5 Things You’ll Hear when Breastfeeding a Toddler

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One of my favorite nursing pictures with my daughter. Anytime, anywhere, even on a hike in the snow.

1. So does she like, drink real milk?

Like, yes she does. Breast milk is real milk. You know, milk specifically designed for our children to custom fit their needs, which change day by day. That doesn’t change at midnight the day they turn one.

2. If they can ask for it, they’re too old.

Actually it makes it so much easier when they can communicate their desire to nurse. Not that I don’t love playing, “guess what my toddler needs” in the middle of a meltdown.

3. Are you ever going to wean her?

Nah, I think it will be my strategy to keep her from ever leaving the nest. Can’t leave for college if you still need to nurse!

4. Do you even allow her to drink anything else?

Not in this house she won’t! If she doesn’t want to nurse she can just go thirsty. No water for you!

5. Aren’t you sick of nursing?

It changes daily. Some days the thought of being touched another minute makes my jaw instantly clench. Other days I bask in the beautiful bond we have established through our breastfeeding journey. Some days I get really excited when she drinks more goats milk and doesn’t nurse much, other days it gives me a little twinge of sadness as it’s one more sign my little girl is growing up.

Still think extended breastfeeding is weird? Let me drop a little knowledge on you real quick.

In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breast milk provides:
29% of energy requirements
43% of protein requirements
36% of calcium requirements
75% of vitamin A requirements
76% of folate requirements
94% of vitamin B12 requirements
60% of vitamin C requirements
— Dewey 2001

The reality is, your breastfeeding journey is yours and yours alone. Whether it lasts 12 days or 2 years. Be proud of your journey and for making whatever decisions best suit YOUR child.

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To the mom…

…who wishes she could take a break, but sees those two chubby hands reaching for her again.

…who wishes she could fill her cup with goals and ambitions, but dreams are constantly interrupted by the call to momma.

…who wishes she could have a day away where no one needs taken care of, but knows only momma can do the hard work and can’t leave.

…who aches for their child to learn to sleep on their own, but holds them tight and cries through their screams while rocking them. Again.

…who is working so hard to stay afloat, yet feels like you are drowning in the balance of being a mother, wife, employee, chef and housekeeper.

…who sometimes cries into the soft, sweet head of your child when it all becomes too overwhelming.

…who looks at the beautiful innocence of their child’s face and the crushing weight of guilt for being frustrated with things out of their control makes it hard for you to breathe.

…who is afraid to share how alone she feels for fear others will think she doesn’t love her child and know that they are the biggest blessing in her life.

…who despite the roller coaster of emotions you ride daily, knows these are the best years of your life.

Soon those chubby little fingers will grow slimmer and longer. Those hands won’t reach for yours anymore.

That little burrito of a baby who used to sleep on your chest, with their head squished into your neck is now a squirmy toddler that stretches long across your lap.

One day your home will be quiet again. One day you will have an entire day to fill without your name being called. One day you will wish desperately to see the world again through the eyes of an innocent toddler. One day you will miss the chaos.

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The Magic of Being in the Trenches

In today’s rush we all think too much, seek too much, want too much and forget about the Joy of just being. -Eckhart Tolle

A few evenings ago, just like every other night, I went through my bedtime routine with Adaline. Bath. Boob. Put her in bed awake.

Now, after months of this routine, she goes down on her own for naps and bed. It may take a few minutes, but she puts herself to sleep. Don’t get too jealous after reading that. She still wakes two times a night to nurse and if she sleeps in until 6am it’s late.

The other night. We went through the same routine and she just couldn’t settle herself to go to sleep. I gave her about 10 minutes to try and fuss herself down. Once she started crying though my momma heart had to scoop her up. As I sat there rocking her to calm her down and ease her to sleep, it dawned on me how long it had been since I’ve had to do this.

Nine months old. “The other night.”

During that “fourth trimester” and even a bit beyond, I had to hold her for at least half her naps or she just wouldn’t sleep. I was also nursing her to sleep and then transferring her to her crib with the delicacy I assume bomb technicians use when diffusing a device. I remember rocking her and praying that she would eventually learn to sleep on her own.

Two months old.

She sure did learn! But you know what, as I was rocking her to sleep the other night and staring at her beautiful face… all I could think was, I’m really going to miss being able to hold you this way. There will be a last time.

There will be a last time she snuggles into me and needs momma to rock her to sleep.

There will be a last time she needs to nurse for comfort.

There will be a last time she becomes upset when I leave the room.

There will be a last time I need to pull her into bed with me at 4am because she won’t go back to sleep any other way.

There will be a last time she is upset going to someone else and only wants me.

There will be a last time she needs me to carry her.

Eventually, which will come in the blink of an eye, she is going to be an independent little girl, who doesn’t need her mommy in the way she does now. That growth will be beautiful, but bitter.

There will be a last time for it all.

So for now. I will rock her. I will nurse her. I will spend all the time with her I can. I will let her crash in our bed at 4am. I will scoop her up when she needs me. Because one day my heart will ache for this time when she so easily snuggles into my arms and is completely content just snoozing on momma. 💕

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Two weeks old. 

Time Flies when You’re Sleep Deprived

I pray 2018 was as good to you as it was to my family.

I made the comment to my husband over the holidays that this is Adaline’s first New Year’s. I then went on to list the next upcoming holidays that will be firsts for her, Valentines Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and then I mentioned the Fourth of July.

But wait! Adaline was born in April which means she was in fact earth side last Fourth of July! This realization actually sent me into a mental spiral. How is it possible that I’ve already had one summer with her?? I’m so glad that I’ve been writing in a journal (sporadically, but hey it still counts) about her precious life. I think back to this past year and I remember so much, yet so little.

Time flies when you are sleep deprived. Apparently.

We are already almost a month into 2019. Although I am not a huge fan of #newyearnewme, I do believe in setting goals for yourself. So, have you set goals? How are they going? What areas of you would like to improve upon?

My word this year is intentional. As I’m sure most parents can agree, we tend to just focus on getting through one day at a time. What do I need to do for the kids? What has to get done for work? What has to get done around the house? While some days absolutely require us to go into survival mode, I am trying to be more intentional this year. Really take time to not just “autopilot” through my day as my husband likes to call it. Be intentional about how I spend my time with my daughter. Be intentional about my relationship with my husband. Be intentional about how I prioritize work.

How can you be more intentional in your life?

“It is only those that live intentionally that can accomplish and come to the significance meant for them.”
Sunday Adelaja,

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Beginners Brewing Kombucha

Ahh kombucha, my husband and I love this drink! Kombucha is a fermented tea full of probiotics and antioxidants which help improve digestion, give you a natural energy boost, help maintain a healthy weight and help support your immune system. There are many, many more benefits of kombucha and I encourage you to do a quick google search for even more information! 

My husband and I love kombucha so much that we typically each drink a bottle a day. Here in lies the problem, a bottle averages about $4. Now the benefits of kombucha are completely worth this price!  But, we are trying to be more frugal and spending almost $60 a week on kombucha was a bit much. So, I looked into brewing my own.

I was little hesitant about brewing my own kombucha because I wasn’t sure how intensive the process was. Free time is not something I have in abundance right now between balancing being a new mom and all my work and business goals. Turns out, it’s actually pretty darn easy and SO quick! Brewing kombucha is so easy, that I was able to do it successfully the first time and it tastes really good!

20180726_150903I found a kombucha brewing kit from The Kombucha Shop (I am in no way associated with them) and it made the process super easy for a novice like me. It provides you with everything you need to brew a batch of kombucha and breaks down each step. The total kit cost $50, so basically one weeks worth of kombucha for us. Once you brew a batch, you will have everything you need to continue brewing, without having to purchase more materials (unless you would like to brew multiple batches at once).

So, if you are thinking about starting to brew your own kombucha, let me break down the steps for you. If I can do it, you can definitely do it!

  1. Boil your water (my recipe called for 4 cups) and steep your tea! My kit came with a mix of Ceylon and Oolong tea. So good! 
  2. Mix in your sugar (1 cup)and let it dissolve in the pot, stir away! 20180726_153823.jpg
  3. Once the sugar has completely dissolved pour your tea into a glass brewing jar (the recipe I’m using, calls for a 1 gallon jar). Then top this off with 8 cups of filtered water. 
  4. Here’s the most fun part! Add in your SCOBY! If you are like me, when you first saw this acronym, you had no idea what it stand for. Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. It’s super squishy and kinda stinky. 20180726_153911
  5. A couple things left before you put your brew aside for the next 7-9 days. Check your pH levels and temperature. Ideal pH is 4.5 or below and temperature between 68-86° F.
  6. If everything is good to go, cover your jar with a cotton cloth and seal it off with a rubber band. Now you wait. Set your jar in a warm area, but out of direct sunlight. You want plenty of air flow as well, so keep it out of the cupboards.
  7. Your kombucha is done after 7-9 days. You’ll notice a new layer of goopy goodness has grown on top of your brew, this is the new culture and you can use it to brew your next batch! 20180726_154958
  8. If you don’t want to flavor your brew, then you are done after this step. Simply remove the culture, put your kombucha in the fridge to chill and enjoy. 

I tasted our kombucha at this stage and was yummy just like this! But, I really wanted to try flavoring. I chose to go with a berry ginger mix. Now I am certainly not a Pinterest worthy do it yourselfers. Here’s one of the many reasons why. I used blueberries, raspberries, lemon and ginger to flavor our brew. I didn’t measure this out. I basically kept scooping the flavors in until I felt like it would be enough and crossed my fingers. So if you want to flavor your brew, follow these steps!

  1. After taking your culture out, you can either flavor your brew in the gallon brewing jar or pour your brew into separate glass bottles. I chose to flavor in my brewing jar. When I say chose to, I mean I forgot to buy bottles in time for this step. #momlife 20180803_140647
  2. Once you flavor your brew (so many recipes for flavors on Pinterest) close your jar with the plastic cap or if you are using smaller bottles make sure to seal them with the top. Leave your brew out for another 2-4 days. 
  3. Once your brew is done, put it in the fridge to chill and enjoy your kombucha! 

I’m looking forward to brewing our next batch? I’d love to hear about your favorite brew flavors! 

 

World Breast Feeding Week

It’s #WorldBreastfeedingWeek 

Now, I think we can all agree, that “fed is best” so by no means is this post meant to be a slight towards any mother who decided breast feeding wasn’t / isn’t for her. We are all just doing our best to survive and I support any mother in her decisions on how best to care for her children. 

When I decided that I would breastfeed Adaline, it was a decision I made because I knew the benefits and that was basically it. I really wasn’t looking forward to it, because I knew what a sacrifice it would be. Just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Chapped nipples anyone? 

Truth: the first month of breastfeeding sucked hardcore. Cluster feeding, bleeding nipples (yuppp), engorgement, leaking and I constantly smelled like boob juice. Like. All. The. Time. 

I am so grateful I pushed through that first month, and had an amazing support system at that. What I wasn’t expecting is how much I would fall in love with nursing. It is such a special bond between the two of us. I encourage all mommas who desire to, to prioritize breastfeeding! This means researching it. Plan ahead so you are aware of the roadblocks that might pop up (tongue ties, poor latches).

It is so worth it. The benefits of breastmilk go on and on. To name a few: lower risk of many cancers for both mom and baby, increased immune system of baby. Got a minor illness, squirt some boob juice on it! Ear infection? Pink eye? Rash? Squirt, squirt and carry on. Also, I was back to my prepregnancy weight in 5 weeks (I still have plenty of toning and work to do), but the 30 pounds of baby weight would definitely not have come off that quickly without breastfeeding. #breastfeedingismycardio 🏃‍♀️

I’m in a few breastfeeding groups here on social media and it astonishes me and breaks my heart how many women don’t have the support of their closest family members. We really need to normalize breastfeeding friends. Did you know, just LAST month it became legal in all 50 states (Utah and Idaho were the holdouts if you were curious) for a mother to breastfeed her baby in public. You would never think to tell a mother she couldn’t give her infant a bottle though, would you? 

So my recommendation for you, is that if you are at all considering breastfeeding, but don’t have the full support of family, join a support group! I’d be happy to share the ones I’m in with you and of course I am always happy to support any momma who needs it!

I think we need to work on encouraging each other, so women, when you are out and you see a nursing mama, smile at her. Nursing in public is stressful for most of us, it certainly is for me. I really don’t want the world to see my boobs, but if my baby is hungry, she’s getting fed. I’ll be as discrete as possible, but it will take everyone to #normalizebreastfeeding

Momma’s no matter how you decided to feed your baby, you are a badass and your work on loving and raising your children is SO important and respected. 

Adaline’s Birth Story

My husband has been encouraging me for weeks now to start writing about her birth and early weeks as everything is already blurring together. The first (almost 16 weeks) of her life have been one wonderful haze of brain fog. So here we go. 

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Adaline was due on April 12th. She arrived screaming into the world at 10:57pm on April 15th, yup, tax day. She weighed 8 pounds, 5 oz and measured 21 inches long. For the record, her mother is a shrimp at 61 inches (5’1″) tall. She was a third of my height at birth. She’s still rocking the 95 percentile for height, so I expect her to be taller than me by the age of 8 or so. 

As a Type A, control freak, of course I had a birth plan. But God is funny about how he teaches us lessons and babies don’t really care what you want. They’re kinda rude that way.

So let’s talk about the art of surrendering and throwing that birth plan out the window! Because, the best thing you can do in childbirth, is just roll with it. 

The first kink in my birth plan. Group B Strep. During your third trimester, women are tested for Group B Strep. This is a common bacteria found in intestines and is harmless to adults but may be dangerous to babies. I bring this up, because I tested positive. Oh joy. This is what I get for not reordering and taking my pre and probiotics the week before I had this test done. This meant once my water broke, I was on a time clock. I had to go to the hospital as soon as possible so I could get at least two rounds of IV penicillin before baby was born. So with that in mind, I crossed my fingers and hoped I would be one of those women who was in labor a while before their water broke, I could still stick to my plan! I am in control! Oh silly me. 

During the morning of the 15th, around 3am, I rolled my enormous belly off the couch, yup I had to sleep on the couch for comfort at this point, to use the restroom for the millionth time that night. As I went to sit down I felt a small gush. Being half asleep, my thought process went something like, “Did I just pee myself or did my water break?” I’m happy to say I went my entire pregnancy without peeing myself – you have to find the little victories in life sometimes – but I was still in denial that I may actually be in labor. At this point I felt no contractions, so I knew I wasn’t far along . Strike one against my birth plan of waiting as long as possible to go to the hospital. 

But, just in case I had peed myself, I mean I didn’t exactly keep up with the kegels, so it was very possible, I laid down a half hour before sitting up again to see if another gush occurred. Thirty minutes later, another gush. Go time. I woke up Josh, we quickly took the dogs out and got on our way to the hospital. I called my parents before we left so they could make the drive down. We are so lucky they were able to come and care for our furbabies! My hormones wouldn’t let me board them, even though they’ve done it plenty of times. They had to be at home where I knew they were being loved on. 

Once we got to the hospital, we got checked in and my vitals were taken. I was pretty irritated they took my weight while I still had my clothes and shoes on. I mean that adds at least two pounds! Anyway, my water had definitely broke. I was dilated a whole 1.5 centimeters, which I had been for over a week now. Ugh!!!

Remember that time clock? Once your water breaks you need to get the baby out preferably with 18 hours to reduce risk of exposing them to bacteria. We were already two hours in at this point.  Little girl didn’t care at all about my plan. She was doing things her own way and on her own time. 

My midwife agreed to let me labor a few hours on my own before using Pitocin to speed things up. At this point I still felt fine. I was having contractions about every 5 minutes, but they were so mild I didn’t feel anything. You would think this is a good thing, but it also meant they weren’t productive. When I was checked again a few hours later, I was only at a 2. Huge bummer! I’m the kind of person that if I’m not 5-10 minutes early to something, it means I’m late. Clearly Adaline takes after her Dad, because she was in no rush to get here on time. To get things moving in came Pitocin. Strike two against my birth plan.

Once the Pitocin kicked in and they continued upping it, things got intense, fast. I made it to about 5 centimeters in a few hours before I requested an epidural. I was in too much pain to rest and I wanted to save my strength for pushing. Strike three against my birth plan. I’m happy to say the epidural worked great (and I have no lingering side effects from it). By around 6 pm I was at 10 centimeters. Pretty quick for a first time Mom!

I was so excited my body was finally working with me! My midwife let me rest for a while longer, maybe an hour or two, I don’t remember this part too well, I had been awake so long at this point and wasn’t able to nap. My mom came into the room to help distract me and pass the time. We spent time talking about food with my midwife and doula. Which is ironic, because I wasn’t able to eat any until after the baby was born. I was certainly drooling over the thought of a fatty biscuit though! 

It finally came time to push. Yes, let’s get this baby here! I had spent the last part of my pregnancy focusing on my breathing since my physical yoga practice was basically nonexistent at that point. I was prepared for this! Well, two and a half hours and six pushing positions later, baby was good and stuck. She hadn’t budged in that time. I was told I did a great job pushing and breathing (maybe they just wanted me to feel better about it?), but Adaline was not coming out on her own. 

Another doctor came in to check me and make the call “c-section.” The one thing I really wanted to avoid. Not because I think it makes you less of a woman (As some people on social media will say. Seriously what happened to women supporting women?), but because the thought of someone slicing me open to pull a baby out was terrifying! 

When the doctor said a c-section was necessary, I knew in my heart he was right. I had the most amazing midwife and she did everything within her power to help get Adaline to turn and come down. She was belly side up and not in a good birthing position, but even she had been, it may not have helped. My pelvic opening is just too small and this was not a small baby. After she was born you could see a mark on her forehead where her sweet little head was stuck.

Things moved fast once the decision for a c-section was made. At this point I was so exhausted from being awake so long and from labor and pushing I was in and out of wakefulness. The only thing I really remember about surgery is that my entire body was numb including my face. I had to work hard to remain calm when I realized I couldn’t swallow because my throat was numb. I remember telling myself over and over in my head, “don’t panic, just breathe through your nose.” I had saliva sitting in my throat and I was scared I would choke on it. Probably not logical, but I was not in a coherent state of mind at this point.

IMG-20180415-WA0004My biggest sorrow, is feeling like I missed Adaline’s birth and I’ve had to do a lot to surrender this moment up and accept that it happened how it happened. I am blessed to have a healthy little girl. I remember hearing her scream immediately after they pulled her out, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open or myself alert as much as I tried. I couldn’t hold her at that point either. My body was one big numb, blob. I’m so grateful that Josh was there and able to have those first crucial bonding moments with her. I recall him showing her to me and thinking, “she’s so beautiful. “

Then came another nerve wracking moment. While the doctors were working to close me up, my doctor came up to me to ask if I had a history of blood issues in family. He obviously didn’t use the word “issues”, but I can’t remember what he specifically asked me. Apparently I was losing too much blood. I vaguely remember saying not that I know of before drifting back to sleep. Thankfully my hemoglobins and iron level were much higher than most pregnant women’s, which meant I was able to avoid a transfusion. Woohoo for having a yummy steak the night before I went into labor! I did have to take iron supplements three times a day for my first six weeks postpartum, but no big deal! 

Once they were done working on me I was taken to the recover room where I finally got to hold my baby!! I was still very groggy at this point, but the nurse was wonderful with helping her to latch so I could feed her before they took her away again to run tests. This was another moment I’ve had to surrender to. I remember holding her, but I was so disoriented and I hate that I wasn’t mentally present to really relish in the first moment I got to hold my daughter. 20180416_075439

Finally. Finally the whole process was over and we were able to go back to the room where we would spend the next couple days before going home. I must say, I’ve heard so many horror stories from Mom’s about their doctors and nurses. I had the complete opposite experience. My birth plan went nothing like I wanted, but I had amazing support from all the staff where I gave birth. I will be forever grateful for the care they gave to Adaline and me. 

20180418_095253.jpgI told myself that I would not be one of those women that attempt to scare or intimidate expecting mother’s with their birth story. I hope I haven’t done this with sharing mine. My intention is to show that nothing went the way I wanted, and I DESPISE when things are out of my control. Guess what? The world did not end. I know, crazy how it kept turning even though my birth plan went to hell.  I had to surrender and let go of my need to be in control. I have had to and will have to continue doing this the rest of my life as a parent. It does not matter. It just doesn’t. When you look at your son or daughter. It will not matter. They will be the most spectacular thing you have ever laid eyes on. I’m still in disbelief everyday that I get to be so blessed to have this amazing little human in my life. So make your plan, but be sure that you are willing to surrender to whatever happens.