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Motherhood

    Motherhood, Parenting

    Walking With Your Child Through Their Struggles

    Yesterday, while at a lunch playdate with some friends, my two and half year old came up to me after being away playing for awhile. He tugged on my arm and said, “Mommy, that boy push me”. I said, “Oh no, I’m so sorry! Tell him, ‘Please don’t push me, that’s not nice'”. And he ran off as happy as could be. Later, I couldn’t find him in the playplace for awhile, until I found him in a corner of a tunnel protectively holding his cars he had brought while another little boy was trying to grab them. He was just sitting there saying, “Stop, don’t do that!”. Just sitting there.

    I didn’t think much of it until later, when all of a sudden I realized the significance of that moment in time and I almost started to cry. Eighteen months ago, this day seemed far away. When he was about sixteen months old, he started to go through a hitting and pushing phase. It was random and didn’t seem to be a reaction to anything, just something he started doing. It’s a common phase that toddlers go through, but that doesn’t mean it is not a hard phase.

    This affected me as a mother in a significant way. No matter how much I snuggled him, hugged him, spoke kindly to him or reacted after each instance, nothing changed. It made socializing with other moms and kids so hard. I sometimes avoided going to playdates because I knew I wouldn’t be able to be too far away from him.  I struggled with how to respond. I struggled with feeling judged by those around me. Honestly, I probably had a harder time with this phase than my little boy did.

    Finally, I had to make a decision. I knew that he was not an aggressive little boy. I knew that he was simply trying to communicate and interact with others, and he just wasn’t able to in the way he wanted. But others didn’t know that. I eventually had to choose to walk with him through his struggle. I had to stop paying attention to those around me that gave judgmental and sometimes hurtful comments or stares to me or to my child. The thing is, I understood where they were coming from too. It’s a mama bear thing. But my little boy was also not even two. It would be different if he was eight or even four or five.

    Instead, I had to choose to focus on him and walk with him through this phase of his life. It didn’t mean I didn’t tell him no, or put him in timeout, or respond when he hit or pushed someone. But it was loving and always followed with me telling him I loved him and that he was a good boy. I gave him love. I played with him at the park. Every time I put him down to sleep I whispered in his ear that he was a good, sweet boy.

    This went on for several months. I started to see slow declines in his hitting and pushing and it was so encouraging. He was a bit slow to talk and the more he was able to communicate, the instances decreased more and more. Now they are almost nonexistent (except for the occasional target- his little sister who doesn’t know how to wrestle yet) –almost eighteen months later.  It took eighteen months. But he and I, we worked together, I walked with him and loved him through it and we made it!

    So back to my experience yesterday. While he has been doing great for several months now, this was the first time I heard him communicate so clearly with me and I could see and hear that he got it. So fulfilling as a mom.

    It also got me thinking about all I have ahead of me. This little trial was probably very small compared to some of the struggles and trials my kids will go through as they grow up. I’m so grateful for this experience because it gave me a chance to see what it means to walk with my child through a struggle, to love them through it, not shame them and both of us come out better on the other side.

    So if you find yourself in the middle of a struggle with your child, walk with them through it, love them, build them up ad you will find yourself, and probably them, better on the other side.

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    Motherhood

    Baby Basics for the First Year

    basicbaby-essentials

    My baby is going to be one this week. I can’t believe it. This year has flown by. I have written a few posts about pregnancy and having a newborn. Today I wanted to share my favorite baby products. These are the ones that were most used and most trusted. Most of them happen to be pretty economical choices. There are thousands of baby products out there. I am not against the higher end or more expensive products, but I have found that many times, the lesser known and less expensive brands and products work just as well. At this point, I have used these for multiple babies and have had great luck with all of them. I would say they are my go to baby products and I probably could have survived with just these products alone (I didn’t put diapers on this list- Kirkland brand from Costco, same with wipes).

    FEEDING. Read my post here about my approach to feeding. By my third baby, I figured out exactly how I liked feeding and what made me the most comfortable. I also found the products that I just kept going back to.

    bottles

    photo source: Amazon

    Evenflo bottlesThese are probably the most inexpensive, simple bottles out there. I have used the more expensive bottles, with multiple parts, before and they were fine. But these bottles worked just as well for me. My babies never seemed to be bothered by them, have an increased amount of gas, etc. I usually bought the three packs at Target for three or four dollars. I wish I would have looked on Amazon first, because these are fun colors!

    breast-pump

    photo source: Amazon

    Medela breast pumpI used this a lot with my second and third babies. Almost exclusively for a few months with both. It was covered by my insurance, so it was definitely the economical choice! Check with your insurance to find out what breast pumps they cover. Again, this one probably isn’t the top of the line, but it did the job when I needed it to, and that’s what matters! It was fairly small and portable. My oldest used to call it my “feeding box,” so there’s that.

    formula

    photo source: Costco

    Kirkland FormulaIf you read the post I linked above, you’ll know that by 6 months with all of my pregnancies, I had switched completely to formula. Clearly, formula is not the most economical choice (nursing=free) but for my sanity and peace of mind, the money was worth it. And when it came to buying formula, this was the best for me hands down. The price was great and my babies never seemed to have issues with it. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good formula!

    BABY STUFF. It seems like there is so much “stuff” you can get out there for babies! So much. And a lot of it is really innovative and neat. For me, I was kind of a stick-to-the-basics kind of girl. So, here are a few of the basics we used that worked really well for us.

    baby-monitor

    photo source: Amazon

    V-tech Baby Monitor. Again, probably one of the cheaper options out there. With my third baby, I went back and forth about whether or not to get a video monitor. With my first, we didn’t even use a baby monitor. We lived in a small apartment and could hear every sound. And really, the same was true with our second baby. We had one for traveling, but that was it! With this last baby, we were a little more spread out from her once she started sleeping in her room, so a monitor was needed. But, in the end, the only reason I wanted a video monitor was that it sounded cool. Both my other babies did fine with an audio monitor, or even no monitor at all! And the only time I use a monitor is when I am asleep, so I wouldn’t be looking at anything anyway! So we went with this basic monitor that has worked great for us.

    pacifiers

    photo source: Amazon

    Nuk pacifiersAll my babies have been binky babies and all of them have loved these Nuk pacifiers. If you need a pacifier, find out which ones your baby likes, but I would recommend giving these a try. They stick around for a while. We have probably owned every design, size and color of these guys. We are currently trying to pry them out of my two and a half year old’s hands, er, mouth.

    blankets

    photo source: Amazon

    aden + anais BlanketsAnother favorite in our house. What’s not to like about these giant, soft, cuddly blankets? We currently have eight in our house. All gifted or bought with gift cards. My middle baby sleeps with all four of his, every night. My youngest always sleeps with one, too. It’s like instant cuddling when ever a corner of one of these blankets touches your cheek. Love them.

    sound-machine

    photo source: Amazon

    Sound machine. I love these things. We have used them for all of our babies. They are perfect for drowning out noise and helping babies stay asleep. They also become a sort of signal that it is time to go to sleep. I take my baby in her room, turn on the sound machine and her head instantly drops to my shoulder. They are great for traveling and staying in hotels too! I linked to the one we have, but I’m pretty sure any kind would do the job.

    high-chair

    photo source: Amazon

    High chair. This IKEA high chair is just the best. Inexpensive, durable, easy to clean and its simple look goes well in any kitchen (because that’s important, am I right?). We had a different high chair with our first, and this one is hands down better and easier.

    Well, there you have it. Some of my favorite and most used baby products. If there is anything I have learned over the course of three babies, is that sometimes, simple and basic is better. Of course, all the other stuff is fun and I like it too, don’t get me wrong. But when it comes down to it, these are the essentials that we have used over and over again in the first year and it’s helped these sweet, squishy babies survive their parents just doing the best they can!

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    Motherhood, Parenting

    Choosing Formula Over Stress

    You know the saying, “There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one”? For me, formula has been one way I could be a good mother.

    My first baby had a seven day hospital stay after her birth. In that time, she was fed from a tube with formula and then milk that I pumped once it was available. When she came home, we tried our best for a few weeks, but ultimately switched over to formula when she was about two months old.

    Along came my second baby and nursing lasted a bit longer, around five or six months. At that point, nursing was starting to cause a lot of stress for me. My baby would get distracted by my toddler, my toddler would wreak havoc while I was trying to nurse and going out in public with the possibility of having to feed my baby raised my blood pressure a little too much.

    With my third baby, it was the same. We lasted about five months. Now my baby was distracted by two older siblings, two active children who had a hard time occupying themselves, and double the stress of going out in public, finding a spot to nurse, occupy the older two, or have all four of us sit in the car while the baby ate. It started to be too much for me.

    And here’s the part that caused the most guilt for me. I did not enjoy nursing. It was not a bonding experience for me. I did it because I knew it was “the best thing for my baby.” The guilt of wanting to stop and not enjoying it was so heavy for me.

    Fortunately, I had an amazing support system (doctors, husband, parents, etc) who did not make me feel guilty at all, they encouraged me and made me feel confident.

    When I chose to switch to formula each of the three times it was like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I felt free and relaxed. Feeding time became a time I looked forward to and did become a bonding experience for me and my babies.

    I know and understand that breastfeeding might be the most natural and nutritionally specific for babies, but for me formula was such a blessing. My three healthy and happy babies are proof.

    So I am here to say, your feelings are important too when it comes to how you feed your baby. Mommy instinct includes not just the needs of your baby, but your needs as well. Be confident in your feelings and choices. However you feed your baby, you are doing an awesome job! Your baby is happy, healthy and thriving!

    In terms of price point, between breastfeeding and formula clearly breastfeeding wins by a landslide, hands down. Ha. But if you find yourself in the position of needing or wanting formula, might I suggest Costco? With my second baby I discovered Kirkland brand formula. So. much. money. saved. Here’s a funny story to illustrate my love for Costco formula:

    Earlier this year, I went to Costco to purchase our next few cans of formula. I was so disappointed when I got there to find out that the formula was being “deleted” from their merchandise. The nice employee didn’t know if it would come back in a few months or if it was gone for good. So I did the only natural thing a person who swears by the stuff  would do. I called three different Costco stores to find out where they still had it in stock and drove to the closest one (twenty minutes away) to buy twelve cans. Proof:

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    It lasted us a few months and then, thankfully, the brought my beloved Costco formula back and all is right in the world. Only one more month of formula, hooray!

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    Motherhood

    5 Ways to Take Care of Yourself After Your Baby Is Born

    About six days after my baby was born last November, my parents took my older two for the day. This left me home with my brand new baby for the whole day. I was looking forward to this day so much. I planned that we would  help it, I planned to do a little cleaning and organizing also.

    At about 9 am, we were doing the planned snuggling and nursing, when my cute little one week old had a rather large blowout all over my white sheets. I thought to myself, “I got this!” I was feeling great and energized. So I put her in the bassinet and gathered up all my sheets and put them in the wash. Feeling accomplished, I started working on something else. About 15 minutes later, I went looking for my phone. I couldn’t find it anywhere. Then, my stomach basically dropped to the floor as I realized exactly where it was and I headed straight for the laundry room. I frantically went through the wash and sure enough, there was my phone at the bottom of the washing machine, soaking wet and completely dead. In a split second, my dreamy day went out the window and for the rest of the day I sat on the couch holding my baby and cried. Over my phone. That is not a joke.

    In about three weeks, my baby will be one. This year has flown by at lightning speed. Seriously. As time inches closer to her first birthday, I’ve been thinking about what I have learned after having three babies. The short answer is: a lot. So many things. One thing I learned for certain, as most every new mom learns, is that the first few weeks after baby can be hard. There are a thousand (or more) lists out there about how to prepare for your baby. I’ve noticed there are not as many about how to prepare yourself for after the baby is born. After my first was born, I did not feel prepared for what I would experience being at home alone with a baby. It was isolating and lonely at times. So with my second and third, I made sure to have a plan, even just a mental one, of some ways I would prepare for those first few weeks.

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    1. Plan what you will wear: I know, this sounds so silly. You’re thinking, “I just had a baby, I will be wearing sweats all day everyday”. I wholeheartedly support that, one hundred percent. What I mean is, plan what insanely comfortable clothes you will wear. For me, it was leggings and loose shirts (not regular t-shirts). This made me feel somewhat put together (literally and figuratively) and not quite as zombie-like. Buy a few new things to wear those first few weeks, it makes a huge difference.
    2. Accept the help: I am a very independent person by nature and I admit it is hard for me to ask for help for on many things.  With my third baby especially, if someone offered help, I tried really hard to accept it. And you know what? It was so so worth it. Not only did it provide me with meals, childcare or other help, it provided me with some social interaction, which I think is crucial for new moms. So if someone asks if they can help you, say yes. Please.
    3. Go outside: It is natural and easy to want to stay inside and in bed or on the couch all day everyday with a new baby. I know, I am totally one of those people. But I can’t tell you how helpful it is to get outside for a few minutes a day when you are in a foggy, fuzzy, newborn state of mind. I remember one day when my baby was a few weeks old, it was freezing outside, I bundled her up in the warmest blanket I could find and we went outside for a few minutes with my older two. We lasted about five minutes, but it rejuvenated me and cleared my mind.
    4. Buy some freezer meals: I always had intentions of making freezer meals before I had my baby. I did make a few, but let’s be honest, Costco freezer meals are there for a reason. Stock up on a few (or many) to have on hand after the meals from others stop. You’ll be glad you won’t have to think about fixing dinner for another week or three. I don’t think I ever felt hungry in the first few weeks after my last baby being born.
    5. This too shall pass: I know that sounds wrong, because we all want to enjoy the newborn stage because it does indeed go by so fast and all of a sudden they are almost one and you are wondering how in the world it has been a year. But the phrase, “this too shall pass” got me through so many nights.  With my newborns, night time was hard for me. Anxiety would creep in as I slept restlessly waiting for the baby to wake up, wondering if they were breathing, hoping they would fall back asleep, wondering why they were crying. I remember repeating that phrase to myself and feeling the relief as the sun would start to peek through the window, signaling the end of the night. So while I loved the newborn stage and all the warm and fuzzy moments it brought, I was also grateful for the reassurance that those anxious moments would pass.

    So much goes into planning for the arrival of a new baby. And, as it should be, a majority of it is about the baby. But there is another person who needs care and that’s you, the momma!

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    Motherhood

    It’s Okay To Think About It: Pregnancy Loss

    img_3490This seems like a heavy topic to start off my posts leading up to my baby’s first birthday, but it is an important part of the journey to where our family is now.

    One day in March of 2013, I took the GRE to apply for my master’s program. I also had a miscarriage that day. It was a long, hard, and confusing day. To be honest, it is a pretty unclear day in my memory. I got an average score needed to be accepted into my program, but what I remember more clearly was that it was raining and I had to drive across town to the lab that was open to get my blood drawn. I was sad because after almost a year of hoping for a second baby, it now seemed even farther away.

    As the weeks went by, I had several thoughts continue to run through my mind:

    I was only 6 weeks pregnant, it shouldn’t really bother me.

    I already have one baby, it shouldn’t affect me as much.

    I can try again later.

    It’s fine because I’m about to start a graduate program.

    I had all of these thoughts so many times. Normal, valid thoughts of how I should or shouldn’t feel, whether they were right or not. I coped with it by not really thinking about it. I started my graduate program a few months later. I also found out I was pregnant a few months later. After that, I told myself that now that I was pregnant, I really didn’t need to think about it anymore. And I didn’t, that much.

    But the truth is, I still do. I think about how because of that experience, I did not take my next two pregnancies for granted. I think about how I can be there for others who have that experience. I think about how it’s okay to think about it. It’s okay to be affected by it. It’s okay. That pregnancy loss, even though it was “so early” and I had two healthy babies after, is still a part of my motherhood journey.

    I have often thought about how the people closest to me helped me and what I can do to help others when I find them in the same situation. Here are a few of my thoughts:

    Take Care of Yourself.

    • Allow yourself to think about it. Think, write, talk. Whatever it is that helps you to process it.
    • Take time. Don’t rush yourself in “getting over it”.
    • Do something. Go to lunch with friends, take a day to yourself, sleep in. Do something that will lift your spirits.
    • Find support. Seek out those who can offer you the support you need. Whether you think you are doing fine or not, having a support system there never hurts.

    Take Care of Others.

    • Offer a meal. A good meal can do wonders for the heart and soul.
    • Lend a listening ear. Knowing that someone is there to listen provides some relief.
    • Carry the load. Offer specific suggestions. While well-intentioned, the phrase “Let me know what I can do to help” is often unsuccessful, because often people won’t let you know.
    • Be a friend. Miscarriage can be lonely and isolating. The presence of a friend is always welcome.

    A few years have passed since my experience, but it is one I still think about at certain times. I think about it because it is a part of me and a part of how I got to where I am today. Though I have three babies here with me, I still think of the one. And that’s okay.

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    Motherhood

    Motherhood Rewind

    img_4729Ever since my oldest started kindergarten about six weeks ago, I feel like between the hours of eight and two I am on somewhat of a “motherhood rewind.” I’m taken back to what it was like to have a toddler (and a baby) with no older sibling around. I remember thinking months ago that I couldn’t even remember what it was like to have one. Now it’s this weird trade off where I get to be in both worlds at once.

    These days, after 7:45 am, it’s just the three of us. Me, a toddler and a baby. We usually go to the gym, the grocery store, the car wash, or some other simple errand. Then it’s usually home to play for a little bit before it’s time for lunch and then it’s nap time. The first day I got naps timed perfectly and when I sat down on the couch with two hours to myself, I wasn’t sure exactly what to do. Don’t worry, I know what to do now and some days I literally schedule my two hour block of time. The house is quieter, the play is more simple. I am also back to having an audience when I shower or use the bathroom, so there is that.

    Once 3 pm hits, it’s back to the way it is supposed to be. The noise gets louder, the energy level increases. There are fewer children at my feet because they are off with their playmates. My lap is more crowded when we read stories and my attention is pulled in three ways instead of two. Play is more complex, imagination more apparent. There are more discussions about how to resolve kindergarten conflicts, more pressing questions about the world in which we live.

    In a way this unique perspective has improved my mothering. Between the hours of eight and two, I try to be more present because I know that way too soon, there will be only one home with me and then no one home with me. In the other hours, I am more present because the hours of eight and two reminds me how quickly they grow up.

    Too quickly, motherhood rewind will become motherhood fast forward.

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    Motherhood

    Signs

    Motherhood is hard. Parenting is hard. Life is hard. There are ups and downs in any area of life, right? Recently, I went through a patch of motherhood that I felt was so much teaching, learning, stretching and growing that it was sometimes exhausting. I’m sure just as much for my children as it was for me. I have to remind myself that we are all in this together. I genuinely believe that kids want to be good, choose good, and do good. But they have to have direction, support, and love, even if it’s hard.

    One particular day, I was just trying to keep my patience, correct with love and teach with kindness, and inside I felt like I was doing a terrible job. I set up my oldest with some markers and paper to color for a few minutes of quiet time. Instead of going to start the laundry, or fix dinner, I sat down for a few minutes to color with her. Sometimes it’s just the proximity that builds the connection.

    I started doodling on a paper, writing her name and then decorating with words that reminded me of her. Reminiscent of my middle school and high school days where this was the fun thing to do for your friends. After awhile, she asked me what I was doing. I showed her and read her all the words I was writing. Loving. Kind. Brave. Beautiful. The more I read, the brighter her eyes got. I wrote “Love, Mom” at the top and told her it was for her. She gave me a big hug and said, “I’m going to hang this over my bed so I can always remember these things!”

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    After that, I started dinner and she went on coloring. A little while later, she grabbed the tape and ran into my room. I walked in later and found this:

    Mom Sign

    A sign that meant the world to me. Sometimes something small is all you need.

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