My No BS Guide to Having and Recovering from a C-Section

Since having a C-Section 17 months ago, I have had several friends ask me to guide them through what to expect with theirs. I realize that I wish I had know some of these things before going into my C-Section and so I have decided to share.

This is my absolutely no-bullshit guide to having and recovering from a C-Section. Now, mine was planned so the recovery from an emergent C-Section could be different. In fact the truth is each woman’s recovery will be slightly different. I wish I had someone tell me the truth about what to expect- I think it would have prepared me and made my experience a lot less scary and unknown at the time. Here it goes mamas!

Part One: The C-Section, before and after

  1. Belly bandit- wear it as soon as you feel you can. It’s the one single thing I can now swear by about healing and recovering from a C-section. Wear it as much as you can. I didn’t sleep in mine but otherwise I wore it as much as humanly possible!!! It shrunk my uterus down in 1 month to almost it’s normal state and supported my incision area and also my back. It just really holds everything in that otherwise after a C-Section can hurt as you’re tummy is all wobbly and wonky for a while.  This is the one I used. I started with size small and then eventually had to buy the XS because I shrunk so fast but still needed and wanted the support. I saved both as I plan to use them again if/when we get pregnant a second time.
  2. THIS:  Use these strips on your incision as soon as you’re allowed to. They are the most amazing things EVER! I wore them 24/7 (you can wash them when you shower- that’s the only time I wasn’t wearing them)….my scar looks SO good because of these PLUS they protect your scar from underwear, clothes, etc. which can feel pretty icky against it for a while (up to 2 months maybe more).
  3. Compression big panties: I wore these every single day and night and I wore them under the belly bandit. They also help with the swelling and really do help hold things in…They aren’t sexy but none of this is sexy (plus you can’t have sex anyway so just do all you can to get your body put back together and try not to care about what you or your big ass panties look like)! 
  4. Pooping: DO AN ENEMA BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE HOSPITAL! If they’ll allow you trust me this is the way to go. Have a nurse give you an enema in the hospital you will be so relieved. Take stool softeners so that you don’t get constipated with the pain meds post C-section. I had to do an enema the first poop after surgery, 3 days later…And on that- that first poop….hang on to your heart: it feels like you are ripping yourself open but you ARE NOT…just remember me telling you this- you are OK…you are not ripping yourself open and are totally okay. You have to poop and once you do it’ll only get easier to do it again. I ended up doing a few enemas post surgery until I was able to go on my own. It won’t hurt you and is the easiest way to get it done. Any pushing hurts deep inside as you’ve been sliced open and are healing.
  5. SLEEP! In order to heal fast, you have to sleep. Sleep as much as you can and let the people around you help you. The worst you can do is over-due it. You will set yourself back  not heal yourself. Tell your husband/partner this: he/she needs to be in charge of stepping up and not letting you over-due. After about 1 week the pain reduces a lot and after the 2nd week so much more  but you have to be careful not to over-due it even though you feel better because for about 6 weeks total you’re still healing and things are still fusing back together. It’s easy to push it but you have to really be on yourself not to. This is extremely tough for those of us who take care of everything and everyone but ourselves so try to use this as practice for asking for help from your support team. Remember- they WANT to help you but you may need to be specific about the kind of help you need and when you need it.
  6. Big pads- you will bleed for weeks. I wore a long heavy over-night pad 24/7. Finally switched to a regular pad at week 5 post partum. Don’t think you can just hang out after taking a shower for 15 mins- you can’t- you’ll bleed. Pad it up!
  7. Make sure to eat high protein as it helps you heal fast.
  8. You may come home swollen from the fluids they pump into you but not to fear- it will go away (you’ll pee it out) with in about 1.5-2.5 weeks or so. I think drinking lots of water/coconut water helps flush and drain it out. You need lots of water anyway to support nursing. It can be scary to see yourself looking so puffy after you get home from the hospital but I promise the swelling goes away and you’ll be able to see what you really look like post baby in about 1.5-3 weeks.
  9. NIGHT TIME HELP: This is KEY! If you can get a night time nurse or Doula (we had a Doula and it saved us) do it! If you can do it for 2 weeks at minimum but ideally would be 1 month. I can’t stress enough how much this helps. It allows you to sleep a little with out worry. Someone skilled and trained is up with your baby or up watching your sleeping baby. They will come get you out of bed to nurse when you are needed (usually every 2-3 hours in the beginning). If you do not sleep, you will not heal and also your milk supply will suffer. You have to sleep. So someone you can rest easy with should be with you at night. This isn’t your mom and it’s not your husband. This really is someone much more skilled to actually do just this. If that person is with your baby trust me you WILL sleep and you will be a better new mommy for it. The reason it’s not your mom or partner is because you still need those people’s support during the day while you heal. You can’t lift anything for a while and barely that sweet new baby so try to set this up BEFORE you have your baby (if you know you’re having a C-Section). If this isn’t an option for you financially or perhaps because you don’t live near family then you need to set a very real schedule with your partner for them to support you in being able to sleep (and then stick to it).
  10. Pain: people do NOT talk about how painful it is to recover from a C-section. I will be honest it’s SO painful. So just know this and it’ll help you not worry that something is wrong. Also, the healing itself can feel very weird. The area of the incision ends up this weird combo of numb and painful to touch. It changes and you may feel some weird tinges of pain (healing pains) on and off. Don’t let them scare you- just expect them. The body is amazing…almost 5 months postpartum my scar wasn’t even close to as wide or scary as it was at even month 2 or 3 and my tummy was back to normal. When you’re freaking about stuff- just don’t. Know that you’ll get back to feeling like yourself and instead focus all your energy on loving your baby because that will take your mind off anything uncomfortable that’s going on (and make it all worth it).

Part Two: Your tummy, your healing

  1.  Tummy Time: One of the hardest things post C-Section is getting the tummy muscles to fuse back into place and start working the way they used to. This is just a game of patience but there are things you can do to help. The Belly Bandit as mentioned above is a must. On top of this I suggest trying to do all things you do being mindful of your core. After you have a baby and while you’re in recovery there’s not much time for working out (plus you aren’t allowed to do much but take walks for a while). So use the walks and even lifting the baby or doing the dishes or laundry as your work outs. Tighten and use your core muscles (which may feel very weird for a while) as your power zone. Do all movements from this power zone (not your butt or your legs). Soon you will just use your core as a habit and you won’t have to think about it all the time. Most important take walks and as you feel better and better take longer, faster walks using your core as the movement force and power zone. The weight will start to fall off. Oh and wear your belly wrap on your walk and as much as you can! Eventually you can start to get back into your normal work outs. I recommend pilates with a trained instructor for good post C-Section healing. Make sure to always tell the instructor you just had a C-Section!

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    17 months postpartum selfies and a little tribute to the bump! I do not think I’m in perfect shape nor do I strive for that but this is the body that created my daughter, went through a lot of tough stuff to do so and is healthy and wiser than before!

  2. What you eat: In my experience the MOST important component to healing and getting your body to slim down after a baby is what you eat. In the beginning you have to make food choices to support your nursing (if you choose to do this). That means you must eat. This is one of the hardest things to do with a newborn and a C-Section recovery. It might sound nuts but it’s true. First of all, stuff happens like you could have a baby who can’t latch (like we did) and then you end up pumping 8-12x a day. Between the pain of getting in and out of bed or walking around post C-Section and then need to pump then feed the baby I swear I barely had a moment to do one more thing. This is where HELP comes in. My mom was in town to help support us after the baby came and ended up staying longer once we had some postpartum feeding issues and difficulty. She would actually feed me while I was pumping AND also trying to breast feed. If she wasn’t there spoon feeding ME I swear I wouldn’t have been able to eat much in those first couple weeks. If you’re partner is around then they can be this person (my husband wasn’t able to take time off right after the baby was born and had a crazy schedule in fellowship and being on call at the time).
  3. More on what to eat:
    1. High protein (note: eggs are the best fast food while nursing and healing), probiotic yogurt is also really good for you but use full fat if nursing.
    2. Lots of easy greens (kale, spinach, asparagus)
    3. Good fats: Avocado, coconut Milk, coconut oil, olive oil
    4. Fiber: You may be having post C-Section “issues” as I call them and will need extra fiber to help support you. Try lentils, hummus, dates, figs, prunes, apples, pears mixed into your diet to assist your needs.
    5. Good healthy carbs: Try quinoa, brown rice, chickpea flour based pasta, sweet potato or yams but try not to overdo it on the carbs.
    6. Nursing support: Try to eat your carbs in the morning in the form of oatmeal or gluten-free oatmeal. This will help your milk supply but also give you fiber and carbs for the day (add dates, figs, pears, apples here for more fiber support).
    7. Water water water! Drink water all day. If you’re not a water person then add cucumber, lemon, berries, orange slices, etc. to water in a container in the fridge and let it marinate. It’ll be tastier and also add some good things to your diet at the same time.
    8. What you eat after nursing and in order to get your body back to a good space:
      1. Greens! Greens and veggies oh my! Okay so the skinny is this: eat as many greens and veggies as you want! That’s right- you get a free pass on this one. You can fill up on greens and veggies at each meal!
      2. Small amounts of protein you don’t need as much as you think! If you make a fist the amount a protein you actually need per meal is in fact probably 1/2 of that size. So, if you’re doing a lean meat or fish try to portion it out with that in mind. If you’re having a vegetarian meal then the protein may be in the form of lentils or beans of some sort (I do this more than anything else protein wise). I say 1/2 a cup of beans is the portion size per meal depending on the size of the bean…then it may end up being 1 cup.
      3. Eat whole unprocessed foods. Instead of the low or non-fat item (which is filled with carbs and sugar and “filler” opt for something real and whole (and then eat slightly less of it). For example…choose whole organic yogurt, choose a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of sea salt on your salad instead of “fat-free dressing.” Your body will process these things so much better and you will actually be thinner for making these choices.
      4. Cook your own food. If you make your own food then you can control what’s in it. Going out or ordering in here and there is fine but if you can, try to control what REALLY goes into your mouth. I find it helps to make dishes once or twice a week that you can keep in your fridge and grab as needed such as: hummus and organic veggies to dip into it or grab and snack on, Israeli salad (or salads in general), salmon or lean meats to have and grab.
      5. Do not starve yourself. The worst thing you can do when trying to shed baby weight (or any weight) is to starve yourself. You MUST eat. Just eat less and make healthy choices.
      6. Splurging is okay. It’s important to be kind and moderate when on the long road to loosing your baby weight. The reality is you’re going to have days where you want to splurge or you’re out and you want to eat something you have been craving for ages. Eat it. Enjoy it then let it go. Start the next day back on track and don’t sweat it. The reality is that even one splurge meal or even one day a week will not derail your weight loss if you are making healthy choices (most of the time).

On A Mother Note…10 Lessons from 2015

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2015 has by far been one of the most challenging and rewarding, growth-filling, love-filled, change-filled years of my life. As I look back at all the things I have learned the lessons I have learned as a mother are the most important and meaningful ones. They’re also the lessons that are the domino effect to the over all happiness that exists in our home. Happy mom= happy child. Happy wife=happy life. I seriously believe these things because I have experienced them to be true.

So here are my top 10 lessons on mom life of 2015:

  1. Laugh at Yourself: IMG_7592This is me totally defeated by my toddler who did not nap that day, had been going strong from 6:45am on, was hard core teething and fussy and was recovering from being sick to boot. I think at this point I was thinking “I have to jump up again and run into the other room…what is she doing in there? Why won’t my body move?” This was just seconds of thought and then I of course did run into the other room only to catch her running back into this room. At this point I wondered if it was 10pm but then realized it was only 4:30 and I better go get her dinner ready (which will probably all end up on the floor I feel like I just cleaned up from lunch). At this moment I realized I just needed to LAUGH. Laugh at the day, laugh at what felt a little “crazy” and laugh at myself for trying so hard all day and nothing was going right. Laugh at the fact that everything was actually out of my control that day mostly because of a little thing called “teething.” Laugh and except defeat!
  2. Trust Your Gut: People always talk about a mother’s intuition and until I became a mother I always considered it made sense but now I know it’s 100% real. I can FEEL when my daughter wakes up before she even lets out a whimper. I can FEEL when she is hungry and understand that cry as totally different to another type of cry. I can FEEL when she’s over tired and needs to just go to sleep (despite her best efforts not to). I can feel all these things but what I have learned is in the really tough moments like when she’s sick or not sleeping or crying like crazy and won’t eat and we’re both over-tired zombie parents: this is the moment I have to trust my gut. In the beginning of my motherhood journey I was so nervous to do the right thing all the time that I often second guessed my gut feeling. Sometimes I even listened to other people over what my gut feeling was telling me to do. In the end almost always, my gut was right. So now, in those crazy tough moments, I try really hard to let go, breathe, listen to my gut and just try that solution. My husband at this point even says “what’s your gut tell you?” and then urges me to choose that. Part of trusting your gut is like all things with parenthood- you may be wrong but you also may be right. You just have to try it out.
  3. Redefine Your Expectations of Yourself: I have struggled with having extremely high expectations for myself all my life but when I became a mother they went on overload, super-charge, ridiculous speed. As a stay at home mother and wife of a surgeon who for the first year of our daughter’s life was finishing his training, my days consisted of trying to pretty much do it all and take the best care of my two people as possible. Now, there is nothing wrong with that but if you add unreal expectations to it then it’s a hot mess. Not so much on the outside, I don’t think anyone would have said “oh wow that Sarah, she’s a mess.” Nope it’s all on the inside. It’s the place inside all of us where we take ourselves, hang ourselves up, put our boxing gloves on and start beating the shit out of ourselves. It’s that place in our mind that goes over and over all the things we did and checks off mental to-do-lists all day long only to realize it didn’t all get done and what does that mean? Yep- failure. Okay so after realizing that I was never feeling good about all the things I DID accomplish everyday I had to work at trying to redefine my expectations. For example: Today I expect to feed my daughter, change her, dress her, play with her, teach her, help her take a nap (repeat feeding, changing, teaching, playing). I also expect to get through the day’s laundry, dishes, light house cleaning and make dinner for me and my husband. I do NOT expect that I will be able to wash my hair today and I do NOT expect to get longer than a 90 second shower while watching our daughter. I do NOT expect to get through all my emails or calls. I do NOT expect to have time to pick up the dry cleaning or go to store to buy flowers (I would really love to have some flowers for the weekend). I do NOT expect to be able to stay awake through a movie I attempt to watch with my husband tonight. If any of the things I don’t expect to get done happen- I will be THRILLED but if they don’t well- I didn’t expect them to anyway. I now feel pretty good about what I can get done in a day and also okay when I just can’t. Important note: teething or an illness can potentially throw off the entire list of things I can try to get done and that has to be okay too. Throw the punching bag away you are doing GREAT mamas!
  4. Except The Mom Body That is Now Your Body: So whether you had vaginal birth or a C-section (like me) there’s all sorts of “left over” weird body stuff that goes on far after you have your baby. I still can’t really feel the area across my C-Section scar. It’s kind of creepy. Sometimes I have the strangest little twinges of pain or a feeling of my lower stomach muscles not being fused together (it’s hard to explain). I’ll be doing something totally normal like picking up my baby and there’s the weird feeling out of no where. It’s weird but it’s also my body reminding me that I gave birth to this amazing little person and I just kind of smile about it.  Other things that go on are more on the outside like for example the change in your boobs. Everyone is different but almost all the moms I know have something to say about their post breast feeding/pumping boobs. They’re just a little different. Mine are smaller (which I’m okay with) and other friends of mine feel like theirs are saggier. Well duh! Think about what those boobs went through? Jeez sometimes when I was pumping and crying through the pain of it I actually felt so sad for my boobs- what will become of them after this torture?! Oh and will I put them through it again one day? (Yeah probably it’s worth it. Sorry boobs). Then there’s just the over all slightly different body that you have now that you’re a mom. Some people say their hips are wider or their chest is thicker or their tummy skin is saggy. Some people are heavier or thinner than before. Either way it’s hard when your pre-pregnancy clothes fit weird (or not at all) and when you look in the mirror kind of confused like “who are you?” Well we all have it to some degree post baby and I think it’s important for your daily happiness to just except that this “mom bod” is pretty and it’s special and it’s a warrior princess and to just CHOOSE to like it. Also if you like it, the other people in your world will too. Also try to not listen to the outside comments because a lot of people don’t think before they speak. For me, I’m about 8 lbs thinner than when I got pregnant. I’m just thinner. Everything is smaller (boobs included) and also slightly different. My hips are a little different than before and some other things too. It’s okay it’s just what it is but then someone will say something and I can only hear a negative comment and I kind of just want to say “who gave you permission to comment on my post-baby body? Perhaps I should comment on your post-November body?” But instead…I just let it go and try to like my new mom body. This body did an amazing thing for goodness sake! It made a human!
  5. Ask For What You Need: Okay this one is huge it’s also one of the hardest things for me (and many other women I know). The partner in your home does not know how to read your mind. I know it sucks but it’s the truth. So, mama’s out there guess what? When you’re sleep deprived for like 14 months and tapped out emotionally because you’ve been thinking of someone else’s needs 24/7 above all else and trying with all your might to meet said needs, trying to keep an infant/baby/toddler alive all day and still manage a household well… your partner does NOT know that you want them to say “honey, I want to take you out on a date. You need a night off! Let’s get a baby sitter and go have a romantic and fun night together!” Nope. They don’t know. So, even though it may be annoying to HAVE to tell your partner this is what you need/want (because why don’t they just realize it on their own?! Ugh so frustrating!) TELL THEM! Tell them what you need! Tell them what you want. Trust me they want to make you happy but sometimes there’s so much going on that even they don’t know you need something. This is not just about going on a date once in a while. It’s also about the daily grind. If you need you partner to help out more around the house you need to TELL THEM! Note: sometimes it helps to be very specific with what you want them to do. Not just “help more” but specifically what: “I would really appreciate it if you could empty the dishwasher if you see it’s done and if you could put the laundry in the dryer if you hear it buzz.” You will be happier and so will you partner if you ask for what you need and in turn, get it. Everyone feels good in this scenario. Don’t be scared to ask for help…it doesn’t mean you can’t do it all it just means you are human.
  6. Accept The In Betweens: There are so many phases we go through as mothers. There’s the first four months of life when you’re basically in a bubble in your house just trying to get your feeding/sleeping schedule on point. Just fighting daily to survive through zero sleep and a healing body, breast feeding issues, feeding, sleeping issues, etc. You’re in a cave for about four months. After that you emerge into the world and then try to learn how to manage normal life “on the outside” with a little person who can’t even hold their own body upright yet and often poops through their diaper and clothing while you are out. Then there’s the awesome zone of being able to go out to lunch while your baby sleeps next to you in the stroller (because you are a master of knowing when to time lunch with nap and deserve a metal). There’s the fun “hey look she’s walking” stage when you can show off your babe’s new skills while still managing to keep them in strollers, high chairs or on your lap. And then there’s the in between…when you are working so hard at a new sleep schedule that it runs your life because in order to train your child’s body you have to be regimented and committed and it WILL trump anything else socially you may want to do. The in between time where your baby isn’t old enough to go to pre-school yet and you have them all day to entertain/teach/take care of. (This of course applies to SAHM’s like me more so). The in between stages are weird because as as SAHM you need socialization too and it’s hard when you’re working on that nap/sleep schedule and end up home doing meals and playtime more than out because it just often works out this way. I have found it to be hard so I have reached out to try to connect with other SAHM’s. I am still working on finding my “people” but I feel good about trying. It’s easy for people to say “go to this play group or music class it’s awesome” and then I realize said class is 25 minutes away and I KNOW my daughter will fall asleep in the car and then the nap schedule I have been working so hard to implement is now thrown out the window. So no, I don’t sign up for that class. It’s just this weird in between time and it’s okay. I urge moms in this space to embrace that it’s not going to be like this very long, and try to savor this time with our babies as we’ll never have it again. There’s beauty in between.
  7. Don’t Compare: One thing that I still can’t believe happens at the level it does is mothers comparing with other mothers. It even happens on the grandma level: “well my grandson is doing xyz already.” “Really? My granddaughter isn’t even close to doing xyz” (insert phone call to daughter “Honey so and so’s grandson is doing xyz do you think it’s normal that your daughter isn’t doing xyz yet? Should we ask the pediatrician?” Note: No mom you have never done this but I know it happens. I do not compare my daughter to your kid. I have chosen to compare my daughter’s development to science and data. I compare her growth to what we know from a medical perspective is “normal.” If your son is walking at 10 months old that’s cool! But it doesn’t mean that my daughter isn’t okay because she’s not walking yet and is 11 months old. Nope. When mom’s try to have that casual “let’s compare notes” conversation I try my best to filter out the judging and the over-all weirdness that is this process. You can’t really get away from it but trust me moms, you’ll be a lot happier (and less worried about stupid things) if you opt out of the comparing. Think about it this way: would you want your baby to compare your mothering to his/her friend’s mothers? Can you even imagine? So not cool right?
  8. SAHM The Work Out: IMG_7694One of the things I get asked a lot is what I do for my work out. I usually laugh because I haven’t set foot in a gym since early in my pregnancy and have only occasionally taken a pilates (my favorite) class post baby. But I’m in pretty good shape and it’s because I have found an awesome new work out…it’s called MOM LIFE! I choose to do as much on foot with my baby as possible. I take her in the stroller to the grocery store and use her stroller as a cart and then walk with her plus groceries home. The stroller weighs enough but with groceries it’s a lot to push (esp up and down big hills) and if you push from your core it’s a great tummy/butt work out. If you walk fast it’s even better! Then there’s weight lifting. My daughter weighs about 22 lbs and I am always picking her up, dancing with her, cooking while holding her and it adds up (the gun show is looking pretty good over here). Then there’s the constant cleaning. I am always running around quickly cleaning up after our daughter and us. I am doing laundry and vacuuming (which can be a nice little work out in itself), I’m up I’m down I’m holding my baby while doing these things. I am in CONSTANT motion! I truly believe I just work out a little bit all day long! That said the biggest thing is the daily walks sometimes it’s one but I try for 2 walks with the baby a day. If I wear her in the baby carrier and go run errands on foot that really get’s my heart rate up and can be a nice adventure too! My almost 17 month old is in constant motion and I am in constant motion running after her. She’s the best trainer ever and she doesn’t charge a thing!
  9. Ignore Judgment: I have written about the judgment I have received about being a stay at home mom a few times. The reason is it’s a constant in my life. I think the reality right now is moms can’t win. If you’re a working mom you’re made to feel bad if you can’t “do it all” and if you’re a stay at home mom you’re made to feel bad because you’re not doing enough (because you should be working). I’m pretty over this. I find myself in social situations all the time where I get a look or an eye roll of judgment about being “just” a stay at home mom. Or someone makes a stupid comment like “what do you do all day?” Or “well that’s easy! Nice.” Or my favorite “Did you used to work?” Um, really? Yeah since I was about 14 years old I worked. Thanks for asking. The best one is when someone doesn’t even say a word but just chooses to gloss right over me because I am now considered to have nothing to offer the conversation. I used to be angery or hurt by these moments because they usually happen in social settings when I am just so excited to be OUT (BECAUSE I AM A STAY AT HOME MOM). They really used to put a damper on my over all enjoyment of those times. Now I just remind myself of who I am and WHY I chose to be a SAHM. I remind myself what I have to offer the conversation (which is a lot) and ignore the ignorant judgmental people trying to rain on my parade! Ignoring judgment is probably the hardest thing to do as a mother because we’re always judging ourselves and worrying if we’re good enough moms all the time anyway but, it must be done. If you’re a working mom or a stay at home mom or any combo of the two try to refrain from judging others who’re doing it differently than you are and try to ignore the judgment when it comes your way. We really need to change the conversation to supporting all moms because we’re all doing hard things the best we can.
  10. More Than Mom: The most recent lesson I have learned and am still very much in the process of learning is that I need to try to feel like more than just a mom. Don’t get me wrong the title of mother, the role of mother is the most important honor, gift, title, job of my entire life. It’s all I ever really wanted to be in life and I take it more seriously than anything else, ever. That said because I am a SAHM and my days and nights consist of mothering or organizing and planning out my mothering. It’s not often I feel like just my husband’s date or just my friend’s friend or my mom’s daughter. I have recently realized I have to plan and make time to do things that make me connect to the former non-mother version of myself. Not because she was better in fact quite the opposite but because it’s important to be reminded of the sum of all your parts. I need to have date nights with my husband. I need to have girls brunches and lunches on occasion. I need to go take a pilates reformer class now and then. I need a mom-daughter day with MY mom just the two of us. I need to spend some time alone once in a while. All of the above are things that occur with out my daughter so in order to experience them I have to plan child care in the form (usually) of my husband or a baby-sitter. More and more I have started to do these things and I think over-all it makes me a happier mom and a more centered and well rounded mom to boot. I want my daughter to get the best version of me possible every day and in order for that to happen, I have to be away from her once in a while. It’s hard not to feel guilty for wanting to be away from her (or needing to be) but I am trying to manage that. 2016 is going to be the year I figure it all out! Ha! Yeah right! Cheers to all you moms out there doing the best you can! Wishing you all a happy New Year filled with LOVE, JOY and LAUGHTER!

The Most Over-Due Blog In The World

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So, I suppose I could say, it’s 8pm and the baby is asleep (okay she’s not a baby anymore she’s a “toddler” now- whatever she’s our baby)…

I could say, that I have loved her all day and now I am done. I could say I loved my husband all day and now I am done.

The words themselves would be true but I’m not done.

I’m never done.

I haven’t written a blog in ages and it’s not because I don’t want to or haven’t had SO many things to write about. It’s because I haven’t had time. It’s also because I haven’t made time. It’s also because I haven’t asked for time.

Tonight is a good example of why for me, being a stay at home mom is so challenging and also so wonderful at the same time. I should start by saying that I chose to stay at home with our daughter and hope to also have another child in our future to stay at home with (until they are both in school and then things will likely change).

Our sweet little pumpkin pie is 16 months old now and has had “Hand Foot Mouth Disease” which she got at a birthday party, for almost 8 days. The first few days were horrible- she couldn’t eat or drink, she had a fever and was so uncomfortable and broken out in spots and a rash. She’s turned the corner now but still the spots on the bottoms of her feet hurt and walking and standing are painful things. The ones in her nose and on her face get so irritated when she eats and has to have her face wiped off. We haven’t left the apartment as she’s been contagious (and so scary looking poor thing).

She’s needed crazy snuggles and love and often holding her all day long (she weighs 22 lbs now and is very active). There was one day where I did all the cooking, cleaning, making of meals, cleaning up of meals, changing of diapers, reading of books, feedings, etc with her in my arms. I am not complaining this is my ultimate pleasure. I am honored to be the one holding her. She’s amazing. I am constantly so in awe and proud of her. She’s a sweet little girl who is very loving and gentle. She’s also very silly and has a really fun and funny sense of humor.

So today my husband went to work as usual and then tonight he went to a company holiday dinner. I couldn’t go of course. I haven’t been able to go for a while to things. We were sleep training her so we couldn’t leave her with anyone when he had a conference out of town, work events, etc. I can’t go because I choose to be home with our daughter.

While my husband is gone all day and when he’s gone in the evening (which he sometimes is anyway because he’s a surgeon and is on call often) I do the following:

  • Wake up with the baby and change diaper/get her breakfast
  • Attempt to empty the dishwasher while she’s eating breakfast
  • Get laundry out and/or put it in (make myself coffee)
  • Entertain her/make sure she eats a good breakfast
  • Clean up from her breakfast (did I brush my teeth yet?)
  • Play with her, read to her, try to teach her things
  • Attempt to have coffee 4-17 times before 11:30am
  • Decide it’s gross to re-heat said coffee anymore and make fresh cup of coffee
  • Make her lunch and try to feed her enough before her nap (forget about that coffee I just made)
  • Go “potty” with her in the bathroom while she tells me she wants me to hold her and sit on my lap, clean up the bathroom now covered in toilet paper which she was ripping and pretending to blow her nose with while I attempted to pee with out her on my lap
  • Feed myself something fast while cleaning up from her lunch and try to get milk in her before her nap (which she often fights even though she’s exhausted)
  • Put all the clothes, bows, shoes, socks, blankets, diapers back into the drawer, folded, that she took out while playing the “in and out” game
  • Attempt to get her down for nap which can be: reading to her then putting her in crib, taking her on walk until she falls asleep, putting her in car and once she falls asleep doing a grocery shop as fast as humanly possible with her asleep in the stroller using stroller as grocery cart, praying nothing wakes her up
  • Once she’s asleep and in her crib (or asleep in her stroller if it’s one of those days) I go to town! I’m a woman on a mission do not mess with me: laundry, clean the entire house up, dishes, cook for us, cook for her, cook for my husband’s gluten-free lunches to take to work (because he doesn’t have options and rarely gets a lunch break to find an option)
  • Try to respond to emails and/or make phone calls that need to be made for me or us (neither of which are easy to do when she’s awake)
  • Think seriously about taking a shower- maybe I won’t wash my hair- I can now shower in under two minutes and just get it done…walk into shower just as baby monitor goes off and she’s up and crying for me. Okay shower later.
  • Change diaper while she protests it with her entire body and then poop comes out of her diaper onto the changing table and everything involved: me and my clothes included must now be washed/give her water and a snack, maybe go run errands while wearing her on foot or putting her in the stroller until 4:45 when she starts getting hungry for dinner and I make it then feed it to her.
  • Clean up from dinner and then milk and playtime.
  • Dishes/laundry, clean up the house.
  • My husband usually gets home and most often will be the one to give her a bath- this is their special time. It’s very sweet and I love it when that happens. He usually says something like “you go take a break” (sweet) but what I end up doing is dishes/clean up/laundry/some emails I never got to before, catch up on texts or calls
  • Then we hang out as a family and play with her until it’s time to go to bed (7-8 depending on the day’s schedule). This is if he’s home and if he’s not away on business in which case I do everything for a few days straight.
  • One of us puts her to bed and then my husband always has work to do and I always still have cleaning up of some sort to do and/or cooking to finish.
  • I make his lunches. I make sure our daughter is set with food. I put water and coffee beans in the coffee maker, water in the Britta. I make sure all our daughter’s toys are put away and wash the ones she’s been drooling on all day. I clean the floor of her playroom.
  • I research whatever recent thing is going on with her that I’m not sure how to handle
  • I finally take a shower. I do not enjoy it. I am spent. It’s not luxurious at all.
  • At this point sometimes it’s almost 10pm or later. Granted there are days I shower while she’s napping and that’s awesome but it’s not the usual. Sometimes I get it in before she wakes up- rare. Once in a while I have to do it while she’s up and she cries the entire time no matter what contraption I put her in, toys or food I distract her with.

So then it’s time to what- write a blog? I have been thinking about my blog idea or several all day (okay for months) but then ALL I want to do is put my PJ’s on, curl up in a ball, watch a show, turn off my brain, have a glass of wine and chill out.

So, tonight my husband went from work to the party and I stayed home as I have been for days, with our sick babe. All I could think about is that I’m the woman behind that man and who’s ever going to even meet me? I don’t even know these new people he’s working with yet and I’d really like to! I’d love to meet their families and connect. All I could think about is how much I love to get dressed up and go to parties. How much I love to talk to and meet people. I love it. I used to live for it. It used to be a huge part of my life.

That said I used to pray for the life I have now. THIS is the life I wanted then. Now I have it. I wouldn’t change it for the world! However, I think it’s important to be REAL and HONEST as a stay at home mom and put it out there that you’re not just all the things listed above. No, I am a woman who has a lot to talk about, who has traveled the world, had interesting and exciting jobs, who is well educated and loves art, music and fashion. I’m into cooking and into entertaining. I am a political person who’s passionate about issues and stands up for those issues. I am not just this person in yoga pants at 10pm stressed and exhausted (possibly covered in puke- depends on the day) almost too tired to even take the damn shower she’s been thinking about all day.

I don’t have any answers. I am figuring it all out as I go. My husband is leaving tomorrow for a job he has monthly where he operates in another city for a few days. My daughter and I ride solo then. So tonight I am making sure he’s got a bag of snacks packed. I made him cheddar cheese-jalapeño gluten-free corn bread to take with him (gluten-free is tough where he’s going). I run the dishes so all our babies’ sippy cups, utensils and teething toys get clean for the morning. Normally I just keep going and thinking about what I need to do tomorrow until I fall asleep but tonight I decided to sit down and write.

So here I am. The most over-due blog ever.

Now that I’ve written I really want to get my other blog ideas out there. I realize I need to ask my partner to help me carve out the time by doing more and really I will have to leave the house to do this unless she’s asleep. So what! Okay! I can’t usually go to the party or go on the trip but I need to be able to do this one thing for myself in which I hope to also help other moms out there feeling the same way. I won’t be able to get this done unless I ASK FOR HELP. I need to make the time AND ask for it.

I have loved my daughter and my husband all day. I am not done. But right now, I am loving me.

Sweet dreams to all the hard working stay at home moms out there! It’s hard but it’s LOVE WORK!

Nine Months as a Stay At Home Mom

First and foremost…happy 9 month birthday Aviva Zelda! Since the day you came into my life I have never been happier, more full of love or more proud. You are amazing and everyday I thank my lucky stars that you are my daughter and that I am so blessed to be your mommy. Also Happy Mother’s Day to all the hard working, deeply loving and exceptional moms out there! I wish you all a happy day filled with lots of snuggles, love and appreciation from the family you take such good care of!

11188292_10153027580939086_7751599704895587127_nSo today it’s been 9 months! 9 months that I’ve had the pleasure of caring for precious baby girl. I’ve been reflecting a lot lately about what I do all day, how I do it and what it really takes to do this stay at home mommy thing. As per usual, I will share  my own experience in this blog in the hopes that perhaps it will be helpful to some of you and/or make you feel like you’re not alone. It’s also my goal to put on display a little bit of the raw deal of what goes on to keep this baby taken care of and my family life/home happy and well cared for everyday.

Before I start I just want to say something I feel is REALLY important and that is this:

I believe every mother should do whatever is best for them: work full time, work part time, stay at home with the kids or any version of any of that. The reason being (and I stand by this)…happy mom=happy child. They sense our energy and they are tied to us whether we are with them all day or not so we best be the best version of ourselves FOR THEM- whatever that means. I believe it means something different for each mother.

For me- this means choosing to be a stay at home mother. I have always known I wanted to (if I could) raise my children myself while they’re little. Lucky for me I married a man who also wanted what I want and so we decided together to make certain sacrifices and certain choices to make this happen.

The three main ingredients to my stay at home mom success are:

1. Unconditional love

2. Patience

3. Organization

I wake up every morning and immediately start to organize in my head what I need to do first to set up the day so it’ll be successful for Aviva and me. A lot of this I often handle before I go to sleep and that helps: make a batch of formula so it’s ready to grab as needed, have baby food made and labeled in the fridge for the next 3 days (if it’s running low- make more food so there’s never a shortage. Baby food prep takes some time and it’s not the kind of thing you can just do quickly as needed- too much pealing, chopping, steaming and pureeing going on). I usually make her food first thing in the morning while she’s asleep or after she’s in bed at night. This may sound weird but I often make us dinner in the morning. Yep! If she’s still asleep, I do not waste one moment. I am running around this house like a bat outa hell trying to get as much done as humanly possible prior to her waking up (usually between 7-8:30am depending on how our night went). So I start making us dinner and I get that dinner ready so all we have to do at night is re-heat it. I start the laundry, empty the dishwasher, put the dirty dishes in the now empty dishwasher, check email, try to make a phone call I’ve been trying to make for 3 days, grab some coffee, make her a bottle and then…”waaaaaaaaa!” She’s up and it’s time to rock!

After she’s up it’s pretty much: feeding her, reading to her, playing with her, diaper changes, helping her with her developmental skills, feeding her, putting her down for a nap or going for a walk so she’ll nap or a drive so she’ll nap, feeding her, reading to her, diaper changes, playing with her, going for a walk, playing, bathing her, feeding her, putting her to bed. In the midst of this we go to appointments, go grocery shopping, clean the house, do laundry, make food, meet people, etc. Every day is a very full day. After she’s asleep she may stay asleep (love it when that happens) or she may wake up at night and then I’m back on for feeding her, rocking her, putting her back to sleep, etc.

Caring for Aviva is my ultimate joy. Even on days where she’s insanely fussy, needs to be held constantly, is having separation anxiety if I walk away from her for a minute and screamingly cries if she can’t see me, has had her shots and is feeling lousy, is teething badly and totally unhappy. It’s all good. I LOVE IT. I LOVE IT ALL. I LOVE HER- ALL OF THESE DAYS. That said- the aforementioned days-those are tough ones. Those are the days I’m unable to shower until after my husband gets home or after she’s gone to bed. Those are the days it’s almost 1pm and I haven’t eaten, had coffee, peed or done anything that resembles taking care of myself. That’s okay because I chose this and I would choose it again. She needs me and I want to be there for her.

This is my job. I take it VERY seriously. I’m in charge of shaping this little person into the person she will become. I am in charge of helping her learn how to eat, speak, roll, crawl, walk, to dance. I am in charge of trying to make her smile and laugh, to teach her to have calmness and also confidence. I’m in charge of her feeling safe and LOVED.

I find it so funny when sometimes people say things like “so what do you do all day?” or we were at a friend’s home and the husband commented on my being a stay at home mom and said…

“So when you get bored of hanging out drinking chardonnay all day, do you think you’ll go back to work?”

Really? Haha! I almost fell off my chair. Don’t get me wrong- a day of sipping wine (I prefer pinot noir thanks) and hanging out sounds freaking ah-mazing to me but that’s about as far from what I do all day as the eye can see.

This whole concept of being a “working mom” vs. a “stay at home mom” is kind of ridiculous to me. Essentially either way you’re a working mom. I work hard all day (and often all night) to care for Aviva. Is what I do not work? I’m a cook, housekeeper, full time baby-sitter, house manager, speech coach, therapist, physical trainer, to name a few. Let me tell you, I have had several awesome jobs and even ran my own successful business. I have done a lot of things but nothing I have ever done has challenged me on as many levels as this job. My job doesn’t have a start/stop time. It’s 24-7. I am on call for my daughter. My husband who is an eye plastic surgeon often says that my job is harder than his. I always laugh at this. He reminds me that my job requires even more focus, patience and especially love than he has to bring to work everyday. I think it’s something to think about: why do we not talk about the stay at home mom life as being a job? Sometimes I feel like society is a bit judgmental about those of us who CHOOSE this.

The way I see it is I’m the most qualified for this job. I have a bottomless pit of love for my child, I have patience as deep as the sea and I’m hella organized. Also, as a bonus- I LOVE to cook and take joy and pride in feeding my family healthy food that I prepare for us. I mean, I’d hire me to be Aviva’s 24/7 person! Heck yes.

So on that note. Here are some highlights from the hardest most emotionally challenging job I’ve ever had that is also the most rewarding, meaningful and joyful experience of my entire life…

This is me at 10pm sooooo excited to have finally showered, only to put pj’s back on. As it turned out this night was a rough one so any sleep I got was necessary. See how pumped I am to be showered?! Tada!

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Teaching Aviva how to snuggle… FullSizeRenderand when she only wants to sleep on me for nap-time (where I then loose 1-2.5 hours of being able to get anything done and I don’t care because it’s worth it)

IMG_3237 Playing with her and helping her learn (with so many laughs)…

IMG_3255 Reading with her. We read at least 2x a day- she’s a huge fan of books although lately she also tries to eat them. Teething!!

IMG_3168 Feeding her is such a joy. I LOVE to cook for my family. I take pride in it and also it feeds my soul. Here she is with a spinach/greenbean/pea/lentil puree that’s one of her recent favorites. Yum!

IMG_3184 Oh and just having fun with her! She’s my dream come true! She’s my heart…

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Here’s too all the mamas who are working hard inside or outside of the home or BOTH! Happy Mother’s Day!

With Love- Happy Mom of one 9 month old Aviva Zelda !!!!!

I Have A Daughter

I have a daughter.

She’s f-cking amazing. She’s not even six months old but she’s f-cking amazing.

I am terrified that she will not have rights to health care that will make her feel like a safe woman. I am terrified that she is coming up in our country with a major group of people trying to rob those basic, human, legal rights from her. I am worried that because of this men who are bullies will feel empowered by our government. I am worried that because of this people will stop caring about our girls. I am worried about the power of the Republican Party for this reason. (I am sorry Republican friends I still love and accept you but your party as a whole is very extreme on this issue now and so I will not stop worrying unless you start changing).

I am worried but more so…

Society currently scares me. I have a girl.

Society is obsessed with being thin. Being “hot” having big boobs, having perfect skin, having a perfect ass…a flat stomach, being super-fit, being “perfect”? WHAT IS PERFECT? Last I checked that was pretty subjective. It doesn’t matter though because my daughter is growing up around superficial obsession. It scares me. And it should scare you too. (In my opinion)…

WE NEED TO BE THE CHANGE: Everything you say and do- she hears and takes to heart. So change it! Start the change in her house…one by one we can make things better, girl by girl…

-Do not talk negatively about your body around your daughter. STOP IT!

-Do not diet or talk about dieting in front of your daughter (just show her moderation, healthy eating and exercising habits).

-Practice positive reinforcement about her body “look how strong you are” “look how good you are at doing that” etc. Also you and your partner should talk about each other in that way in front of her.

-Tell your daughter she is beautiful. DO NOT OVER CORRECT ON THIS ISSUE- SHE NEEDS TO BE TOLD SHE’S BEAUTIFUL, SPECIAL, SMART, CREATIVE, THOUGHTFUL, INSIGHTFUL, COURAGEOUS, FUNNY, COMPASSIONATE…from you. It’s never too early to start this. I do it now. It’s been part of the song I made up to put her to sleep. It calms her and she totally listens. “I love you Aviva, yes I do, I love you Aviva..yes, it’s true…I love your nose, I love your toes…I love your eyes, I love your smile. I love your laugh, I love your heart, I love your thoughts, I love your soul. I love your insides, I love your outsides, I love your everything…yes I do… ”

So while we work on all of the above we need to try to also combat the issues with in us that make us feel shitty and keep us from being an awesome mom-woman-example to our daughters.

Some thoughts on this from a new mom who’s postpartum and still wants to party life up, but has had a LOT goin’ on…

HERE’S THE POSTPARTUM SUCKS PARTY…

  1. THESE ARE NOT MY BOOBS!!!! (Yeah dude…these are your boobs. check yourself before you reck yourself…these…your post nursing boobs…are YOUR NEW BOOBS! (Hello 32D good-bye 34G) and then it’ll hit you how MUCH MORE AWESOME THESE NEW BOOBS ARE! You don’t have to put them in 3 bras…and a work out bra. Nope! They’re cool on their own. Remember that from, before you were pregnant? I know it seems like forever but yeah…So much easier and way more fun!
  2. MOM NEEDS LOVE TOO! Okay so you’ve had your baby and you’ve been living for, breathing for, dealing for this person 100% since they arrived. It’s the best thing ever ever ever but it also zaps you of “you” so let your partner step up and give you some love…go get a Mani Pedi, blow out, massage, go out with a friend…let the person who doesn’t take care of this baby full time step up for a couple hours and give you some “you time.” P.S. This is not gender specific…if you’re a stay at home dad this pertains to you…. if you’re in a same sex relationship-this pertains to you! This means the full time person needs/gets to have a break. The whole fam will be better for it, trust. ;)
  3. USE YOUR TIME WISELY… so the baby is taking a nap? Here’s what that looks like (and this grants you freedom post bed-time to: have dinner/take a shower or bath/ take a breathe/ have a cocktail/ really shave and put lotion on/lay down/sleeeeeeep, HAVE SEX!!!!)

-Do laundry (or start it at least- you can always finish it after they go to sleep)

-Make or organize dinner

-Do dishes, bottles, etc. organize feedings for when they wake up

-If you’re on formula- pre-make it and make bottles for next 20 hours or so

-Clean house/clean yourself!

You get me- get as much done while they nap as you can so that when they go to bed at night you can try to have a life. Even if that means curled up under a blanket in your PJ’s watching TV. Just do what you can do to set up some chill out time each day. This will make you feel human.

  1. TELL ME WHAT YOU NEED! You and your partner need to communicate. There are so many more new things to be on top of now.  You need to check each other about what needs to be done and when. You have to be each other’s checks and balance system.
  2. LET IT OUT: Find a way that’s healthy to let your emotions, frustration out. If you need to dance intensely (what?) around the living room and then stay up way too late writing, to alleviate stress- do it. (Not that I know from that I’m just saying…as an example)… Play drums? Ride a bike? Surf? Meditate? Whatever it is- do it. Let it out or it’ll come off on your kid, or partner and no one wants that in the world. We need to practice maximizing love export/import.
  3. EMBRACE YOUR POSTPARTUM BODY: If you are a stay at home mom like me chances are you are CONSTANTLY moving: you’re bouncing him/her, burping him/her, dancing, moving and grooving, holding, rocking, multi-tasking all the time…you do not stop. Okay so you probably lost weight this way- but if you didn’t it’s also because you’re still nursing (mine ended 8 weeks post) or for the sheer fact that every single body is different. This includes the body you started out with and the body you now have several months after giving birth. This is mine. I took this in the bathroom mirror at 3am. This is me 5m postpartum. It’s not my best photo. I didn’t try to make it look good (I even have a line from my sweats on my stomach, my hair is up still wet because I didn’t have time to tend to it today, I’ve had a whole day of eating and what not….this is just REAL). This body has had nothing but hard times with nursing, had to stop after 8 weeks, had a c-section, had retained placenta and a D&C to remove it at 7 weeks postpartum. I look at my “new and temporary” body and think:

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-My breasts don’t fill out my bra the way they used to, but they still look good naked and I’m feeling lucky about them because they fed my baby and gave her my immunity. (Give yourself props for things- it’s okay to say- hey- I LIKE THIS- MY BODY DID GOOD)! Society teaches us to hate ourselves but that’s not okay- this is an activity of love….go take a postpartum selfie and try to like some things you see!!!

-I look at my c-section scar (not featured as it’s too low) and I just feel so grateful to have been able to give birth to my daughter. I’m in awe of her daily and to me, she’s a dream come true and a miracle all in one. I look at my scar and just feel love for her and proud of my body.

So let your postpartum body make you feel good! You gave birth to a human, you did that with your body- YOU ROCK! I am in awe of what my body went through and amazed by how it’s thriving even though I don’t have much time for it these days and with all honesty, have NOT made getting toned back up a priority. My daughter is. All day. That’s just me. Luckily I kind of work out all day while I take care of her because I just do it that way. ;) I’m getting back to pilates and that’s a gift my husband is giving me in that he’ll be the child care for an hour on the weekend while I go love on my body a bit. This is ALL about me feeling good and not at all about looking a certain way. I feel better when I got to pilates classes- end of story. The focus here is on how I FEEL.

-Get it on. You need to let your postpartum body be sexual no matter what it looks like. You are now a MILF- OWN IT! Feel so sexy because of what that body did! If it feels or looks weird don’t sweat it! It’s so hot to your partner because if you feel empowered about it- they will in turn connect with that and focus on how sexy it is that you’re their baby’s mom. Oh my gosh seriously- it’s the sexiest thing! Don’t knock it till you try it!!! ;)

I have a daughter…..I will do everything in my power to keep her safe, teach her right from wrong and support her to be whomever she feels she is. So that’s #7. Treat your child the way you wish life treated you. This includes trying to protect her rights as a woman- that is part of keeping our daughters safe and treating them how we would want to be treated (with respect and as equal humans to men). This is the best party you can create: An everyday celebration of your child…Show then how you celebrate yourself and they’ll learn to do the same and not hate themselves.

This is all a huge gift…mommy. Enjoy it. Party on!

XO- The f-cking proudest mom ever baby….

All You Need Is Love

10676358_10152707350929086_4485169029334586016_nOur daughter is four months old now. The depth of emotion felt in these past four months has far surpassed anything I’ve ever experienced in life. We’ve been through so much and I feel like each experience deserves it’s own blog, but since it’s taken me this long to have time to write I think I should try to sum things up in a way that will be helpful to other women who may experience the same thing. Okay so mamas…future mamas…listen up! Some of this I hope you get to experience because it’s AMAZING and some of this I hope you never have to go through. It’ll be obvious which is which. ;) Here goes!

Pump It:

Our daughter couldn’t latch. We tried everything under the sun including seeing many lactation specialists. Eventually and very soon after her birth I started to pump. I had to. I pumped exclusively and although I continued to try to get her to latch, I had to bottle feed her my breast milk. Thankfully (and remarkably- you’ll find out why later) I was able to get her 2 full months of exclusively breast milk. It wasn’t easy but I was totally committed to it.

Pumping exclusively sucks. It’s SO hard. I had nothing but problems. I had clogged ducts. I had clogged nipple pores. I had HORRIBLE pain. It took me forever to let down and my pumping sessions would sometimes take 45 minutes- and hour plus,  8-12x a day. By the time I finished pumping and feeding her it was time to pump again. I couldn’t leave the house I was so tied to the breast pump.

There were times when I was pumping that my supply was good and then times it was average. Eventually it took a nose dive and I will be forever grateful for the good periods where I produced enough to have extra to freeze (as we used it later once I had to stop).

I felt like a complete failure because I wasn’t breast feeding Aviva. I would cry all the time when someone would ask me about how breastfeeding was going or sound shocked or sad for me when I told them what our situation was. I had a “plan” to breastfeed her for one year. There’s a lot of societal pressure to breastfeed. It’s currently “in” and there have been waves over the last century of it being “in” our “out.” The reality is that as long as your child is thriving…it doesn’t f-cking matter if they’re being breast fed or not. Seriously- it REALLY doesn’t. So ladies….if this is happening to you please just know that if you TRY- you’ve succeeded. It’s not always on you how it turns out. Sometimes things are just out of your control. My daughter is amazing. She’s a total love. She’s super connected to me and totally obsessed with me but she never latched. Point being- it made zero difference in how connected we are or the love felt between us. Also, she’s just as happy (if not happier) enjoying a bottle of formula as she was breast milk.

The Bottle: A Trial and Error Story

When you have to try bottle feeding super early like we did it’s not easy. We tried a bunch of different bottle systems until we found one that worked. The trying part is tough. It involves what looks like choking, spitting up, painful gas, sometimes just plain spitting it out. The one that worked, well it worked until it stopped working and then we tried another system that hadn’t worked for her before but now that she was older and more evolved, seemed to be magic. Now we’re trying another nipple with that bottle system because she’s getting older and we’ll have to see how THAT goes. Point here is- try try and try again. Trial and error is the name of the game! You can’t give up you will find something that works. Do not get too cozy with the thing that works though because it may not work tomorrow. You have to be like water. It flows and gets where it needs to go. Be water mamas. Be water….

The Perfect Formula:

It doesn’t exist. Our baby is now on formula. She’s on her third type of formula since we had to start it. She’s always been on organic formula but because of constipation issues we’ve been trial and error-ing this as well. Finally she seems to be okay on this one. If you have to have your baby on formula and are like me, you want the safest, closest to breast milk, most non-gmo, organic option possible you will end up with about seven options. Within these seven options there’s a ton of good vs. bad and none of which has yet to be scientifically proven either way. You could make yourself CRAZY trying to make the right choice. I did. That said I finally just had to choose and then when it didn’t work for her tummy I chose again and then again a third time. So long as your baby is happy and gaining weight, growing and thriving…you’re making the right choice. There’s probably no difference between all these formulas at the end of the day but just do what you feel is comfortable for you in your heart. That’s all you can do as a parent, as a mother, I am learning. Once you’ve made a choice- let it go and just see how it goes. Be water remember? Flows…gets to where it needs to go.

Trust Your Body:

Our bodies are truly amazing. I mean- we make humans! How amazing is that?!?! What’s also amazing is that when something isn’t okay- our bodies give us clues and signals to let us know.

While I was pumping I had such terrible breast and nipple pain that often times I would cry. Many times when I would say to my husband things while pumping like “I feel like I’m doing serious damage to my breasts, “I feel like my body is fighting itself” and “It just doesn’t seem like I should be in this much pain.” I also found myself several weeks postpartum still bleeding pretty significantly and still having random shooting pains and cramping. Granted I did have a C-Section but much of the above seemed not quite right to me.

At six weeks postpartum I got heavier cramping and started bleeding even more. My husband had me call the on-call doctor for my OB. She suspected I got my period but told me to go into Triage if I developed a temperature or felt light headed (light headed- something I felt a lot after giving birth). We went to see my OB after that and she also suspected it was my period. She even jokingly called me “Fertile Myrtle.”  I was surprised to have gotten my period given the fact that I was still nursing (pumping, etc). My husband (thank God) pushed for an ultrasound just to make sure things were okay. As it turns out…they were NOT.

Even though we had a scheduled C-Section and this really shouldn’t happen (nor should your baby get cut on her head during a scheduled C-Section which also happened to us and we were STILL in the process of emotionally recovering from and Aviva was healing from)….apparently, I had retained placenta.

It’s a f-cking miracle I even made any milk in the first place. No wonder I had SO many problems nursing and pumping! My body was SO confused! It still thought it was supposed to be pregnant!!! No wonder I was still bleeding and having so many painful issues. I was so lucky we caught this and that I didn’t get a terrible infection or worse. The treatment was to have a D&C. We were SO unhappy with our OB after this, the second complication. Plus we felt she managed us so poorly through both that we decided to get another doctor on board. This took a little time but was handled it before I got super sick. I was starting to feel truly awful.

Trust. Your. Body. Your body knows and will tell you when something is wrong.

So, I had to have a D&C and as it turns out, they had to put me under at a level much deeper than we’d thought which was very scary for both of us. Once the doctor was in, she saw that there was a good amount of placenta there and it was quite stuck so it was good I was out because she did several passes.

(Shout out to my mom who flew in to help watch Aviva and take care of things while I recovered. I’m not sure what on earth we would have done with out you and your loving help. I have the best mom in the world. Period. End of story.)

After the Placenta it’s the After Party:

I can’t confirm or deny that after this procedure I’ll have scar tissue that will cause us issues in the future when we try for another baby. It’s too soon for me to know this. I have to just trust in the universe, as I try to do….that we will be able to do in life what we wish and want, with all the love we can throw at it. I choose not to stress over this and instead focus on my beautiful and amazing love of a child, Aviva.

Also, about 6 days after my D&C, I got Mastitis and after that my milk couldn’t come out unless I manually expressed it into water, leaving it un useable. After that I had to stop nursing cold turkey as I couldn’t get any useable milk out in any way. I used liquid sage drops (natural estrogen) to help my milk stop. Also, ice packs on my breasts and sports bras. It took about 3-4 weeks for my milk to stop trying to come in (when she cried or was on my chest my breasts would still try to fill up and it would hurt).

I don’t know HOW I would have gotten through these rough waters with out my husband’s love and my mom. These two people got me through in so many ways. Other family and friends too, sure but the people in the trenches with me..they gave me the love I needed and more importantly- helped with Aviva while I had to deal with some not so easy stuff. LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED. Truly. And, always.

All You Need Is Love:

You gave birth. Your hormones are crazy. Your feelings are out of your control. Every new mother feels this. Add to that that things don’t go easy….your baby get’s cut/can’t latch/looses weight/has a medical issue/you have a medical issue….IT FEELS SO CRAZY….

WHAT YOU NEED IS LOVE. LOVE. LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED.

You need love from your partner, your family….you need LOVE girl. And oh…my…god…do you need love.

Love will get you through anything. It’ll get you through surgery, complications, more surgery, more of anything. It will get you through. The people who truly love you will show up for you and that is all you need.

I say, when things feel crazy as many moms experience after giving birth…just focus on the love coming in and let it be your fuel because often times you will need it when you start to run on empty…you will need that fuel to keep going.

Note: I have so many blog posts in my head that I have wanted to share but our “stuff” has gotten in my way. Now that things are chilling out and going well I will be able to get back to writing more and I look forward to doing so. With, LOVE, of course. Always. 

I’ll Always Show Up For You…

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On 8-8-14 at 8:34am, my life changed forever when I heard her cry for the very first time. Welcome to the world, Aviva Zelda Shaftel….you are LOVED. I am your mommy….I will do everything in my power to take care of you, make you feel loved and create a happy, joyful, meaningful life for you…

I’ve been writing this blog for 6 weeks, in my head and in between feedings, diaper changes and occasional random moments of calm. So much has gone on this past 6 weeks that I just can’t figure out where to start or where to end. So, I just wiped the page clean and I’m going heart blazing open, honest, no BS, real talk on this blog right now. Our journey this past few weeks has been just amazing, but it has also been filled with challenges. We are not the first people to have challenges to get through after or around a birth and we won’t be the last. That said, this is my journey and I’m going to share it honestly in the hopes that it will help others.

Aviva’s Birth Story

I’m not going to tell it like the “birth stories” you read all the time…I’m going to skip to the part where the heart bursts open, rips wider than it ever could and where every single instinct that makes you a parent, kicks in like being hit by a train of love, emotion and fierce over-protectiveness like you never thought you could ever feel. Her first cry. The moment I knew our baby was out of my body and in this world with us.

We had a scheduled C-section for 8am on 8-8-14. She was born at 8:34am and that’s where this story begins. I can’t help but cry through this (already) as the emotions I felt that day are still so real and so raw inside me as if I have PTSD or can’t help but relive it every time I think about it. When I heard her cry I was so overwhelmed with joy and relief that I burst into hysterical tears (they had to give me oxygen) as I watched them run her over to my left where all I saw was a bunch of nurses and my husband huddled over her under the light. This is normal and then they’re supposed to bring her to me right away. That didn’t happen. Instead it took longer and more people crowded around her. I asked “Is she ok?” “Is everything okay?” over and over again (our OB was on the other side of the curtain stitching me up)…no one answered and I could tell something was wrong. Finally, my husband came over and brought her to me and had to tell me that she was cut during the C-section but that she was going to be okay. He was amazingly calm for me (although not at all inside). He told me the cut was on the side of her head and it was deep and hit the muscle- that he had inspected it (he’s an Oculoplastic Surgeon) and decided we needed a Pediatric Surgeon to stitch it up so were waiting on him to arrive. They took her back over to the light and away from me. Still, no one said a word to me and instead just kept stitching me up and getting us all ready to move to the recovery room. Three hours later (yes that’s right)…my husband went with the surgeon and held our daughter while her head got stitched up. Eventually, we all were back in the recovery room together.

This is a very brief and very non-emotional depiction of what happened. It was deeper, heavier, way more scary and intense than I can recount right now. Just trust me.

She got cut- should that have happened? NO! Is that common? NO! Did it get handled right with our OB? NO! I could go on. Sigh. No. Just no. (Days later after we were home, my husband reached out surgeon to surgeon, to talk to our OB about what happened and how it was handled. I also spoke with her at my 2 weeks postpartum appointment. We’ll never be okay about what happened but are trying to move past it).

After we got into recovery my blood pressure dropped super low and they had to pump me full of all sorts of stuff and like 10 lbs of fluid. All we could focus on was this little girl and getting her my Colostrum. My milk hadn’t come in yet (very common after a C-section) so my husband helped me hand express the Colostrum into a little cup and then we were syringe feeding it into her tiny little mouth. Our sweet girl was exhausted! She had that trauma to her head on her way into this world and then had to have a surgery right away. By the time she got back to us, she was out cold. It broke our hearts in two. I was laying there with my catheter in and still totally numb from the breast down from my C-Section spinal block. I was also totally wiped out but every ounce of energy I had was being put towards getting this little love fed.

My husband at this point had checked his rage and emotion about what happened to her in order to be calm for me and to just move this thing forward and make sure she was okay. In my own way I did the same thing because there wasn’t time for us to feel our feelings about what happened. We had to check that at the door and walk through into parenting solely focused on Aviva and what her needs were. No time to cry or to scream about it. No time to ride the emotional wave of “you f-cking hurt my baby…” etc. etc. No time and too selfish. This is Aviva’s story now. Check yourself at the door mom and dad. We’ll deal with you and your emotions later.

This is the beginning of the SHOWING UP. In the OR my husband showed up so big for me and then he just went into surgeon mode and made SURE that she got the proper care and insisted on it even when they wanted to just put some surgery tape over her wound. There was even a vein that ran through that gash in her head, which has subsequently reformed around the scar- amazing. Once we got back to the recovery room we both had to show up for Aviva. We did all we could to get her fed. Then we tried to breastfeed. This poor little thing was so exhausted she was just sleeping through it all. And then when it was time to latch on…she couldn’t do it. She never could, actually. So thus began part two of this story…Aviva’s weight loss after birth.

Aviva was born 6lbs 7.7 ounces and 19inches long. She wasn’t able to latch and breastfeed off of me and so we took to manually expressing my milk and then syringe/tube feeding it into her mouth. This process took at least 2 people and one very exhausted little baby girl mouth. She eventually lost 11% of her body weight. We were told on day 2.5 that unless we were able to get that percentage back to a lower amount, we’d have to stay in the hospital. So at this point we’d seen 2 lactation specialists and had been brought a breast pump. I began pumping my milk and then we’d put her on my breast and tube feed her and try to get her to latch. My husband and I were fiercely committed to getting her weight up and thus stayed up for 24 hours pumping, tube feeding, etc. we were even high five-ing at 3am like “Team Aviva! We got this!” No actually, we were just delirious. Eventually between a nurse and a lactation specialist we were urged to give her some formula just to get her over the hump. This was a very hard thing for me to do as I was so committed to breast milk only for my girl. That said that’s my thing and in order to get her to be okay…she needed this and so she got it. My husband was such a voice of reason for me and calmly helped me work through that to make the right choice for Aviva. So between the one dose of formula and all the pumping and syringe/tube feedings together as a team…we were able to get Aviva to only 7% from her 11% loss and thus on day 4, we were allowed to leave the hospital.

Part three of this story is a thank you to the people who showed up for us SO BIG that we can not even imagine having gone through what we did with out their support. My parents and my brother came into town days before Aviva was born. Once we got to see them hours after her birth (and no one told them what happened and they didn’t know we were okay for way longer than it should’ve ever taken for them to be informed-ugh!!!!) they went into super-amazing-power-support mode. They brought us water, healthy food to eat, made sure we had everything we needed (and often we did not- our hospital experience was subpar on many levels). Most important…they were there to emotionally support us. I can not begin to explain this. My emotions were crazy between my horrible pain, hormones, sadness, anger and fear and the stress that occurred around Aviva’s cut and weight loss. I know there were moments where my dad and my husband were alone and he was able to lean on my dad about his feelings dad to dad, and then when I was alone with my mom and just cried my heart out to  her and she was able to support me and comfort me in the most beautiful way. I just can not say thank them enough for those days in the hospital and what they did for us.

On a side note, this is also when my little brother saw my boobs for the first time. We tried hard to keep them out of his sight but when all you’re doing is whipping those things out to try to feed the baby and every other person that comes in is there to help assist this process..well, it’s hard to hide them. After the hospital and back at home it was just like f-it…there they are. He was such a good sport about it. I am certain when he returned to LA he went right to see a therapist and I don’t blame him. Sorry bro but thanks for looking at my eyes. You were an unreal support to us. What brother shows up for 12 days and gives 100% to help his sister and her husband through this process? Mine. This man knows how to show up in life. Proud to be on the other end of this from him and so blessed. 

Part Four of this birth story is about Aviva’s father. In the moments that followed her coming into this world, my husband began showing up for his daughter in the most beautiful way. He was the one who saw her head was bleeding and immediately jumped on it because no one was telling us what had happened. He then made sure she was taken care of because he knew better, medically and because of that- she won’t have a terrible scar on her head for life and was properly treated for what happened to her. He kept his cool the entire time and gave her calm energy and tremendous love even when he was holding her down while she was being stitched up by the Pediatric Surgeon. He then showed up for me in recover for days like a rockstar. I will never forget this moment in the wee hours of the night we stayed up all night together trying to get her fed when he turned to me and said “We will get through this. We’ll get through anything. I love you and I love her and I am committed to you both and we’ll be okay.” He had tears in his eyes while he said that to me (I was 100% crying ugly cry style) and I knew in my heart what I told him- this is what I have always known about you and why I picked you to be my partner and the father of my children.

In the days and weeks that have followed this hospital stay, my husband has done everything in his power to show up for us both. Watching the man you love go to another level of depth of love and care is a truly special experience. I am honored to be partners in life, love and now parenting with this exceptional man. Aviva is so lucky you are her daddy, Sol. As Aviva’s namesake, my Grandfather Abe used to say, “beautiful.” Yep- just like he said it and every single thing we’ve been through- there you go showing up so big, with love- it’s beautiful. Thank you.

On day four we got to take her home and that’s when the real journey began. Supported for over a week by my folks and my brother with us and all the love from family and friends, we felt blessed. My family bought groceries, cooked meals- most of the time mine needed to be hand fed to me while I was working on breast feeding or trying to syringe/tube feed her or pump my milk for her. They did laundry, cleaned up the house, ran errands (my husband had to go back to work right away) and they gifted us a night time Doula who helped from 11pm-7am so that I could try to sleep and heal in between the 2-3 hours I’d be woken up to feed/pump. They went above and beyond for us all day long and into the night for days and days. Showing up with so much love and emotional support. I am certain Aviva felt their energy and love all along the way too. A beautiful thing. She also got LOTS of snuggles, kisses and holding sessions by her Grandparents while they were here and her uncle Jack serenaded her on the guitar too. Once they all left, it was time for my husband and I to “learn our dance” as my mom put it (so spot on). We had only begun the emotional roller coaster that was the first few weeks of Aviva’s life. There’s so much that went on I’d love to write about but for now, I’m going to focus on one piece of it…

Breastfeeding. Or lack there of:

It didn’t matter how many breast feeding books I read. It didn’t matter how in my mind I knew our breast feeding journey would be so beautiful and important. It didn’t matter how much I was committed to breast feeding Aviva before she was born. Once she was born, and didn’t latch on to my breast- none of that mattered. From day one I was committed to doing all I could to get her to breastfeed.  In the last 6 weeks, we have seen a total of 6 lactation consultants between the 4 in the hospital and the 2 we’ve worked with at home. Totaling 6 opinions of what we should try and do. All of which, we have open-heartedly tried. We’ve tried nipple shields and different holding styles and techniques, different pillows for support, pre-pumping, you name it- we’ve probably tried it. In the beginning, I would pump and we’d syringe, tube feed her while attempting breast feeding as well.

Eventually, she lost weight again and wasn’t in a good zone. We ended up needing to rent a scale for the house. We saw her doctor and where put on a plan which we did 100% and it still didn’t get her weight up enough. So then we had to start bottle feeding. It was the only way to get her weight up to a safe place. So then we tried like 4 different bottle systems until we finally found one that didn’t give her gas, that she didn’t gag on and that worked. All the while, still continuing to try to get her on my breast.

Now let me say this to my own credit and I’m going to emotionally pat myself on the back for a moment here…I was recovering from a C-Section which yes, is a major f-cking surgery folks and painful and rough those first 2 weeks-wow, I was emotionally still reeling from her head being sliced open when I was, I was now watching her head wound and caring for that too, I was upset by how poorly my OB handled the entire situation, I was overly exhausted, my hormones were crashing and crazy,the 10 lbs of fluid they pumped into me at the hospital when my blood pressure dropped were still in my body which felt just awful and looked even scarier, I was feeling a million emotions about her not being able to breast feed, worried about her weight and yet STILL…every single time I put her to my breast…I got totally zen-ed out. I KNOW she feels me. I KNOW she feeds off my energy (maybe not my breast but definitely my energy). So I made sure no matter what- if it was morning, noon or 4am, this baby was put on my body with loving, calmness and nothing else. Every single time. I showed up for her. I checked all the above and put it aside and made sure that when she’s on me, or in my arms- she feels peace and love and me showing up for her. I did it in the hospital and I’m still doing it now.

For moms who are experiencing these problems- pat yourself (yeah right now) on the back. This is SO HARD. You feel like a failure. Our society is has made breast feeding seem like the end-all and if you don’t or can’t do it- yeah- you suck as a mom. Or yeah, you’ve failed your child. Okay- first of all, that is NOT true. If you TRY you have succeeded. If your baby can’t latch, that’s not on you! If you can’t pump milk because you don’t have any AND your baby can’t latch…that’s not on you! I’m lucky in that I have a great milk supply and so I am able to be 100% attached to my breast pump day/night in order to feed my baby through a bottle, breast milk…with love. I will do this as long as I can for the time I feel is right and if things change then we’ll roll with that too. I have learned through my own process with breast feeding that there’s so much pressure to be able to do it and if anything we’re a society obsessed with it. It’s not fair to us moms and it’s by the way not cool to judge people about doing it or not- you do not know their journey so you should not judge it.

I’ve had people talk to me who had the easiest time breast feeding and suggested I go read a book…um, I’ve read that book- there’s nothing I am doing or not doing at this point that will change whether she latches or not. She’s too tiny or her jaw is too tight or whatever it is. That doesn’t help me and it doesn’t feel good. I’ve had people suggest I am stressed and that must be the problem. Again- no. I have only showed up 100% calm and loving while breastfeeding this baby who just, simply can’t latch right.  I wish I could tell everyone to ease up on moms. It’s hard enough one thing to deal with, but several and with all this pressure? It’s not fair and it’s not okay. I wish this could change I really do. I’m sharing this to try to do my part to shift things a little. If you’re going through this stuff- honey hold on to your heart…you can only do so much and then you just have to do what YOU feel as the mom, is best for your baby. If it’s pumping your milk and you have milk to pump- do it! If it’s formula and bottles- do that! The baby will thrive if it’s fed and if it’s receiving LOVE. End. Of. Story.

What goes on with pumping and trying to breast feed at the same time:

– ripped up nipples

-clogged milk ducts

-severe breast pain

-severe nipple pain

-your life is no longer your own…it belongs to the pumping schedule, for so long as you choose to pump

-needing to upgrade to a better pump

-investing in every single size of pump accessories as every few days things change or stop working

-trying a million different nipple creams, heat, ice, cabbage on your breasts, massaging your breasts, nipple protectors, nipple shields, nipple pads…

There’s more but these are just a few things. And you know what- ALL WORTH IT! I’m happy as a clam that I am lucky enough to have milk and to be able to pump it and feed our baby. She’s also latching now at times and I continue to work to try to get her on the breast but if it doesn’t happen I’m totally okay with it because I know I tried and she tried and at the end of the day, she’s gaining weight beautifully now and totally thriving!!! As a mom, what more can you ask for?!

Side note: MIND-BODY CONNECTION: The night my milk went away…

The day after my parents left and we were still very much in the thick of the very stressful pumping/tube feeding our baby who had lost weight zone…all of a sudden, a totally sleep deprived, stressed out, pain-ridden me stopped being able to pump out any milk. This went on for hours. In the middle of the night my husband (once again showing up for me) checked to see how much was in the fridge and realized only about an ounce. Instead of telling me this, he came in to the nursery and told me that in the morning (he’d taken off from work that day to be with us- times were TOUGH that week and thank God he was there as I wasn’t even allowed to drive at that time post surgery) if I couldn’t pump milk then we’d go rent the same pump the hospital had (which our Doula had assured us was the best pump if you’re exclusively pumping) and we’d try that and if that didn’t work then we’d get formula and told me over and over again that no matter what he’s there with me and that she’s going to be okay.

This calmed me and I was able to meditate myself to sleep (I meditate all the time and I highly recommend it). In the morning she had that one ounce but my milk wasn’t happening. Off we went the three of us to rent the pump, stop by her doctor to pick up formula samples in case we needed to use them and all sorts of milk supply stuff that our lactation consultant suggested. The love and calm from my husband and from that storage space inside me where I had to go get some from, plus the sleep I finally got, plus the new awesome pump…and poof! We got milk! And not only did we get milk…we got lot’s of it. Only goes to show that your mind and body are SO connected. The moment I calmed inside and believed she’d be okay no matter what…baby got milk. She’s still getting it and we have a whole freezer of extra milk just in case!

Yes this is the longest blog ever and yet I haven’t even scratched the surface of all I wanted to share! I’ll save some of it for another time. For now I just want to say, in all of this the message was clear…life is all about showing up. Love is about showing up. Showing up physically for people, or emotionally, spiritually. Just show up! It serves your heart and the person on the other end.

To the love of my life, Aviva Zelda….I will ALWAYS show up for you. You forever have my all and your daddy’s too. To the people who showed up for us in all the ways you did- there are so many of you, we both want to say thank you. It meant the world to us and always will. Now I have to go show up for Aviva and pump and feed her, change her, rock her and look into those baby blues and tell her mommy loves her. I know she can feel it….

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About her name:

Aviva: She’s named after my dad’s father Abe (Abraham/Avraham). Her name is Hebrew and means springtime, renewal, new life. I had a very special connection with him and when he passed away, years ago, vowed to name my first child after him. Thankfully, my husband also found this beautiful and so we did just that.

Zelda: This was my dad’s mother, Selma’s Hebrew name. Grandma Selma passed away this year while I was pregnant with Aviva. She was so over-joyed and excited about Aviva before she passed at 96. She called all the time to talk about my pregnancy and when she found out it was a girl, was beside herself. That coupled with my grandma’s lifelong commitment to Hadassah it seemed fitting to use her Hebrew name, Zelda, which means happiness.

Aviva is our renewal. She is our springtime, our new life and our happiness.

A Room For Her To Dream In…

1We’re having our baby in 12 days! Her room is ready and we can’t wait to bring her home to this peaceful space where she’ll get to dream until next summer (when we’ll be moving on to our next adventure as a family)! Here’s a peak at our little girl’s nursery! There’s no specific theme but there are a lot of butterflies around. The large pieces such as the crib, the dresser, nursing chair and ottoman, rug, changing table dresser, are all white, cream or light wood. I thought this made sense so they can all be used again because they are gender neutral. So, if we have a boy next then we’ll only need to add accents to the nursery set up and can re-use everything else. Since we’re having a little girl now, I chose accents in soft pinks, yellows, greens, beige, some purples and greens, blues too. The main accent color being soft shades of pink but they’re very much accents and not over powering it all. The room in the sunshine feels very bright, light and calm. The whites and creams pop out and it’s very serene. 
2In the darker hours the room gives off a candle light color and glow. It’s all exactly how I envisioned it. I’m so excited to get to rock her in this chair and put her down to sleep in this crib under her butterfly dream catchers with crystals and feathers softly floating above her. Here’s wishing for sweet dreams baby!

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Dresser, hamper, basket of stuffed animals, a couple books, a bird night light and a painting of me, pregnant as a butterfly by my friend Kim McBride. The butterflies around me in the painting were finger-painted by my female friends and family who came to my Mother’s Blessing party to wish me well on my journey into motherhood.

What’s in these drawers…..
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The changing table all set with the basic needs for the first little while. I’ve chosen to try the Honest Company’s diaper and wipes bundle. They deliver it to your door and in my research, it’s the safest for sensitive baby skin brand out there that’s also affordable. We’re stocked up on the newborn size and we’re going to give it a try and see if it works for her! Other items include Angel Baby Bottom Balm, Coconut Oil (I plan on using this for her “lotion” in her massages and will probably use on her tushy too- safest option in my opinion). For bath time we’re going to try California Baby Super Sensitive Shampoo and Bodywash.

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The nursing chair and ottoman is the best! Land of Nod has the best chair options out there. It’s going to be such a dream rocking our baby in this chair, nursing her next to my little bunny light. I can’t wait to fill this little picture frame with our baby’s face! It’s waiting and ready. A little Hamsa hangs next to my nursing chair with a beautiful Hebrew prayer for a baby girl. I wear one around my neck and it’s my gift to my baby girl’s room…a little something from her mom to protect her in spirit.

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12 11 I love our crib and sheets/changing pad/towel sets by Dwell Studio.5And finally…a little peak at this (mostly pink) closet! Thanks to our dear friends and family for all of this! We’re so touched and blessed by your generosity- these gifts and hand-me-downs are just the sweetest and I can’t wait to see her in all of them! It’s going to be so much fun dressing her up!  On top of the closet we have a stack of swaddle sacks, swaddle and receiving blankets as well as a stack of burp cloths and heavier blankets for when fall/winter comes our way. I pre-washed EVERYTHING you see in this entire room in Honest detergent or Seventh Generation detergent.

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All set…now all we need is our baby! :)

 

This blog is dedicated to all my “skinny jeans”…

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I have to assume it’s common at 9+ months pregnant to have dreams about wearing clothes you haven’t been able to wear in months right? (Let’s just say it is and that my latest fantasy wouldn’t be considered “weird” at all)… This isn’t like a sex fantasy it’s like, a fashion fantasy. It’s been a reoccurring dream I’ve been having lately where I get to open up my drawer of skinny jeans, pick any pair I want, put them on, zip them up with ease, button the button around my waist and then in an effortless and carefree way, toss on a heal, pick a fabulous top that doesn’t require a bra with the letter G or F on the tag, grab my beautiful baby, put her in the stroller (and yes she looks fabulous in this dream too- totally baby-chic in a little onesie someone got us that has “Je t’aime” written on it, a baby denim pant and adorable little booties) and off I go for some kind of cat walk like walk down the street, smiling at her sweet face the entire way). Total fashion fantasy pregnancy dream.

(Note: picture above is of me and one of my dearest friends Alex aka my “gay husband” who’s soon to be a “guncle” (gay uncle) to our little one. He’s also the most stylish man and I happen to be wearing my ultimate favorite skinny jeans (that I also was wearing when I met my husband for the first time so they’re extra special ones). I’m wearing vintage Gucci heals and some top that doesn’t matter- it’s all about those jeans!)

So when will I be back in these favorite jeans? The answer is simple- I have no idea! Also, it doesn’t really matter. The baby weight we gain WILL come off eventually and the jeans will be back in rotation but who knows when or how long it’ll take. So this brings me to the “why” of this blog. Why the hell am I sharing my weird jean fantasy and talking about skinny jeans right now? Simple- because the issue of pregnancy weight gain and post pregnancy weight loss is on all our minds but mostly- it’s in our faces! We preggo ladies can’t get away from reading about or hearing about the latest celebrity or model who just gave birth then walked the Victoria Secret runway 2 months later, or who “bounced back after baby” in what seems like a miraculous amount of time only to look almost better than she did before she got knocked up! What the hell? How do these women do this? More important- holy sh-t that’s a lot of pressure society- thanks a lot! Jeez!

Let me shed some light on at least part of this. I have worked in fashion in my past and have known plenty of models, actresses, and socialites over the years. I know what their lifestyles can be like, some of the secrets they have about pregnancy (I will share in a moment) and also the fact that financially, many of them can afford things that 99% of women on this planet can not (personal chef, personal trainer, nutritionist, tons of help at home, etc).

The bottom line is this: do NOT compare yourself to anyone but yourself! It’s one of the hardest things to do as a woman who lives in our society bombarded by images and stories that are meant to make us feel like poop and teach the men in our society that we should be super-human and that what is beautiful is something that most of us can’t possibly attain with out being unhealthy in some way. Not to get on a soap box here but I think it’s SO important when nearing the end of pregnancy and looking ahead to the next phase, to try to be kind to ourselves and realistic.

During my pregnancy I have been taken back by the number of comments I’ve received about the size of my bump or questions about my weight gain. I’ve spoken with pregnant friends and all of us have had the same experiences. This only reinforces that our pregnancy weight gain or weight loss post baby, should be a personal thing. The truth is that just as every woman’s body is different, so is every woman’s pregnancy. My pregnancy is totally different than my friend’s. Each of them has had their own personal struggles just as I have had mine and none of us share the exact same experience so why would we share the same weight gain or loss?

Health plays a part in all of this too don’t forget. For example I haven’t been able to work out for months now aside from the occasional prenatal yoga class because working out was triggering my pregnancy migraines. So, I had to stop. I went from lot’s of activity to very little and for months, of course that will play a role in how my body looks, feels, what I weigh or perhaps even how I bounce back after child birth. Only time will tell. So, how do I feel reading about pregnant women being super active while I’ve been laid up on the couch more than I’d like to remember these past nine months? A little jealous but then I remind myself- that’s their pregnancy journey and I can’t compare myself to it.

So if you’re pregnant and looking at what society’s images and stories are telling you, I urge you to shut the magazine, turn off the TV, close your Facebook feed and do something that makes YOU feel good about you. Or meditate and feel your beautiful baby growing inside you and focus on what this is all about. It helps and it brings you back to the center of all this- you are creating LIFE. There’s no size or weight range or activity level that has anything to do with this- just your body doing something miracle-like and it’s perfect, just as it is.

Now just because you shouldn’t compare yourself to the latest pregnant celeb doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to know about a couple tricks they use to get their bodies back fast. I will now share two of them with you. And yes, I am planning on doing both of these things so I will also try to report back on how it worked out for my body after baby (at some point).

1. The Belly Bandit– This belly wrap is considered the best out there and they make different versions of it for different needs. I will be using the one designed for mom’s who’ve had c-sections as it will best suit my needs. I would suggest you look through the website and learn about why compression is so wonderful and which one is best for you. The bottom line here is that by wearing a wrap you will help your uterus go back to it’s normal size much faster than it otherwise would. There’s also a ton of support for your back and stomach muscles here and as far as I’m concerned, there is no reason not to try this! I already have mine so I can get in it as soon as possible after birth!

2. ShrinkxHips– Many pregnant women’s hips have shifted and widened in order to allow for space to hold the baby. This is another wrap made to help your hips go back to their normal size. I’m going to try it with the Belly Bandit and see if it works. I’m not sure I’ll wear both but if I can, I will. It also will depend on my c-section recovery. If one of these goes out the door for me it’ll be this one but I plan on trying. I have it ready to go when I’m ready. I also have purchased this company’s C-Panty made for women who are recovering from c-sections, like myself. Looking forward to reporting back on all of these!

The other secrets these women in the media have are the amount of help they have around them and the resources they have to get back in shape like their life depends on it. Remember, for many of these women their career does depend on their body looking a certain way. Chances are, yours does not. So, give yourself a break! Just focus on taking care of your baby with all the love and attention you have to give and also being GOOD to yourself! Eat healthy and balanced, drink lots of water and do what you can with what you have to work with! I know I will be recovering from a c-section and so my jumping back into my work out routines will not be on the same timeline as my friends who are having natural childbirth. That’s okay! It’s all good! I will do what I can and keep my focus on taking care of me so I can take the best care of my little girl.

The skinny jeans in my fashion fantasy may collect some more dust and that’s all right with me. The most important thing is that I am the best for my baby and that means being kind to myself so I can show her from day one what’s important and being “perfect” by what society shows us, is not it. Being HAPPY, is. Happy, is beautiful!!!! (And it’s sexy too)! ;)

Note: If you’re struggling with how to answer questions about your pregnancy weight gain or if you feel someone is out of line, judging, or upsetting you about your body during this time, try these answers on for size:

* That’s personal and what’s important is that my baby is healthy. 

* I don’t discuss my weight with people. I’m sure you don’t either. (Smile)

* Thank you for the concern with my pregnancy. Let’s talk about how excited I am to have this baby!

* You think my bump is (too small/too big)?! That’s so interesting! I think it’s my perfect bump! (Laugh it off and rub your perfect bump!)

*No I’m not worried about loosing my pregnancy weight. All I care about is that my baby is healthy! 

I urge you to try to change how much focus is on the weight and body issues around pregnancy and postpartum loss by changing the conversation. Re-direct it back to what’s important- the baby’s health and yours. One woman at a time, perhaps we can nudge our way through what society is feeding us so that it’ll be different for our daughters!

 

 

3 Week Countdown and the Magic Question: Are You Ready???

our little girls face at 36 weeks ultra-sound

our little girls face at 36 weeks ultra-sound

“Are you ready?” This is the magic question at 9 months pregnant and 3 weeks to go until our planned C-Section on Aug. 8th! Everyone is asking me this from the check out lady at my local organic market to my family and friends. Ready? Hmmm, is anyone ever really “ready” to have a baby? This is the magic question and it seems to deserve a pretty amazing answer so I’ve been giving it a lot of thought.

Part of me wants to say YES! I have been ready to be a mother since I was about 10 years old and I started the “Mother’s Helpers” baby sitting service in our neighborhood in Tucson, AZ. All I wanted to do was baby sit everyone’s kids and soon after I launched my first business venture, I was booked solid and had to enlist other “mother’s helpers” to fill the load. I LOVED taking care of children and people just trusted me. This went on for years. There were a couple of families I baby sat for every summer in Coronado, CA when we vacationed there and truly there wasn’t anything that brought me more joy than watching those kids at night (and playing with them during the day on the beach as our families would hang out in one big group almost daily). The best!

By the time I was entering college I think I knew I was “weird” because when my girlfriends would talk about what they wanted to be when they grew up (in a very serious, slightly “I am woman hear me roar” but not like a loud roar, more of a cool roar because we went to NYU and thus were sort of above roaring kind of way)….the first thing that I thought was “a mom.” GASP! Dare I say that out loud? No, no, I’d pick something else to speak on but that was my real answer. I would even fantasize about being a mom sometimes and dream about how it would feel, how it would look, how I would be with my children. Those thoughts always brought me a lot of peace. I never thought I’d have to wait until 34 to actually become a mom but as life turns out in a perfect surprise in the way only life can, here I am and the other part of my dream is my partner in this mother thing- my partner in everything, my husband. The road to him wasn’t a perfect dream but being with him is and so because I’m with him, yeah, I’m “ready”.

But are we really ready? My latest pregnancy insomnia situation would tell you no- no we are NOT ready and let me tell you WHY (but let me wait until about 1:30am to start thinking about it and then I’ll tell you by about 3-4:45am). We’re not ready because we don’t know exactly how to deal with every single parenting situation I can think of between the hours of 12-5am. We aren’t ready because we haven’t discussed every single detail of how we’re going to do every single thing. We aren’t ready because of the unknown, because of the scary, because of our own issues that we’re still working on with in ourselves, because of our fears. We aren’t ready because I don’t even know all the reasons why we’re not ready but I know there are so many more of them!

So, no- we’re not “ready” but you know what we are….we’re “set.” We’re set to go. We’re set because I’ve got us so outrageously organized that we could go into labor right now (please God don’t let me go into labor right now) and everything from our hospital bags to the emergency call list to the baby’s nursery and all things needed to care for her are all set and done. THOSE things, are ready. We’re set because I’ve got a planned C-Section (because I have to have one and have finally come to terms with that at 9 months pregnant). While I re-coup I have all the help I need with family coming in and a night time doula, to allow me to heal while still being 100% there for our little girl. Everyone who’s going to be around her has taken the latest infant CPR training course and has had a shot necessary here in Washington because of an outbreak of whooping cough, which can be deadly to a newborn (really people please vaccinate your kids this is ridiculous). So we’re set on safety and support. We’re also set because I’ve read a ton about everything newborn related and feel pretty prepared. We’re set because I’ve decided how to set up doing things but have a back up plan if they don’t work well with our baby (remember man plans and God laughs). We’re set because we’re organized and we’re informed.

I feel like I’ve practiced my entire life for motherhood by watching other’s parent, by taking notes from my own parents, by baby sitting, being an observer, reading, dreaming about it. Even living my life and learning and growing, evolving into who I am today and all I know today was preparation. I feel like I’ve been preparing for this my whole life sometimes knowingly sometimes not. I am so set, so organized, so excited and over the moon about this that I can barely breathe as I think about holding her for the first time. I’m ready to be her mom as much as I can be today and tomorrow and the next and the next it’ll probably be the same answer.

I’m not ready to love her though….because I already do and truly, that’s all SHE really needs from me, isn’t it? There it is- magical answer to the magical question. Now I just have to get through the next 3 weeks and perhaps at some point, get some sleep (that may help me get even more ready).