Beauty in Mommyhood – EB is 3 Months Old!

*edit: We removed EB’s pictures. I didn’t feel comfortable having so many online.

Dear EB,

You are 3 months old. I type that with tears in my eyes because I remember being 3 months pregnant with you. Technically you have existed for well over a year and I’m just amazed at how perfectly you fit in my life and in this world. It’s true what they say. It does get easier. The first few months of newborn-ing is hard. Sleep deprivation is painful. It’s a physical and emotional kind of pain that I can’t begin to explain. But we are slowly getting past that. I mean, yeah….I am still sleep deprived but I think my body can handle it a lot better. I spend so many days wondering if I am doing everything right. Are these the right bottles? Should I really allow you to sleep on your tummy? Is going back to work the best decision?

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The Secret Life of Exclusively Pumpers

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Since pumping is an enormous part of my life, I figured I would do a post on it. In the baby feeding community, there are 2 kinds of mothers. Those who breastfeed their babies and those that formula feed their babies. Prior to having my own child, I was vehemently against the idea of giving my baby formula. Breast milk isn’t only the best milk but it’s free. There’s no bottle prep. It’s just…there. It’s the easiest option, right?

Wrong.

Breastfeeding is the the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. 9 months of pregnancy and having a natural childbirth was waaaaay easier. I could point my finger at many factors as to why breastfeeding was so difficult for me.

-Lack of knowledge.
-Very little assistance at getting Elle to the breast the hours and days after birth.
-Elle being born 3 weeks early.
-My huge boob + Elle’s small mouth = difficulty.
-Ineffective guidance from a lactation consultant.

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And it wasn’t like I didn’t try. My child had a poor latch. She made plenty of efforts to breastfeed but they didn’t result in her getting enough milk to be satiated. When she did latch, she would not only chew my breast into bits but she would erupt in tears every time. Which only devastated me. Talk about feeling inadequate. Here I am, a new mother, and I can’t even effectively give my child food. And lack of milk wasn’t an option because I was flowin’…

So I decided to enter the Secret World of EP’ing. I call it a secret because you don’t hear many women talking about it. It is perhaps the most difficult track to take when it comes to feeding newborns and infants. With breastfeeding, you just whip out a boob and feed baby. With formula feeding, you (or someone else – BONUS!) prepare a bottle and give it to baby. With exclusively pumping, I have to juggle between not only pumping to get milk but then I also have to find time to feed the baby. It’s a juggling act, really and it was the #1 reason that made the first weeks of motherhood difficult.

In order to keep my supply up, I have to pump to Elle’s schedule. That means I need to pump around the time that she would be eating or more. BUT – since I am back to work, I’d like for her to continue to receive breast milk while at daycare. And so I not only pump enough for her to eat, but I pump enough to freeze. Breast milk stored in a deep freezer has a shelf life of 6-12 months so that means even after I return to work and Elle goes to daycare, she will continue to get breast milk.

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I produce quite a bit of milk so what can’t fit in my freezers is donated to other mommies. That’s right! Thanks to the great community of Human Milk 4 Human Babies, I was able to find 3 mommies who were looking for a donor. These moms have adopted newborns or foster babies that had issues with formula but are thriving off of my breast milk. Some find it to be gross and unsanitary. I think not. In fact, Elle’s first few days of milk came from another mommy who had donated her breast milk to my birthing center.

So let’s rewind…

PRO’S of pumping
-I get to feed my baby breastmilk. I’m very grateful for the electric pump technology.
-I can SEE how much she’s getting and deliver that info to my pediatrician.
-Someone else can feed her which is awesome. Mama needs a break too, yo.
-Unlike formula, a bottle of breast milk can be left out for hours. HUGE pro.
-I can donate to other babies.
-I burn an insane amount of calories and pumping has lead to me being smaller than my pre-preggo weight.

CON’S of pumping
-The judgement I get from exclusive breastfeeders (Why don’t you try harder to make her latch?) and formula feeders (Why don’t you give her a formula bottle?).
-Very little sleep. I have to pump every 3-4 hours and haven’t slept a straight 3-4 hours since Elle has been born.
-It makes social outings difficult. If I will be out for more than 4 hours, my breasts become engorged and painful. I also risk a chance to getting clogged milk ducts which can turn into mastitis which I hear sucksssss. So yeah. My boobs are always on a ticking clock.
-Never-ending bottle washing.
-Pumping can be very lonely. You’re up by yourself in the middle of the night or have to excuse yourself to pump.

Why don’t I just give her formula? It’s simple. I don’t want to. I want her to have breast milk so while pumping is extremely difficult, I plan to only do it for a year. And I’m hoping I can make it to a year because I think about quitting every single day. But hey, everything happens for a reason and while I go through moments of being sad that I couldn’t breastfeed Elle, I am grateful for my abundant supply of milk. I’ve pumped over 31 gallons of breast milk that has nourished 4 children. It feels kinda awesome.

Feel free to drop questions in the comments. And lots of love to my fellow EP’in’ gals for motivating me to write this post!

Reason #245 Why Having A Baby Girl Rocks

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Confession: I am obsessed with buying baby clothes. I can’t stop. And this is insanity because I’m not a shopper. Not for myself or for anyone else. I cringe at the thought of going to a mall or outlet. But shopping for a baby girl? It’s like a different kind of experience. Everything looks better in itty bitty sizes. Elle has received soooo many clothes from friends and family members so I really shouldn’t be buying anything. But I can’t help myself. Between consignment stores and strollin’ sites like Alex and Alexa, I just can’t stop drooling over baby clothes.

And designer baby clothes? ZOMGGGG! My bank account isn’t stacked enough to be droppin’ pennies on Roberto Cavalli dresses, but hey looking at these pretty dresses is free. Seriously.

Brace yourself for the cuteness…

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This Torres Candy Stripe Prom Dress ($131.50) would be adorableeeee on Baby Elle. And I know I’m supposed to be anti-pink but I can’t take this cuteness. Can’t take it.

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I’ve dubbed Elle Belle as a baby hippie and so this Catimini Floral Print Romper Dress ($75.50) is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Steep in price, yes? But precious and darling for Spring? Oooooh yes.

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But how cute is this Monnalisa Pink Panther onesie ($22.48)? I didn’t even know the Pink Panther was such a cute little kitty. Ha!

Fellow mommies, grandmas, aunts and godmamas, are you too a wee bit addicted to buying baby clothes? Oh! And to my gals with baby boys, admit it – baby boy stuff just isn’t nearly as cute, uh? 😎

 

*This is a sponsored post. All thoughts are my own but I was paid to place a link in this blog post.

(photo source)

Beauty in Mommyhood – EB Is 2 Months Old!

*edit: We removed EB’s pictures. I didn’t feel comfortable having so many online.

Okay, it’s official. My child is growing up. Yes, it’s great that she’s growing and thriving but I really enjoy her sweet cuddly newborn-y self. EB is a really good baby. She doesn’t cry too much; mostly when we have stupidly missed her hunger and tired cues. But other than that, she does a great job at not driving us nuts with constant crying.

And when she does cry and I can’t figure out why I’m all like, “EB, you’re being such a crybaby.” And she gives me this look like, “Ma, do you want to make it better or shall I turn it up a notch?”

I’m starting to spot her little personality. She’s hilarious and has a wacky sense of humor just like me! She does this new thing where she’ll open her mouth to receive the pacifier and then spit it right out. And then she’ll whine just for you to put the paci in her mouth to start the cycle all over again. It cracks me up. She’s also starting to  babble. We are chit-chatting allll the time.

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EB Gets Dolled Up

This work from home life with a newborn is somethin’ else, y’all. How do women do it and not go stir crazy? On the other hand, if you think stay at home moms don’t do anything all day, I challenge you to be one for a day. No lie. It is the hardest job I have ever done. Getting up and going to work is waaaaaay easier.

But if I did that, I wouldn’t have the chance to do silly things like put EB in tutu onesies and put huge bows on her head just for fun. Baby girl clothes are the best!! Moms with boys, do you all have this much fun dressing them up? Probably not, uh? I’ve seen the boy section at stores. Trucks, superheroes, animals and cargo. That’s it. Lame.

But the baby girl clothing world has endless options…

And lemme tell you, I never wanted my kids to be attached to the binky (aka pacifier) but some babies have a natural desire to suck. And they find it soothing. Plus, sometimes no paci results in this…

So now which one would you choose? Yeah. I try not let her suck on it allllll the time. Pacifiers are useful but they are so unsightly and get in the way of a baby’s cuteness. And teeth. Y’all know it’s true.

 

EB’s having an up and down week.

Ups:

-She met her paternal grandparents and great-grandma!
-She’s 9 lbs! 5 lbs at birth and she’s gaining weight beautifully.
-She got a new swing that she absolutely adores.
-Baby acne is clearing up.
-We discovered that coconut oil heals and prevents diaper rashes.

Downs:
-She caught Esposo’s cold. Baby’s 1st cold. It’s miserable for all involved.
-She had tummy issues thanks to me and my love affair with sweet potatoes.
Cradle cap is here. Coconut oil to the rescue!
-EB’s thighs aren’t thick enough for her cloth diapers. Booooo.

How do I have a 7-week old? Wasn’t I JUST pregnant? Oh, and in other good news – my child still looks like a girl even when she wears blue.

 

Yep. It’s the important things in life. 😎 Send us well wishes. Today EB and I have an appointment with a pediatric oral motor specialist. This is our last professional attempt to try and get EB to breastfeed directly. If it doesn’t work, I will continue to pump but only for a limited time (more about that later). If it does work, I’ll be elated and it means I’ll be able to get sleep. I’ve still only been running off of 2-3 hours a day. Whoooooooa.

Baby Question of the Week:

If you have or had a daughter, would you get her ears pierced as a baby?
-My Answer: I am so getting EB’s ears pierced at 3 months. She won’t remember the pain and if she grows up to hate the earrings in her ears (so unlikely), she can just remove them. It’s all cosmetic and unnecessary but it’s also one of those traditional things in my family. What say you?

Send Baby EB get well wishes!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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I know most people hate this commercialized holiday but I love love therefore Valentine’s Day doesn’t bother me too much. Plus, holidays now give me a reason to take embarrassing photos of Elle. Who puts their baby in a laundry basket for a photo shoot? Yeah. I’m a mess.

But I hope you love me for it.

XOXO

Beauty in Mommyhood – Elle Is 1 Month Old!

(edit: images removed) 

Wow. My little baby girl is already a month old. I’m all kinds of emotional about it. I’m so excited that she’s growing and thriving and becoming even more amazing each day. But I’m sad because well, she’s almost a big girl. Kind of.

I know folx are like, “Come on, B. She’s only a month old.” But I feel like I was just pregnant yesterday. I never understand why parents got so weepy over their kids going to kindergarten but yeah, now I get it. Speaking of ‘Dumb Things Those Who Aren’t Parents Say’, I was that non-parent that talked a lot of trash about what I WOULDN’T do when I had kids. I’d say stuff like…

“I would never co-sleep. That’s so unsafe.”
“Breastfeeding is the ONLY option for me. I will never give my baby formula.”
“I’m letting my baby cry it out. Otherwise they’ll get spoiled if I ALWAYS pick them up.”

Lies. Lies. Lies.

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Elle’s Birth Story

[NOTE: I omitted a lot of the squeamish parts of labor and delivery but if you have any particular questions, I am so okay with answering them in the comments. Like, did I really encapsulate my placenta? Sure did!]

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I feared a lot throughout my pregnancy. It was ridiculous, really. I am naturally a very anxious person and pregnancy only heightened that for me. My decision to go with a midwife instead of an OB/GYN didn’t help the situation either. The midwifery philosophy means trusting the woman’s body to do what it needs to do to nurture baby in-utero without much intervention. While some women may get ultrasounds at every prenatal appointment, I had one at 20 weeks. I was in the dark throughout most of my pregnancy. Instead of trusting my body, I questioned if everything was okay. If she didn’t move, I’d freak out. If she moved too much, I’d freak out. I was in panic mode 24/7. The crazy thing is, the only time I really trusted my body was when I was going through labor.

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My water broke when I was polishing my nails. But of course, right? I flew out of the beauty room to Esposo. My pants were to my ankles and I was running back and forth like some maniac. We decided to call the midwife and they recommended that I come in ASAP so they could test me to see if I was leaking amniotic fluid. I just knew I was wasting my time. Because obviouslyyyyy, my water didn’t break. I just peed on myself. That’s it.

But we hopped in the car and drove the midwife and within 20 minutes I had my legs spread all open for the world to see.

“You’re having a baby today.” said the midwife.

I tossed myself in Denial River again.

“Wait, wha?…no. No. Like..not today. How do you know? Is this real life?”

We were told to go back home so that I could labor there and to come back in 4 hours. I tested positive for Group B Strep and had to have an antibiotic. Which also ruled me out of that glorified water birth that I wanted. Womp. We got home and I threw myself in the nook of the sofa and then labored on my labor ball. Esposo kept glancing at me and was steadily asking me if I needed anything. He was so calm. So so calm. I was fine. I couldn’t understand why people said labor was sooo hard. If these were contractions (mind you, that hadn’t started yet), I was doing amaziiiing.

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10 minutes later I was on the floor on all fours moaning and groaning. I’d go from the floor to rolling on my yoga ball. The contractions were in, ladies and gentlemen. And those mofos hurt. The only respite I got was the few minutes between contractions. Those minutes were glorious. I timed my contractions. 3-4 minutes apart. I got so uncomfortable that I crawled up to the bed. The contractions got worse. And worse. And worse. I hummed throughout them. I focused on my breathing. I got that from reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. That book spoke to my hippie soul. It is chock full of birth stories where the women were having babies in cabins and in the woods and all of that craziness. That’s so me. I’d have a baby in a cabin. Yep.

Esposo began packing up the car. He told me I should try to eat something before we left. Good idea. Each step I took killed me. I winced in pain. I continued to hum. Being upright was the worst. I somehow made it to the car and we took the 15 minute trek to the birthing center. Each bump made me want to hurl. I kept timing my contractions. 2 minutes apart and there weren’t many breaks in between.

We made it to the birthing center and they got us settled in the room. The midwife checked me and I was already 5 centimeters dilated. This baby was coming. And I was dying. My Mom was nowhere to be found because earlier that day she told me that she had gotten dreadfully ill and that I simply couldn’t have the baby today. How could my Mom not be there through this? My doula was on her way but I just knew she wouldn’t make it either.

In my head I was cursing up a storm. Out of my mouth, all I could do was hum and say, “Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouuuuuuch.” Over and over again. The sweet nurse brought me ice cold water.

“I’m going to throw up.” I told her.

She brought me a pan and I threw up. I knew I was probably going through transition and that shortly after barfing, the pain would only intensify. I tried to stay calm. I asked Esposo to rub my back.

“Get off of me.” I tell him seconds later.

I was loosing it. The pain was out of control. Now that I look back at it, the contractions were painful but manageable. I suffered from painful menstrual cramps my entire life and so my pain tolerance is pretty up there. The real pain came from the perineal massage that my midwife gave me during those contractions. I wanted to kick her in her chin each time she told me to relax as she tried to massage the nether regions. I knew that she was only doing this to help prevent me from tearing but I was an animal at that point. I just wanted that baby out and I didn’t want anyone touching me.

If you’re not familiar with childbirth, when a baby is ready to come out, you push as if you have to take a poop. It’s the weirdest feeling because not only are you dealing with the pressure from baby bearing down, but you’ve also got those contractions kicking. It’s hard to focus and stay calm but I pushed and pushed and pushed and Baby Elle was born into the world at 5: 27pm. I was in active labor for 5 hours and I pushed for 17 minutes. My labor went so quickly that I didn’t even have a chance to rip my shirt and bra off.

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My labor and delivery is considered speedy for a first time mom and quite frankly, after everything was said and done, I felt like I deserved an effing award. Soooo many people told me I was crazy for having a baby in a birthing center without the option of an epidural and pain meds. If I had to do it all over again, I would not have changed anything. Because Elle was considered small at 5 lbs, the birthing center recommended that we go to the hospital (uggghhhh) to have her fully examined. We were hesitant to do this because her Apgar scores were already high at a 9 and 10 and we just knew the hospital would give us a bunch of run around. And we were right. We spent hoursssss at the hospital. Just for them to tell us what we already knew. Our baby was healthy. Just small with a touch of jaundice. This detour to the hospital prevented Elle and I from really practicing her latch when it came to breastfeeding. It also resulted in two overwhelmed and fatigued first time parents who wanted nothing more than to just take their baby home.

So yes, while my labor and delivery was “perfect”, the events that followed were not. But it doesn’t matter. Baby Elle is here and she’s happy and healthy.

I always considered myself to be a strong woman, both physically and mentally. Giving birth to my daughter gave me a new badge of honor. I left that birthing center so so soooo proud of myself. Yes, I was terrified that my baby decided to come 3 weeks early and I was soooo sad that family members and friends couldn’t make it but the pride I had in myself trumped the sadness and fear that enveloped me during labor.

And not to sound like some superwoman, but pregnancy, labor and delivery are all easy compared to the struggle that came with breastfeeding and dealing with those postpartum hormones. THAT’S the part that people don’t tell you about. Stay tuned for more posts on life with baby. I know Clumps is a beauty blog but I think it’s important to normalize conversations like breastfeeding and the not so bubbly parts about being a first time mom. And if you could care less about that kind of stuff and would rather read about cosmetics, then hey, it’s all good too. I promise not to overload the blog with baby stuff. Maybe once a week or so. 😉