A Month of Thanks 2013 Day 1 – Motherhood

Many moons ago I had a college friend that spent the entire month of November giving thanks. Each day she would write a personal note about people, things or experiences that she was grateful for. I thought it was a fantastic idea and have decided to give it a whirl this year. Why not? I’ve got SO much to be thankful for. So in no order of importance, I’m kicking this month of thanks by expressing how thankful I am for motherhood.

Loving Motherhood

When I was 24-ish my gynecologist told me that I would have a hard time conceiving. He said that my uterus was positioned funny and that I’d have a tough time getting a good ole’ egg fertilized. I believed him. Why wouldn’t I? I also freaked out. Because even though I wasn’t quite ready to have kids, I didn’t want to struggle with having them. No woman does. And I didn’t. The first time I tried getting pregnant, I got pregnant with my precious daughter.

I could write an entire book about why I’m grateful for her and to her, but I’ll keep it short. I am thankful for each and every moment that I spend watching my baby grow and learn. I write this with tears in my eyes because it seems as if it was only moments ago when she was a wrinkly newborn who slept the day away. I look at her and I want so much for her. But mostly, I want her to be happy. And I want her to know how much she’s changed my life. Her sheer existence has made me a better woman. A stronger woman.

Motherhood

I believe motherhood comes in many different forms and that you don’t have to give birth to a baby to be considered a mother. I am thankful for the opportunity to be Elle’s mom. I am thankful that she picked me. I am thankful for the smiles she gives me when I’m giving her bottles at 3 a.m. I am thankful for the way she pats my shoulder while I carry her on my back. I am thankful for the brief seconds of snuggles she gives me even though I know she’d rather be crawling somewhere. Being a mother is hard. So hard. It’s tiring, it’s demanding and it’s a non-stop roller coaster of many twists and turns.

But I’m thankful for it. I’m thankful for her. I am thankful for the good foster moms and the moms who have adopted babies. I am thankful for working moms who do what they have to do for their families. I am thankful for stay at home moms who hold down the fort and often put everyone’s needs before their own. I am thankful for mentoring mothers and grandmothers and teachers who mother children. I am thankful for being able to experience motherhood. And I am thankful for my sweet and precious baby.

Beauty in Mommyhood: Elle is 7 Months Old

Baby is 7 months old

Dear Elle,

Oh my big girl…you’ve been going through so much this past month. Between teething pain, learning how to get up on all 4’s and developing some attachment to Mommy and Daddy, you have taken us on quite a trip. And that’s okay. Every day we’re noticing how much you’re changing. It is painfully obvious how much our baby is growing. When you want something, you won’t hesitate to let us know by shrieking. You’re grabbing at everythiiiiing (including Daddy’s beard) and I love watching you inspect a toy thoroughly before jamming it in your mouth.

Happy baby

My favorite thing to do with you is take you outside to see the fountain in the neighborhood. You LOVE this fountain. You’re just like me in that regard because I love water too. You also love taking a bath. And you had your first trip to the pool this month!

Baby bathing suit

It’s so much fun watching you splash around in it. You skin is clearly up and it’s due to mama kicking gluten out of her diet. I feel terrible that the reason why your skin was going haywire was because of me consuming gluten. Your skin used to be itchy and red and you used to scratch it so hard that you would bleed. But not anymore!

Pretty baby

We went to our first playdate a few weeks ago and I got to see how excited you are around other kids. You are really a social butterfly. It’s amazing to watch you giggle and squirm when you’re around babies your own age. It was always hard sending you off to your sitter at 3 months but now I’m glad I did because it’s obvious that you need and love the social interactions. Oh…and you learned how to wave! Which, I think, is the cutest thing eeeeever. You can wave hello and bye bye.

And then there’s food…

Baby eats peas

We officially started you on food at 6 months but you weren’t really interested. Things have changed and now you are giving food a chance. But only if you can feed yourself. You want to be in control. You have no interest in purées so we offer you smaller versions of the fruit and veggies that we eat. It’s called “baby led weaning” and so far it has been working for us. You’ve eaten sweet potatoes, carrots, strawberries, cantaloupe, pineapple, bananas, peas apples, eggs, spinach and lots of other veggies. We’re staying away from grains (remember, you’ve got that gluten allergy), meat and dairy. Feeding you this way has allowed us to eat healthier so it’s working out for everyone. You are also drinking water or breast milk from a cup after you have food. You are surprisingly good at not spilling it everywhere.

Every time I take a picture of you I am noticing how you don’t look like my little bitty baby anymore. You’re growing up and ohmigoodness, I’m tearing up just typing this. Mama doesn’t know why. I adore watching you grow but but…I don’t know, I just loved the newborn period. As hard as it was, I loved it. I know each month and year will come with challenges and while I’m excited to see what cool thing you do next, I also get sad.

Baby at table

I know it sounds strange but I think other parents can relate. I’m finding so many ways to continue to be close to you though. I know you want to be independent and not cuddle up on mama so much but between babywearing, taking walks and reading stories…

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

…I manage to continue to baby you. And will do so for quite some time. Oh! And this crawling thing is starting to happen…

Baby crawling

I can’t believe it. I was all freaking out at how you didn’t show any interest in crawling and then one day you popped up on all 4’s and did that. Now I want you to take your time. Ha! I’ve finally managed to get you in cloth diapers 100% of the time

Sunbaby cloth diapers

My crunchy mom status has gone to new height. I always thought cloth diapering would be a good way to go but I never thought I’d actually do it. And yet, here we are. Saving a TON of money on not buying diapers.

Elle Stats:

First Word Was Said: DaDa!
Favorite Food: Eggs and stawberries
Favorite Toy: Sophie the Giraffe
Favorite Place To Be: On someone’s back
Most Hated Place To Be: Your car seat
Things That Make You Laugh: When Daddy takes you on flights, when Mama steals your neck sugar, playing peek-a-boo, having your tummy kissed and when FaceTime’ing with Gam.
A Sad Moment: You had your first fever this month. It lasted for 2 days and you were miserable. We figured it was due to teething and while we can see those 2 teeth at the bottom, they haven’t popped up just yet.

Oh, and guess what? You are starting to look more and more like me! This makes your Mama very happy. And Daddy is jealous. You’re so loved and adored that we both want you to look like us.

Keep making us proud, baby girl.

Love You,
Mama

Beauty in Mommyhood – Elle is 6 months old

6 month old baby girl

Technically Elle is almost 7 months old but I’m mad late with getting this up. My bad!

Dear Elle,

You’ve been around for half of a year. Wow! I value each minute and each day with you because I know that I’ll blink and you’ll be a teenager trying to get your sticky fingers on my beauty stuffs. Please slow down. I love you just like this. You’re so perfect. You really are. How did we get such a cool and calm, baby? Everywhere we go people are amazed at how cool you are. You have never had a fit in public (not really at home either) and as long as you have access to your thumb and can snuggle against my chest, you’re good to go. I love this about you. You are far from a high maintenance baby.

Brown baby girl

Your bottle can be either hot or cold and you’ll drink it. You don’t have to be held 24/7. You enjoy playing by yourself. When you wake up, you sing and babble versus screaming your head off. On days when I’m just exhausted, you seem to notice and make things a little easier on me. You’re a dream baby.

Folx keep telling me that it’ll change and one day you’ll become this evil toddler but whatever – I’m enjoying the now. And speaking of the now, SCREAMING is your new thing. You love to scream and I’m almost positive that I heard you say “Mama”. The best thing about you? Everyone loves you. Everywhere you go people want to get a closer look at you because you’re just so sweet. You’ve got this kind and wonderful energy about you. It’s captivating and you never disappoint and always crack a smile or laugh.

Baby photography

You started you on solid foods this month. Your first food was sweet potatoes and even though you make these hilarious faces, you actually do a great job at putting the spoon to your mouth and eating your food. We only give you a good tablespoon a day but you seem to enjoy it. Daddy and I enjoy making fresh batches of food for you. We both think it’s great to provide you with fresh veggies over the canned baby food. We really want to give you a good start when it comes to nutrition. Mama is still pumping to give you breast milk and I won’t stop until you’re at least a year old.

Baby touches toes

And guess what? We are still using cloth diapers! People told me that I would give up on them by now but nope I love diapering you in your cute patterned cloth. And you’ve never had a diaper rash so hey…maybe this cloth stuff is right on!

Mama guilt struck me again and I was starting to think that you were still small but your pediatrician keeps telling me how perfect you are. You’re just petite. Just when I  started to doubt things, you began sitting up. And then getting on all fours with the attempts to crawl. Seriously? I’ve got a baby that is about to crawl? Ohmigoodness…please stop growing so quickly, baby.

Baby at 6 month old

Elle Bits:
-You’re a little under 14 lbs.
-You’ve tasted sweet potatoes, butternut squash and carrots.
-We sold your swing. You don’t use it anymore and it was taking up space.
-Your feet finally touch the bottom of your bouncer!
-You love your new highchair.
-Your skin has been super itchy so mama has gone gluten-free to see if that is the issue.
-If you see someone put it in their mouth, you want it too.
-Your appetite is through the roof…you’re eating a lot more.
-You can hold your bottle.
-You like putting your foot in your mouth. Literally.

Thank you so much for being the light of our lives. Love you, sweet girl.

XOXO,

Your Mama

Beauty in Mommyhood – Elle is 5 Months Old!

Brown Baby

Dear Elle Belle,

Yaaaaaaay!!! You crack up every time I say that. I mean, EVERY TIME. If if weren’t for your pictures, I would hardly remember you being a 5 lb little peanut. You are 13 lbs of chunk and I love it. I have gotten over feeling bad for your small weight. Mommy guilt is something else. I blamed myself for your being born early. I blamed myself for you being so little. And I blamed myself for you not breasteeding. I’ve let it all go. I am more focused on the now and making sure that you are happy and healthy.

My entire life is being blogged

And you’re both. You have the best personality, Muffin. I mean, seriously…I look forward to you waking up in the morning. You pop your head up and give me the biggest smile. And you laugh. A lot. You laugh, you talk, you babble, you sing…it is all so beautiful to me. You tend to be quieter around different surroundings and people but when you are at home and in your element, you can talk nonstop. You’ve started screaming too. Long gone is your sweet whimper. Now when there’s something you want, you SCREAM. And you growl too. Daddy and I think it’s hilarious. How can you be so cute by growling?

Easycare rainbow 1

And you want to touch everything. If it is anywhere near your reach, you’re grabbing it.

Baby hand

That includes Daddy’s beard and Mommy’s earrings. You know how to grab for your bottle to bring it to your mouth. You grab at any and everything. And the minute you get whatever it is you want, it’s going straight into your mouth. How your little mouth emits so much drool is beyond me. You go through at least 2-3 bibs a day.

Pretty baby

Eating

You are still eating nothing but breast milk. Mama’s milk supply has decreased significantly but I still have enough to feed you and to donate. I am going to start stashing away milk so that by the time you turn 1, you’ll have enough milk until you’re at least 14-16 months old. No solids yet. We’ll wait until you’re 6 months. You are definitely interested though. You stare at Daddy and I when we eat and you love grabbing at our plates.

Sleeping

You’ve got one wonky sleep schedule but I stopped complained about it. You HAVE to be in bed by 7pm. If we don’t get you there, you are beyond fussy. You’ll get up for a bottle around 10pm and then you get up again at 3am. Each time you wake up, you go back to sleep after having your bottle. You take nice long naps throughout the day (at least 2) and on the weekends when you don’t nap, you’re still in good spirits. When it’s time for night-night, you pop your thumb in your mouth and go right to sleep. It is usually that easy.

Clumps of Mascara baby

You got your ears pierced and I adore them! You look even sweeter and you handled the piercing like a champ. Your eczema is clearing up beautifully. You wear cloth diapers every night and if I can come across more affordably, I want to start clothing you when you go to your sitter. Cloth diapering is surprisingly easy and it feels great not having to buy diapers every week. Oh…and that stroller? We don’t touch it. Mama wears you everywhere!

Baby wearing

I never got why women were so passionate about baby wearing but I’ve seen the light. One day it was pouring down raining. I had to get you, groceries, my breast pump, your bottle bag and my purse out of the car. We waited for the rain to stop for 20 minutes. It didn’t stop. I popped you in a ring sling and grabbed the bags and an umbrella and made it to the door. I had never felt so powerful before. You? You just babbled the whole time mama dodged rain puddles.

Girasol Double Rainbow

Basically, you’re perfect. I know no one is perfect but you are, Muffin. You really are. You light up our lives and you give me purpose each and everyday. I work harder for you. I hate having to go to work and leave you but at the same time, I take pride in knowing that I am actively working hard to provide for our family. It’s not easy but I work long hours, come home to play and snuggle with you, clean the house, run a business and I do it everyday. It’s exhausting but so rewarding.

It is an honor being your mommy.

Elle Bits:
-You giggle uncontrollably when I try to clean your neck.
-You are now totally against your carseat. You cry every time we drive. You eventually soothe yourself.
-Your pediatrician says that you are healthy!
-You love nature.
-You are nosy. I mean, so nosy. You want to see EVERY thing.
-You love music. And you love being sung to.
-You smile. A lot! And at strangers too.

You rock. Thanks for being my baby.

Love,
Mommy

Beauty in Mommyhood – Elle is 4 Months Old!

Elle is 4 months old

Dear Elle,

Hey there, big girl! Technically you’re 20 weeks old which means you are almost 5 months old. I was all late with getting your doctor’s appointment squared away so you won’t be getting your 4 month checkup until like uh…this week. I am SO excited (and nervous) to see how much you weigh. I’m hoping that you’re at least 14 lbs or so. I see you getting bigger and you are officially in 6-9 months clothing but I always wonder if my breastmilk is enough for you. People keep telling me how small you are and it bugs me.

They don’t know how far you’ve come. Every baby isn’t super chubby and it’s a bit insensitive to say things like, “Wow…she’s so small.” to parents of preemies and small babies. But whatever. I’m learning how to let it go. We don’t plan on introducing food for awhile so you’ve still got some months being exclusively breastfed. You do have your own little raspberry shop though.

Blowing raspberries

You love blowing spit bubbles. It cracks your Grandma Clumps up. Speaking of her…she adores you. So so much. You’re so incredibly loved by so many people. Everyone is in love with your eyes. “They are so alert!” they say.

Pretty eyed girl

And it’s true. I’m not sure where you got your eyes from but I love looking in them. I’ll never forget the night I finished giving you a bottle and you stared right into my eyes. We looked eyes for a good 30 seconds and then you gave me the biggest smile ever. I love moments like that.

Traveling baby

Last night I asked your Daddy what if he thought you cried a lot. On a scale from 1-10 with 10 being A LOT, we both gave you a 3. You hardly ever cry. Your sitter says the same thing. I am so grateful we ended up with a cool and calm little girl. Your personality is so here and when you don’t have a constant smile on your face we know you’re sleepy or need some downtime. Your demeanor is so pleasant that this month we pushed it to the limits a bit by having adventures waaaay past your bedtime (success!) and taking a 4.5 hour road trip one day and returning the next (tragedy!). We’re trying to learn you and for the most part I think your Daddy and I  are becoming amazing parents. I’m so proud of your Daddy. He works a lot, yes, but when he’s here he wants a ton of Elle and Daddy time. He snuggles you and has you giggling up a storm when he kisses your tummy.

Baby and Daddy

You love when he does that. We both sing to you and we’re amazed at how you watch TV like a big girl. Doc McStuffins in your favorite. Every time you hear the theme song your face lights up. And when you’re fussy and nothing is helping soothe you, if I bust out in “Doe A Deer” from The Sound of Music, you calm down.

Baby and mommy

Cheesy, but it works. You’re a music lovin’ baby and we want nothing more than to keep you surrounded by tunes. We took our first family road trip this month and it was challenging but you were so sweet around dozens of new people. You flashed smiles and definitely played the part. And you are a drool machine. It’s hilarious. Looks like we’ll be seeing some teeth soon! Your ezcema is still around and mama is trying a new concoction every month. Nothing seems to work. While I have eliminated most dairy products I still eat a few items with milk in them and so maybe that’s the cause. I don’t know. I’m always blaming myself for something when it comes to you. I want you to have a perfect life. I want the best for you.

Happy baby

Because you deserve it. Don’t tell your Daddy but you’re my best friend. Yep, my almost 5 month old baby is my BFF.

I enjoy every moment with you. Even the 2am bottle feedings. I love our weekend cuddles and Saturday adventures. I love taking you out on walks and watching your face light up when you hear a dog bark. The world amazes you. I no longer feel Working Mommy Guilt. Our time apart isn’t horrible because it allows you to learn in a different environment with a qualified caretaker and it allows mommy to continually work on her craft. I never wanted to loose myself in Mommyhood and guess what? I haven’t! You are #1 in my life but I still have a social life and passions. I am in a great place. In the next month or so we’ll be moving and you’ll be getting your own room…officially. I don’t know though…I still think I want you sleeping in our room. I’m not ready to be so far away from you yet.

Yep, I’m an attached mama. But you…and this face…

Baby with thumb in mouth

It lights up my world.

Keep shinin’, baby. I love you,
Mommy

A Message On Mother’s Day 2013

Mom and daughter

People think that Mother’s Day is a day just for women who are are Mothers in the traditional sense of the word. I’ve never felt that way. I’ve grown up in a culture that truly believes in the “It takes a village” philosophy. Mamas can’t be everywhere all the time so that’s when other mama-figures step in. Who said you have to physically give birth to a child to help mother them? No. Motherhood is far more than conception and birth. Motherhood is being that safe place, having that nurturing spirit, the tear and boo boo wiper, the comic relief, the support system, the stickler, the teacher and the friend when needed. Motherhood is truly a verb.

It’a commercial holiday, yes, but this is one that I’ve always felt was okay. Why shouldn’t we shower our Mothers with love and affection? Shouldn’t we do so everyday? Absolutely. But we don’t. So if it takes one day to truly pamper, love on Moms and let them know how invaluable they are, well then…I’m all for it.

Mother’s Day is also a day for mourning. Some mourn the loss of their mothers, either in the physical sense or because a relationship wasn’t or isn’t in place. Some mourn the loss of their children on Mother’s Day. Or they feel inadequate because they aren’t Mothers in the traditional sense. Take solace in knowing that motherhood does not determine womanhood or a woman’s value. And if a mother touched our lives for even a short second or a short lifetime, she should be celebrated, even if she has gone on to glory.

So yes, I have always celebrated Mother’s Day by gifting my mothers and friends who are mothers with cards and treats. Being a mother is hard. The constant worrying, the wondering if you’re doing everything right, the sleepless nights, the critics who question your parenting choices but ooooh, motherhood is also a blessing. One of the biggest one’s in my life.

Baby Clumps

I thank God everyday for Elle. Yes, Alex and I did the work to bring her in this world (too much info? Ha!) but I truly believe she chose me. I could have never crafted such an amazing being on my own. I’ve babysat and been a nanny to dozens of children so I’ve always had an adoration for children but it skyrocketed when I gave birth to Elle in that small room at the birthing center 4 months ago. Elle is special. I’m sure all parents say that about their children but there is truly something dynamic about this 4-month old who has mastered smiling and stealing hearts. She has been a joy to our family during some tough times. She has given me more purpose and more of a reason to work hard each day. On my first Mother’s Day, I thank my daughter Elle. I thank her for choosing me.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms. To all mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, mother-in-laws, stepmothers, older sisters, aunts, friends, teachers, caretakers and pet mommies.  Bless you all!

6 Things I Wish I Would Have Known About Being A First Time Parent

Baby in a stroller

It’s been a minute since I’ve done a baby post. I was inspired by the blog Baby Sideburns. If you haven’t read that blog, pleeeeease check it out. I love this lady’s approach to parenthood. She keeps it real and doesn’t care what you think about it. I’d much rather read parenting blogs like hers versus the ones that are all like, “I want to raise balanced children and practice attachment parenting, blah blah blah.” Whatever. I like when parents delve into the positives AND negatives of parenting.

So here we go: 6 Things I Wish I Would Have Known About Being A First Time Parent

 

You really WILL miss being pregnant.

FACT: I didn’t enjoy pregnancy that much. I was practically dying the first 4 months and while 2nd trimester was fun, it flew by. And then 3rd trimester came along and brought back pains, heartburn and anxiety. Don’t listen to those women who are all like, “Pregnancy is soooo wonderful.” They’re lying. They didn’t tell you about the hemorrhoids, spontaneous diarrhea, random rashes, sciatic or insomnia. But the crazy thing is, even after the physical pains of pregnancy and labor/delivery, I actually MISSED being pregnant. It’s as if I forgot about the morning sickness. I missed the lovely things like feeling Elle’s kicks and watching my tummy grow. I missed how powerful I felt. But I really do like my body 1,000x better when I’m not with child because pregnancy will wear your body ouuuuut. Yeah. So while I do want more children (in like 10 years…okay, maybe 5), I want to enjoy my body a bit more before it gets wrecked again.

 

Showers and baths are luxuries.

Actually someone did tell me there would be days when I wouldn’t have time to bathe and I didn’t believe them. But it’s so true! Judge me all you want but my longest stretch without bathing was 4 days. I smelled like fresh breast milk and regurgitated breast milk. And defeat. Yes, defeat has a smell. Sexy, uh? Who really has time for a shower when you’ve got a baby who gets up every hour or two? And when they aren’t sleeping, you’re either trying to stuff your face or you’re standing over their crib watching them breathe. So yeah. For all of you folx without kids and want to know what to get that new mom in your life – save the onesies and burp cloths. Come to her house and watch the baby while she showers. Oh, and bring food. In fact, if you were coming to visit me and Elle during the early weeks, you weren’t allowed in my house without food.

 

A new baby will alter your marriage a bit.

A baby is a new and hard adjustment for a couple. I was physically tired and overwhelmed and while Esposo went to work a week after Elle was born, he was dealing with the guilt of not being around enough WHILE trying to provide for his family. Neither one of us have any family in the area so we had very little help with Elle. Our communication halted because I was an emotional wreck and couldn’t always vocalize when I needed help. In fact, things didn’t get better until months later. So yes, be prepared for what a new baby will do to your marriage.

Falling Elle

 

 You will adapt to having little to no sleep.

I never thought I could do it. I’ve never been one to function without less than 6 hours of sleep. But honey….I am a pro at sleep deprivation now. I will forever toot my own horn because I not only catered to a newborn around the clock but I pumped every 2 hours, maintained a blog, kept the house decent AND had dinner cooked every night. I’m lying about that last part. Y’all know I married Esposo for his cookin’. :cool: But seriously, your body will adapt to the no sleep thing. Oh, and you’ll never sleep in again. Maybe when the kid is 5 or something but yeahhhh….those days of sleeping until 10am are over. Yeah. I cried about it too.

You officially become one of them: A person with a child.

Parenthood is a club. And it really doesn’t feel like that until you become one. Before kids, I was just a person without kids. But now that I’m a parent, my social life is baby based. When friends are all like, “Ooooh, let’s do dinner at 6pm.” I’m all like, “Um no! Elle has to get picked up from the sitter.” Everything I want to do is surrounded around the bebe. And only friends with kids get this. They understand if I’m running 15 minutes behind because even though I was ready to leave Elle had poop seeping out of her diaper and then spewed milk all over her dress. Friends with kids get it. Friends without kids aren’t always so understanding and I get it because I too used to be like “OMG…do your kids control your life?” Actually they do.

If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll want to eat all the time.

I wasn’t the typical pregnant woman. I never had cravings, gained 9 lbs during pregnancy and lost 12 lbs shortly after giving birth. And although I exclusively pump for Elle, I didn’t think I’d deal with the normal breastfeeding woes. Like the ravenous appetite. That appetite is unreal y’all. It’s like, “Feed me now! Feed me everything in sight.” And I get it – pumping/breastfeeding burns a lot of calories but dang, I never expected to eat insane amounts of food. And the crazy thing is, you don’t even care. Like normally I’d be embarrassed about eating so much. Pfft. Whatever. The first time I went to brunch with a gal pal I ordered TWO meals to eat there and then a meal to eat on the way home. Because the 15 minutes it took to get home, I just knew I’d be starving again. True story.

Bonus: Baby blues are real.

I like to consider myself emotionally stable. Haha. Just kidding. I’m a woman. But seriously, I’ve never dealt with depression so I just knew I wouldn’t have an issue with the baby blues. Please. I was an emotional, hot and cold, crying mess for 3 weeks straight. It felt unreal. I’ll never forget the day Esposo and I were chatting and I just burst out into tears. He’s all like, “What’s wrong?” “I don’t knowwwww.” I’m telling him. I was literally crying for no reason. None. This happened frequently. In fact, when I noticed that I hadn’t cried for an entire 3 days, I felt like throwing myself a party. Being a new mom is haaaaard. It just is. You are physically and emotionally overwhelmed ALL the time. You adore your baby but you kinda miss the free life too. You want more help but you want to do everything yourself. You want to be the perfect mom but baby won’t stop crying. You want to poop but that whole “just had a baby” thing makes it difficult. Too much information? Whatever. These things are important to know and I wish someone would have told me. I was glad to know that several other girlfriends also dealt with baby blues and got over it. And those that didn’t went and got professional help.

But through it all, being a Mom is awesome. And fun. Any first time parents out there?

The Secret Life of Exclusively Pumpers

DSC_7267

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.

DSC_7269

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!