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 !!!!!

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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. 

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! 🙂

 

It’s a GIRL!!!!

This is the song that immediately came into my mind when we found out the sex of our baby! Then I found myself in pilates class a couple days later only to have it come on in my instructor’s playlist. I’m pretty sure I was doing squats on the reformer using some serious inner thigh and core control when the song came on. All of a sudden I started smiling like a total weirdo (everyone else looked pained by the squatting). The song immediately took me out of my physical body and into some dream fantasy world where I was doing this work out with my little girl and then I was teaching her how to dance and we were doing some kind of free form modern ballet thing in the living room together, laughing and having the best time. Then I was in the kitchen with her and she was helping me cook and learning from my no recipe free form creative style of cooking. Then we were walking hand in hand on the beach, talking about what was going on at school and with her life, she was looking to me for advice and I was able to take from my own life experiences to help her. And then…

The music switched to something else and we got to stop squatting. You’d think I’d snap back into my body but nope…for the duration of the class I felt like my work out was with someone else and I was taking care of her too not just of my own body. I felt like we shared something special and unlike anything I’ve ever felt in my life. The names my husband and I have been toying around with all floated in and out of my ethereal state. What will she look like? What will her laugh sound like? Will she like fashion and girlie things or be the opposite of her mom and be sporty? Will she take after me and become a dancer? Will she take after her dad and become a scientist? A doctor? Will she like to draw and paint like me or be a musician like her father? Will she like boys or girls? Will she like to cook with me? Will she like to be in nature or prefer the city? Will she get the travel bug like both of us? And of course, everyone is making bets on will she have curls or not? Will she have blonde, brunette or even red (it’s in the genetic pool) hair? Will she get the blue eyes or will they be darker? Will she be tall like us? All legs like her mom? Will she be shy or not? Will she love to snuggle like we do?

As the days have gone on knowing we’re having a girl, I’ve been thinking…

Will she be brave? Will she be strong? Will she be emotionally intelligent? Will she be proud? Will she be compassionate? Will she know how to love unconditionally? Will she be able to receive love with out fear? Will she be kind, gentle, nurturing? Will she be outspoken and stand up for what she believes in? Will she care for humanity and be gracious? Will she know her own strength of character, mind and body and feel grounded in that? Will she have love of self and self worth for what is inside her? Will she be passionate about life and love, all the world offers up to her? Will she create joy in her life? Will she take risks while striving for happiness? Will she be able to feel sexy for other reasons than her physical beauty? Will she approach life in a positive way? Will she find what she loves, what makes her happy and go for it no matter what?

Will she know she is loved with all my heart, soul, every ounce of my being, even now, and for always, no matter what?

So many of these answers I can’t wait to find out and only time will tell. Others, are in my husband’s and my hands as we set her foundation from the moment she enters this world. I can’t wait to meet her and show her love and ya, how to dance around the house to great music with out a care in the world!

We’re having a girl. Watch out world!

(And THIS is what my husband has been singing around the house since we found out…)