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. 

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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).

 

 

3rd Trimester Book Suggestions: What I’m reading now

books3rdtrimesterIf you’ve been following this blog or me on Instagram, etc. you’ll probably know that I have become a total pregnancy nerd (term lovingly coined by my husband, the MD.PHD Oculoplastic surgeon/scientist….ya honey it takes one to know one umkaaay)….  😉 I have totally embraced being a nerd. First of all- I think nerds are hot (see above mention of who I chose to have a life and a baby with) and also I think being informed is powerful and calming.. The more I know going into anything important, the better. Nothing is more important to me in life than being a mom…the job I am about to take on, for life. So with that said….let’s get our sexy-hot-nerdy read on!!!

In the 3rd trimester these have been my favorite go-to books. Take them or leave them but in my opinion, these are some really wonderful, helpful reads to help prepare you for the first few months of motherhood. Here’s my list in no particular order (in fact I will be honest I am usually reading 2-4 books at the same time these days)….

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding– By, Diana West, Diane Wiessinger and Teresa Pitman

This book is enormous and I don’t think you need to read every single word but it’s extremely helpful if you plan to breastfeed your baby. I am certain it’s also a good book to have on hand while breastfeeding so that if you need some support you can look things up directly in the book to answer your questions, give you suggestions on how you may do things differently and calm your nerves. So all in all I say read up on how to start out but also keep this book next to your nursing chair just in case!

The New Jewish Baby Book: Names, Ceremonies & Customs- A Guide for Today’s Families- By, Anita Diamant

This book is obviously not for everyone nor is it really necessary for anyone unless you’re like me: Jewish and wanting to create a Jewish home for your family but in a modern way that works for you. My husband and I love traditions that our religion has brought to our life and both have a very strong Jewish identity. We have and will continue to have a Jewish home, but, we often find things to be outdated and not always on par with either how we live/think or how life is in today’s times. There are a lot of wonderful things in this book that help the modern Jewish mom and dad to be think about how to celebrate your baby’s birth, bring new life into your home and start to create a path for your baby’s Jewish life in a way that is loving, spiritual, special and right for you. It’s not a how to kind of book but it’s full of ideas- some that I have found truly lovely and will probably take from in our home/life as new parents. I haven’t finished this book yet but I enjoy opening it up to break up my other reads now and then.

The Happiest Baby on the Block– By, Harvey Karp

You may have heard about this book as it’s quite popular and for good reason! I absolutely loved reading this book! If you read only one book from this list- let this be it! This is the how to calm your crying baby book that above anything else I have ready, breaks it down, teaches you WHY they are crying, how to figure out what to do about it and most important- teaches you about the 4th trimester. That’s right- the 4th trimester. Our baby’s first few months of life is just that. They aren’t fully ready to be on the outside yet, they really need a fourth trimester and something our bodies just can’t give them. To make the transition easy for life outside the womb, we must understand how to re-create what it was like for them in the womb as much as we can. This will make our baby’s first few months of life (and ours as parents) much easier and less stressful. I love this book, can’t recommend it enough and will keep it close by for reference in case we need it after our baby is born.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child– By, Marc Weissbluth, M.D.

This is another great book to help teach you how to prevent and deal with your baby’s good sleeping habits. I’m not finished reading it yet but I am loving what I’m learning and I feel like the more you know about how to prevent things, the better you are prepared to start off on the right foot with your baby’s sleeping (which of course also means your sleeping) for the first few months. This is a great book and I think, a very worthy read.

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with Your Baby- By, Tracy Hogg with Melinda Blau

Last but not least one of my favorites from this list! I LOVE this book. There’s so much in here that just resinated with me about how to communicate with our baby. There are many things that are on par with Harvey Karp’s book as well. Only reinforcing for me how important understanding what your baby really needs you to do for it in the “4th trimester” is. This is also a good book to hang on to for after you have the baby and need help with certain situations. I think it’ll be a good go-to book to have on hand for any new mommy.

Enjoy getting your nerd on! Knowledge is power mama!!!