Thursday, February 26, 2015

Oh Hi, Morning Sickness. It's You, Again.

Remember when I said I was really sick with Kendall?  And then I made sure to highlight that I was SUPER sick?  And then I said I almost enjoyed it?  No?  Well, you can find all of that nonsense here.  Because that’s exactly what it is.  Nonsense.

This baby seems to not like me.  Not in a, “Hey, I don’t like you so I’m just going to ignore you,” way.  More in a, “Hey, I don’t like you so I am going to really torture you to make your life total hell,” kind of way.  I don’t think I really knew sickness until I got pregnant with Baby #2 (whom I affectionately call “Nugget,” at least in my prayers and when I talk to the baby).  Baby Nugget has made me sick from pretty much day one.  Again, like I said before when I was pregnant with Kendall, if being sick means a healthy baby then that’s awesome.  But if I could have a healthy baby without being so horrifically sick that would be even more awesome.

Someone told me, “Oh, that’s just what Princess Kate has!”  Whoopie boopie.  I truly don’t care.  Of course, I feel sorry for her that she has to deal with being sick as well, but at least she has a team of people to help her.  She’s a princess, for crying out loud!  I bet she has someone to spray her face with a cool mist while she hangs her head over the toilet to get sick for the twentieth time that day.  There is another person there who is combing the hair out of her eyes, despite the sweat making it cling to her forehead.  Then there are the other folks who are taking care of everything else like the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and oh yes, toddler raising.  I have none of that.  So really, how similar can our situations really be?  (Kendall did venture in the bathroom with me recently as I got sick, only to say “EW!” and then try to close the toilet lid on me.  Hey, at least I wasn’t alone).

Since I had some experience with such sickness, I knew immediately to ask for Zofran.  However, since I was super early in my pregnancy and I hadn’t seen my regular OB, my sweet Dr. Jean was the one to prescribe it.  She prescribed a lower dose, I think because I was so early.  It. Did. Nothing.  So I took more than the one that she told me to take.  Still nothing.  No worries.  I had the internet to supplement all that I should do.  The following is the list of morning sickness remedies that I tried and that failed.

Vitamin B supplements
Magnesium supplements
Magnesium oil spray
Epsom Salt soaks
Oil pulling
Sea Bands
Ginger ale
Ginger tea
Ginger ale mixed with ginger tea
Eating small, frequent meals
Eating before getting out of bed
Not eating at all
Coke syrup
Lavender oil

It seemed I would be doomed to endure the morning sickness.  However, despite struggling so mightily with feeling sick, taking care of a toddler, and starting back to school, I knew I had to remind myself that I was lucky.  These were wonderful symptoms of life (even if I felt like death).  How many women would love to experience these same symptoms and endure these reminders that they are creating life?  Always, when you look at it from that perspective, does it make it all worth it. 

I’m still struggling with feeling sick and getting sick.  I can go days without throwing up and then suddenly, I am sick again.  Yet it will pass, eventually.  And soon enough there will be a little baby to let me know it has all been so very, very worth it.  

*Since this was written oh so long ago, I will tell you that my sickness lasted far longer this pregnancy than it did last time.  Much, much, much longer.  And much, much, much worse.  Hoping for the healthiest little baby ever!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Life is Full of Surprises

We can plan things out to our heart’s content, but sometimes God has other ideas in store.  That is certainly true for many of us, and something I learned a few months ago.

My summer was filled with lots of family fun.  Strolls with Kendall in the park, playing in the backyard with the dog, running through the sprinkler, going out for ice cream, sitting by the fire pit… we laughed and smiled and just relished in the joy of being in each other’s company.  Yet it was also a time for Jonathan and I to get serious and have some very important discussions.  What were our plans for the next year or two?  Should we start talking about moving in to a bigger home?  Are we going to need a bigger car?  And most importantly, really the impetus for this conversation, when did we want to try to have another baby?

Fun in the sprinkler with Chloe

The day after Kendall was born I told Jonathan I knew why people had ten kids.  Giving birth and meeting my child was the greatest thing to ever happen to me.  Never had I imagined such a powerful love and I was hopeful that I would get to do it again one day.  Jonathan, on the other hand, didn’t seem so eager.  His love for Kendall was so great and so strong that he couldn’t ever imagine loving another child as much as he loved her.  And this feeling only grew as she got older.  Of course, I told him that he would change his mind, that his heart would grow to love another baby, and that I have always wanted more than one child.  Surely, we would have more children.  The question was, “When?”

There was a lot that we needed to think about in terms of another baby.  If we remained in our current home, would we have room?  The sad answer was, probably not.  Therefore, could we afford to move?  What were the benefits of waiting another year?  What were the drawbacks?  Clearly, I had had my share of reproductive issues.  Would it be better to try sooner, rather than later, in case there was the chance that the endometriosis came back?  These were all valid questions, not all of which we knew the answers.  It seemed, at least for the time, that waiting was optimal.  However, I still wanted to get a professional opinion.

So I made an appointment to head back up to Clinton, NJ to see Dr. Jean and the rest of the CrMS team at Morningstar Family Health.  I met with a new doctor at the practice, Dr. Eddie, and shared my concerns with him.  My cycle had just returned, after being absent for a total of twenty-three months!  I was curious how my hormone levels were looking and his take on future conception.  In my heart, I wanted him to affirm that it was better to try to conceive sooner, as the closer I spaced my children and the closer I stayed to that surgery date, the better my chances would be.  However, I was also concerned for my own health. 

I was still nursing at that point and knew what a toll it had taken on my body.  I wanted to ensure that I was healthy enough to even carry a pregnancy.  People do not lie when they say breastfeeding takes a lot out of you.  As odd as it sounds, I had never been skinnier in my life.  No matter how much I ate, all of my nutrients went straight to my baby through my breast milk.  I had a hard time fighting off colds and often felt very physically drained.  Trying to conceive would mean that I would need to get my health in order first.  Dr. Eddie agreed and said he would follow-up in a week to schedule labs and ultrasounds.  I was happy knowing that I was taking steps to at least getting my body on track, if not my family planning.

Despite these plans, more conversations with Jonathan steered us away from trying to conceive.  Perhaps now was not the best time.  We would wait another year, when we were able to make better decisions about our home and possibly moving.  I felt extremely disappointed, but also relieved in a sense that at least now we had an idea in mind of what we had in store for the next year.  Soon I would be finished nursing, I would be getting used to having regular cycles again, and my body, for the first time in two years would be my own.  Or so I thought.

The next week I waited for my next period.  It seemed like it was about to show.  Yet when it didn’t I decided to put my mind at ease.  There was truly no way that I was pregnant.

What?  How?  No!  This is definitely wrong!  I’m going to buy another test.  Two more tests confirmed what I knew to be a mistake.  I was pregnant.  And right after we decided we would wait…

Shortly after my positive tests I visited Dr. Jean.  She, along with Dr. Eddie and their ultrasound tech Amy looked at my chart, trying to determine when I conceived.  They all agreed: according to my chart, conception seemed so unlikely!  Yet there it was, on the screen reflected back at me, my tiny baby with a flickering heartbeat.  God wanted me to have this baby.

Life is full of surprises, indeed.  Our plans are not God’s plans.  And that is just how it should be.  So, together with much excitement, trepidation, and feeling abundantly blessed, Jonathan, Kendall, and I are thrilled to announce that we are expecting Baby #2!  Expected arrival is April 3, 2015.  

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Season of Sacrifice

Holy moly, it has been a long time since I have shared on my blog!  I can’t say that it has been a long time since I have written, since I write at least once a week.  I just haven’t posted anything in quite some time.  Hopefully, I will get to sharing some of those reflections this week. 

My thoughts for my Lenten sacrifice were incredibly well received last year, so I thought once again I would love to share.  Last year I explained here the importance of giving something up and taking something on and explained that for me, it was necessary that I focused on loving my husband.  It was a hard and sad realization that I do not always recognize my love for Jonathan, especially since having Kendall.  However, it was one that became so vital to the growth and maturation of our relationship, both as spouses and parents. 

This year, while I hope to continue to fall more in love with my husband every day and recognize his presence as a true gift in my life, I also know I want to do more.  Being pregnant this year limits my ability to give up certain treats (as wine has already been absent from my life for nearly eight months).  And something I would like to take on (becoming more active and getting Kendall involved) is inhibited not only by my growing belly, but also by the bitter cold we have been experiencing the last few weeks.  Therefore, my sacrifice is going to be one much more centered around my attitudes.  This year for Lent I am giving up negativity.

It is embarrassing, really.  The fact that I have so much negativity in my life.  Yet sometimes, it just seems so easy.  A long commute to work can be (and IS!) totally draining.  A toddler crying because you told her that she couldn’t eat an entire jar of pickles is frustrating.  Waking up four to five times a night to go to the bathroom disrupts my sleep and gets old fast.  Getting angry or feeling sorry for myself often seems like the only response.  However, when I think about it, what good is it really doing me?  I can’t change my commute.  I work far away.  Really far away.  Which means that I have to drive, a lot!  My toddler crying isn’t intended to drive me insane, although that seems like the intended goal.  And getting up to go to the bathroom is just how my body works these days.  So what can I do to change these negative attitudes?

Simple: see the good.  Along with giving up negativity, I am going to take on seeing the good in my life.  My long commute allows me time to call my Baba and catch up with her, listen to the podcast Serial and become totally hooked, and decompress from a long day teaching 115 teenage boys.  Kendall crying allows me to see that she still has trouble communicating her feelings and that it is my job to teach her how to express those feelings appropriately.  It also allows me to work on my own patience and relish in the times when she DOES share her feelings in a way that doesn’t make me want to pull my hair out.  Going to the bathroom every hour through the night reminds me of the miracle inside me, moving and squirming around. 

I know this is going to be a great challenge, one that I will probably falter with more than just a few times.  Even yesterday, I wanted to scream and feel so sorry for myself that my car was dead in my driveway.  But I had to remind myself that I was fine, my family was healthy, and that it wasn’t as though I had to walk the 30 miles to work in the cold.  Actually, it worked out nicely.  My dad drove me in and I got to spend some long overdue time with him.  He got to see his granddaughter after work, and I was able to get my car running again. 

Through the next forty days of Lent I am going to want to be pretty negative, as I am in my last forty-two days of pregnancy, when things get really uncomfortable and I become even more awkward than I had been pre-pregnancy.  Yet it will be an amazing opportunity to experience joy in the most unlikely of situations.  And for that I am extremely grateful.

Wishing you all a blessed Lenten season!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The "Joys" of Pumping

School started a few weeks ago and amidst the chaos of gathering my work bag, lunch bag, hand bag, water bottle, and miscellaneous school supplies there was something that was clearly missing from my clutches:  my breast pump.  Last year each and every day was spent gathering all of the many bags I needed for school, including that dreaded pump.  It was bulky, cumbersome, and generally I really didn’t like using it at all.  However, pumping at work gave me the ability to provide breast milk for my daughter every day when she went to the babysitter, as well as keeping up my supply so that when I was home with her I was still able to nurse her.  I won’t lie when I say that I am truly thrilled not to have to use it this year!  My free periods are now my own again and I won’t have to spend that precious time locked in a supply closet.  Yet, if you are not as lucky as I am this year and you still find yourself confined (or planning to be confined) to one of those closets, I have some advice how to make this be a hopefully easy transition.

Pumping 101
Basic Tips for Returning to Work
(with sample schedule)

1.  Get a good, double breast pump and a hands-free pumping bra!  I used the Medela Pump in Style Advanced and I must say that I really liked it.  It was wonderful being able to pump from both breasts at the same time.  The PIS also has an automatic “let-down” feature that I know some others do not.  I would often be so tired while pumping that I would forget to turn it on.  Luckily, it would do it on its own after two minutes.  And do invest in a hands-free pumping bra.  While you will probably not get much work done will pumping, it is nice being able to just sit and type at the computer.

2. Start pumping before you head back to work!  I know, it seems silly to pump when you have your baby at home and can easily nurse her/ him, but it is so important to get yourself used to your breast pump.  Not only that, it is great to have an extra supply stashed in your freezer, in case those first few days do not go as planned.

If possible, I say start pumping as soon as you can.  I think I had started pumping when Kendall was about a week old.  I made it part of our routine.  She would wake up every two hours to eat those first few weeks.  Around 7:00 am when she would wake I would nurse her, put her in her swing, and then pump.  My body got used to producing the extra milk (because our bodies are truly awesome!) and so it was no problem getting that extra supply.  I would then put that milk in a milk storage bag, label it, and store it in the freezer.  It was helpful to have in case I needed (or wanted) to go out anywhere.  And by the time I started work I had an additional 175 ounces of milk stored away.

3. Create a pumping schedule!  This is truly going to be based on what works well for you and your schedule.  As a teacher, I needed to work around my free class periods.  Luckily, I think my assistant principal responsible for scheduling knew that I planned to pump, so she gave me a great schedule!  My nursing/ pumping schedule looked like this:

5:00 am – Wake up, nurse Kendall
5:30 am – Pump for 30 minutes while eating breakfast (typically oatmeal with raisins and a cup of coffee) = Pumping anywhere from 3 to 6 ounces
8:00 am – Arrive at school and pump for 15 – 20 minutes = Pumping anywhere from 3 to 5 ounces
11:00 am – Free period to pump for 15 – 20 minutes = Pumping anywhere from 3 to 5 ounces
4:00 pm – Home with Kendall to nurse
7:00 – 7:30 pm – Nurse Kendall before bed
10:30 pm – Pump for 30 minutes before going to bed = Pumping anywhere from 2 to 6 ounces

4. Determine times and positions that work best for you! Before I went back to work I was pretty panicked as to how I was going to pump, how often, how long, and if it was going to work.  It is a scary thought giving up breastfeeding and I was determined to at least give this a try, so I went straight to someone who had done it before.  I emailed a girl I worked with who was currently nursing her little girl and pumping at work.  She shared all of her tips and tricks with me, which was truly invaluable.  Through her reassurance and support, I knew I could make this work for me. 

Of course, her schedule was not my schedule and her body was not my body, so I had to make some changes.  If you find that in the beginning you are not producing enough milk for your baby to get through the day try to add in a pumping session.  There were a few days where stress got the better of me and my supply of milk to send to the babysitter the next day was low.  In those instances, rather than reaching for my freezer stash, I woke up in the night to pump.  It isn’t fun, but I wanted to make sure I was still producing.  Also, see if you can add time to each session.  Eventually, you will see that you can drop minutes from pumping, but if you are trying to increase your supply, start by increasing your time.

If things still aren’t working out, change positions!  I found that sitting hunched of with my shoulders curled was my best pumping position.  Obviously, my back hurt all the time, but it gave me the most milk.  Others find that massaging the breast while pumping not only allows for more milk, but also helps prevent clogged ducts.

5. Have extra bottles and extra pump parts!  One thing that I really hated was washing bottles every single day.  And then have to wash out all of my pump parts.  Every. Single. Day.  It was exhausting and annoying and was probably my least favorite part of pumping.  If possible, get yourself a few extra bottles, so that maybe you can throw the used ones in the dishwasher, rather than doing it by hand.  Or have extra pump parts so that you can use the clean set and only have to wash parts every other day.  Again, this sounds silly, but it may make the process less tedious.

6. Create an environment that will allow you to relax!  Or at least relax somewhat.  The supply closet certainly wasn’t ideal, but there was a comfortable chair, soft lighting, and a desk for my pump and computer.  The more relaxed you feel, the easier it will be.

7.  Be proud of your accomplishments!  So you didn’t produce as much milk as you thought.  So you didn’t pump for as many months as you had hoped.  That’s okay!  Pumping is no easy task and it certainly is not fun.  Do not be disappointed if it did not turn out the way you had hoped.  The important this is you tried and as moms, that is all that we can do! 

Of course, with pumping comes the added stress of whether or not your baby takes to the bottle well.  I will share my struggles as well as the bottle that succeeded where all others had failed!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Bit About Breastfeeding

I am overwhelmed by all of the positive feedback and wonderful responses to my last post about ending our breastfeeding journey.  As I said before, it was such a blessing to have that experience and to bond with my daughter.  Although I have over a year of personal experience, I am certainly not an expert on breastfeeding.  However, I would love to share some pieces of advice that I learned along the way.

First, it is important to have realistic expectations.  My mom, a woman who breastfed her own three children and is a former breastfeeding consultant, shared something incredible with me.  She said, “If you can breastfeed your baby just once, you are already giving him/her the very best start.  If that’s all you can do, that’s great!”

That was so very comforting.  Before I had delivered Kendall I had browsed a few websites about breastfeeding and I won’t lie when I say that they made me supremely nervous and anxious.  It all seemed so difficult!  What if I couldn’t do it?  What if my body didn’t produce?  What if it wasn’t a possibility for my baby?  What if what if, what if???  Hearing my mom tell me that even breastfeeding ONE TIME would be beneficial to my baby made me relax.  If I could do it one day, that was great!  If I could do it one week, that was great!  If I could do it one month, that was great!  Any breast milk at all was going to give my baby good antibodies and immunity and a great start!

Luckily, this relaxation helped and it curbed any expectations.  I would breastfeed as long as I could.  If it was working for me and it was working for my baby, then that’s what we would do.  If any of those situations changed, then we would reevaluate.  Here are my top pieces of advice:

Kendall at two months, snuggled on my lap after nursing

1. Relax -  I know, it is so much easier said than done, but it is imperative to your success.  You need to be comfortable in order to nurse your baby.  Your “let down” depends on it!  So find a cozy spot in your home.  Mine was ALWAYS on the sofa in the living room, in front of the TV.  I had a tall, narrow pillow behind my back to keep me upright, but not too rigid.  I also used a Boppy.  This allowed Kendall to lay across me comfortably for both of us, from the time she was a newborn to just this past weekend.

2. Positioning – find a good position for your baby and stick with it.  It took me a good week to figure out that I liked having Kendall lay across me when nursing from the right breast, but in the football hold on the left breast.  Eventually, we got the hang of her laying across me on the left side as well.  Whatever works for you is the way to go!  I had a slew of lactation consultants in the hospital trying to get me to hold Kendall this way and that, but really, what I needed was to find my own way.  In the beginning, it was very difficult as she flailed around like a fish out of water, clawing and scratching, and being just plain difficult.  But I soon found a way to tuck her arm closest to my body under her just slightly, and then held her other hand.  Tiny babies are super squirmy and actually quite strong, but eventually they will learn to settle down and relax as well.

3. Supply – this is something that all nursing mothers will worry about at one time or another.  How is my supply?  Am I producing enough?  The way to ensure a good supply sounds pretty easy: drink water!  Oddly enough, the first time Kendall ever latched in the hospital I was overwhelmed with thirst.  It is amazing how quickly our bodies can respond to the effects of nursing.  It somehow knew that I was depleting my stores of hydration and told me I needed more.  That thirst was felt almost every time I nursed Kendall.  Knowing I needed much more water than I would have had I not been nursing or pregnant, I wanted to make sure I was drinking enough.  I went on Amazon and purchased a water bottle that holds 64 ounces.  That is the recommended daily intake for anyone.  So I doubled it.  It sounds like a ton of water, but I found that it really wasn’t.  My body actually needed it.  And it allowed me to produce enough milk for my baby.

4. Nutrition – As important as it is to stay hydrated, it is equally as important to nourish your body.  There are so many different things that are good for your body, especially while nursing, but I will share my favorites that I think supported my supply.  The first is oatmeal.  Now, I don’t particularly love oatmeal.  I find it sort of bland.  But every morning, after I nursed Kendall, I would put her in her swing, make myself a cup of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal, sweetened with raisins, and I would sit and pump.  (I will get to pumping another day).  This ensured that I started the day off with some breakfast, but also a breakfast that was good for my milk supply.  The second thing I would do through the day is drink Gatorade.  I am not a fan of Gatorade, I much prefer water, but one glass each day again replenished my electrolytes and aided my supply.  Lastly, I added nuts in to my diet.  Nuts contain a lot of great fats and fat is necessary in the production of breast milk.

Obviously, there are many other foods you can add in to your diet.  Carrot, spinach, asparagus, raw garlic, apricots, fenugreek, and others are wonderful!

5. Avoid certain foods – You will quickly learn that what you consume affects your baby.  Stay away from things that can cause gas, such as peppers, onions, and broccoli.  For me, I learned that if I ate too much tomato sauce it bothered Kendall a great deal, as did the days when I had ice cream.  You will soon come to learn that there are things in your diet that you can only eat sparingly, but that’s okay!

6. Nurse often! – Your body learns quickly.  The more you nurse, the more your body produces milk.  The less you nurse, you will see your body stop producing at those times.  Our bodies are awesome!!  So if you are noticing a dip in your supply, you can add in a nursing session or a pumping session.  Sometimes moms will notice a drop after the baby starts sleeping longer through the night.  Obviously, the last thing you want to do is wake that baby.  In that case, this is a great opportunity to add in a pumping session and store some milk. 

If I were to really sit down and write all of the tips and tricks that I have learned you would be reading an entire chapter of a book.  These are simply the basics of my beginning of breastfeeding.  For new moms, be sure to find yourself a great nipple cream and apply it after each and every time you nurse, but be sure that it is safe for baby.  My favorite is this one.  Again, I am not a professional lactation consultant, but I would be happy to answer any questions or offer more advice.

Stay tuned for my next post on (the joys) of pumping!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Saying "Farewell" to Breastfeeding

It was a sad weekend for me.  After more than fifteen months of what I would call a truly wonderful experience, I said “farewell” to breastfeeding.  Looking back on more than a year of the most special bonding time with my baby girl, I thought I would write a small reflection on what the experience has meant to me.

From the time I was pregnant I had it in my head that I would try to breastfeed.  I was lucky that I had such a great support system around me.  My husband was thrilled that I was willing to give it a shot, knowing full well how difficult it can be.  My mom, a woman who not only breastfed twins for six months, but then breastfed a singleton for a full year, was also behind me.  She also spent many years as a breastfeeding counselor, so I felt confident she could assist and guide me as much as I needed. 

No books prepare you for what breastfeeding is really like.  No first hand experiences really do it justice.  I knew it would be challenging, that I might not have a great milk supply, that the baby could have latch issues, or the pain could be too severe for me to continue.  I heard all of that.  I read all of that.  Yet what I didn’t read was how amazing it was, how fulfilling it was, and how it intimate it was to bond with your baby.

It really is.  Breastfeeding was the greatest thing I have done for my little girl.  Each well-check she had at the doctor was a reminder that I was still continuing to grow my baby.  Each nursing session was a time for us to be one, just her and me.  I loved watching her nurse, loved watching her as she got older and she knew just what to do.  My heart melted each time she fell asleep as snuggled in to me, belly full.  Once I went back to work, it was the first thing she wanted to do once we got home from the babysitter’s.  It was our time to reconnect and be together.

As she got older, nursing got harder.  No, it wasn’t because of her teeth, as some will assume.  Rather, it was from her curiosity of the world.  It is hard to nurse when you are trying to roll around, pet the dog, play with toys, and just check out what is happening all around.  At thirteen months nursing became just a morning and night routine.  We both still enjoyed it and on occasion she would verbally ask to nurse.  Yet I knew our time was limited.

The last few weeks have let me know that time was almost up.  Shortly after she would latch, Kendall would quickly sit up and ask for, “More?”  I was losing my supply.  So this past Saturday was the last time Kendall nursed.  We woke up on Sunday, I got her a cup of whole milk, and we went about our day.  That was it.  We were finished.

I didn’t have to go through the pain that many moms experience of “drying up.”  I was already dry.  Still, I felt an ache in my heart.  For fifteen and a half months I provided my daughter with food, immunity, and comfort.  Of course, she eats all read food now, so nourishment wasn’t a concern.  But how would I comfort her?  Tears in the night were quickly calmed with nursing.  How would we manage now?

Last night was my first test.  It isn’t often that Kendall cries in the night, so when she does I know she needs me.  Her cries cut the silence in the house at 12:30 am.  I went in to her room, picked her up out of her crib, and held her close.  She was still crying.  I grabbed her blankie, gave it to her to snuggle, but still she cried.  We went in to the kitchen and got her a cup of water.  That seemed to help.  Then we went back to her room, sat in her rocking chair, and I told her a story from when I was little.  As a little girl, I absolutely loved hearing stories from my mom’s childhood.  They were my favorite!  Things seemed so different.  What the heck was penny candy?  How could you walk uphill to school BOTH ways?  If I liked my mom’s stories so much, maybe Kendall would like mine.

I told her about the blizzard of ’93.  I was in third grade that year and we had off more than a week from school due to the most snow I had ever seen in my almost eight years of life.  Knowing that we had off from school, my mom had woken up my sister and me in the middle of the night.  She made us homemade hot chocolate and turned on the movie “A Muppet's Christmas Carol.”  We all snuggled on the couch under a big blanket, sipping our hot chocolate and making plans for a day of fun in the snow.  It is just one of my special memories growing up, but one that I hope to do with my own kids someday.  I shared my hopes with Kendall as she quieted down and began to fall back to sleep. 

Our days of breastfeeding may be over, but our days of bonding are not.  I am sad to close this incredible chapter in our relationship together as mother and child, but I feel extremely blessed to know that so many more chapters are there, waiting to be opened.  We will continue to bond and grow together, just differently.  And I look forward to cherishing those experiences just as much as I cherish this one.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Are "Mommy Wars" a Real Thing?

There seems to be a new popular article on Facebook each week (or day).  Sometimes it is about moms needing to cover up while breastfeeding, toys that we owned that prove we were true children of the 90’s, or even the big teaser that there was going to be a Hocus Pocus 2 (such a disappointment)!  Yet one seems to come up over and over again that I just don’t know if I can relate to well – the story of “Mommy Wars.”

The introduction of Pinterest in to most of our lives has probably made us all feel inadequate in some way or another.  There are amazing recipes that we should be making for our families, adorable costumes we should be starting to sew for our children to wear on Halloween, and over-the-top themed parties to be had for every stinking holiday imaginable!  I should tell you all that I am not a great cook, made a pair of boxer shorts in home-ec class in eighth grade that promptly fell apart in the wash, and will expect you to bring a dish if I want to have you over for a party.  And no, there won’t be a theme or even a festive drink.  We are serving beer and wine.  Deal with it!  I’m the worst Pinterest mom ever!

Yet just because I am terrible at all of these things does not mean that I don’t like them or add them to my virtual pin-boards.  Of course I do!  And of course, if you were to look at them you would be expecting me to make gourmet dinner tonight while wearing a phenomenal outfit in my exquisitely decorated mansion.  For some moms this means that we must be in competition with one another.  That your kid’s birthday party has to be more over-the-top than my kid’s party.  That your Fourth of July has to be way more exciting than mine.  That everything you do must make every other mother out there swoon and say, “Man, if I could only be like her!”

This isn’t my reality.  It isn’t just because I know *most* of you aren’t making gourmet dinners every night, wearing perfectly put together outfits with matching wedge heels, and flitting around your mansions.  It is because my experience has taught me that we aren’t at war with one another.  We are attempting to create A VILLAGE!

My husband sent me a link to an article today that revealed the author’s greatest fears for our youth.  One of these fears was that “the village” was disappearing.  Those people in our lives who had previously succeeding in helping to raise each other’s children were going by the wayside.  Sure, I agree that some parents are quick to snap if someone corrects their child in front of them, that many parents are eager to blame teachers instead of their own children, and that many people do nothing more than shake their heads at poor behavior.  However, I also must reflect on my own situation. 

I am not at war with mothersI am in an alliance.  And a BIG ONE!  My village is HUGE!  Where some people are finding Pinterest and Facebook as battlegrounds for these so-called “Mommy Wars,” I am finding them to be sources of great help and strength.  Since Kendall has been born I have taken to Facebook dozens of times seeking advice, from what kind of shoes I should be buying her, to different Mommy and Me activities, to finding her a pediatrician.  I have connected with so many different people, it is remarkable!

- When I was trying to conceive one of my greatest sources of comfort was a girl with whom I went to high school.  We didn’t talk much throughout college, but suddenly, there she was and I was sharing my deepest struggles with her.

- Many of my greatest recommendations for Kendall and pieces of advice as a mom have come from girls from my elementary school.  Some girls are still local, while others are as far away as Connecticut!  It doesn’t even matter that some fifteen years may have passed since we have seen or spoken to one another.  Our motherhood connects us!

- As I am faced with more and more challenges as a wife, mother, and teacher, I have discovered a new friend!  Although we went to high school together, we weren’t friends then.  In fact, I’m not sure we had ever spoken to one another!  But that doesn’t matter, as our situations in life are so similar now. 

- With my time off during the summer, the opportunities for play dates are presenting themselves.  These aren’t just with friends that I have had for years and years, but play dates with girls from elementary school and high school.  Again, it has been YEARS since we have seen one other, but we are still bonded together.

I feel incredibly fortunate and blessed that I have been surrounded by women who are so eager to help, to support, and sympathize.  My successes are celebrated and my failures are commiserated.  And even though many of these interactions are taking place over social media, they are no less important than the ones that happen in person. 

So, for the very important moms in my life (and those who are not moms) who have offered so much of yourselves in support of my daughter and me, I am so very grateful!  Thank you for being a part of my village.