A Pandemic Baby

With the Covid-19 pandemic spreading chaos all over, hospitals have instituted very strict rules about who is allow inside the building, when they are allowed, and for how long.

woman carrying baby
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

These precautions are, of course, necessary for keeping our health care providers as safe as possible and limiting the exposure of high-risk patients to the potentially deadly virus.

That being said, if you are 38.5 weeks pregnant, like I am, this is a very difficult time for you. I will be heading into the hospital for a scheduled and medically necessary cesarean amidst all of this pandemic craziness.

Not only does this mean walking into the belly of the beast, as my hospital is currently treating several Corona virus patients, it means doing it without the support of my family.

I will be allowed to have my husband with me during my surgery and he will be the only person allowed to visit baby and I. Our other children, including our 22-month-old, will not be allowed into the hospital.

For our family, this is a huge hit. We are very close, and our baby girl has never been apart from us for more than a workday. The idea that I will be unable to hold and comfort my daughter for 3 to 4 days while I am in recovery is devastating to me.

It also places the burden of single parenthood onto my husband for the time that I am sequestered in my hospital room. It will fall on his shoulders to comfort our baby girl and reassure her that mommy will be back.

He, alone, will have to deal with our elaborate night-time routine. While I, alone, will have to work on healing while caring for a newborn.

We will get through it, because we must, but it will mar this occasion in our lives.

We will not think back on the birth of this child with the same fond memories as the last one. Instead, we will reminisce about the difficult times we had and *hopefully* how we pulled together as a family to get through them.

Please, be safe everyone!

Toddlers: When Sweet Babies Go Bad

Imagine, if you will, that you are thirsty. All you want is a glass of water…simple right?

little boy crying inside a box
Photo by Nicolette Attree on Pexels.com

 

Now, picture that you are just 2-foot-tall, and every time you ask one of the giants around you to help you get some water, they can’t understand what you are saying.

They offer you a cookie, then they change your pants, they give you milk. You are getting frustrated at their lack of understanding, and they have the nerve to get mad at you for it! Ugh, right!

Welcome to the life of a toddler.

As the parent of a toddler, I know how hard it is to be patient and understanding when your sweet little baby turns into a tiny tornado of rage and drama. Some days, they seem impossible to please.

There is no magic bullet to figure out what a toddler needs or how to keep your cool when they are melting down, but it helps me to settle myself down by having a little empathy for my baby girl.

I am sure that she doesn’t want to be angry or cry or yell. She would much rather be happy and playing. I know that, as hard as it is on us as her parents, it is equally hard on her.

So the next time you are at your wits end and you are sure that your toddler has been possessed by some sort of daemon, take a step back, take a deep breath, and remember that they are struggling too.

Going Vegan: Taking the ‘Game Changers’ challenge

I am what society would consider an “older” mom.

My husband and I both had children in our 20s, and when we got married a few years ago, we decided to have babies together even though we are around 40 now (I am 7 months pregnant with our second daughter together, making 4 total children).

That being said, we take our health very seriously.

beige wooden rectangular chopping board
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Recently, we watched the digital documentary “The Game Changers,” by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic, and Chris Paul.
The film caught our attention due to the backing of Schwarzenegger and Chan, two people who we consider to be exceptionally athletic.

If you haven’t seen it yet, the film explores the popularity of a plant-based diet amongst professional athletes and provides some very interesting and compelling facts about the benefits.

After having watched it, twice, my husband and I have decided to give the plant-based, or more commonly referred to as, vegan, diet a try.

So far, as I write this, we are 6 days into our journey, and this is what I have learned so far…

A vegan diet is expensive.

We went grocery shopping they day before we were to start our diet and spent more than $100 over our normal budget. In addition, we have had to make 2 additional trips to the grocery store for dinner supplies and spent an extra $150.

That gave us a grand total of $250 extra in just 6 days time.

Now, to be fair, we did have to purchase all new snacks and a few incidentals that we would normally have on hand if making a non-vegan meal. However, there is a definite and very noticeable increase in our grocery budget so far.

It takes some effort to plan your meals.

Quick, go-to lunches and snacks have been replaced with more thought out, and sometimes prepared from scratch, meals.

This issue is one of habit, knowledge, and routine. I have to assume that, as we become more familiar with the diet and discover more vegan alternatives to our favorite snacks, our snacks and lunches will become easier to prepare quickly and / or pick up on the run.

Take-out and fast food are dead to me.

While our grocery bill has gone up, our take-out budget has been reduced to $0. There are not a lot of options out there for vegan fast food. Even the Impossible Whopper comes with cheese and white bread.

We can do fries and maybe a plain bean burrito, but really, at that point, you might as well make your own lunch and have something worth eating.

The bottom line, so far…

While your weight loss results may vary, there is no denying that after only 6 days I can feel a difference and so can my husband. I have more energy throughout the day, and he has seen a noticeable increase in his stamina during workouts.

Meals have not been difficult to make or plan. Quick internet searches have provided us with easy to make and delicious recipes for each meal. We have even adapted some of our favorite recipes to turn them into vegan friendly favorites.

So far, we are believers. The extra effort and money have been worth it to us. We are investing in our health and our futures. We owe it to our children to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

Quick Thoughts: Mama, Mommy, Mom

You may have seen the Internet memes that say:

“No one prepares you for how hard it is to go from Mama, to Mommy, to Mom”

It’s true. I have children ranging in age from 16 to not yet born. It seems like just yesterday my son was a little toddler, waddling around the house yelling “Mamamamamama.”

Now, it’s more like “Moooommmmmm, what’s up with the wifi!”

The time passed so quickly.

What is the difference between 30 and 34 years old…nothing. You barely notice those years going by.

But from 1 to 5 years old, my goodness. Walking, talking, going to school…it is bonafide miracle to witness.

 

A Mom’s Guide to Looking Good Quick

Before After.jpg

When you have a baby, you rarely have time to pamper yourself. So, what can you do to erase months, or years, of neglect when you have a big day coming up.

I was faced with this issue when, 4 months after giving birth, I was getting married.

I am by no means a beauty consultant, or even an avid makeup user, but here are the tricks I used to lose weight and trick my skin into looking like I take care of it.

2 months prior to the date:

I went on a strict Paleo diet. This allowed me to still eat enough to keep up my milk supply while also losing weight rapidly.

Basically, the Paleo diet is meat, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. To lost weight, you should focus on lean meat and vegetables. Fruit is high in natural sugar and nuts are high in fat. Strict Paleo diet rules required grass fed beef, but that is just too expensive for a family of six, so I ate a lot of chicken and fish.

Also, increase your water intake if you can. Water helps the skin as well as the waist line.

2 weeks prior to the date:

Pick up some new make-up and practice applying it at least two or three times. Also, pick out your outfit ahead of time and whatever jewelry you are going to wear.

There is nothing worse than running around the day of because you can only find one earing, or your shoes no longer fit, or you need to get control top pantyhose. Give yourself time to order new items online or to get out to the store if you need to.

GlamGlow1 week prior to the date:

Time to trick your skin into looking flawless. I used Glam Glow Supermud and a one of those charcoal black peel-off masks every day on alternating days until the morning before the big day.

My skin was so smooth, and my pores were so tight, that my makeup applied flawlessly.

American Working Mothers are the Most Stressed

According to a recent study, American working mothers are more stressed out than their European counterparts.
Sociologist Caitlyn Collins reveals in her new book, “Making Motherhood Work,” that American mothers experience higher stress levels and feelings of guilt than working mothers in Germany, Sweden and Italy.

In an interview with Psychology Today, Collins says, “I want American moms to stop blaming themselves. I want American mothers to stop thinking that somehow their conflict is their own fault, and that if they tried a little harder, got a new schedule, woke up a little earlier every morning, using the right planner or the right app, that they could somehow figure out the key to managing their stress. That’s just not the case.”
Alleviating the stress on American working mothers is easier said than done. Working mothers often feel like they have to work twice as hard at the office just to prove that they are still dedicated to their jobs.
Science Magazine reports that working mothers often feel this way because they face, what the magazine calls, the “maternal wall bias.” Described as a type of discrimination that working mothers face from co-workers and management. It is a perceived lack of dedication because the mother is, or should be, focused more on their children than on their careers.
On top of the stress of having to prove their dedication to their careers, working mothers also face the societal pressures to be active in their children’s school programs and sporting associations, maintain the household chores, and engage in social activities.
Just writing this article and taking the time to critically think about all of the directions that I am being pulled in as a working mother, was enough to get my anxiety flowing.
Katrina Alcorn, author of “Maxed Out: American Moms on theBrink,” said, “We’re expected to do our jobs as if we don’t have children and then raise our children as if we don’t have jobs.”

So, what is the answer? How do we dial back the pressure on working moms?
In her book, Collins sites the American mother’s lack of external support as a major factor in her increased stress. Working mothers in other developed countries, like Germany, Sweden, and Italy, expect to be supported by both their employers and husbands in order to maintain a healthy work / life balance.
Meanwhile, in the United States, stay at home fathers are routinely mocked for doing “women’s work.” There is no such thing as paternity leave and zero federal regulations for maternity leave.
Men are expected to use vacation days to attend the birth of their children and women are expected to return to work as soon as they are medically cleared. In some cases, as soon as 3-weeks after giving birth.
Changing these ideals won’t be easy, and it will take time. Fathers will need to be more vocal about accepting a larger share of household duties. Working mothers, and fathers alike, will need to demand more from their employers or seek new employment with more family focused companies.
Eventually, companies who want top-notch employees will have to change with the tide and begin offering working parents more flexible options for a better quality of life.

Forgive yourself the way you would anyone else

Women: We are too hard on ourselves, and I can prove it.

Image your partner is trying to lose weight. They are struggling with their diet, and they can’t always get their workouts in. What do you think? Are they a failure?
 

That time I forgot to
bring a baby blanket

No, you would never think that way about your partner just because they are struggling to find time for themselves when the family needs their attention more.

Now, imagine yourself in the same scenario. I bet you have a totally different view.

Next, imagine that your partner packs the diaper bag and forgets the baby’s favorite sippy cup. How do you handle it? Do you tell them they are the worst? No, of course not. You tell them it is OK, it is just a cup, it is not a big deal.

Now imagine you forgot it…different story?

I know that I, for one, hold myself to a completely different standard than I do anyone else. I am constantly beating myself up over not meeting or exceeding my personal goals. I agonize over forgotten toys and under packed diaper bags.

We need to learn to forgive ourselves with the same ease that we forgive others. I am not saying that we need to make excuses for ourselves, or that we shouldn’t set goals and work hard to reach them. I am saying that we need to remember that we are human too.

Moms are not perfect, and that is OK.

It is OK to mess up, it is OK to forget sometimes. We should talk to ourselves the same way we would talk to a loved one. Let’s work to change our internal dialogue to mirror the same love and respect that we show others.

Stop judging moms with messy houses, and mind your business

Recently, I read an article on Scary Mommy about living in a messy house. I, like many mothers, struggle to keep my house from tipping the scales from “lived in” to the next episode of hoarders.

The article was “My House Is A Damn Mess — And I’m TotallyOK With That,” written by Megan Lieb. But the article’s content is not what I want to talk about. Instead, I would like to talk about the scathing comments under the article’s Facebook post.

Woman after woman wrote how the home in the picture was disgusting and unacceptable. Who are you to decide what is acceptable? The picture was of a home with grocery bags on the counter and children’s shoes and back packs strewn around.

The photos that we are seeing are a singular snapshot of another person’s home.

We don’t know what the circumstances are. We don’t know what the rest of the house looks like. We don’t know that person’s life. Who are we to say what their house should look like?

Every single time that I have the choice between playing with my children or cleaning, I will choose my children. If that means that the dishes wait in the sink, or that toys are all over my living room, then so be it.

Do you think that my children are going to grow up a think, “gee whiz, I wish mom had spent more time cleaning the house?”

I’m pretty sure that my children are going to grow up and remember the times we were playing in the back yard, or walking to the playground, or roasting marshmallows.

My home is safe, and my children are clean and cared for. The fact that my house is “messy” has nothing to do with my ability to be a good mother, and frankly, it is none of your concern.

Mommy Life Hacks

Over the years, we all develop our own little tricks to make mom life easier. Here is a list of some of

my favorite mom hacks…

Use the rounded edge.

Use a blackhead extractor as a baby boogie hook.

I know it sounds weird, but trust me, this is the easiest way I have found to safely pluck those hard
boogies from my baby’s nose without hurting her. In the past, I would use my pinky nail, but often times I would end up hurting her tiny baby nostrils.

Port-a-Potty for anytime you are away from home.

Potty training is hard. Kids can’t always warn you that they have to go, and they definitely can’t hold it until the next rest stop. A small training potty lined with a grocery bag or puppy pad can save your seats on long car rides. You can take the potty with you to older sibling’s sporting events, play dates in the park, or anywhere that has limited potty access.


Mesh laundry bags for small baby clothes.

Baby socks, tiny t-shirts, miniature shorts, and all the cutest little clothes you can find for your special little angel make doing laundry a nightmare. I have a drawer full of unmatched baby sock, who’s mate will never be seen again. If you wash your baby’s clothes in with other children’s clothing or even your own, put the baby clothes in a mesh laundry bag and toss the whole thing in the washer and dryer.

For a bonus hack, use a different mesh bag for each kid’s clothing and making separating the laundry easy peasy.

Buy a tub of diaper cream and use a wipe to apply it.

I actually can’t claim this hack as my own, my neighbor taught me this one. The tubs of diaper cream are much cheaper and last much longer than the tubes, but you have to scoop it out with your finger. We all know that diaper cream under the fingernail is a lost cause, it is there forever. The hack here is to use a wipe to cover your finger, dip it in the cream, apply to baby, and toss the wipe. No more diaper cream manicures.

Screen Shot 2019-04-19 at 6.16.30 PMUse a small box as a breast milk bag freezer organizer.

Breast milk bags can pile up in the freezer in short order. If you are like me, you end up shoving the bags anywhere they will fit and then dodging the falling frozen bags every time you open the freezer. That is, until I had the brilliant idea to cut the top off of a long soda can box and use it to store my bags in one spot.

 

7 Things No One Told Me About Breastfeeding

When I found out that I was pregnant with my first child, I knew right away that I wanted to breastfeed him. Not because of some holistic belief, but because we were poor and breast milk is essentially free.

Breastfeeding my 2nd child was much easier.
Later, I found out that breastfed babies are statistically less prone to ear infections than formula fed babies. Since my ex-husband and I both suffered from chronic ear infections as babies, to the point where I had been rendered deaf and required surgical intervention to restore my hearing, this was amazing news.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know anyone who had breast fed their children. I had no first had knowledge of the process, or the negatives. No one spoke to me about the hardships of breast feeding. The consultant who came to my room in the hospital, after I had just suffered through an extremely painful and scary emergency cesarean, chastised me for supplementing my new baby with formula.
She didn’t care that I was trying to recover from a major surgery and that I needed to rest after having been through an extremely traumatic event. She spoke to me as if I had been giving my newborn son poison, which set the tone for the rest of my time as a breastfeeding new mother.
That woman was wrong to treat me that way. Additionally, by not explaining the hardships that my family would face with an exclusively breastfed baby, she was downright negligent in her duties as a breastfeeding advocate.
Please, allow me to pass on to you the knowledge that I gained from exclusively breastfeeding two babies.
Breastfeeding is a huge personal commitment.
When you choose to breastfeed, you choose to take on almost all of the feedings. If you work, you will need to pump during the day or risk becoming painfully engorged and losing your milk supply.
Your breasts will leak.
You will need to wear breast pads in your bra to keep your shirts from getting soaked. You will also need to wear a bra all the time. As you might image, by the end of a day at work, if you haven’t changed your breast pads, they smell.
Mastitis is a thing.
I had no idea what mastitis was, until I was in the ER with a 104-degree fever. Your milk ducts can get clogged and infected, which can then result in a serious fever and, in my case, a brief hospital stay. As a symptom, I also had a red blotchy spot on the infected breast.
Breastfed babies eat more often than formula fed babies.
This means about twice as many nighttime feedings, or half the sleep. No one told me this, and I thought something was wrong with my son because he ate so often throughout the night as compared to my friend’s kids who slept for hours at a time.
My right breast produced much more milk than
the left. Ultimately, the left stopped altogether.
Feedings can be painful.
In the beginning, your nipples may crack and bleed. There are creams to help, but it can be painful. Pumping is also painful for many women.
You DO NOT have to breastfeed.
Formula is not poison. You are not a bad mom. Even if you started breastfeeding, if you want to stop, for any reason, it is OK to do that.
Not all women can do it.
For some women, breastfeeding is just not possible. This is also OK.
Breastfeeding my son was incredibly difficult. I was tired and depressed. Pumping was uncomfortable for me and my ex-husband was not very supportive. Despite this, I did choose to breast feed my daughter. Only this time, I was much more prepared for the hard times and sleepless nights.
This time, I have a husband who supports me and tries to help take some of the burden off of my shoulders. In the early days, when our daughter would eat and poop several times a night, I would feed her, then he would change her. It may seem small, but that extra few minutes of rest made a world of difference.
No matter what you choose to do, don’t let anyone make you feed bad about it. Love your baby, embrace the chaos and the exhaustion and do what you can to remind yourself that it is only a small amount of time in a big life.