.

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Now remember, my parents had literally JUST got home from their daughter’s wedding and were more than exhausted. Still, as in shock as they were, they joined in our joy of the life that was coming! The next day, we told Will’s family during his father’s birthday dinner. Will’s brother and his family were there, which made the announcement all the more special. We were over the moon to have both of our families praying over this baby. During the next 24 hours we went into baby hyper drive!  I downloaded all the baby apps, we tried out baby names, and dreamed of what would become of this little life. We both KNEW it was a girl. On the app, I learned that at 4 weeks, the baby is the size of a poppy seed. “Poppy” I said, “What a cute name”. It stuck. We referred to the baby as Poppy, it was perfect.

On the morning of the 4th of July, Will rolled over and kissed my belly. “Good Morning, Poppy”, he whispered. I wanted to stay in that moment forever, everything was like a dream, but the 4th of July party my parents were throwing required all hands on deck. I went to the bathroom to get ready for the day and felt sick. “Morning sickness”, I thought, weirdly excited. I sat on the toilet and saw blood. Bright red, thick, and lots of it. I called to Will and he came running. I showed him and we both just starred at each other, unsure and surprised. “Go get my mom”, I said as tears rolled down my face. The cramping started as my mom climbed the stairs. “Mom, I think I’m having a miscarriage” I said between sobs. She looked at the blood and nodded. “Why don’t you get in the shower”, she said, hugging me. I obeyed. A dark feeling came over me as I watched the blood go down the drain.  My whole body felt heavy as the water pounded my back. This wasn’t real, this wasn’t happening. We’d made plans, we had names picked out, we WANTED this baby. I crumpled in the shower, sobbing. My thoughts were racing, wondering what I had done wrong or what I could have done to save the baby. I begged God for this not to be real. I pleaded with Jesus to make another miracle and keep this baby alive. I knew my prayers were futile in that moment, but I had to try.

The hours following, Will and I just laid in bed and held each other. My parents’ party had started but we stayed upstairs. My cramping had worsened and I just wanted to be in bed. Will left to tell his family about the loss. I hate that he had to go there by himself, I can’t imagine how lonely that must have been for him. We had just told his family not even 24 hours ago. A part of me felt guilty, like we were taking away a present we had given to our families. When my parents’ party started my cousin and my friend’s mom (who are both Labor and Delivery nurses) came to comfort me. They were saying all the right things, but I couldn’t hear them. All I could think about was my dreams crashing down.  When Will came back, we decided to join the party and do our best to be ok. As hard as it was, being around people we loved most really helped our hearts.

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It took a very long time for me to feel like myself again. It was like a little piece of me left with the baby.  I was only 5-6 weeks along and I’d only known about Poppy for 4 days but it felt like a lifetime. It changed me. I started to feel ridiculous. There were women who had been much farther along than me and lost their actual babies. There were women who had carried to term and had a still birth. Did I really have a right to grieve as much as I was? I resisted sharing with people at the risk of being dramatic. The pain was still so real. I felt alone, vulnerable, and miserable. I felt stuck.  The doctors said it was safe to try again next month, but we weren’t ready. Our hearts weren’t ready and, to be quite honest, I was terrified to try.

“At least you know you CAN get pregnant.”
“There was something just wrong with the chromosomes.”
“This is more common than you think.”
“Everything happens for a reason.”

All things said out of the most sincere of places, but none of them helped. I wanted my baby back in my belly.

Fast forward to 2017. Will and decided for real that we would start trying and I was still terrified. What if I lost another one? What if it’s still born? What if my body can’t do the one thing that a woman’s body is suppose to do? I prayed a lot through those fears during this process but it never got easier, I just had to trust in a God that gives and takes away.

In September of 2017, I found myself looking at the faintest of second pink lines on a First Response Test. I was overwhelmed with hope! I’d become obsessed with tracking my cycle and testing 5 days before I was scheduled to start my period. We’d really wanted to get pregnant in September so I could have the baby right when school was getting out. You know what they say about making plans right? I showed Will the test. Naturally, he was unsure about the validity of the faint pink line, but every app says that a line is a line. My eggo was preggo. To be safe, I took a test again the next day. To my joy, the second line was still there! Experience told me to hold my breath and wait for the other shoe to drop. It did. 3 Days later, I was bleeding. This was my first “Chemical Pregnancy”. To my knowledge, a chemical pregnancy is when the egg gets fertilized but doesn’t implant in the uterine wall. Your body starts making hormones to prepare for a baby (hence the positive test) but the pregnancy doesn’t “stick”. Most of me was numb and extremely disappointed. We’d been trying for a while and this was my first glimmer of hope. Will and I took some breaths and held each other. Will said that we could try again but I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know how I’d get through this season of life with my heart still in tact. To be honest, I didn’t.

I had my second Chemical in October. This time, I was furious. I was furious at God for treating my fertility like a yo-yo, dangling it in front of me and snapping it back up. He and I had several rough conversations over the course of that month. I gave in.  I stopped tracking my ovulation and stopped the test strips. I focused on my relationship with Will and we started researching the process of becoming foster parents.

In December 2017, I found myself late again. I refused to test, waiting for the inevitable. It never came. I could feel my body starting to change and I was full on freaking out. On December 15th at 4:32 in the morning another First Response told me there was DEFINITELY a baby in my belly. The second line was so dark that it pulled the dye from the control line. I’d never had a test THAT positive. I burst out of the bathroom and ran to our room hysterically crying. Poor Will was so confused as I shoved the test in his face. “Are you happy?” He asked. I told him that I was unbelievably happy, but what I didn’t tell him was how unbelievably scared I was at the same time. I didn’t think my heart could handle another loss. I prayed with all of my heart for this bean to stick for good.

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And stick she did. Winifred joined us 9 months later, perfectly healthy.

This pregnancy was not perfect, it was scarred. My heart had scars from the losses. I didn’t let myself get attached to her until about 25 weeks. It’s something I feel guilty about to this day. I would feel her move and kick but I wouldn’t let myself picture a future for my child until we were in the “viability zone” of the pregnancy. I put walls up because of the pain I’d experienced before her. I’m not proud of that but it’s what my brain had to do to cope with the anxiety. I’m not sure if those scars will heal or if they’ll affect my next pregnancy (God willing there is one). But I do know that I’m sitting here starring at the most perfect child and my heart is so so happy.

I still grieve for my babies in little ways. I got a P. tattooed on my arm to remind me of Poppy and to pray for our little lives in heaven. I know that one day we will all be together as a family one day.

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Losing a baby is hard, no matter how far along you are. It was difficult. I’ll tell you what, though. Sweeping my feelings under the rug didn’t make feel better. Trying to hide my grief didn’t make me feel better. Talking about it made me feel better. Letting myself feel my feelings made me feel better. Sharing my experiences made me feel better. So, if you’re going through this, talk about it. If you know someone who is going through this, don’t use a cliche phrase to try and comfort them. Just let them feel their feelings and be there for them. It takes a village.

 

 

Mommy Mania Teacher Tales

So, I Went Back to Work.

October 14, 2018

My first official day back at school was supposed to be October 11th. However, the kids didn’t have school on Monday, so I went back on the 8th to get my classroom ready for my return. I felt like I was prepared for the mess I would encounter when I went back. The few times I visited school to show off Winnie, everyone would tell me to not even look in my room and to enjoy my time without stressing about it. Every time I talked to my coworkers they told me it was bad but to put it out of my mind until it was time for me to come back. I listened, they were absolutely right. No matter how bad it was, there was nothing I could do until I came back. I didn’t look in my room and tried to come to terms with the fact that it was going to be a disaster. I was grateful for coworkers who were supportive of me taking full advantage of my leave. Nothing could have prepared me for what I would walk in to.

When I went in on Monday, I was in shock. It looked like an actual tornado had gone through my room.  Pencils, paper, erasers, book pages, crayons, markers, scissors, and chairs were strewn about the room. Worksheets were spilling out of every mailbox and cubbie. Student’s pencil boxes (which I had purchased and filled with supplies) were broken and covered with glue and markers. My teacher materials had been stolen or broken. I couldn’t believe it. Then, I saw my library and Fun Friday activities. Books, games, toys, and activities that I had purchased with hard earned money, DESTROYED. Fun Friday items that had been provided by Donors Choose, DESTROYED. Books had pages torn out, glued together, and the covers were torn off. My blocks and Magnatiles covered in glue and thrown all around. Everything covered in marker and pencil. The students had shoved the books and materials under every shelf. I burst into tears. I was livid and hurt. My blood was actually boiling. Upon investigation, I found there were about 4 students responsible for all of this, the rest had done minimal damage.  “These kids have no idea what’s about to hit them on Thursday”. I thought. My mom and I threw most everything away and organized what we could. We covered all my shelves with butcher paper and turned them toward the walls. It was as “kid proof” as I could get it while still being functional. For the next few days I stewed. What in the actual heck was I going to do? Would I rip my kids a new one or clean it up and move on with my year? I had no idea. I was still so mad I couldn’t decide.

 

When Thursday morning came, my only concern was dropping Winifred off at daycare. A former coworker of mine had started an at home daycare with her mother and was going to be taking care of her. When I got to the house, I actually felt good! The house was adorable, cozy, clean, and welcoming. Winnie had been in the house 10 seconds and was already being loved on. They took her out of the car seat and gave me a tour, it was perfect. It made my mommy heart so happy to know she was going to be safe and loved by wonderful people.  However, when it came time for me to leave her and go to school, I couldn’t hold back the tears. They started streaming down my face as I thought about being away from her all day. I couldn’t fathom how this day had already come. She was so little. She had just started smiling, and now I was going to miss days full of her smiles. I knew she was going to be ok. I just didn’t know if I would be. I had already cried off my mascara as I pulled into the school parking lot, but I had to get my ish together. It was going to be a long day.

I decided I wouldn’t go on a war path to make my students pay for what they’d done. Yes, they should have behaved much better, but they’re 6. So, I collected some of the destroyed items and placed them in the front of the room. After breakfast, I brought the kids to the carpet and explained that I was sad and my feelings were very hurt about how our classroom was treated. I held up each item and we talked about the way it should be used and not be used. Surprisingly, the students who were responsible fessed up and I had to celebrate their honesty. It’s not easy for a 6 year old to own up to something that might get them in a ton of trouble. We took a deep breath together and made a pinky promise to handle our classroom objects with great care and respect. I gently reminded them that if they had anything to confess to or return to me (a lot of stuff had been stolen), that no one would be in trouble. Some students confessed or pulled my materials out of their backpacks and we celebrated that our friends were brave enough to be honest! I wanted to set up my classroom as a place of trust and honesty. As hard as it was for me to let go of my destroyed materials, I knew that if I wanted to have a successful year with these babes, I had to move on. So, another deep breath and we all let it go. It’s all just material things and it won’t matter at the end of the year. We have learning to do!  #wewillrebuild

Now, if you know about my school year last year, it was rough. I had a student in my class who did some physical and psychological damage to the point of me having to be put on anti anxiety medication during my pregnancy. I was hoping for some reprieve this year and, for the most part, I got it. I have a class of the SWEETEST and brightest babes. I do, however, have one little trouble nugget. She is just as sweet and just as bright as the others but she has trouble with the word “No” or redirection of any kind. She had run my classroom for 9 weeks and was not a fan of me coming in to change her routine. By 9 am, I was in tears again. She was giving my behavior management skills a run for their money and I was already exhausted. Luckily, my administration was there for me and intervened when I needed help, but I started thinking about Winnie. I was questioning if this was going to be worth leaving my daughter.  I began to calculate all the things I was willing to give up to be a stay at home mom. I could live without Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Starbucks,  makeup, fast food, getting my nails done, etc. I would live minimally if need be. I love my job, and I’m really really good at it, but it didn’t want it to affect the kind of mother I would be. I didn’t want to go through the hell I’d gone through last year. The day was full of tears. I kept repeating “I can’t do this. I can’t do this”.  I went home that day and just collapsed into my mom. I looked at her and asked “How do moms do this?” Was there something I was missing?

I thought seriously about just walking away and never going back, but I’m glad I did. Friday was much better. Winnie’s daycare sent me out with a warm, homemade tortilla and two fresh tamales (they are the best family)! How could my day not already be better? My nugget had another rough day, but our first meltdown was at 10am this time instead of first thing in the morning, so I count that as a win!! She was getting better and responding to me, while my administrators continued to intervene and constantly support me.  I could see a light at the end of the tunnel; maybe this wouldn’t be a repeat of last year. The other 16 babes were wonderful. You could tell they were craving structure and rigor in the classroom! They were masters at our routines and procedures by the middle of the Friday. I got so many hugs and drawings that I thought my heart would explode. My friend at the daycare sent me a video of Winnie sleeping soundly and it gave me some peace. I felt myself getting back into the groove of this job that I love so much. It felt good!! I know this is what I’m supposed to do with my life.

I’m just gonna say it, working moms amaze me. All moms amaze me, but I was not prepared for how difficult this would be. I love my job and I love my baby. Will I be working forever? I don’t know, but I do know that this year will be a good one. Finding a balance will be a priority.  I’m learning how healthy it is for me to separate my work from my family life now that I’m a mom. I could go on about how I now understand things I used to judge moms for before I was one, but that’s for another blog post.

 

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Mommy Mania

Mommy Guilt’s Reputation

October 11, 2018

There is only one person on this Earth that would pull me away from my kid for a night. Her name is Taylor. Freaking. Swift.

I had fought with myself for weeks, having a mental tennis match with my conscience. As badly as I wanted to go to this concert, did I really want to leave Winnie for a night? Was she ready? Was I ready?? What would people say about me leaving her to go to a concert? How would pumping work? Could I time out my sessions so I wouldn’t miss any fun? Would my boobs explode?  What will I wear that would even look good on my new body? Would I always regret missing this once in a lifetime concert? Would I regret losing 30 hours with my baby who will never be this little again? I was honestly overwhelmed with “what ifs” and the lack of answers to my unending questions.

Ultimately, I decided that this concert would be the perfect first outing away from Winnie. It was only one night, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and Winnie would be just fine with William. The Reputation Tour was supposed to be incredible, and my best friend worked her butt off to get us tickets. I had been spending gobs of time with my baby, getting to know her. I was not abandoning my child, I was taking care of myself  for a little while.

I only cried for the first 2 hours of the drive to Arlington. All I could do was picture Winifred’s face and wonder what she and Will were doing. I soaked in the sadness for a moment and let myself feel all my feelings, took a deep breath, and rolled the windows down. Letting the strong winds of the road dry my tears, I began to enjoy my “freedom”.

Our AirB&B was adorable! To be honest, the thought of sleeping in a king sized bed without waking up to every baby noise was a tad bit more exciting than seeing Taylor Swift.  After a quick pumping session, we met up with our friends at a local Arlington brewery for a couple drinks before we got ready for the concert. It was surreal for me to be able to order a drink for myself! It was something I hadn’t done in so long. I almost felt like I was using a fake ID or doing something I wasn’t supposed to, but I moved past that feeling pretty quickly after my first sip of beer. I remember having the best time drinking and laughing with my friends — for a second I forgot I had a baby back home. The mom guilt hit me like a truck. Wow, why was it so easy for me to “forget” my baby? Was that normal? Was I an awful person?? I had to excuse myself to collect myself. In the bathroom I took deep breaths and convinced myself that I was not an awful person. Moms are allowed to still be people. I was allowed to have a few drinks with my friends without my baby being my every thought. I was just being Shannon!! After a nice relaxing afternoon, the girls of the group left to take the first “getting ready” shift at the house.

This was the part I’d been dreading because I’d been living in comfy sweats for the past 6 weeks. My body was in the weird in between stage. I’d managed to lose all the baby weight but no part of my body was the same. Everything was loose, squishy, and not in the same place it was before. I brought clothes I thought I could fit into and would make me feel at least a little bit human. I felt BOMB about my makeup and my spirits were on their way up when it was time to put the clothes to the test. Welp. I’d brought a pair of jean shorts I’d worn pre-pregnancy to about 4 months pregnant. Couldn’t button them. I’d bought a large T-Swift t-shirt that I thought would be super cute. It was too tight and see-through. Sweeeeeeeeeet.  I walked into the other room and my friend said “you look miserable.” She was right, I felt awful about the way I looked. After consulting with the other girls we got me set up with a baggy t-shirt one of them was wearing earlier that day. In the moment I felt better but, after we left, I just wanted to cry. I felt like the frumpy friend. I wanted to just melt into the floor. I had to internalize those insecurities because I knew I would hate myself even more if I let this ruin the most amazing concert ever. I had to be grateful for this body. This body worked its ass off for 9 months to create the most beautiful gift. This body was strong and capable of sustaining life right now! That’s a big deal!! I decided I would be proud of this new body.

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Once we got there, my insecurities kind of settled. There were a billion people at Cowboy Stadium and zero of them were worried about what I was wearing or how I looked. We grabbed a beer, found our seats, and the mental math began. “Ok, it’s 7:00 and I pumped at 5:00. Taylor goes on at 8:45 and it will take me about 40 minutes to pump and dump it somewhere. That means I have 1 hour and 45 minutes. Set a timer.  I’ll have to pump again right when we get home.” I came up with this genius plan to try to use a hand pump at my seat and dump the milk into our empty beer bottles to ensure I didn’t miss a minute of music. Definitely my classiest moment. I made an Instagram story about my “pump and dump” concert that I thought was hilarious. However, 10 minutes later my inbox had about 5 messages from other moms telling me how ridiculous that was. They told me it was unnecessary for me to dump it, it’s liquid gold so I should keep it, one beer won’t mess it up so I should save it, and so on. This actually made me feel mad and a little shamed. Yes, I’m well aware that it’s unnecessary to dump your milk after just one beer, , and I know how valuable it is. I know these messages came from a good place and none of them truly meant to shame me. But people, WHERE WAS I SUPPOSED TO STORE THE MILK AT THE CONCERT???? Me dumping one time was not a big deal and frankly, it was no one’s business what I did with my milk. If only they new my freezer was bursting at the seams with saved milk. My funny story was not an invitation for input.  Let mom’s live. Let’s give advice when it’s asked for. Geeeeeeeeze. Ugh, but I digress.

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Proof. ^^^^^^^
It came time for me to pump and it was just plain comical. A sight to behold. My sweet friend holding my jacket over my chest so I could lift up my shirt to situate the pump, me casually looking down my shirt and laughing as I attempted to latch the pump.  I tried my best to be discreet but the pump would NOT work. It was too dark for me to see and I didn’t want to flash the little girls in front of us. My window of time was closing, so I grabbed my stuff and bolted to the bathroom during the last song of Camilla Cabello’s set. I managed to snag a stall and set my pump up. A hand pump is no joke, y’all. Ouch.

As I pumped as fast and carefully as I could, a wave of loneliness came over me. This sucked. I’d paid so much to see this concert and all I could think about was my exploding boobs. I was missing out on conversations and experiences in order to pump. I was sad. Tears rolled down my face as I sat there, alone, in a stadium bathroom stall. My friends had no idea what this felt like. I wallowed for a second as the bottle filled with milk. As I sat there with my feelings, the loneliness turned to pride. I was being a mother. I was doing what I had to do to keep my supply up, so I could continue to provide for my baby when I got back. I was proud of myself for that. Of course, I was heartbroken to see the milk literally go down the toilet, but I could let it go. I finished just in time and exited the stall to a completely packed stadium bathroom. I was a little embarrassed to be carrying out my milky pump to rinse, that was until a sweet older lady saw my pump and said “You go girl! Take care of that babe!”. We exchanged a laugh and smile as my embarrassment turned back to pride.

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I got to my seat just as Taylor entered the stage and my whole body went numb. I was in the same stadium as Taylor. Freaking. Swift. And I just couldn’t handle it. She was insanely incredible. She put on the most amazing concert experience I’d ever seen. We sang every word, danced to every song, and hung on everything she said. We were #blessed to be on the third row of our section with two rows of tiny humans in front of us, giving us the best view. On the walk back to the house, all we could do was relive each song over and over while talking about our favorite sparkle Taylor outfits. I felt like I was a 6 year old giddy girl after my first N*sync concert! Best.Night.Ever.

I’m so thankful that I went. There were big bumps and I had a LOT of feelings, but I did it. William had a sweet night with Winnie and she was well taken care of. I got some mental and physical rest, while challenging myself. I regret nothing. I managed to be a mom but not ONLY a mom. I was Shannon for a little while and THAT WAS OK!

Morals of the story: Mom guilt is real and you can overcome it. Don’t tell moms what to do with their breast milk. Motherhood can be lonely but you got this. Taylor puts on the best concerts.